John Lewis Knapp and the Twin Coach Company

John Lewis Knapp at Twin Coach, Kent, Ohio

John Lewis KNAPP was good with his hands – if it had an engine and four wheels, he could fix it! He put his mechanical aptitude to work as a mechanic at the Twin Coach Company.

According to my husband’s uncle, Don Knapp, his dad was responsible for keeping the owners’ personal motorcars running. He was also heavily involved in helping the founders with their brief venture into the sport of auto racing, including a car that ran at the famed Indianapolis Speedway.

But more from Uncle Don on that later. Don has promised to provide more information about his dad’s venture into auto racing that will be featured in a later post.

First, some background on the Twin Coach Company.

Founded in Kent, Ohio in 1927 by brothers William B. and Frank R. Fageol, the company started making trucks in California during World War I, as well as automobiles for domestic use. They brought their “Safety Coach” east in 1923, and settled in Kent, Ohio in 1924 as the Fageol Motor Company.

The company was sold to American Car and Foundry Company of Dayton, Ohio, in 1925.

In 1927, the Fageols’ developed a new form of public transportation called the “Twin Coach,” the first urban motor coach. The Fageols re-established themselves in their original Kent location as the Twin Coach Company.

The Fageol Motors and Twin Coach companies were instrumental in the history of public transportation in the United States. The dual-motored “Twin Coach” was the first urban transit or streetcar-type motor coach. The Twin Coach Company ranked second in urban bus manufacturing for approximately twenty years. The company also manufactured airplane parts and machine engines, as well as a new house-to-house mail delivery truck called the “Pony Express.”

In 1958, Twin Coach sold its marine engine business and moved its headquarters to Cheektowga, New York. In 1962, stockholders approved a name change for the company and the Twin Coach Company became Twin Industries Corporation.

I am willing to bet that no one knows there is a “Twin Coach Song.” This is sung to the tune of the Army song “Those Caissons Keep Rolling Along.”

1st Verse

They will work with a will,
Every Twin Coach man – until
All our buses are rolling along.
We won’t stop – we won’t stop
‘Till America’s on top,
And the Axis is broken and gone.
2nd Verse

On the job day and night
While our soldiers dig and fight,
There is work for each Patriot to do.
One for all, all for one
We will get those buses done.
They will roll ‘till the whole thing is done

Chorus

Then it’s Hi Hi Hee
The Twin Coach Company.
Chins up, our zeal will never lag,
With all our might
We will win the fight
For our country, our Home and our Flag.

If you wish to learn more about Twin Coach and its history in Kent, here are a few links to some websites you might find interesting:

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6 Responses to John Lewis Knapp and the Twin Coach Company

  1. Bo Tucker says:

    I saw a strange steel chassis and bus looking structure and will not quite, until I figure out what it is. I believe it reads FAGEOL, n has its wheels stripped, it’s door is bolted and Windows. Covered in metal n painted white. But I know there’s some history in that Hunk of Steel. Why are there hooks on front n back?

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  2. W.G. Lovell says:

    I grew up in Chicago and remember quite well all of the postwar Fageol Twin Coaches and later Flxible Twin Coaches. They operated on propane, gas, diesel and electric(trolley bus). The operators were the Chicago Surface Lines, Chicago Transit Authority, Bluebird Coach Lines, Chicago Civil Defense, Leyden Motor Coach and a specially built Twin owned by the Fred B. Snite family. To the best of my knowledge, the Chicago area operated more postwar Fageol-Twins and Flxible-Twins than any other city or transit system. I also remeber seeing Twins in Rockford, Illinois, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, second-hand Twins in Kenosha, Wisconsin and St. Catherines, Ontario, Canada. I was always very impressed with their modern design and always looked better than any other bus that was built then and now! Plus the fact that Twin Coach offered an alternative fuel, propane and electric(trackless trolley), made them unique in being the leaders for a cleaner environment! Twin Coach was a very innovative company and well ahead of their time, not to mention just an all around very interesting company and one worth researching!

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    • knappnotes says:

      Thanks for sharing your memories of Twin Coach and how they were used in the Chicago area. I didn’t realize they used different kinds of fuel. They really were well ahead of their time! Thanks for sharing your memories!

      Ann

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  3. jerry fretto says:

    I love those postawr Fageol buses . The best looking streamlined bus . Enjoyable and futuristic. It seemed like a good place to work… with great people there ! Jerry Fretto

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  4. William (Bill) Fageol says:

    I remember John Knapp. He often worked in the Expermental department that was run by my uncle.

    As for the history of Twin Coach, Coachbuilt is a collection of truth and fiction. I have communicated with them and they hope to rewrite it some day. Many of the stories there are incorrect. I would not recommend their site as a reliable source

    Regards, Bill Fageol

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    • knappnotes says:

      Bill:
      That’s amazing that you remember him. If there is anything you wish to share about John Knapp, your uncle or Twin Coach in general, please feel free to do so.

      If you email me the comments, I can include them as a blog posting. Send to: KnappNotes@gmail.com

      I am always willing to hear more about the history of Twin Coach. If Coachbuilt isn’t a good source, is there a site you would recommend? And which of the Fageol brothers are you descended from, if I may ask? And your uncle that ran the Experimental shop? That jives with the stories we have heard about what John was working on.

      Regards, Ann Richardson

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