1930s White Glacier National Park Red Bus
White was for many years a well-known and successful manufacturer of commercial vehicles, and in the post-war period they absorbed other firms such as Reo, Autocar, Diamond T, and Sterling. After they went out of business in 1980, much of their assets were purchased by Volvo, which made use of the White name for over a decade until that too ceased. Volvo is now part of the Ford Motor Company group, hence it is a natural for Ford to take a special interest in these famous open-top buses from Glacier National Park. - Serious Wheels
(from Ford Press Release)
Ford Motor Company’s leadership in alternative fuel vehicles is being
put to use to restore one of the oldest traditions in America’s National
Parks. After 18 months of renovation, Ford will deliver Glacier National
Park's famous fleet of Red Buses back to the park in Montana on June 8.
The fleet of 33 Red Buses now runs on clean-burning LPG (propane) and is 93 percent cleaner than the original buses that were introduced in the park back in the 1930s.
Over time, the buses became part of the fabric of Glacier’s lore. The canvas-topped 17-passenger buses carried sightseers back and forth across the Continental Divide for over six decades. Then, in 1999, concerns about vehicle fatigue forced the Red Buses into retirement.
As part of its commitment as a Proud Partner of America’s National Parks, Ford undertook the task of refurbishing the buses back in 2000. TDM of Livonia, Mich., was contracted to work with Ford engineers and perform the restoration.
“Restoring the Red Buses has been a bigger challenge than any of us imagined, but it has also been a labor of love to those involved,” said Bruce Gordon, director of Ford’s Alternative Fuel Vehicles. “We worked diligently to maintain the historic integrity of the buses and applied Ford’s and TDM's expertise in alternative fuel vehicles and safety.”
Key changes made to the Red Buses include:
Powertrain/Fuel System – The
original carbureted gasoline engine was removed and replaced with a
new fuel-injected 5.4L bi-fuel engine, capable of running on either
gasoline or LPG (propane). An all-new exhaust system also was
Chassis – The original chassis was removed and replaced with an E-450 chassis modified to fit the Red Bus body.
Brakes – The brake system was replaced with a production 4-wheel disc ABS system.
Windows and Lights – All windows were replaced with safety glass and external lights were replaced or repaired and brought up to current standards.
Along with the new technology, extreme care was taken to maintain the charm and historic integrity of the buses. Technology and safety were key, but comfort also was important. Examples include:
Body – The original body of the
Red Bus was carefully removed from the chassis. Damaged areas were
repaired, cleaned and repainted in the original color scheme. New
sheet metal or fiberglass components were blended into the vehicle
where needed, such as the fender wells and the rear door. In addition,
all the door latches were replaced and the plywood floors were
replaced with composite aluminum sheeting.
Seating – All passenger and driver seats were refurbished with new comfortable fire-retardant material. New padding was added to the handrails on the seat backs.
Running Boards – Running boards were replaced, but remain consistent with the original design.
Ornamentation – When possible, original ornamentation was refurbished. When replacement was needed, it was done with component designs consistent with the original.