London Transport – AEC Routemaster – CUV 308C – RML 2308

London Transport - AEC Routemaster - CUV 308C - RML 2308

London Transport
1965
AEC Routemaster
Park Royal H40/32R

OBP seems yet to have a picture of Routemasters in the Country Area livery, so here is one. RML 2308, delivered to London Transport in November 1965, is seen at Biggin Hill in the following year. These green buses, which totalled one hundred in two batches of fifty, RML 2306- 2355 in 1965 and RML 2411 -2460 in 1966, were all powered by the AEC AV590 engine de-rated to 115bhp, the same setting used in the earlier RT type, though the RML was 5cwt heavier. Semi automatic gearboxes were fitted rather than the fully automatic variety used in the Central Bus Routemaster fleet. The 410 ran between Bromley and Reigate on an hourly headway, with intervening ‘short’ journeys between Bromley and Biggin Hill; the picture above shows RML 2308 operating such a ‘short’. Because of a low railway bridge near Oxted station, the 410 route was run for many years by lowbridge double deckers, notably by the ‘Godstone’ STLs ((Godstone being the operating garage) and then by the RLH class (20 diverted Regent IIIs from a Midland General order for 30, and a further 56 built for LT). In the early 1960s LT(CB&C) yearned to standardise the Godstone fleet on RTs, and became impatient about the delays to the promised lowering of the roadway beneath the Oxted bridge. I was then a clerk in the South Divisional Office at Reigate, and pointed out that the offending bridge could be circumnavigated easily via Station Road East, then under the high bridge on the A25, and back into Oxted via East Hill Road. This solution was eagerly leapt upon, and RTs replaced the Godstone RLH fleet in November 1964. This allowed full interworking of the routes 409 (West Croydon – Godstone – Forest Row) 410 (Bromley – Godstone – Reigate) and 411 West Croydon – Godstone – Reigate). When the roadway under the Oxted Station bridge was ultimately lowered some time later, the 410 reverted to its original route. The LT Country Bus business passed to the National Bus Company in January 1970 under the name London Country. In 1978, with Routemaster mechanical spares becoming akin to hens teeth, and London Transport snapping up such parts as did become available, the entire London Country RML fleet was sold to LT, who repainted most of the vehicles red for service in London, though RMLs 2306, 2337, 2417, 2420, 2421, 2423, 2424, 2425, 2426, 2427, 2433, 2436, 2438, 2448, 2449, 2458 and 2459 were immediately scrapped for spares. In the early 1990s LT replaced all the original power plants in the survivors with Iveco and Cummins engines, RM 2308 suffering the inflicted indignity of a Cummins motor in 1993. It continued to serve London Transport until its withdrawal in March 2004.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox


02/12/19 – 06:37

In actual fact, the Central London RM’s and RML’s had an either/or gearbox.
If top gear was selected when stationary, the bus would be in automatic mode, however, the driver had the option of driving them as a semi auto, and changing gear manually.
Unless fully loaded, or pulling away uphill, second was usually selected to pull away.
It may well be that in later life they were all converted to fully auto, but they weren’t when new.

Ronnie Hoye


02/12/19 – 09:46

The Central Bus Routemasters had fully automatic gearboxes with manual over-ride, a feature of auto boxes that continued into the later age of buses with auto transmissions by ZF and Allison, though not with the (dreadful) three speed Voith. Nowadays it seems that this feature has gone for buses, and the driver’s only over-ride option is kick-down. The Country area RMCs, RMLs and RCLs were semi auto only.

Roger Cox


03/12/19 – 06:30

I don’t know if its the way they’re set up, but some buses are awful. They seem to snatch when they change up, and lurch when changing down. The poor driver always gets the blame, but in reality there’s not a lot He/She can do about it.
Driver properly, a bus with a manual box, be it three pedals or semi auto, will always give a smoother ride than an automatic.

Ronnie Hoye


03/12/19 – 06:32

I had the pleasure, until recently, when prevented by ill health, of being a regular driver of RML 2440 a refurbished and re-engined bus – owned by Peter Cartwright. This most definitely was of the Fully automatic type. The coaches were semi-auto only – RMC and RCL.

David Oldfield


03/12/19 – 09:15

RML 2440 was sold by LCBS to London Transport in June 1979. It then went into Aldenham for conversion to LT specifications, including the addition of full auto operation of the gearbox before entering service as a red bus. In ‘Country’ service it was semi auto only.

Roger Cox


06/12/19 – 06:51

Your suggestion, Roger, about avoiding the low bridge at Oxted, which presumably was not greatly disadvantageous to passengers, is typical of a situation whereby nobody thinks of a solution for decades and it’s staring them in the face!
It certainly seems odd to my eyes in seeing a bus routed for 410 which is not lowbridge. I’m sure I’ve said before that the unique lowbridge STL’s (always with their sliding doors open, to avoid being illegal) would appear from time to time at Morden to cover overhauls of the lowbridge red D’s on the 127 and latterly lowbridge Tilling Bristol K’s, sometimes green and sometimes red!
With the ex-Romford Green Line D’s coming to Merton Garage, which took a while to repaint them into red, pre-war RT’s on the 93 and Maidstone Corporation Daimler CWG6’s, Morden Station’s Forecourt was was a real hotchpotch of colour, types and companies. Wonderful!

Chris Hebbron


08/12/19 – 06:18

There is a lot of truth in what Chris says, especially in large organisations. People become blinkered, because things have always been done in a certain way. A new employee with fresh set of eyes can often reveal new ways of doing things, that no one has previously thought of. It’s all a bit like the Hans Christian Aderson’s "The King’s New Suit of Clothes". Send for Danny Kaye!

Mr Anon


09/12/19 – 06:25

Ah, Danny Kaye. I always recall "The Court Jester" – The constant muddling up of "The pellet with the poison’s in the vessel with the pestle; the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true!" Classic!

Chris Hebbron


09/12/19 – 12:20

Chris, if memory serves the quote from Danny Kaye went something like,
"The flagon with the dragon is the chalice with the malice, the vessel with the pestle is the brew that is true". How do I remember that?

Stan Zapiec


09/12/19 – 16:27

Here is the script gents
http://www.irossco.com/comedy/poem10.htm
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzmnSyqv37A

John Lomas

 

Charlton-on-Otmoor Services – Leyland TD – FKO 223 – 293

Charlton-on-Otmoor Services - Leyland TD - FKO 223 - 293

Charlton-on-Otmoor Services
1939
Leyland TD5
Weymann H28/26R

Not one of my best pictures, I fear, but the Comet S camera did not cope well with action shots. Seen on its way out of Oxford in 1960 is FKO 223, a Leyland TD5 with Weymann H28/26R bodywork. This bus was delivered in 1939 to Chatham & District where it operated as No. 293 until 1942 when it then passed to parent company Maidstone & District as DH365. It was bought by Charlton-on-Otmoor Services in November 1955. It is thought that this bus still remains in existence, but information about its present status is scanty.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox


18/11/19 – 10:41

What a beauty! Had sadly left Charlton-on-Otmoor services by the time I came to Oxford in 1971. Intrigued to hear that it may have survived!

Ian Thompson


23/11/19 – 06:58

What a handsome bus! How like an AEC were those TDS of the period – two fine British champions of the psv world – worldwide….
I expect we’ve all noticed how nut-rings set off the front wheels, and beautify the overall image. Manufacturers which eschewed them produced utility- looking buses and coaches – just for the sake of those trims. Guy springs to mind, and posh buses with the nut-rings removed in service as contractors site transport, looked truly down-at-heel!
Who can tell me why London transport removed thousands of rear-wheel spats in the 50’s? Those full discs looked very sleek. Few other operators employed them – why?

Victor Brumby


23/11/19 – 13:46

My 2006 copy of Preserved Buses shows FKO 223 as owned by Gibbons, Maidstone. It may well have moved on now of course but hopefully still about in one piece.

John Darwent


23/11/19 – 13:47

Those rear wheel discs caused brakes to overheat. Burys PD3s them for a very short time when new but they were very quickly binned. Some of Manchesters Fleetlines had them too and, again, they were quickly discarded. I personally didn’t like them much.

No name given,      yet


24/11/19 – 15:08

The Gibbons Brothers still own it but have partially stripped it for components. They are asking too much money for it to be a worthwhile restoration exercise unless you have a real passion for M&D.

Roger Burdett


29/11/19 – 05:54

I think that bus bodies, in the 1938-39 period, finally reached a classic shape, although I never really liked the fluting at the bottom of Weymann’s bodies. I travelled on the Leyland TD4 STL-copy STD’s of London Transport and they looked smart. Their fruity roar and crash gearbox slow changes gave a young lad goose pimples…..until girls overtook my bus passion!

Chris Hebbron


29/11/19 – 10:10

In regard to previous comments about nut guard rings and rear wheel discs, firstly London Transport removed the rear wheel discs across the fleet in the 1970s, not the 1950s. Manchester ordered discs for all its double deck fleet, except the first batch of Atlanteans, until 1964. The discs don’t cause brake overheating. Manchester in particular had a thing about overheating brakes and regularly cut back front mudguards yet ordered the discs. The reason many fleets didn’t use them and why they were often discarded, in Manchester’s case unofficially and to the ire of authority, was the same reason as the wholesale removal in London – efficiency. They had to be removed every time tyre pressures needed checking, every wheel change and every time wheel nut tightness needed to be checked. On large fleets this added considerable time to maintenance and when accountants costed this and cost won out over appearance, they were officially removed – something Manchester depot foreman had been doing for years, reporting them lost in service.
Nut guard rings were brought in to do exactly what their name implies – to stop drivers using the wheel nuts as steps into the cab. Leyland designed a ring with holes through which nuts could be tightened but only a minority of their chassis were ordered with these. Whilst many operators discarded the rings for the same reason as they discarded or didn’t order discs, others decided the extra effort in maintenance was worth it to protect the wheel nuts.

Phil Blinkhorn

 

Aldershot & District – Dennis Lancet – LAA 228 – 193

LAA 228

Aldershot & District Traction Co
1953
Dennis Lancet III J10C
Strachan FC38R

In 1948, Aldershot & District took delivery of fifteen Dennis Lancet J3 coaches with Strachans C32R bodies. These replaced the externally very similar Lancet II/Strachans C32R vehicles of 1937-38, the main difference being the longer bonnet of the Lancet III which housed the 7.58 litre O6 in place of the 6.5 litre O4 in the pre war model. These post war machines were very fine coaches giving a high standard of refinement. The 24 valve, wet liner, O6 engine was probably the smoothest running diesel engine of all time, and, coupled with the Dennis ‘O’ type five speed gearbox, it was capable of excellent performance on the road. However, by the early 1950s, the traditional half cab, heavy duty, front engined coach was regarded as passé in major fleets, having been supplanted by the fashionably new underfloor engined machine. Even small independents had begun taking the superficially more modern Bedford SB. In 1950, Aldershot & District bought one of the only two Dennis Dominants ever completed (a third was constructed in chassis form only and subsequently dismantled), but had been obliged to look elsewhere for an underfloor engined chassis when Dennis decided not to produce that model in quantity. In 1953, wishing to upgrade its image, but still undecided about the underfloor configuration, Aldershot & District tried out a number of underfloor engined machines from a variety of manufacturers – Guy (Arab LUF), Atkinson (PM 744 & 745), Leyland (Tiger Cub) and Dennis (Lancet UF). Surprisingly, in view of later developments, AEC was not represented in these trials. The story of the Aldershot and District demonstrators may be found at this link.
Instead the company sought to update the coach fleet with 15 full fronted examples of the 30 feet long and 8 feet wide J10C Lancet, with Strachan FC38R bodywork, Nos.188-202, LAA 223-237. These were attractive coaches of traditional appearance, though the effect was spoiled slightly by the cheap looking wire mesh grille, the apparent frailty of which seemed to to be endorsed by the dents that it soon acquired in service. Like all Lancets, these coaches were excellent, smooth running, reliable machines, though the drivers’ cabs reputedly became unpleasantly hot, particularly so in the summer months. Aware that these coaches presented an outdated image in a world increasingly dominated by modern, underfloor engined vehicles, Aldershot & District succumbed in 1954 to the lure of the AEC Reliance, purchasing twenty-five examples of the MU3RV model with the 6.75 litre AH410 engine. Angular Strachans Everest C41C bodies were fitted with a high floor level and corresponding waistline. The arrival of the Reliances resulted in the relegation of the full fronted Lancets from regular express work to other duties, and they were all withdrawn in 1963 after a relatively short life of ten years. In the photograph, taken at Victoria in 1960, No.193, LAA 228, its windscreen significantly open wide, is laying over in the company of one of the Strachans bodied Reliances. Behind is LCD 857, one of Southdown’s Beadle rebuilds with FC35C bodywork, 30ft long and 8ft wide on 7ft 6ins chassis sections. This coach was constructed using the units of pre war Leyland Tiger TS8 EUF 96, and retained the 8.6 litre oil engine. Like the full fronted Aldershot & District Lancets, this vehicle (and its fellows) was sold in 1963.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox


04/11/19 – 06:15

How surprising in 1953 for such buses/coaches to be delivered to a "substantial" company? Times had already moved on e.g. Ribble with its Leyland/Leyland coaches in 1951 and Tilling with the LS/ECW "beauties" in 1952. A nice story Roger, thank you.

Stuart Emmett


05/11/19 – 06:12

SOU 446

This picture, taken in 1961 in The Grove alongside Aldershot Bus Station – now long gone, the current bus station is a pitiful apology of a facility – shows the Winchester outstation based 1958 Dennis Loline I 338, SOU 446, with East Lancashire H37/31RD body, passing a pair of the fine 1948 Lancet III coaches with Strachans C32R bodies; these were displaced by the 1953 full fronted machines from express duties to private hire and excursion work. 984 GAA 620 and its fellow fourteen coaches were all withdrawn in the year of the photograph, 1961; the Loline survived in A&D service for a further ten years.

Roger Cox


08/11/19 – 10:27

Full-fronted Lancet J10C has thankfully been in preservation for some years. There remains work to be done before we see its welcome appearance at rallies. Thanks, Roger, for the mid-’50s demonstrators link: before reading Eric Nixon’s piece I had no idea how many types had been assessed. The Atkinson is my biggest surprise! But I still can’t help wishing that, like East Kent, they had gone for underfloor Lancets.

Ian Thompson


11/11/19 – 07:09

I think the half cab Lancet III in Roger’s second photo looks much better than this last fling from 1953. Obviously an additional window bay has been inserted to achieve the extra length but it causes the body to droop excessively towards the rear giving a strangely unbalanced look. The side flash doesn’t help either!

Chris Barker

 

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