Blue Bird All American

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Blue Bird All American
2009 blue bird all american fe.jpg
Blue Bird All American Forward Engine (2009 model)
Overview
Manufacturer Blue Bird Body Company (1948-1992)
Blue Bird Corporation (1992-present)
Production 1948-present
Body and chassis
Doors Single door
Two door (export)
Floor type High floor
Chassis

Forward Engine: Blue Bird (1952-present)

Rear Engine: Various (to 1988)
Blue Bird (1988-present)
Related Blue Bird Wanderlodge
Powertrain
Engine
  • Gasoline
  • Diesel
  • Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)
Capacity 54-90 (school bus)

The Blue Bird All American is an American school bus produced by the Blue Bird Corporation (originally Blue Bird Body Company). Introduced in 1948, the All American is the longest-produced transit-style (Type D) school bus by an American manufacturer. While not the first to use the transit-style design, the All American popularized it through most of the United States during the mid-20th century. It is produced in both a front engine-version and a rear-engine version.[1]

In October 2012, the latest All American was revealed as a 2014 model.[2] Previous updates to the model were done in 2010, 1999, 1989, 1977, and in 1962.

Overview[edit]

The Blue Bird All American was created as the design of schools in the U.S. education system changed immediately following World War II. Additionally, the baby boom generation caused a large increase in the demand for school buses in transportation. In rural communities, one-room schools were phased out in a nationwide movement in the US to consolidate schools into fewer and larger ones, facilitating graded class structures. This meant that fewer students were attending school in their immediate neighborhoods, particularly as they progressed into high school, and the previous practice of walking to school for many became impractical.

Company founder Albert Luce Sr. saw a design for a flat front bus at the 1948 Paris Auto Salon. Blue Bird Body Company developed their own transit-style design later that year which evolved into the Blue Bird All-American, often considered among one of the pioneering designs that gained widespread acceptance for transit-style school buses in North America. However, the first school bus manufacturer to design that type of school bus was Crown Coach Corporation. Crown designed their Supercoach in 1932 and had redesigned it in 1948; with minimal updates, the 1948-style Supercoach remained in production for 43 years (until Crown's 1991 demise).

Design History[edit]

At the 1948 Paris Auto Salon, Albert L. Luce, the owner of Blue Bird Body Company, saw a forward-control bus based on a GMC chassis. After the show, Luce brought back to Fort Valley, Georgia, a fully built forward-control bus produced in Belgium because he was unable to secure a supply of GMC chassis in order to produce bodies. The chassis for the first All Americans were conversions of conventional truck chassis, a common practice of the time.

First generation (1948-1956)[edit]

In 1952, Blue Bird became the first school bus manufacturer to produce its own chassis rather than rely on outside suppliers for the All American. Not only was the chassis produced in-house, but rather than modifying a truck chassis, it was designed from the ground up as a bus chassis.

Second generation (1957-1989)[edit]

Blue Bird All American
1980sBBAllAmerican.jpg
Early 1980s All American Rear Engine
Overview
Manufacturer Blue Bird Body Company
Production 1957-1988
Assembly Fort Valley, Georgia
Body and chassis
Layout front-engine 4x2
rear-engine 4x2
Related Blue Bird Wanderlodge
Powertrain
Engine
  • Gasoline
  • Diesel
Transmission
  • Manual
  • Automatic
Chronology
Predecessor Blue Bird All American (1952-1956)
Successor Blue Bird All American (1989-1998)
1980s All American Forward Engine in use as a police bus


In 1957, Blue Bird gave the body of the All American a ground-up redesign.[3] The body was given flatter sides and a taller roof. To improve visibility, the windshield was enlarged; flat glass was replaced by much larger panes of curved class nearly wrapping around to the entry door and driver window. In addition, extra glass was added to the entry door. In 1958, after federal legislation permitted their use on road vehicles, quad headlights were added to the All American.

For the next 31 years, the core design of the All American would see only gradual changes. For 1961, the All American became available in a rear-engine configuration; Blue Bird outsourced the chassis to GMC.[4]

In 1967, the front roof cap of all Blue Bird buses was redesigned; the curved design previously used was replaced by a vertical design. This design remained in use until 2013 on the All American and still is used on the Vision. In 1968 the front end of the All American received an update; the horizontally mounted headlights were replaced by vertically stacked units. The trim was simplified, with less chrome on the front end and a black-painted strip joining the two headlights together.

In 1977, federal regulations governing school buses underwent a series of updates to improve school bus safety in the United States. To meet the new rules, Blue Bird fitted the All American with higher-back seats and made several changes to improve the strength of the body. On the outside, the curved rear roof cap was redesigned to match the front cap; as more states began to adapt 8-light warning systems, this allowed for more room for the extra lights.

The second-generation All American went through the 1980s with relatively little change. While gasoline engines were still an available specification, concerns over fuel economy after the 1970s fuel crises had led to widespread adoption of diesel-fueled powertrains in high-capacity school buses.

In 1982, the fixed-position rear passenger window in the last row of seats was replaced by a drop-sash window, matching the others. In 1988, Blue Bird began production of its own rear-engine chassis for the first time. While the Forward Engine was more popular than the Rear Engine in most locales, producing its own rear-engine chassis allowed Blue Bird to better compete on price with buses where rear-engine buses were in demand. Today, all Blue Bird buses (with the exception of the Micro Bird) utilize a Blue Bird chassis.[5]


Although the second-generation All American has been out of production since 1988, the basic structure of the body is still in use today on the Vision; in modified form, it would be used to develop the TC/2000.



Third generation (1989-1998)[edit]

Blue Bird All American
90sAAFE Chicken Bus.jpg
1989-1991 All American Forward Engine (retired, photo from Costa Rica)
Overview
Also called Blue Bird TC/3000 (export)
Blue Bird CS
Production 1989-1998
Assembly Fort Valley, Georgia
Layout front-engine 4x2
rear-engine 4x2
Powertrain
Engine Diesel
Compressed Natural Gas
Transmission Automatic
Chronology
Predecessor Blue Bird All American (1958-1988)
Successor Blue Bird All American "A3"
1992-1998 All American Rear Engine

Coinciding with the introduction of Blue Bird's TC/2000 for the 1988 model year, the All American received its own extensive upgrades for 1989. Inside, the driver's compartment was completely redesigned with a modern instrument cluster and a smaller engine cover for front-engine models. Entry doors gained more visibility through the use of larger glass panels (a feature later adopted throughout the Blue Bird lineup). The most visible changes were focused on the front bodywork. Although not as simply adorned as the TC/2000, the amount of chrome from the grille was pared down significantly. Also, the vertically stacked round headlights (in use since 1964) were replaced by horizontally mounted rectangular headlights. To improve serviceability, Blue Bird made a number of the front body panels removable without the use of tools for general maintenance.

Another change that this generation of All American marked was its name used in export markets; to bring it in line with the TC/2000, the All American's export name changed to the Blue Bird TC/3000. Previously, Canadian exports (the largest market outside the United States) were re-branded as Blue Bird All Canadians.

Much like its ancestor, the 1989 All American would change little over its production run. However, Blue Bird became the first school bus manufacturer to offer a school bus with a compressed natural gas (CNG) powertrain. CNG-fueled All American REs first became an option in 1991.[6]

A3 Series (1999-2014)[edit]

Blue Bird All American "A3"
Scarborough bus 14.JPG
Overview
Also called Blue Bird TC/3000 (export)
Blue Bird CS
Production 1999-present
Assembly Fort Valley, Georgia
Layout front-engine 4x2
rear-engine 4x2
Powertrain
Engine Diesel
Compressed Natural Gas
Transmission Automatic
Chronology
Predecessor Blue Bird All American (1989-1998)
Blue Bird TC/2000
Successor Blue Bird All American "D3"

In 1999, Blue Bird introduced a new generation of the All American, internally designated "A3". Although the All American Forward Engine was sold alongside the TC/2000 and TC/1000, the 2000 All American Rear Engine served as a successor to the rear-engine TC/2000. The TC/2000 also donated its larger windshield to the All American. This was a change that necessitated a smaller grille (on FE versions); the Blue Bird lettering moved from above to below the grille in between the headlights.

Structurally, the All American A3 FE differed from its predecessor (and from all other front-engine school buses); the A3 FE marked the debuted the design of the "dropped" front frame. The front portion of the frame rails were designed lower than the rest of the frame. Consequently, that reduced the size of the engine housing and its intrusion in the driver's compartment. The driver's compartment also received a redesign of the instrument and control panels from the 1989-1999 generation.

2006 All American RE

Throughout its lifespan, the A3 All American changed relatively little. However, it came at a time when Blue Bird significantly trimmed its transit-style bus lineup. In 2001, the TC/1000 was removed from production and the last TC/2000 was produced in 2003. As such, at the end of its production life, the two A3 All Americans were serving the customer base initially served by five buses when it was introduced. After the introduction of the All American D3 in late 2008, the rear-engine version of the A3 was discontinued while the front-engine version remained in production alongside both D3 models. The A3 front-engine All American remained in production into 2012. And due to popular demand for the A3 All American, and that there are still A3's on back order, it is still being produced today, alongside Blue Bird's newest All American, the T3. The D3 was discontinued in 2013.

Along as its traditional role of a school bus, Blue Bird still produces the A3-generation All American for GSA orders as well as for export worldwide.

D3 Series (2010-2013)[edit]

Blue Bird All American "D3"
2010 blue bird all american fe 01.jpg
Overview
Also called Blue Bird TX3 (export)
Production 2009-present
Model years 2010-present
Assembly Fort Valley, Georgia
Layout front-engine 4x2
rear-engine 4x2
Powertrain
Engine Diesel
Compressed Natural Gas
Transmission Automatic
Chronology
Predecessor Blue Bird All American "A3"
Blue Bird TC/2000
Successor Blue Bird All American "T3"

The new-generation 2010 All American, known by the code name "D3", was unveiled at an industry trade show in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on October 28, 2008.[7] The exterior features the most extensive changes to the All American's body design in nearly 50 years.

A notable feature of the D3's redesign was the design of the headlights: the 2010 All American is the first version since the 1950s to have dual headlights instead of quad headlights and it is the first All American to have round headlights since 1988. Inside, the driver's compartment was completely redesigned for better visibility and ergonomics.

Other changes were intended to make the D3 more passenger-friendly; the D3's roof has squared-off corners to increase headroom while standing up and a flat floor is available as an option in front-engine models. Both of these designs were influenced by the TC/1000 of 1997-2001.

Model Name All American FE [8] All American RE [9]
Seating Capacity 54-90 66-84
Overall Length (inches) 354–487 inches (9.0–12.4 m) 405–489 inches (10.3–12.4 m)
Body Width (exterior) 96 inches (2.4 m)
Body Height (depending on configuration) 123–124 inches (3.1–3.1 m) 126 inches (3.2 m)
Wheelbase 141–232 inches (3.6–5.9 m) 189–273 inches (4.8–6.9 m)
Interior Headroom 78 inches (2.0 m)
GVWR Up to 36,200 pounds (16,400 kg)
Fuel Type(s) Diesel
  • Diesel
  • Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)
Engine Cummins ISB-10
(200–280 hp or 150–210 kW)
  • Cummins ISC-10
    (260–300 hp or 190–220 kW)
  • Cummins ISL-G CNG
    (250–280 hp or 190–210 kW)
Transmission
  • Allison PTS 2500 (standard)
  • Allison PTS 3000 (optional)
  • Allison PTS 3000 (standard)
  • Allison PTS B300 (optional)
Brakes

Standard

  • Hydraulic Brakes
  • 4-wheel Anti-lock

Optional

  • Air Brakes

Standard

  • Air Brakes
  • 4-wheel Anti-lock

T3 Series (2014-Present)[edit]

Blue Bird All American
Overview
Production 2013-present
Model years 2014-present
Assembly Fort Valley, Georgia
Powertrain
Engine Diesel
Compressed Natural Gas
Transmission Automatic
Chronology
Predecessor Blue Bird All American "D3"
Blue Bird All American "A3"

In October 2012, Blue Bird debuted a new generation of the All American as a replacement for the D3 generation.[10][11] The new All American shares much of its bodywork with the A3 generation (and the Vision); the rounded roofline is all-new. Aside from the grille, the front bodywork is carryover from the D3 generation, including its larger windshield.

Powertrain history[edit]

2008 Blue Bird All American RE (A3)

Engine[edit]

Gasoline
  • Chevrolet 427 cu in (7.0 L) Mark IV V8
Compressed Natural Gas (CNG)
  • Cummins ISL-G
  • John Deere 6.8L
  • John Deere 8.1L
Diesel
  • Caterpillar 3208
  • Caterpillar 3116
  • Caterpillar 3126
  • Caterpillar C7
  • Cummins VT555 "Triple Nickel" V8
  • Cummins B5.9/ISB
  • Cummins C8.3/ISC
  • Cummins L8.9/ISL
  • Detroit Diesel 8.2L "Fuel Pincher" V8

Transmission[edit]

Automatic
  • Allison AT545
  • Allison MT643
  • Allison 2000 Series
  • Allison World/MD3060
  • Allison B300
  • Allison PTS 2500
  • Allison PTS 3000

Export Markets[edit]

First Student UK school buses located in Wrexham, Wales.
Right-hand drive Blue Bird TC/3000 REs in Wales
Export Sales

Blue Bird has a history of exporting the All American to foreign markets. Outside of the United States, the name is changed. When it was first marketed to Canada, the All American was re-branded as the Blue Bird All Canadian. After Blue Bird began the production of the TC/2000 in the 1980s, the All Canadian was renamed the Blue Bird TC/3000, which also became its name in markets outside of North America. When the All American was redesigned for the 2010 model year, the name of all export versions was changed to Blue Bird TX3.

Central American Production

When Blue Bird had a manufacturing facility located in Guatemala (Blue Bird Central America), the All American body was produced. The All Americans produced in Central America differed from those in the United States in that they utilized locally available truck chassis (Ford, Mercedes-Benz, and Hino) instead of the in-house Blue Bird chassis. These buses were used for both student transport and mass transit. Blue Bird ended bus production in Guatemala in the early 1980s.

Variants[edit]

Blue Bird CS[edit]

NJ Transit Blue Bird CSFE3000 #608 in Jersey City, New Jersey at Journal Square.
A Blue Bird CS FE

The Blue Bird CS (Commercial Series) is a commercial transit bus derived from the All American product line. During their production runs, the TC/2000 and TC/1000 also had CS derivatives of their own. Due to its high parts commonality with the school bus line, the CS is the only commercial bus product Blue Bird still manufactures in its focus on school buses. Currently, Blue Bird has not designed a transit bus variant of the D3-generation All American.

Wanderlodge[edit]

Main article: Blue Bird Wanderlodge
"Large Marge", a 1980 Blue Bird Wanderlodge FC33
A 1980 Blue Bird Wanderlodge

The All American school bus body and chassis served as the platform for the Blue Bird Wanderlodge, a luxury motorhome. The All American body was used from the beginning of production in 1963 until 1990, when Blue Bird switched from the All American platform to a 102 inches (2.6 m) wide motorcoach platform, 6 inches wider than the school bus body.

Comparable products[edit]

Other Variants

UNC Traveling Science Laboratory in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
The All American is available as a specialty vehicle for a variety of uses.

Contemporary[edit]

IC Bus
  • IC Bus FE
  • IC Bus RE
Thomas Built Buses

Historic[edit]

AmTran/Ward
  • AmTran Genesis
  • AmTran RE
  • Ward President
  • Ward Senator
Carpenter/Crown by Carpenter
  • Carpenter Cavalier
  • Carpenter Chancellor
  • Carpenter Coach RE
  • Carpenter Corsair
  • Carpenter Counselor FE/RE (Crown FE/RE)
Crown Coach Corporaration
  • Crown Supercoach
  • Crown Supercoach Series II
Gillig Brothers/Gillig Corporation
New Bus, Inc.
  • New Bus Chickasha FE
Superior Coach Company
  • Superior SuperCruiser FE/RE
Thomas Built Buses
  • Thomas All Star EF
  • Thomas Saf-T-Liner MVP EF/ER
  • Thomas Saf-T-Liner ER/WestCoastER
Wayne Corporation/Wayne Wheeled Vehicles

See also[edit]

References[edit]