The Ohio Museum of Transportation
Coach Manufacturer History
Beaver Metropolitan Coach Co., Inc.
Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania
A small coach manufacturing company called Beaver Metropolitan Coaches, Inc., throughout most of it's existence, was based out of Beaver Falls, PA and was a common site in the Western Pennsylvania area during the 40's and 50's. Beaver Coach had a relatively interesting history which will be highlighted here.
As originally conceived in the early 1930's, Beaver Coach was formed by the Beaver Valley Motor Coach Co (BVMCCo) to manufacture inexpensive buses for the BVMCCo fleet. After manufacturing 6 coaches for the fleet, the new bus attracted the attention of the Logan Valley Bus Company who placed an order for 2 of the new buses. Also at that time, the company was organized as the Beaver Transit Equipment Co. along with a subsidiary known as the Keystone Transit Equipment Co. to manufacture the seats. An ACF salesman, Guy M. Davis, saw potential in the Beaver and quit ACF to join the new bus company.
With the help of Davis, orders from more distant operators started to come in. Most of the orders were one bus orders but orders none the less. One of the early Beaver Coaches even ran for Greyhound during the mid 30's. These buses were still front engine coaches with the passenger door behind the front axle. This style of coach was known as a "metropolitan" design and since the term metropolitan referred to the city and the Beaver was essentially a city bus, the name of the company was changed to the Beaver Metropolitan Coaches, Inc. in late 1936.
During 1936, the Public Service Coordinated Transport of New Jersey which had looked at the Beaver metropolitan design earlier, urged Yellow Coach (later General Motors coach division) to manufacture a bus for them based off of the Beaver design. The Yellow Coach model 733 and the Beaver Metropolitan design were almost identical in appearance and design. The decision was made to go with Yellow as they could produce the buses faster and had better factory service.
The period of 1936 and 1938 saw many things happening. In April of 1937, the first transit bus that had the door in front of the axle was made and was known as model 500. This bus still had the engine up front. Both the true transit design as well as the metropolitan design were being produced at this time. Constant improvements were being made to the designs during this period including different chassis and engines, widening the bus as well as making it longer and finally in 1938 the introduction of the rear-engine bus design.
The model 25-PT "pusher-transit" design resembled slightly the then current ACF design. From the start of the company to 1938, this model was the most popular of the Beaver Coach offerings. In concurrent years from 1938 through 1942, several different new models were introduced along with the continued production of the metropolitan designs and front-engine transit buses. The metropolitan and front engines lasted until 1949 and after that all production was rear engine transit coaches.
Production ceased in 1942 due to the war. During this time, high capacity passenger carriers were manufactured under the Keystone Transit Equipment Co.'s name. These were converted trailers basically and were known as "Keystones". Only 64 of these were made but served the war effort by helping transport personnel to and from defense plants and military bases.
After the war ended, Beaver was able to resume production of it's buses. The production resumed in February of 1945. The 25-PT model was not made after this but the other transit buses were redesigned. As with streetcars, there were "pre-war" and "post war" models. The post war models is what made Beaver a name for itself. The B-35-PT model, the most popular model produced, accounted for over 80% of all post war sales. This bus was a direct competition for the Fitzjohn Cityliner as was the pre war 35-PT model was. It is interesting to note that the Pittsburgh area was a stronghold for both Fitzjohn as well as Beaver. The 35 passenger Beaver was made primarily because of the fact that Fitzjohn was so prominent in the area.
During the early 50's orders were drying up for Beaver. In a last ditch attempt to save the company, Guy Davis purchased the company, renamed it as the National Coach Manufacturing Co but preserved the Beaver name and emblem. There were orders worth $250,000 however many of the orders failed to materialize. National Coach only manufactured 9 coaches of which 8 were for a government order and were bid lower than the cost to manufacture them.
The death blow to Beaver came in 1956 when the plant was inundated by two floods. The cost of resuming operation was to much so the company closed down. A former employee acquired the spare parts supply and continued to sell parts and service advice to the properties that operated Beavers.
Even if Beaver had managed to stay in business, it is doubtful they would have lasted more than a couple years. GM was the principal player in the bus field as well as public ownership coming into it's own. Beaver would not have been able to compete without a more modern plant and new designs. The money wasn't there to do either.
Beaver Coaches continued to run however. In some places into the mid 70's. The biggest single event to reduce the surviving Beaver fleet occurred in 1964 with the consolidation of the 33 independent transit operators in Pittsburgh into one public entity. By 1965, the Beavers, along with all other non-GM's in Pittsburgh were scrapped. Even Beaver Coaches parent company and subsidiaries, the BVMCCo stopped operating it's Beavers by the end of the 60's-early 70's in favor of used GM equipment (The parent company, Beaver Valley Motor Coach Company went out of business in 1979. A history of the Beaver Valley Motor Coach Company can be found at the Antique Motor Coach Association of Pennsylvania site for those that are interested in learning more).
Only three Beavers are known to survive today in some state of preservation. One is restored and operational in PA, another is partially restored but not operational and is in PA and the third is not restored nor operational and is in New Jersey.
Page updated on August 13, 2004