The Little Engine That Couldn’t
EDITOR’S NOTE: Another bus Liberty converted in the pre-Prevost era was the MC-5, the first American-made bus from Motor Coach Industries (MCI). This excerpt from Jeanne Konigseder’s unpublished memoir details some of the challenges the family encountered with this particular model.
In 1975, we converted our first MC-5 bus, the most modern platform we’d worked on to date. We were really getting up in the world – but not without some growing pains.
We were scheduled to show the vehicle at FMCA convention in Salem, Oregon. The trip out west was uneventful until we reached the mountains in Montana. The bus couldn’t make it over Bozeman Pass without overheating. After the first attempt, we backtracked to Billings and stopped at a garage, where it was determined that the radiator was not cooling sufficiently. So we had a new one air-shipped in, got it installed, and took it for a test drive on the Billings airport road that inclined steeply up to the plateau where the airport sits.
Well, we made it up just fine, so it was back on the road to Bozeman – and once again, the bus overheated trying to get over the pass. Back to Billings, where we decided to tow the bus to a bus garage in Bozeman and see if they could figure out a solution. We had more parts shipped in (we still have some of them today), but the cooling problem remained.
We still had to get to the convention, so on we went (it was mostly downhill from there) and finally made it to Salem. After getting parked in the display area, I caught wind – literally – of a strong odor coming from the holding tank. Sure enough, the plastic tank had sprung a leak at the corner seam. We called our plant at home and had them air-ship a 100-gallon plastic holding tank to us. Frank Jr. (probably 10 at the time) and his dad went to work removing the old tank and took it into the washroom to empty it, Frank Jr. standing on the back of the stool and guiding the flow into the bowl. That’s when he discovered that a toilet would keep flushing as long as water kept filling it.
Problems aside, the show went well and we went on to build two more MC-5 coaches, all of which sold successfully. But the headaches involved in converting “million-mile Greyhounds” were starting to get old. A solution would present itself a couple of years later.
NEXT IN THE SERIES
Liberty’s ‘dog days’ come to an end and a new era begins in our final installment, “The Start of Something Big”.