National Bus Trader
The Magazine of Bus Equipment for the United States and Canada
Volume XIV, No. 6 May, 1991
Regular readers may recall that unusual
coach that showed up at the Cajun Coun-
try Bus Bash in Lafayette, Louisiana in M...
i to supply Eagle silver siding for their
. coach
In 1986, Al moved into the position of
sales & marketing directo...
side of Salado, Texas. Although only ten
minutes off the interstate, and not far from
Temple, the location is rather r...
trance door with a lower window. Inter-
nally, the coach is given a similar treatment
with a new dash, new headliner, ...
direction. Coach owners with a lower
budget seeking some upgrading and
modernization can go with the Cap-A-Bus
Delta pack...
of 6

National BusTrader

The Invader by Bob Piatt featured in National Bus Trader Volume XIV, No.6 May 1991 Article written by Larry Plachno
Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Published in: Career      

Transcripts - National BusTrader

  • 1. National Bus Trader The Magazine of Bus Equipment for the United States and Canada Volume XIV, No. 6 May, 1991
  • 2. Regular readers may recall that unusual coach that showed up at the Cajun Coun- try Bus Bash in Lafayette, Louisiana in May of 1990. It had the appearance of a 96C3 except that MCI never built such a model. Inquiries produced the fact that the coach had initially been built as a conventional MC-8 and had been recently substantially remanufactured by a company called Cap- A-Bus based in Texas and Florida. Known as the CAB 896C3 Invader, the coach itself attracted quite a bit of atten- tion during Bus Bash. Not unexpectedly, before the day was over the coach had taken the first place trophy for the best modem coach on display. Your NATIONAL Bus TRADER staff reasoned that there was more than a simple story behind this coach and the company that produced it. As a result, we made an effort to track down the appropriate information and visit the manufacturing plant so we could report in detail to our readers. The People Involved The two primary people involved in the Cap-A-Bus operation include Bob Piatt in Salado, Texas and Al Runfola in Apopka, Florida. Both have solid backgrounds in the intercity bus industry and seem to be making a success of their new creation. Bob Piatt’s introduction into the intercity bus industry came in October of 1976 when he began work in the jig shop at Transpor- tation Manufacturing Corporation in Roswell, New Mexico. At one point or another, Bob's responsibilities included drafting for the flame cutting machine, drilling of jig templates, general troubleshooting, training welding techni- cians as well as assisting in the MC-8’s facelift into the MC-9. He later moved into the new Citycruiser transit bus program at T. IC. Here he developed patterns and parts and set up production for the T-30 The Invader From The CAB Invader made its debut here at the Cajun Coun Cap-A-Bus by Larry Plachno in May of 1990. Looking very much like a new 96C3, the coach impressed attendees and rolled away with a first class trophy. This first production coach is now operating commercially in Massachusetts. NBT PHOTO BY LARRY PLACHNO. transit bus that TMC put into production at this time. After leaving TMC, Bob spent some time working for a conversion company in Alabama and then, in August of 1982, began working with Arrow Coach Lines. Here he moved up to vice president of Ar- row Manufacturing in Killeen, Texas. Bob organized and started this manufacturing arm of Arrow Coach Lines. The company later changed its name to Fibertech and went on to manufacture fiberglass pro- ducts for TMC. By May of 1986, Bob had elected to go off on his own and try to find a practical way to remanufacture an older MCI into a newer style. His first effort in this regard centered around taking a badly damaged 1973 MC-7 and giving it more of an MC-9 appearance. Bob relates that he was not satisfied with the resulting coach. Hence. he acquired the current facility in Salado. Texas and started the lengthy process of setting up his own production to manufac- ture the parts he wanted. The other individual deeply involved in Cap-A-Bus is Al Runfola. After serving in the Air Force, Al worked briefly in both aviation and auto sales. By the early 805. Al had started selling for Proven Product Innovators, Inc. , a manufacturing com- pany in Florida, and began his career L“. bus parts. Al indicates that he is grate to Clancy Cornell of ABC Bus for his . major success in selling bus parts. In 193- Al met with Clancy at ABC and arranged try Bus Bash in Lafayette, Louisiana
  • 3. i to supply Eagle silver siding for their . coach ES. In 1986, Al moved into the position of sales & marketing director for American Coach Products, Inc. of Orlando, Florida, a manufacturer of bus body panels. Even- tually, Al moved back to Proven Product Innovators as sales manager. Al's dream of offering the intercity bus industry a factory alternative for body parts , came about in 1988 when Al and his wife, Anita, purchased Proven Product In- novators with the help of an investor. Al's concept met with immediate success but the Greyhound bankruptcy in mid-1990 caused some changes and A1 elected to resign. He then started his own company known as International Bus & Parts, Inc. based in Apopka, Florida. The Bob Piatt-Al_Runfola relationship first started in 1986 when Al was selling bus parts to Arrow. The relationship matured and expanded in recent years when Bob became more involved with his Cap-A-Bus project with its resulting manufacturing while Al became more in— volved with his own company for selling bus parts. Today, Al Runfola’s International Bus and Parts, Inc. puts out a 24-page catalog which primarily offers body parts for 3 I I 5 I , _ MCI’s and Eagles. Most of the parts are produced by various manufacturers using dies or specifications supplied by Interna- tional Bus and Parts, Inc. The company also serves as the marketing arm for Bob Piatt’s Cap-A-Bus. International Bus and Parts, Inc. sells many of the parts produc- ” llnto The . (407) 880-9700 Y our Best STYLE. .DL’RABILIT*Y. .ond. I.COIti1i‘O1tTfor. . RIDE -— Or —- DRIVE Call For Brochure II‘lTERNATIOI*lAL BUS 8 PARTS, Inc. 2055 Sprint Blvd. , Suite D, P. O. Box 1009, Apopka, Florida 32704 This interesting photo is effectively a "before and after” shot. On the right is a new CAB 896C3 Invader while the coach on the left is a conventional Greyhound MC-8. The Invader was built from a conventional MC-8 but the differences between the two coaches is remarkable. CAB PHOTO. ed by Cap-A-Bus and also markets the remanufactured coaches. Cap-A-Bus Facilities The manufacturing facilities of Cap-A- Bus are located on a 17-acre site just out Buy T. . v}‘ ‘V ‘ hr 1-800-INTL- BUS
  • 4. side of Salado, Texas. Although only ten minutes off the interstate, and not far from Temple, the location is rather rural and not easy to find. Your NATIONAL Bus TRADER staff got lost twice in trying to locate the buildings. However, the advantage of the location is its low overhead and its moderate year-’round weather. What impressed us was the extensive manufacturing of parts going on. We were soon informed that the remanufacturing of older MCI coaches into the new style re- quired numerous parts that simply are not available elsewhere. Hence, in developing his upgraded MCI Invader package, Bob Piatt was forced into designing, develop- ing and producing a wide range of parts. Production facilities cover a substantial area and include both metal parts and a separate shop for producing fiberglass parts. It was noted that much of the metal working and fiberglass equipment and facilities were of an older variety requiring more manual labor. However, Bob pointed out that until now they had been adequate for the low volume required. Because of increasing sales, Cap-A-Bus is being forc- ed into both expansion and modemization. A brand new and more modern building is currently under construction adjacent to the existing facility. Once complete, it will be equipped with more modern and more productive equipment. We were lucky enough to be on hand when the Cap-A-Bus crew rolled an MC-7 into the shop to start work on another remanufactured Invader package. What surprised us was that the crew began to A new CAB 896C3 Invader sits in front of the Cap-A-Bus facility in Salado, Texas early this past ary. This main building is located on a 17-acre rural site only minutes from Interstate 35 and not far from Temple, Texas. In addition to bays for rebuilding the coaches, the facility also Nsr PHOTO sr LARRY PLACHNO. Febru manufactures metal and fiberglass bus parts. strip the coach down to the bare frame. It quickly became obvious that the Invader package was a great deal more than just a cosmetic change. Bob indicated that the standard Invader package procedure did indeed include stripping the coach down to the frame. At that point any existing frame problems are corrected. In addition, some known weak spots in the basic MCI framework are rein- forced or otherwise improved. It is only after this, and the application of an epoxy -3-. ~:-J. -;s. v.£*1). .'. 'i I M ‘_ A . “"1 I’, M. ‘ ,5 ‘ if I '53:. ‘ 1 Ir §“*-: m , Danny Brandstetter and Bill Davis of the CAB staff are busy starting to prepare an MC-7 for installing an Invader package. The procedure calls for stripping the coach down to the bare frame. The frame is then repaired, reinforced and primed before the new Invader components are in- stalled. Nsr PHOTO BY LARRY PLACHNO. A primer to prevent corrosion, that the new exterior and interior components are plac- ed on the coach. Hence, the completed In- vader not only looks like a new MCI but may also be sturdier and have a longer useful life than an average MCI of com- parable vintage. Products and Services Cap-A-Bus offers several different pro- ducts and services and most have a multitude of different variations and op- tions available. The Invader can probably be considered the primary product at Cap-A-Bus. This is the remanufacturing of an older MCI into a coach that resembles the new MCI style. When using an MC-8, the resulting coach is known as the Invader 896C3 while an Invader built up from an MC-7 is known as a 796C3. The Invader program is also available on MC-SA’s and MC-9's. All of the work on these coaches is done at the Cap-A-Bus plant in Salado, Texas and many of the parts are also produced at that same plant. The first step in the pro- cedure is to bring the original coach into the plant and strip it down to the frame. After frame repair and reinforcing work, the coach receives an anti-corrosion epoxy primer and dissimilar metals are separated by mastic and latex caulking. Externally, ‘ the coach receives a new aluminum paint- I able exterior, new fiberglass caps and front 3 piece, and new lights and fixtures. In ad- dition, the coach is given numerous other minor items such as extruded aluminum drip mouldings, new belt rail rubber moldings, and a modern air-operated en-
  • 5. trance door with a lower window. Inter- nally, the coach is given a similar treatment with a new dash, new headliner, new seat covers and enclosed airline-type parcel racks. It is interesting that Cap-A-Bus has made a point to utilize standard glass in their work. The Invader uses standard MCI 96/102 windshield glass. Regular MC-9 glass is used on the Invader passenger windows although an optional six-inch raised roof version uses the newer 96/102 window glass. The resulting completed Invader coach virtually matches the appearance of a new MCI. As far as we can tell, it has only two significant shortcomings over a new coach. One is that it retains its old 96-inch width. The second is that the Cap-A-Bus dash is not as nice as the standard unit provided by MCI. However, Bob Piatt has indicated that Cap-A-Bus is currently working on a better dash for the Invader series. Cap-A-Bus also offers an extended package known as the Invader II. This brings the mechanical features up to new or virtually—new standards to match the reliability and condition of the remainder of the coach. The major components in— clude a remanufactured engine, transmis- sion and differential from Jasper Engine of Jasper, Indiana. This remanufacturing by o In a separate part of the facility, CAB makes it own fiberglass parts. The Invader package re- quires several fiberglass parts including parcel racks, dash and caps. I-Iere, Bruce Winters of the CAB staff starts work on another fiberglass part for the Invader package. NBT PHOTO BY LARRY PLACHNO. Jasper goes well beyond the normal ma- jor overhaul and includes additional work and components to insure reliability and long life. Also included on the Invader II package is remanufacturing of the coach air conditioning, heating, electrical, brake, suspension and steering systems. While the Invader II package provides an upgrade from the standard Invader, there is also a package that goes in the other ‘.1 EST. 1942 DIESEL ENGINES TRANSMISSIONS DIFFERENTIALS rrflica-« EIIIIIIIESIIIIIIISIIISSIIIIIS REMANUFACTURED POWER TRAIN PRODUCTS for longevity, economy and peace of mind quality! FOR INTERCITY AND CAP - A - BUS Manufacturer of the INVADER can guarantee their buses for 2 years by using JASPER REMANUFACTURED COMPONENTS. TRANSIT APPLICATION CALL 1-800-827-7455 Factory & General Office: Hwy. 231 S. - P. O. Box 650 - Jasper, IN 47547
  • 6. direction. Coach owners with a lower budget seeking some upgrading and modernization can go with the Cap-A-Bus Delta package. Although not as fancy nor as expensive as the Invader package, the Delta package includes some of the same features. Up until now, most of the work at Cap- A-Bus has been directed towards upgrading older MCI coaches. Currently on the drawing board is a new package that is being developed for the Model 10 Eagle. It will include new outside caps and liners and provide more of a paintable exterior. Over and above the regular rebuilding packages offered, Cap-A-Bus will also take on smaller tasks at their facility. While we were there, they were involved with some servicing and minor work on a converted MCI used as a private motorhome. They also will supply parts or install portions of their packages. For example, several operators have recently purchased ex- Greyhound 102A3’s equipped with con- ventional parcel racks. Cap-A-Bus has been receiving inquiries about using their standard Invader components to replace the parcel racks with the modern enclosed airline style. Current Success Although officially on the market for less than a year, the Cap-A-Bus Invader has met with remarkable success. That first production coach displayed at the Cajun Country Bus Bash '90 impressed the bus people to such an extent that it walked On the left is a new building now taking shape adjacent to the current Cap-A-Bus plant. When completed, it will permit use of more modern production equipment for metal and fiberglass parts. On the right is National Bus Trader's MC-8 which carried our staff for this visit. NET PHOTO BY LARRY PLACHNO. away with the first place trophy for best modern coach. That coach had been remanufactured for Ray LeVesque in Massachusetts and is now operating in regular commercial service. Cap-A-Bus displayed an Invader 896C3 at the recent UBOA Bus Expo in New Orleans in January. Dave Westerfield, of the Good Time Chariot Travel Club in Lynnwood, Washington, was on hand to officially ac- cept delivery of the coach. He was so im- pressed that he has ordered three more In- Cap-A-Bus experienced substantial activity on the floor of the recent UBOA Bus Expo in New Orleans. From left to right; Dave Westerfield of the Good Time Chariot Travel Club accepts the keys to a new Invader (in the background) from Bob Piatt and Al Runfola of Cap-A-Bus. Dave ‘ Westerfield was so impressed with the coach that he immediately signed an order for three more. 1 . NET PHOTO BY LARRY PLACHNO. Z! Bus Invader package. vaders, all model 796C3 built from MC-7’s, for delivery in the near future. Meanwhile, Cap-A-Bus hopes to expand into their new building by summer so that they have in- creased production space to keep up with orders. Readers interested in the Invader or bus parts can phone Al Runfola at (800)-INTL- BUS or (407) 880-9700 to receive a copy of the 1991 International Bus and Parts catalog or a brochure on the new Cap-A- Reprinted from the May 1991 issue of National Bus Trader Magazine The Magazine of Bus Equipment for the United States and Canada. ‘ 9698 West Judson Road Polo, IL 61064 (815) 946-2341

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