The Broken Spoke Bus for the Texas Top Hands Western Swing Band

Outside of the famous Broken Spoke in Austin, Texas, sits this old, dilapidated bus. I don’t know how long this thing has been sitting there, but it looks like quite a while. If it wasn’t for the rust, I guess you can assume its age from the phone number only having 7 digits. Remember that? 7-digit phone numbers now seem so quaint, like browsers without tabs.

I wonder if this bus still works. I know we have a lot of smart Texas readers who can probably tell us the answer to that little piece of trivia! Under the photo of the bus, I put up the older picture of the Broken Spoke dance hall that was taken about 20 minutes later as the sun was finishing it’s daily duties.

The Broken Spoke Bus for the Texas Top Hands Western Swing Band

Broken Spoke

  • Wow, first time I’ve been the first post!!! Love these photos, Trey. That old bus is quite unique!! And next to it, it looks like they used to pump oil. Love the Broken Spoke, want to go there, too, ๐Ÿ˜‰ !!! Great job, thanks for sharing!!

  • Great photo and wonderfully processed. Just out of curiosity, I looked the band up on the Internet and found that the Texas Top Hands debuted in 1945 and were inducted into the Texas Western Swing Hall of Fame on May 9, 1992, in Austin. They had actually first performed in 1941 under the name The Texas Tumbleweeds (cool name!).

  • I have been following your site for almost two years. I love your work but just realized that it appears you use the same sky in almost all your shots. Do you have a collection of sky shots that you photoshop in your images? Most of the time when shooting the sky blows out in order to get the best exposure on a building. Having some sky shots in your collection helps. I have been working with Topez and love what it does if you have just the right image. Thanks for your tips and your great sight.

  • Thanks!

    Jacques – cool facts thanks!

    Michael – No – I do not photoshop in one sky for another. What you commonly see is a wide-angle shot with HDR effects…I like clouds and dusky shots, and the HDR effect gives them a nice, and similar feel

  • James

    Hey hey Trey! I’m PRETTY sure you don’t remember me, I think we met at the Driskil in ATX. It was a year or two ago. YOU know, the guy that get’s up on stage every night at the Broken spoke to do the broken spoke introduction, is the founder and owner (and builder, by hand, yes the whole building) of the Broken Spoke, so Im sure you could ask him about the bus. And as for that first comment… They never pumped oil in Austin Texas, it’s just an old pump put there for looks. (must be a yankee)

  • I don’t think that one works anymore.

    It’s a Flxible Clipper bus… they made them from 1937 until 1949. The bus you shot has a curved windshield, which means it was made between 1947-1949 (earlier models had a flat windshield).

    In 1950 they made the side windows longer (and changed the name to Visicoach) and they kept using the same body style with slight modifications until the last one came off the line in 1967.

    I’ll be restoring a later version of the Flxible Clipper body style over the next year. You can read about the details on this blog page:

    I’ll take you for a ride once it’s done.

  • casusan

    Love these shots Trey – a real slice of Texas!

  • Dannie Bright

    Great picture of the bus. Great subject. But actually, the phone number indicates a more recent use than I thought. Until about 1963 or so, the 1st two numbers were letters of a word that people could remember. Ex; my number in the 50’s was WI9-2438 (949-2438) and the operator would say “Williams 9 – 2438”. Those cats got a lot of use out of that old bus!

  • Glad I found your site. Your work is just WOW.

  • Thanks all!

    iheartfilm – thanks for joining us here ๐Ÿ™‚

    Ben – awesome… I gotta get info from you for a bus in New Zealand! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Wow!
    First time at your site and in awe, my husband spends a lot of time taking and processing HDR shots, they are beautiful and yours are no exception.


  • Love your pictures and your blog! This is what I found:

    Very interesting. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • You can listen to one of “Texas Top Hands” songs for free at Rhapsody.

    The song is “You Can’t Have Your Cake” (and eat it too).

    Also, the address on the van has a Google Street View in San Antonio. I can imagine many practices of country music coming out of that little house.

    Great job, Trey, as usual.

  • Jarrel Jimmerson


    Great Picture! I have quick HDR question: How do you keep the flag from blurring while taking several shots for the HDR effect? I’m still new to HDR and would like the tip… ๐Ÿ™‚


  • James D Martinez

    I bought your hdr workshop dvd premium verison, they are great, looking foward to using the technics on my pictures. But I’m having trouble loging into clubhouse. It keeps telling me wrong address, and user name. Is there any way to resend me a new set up e-mail.

  • Brandon Locke

    Amazing photo. Just thought I would let you know, that was the tour bus of my great-grandfathers band. His name was William “Rusty” Locke. Anyone who would like to know more can email me. This bus is also pictured on the back of a Kevin Fowler CD entitled “Loose, Loud, and Crazy”

  • Sue Merritt-Shumake

    Amazing photos…take me back country roads…my uncle Leon Merritt was a member of the Texas Top Hands…He shared many stories of the bus tours like cold nights,break down, and how they would drop him off at the end of his road because they were afraid to cross the little creek by his house. My dad Claude Merritt had his own recording band The Texas Plainsmen. We loved it when they could preform together. The oringial Texas Swing Bands. Thanks for sharing.

  • Chuck Shaw

    Looking at the picture of our old touring bus sure brings back fond memories. We sure logged lots of miles in that old bus. There were times when it broke down due to losing a gear,coil going out on the engine( which I had to hold the coil wire while Easy drove us into Kingsville on a COLD morning.) Our band, when I played drums with them were, Easy, Leon, Ray, Me, and Bill( later replaced by Pete)and sometimes Harry. Sometimes we would have some of our earlier members play with us ..Johnny Bush, Larry Nolen and Curly Williams. We had a killer band back in those days. We sure had alot of fun playing together and I sure miss those guys that have passed on.

  • Maureen

    Chuck, are you the teenager that played with the band…maybe in the early 70’s? My grandmother was married to Harry, and I remember being at their house when some “old men” (probably the age I am now ;-)) came to pick Harry up. There was a kid with them that I seem to recall was younger than I. I hated that music then, so couldn’t believe anyone near my age would want to be associated with it. Fortunately, my musical tastes have expanded since then.

    Trey, thanks for sharing this and your other great photos!

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