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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.

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Posted by on Apr 1 2009. Filed under Classic Buses, Enthusiasts, Motorcoaches. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

8 Comments for “Trailways veterans unravel the mystery of the Super Golden Eagles”

  1. Charles Skinner

    When I worked for Trailways in Dallas, around 1967, there were two of these buses on the “back lot.” One day I noticed a small group of men and a large truck parked near the buses. It seems to have been a “repair shop” on wheels. As soon as they were able to get the two buses in running condition, they drove them off. Seems that they were sold “as is” and taken away. I never knew what happened to them. I don’t know how the two I saw in Dallas in 1967 are related to the buses written about in this article.

  2. Thanks for the post, but I was just wondering how I could subscribe to your RSS feed?

  3. Didn’t Holman and Moody Ford use one of these at one time as a support vehicle for their auto racing team?

  4. Glen Owen

    FYI, IN THE EARLY SUMMER OF 1980, i OPERATED ONE OF THESE COACHES FOR LOCH RAVEN ON THE ALLMAN BROTHERS “REACH FOR THE SKY” TOUR AND JUDAS PRIEST’S “BRITISH STEEL” TOUR . i AT ONE TIME ENCOUNTERED A BLOW OUT ON THE RIGHT FRONT AT SIXTY MPH THIS HAPPENED NEAR THE TEXAS PANHANDLE AS I REMEMBER AND WAS A REAL HAND FULL TO BRING UNDER CONTROL DUE TO THAT ATICULATED MECHNISM MENTIONED

  5. My Dad, Aubra M. Crisler, was the first to drive one of the Kassbohrer Setra Super Golden Eagles in the US. He picked up the bus off the ship and delivered it to Ralph Berndt in Denver.

    He was then selected to operate the vehicle for nearly 2 weeks to prove it’s safety to several public officials of Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and Montana. He hauled those including three governors to prove that the bus was safe to operate.

    My father was often called on by Walt Brady to try out new buses and pretty much decided what would be bought by DCSP. His favorites were the GM PD 4104

  6. Charles Skinner

    I wish someone would comment on the first post here, about the two buses that were in Dallas around 1967-68.

    Charles Skinner

  7. Charles Skinner

    Doesn’t ANYBODY know anything about the two Super Golden Eagle buses that were on the back lot at Trailways in Dallas around 1967-68? Surely someon knows about them.

    C. Skinner

  8. Michael G. Jedd

    In 1970 the Troopers Drum and Bugle Corps of Casper Wyoming (America’s Corps) purchased 3 1957 Trailways Golden Eagles. The drum corps had them refurbished and repainted. I remember removing the ash trays behind each seat and the small kitchens. They were in use until 1983 when the corps decommissioned them. I have no idea of there whereabouts or if they saw the crusher. I do have a number of pictures of the busses and spent many a mile in them touring the country. Beautiful and very unique one of a kind busses.

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