1930s White Glacier National Park Red Bus

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The White company was active from 1900 until 1980, when they finally declared bankruptcy.  In the beginning, they utilized steam power exclusively and manufactured both commercial vehicles and passenger cars. From 1910 to 1911, they transitioned to gasoline, and by 1918, they had left the car business altogether to concentrate on commercial vehicles.  They enjoyed moderate success in the passenger car field, with a total of 9122 steam and 8927 gasoline cars produced in those 18 years, but their prices were rather high, and perhaps poorly suited for an increasingly competitive market.  In 1918, prices ranged from $5000 for a 7 passenger Touring to $6400 for a Cabriolet.

White was for many years a well-known and successful manufacturer of commercial vehicles, and in the post-war period they absorbed other firms such as Reo, Autocar, Diamond T, and Sterling.  After they went out of business in 1980, much of their assets were purchased by Volvo, which made use of the White name for over a decade until that too ceased.  Volvo is now part of the Ford Motor Company group, hence it is a natural for Ford to take a special interest in these famous open-top buses from Glacier National Park. - Serious Wheels

(from Ford Press Release)  Ford Motor Company’s leadership in alternative fuel vehicles is being put to use to restore one of the oldest traditions in America’s National Parks. After 18 months of renovation, Ford will deliver Glacier National Park's famous fleet of Red Buses back to the park in Montana on June 8.

The fleet of 33 Red Buses now runs on clean-burning LPG (propane) and is 93 percent cleaner than the original buses that were introduced in the park back in the 1930s.

Over time, the buses became part of the fabric of Glacier’s lore. The canvas-topped 17-passenger buses carried sightseers back and forth across the Continental Divide for over six decades. Then, in 1999, concerns about vehicle fatigue forced the Red Buses into retirement.

As part of its commitment as a Proud Partner of America’s National Parks, Ford undertook the task of refurbishing the buses back in 2000. TDM of Livonia, Mich., was contracted to work with Ford engineers and perform the restoration.

“Restoring the Red Buses has been a bigger challenge than any of us imagined, but it has also been a labor of love to those involved,” said Bruce Gordon, director of Ford’s Alternative Fuel Vehicles. “We worked diligently to maintain the historic integrity of the buses and applied Ford’s and TDM's expertise in alternative fuel vehicles and safety.”

Key changes made to the Red Buses include:

Powertrain/Fuel System – The original carbureted gasoline engine was removed and replaced with a new fuel-injected 5.4L bi-fuel engine, capable of running on either gasoline or LPG (propane). An all-new exhaust system also was provided.
Chassis – The original chassis was removed and replaced with an E-450 chassis modified to fit the Red Bus body.
Brakes – The brake system was replaced with a production 4-wheel disc ABS system.
Windows and Lights – All windows were replaced with safety glass and external lights were replaced or repaired and brought up to current standards.

Along with the new technology, extreme care was taken to maintain the charm and historic integrity of the buses. Technology and safety were key, but comfort also was important. Examples include:

Body – The original body of the Red Bus was carefully removed from the chassis. Damaged areas were repaired, cleaned and repainted in the original color scheme. New sheet metal or fiberglass components were blended into the vehicle where needed, such as the fender wells and the rear door. In addition, all the door latches were replaced and the plywood floors were replaced with composite aluminum sheeting.
Seating – All passenger and driver seats were refurbished with new comfortable fire-retardant material. New padding was added to the handrails on the seat backs.
Running Boards – Running boards were replaced, but remain consistent with the original design.
Ornamentation – When possible, original ornamentation was refurbished. When replacement was needed, it was done with component designs consistent with the original.

In addition, Ford added new public address systems to all the buses, and retained the original vehicle numbering system.

Ford also is committed to supporting infrastructure for Alternative Fuel Vehicles. As part of the Red Bus project, Ford helped fund two LPG fueling stations at the park. One is located at West Glacier and will be used primarily to fuel the Red Bus, while the second is located in East Glacier. Both stations will be available for use by other propane vehicles as well.

“The Red Bus project is Ford's premiere project as a Proud Partner of America's National Parks,” said Gordon. “We want to provide innovative transportation and environmental solutions that enable visitors to enjoy National Parks, as well as preserve their beauty.”

As part of its partnership, Ford also is providing a fleet of 500 TH!NK neighbor low speed electric vehicles to National Parks throughout the State of California. The TH!NK neighbors are zero-emissions vehicles that have quiet engines. This combination of benefits will help to reduce air and noise pollution emissions in Parks throughout the state.