Crown Supercoach

Last updated
Crown Supercoach
Crown School bus at Meadowhall.jpg
1977-1991 Supercoach (retired) at a UK bus rally
Overview
Type Bus
Manufacturer Crown Coach Corporation
Production1948-1991
Body and chassis
Class
DoorsSingle-door
Floor typeHigh-floor
ChassisCrown Coach; underfloor or rear engine
Single or tandem rear axles
Related Crown Firecoach
Powertrain
Engine Gasoline

Hall-Scott
Waukesha
International Harvester
Ford Super Duty

Contents

Diesel

Cummins
Detroit Diesel
Caterpillar
Capacity72-97
Power output210-335 hp
Transmission 4-speed automatic
6-speed automatic
5-speed manual
10-speed manual
Dimensions
Length35-40 feet
Width96 inches
Chronology
PredecessorCrown Super Coach (1935-1948)

The Crown Supercoach is a bus that was constructed and marketed by Crown Coach Corporation from 1948 to 1991. While most examples were sold as yellow school buses, the Supercoach formed the basis for motorcoaches and other specialty vehicles using the same body and chassis. While technically available outside of the West Coast, nearly all Crown school buses were sold in California, Washington State, and Oregon.

Crown Coach Corporation

The Crown Coach Corporation is a defunct American bus manufacturer. Established in 1904, Crown was headquartered in Los Angeles, California until the mid-1980s, moving to Chino, California until its closure. Best known for its Supercoach range of yellow school buses and motorcoaches, Crown also was the manufacturer of custom-built vehicles derived from its buses, including the Firecoach line of fire apparatus.

School bus Type of bus

A school bus is a type of bus owned, leased, contracted to, or operated by a school or school district. It is regularly used to transport students to and from school or school-related activities, but not including a charter bus or transit bus. Various configurations of school buses are used worldwide; the most iconic examples are the yellow school buses of the United States and Canada.

From 1948 to 1984, the Supercoach was constructed at the Crown Coach facilities in Los Angeles, California; from 1984 to the 1991 closure of the company, the Supercoach was constructed in Chino, California.

Chino, California City in California, United States

Chino is a city in the western end of San Bernardino County, California, United States with Los Angeles County to its west and Orange County to its south in the Southern California region. Chino is adjacent to Chino Hills, California. Chino’s surroundings have long been a center of agriculture and dairy farming, providing milk products in Southern California and much of the southwestern United States. Chino's agricultural history dates back to the Spanish land grant forming Rancho Santa Ana del Chino. The area specialized in orchard, row crops and dairy.

Design History

1932-1948

In 1932, Crown Motor Carriage Company built its first complete school bus, in a shift from building bus bodies on cowled truck chassis. [1] Externally modeled after Twin Coach body designs, [2] the school bus body used a front-engine layout, with the Waukesha gasoline engine positioned next to the driver. [1] The body was of all-metal construction with an integrated chassis and safety glass; [2] [3] for braking, in addition to the standard hydraulic service brakes, the Crown bus was equipped with a redundant hand-operated system alongside the standard parking/emergency brake. [1]

Twin Coach

Twin Coach was an American vehicle manufacturing company from 1927 to 1955, located in Kent, Ohio, and a maker of marine engines and airplane parts until the 1960s. It was formed by brothers Frank and William Fageol when they left the Fageol Motor Company in 1927. They established the company in Kent to manufacture and sell buses with a new concept design. The body structure of this new bus was unique in that the body also became the frame and two engines – "twin" engines – were used to allow for larger passenger loads. This concept was patented by William B. Fageol.

From 1932 to 1935, Crown Body and Coach Corporation produced additional forward-control school buses. As the original 1932 design proved too expensive to produce on a large scale, Crown shifted to a design based on a Reo commercial truck chassis. [1] Named the Metropolitan, while still a front-engine bus, the new design significantly decreased forward visibility. [2]

The REO Motor Car Company was a Lansing, Michigan-based company that produced automobiles and trucks from 1905 to 1975. At one point the company also manufactured buses on its truck platforms.

In 1935, Crown revisited the 1932 design, introducing a new version as the first Crown Super Coach. With a seating capacity of up to 76 students, [2] it was one of the largest school buses ever produced at the time. As with its 1932 predecessor, the 1935 Crown Super Coach featured an all-steel body with an integrated chassis, safety glass, and a front-engine body. In a big change, the redundant braking system was redesigned, with the Supercoach featuring full air brakes. [2] [3]

In 1936, Crown produced the Super Coach as an intercity motorcoach, featuring onboard sleeper compartments. To maximize interior room, the powertrain layout was changed from front-engine to an underfloor mid-engine configuration. [1] In several variants, the Crown Super Coach would retain an underfloor layout through its 1991 discontinuation. In 1937, Crown would build the first mid-engine school bus, with a Hall-Scott gasoline engine; the change expanded capacity to 79 passengers. [1] [2] [3] To provide proper engine cooling, the bus was fitted with a front-mounted radiator.

In 1940, Crown Coach redesigned the Super Coach bus body and chassis, moving the engine to the rear. [2] Featuring a wider and taller interior, the Supercoach gained additional emergency exits (a rear exit window and right-side emergency door), [2] following the standardization of school bus dimensions and exits in 1939.

During World War II, Crown Coach produced few vehicles, with all production diverted towards military use. [1] [2] [3] In late 1945, Crown resumed production of Super Coach school and coach buses, struggling to meet demand. [1] To better ensure its survival after the war, Crown entered a joint venture with Indiana school bus manufacturer Wayne Works, becoming the West Coast distributor of its product lines.

1948-1960

Late 1950s Crown Supercoach (restored) 1950s Crown Supercoach Hershey.jpg
Late 1950s Crown Supercoach (restored)

In 1946, Crown began development on a new generation of vehicles. Starting life as a sightseeing bus for a motorcoach customer, the new-generation Supercoach (renamed as a single word) entered production in 1948, with Crown producing its first school bus example in late 1949. [1] [3]

In a move back to the mid-engine layout, the design of the 1950 Crown Supercoach broke many precedents in school bus construction. Although built on a steel frame, to fight corrosion, the body panels of the Supercoach were of aluminum. [1] In place of the traditional ladder truck-style frame, the Supercoach featured a monocque-style integrated frame. [1]

In the early 1950s, Crown made several additions to the Supercoach model line. In 1951, the Crown Firecoach fire engine was introduced, heavily based on the mid-engine chassis of the Supercoach bus. At the same time, Crown began to explore other uses for the Supercoach; in 1954, several Crown Cargo Coach "brucks" were produced, combining the front body of a bus with the rear body of a van trailer. [1] [2] Crown Security Coaches came into use as prison buses throughout the West Coast. [2]

In 1954, Crown introduced the first diesel-powered school bus, introducing the 743 cubic-inch Cummins NHH220 as an option. [2] For school districts with growing student populations, Crown introduced a tandem rear-axle Supercoach in 1955. Expanding the seating capacity from 79 to 91 (with a later option for 97), this would become the highest-capacity school bus ever mass-produced (alongside similar Gillig Transit Coach DT-models) [2] [3]

To increase braking power, in 1956, Crown standardized 10-inch wide brake drums on all vehicles, the largest in the bus industry at the time. [2]

1960-1977

Retired 1960s Crown Supercoach in Mexico VintageBus1.jpg
Retired 1960s Crown Supercoach in Mexico

In 1960, the body of the Crown Supercoach underwent its first set of modifications since its introduction in late 1949. To enhance visibility, the windshield, driver window, and entry door windows were redesigned. To make the bus more visible, Crown moved the taillamps and brakelights from the doors of the luggage compartment towards the rear corners of the body.

Although overtaken by school bus production, Crown continued production of the Supercoach as an intercity coach in various lengths. [1] Designed similar to a GM Buffalo bus, the longest versions featured a raised deck over the luggage compartment; Crown also produced a bilevel coach similar to the GMC Scenicruiser in configuration. [1] [3]

During the 1960s, Crown began to further expand its engine line. To aid the performance of its 91-passenger buses, a 262 hp turbocharged Cummins NHH was added. Alongside the Cummins diesel, an additional option included an underfloor version of the Detroit Diesel 671. In 1973, the 743 cubic-inch Cummins NHH diesel was replaced by the 855 cubic-inch NHH diesel, requiring internal structural updates to the frame. From the outside, 1973-1977 Crown school buses are distinguished by flat-topped wheel wells.

1977-1991

1978 Supercoach 90-passenger 25Tansut.jpg
1978 Supercoach 90-passenger

During the 1977 model year, federal regulations took effect that forever changed school bus design in the United States. To better protect passengers from crashes and rollovers, the structures of many school buses had to be updated; the metal-backed seats seen for decades were replaced by thickly padded, taller seats. Aside from the redesign of the passenger seats, which lead to minor capacity reductions, the structure of the Supercoach needed relatively few changes to meet the new regulations; the company claimed that the Supercoach was compliant as far back as 1950. [1] Post-1977 Supercoaches are distinguished by larger pillars behind the drivers' window and entry door as well as the fixed window next to the side emergency door.

In the late 1980s, along with the Crown Supercoach Series II, Crown began to expand the Supercoach lineup beyond its traditional two models. In 1988, a 38' version (84-passenger) was introduced. In 1989, two new 40' versions were introduced: a rear-engine and a single rear axle mid-engine.

In March 1991, Crown Coach closed its doors; the final vehicle produced was a 36-foot mid-engine Supercoach (with standard body).

Supercoach II (1989-1991)

1989-1991 Crown Supercoach Series II Crown Supercoach II.jpg
1989-1991 Crown Supercoach Series II

Introduced during 1989, the Crown Supercoach II marked the most substantial revision of the Crown Supercoach body since it entered production in 1949. Designed for participation in a California Energy Commission program to study the feasibility of alternative-fuel school buses, the Supercoach II was fitted with both "advanced diesel" and methanol-fuel engines. [4] [5] As part of the initial phase of the program, 153 Crown Coaches were purchased (103 diesel, 50 methanol). [4] As a secondary objective of the study, the buses researched the practicality of advanced safety features for school districts replacing buses manufactured before 1977. [4]

During the late 1980s, the only methanol-fuel engine that that complied with California emissions standards was the Detroit Diesel 6V92. To mount the engine in the rear frame of the Crown Supercoach, significant modifications to the engine compartment were required, including a new rear floor and wider rear bodywork. [1] [3] Along with redesigned lower bodywork to expand the engine compartment, the upper rear bodywork was redesigned, replacing the curved rear bulkhead with a vertical rear window, with a squared-off roofline. To match the redesign of the rear, the front bodywork was modified, with a squared-off roof above the windshield, an enlarged windshield (four-piece flat glass), and horizontal quad headlights. To maintain production commonality with the standard Crown Supercoach, the Supercoach II shared much of the bodywork between the entry door and rear seats with its predecessor. The drivers' compartment saw a major redesign, grouping secondary controls together left of the driver.

Following the production of the 153 CEC buses, the Supercoach II continued as a regular production model alongside the standard Crown Supercoach. In addition to the Detroit Diesel 6V92 diesel engine, the rear-engine Supercoach II was offered with the Cummins C8.3 inline-6 and the Caterpillar 3208 V8, along with the horizontal Detroit Diesel 671 of the mid-engine Supercoach. Produced primarily in a 40-foot rear-engine configuration, the Supercoach II was also offered in 38-foot lengths, in both rear and mid-engine configurations (no tandem-axle Supercoach IIs are ever known to have been produced).

During the 1990s, as the California Energy Commission program moved into its advanced stages, methanol was abandoned as an alternative fuel; virtually all of the 50 methanol-fueled Supercoach II vehicles were converted to operate on diesel fuel.

The Supercoach II was offered by Crown Coach through its closure in 1991; however, many of the 1991 vehicles produced by the Crown were of original Crown Supercoach body design. Following the closure of the company, the designs and tooling were acquired by Indiana-based Carpenter Body Works, which sought to restart production of the Supercoach II as part of its model line. Due to the complexity of the vehicle design, Carpenter was unable to produce the model at a competitive price, leading to the abandonment of the project. Several elements of the Supercoach II would live on in a successive product, the Carpenter/Spartan Coach RE, including its left-hand driver control panel and headlight layout.

Powertrain

EngineConfigurationFuelProductionNotes
WaukeshaGasoline
Hall-Scott 590 cu in (9.7 L) OHC I6

779 cu in (12.8 L) OHC I6

Gasoline
International HarvesterGasoline
Ford Super Duty 534 cu in (8.8 L) OHV V8Gasoline
Caterpillar 3208636 cu in (10.4 L) V8Diesel1989-1990Rear-engine Supercoach II
Cummins 6C8.3 507 cu in (8.3 L) I6Diesel1989-1991Rear-engine Supercoach and Supercoach II
Cummins NHH743 cu in (12.2 L) I6

855 cu in (14.0 L) I6

Diesel1954-1972 (743)

1973-1991 (855)

Mid-engine Supercoach; first diesel engine in a school bus

Available in naturally-aspirated and turbocharged configurations

Detroit Diesel 6V53318 cu in (5.2 L) V6Diesel1961Produced as part of a customer-order rear-engine Crown Supercoach
Detroit Diesel 6-71/6L71 426 cu in (7.0 L) I6Dieselc.1963-1991Mid-engine Supercoach; also produced for mid-engine Supercoach II

Available in naturally-aspirated and turbocharged configurations

Also used in Crown-Ikarus buses.

Detroit Diesel 8V71568 cu in (9.3 L) V8DieselUsed in Crown motorcoaches; not used for school buses
Detroit Diesel 6V92 552 cu in (9.0 L) V6Methanol

Diesel

1989-1991Rear-engine Supercoach Series II, bus body designed for use of engine

Most methanol-fuel buses converted to diesel.

Detroit Diesel 8V92736 cu in (12.1 L) V8DieselUsed in Crown motorcoaches; not used for school buses

Related Research Articles

Ford E-Series Large Van produced by Ford.

The Ford E-Series is a range of full-size vans produced by the American automaker Ford since 1960. Introduced for the 1961 model year as the replacement for the Ford F-series panel van, four generations of the model line have been produced. In addition to cargo van and passenger van body styles, the Ford E-series has been produced as a cutaway van chassis and stripped chassis.

Carpenter Body Company

Carpenter Body Works was a former American bus manufacturer. Founded in 1918 in Mitchell, Indiana, the company produced a variety of vehicles, with the majority of production consisting of yellow school buses for the United States and Canada.

IC Bus

IC Bus is an American bus manufacturer that produces yellow school buses and commercial-use buses primarily for the United States and Canada, with limited exports outside North America. Headquartered in Lisle, Illinois, IC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Navistar International. The company was established by Navistar in 2002 through a reorganization of its subsidiary bus manufacturer American Transportation Corporation (AmTran). Through AmTran, IC traces its roots back to the 1933 founding of Ward Body Works in Conway, Arkansas.

Gillig is an American designer and manufacturer of buses. The company headquarters, along with its manufacturing operations, is located in Livermore, California. By volume, Gillig is the second-largest transit bus manufacturer in North America. As of 2013, Gillig had an approximate 31% market share of the combined US and Canadian heavy-duty transit bus manufacturing industry, based on the number of equivalent unit deliveries.

Alexander Dennis Enviro200

The Alexander Dennis Enviro200 is a midibus that was manufactured by TransBus International and later Alexander Dennis between 2003 and 2018. The original TransBus Enviro200 design was innovative but ultimately unsuccessful, with few being sold before the introduction of the second generation Enviro200 revived sales for the product from 2006. It was supposed to be positioned in between a minibus and a rigid single-decker bus.

The Chevrolet and GMC B series is a series of cowled chassis that were produced by General Motors, primarily fitted with school bus bodies throughout its production. Based on the medium-duty trucks produced by the Chevrolet and GMC divisions of General Motors, the B series was produced in three separate generations; GMC initially produced its own version separate from Chevrolet. Introduced in 1966, the B series was redesigned in 1984 and 1992 as a 1993 model.

Gillig Phantom Series of buses produced by Gillig Corporation, United States from 1980 to 2008

The Gillig Phantom is a series of buses that was produced by American manufacturer Gillig Corporation in Hayward, California. The successor to the long-running Gillig Transit Coach model line, the Phantom marked the transition of Gillig from a producer of yellow school buses to that of transit buses. The first transit bus assembled entirely by Gillig, the Phantom was produced exclusively as a high-floor bus.

Thomas Saf-T-Liner C2 Cowled-chassis bus manufactured by bus body manufacturer Thomas Built Buses

The Thomas Saf-T-Liner C2 is a cowled-chassis bus manufactured by bus body manufacturer Thomas Built Buses. Introduced in 2004, the C2 marked the first usage of the Freightliner C2 chassis. While produced largely for school bus use, the C2 is also produced for multiple applications, including specialty and commercial configurations. The C2 is unique in that it is available in capacities up to 81 passengers, the largest of any type C conventional school bus in current production.

Gillig Transit Coach School Bus

The Gillig Transit Coach School Bus is a series of buses that were produced by the American bus manufacturer Gillig. Introduced in 1940, the Transit Coach was produced until 1982. Alongside the similar Crown Supercoach, the Gillig Transit Coach was designed as a transit-style bus. In place of a cowled conventional chassis used from a truck manufacturer, the Transit Coach was bodied using a bare frame; rear-engine or mid-engine configurations were produced.

Blue Bird Vision

The Blue Bird Vision is a bus that is manufactured and marketed by Blue Bird Corporation in North America and exported worldwide. In production since 2003, the Vision became the first cowled-chassis bus built on a proprietary chassis designed and manufactured by the same company. While it is sold primarily in a school bus configuration, the Blue Bird Vision is also offered with various commercial and specialty seating and design configurations.

Blue Bird TC/2000

The Blue Bird TC/2000 is a product line of buses that was produced by the American manufacturer Blue Bird Corporation from 1988 to 2003. Introduced as a second transit-style product range alongside the Blue Bird All American, the TC/2000 was produced in front-engine and rear-engine layouts. While produced primarily as a yellow school bus, Blue Bird offered the TC/2000 in commercial configurations and numerous custom-built variants. For commercial use, Blue Bird badged the model line as the TC/2000 or the APC 2000.

The bus chassis variant of the International S series is a cowled bus chassis that was produced by International Harvester from 1979 to 2004. Produced primarily for school bus applications, the chassis was also produced for other applications, including commercial-use buses and cutaway-cab buses. In addition, the cowled chassis formed the basis for front-engine and rear-engine stripped chassis produced for bus applications.

Blue Bird All American

The Blue Bird All American is a series of buses produced by American bus manufacturer Blue Bird Corporation. Originally developed as a school bus, since its 1948 introduction, Blue Bird has produced versions of the All American for a variety of applications, ranging from the Blue Bird Wanderlodge luxury motorhome to buses for law enforcement use.

Thomas Minotour

The ThomasMinotour is a bus body manufactured by Thomas Built Buses since 1980. The smallest vehicle sold by the company, the Minotour is a bus body designed for cutaway van chassis. Primarily sold for school bus usage, the Minotour is also produced as a MFSAB or in specialized configurations specified by the customer.

Ford B series type of bus

The Ford B-series is a bus chassis that was manufactured by the Ford Motor Company. Produced across six generations from 1948 to 1998, the B-series was a variant of the medium-duty Ford F-Series. As a cowled-chassis design, the B-series was a bare chassis aft of the firewall, intended for bodywork from a second-stage manufacturer. While primarily used for school bus applications in the United States and Canada, the chassis was exported worldwide to manufacturers to construct bus bodies for various uses.

The Wayne Lifestar is a product line of buses that was manufactured and marketed by Wayne Corporation and its successor company Wayne Wheeled Vehicles from 1986 to 1995. Produced nearly exclusively in a school bus configuration, the Wayne Lifestar used a transit-style body configuration with a front-engine chassis. Marking the return to transit-style production, the Lifestar adopted the single-piece body stampings of the Wayne Lifeguard in its construction.

Daimler Roadliner

The Daimler Roadliner was a single-decker bus and coach chassis built by Daimler between 1962 and 1972. Notoriously unreliable, it topped the 1993 poll by readers of Classic Bus as the worst bus type ever, beating the Guy Wulfrunian into second place. It was very technologically advanced, offering step-free access twenty years before other buses; as a coach, it was felt by industry commentators to be in advance of contemporary UK designs.

Crown Firecoach

Crown Firecoach is a nameplate used for various types of firefighting apparatus manufactured and marketed by Crown Coach Corporation in Los Angeles, California from 1951 to 1985. Although sold primarily in the West Coast region of the United States, other examples of the Firecoach were sold to fire departments in Hawaii, Illinois, and New Jersey, as well as in Mexico and Kuwait.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 "Crown Coach, Crown Body & Coach Corp., Crown Carriage Co., Crown Motor Carriage Co., Crown Coach International, Crown Coach Inc., Crown Coach by Carpenter, Crown-Ikarus, Crown Aircraft, - Coachbult.com". www.coachbuilt.com. Retrieved 2017-03-09.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 "The Dentist Who Built Buses and Fire Engines by Ed Hass : Crown Coach Historical Society". Archived from the original on 2010-10-11. Retrieved 2017-03-09.Cite uses deprecated parameter |dead-url= (help)
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "Crown Coach: California's Specialty Builder". buskidspage.tripod.com. Retrieved 2017-03-09.
  4. 1 2 3 "SAFE SCHOOL BUS CLEAN FUEL EFFICIENCY DEMONSTRATION PROGRAM | Final Status Report Stage 4" (PDF). California Energy Commission. October 2002.
  5. Aldrich, Bob (February 1995). ABC's of Afv's: A Guide to Alternative Fuel Vehicles. DIANE Publishing. ISBN   9780788145933.