Grumman Flxible 870

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Grumman Flxible 870
870
Grumman Flxible - 870
Years of manufacture 1978 to 1983
Length 35 or 40 feet
Width 96 or 102 inches
Power/Fuel Diesel

The Grumman Flxible 870 was a high floor transit bus produced in the United States. In the last year of production, the 870 became known as the Grumman Metro.[1] Grumman sold Flxible to General Automotive Coporation in 1983 and production of the Metro continued under the Flxible name (see Flxible Metro).

Contents

Design history

The 870 can be seen as the final iteration of a new and innovative transit bus that Rohr, the parent company of Flxible, began working on in the early 1970s. The first bus was dubbed the "Hi Value" bus and was meant to be lightweight and cost effective to manufacture. Rohr was also a participant in the Urban Mass Transit Association's (UMTA) Transbus program. The goal was to design a bus that was light weight, comfortable, and accessible to the elderly and disabled.

The Rohr Transbus had tandem front and rear axles with low profile tires. The under-45-foot-long bus had a one-step floor height of 22 inches as mandated by the UMTA to offer easier access. The bus had large, deeply tinted, flush-mounted windows and air conditioning to improve comfort. Three buses were shown off around the United States. However, the future of the Transbus project became uncertain by 1976 as concerns rose over development and production costs.

Both General Motors and Rohr announced their intention to to produce so-called "Advanced Design Buses" (ADB) in the interim. The General Motors RTS and the Grumman Flxible 870 incorporated features of the Transbus project, but would cost less and enter production sooner. The UMTA conceded that a 24-inch floor height achieved through a combination of lowered floor height and kneeling feature would be acceptable to qualify for federally funded procurements.[2]

The 870 featured contemporary angular styling. Like the Transbus design, it had large, tinted flush-mounted passenger windows. It also had a lower floor height than previous buses and was equipped with a wheelchair lift. The bus's aluminum side panels were attached with hidden fasteners.

Rohr sold Flxible in January 1978 to Grumman, which became Grumman Flxible. The 870 soon entered production and the Flxible New Look was discontinued. In September of that year, a consortium comprising of Los Angeles, Miami, and Philadelphia issued a tender under Transbus specification. However, no manufacture responded with a bid. Grumman Flxible cited the risks involved in producing the Transbus design outweighed the benefits.[2]

The New York City Transit Authority placed an order for 851 Grumman Flxible 870 buses. Built in 1980, this order brought to light a design flaw in the frame design of the 870. Serious cracks that developed forced the buses from service and prompted legal action between Grumman, Rohr and the transit authority. Grumman agreed to rectify the problem on the existing buses. According to a Grumman spokesperson, engineers had designed the undercarriage of the 870 to save weight. This was a new design consideration for buses at the time, and they did not anticipate the metal fatigue the buses experienced on the poor road conditions in New York.[3]

Grumman submitted an 870 to tests on what they believed to be one of the more deteriorated streets in New York. Data collected from the tests was used to redesign the frame of the bus. The redesigned 870 became known as the Grumman Metro. It would continue to be built under the Flxible name after Grumman sold Flxible to General Automotive Corporation in 1983.

Models

Beginning in April 1980, the first two digits were changed to represent the length of the bus (ie 35096-8-1 or 40102-6-1).

Model number Length
(feet, inches)
Width
(inches)
Engine
45096-6-1 35' 96" 6 cylinder
45096-8-1 35' 96" 8 cylinder
45102-6-1 35' 102" 6 cylinder
45102-8-1 35' 102" 8 cylinder
53096-6-1 40' 96" 6 cylinder
53096-8-1 40' 96" 8 cylinder
53102-6-1 40' 102" 6 cylinder
53102-8-1 40' 102" 8 cylinder

Specifications

Engine

Transmission

Operators

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Demonstrator/engineering units

Below is a list of known demonstrator and engineering buses

Fleet Number Thumbnail Year VIN Engine Transmission Notes align="center" 90001 "Hi Value bus"
1-3 1874 90002-90004 Transbus prototypes
? ? 90005 "Metrobus"
? 1976 90006 870 prototype - 29 inch floor height
? ? 90007 870 prototype - 34 inch floor height
? 1978 90288 Cummins
  • 53102 demo.
  • Built to MARTA specs.
? 1979 90911
  • 53096-8-1 demo.
  • Built to Tidewater RTA specs.
100 1979 91179
  • 53102-8-1 demo.
  • New York City Transit Authority demo.
? 1981 BD093121 40102-6 plywood floor demo.
? 1982 CD094607
  • 40102-6T demo.
  • Sold to Colonial Williamsburg B-3.

Preserved units

Year Thumbnail Serial Original Owner Fleet Number Current Owner
1980 NYCTA/NJ Transit 401/1596 New Jersey Transportation Heritage Center.
1981 NJ Transit 1128 New Jersey Transportation Heritage Center.

References

  1. http://www.nytimes.com/1982/01/22/nyregion/grumman-s-flxible-to-become-a-metro.html
  2. 2.0 2.1 Katzman, Robert A. Institutional Disability: The Saga of Transportation Policy for the Disabled. 1986 Brookings Institution Press: Washington.
  3. Dunlap, David W. 10 October 1981. Grumman Finds Perfectly Aged Potholes for Testing Buses. The New York Times. Chicago, IL.
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