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Riding in style: new conventional bus from Thomas Built Buses.

Freightliner LLC subsidiary Thomas Built Buses, High Point, N.C., has unveiled the latest model in its conventional school bus series, the Saf-T-Liner C2. using input from customers and drivers in the industry, the new school bus is built on a Freightliner M2 chassis and designed with a sleek modernized body style.

"We started with a clean sheet of paper," said John O'Leary, president at Thomas. "We listened to what school transportation directors, technicians and drivers told us they wanted in a school bus. We combined those ideas with advanced technologies to create an all new, Type C school bus for the 21st century."

Standard power for the bus is a liquid-cooled Mercedes-Benz MBE900 diesel engine, available in four- and six-cylinder configurations with ratings of 190 hp to 250 hp at 2500 rpm. Also available is Caterpillar's liquid cooled C7 ACERT diesel engine rated 190 to 250 hp at 2400 rpm. Both engines are positioned beneath the low sloping hood of the bus and cooled by an 805 Behr aluminum core radiator. Other engine accessories include a Borg-Warner viscous fan clutch and Donaldson PowerCore air cleaner positioned above the right fender.

The engine drives any of a number of transmission options: a MercedesBenz MBT synchronized six-speed manual, Eaton-Fuller five or six speed manuals or Allison 2000 and 3000 MD series automatic transmissions. The powertrain is rounded out by a set back ArvinMeritor rear axle rated 13,000 to 23,000 lb. and an ArvinMeritor set-back front axle that provides a 55[degrees] wheel cut to enhance maneuverability, the company said.

Standard on the bus is a taper leaf front suspension rated 8000 lb. and a rear variable rate multi-leaf suspension rated 12,500 lb. Hub piloted steel disc wheels are available in seven wheel-bases ranging from 158 in. to 278 in. and are fitted with Goodyear tires. Stopping power is provided by Bosch hydraulic or ArvinMeritor air brakes.

Inside the cab, the steering column is available with both tilt and telescopic functions and the manual transmissions are operated using several Eaton-Fuller or Sachs clutch options.

The bus' outer shell incorporates a single body structure that is formed by bonding the rafters and stringers to the side panels. Fewer rivets were used to produce a cleaner body design. The self-piercing rivets combined with a structural adhesive provide fewer potential leak points and stronger joints, the company said. One multiplexed wiring system is shared throughout the 50,000 psi flame and chassis.

The most visible appearance transformation is the one-piece 2700 sq. in. bonded windshield. The curved windshield is constructed of laminated glass and has the largest driver visibility footprint in the Type C vehicle category, the company said. The Saf-T-Liner's sleek body and modern appearance, "changes forever what passenger, drivers, operators and technicians think about school buses," said O'Leary. "The Saf-T-Liner C2 doesn't look like any other bus on the market."

Thomas produces the Saf-T-Liner buses at its newly built manufacturing facility in High Point, N.C. The 275,000 sq.ft. facility was built on an existing 90-acre site and was finished with a three-quarter mile assembly line, automatic conveyor system and downdratt, filtered paint booths. Altering the styling of the bus and the manufacturing technology used to produce it, "we believe the Saf-T-Liner C2 will change the industry and alter perceptions about what a school bus can be," said O'Leary.

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Title Annotation:on-highway vehicles
Comment:Riding in style: new conventional bus from Thomas Built Buses.(on-highway vehicles)
Author:Geske, Dawn M.
Publication:Diesel Progress North American Edition
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2004
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