Dwight Putzke, owner of Paynesville Motor and Transfer, said a series of events unfolded after he attended a two-day conference of the MSBOA and MAPT in January. Putzke was visiting with school bus manufacturer's representatives about improvements needed on school buses when the Chicago representative from Navistar International took a special interest.
Putzke explained Navistar Inter-national builds about 65 percent of all the school buses on the road and Allison Transmission builds about 90 percent of the school bus transmissions. When Navistar came out with a new electronic engine in 1994, it had a bad system of controlling the transmission. "I called to complain to the company and they had me bring a bus to Chicago to demonstrate the problem," Putzke said. "We spent an entire day recording data and reprogramming the system," Putzke explained. "The next morning we worked on a second bus. Their corrections did not come up to my standards, and don't to this day." Back home, Putzke and his mechanic, Allen Theel, built their own brackets and installed a cable to correct the shifting system to their standards.
Following his Minneapolis meeting in February, Putzke was one of 60 people from the United States and Canada that was flown to Mesa, Ariz. as a guest of Allison and Navistar for a demonstration in the mountains and at the GM Proving Grounds of a new model Allison. "A week after the Mesa trip, they called and asked if they could do a photo shoot in Paynesville," Putzke said. "So I did a video tape featuring the town for them.
"I then drove back into town and headed to the fire hall. The only vehicle in the garage without an automatic transmission is the 1926 Reo Speedwagon. Beside it stood the 1968 IH pumper, a 1967 Ford tanker, and a 1987 Ford tanker-pumper all with Allison Transmissions. The 1994 pumper is the first fire truck with the new world electronic transmission by Allison."
"One Sunday in April, the film crew flew in from Indianapolis and New York. The shooting for the ads took place by the Bob Hendrickson farm, south of Lake Koronis, as they wanted their big German beef cattle in the background. "Bob and Doug Hendrickson and neighbor Ed Rondeau had to keep feeding the cattle to keep them in the right location," Putzke said.
The film crew also wanted the polar bear from the bus garage in the pictures. Dwight had to borrow a trailer from the Senior Citizen Center. "We laid the bear down in the trailer and headed to the filming site," he added.
Shooting started at 1:30 p.m. and they didn't finish until about 8:30 p.m. that night. Bub and Jim Hartmann brought out the fire trucks to be part of the ad. The next day, the crew left town and Putzke was told they would inform him of when the ads would appear. He has received several copies of the ad in the mail since the magazines hit the stands.
Putzke said they came to Paynesville thinking of it as another small town but left with the feeling it was a pretty neat community.
Putzke wins national award
His safety efforts and top inspection ratings have earned Dwight Putzke, Paynesville, the Golden Merit Award from the National School Transportation Association.
A member, since the association started, Putzke had no advance idea he had been nominated by the State School Bus Operators Association. Putzke received his award July 9 at the national convention in Minneapolis. At the banquet he received a Gold Award pin and certificate and the letters of recommendation.
In his letter of recommendation, Major Lazenberry of the state patrol, said in reviewing the inspection results of Paynesville Motor and Transfer Company for the last five years, he found the company has an excellent inspection result. The results place the company within the top five percent of carriers in the state.
Orange bus on display The International School Bus Driving competition/rodeo was being held at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds prior to the National School Transportation convention. Putzke volunteered to bring along his 1972 orange school bus.
Minnesota is the last state to have orange buses. A federal standard effective since 1973 requires all school buses to be chrome yellow but Minnesota decided to grandfather its 10,000 orange school buses for the life of the buses and his is one of the last orange buses still in service. "You should have seen the looks on their faces at the rodeo. When I pulled in with the bus, they just stood there and stared. Many had never seen an orange bus before," Putzke said.
The orange bus still has everything original on it...paint, seats, engine, transmission, and more. Nothing has ever been replaced. "Our buses have always been stored indoors," he added.The bus has 165,000 actual miles and is the bus being featured this summer on the General Motors Allison Transmission advertising .
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