"Eagle Bus", (Silver Eagle Bus Manufacturing, Inc. was it's full name), is a coach (bus) manufacturing company with a long and interesting history. During its production of over four decades, some 8,000 Eagle coaches were built in four different countries on two continents, and they had been the trademark of Continental Trailways for over three decades.
Overview[edit | edit source]
The first Eagles were the Golden Eagles made by the German Company Kässbohrer in 1956. The first 54 Eagle Coaches built of the 200 contracted by Continental Trailways were these Golden Eagles. Four of those 54 coaches were articulated buses that were longer and bent in the middle. All of these coaches were of the "Setra Design" which meant that they had a chassis-less frame called Selbst Tragend (self-carrying). The bus was called "Setra" from the first letters of both words. A slightly less equipped model called "Silver Eagle" with the traditional silver siding was designed and became standardized as the fleet bus for Continental Trailways.
In the late 50's, Kässbohrer announced its decision to concentrate on European Coaches, and Continental Trailways formed their own company Bus & Car Co. with a Belgian partner. Kässbohrer built the first Model 01's, then Bus & Car picked up the production. A small amount of other models were built in Belgium for different markets through 1968. In 1968 the Model 5 was introduced and was produced in Belgium. In 1974 Eagle International, Inc. started building coaches in Brownsville, Texas, USA. For two years, Belgium and Texas built the Model 05. Since 1976, all US-bound coaches were built in Brownsville, TX. The Model 10 was introduced with many design changes in 1980. In 1985 the Model 15 was introduced making the standard bus 102 inches wide, then four years later coaches could be ordered 45 feet long. In 1987 Greyhound purchased Trailways and Eagle International, Inc. The name was then changed to Eagle Bus Mfg. Inc.
In the 90's, Greyhound declared bankruptcy, which also included all of its subsidiaries and Eagle Bus Mfg. Inc. Some Eagles were being made, mostly "Entertainer Coaches" for celebrities. In the late 90's the company was split and moved to two distinct places in Mexico. Mexico has a high demand for seated buses and Eagles were built for that market - all with the famous Eagle Ride "Torsilastic Suspension".
Once again "Eagle Coaches" are being made in Brownsville, Texas, USA. Silver Eagle Bus Mfg. has brought together all of the jigs, manufacturing assemblys and blueprints from all the original Eagles to make the classic "Eagle" once again, plus they have introduced a newer design all with the original "Eagle Ride". As of January 2007, Silver Eagle Bus Mfg. offers the following models: Model 15 in 38ft, 40ft, and 45ft versions, Model 20 in 38ft, 40ft, and 45ft versions, and the new design Model 25 in 40ft and 45 foot. The only significant difference between the Model 15 and Model 20 is the width of the body. The Model 15 is 102 inches wide as stated above and the Model 20 is the classic 96 inch width body. One of the design changes incorporated into the Model 25 is the height of the body. A similar design analogy could be made by comparing the MCI 'D' series with the MCI 'E' series buses. The Model 25 (at the time of this writing) has not yet been certified and completely tested for the U.S. Government standards required for intercity buses, so it can only be ordered as a shell for conversion into an 'Entertainer Coach' or built as a 'House Car'. The Model 25 is 102 inches wide. At the time of this writing, all three models are available with a choice of Cummins, Detroit Diesel Series 60, or Caterpillar engines. Two transmissions are available, the fully automatic Allison 500 series or the standard Eaton Autoshift.
Comfort of Ride[edit | edit source]
The Trailways Eagles provided a noticeably more comfortable ride than the competing Greyhound MCI coaches. During rides between Boston and New York in the middle 1960's, Trailways and Greyhound ran competitive services with hourly departure schedules, which allowed good baseline comparisons for frequent travelers. The Eagles were warmer in the winters, had a softer ride, better upholstery and cushioning on the seats and offered a much quieter cabin.
1970s[edit | edit source]
In the early 1970s, drivers referred to Old Eagles and New Eagles. The Old Eagles had the tag axle located behind the drive axle, like a MCI. The New Eagles had the tag axle located in front of the drive axle which made them very interesting to drive. The front suspension was very soft with a lot of travel and since the tag axle torsion bar was pushing the front end up also, some drivers said it was like driving a diving board. The front end went up and down at the slightest provocation and occasionally the driver had to hang on tight to the steering wheel to stay in his seat. A few New Eagles had air ride seats and some drivers would take the hydraulic jack from the tool kit and set it under the seat to keep it from moving up and down. They said the front end of the bus moved up and down enough on its own!
Silver Eagle Manufacturing has stated that they will not build their Eagles with the 'bogie axle'. They have returned to having the Tag Axle design that places the idle axle behind the drive axle. The Tag Axle will not be self steering as the MCI bus' tags are, but it will feature a switch where the driver can "unload"  also the axle can be completely lifted off the ground]) the support of the Tag when needing to make a tighter radius turn. Silver Eagle Manufacturing has already experimented with this design change by retrofitting a 1980s vintage Eagle with the new axle placement. It is rumoured to be fully successful.
Current Model range[edit | edit source]
Past Model range[edit | edit source]
- Golden Eagle
- Silver Eagle 01
- Silver Eagle 02
- Silver Eagle 04
- Silver Eagle 05
- Silver Eagle 07
- Silver Eagle 09
- Silver Eagle 10
- Silver Eagle 14
- Silver Eagle 16
- Silver Eagle 20
- Silver Eagle AE-20
- Eagle City
- Eagle Touring
- Eagle Transcontinental
References[edit | edit source]
External Links[edit | edit source]
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