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Flxible Production Information - Eagle related

This is a public forum that will facilitate **DOCUMENTATION** of Eagle Bus History. Posting of historical documents and photos is encouraged. Questions about individual bus history (VIN) should be posted in the General Eagle Chat forum.

This is the first post of our newly created "Eagle History" forum. The first contributor is Joe Richards (aka Bus & Car"). Joe was a bus trade journalist for many years - he wrote a couple of articles for National Bus Trader and many more for Bus World where he was a Contributing Editor.. He is a bus history buff (putting it mildly) and has an extensive collection of all thing related to buses . I will let Joe explain this first post:

Given this is a forum about Eagle buses, why are we starting off with a discussion about Flxible?

Eagle History actually starts with the 1955 Flxible Vista-Liner 100. The first Eagle got it's rounded corners, wraparound windshield and Torsalastic suspension from the VL100 as it was commonly referred to.

The VL100's styling was an interesting blend of Art Deco and The Future. The gentle roundness of many of its forms showed the Art Deco influence. The Future was represented by the hidden headlights, the wraparound windshield and the integration of the door and driver's windows into the overall design as had never been done before. It also looked like a huge sports car in some ways,
something that Flxible called attention to in it's sales materials.

Sadly, the VL-100 had a severe weakness. With Only 170 HP it was quite underpowered. Having a five speed transmission helped but it didn't solve the problem of having 41 less horsepower than a GMC PD 4104. Worse yet, the main engine also powered the air conditioning, which further reduced performance. If that weren't enough, having to drive it at full throttle all the time did nothing to improve it's fuel economy.

Continental was able to repower their fleet of 113 VL-100's with Detroit Diesel 6-71 engines and that almost solved the problem but it was an an extra expense brought about by the Cummins JT-600 engine that wasn't up to the job of adequately powering the coach even with a turbocharger.

Other Trailways carriers ordered another 20 VL-100's and these also got repowered with 6-71's. Continental was otherwise happy enough with its repowered VL-100's to order 66 Flxible Hi-Level coaches in 1960.

VL-100 production was 109 in 1955, 61 in 1956, 29 in 1957 and only 9 in 1958. Trailways carriers took 133 of the the 160 built in the first two years and ended up with 133 out ot the total of 208 built during its four year production run.

It was a similar situation with the Hi-Level. Trailways carriers took 75 of the 93 built in 1960. That was the last order that Trailways placed with Flxible as Eagle production had ramped up to the point that Continental bought exclusively Eagles from then on. That's another story and we'll be dealing with it starting in 2015.

As a side note, many of Flxible's customers turned to Eagle after Flxible closed down or they needed larger buses.


When you see the extent of his work, I think you will be like me an anxiously await Joe's Eagle production record document.

Jim
Attachments
20141107 Flxible Production numbers.pdf
Flxible Production Information
(350 KiB) Downloaded 78 times
Jim Shepherd
Evergreen, CO
'85 Eagle 10 with Series 60 & Eaton AutoShift 10 speed transmission - not at all fancy, but fully functional
Bus Project pages: http://beltguy.com/Bus_Project/busproject.htm
Blog: http://beltguy.com/blog/
Email: jim@eaglesinternational.net (Please email me rather than use the PM process)
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beltguy
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In a follow-up email, Joe further detailed the background about the relationship of Flxibles and Eagles:

As to the VL100, I'm sure that Continental had some input into its
appearance. It was based on some drawings that Flxible made some years
earlier. The first set of drawings was basically a deck and a half
version of the Clipper. It had the distinction of looking obsolete but
with a bit of modern thrown in because of the layout. This was called
the Flxible Astraliner and I'm sure that using as many Clipper parts
and designs as possible would have reduced both the design and
production costs. No one seemed to have been interested and none were
built or sold. A second version came out a few years later with the
same name. This had a Clipper nose and what turned out to be a VL100
body from behind the entry door all the way back. There was a large
plastic model of this design available (I've got one), perhaps made to
show potential customers what Flxible was working on. As before there
were no buyers. Into this situation came Greyhound and it's
Scenicruiser. The rest of the industry had to react and Continental
started looking for someone that could make them a similar coach. Of
course the first place they looked was Flxible. By this time design
work on the VL100 was well advanced and it was then just a matter of
putting a pretty face on the second Astraliner design and making a
modern coach out of it. There were however two changes that
Continental didn't want. First, it was only 35 feet long and second it
was a semi- deck and a half. Flxible was willing to build what
Continental wanted on condition that Continental paid the tooling and
design costs up front. Given that Continental had just purchased
American Buslines it wasn't exactly rolling around in cash so that was
the end of that. I'm sure that Continental had seen some drawings of
the VL100 before it entered production and kept in mind what they
liked about them. That information got passed to Kassböhrer and that's
why the first Eagle had some style commonality with the VL100. The
other shared item was the Torsalastic (the name was a combination of
the words 'torsion' and 'elastic' and I think it was a registered
trademark of B. F. Goodrich, who developed it) suspension. Flxible
became the first to use it on a coach when they adopted it for the
VL100. The reason that happened is that Flxible had bought out the
transit bus manufacturing division of Twin Coach. Twin Coach starting
using Torsalastic on it's postwar line of buses that it introduced in
1946. That made Flxible familiar with Torsalastic suspensions and they
started using it on the VL100 in 1955. The Eagle also got the
wraparound rear corner glass from the VL100 and that continued on
until the New Look 05 entered production in 1969.
Jim Shepherd
Evergreen, CO
'85 Eagle 10 with Series 60 & Eaton AutoShift 10 speed transmission - not at all fancy, but fully functional
Bus Project pages: http://beltguy.com/Bus_Project/busproject.htm
Blog: http://beltguy.com/blog/
Email: jim@eaglesinternational.net (Please email me rather than use the PM process)
User avatar
beltguy
Moderator
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Posts: 2067
Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2008 4:39 am
Location: Evergreen, CO



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