THE OPEN TOP BUS COMPANY
Since 2002
1743 Elm Street
Lake Charles, LA 70601
(337) 436-7755
      A Red Jammer Bus parked in front of
      Glacier Park Lodge.

    The color of the Red Buses is the
    Same as the Mountain Ash Berry.
    In July of 2002 there was a great 
    celebration for the return of the
    Red Busses after being refurbished.
    There was also a Blizzard that
    knocked out the power for miles
    around!
    The bus shown above is #89, the
    Bus that I was assigned to drive
    for the 2002 season.
     
    On my way up to Glacier national Park
    for the 2002 summer season I got
    stuck in the snow near Heart Butte,
    Montana. I was stuck for 5 hours.
    A really nice rancher came and
    pulled me out with his tractor and
    would not accept any money so I gave
    him a beautiful king-size pocket knife.
   This is the first trip up to Logan Pass for the newly refurbished
   Red Busses before the season actually started for 2002.
  Before the molds were made the models went
  through several stages of development. The
  model I am holding here is the "wax model"
  stage. There were earlier wax models that
  were not perfect in appearance. This one is on-  the-money so we used it for the mold making.
  The international tour is not available any more, but here is a picture of
  a trip where the Canada Border Patrol requires everyone to get out of
  the bus and empty all pockets and purses. While the passengers are out
  of bus the agents crawl all over the bus with flashlights.

History of the Open Top Bus Company and the 1:48 Replica Model

Dear Visitor,

Thank you for coming to this website!

In the summer of 2001 I was 50 years old and with the kids in college or working and with my wife's blessing, I had the opportunity to leave the heat of Louisiana to work as a tour guide in Glacier National Park. The entire Red Bus fleet had been grounded the year before and in 2001. Instead of being able to drive an iconic White Motor Company Model 706 Tour Bus, we gave tours with a fleet of Dodge vans. The vans ran well and got the job done all right, but in order for the passengers to see the mountain tops they had to almost lay their heads in their laps and look up. It just wasn't the same experience!

The Red Bus fleet had been taken out of service due to structural damage to the chassis. The frame rails had been indescriminately chopped a few years before in order to fit modern V-8 engines and automatic transmissions, and power steering between the frame rails. The mechanics had also taken a torch to a vital cross member thus allowing the frames to drastically flex when the steering wheel was turned. The frames were riddled with fatigue cracks. 

So here I was, a proud "Jammer" driving a Dodge van!

Meanwhile, the Ford Motor Company was alerted to the problem and made the incredible offer to completely refurbish the entire fleet, preserving their visage while completely re-engineering the drive train and installing new Ford drive trains and completely remanufacturing the entire upper portions of the Red Busses. Ford agreed to do this job at no cost to either the National Park Service or the transportation vendor.

I really fell in love with the absent red buses and decided to buy a replica at one of the gift shops. I visited every gift shop in and around Glacier National Park and the truth of the matter is that no one had ever made a nice scale replica of the Red Bus. There were little plaster-of-paris refrigerator door magnets and lots of post cards. There were beautiful photographs for sale as well, but not a real scale replica with rubber tires that actually rolled. 

During my quest to find a model I learned that while Glacier National Park at one time had 36 Red Busses, Yellowstone National Park had 98 busses but had gotten rid of their entire fleet in 1960, auctioning the buses off. Yellowstone had just 1 old bus that was fitted with what looked like a 1952 or '53 ford truck front end.  

The tourism season ended abruptly on September 11, 2001. People were stranded at Glacier National Park due to the NO FLY order. I was given the option of leaving Glacier early and I took it. Like every one else, I felt as though my guts had been ripped out. The trip home in my 1962 Chevy pickup truck with my homemade camper was a sad one. Every town had hundreds of American flags flying and the people looked lost. 

When I got home I made the final decision to develop a scale replica of the Red Bus and the Yellowstone bus.  It was a very big and expensive endeavor to have the molds made. The paint colors are spot on and, as with anything, I learned a lot by doing this.
Many visitors to Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks find it exciting to own a tangible memento of their visit to the parks. The die-cast model collectors and railroad modelers have commented favorably regarding the attention to detail inherent in each model.
Gift shops and other dealers who carry our product love having a product that is so widely accepted by their customers.

I have enjoyed my role in the development of the 1936 White Model 706 Bus replica. It has truly been a labor of love. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the kindness of the friends I have made along the way.

We only sell the busses on a wholesale basis. The minimum order is 24 units.

Sincerely,

Duane Brassette

History of the White Model 706 Tour Bus

The White Model 706 Tour Bus was developed specifically for sightseeing in the National Park System of the United States of America.

In 1935 four manufacturing companies agreed to participate in product evaluations at Yosemite National Park to determine the best vehicle for touring in western national parks. Although the transition from horse drawn carriages to engine powered coaches had already occurred, there was no standard for seating capacity or power requirements. Early passenger vehicles were either underpowered or did not carry enough passengers. The vehicles were loaded with sandbags to simulate passenger weight and driven throughout Yosemite National Park. With its longer wheelbase and powerful 318 cubic inch 6 cylinder engine, the White Model 706 outperformed the other entries.

The styling of the White Model 706 did not go unnoticed! Renowned industrial designer, Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky was responsible for the radiator cowling and grill. The coach was the product of the Bender Body Company.

Yellowstone ordered 27 of the Model 706’s for the1936 season and by 1940, there were 98 Model 706’s at Yellowstone. The older Yellowstone fleet was gradually phased out. The Model 706’s were used through the mid 1960’s when they were sold. The Skagway Streetcar Company of Skagway, Alaska assembled a fleet of eight units, which were used until 2001, and then sold, to Yellowstone National Park for restoration, exhibition and limited tour duty. Two modernized Yellowstone Busses are used daily by Historic Battlefield Bus Tours of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Museums and private collectors own several.

Glacier National Park purchased 35 of the Model 706’s between 1936 and 1940. The Model 706’s were used in Glacier except for 1943-1946 due to World War II. In 1989 the fleet was upgraded to include power steering and automatic transmission. In 1999 the entire fleet was temporarily removed from service because of chassis metal fatigue. The Reds, as they are called in Glacier, were retrofitted with entirely new running gear, completely refurbished, and returned to service for the 2002 season. The current fleet of 33 units can operate on either propane or gasoline.  One unit, #78, was never modernized and is stored at the East Glacier, Montana garage facility. The tour guide drivers have come to be called “Gear Jammers” or “Jammers”, reminiscent of the time when the original gear boxes, requiring double clutching, could often be heard as they were jammed into gear.