Trailways veterans unravel the mystery of the Super Golden Eagles
By C.J. Hobein
I was looking at photos on Trailways Bus Driver Web site and came across the photo of the Super Golden Eagle. The picture was taken in December 2008. Does anyone know where the bus is located or have any info on who owns it?
It was owned and restored by Pete Wilson of Wilson’s Bus Co. in East Templeton, MA. Its mate (only four were built) sits unrestored at the Green Tortoise yard in southern Oregon.
That olden Eagle Articulate that Pete Wilson has now isn’t that the same Golden Eagle that AC Transit used for a few years on its Trans Bay runs into San Francisco from Oakland and surrounding areas?
Yes it is…and continues to be used in special charters.
So the photo of the AC Golden Eagle is the same one that Wilson Bus Lines has restored and has seen the pictures. If so, Wilson had to do a huge amount of restoration as this bus does look in very rough condition. Double koodoos [sic] for the restoration.
The four Super Golden Eagles were initially delivered to DCSP in Denver and then went to Continental Western where they finished their life in Trailways red and cream running between SFO and LA.
While everyone is aware of one of the cars being sold to AC Transit, the other three were sold to Nashville’s Loch Raven Coach. Loch Raven was both an artist’s coach converter and also a lesser of artist’s coaches.
Loch Raven destroyed one of the cars when they took the trailer off and tried to make it a 35-ft car. It didn’t work. That is the shorty frame sitting behind Wilson’s shop. The other two were converted to artist’s coaches with the trailer of one of them being shortened.
Wilson acquired all four of the SGEs; AC Transit’s and the two running as artist’s coaches by Loch Raven plus the remains of the one they destroyed.
Wilson evaluated the three still running and decided which was the best to rebuild. That was the AC Transit unit, chiefly because of its continuous excellent maintenance. The ex-LR unit with the shortened trailer was subsequently sold as a motor home and the final LR unit was sold to The Green Tortoise — shall we just say transportation service for alternative lifestyles.
The Green Tortoise’s unit is inoperable and presently for sale because it needs a new articulation unit. The articulation unit is not just the connecting turntable, it is more complicated. The mechanics manual explains that the turn made by the front unit automatically calculates the steer of the trailer tires to allow the trailer to track the lead unit exactly. This means the 60-ft SGE drives in the same space as a 35-ft bus — as long as the artic mechanism is working, otherwise it’s just the same as a 60-ft tractor trailer.
The Kässbohrer factory in Ulm, Germany, still had one original SGE spare artic unit in the crate and they gave it to the Wilsons to rebuild the AC Transit car.
I was going to detail what the Wilsons did to their car in the rebuild, but suffice it to say it was stripped to the frame and all 60 feet of it was re-engineered and essentially remanufactured as a virtually new bus.
However, the TR car at Green Tortoise is available for your mechanics.