Yellowstone Bus Restoration a Labor of Love
The drivers were called Jammers, gearjammers. They drove the bright yellow buses filled with tourists, through Yellowstone National Park starting in 1917. But before they could do that, each new driver went on Frolic, or as it is now called, a Jammer’s Holiday. The week before tourist season, the seasoned drivers would drive the newbies through the park and explain and point out Yellowstone’s remarkable features.
These yellow buses were the most stylish way to tour the park, starting back when all the roads were dirt or gravel. As time went on, the buses were phased out and were sold off. These days, “The Jammer Trust holds a yearly get together and, for a few days out of the year, those bright yellow buses can once again cruise along the same winding roads from their glory days.” According to westyellowstonenews.com.
“The buses are mechanical masterpieces with their pointy-nosed fronts, a set of wide-eyed headlights staring down the open road, shiny black fenders, rows of windows, bells and whistles on the interior, yellow wall tires and a curvy sloping rear end.”
These yellow buses are very rare. yellowstoneinsider writes
“The White Motor Company designed and built an 11-passenger TEB bus for Yellowstone (and other national parks) in 1917, following it up with the now iconic 1920 model, featuring a bright yellow 15/45 chassis. These buses were all the rage from 1920 to March 30, 1925, when Yellowstone’s bus barn burnt down, taking over 90 irreplaceable vehicles with it.”
Given the fire that decimated the already rare numbers of buses, it’s very fortunate that generous folks have helped to rebuild, buy and restore these magnificent machines that were scattered around the country being stashed on farms and even sold for scrap metal. One was retrieved from Disney, another “bus was found in a canyon in Elko, Nev., and during wartime it was made into a flatbed truck."
One of the people has taken on the restoration of these magnificent machines is Merrill Maxfield of Salt Lake City. Past the age of 80, Merrill is on a mission to preserve as many of these vehicles as possible, as reported at ksl.
“There are so few left that I think it’s a shame to take them to the scrap pile, which is what might happen even to the ones I’ve got,” he said. “I’m getting old and my kids don’t have much interest in it, so I’m hoping that I can get enough done or some of these sold.”
“Merrill Maxfield estimated that it takes at least 2,000 hours to restore one bus. It’s an involved process that includes fabricating parts that are no longer available, like hood latches and fenders.” It’s not a cheap hobby either, just the tires can run over $2,000.
Buying one of these buses could run you about $70,000, but the money will go right back into restoring other buses.