Old Bus Photos

London Transport – AEC Merlin – SMM 15F – XMB 15

SMM 15F

London Transport Board
1966
AEC Merlin P2R
Strachans B46D

In the mid 1960s London Transport began moving away from its ageing bespoke designs – RT family/ RF/ RM family – and belatedly began investigating the standard offerings of the bus manufacturing industry. The ensuing saga became a sad, expensive story of incompetence, profligacy and waste, from the RC Reliances, XA Atlanteans and MB/SM Merlins/Swifts of the 1960s, and onward through the 1970s and beyond with the Daimler Fleetlines and Metro Scanias. The first London Transport Merlins (Chiswick clung to this appendage even when Southall changed the name of the AH691 engined 36 ft long version to Swift 691) had Strachans dual doorway bodies seating 25 at the rear and accommodating (exceedingly closely – I speak from personal experience) 48 standing passengers in the lower front section. These early examples of the Merlin had a low driving position that was raised on later production models. Classified XMS, fourteen of them equipped with coin operated turnstiles went into service in central London on Red Arrow service 500 in 1966 and performed that duty well. At the same time, the Country Area was pursuing a policy of adopting the Merlin for conventional one man operation as the XMB type, and had nine Strachan B45D bodied examples ready for service in the early months of 1966, but the T&GWU refused to accept them. All except XMB 1 were then repainted red, de-seated to the 25 plus 48 standing format, and used on Red Arrow services. The solitary Country Area survivor, XMB 1, which had 46 seats and then carried the registration JLA 57D, went into store, during which time it was first reclassified as XMB 15 in November 1966, and then re-registered in January 1967 as NHX 15E. In August 1967 its registration was changed yet again to SMM 15F, and it continued to spend time in store with occasional forays out and about for route surveying and training purposes. Finally, in January 1969, nearly three years after delivery, it was transferred to Tring garage where, in the following month, it carried its first fare paying passengers on the single bus allocation route 387 between Tring and Aldbury village. In 1970 it became a member of the London Country fleet, but its identity crisis was still set to continue. In mid 1971 it was reclassified MBS 15 in accordance with the rest of Merlin fleet, but in November 1973 it was sent to the by now GLC controlled London Transport who repainted it red and promptly put it into store. MBS 4, formerly XMB 4 was sent from LT to LCBS in exchange. MBS 15 saw very little, if, indeed any service use with LT thereafter, before being dumped at the old Handley Page airfield at Radlett in 1975 along with very many other unwanted LT Merlins. The following web page illustrates the chequered career of this bus:-
https://ccmv.aecsouthall.co.uk/

In the picture above, taken early in London Country days in 1970 at Tring garage, XMB 15 has lost its London Transport roundel on the front panel, but has yet to receive its LCBS “Flying Wheel” symbol. The Strachans bodies on the early Merlins proved to be of sounder construction than the Metro-Cammell examples on the later deliveries, which quickly showed evidence of structural failure in the roof section above the central doorway.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox


10/05/19 – 06:58

Thank you Roger,
Little known about vehicle article and photograph, I just thought these were rather mundane vehicles but did travel on the Red Arrow when they were new. So which one was the model done of ?, possibly a Dinky Supertoy or a Corgi, I did have one, but in my younger days it was repainted to look like an LUT Seddon, that will start the comments flowing, methinks.

Mike Norris


10/05/19 – 07:00

Didn’t quite a lot of these end up being sold to Belfast after being stored at Radlett?

David Pomfret


11/05/19 – 07:00

Several of the Strachan bodied versions along with the regular ones ended up at Gatwick Airport. Gatwick Handling had both types but Bcal and Airtours only had the latter ones. Nearly all replaced by Leyland Nationals.

Keith Hanbury-Chatten


17/05/19 – 06:50

In fairness to LT they were far from alone in having to withdraw MCW Scanias early as they suffered badly from corrosion. The one bought by WYPTE were all withdrawn early for this reason.

Chris Hough


17/05/19 – 10:32

All MetroScanias suffered this fate but, eventually, the Metropolitan had feet of clay. It did not fail as quickly as the MetroScania but in later life there were serious corrosion problems at the back end which some operators addressed by rebuilding them. The reasons for the LT failure with "off the shelf" designs is well documented (here, as elsewhere) – a sad indictment …..

David Oldfield


18/06/19 – 07:49

Surprisingly, when the Docklands Light Railway had a strike last year, 40-year old Metropolitan MD60 turned up on the replacement service. No corrosion apparent. So there’s a bit of life left in the design in London yet.

Bill


19/06/19 – 05:38

Bill, There are very few Metropolitans on the road now, because of the dreaded ‘metal moth’. MD60 is only in circulation thanks to a very lengthy (and no doubt costly) rebuild by the guys at Bus Works Blackpool and owners EnsignBus. See reference to it here: http://ensignvintagebuses.blogspot.com

Petras409


26/06/19 – 09:45

Leicester Trust have one on the road as well.

Roger Burdett


17/07/19 – 07:04

Sister vehicle XMS6 (JLA 56D) finished up with The Violet Bus Service at Blackrock, County Louth but none of the Strachans bodied Merlins ended up with Citybus/Ulsterbus in Northern Ireland.

Bill Headley


 

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London Transport – Leyland Tiger – JXC 288 – TD 95

London Transport - Leyland Tiger - JXC 288 - TD 95

London Transport
1949
Leyland Tiger PS1
Mann Egerton B30F

Following the cessation of hostilities in 1945, the London Passenger Transport Board found itself seriously short of serviceable vehicles, partly through enemy action but equally because of the time expired nature of much of the fleet. To compound the problem, 55 T type AEC Regals and 20 Leyland Cubs were sent to assist in war ravaged Belgium and Germany. To meet the needs of the capital city, the Ministry of Supply (that still oversaw the allocation of resources in the immediate post war period) sanctioned the delivery of a number of standard provincial types of buses to London, which was still taking the tail end deliveries of utility double deckers, mainly Daimler CWA6 plus a few Guy Arabs. Thus between 1946 and 1948 the AEC Regent O661 (STL) and Regal O662/O962 (T), Leyland PD1 (STD) and PS1(TD) appeared on the London scene. From 1st January 1948 the LPTB became the nationalised London Transport Executive, and help began arriving in the form of vehicles on loan from provincial operators, notably Bristols from Tilling group companies, though Tilling itself did not sell out to the government until September 1948. In 1946 LT was allocated fifty AEC Regal O662 buses (7.7 litre engine/crash gearbox – basically the pre-war design) but also thirty one examples of Leyland’s very new Tiger PS1. These eighty one vehicles were fitted with Weymann B33F bodies of unprepossessing appearance, characterised particularly by a front destination indicator box that “frowned” over the top of the driver’s windscreen. In 1948 a further thirty Regals were acquired, but these were of the O962 variety with 9.6 litre engines and epicyclic gearboxes, consistent in specification with the new RT double deck fleet. At the same time another one hundred PS1s came into LT ownership, though these still had the standard 7.4 litre engine and crash gearbox. The 1948/9 Regal and Tiger deliveries were fitted with Mann Egerton B31F bodywork (later reduced to B30F) displaying much cleaner lines than the earlier Weymann bodies. One would have expected the preselector gearbox Regals to have been allocated to the Central (red) fleet, but they all went to Country area garages, while all the crash gearbox Regals and PS1s operated in red livery. Given London Transport’s unenthusiastic attitude to “non standardisation”, these provincial type single deckers clearly earned some measure of respect, for they lasted between ten and fourteen years in LT ownership. Seen above on the A23 Brighton Road during the 1971 HCVC Run is Mann Egerton bodied TD 95, JXC 288, which entered service in May 1949 and was sold in August 1963. In 1965, now in private hands, it undertook a series of extraordinary Continental journeys to Rumania, Hungary, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Hamburg, Helsinki, Lenningrad, Moscow, Warsaw and Berlin, followed, in 1965, by a trip to France and Spain. Then again in 1966 TD95 went off to France, Belgium, Prague, Offenbach, Budapest and Belgrade. Throughout the performance of this amazing machine was exemplary. It then passed into preservation in May 1967 to be restored into its previous LT guise. In that form, as with all Central Area single deckers of its time, the front entrance has no door at the insistence of the Metropolitan Police, who clearly took the Spartan view that the possibilities of a passenger falling out or incurring influenza from draught were rendered insignificant against boarding and alighting delays.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox


08/08/17 – 06:07

The seating capacity of 30 seems rather low for a full sized post war halfcab saloon, most provincial versions averaged around 35 seats. Did these TDs have a standing area at the front with inward facing seats or was it a luggage pen which took up some of the space?

Chris Barker


08/08/17 – 08:36

Chris,
I rather think that, in view of Roger’s views on the attitude of the Metropolitan Police, the reason for the low seating capacity lies in that direction, rather than standing area or luggage pen!

Pete Davies


09/08/17 – 06:42

The full service life of these buses shows that LT could successfully operate standard provincial designs when they put their minds to it. This opens up the oft-debated cherry – was the Routemaster really necessary? Would PD2’s, Regent V’s or CVG’s have done the job of replacing trolleybuses and later on the RT family just as well? All were available in semi-auto form which would probably have been a minimum requirement for LT. Manchester, Leeds, Sheffield and Glasgow for example seemed to manage and Birmingham even got large numbers of Crossleys to work. Food for thought!

Philip Halstead


09/08/17 – 06:43

I know the Green Line and Country area RF’s had doors, whereas the central area red versions didn’t, was it the same story with these?

Ronnie Hoye


09/08/17 – 06:44

Pete’s comment is true, but it is also relevant to remember that the T&GWU of the time had considerable influence upon the vehicle configuration and seating layout of the LT fleet. These Tigers were used on intensive urban routes where low bridges and other obstructions prevented the operation of double deckers. Free movement of the conductor and easy access/egress for passengers would have been important issues.

Roger Cox


11/08/17 – 06:27

Philip raises an interesting point. Could London Transport have managed without the Routemaster? I think that, yes, it probably could, but some curious features of the London Transport engineering situation have to be taken into account. The RT/RTL/RTW/RM families were designed to be taken to pieces like Meccano for processing through the Aldenham overhaul system. Firstly, however, did LT need a fleet of some 2760 Routemasters in the first place? When the initial deliveries went into service in 1959, LT already possessed a surplus of RT and RTL buses. The last RT deliveries came in November 1954, and 81 went immediately into store until 1958/59 when the RM production scheme was already in progress. Similarly, 63 of the last RTL deliveries were stored until 1958. On the grounds of ‘non standardisation’, the 120 entirely sound Cravens bodied RTs had already been sold off in 1956 when they were only between eight and six years old, and, by 1961, over 200 of the earliest RTs (discounting the so called ‘pre war’ machines that were withdrawn in 1955 when they were 13 to 15 years old) had gone when they were only some 10 years or so of age. Nonetheless, ever besotted with its inward thinking, LT brought out the costly Routemaster, claiming that the capacity increase of 8 seats over the RT family was essential for trolleybus replacement. (It seems astonishing now that London Transport seemed utterly exempt from any kind of cost constraint, but the profligate attitude was to continue in later years with the catastrophic Merlin/Swift/MetroScania charade and then the Daimler Fleetline debacle.) Undoubtedly, standard offerings from the manufacturers catalogues could have provided entirely satisfactory fleets for the Capital’s public transport needs, but for the rigid LT engineering system. London Transport did not employ, at its garages, engineers as they were understood by municipal or company bus operators. London Transport had ‘fitters’. If anything went wrong, that part was simply removed and sent to Chiswick in return for a replacement item. Mechanical analysis was not part of the scheme of things. That was Chiswick’s job. Likewise, body/chassis overhauls were totally centralised at Aldenham, where the chassis and body were separated and sent down different overhaul tracks, the chassis being dealt with more quickly than the bodies. At the output end, the next completely rebuilt emerging body and chassis were put together and given the fleet number of a bus that had just gone into the works. Thus, identifying a London bus by its fleet number was essentially meaningless. Nevertheless, the Aldenham system could have worked equally well with jig built bodywork mounted on a standard provincial chassis type. Indeed, the early Routemasters were exceedingly troublesome, and it took some years of development to make them truly reliable.

Roger Cox


12/08/17 – 07:37

I only travelled on one of these once, on the 240A. I have wondered whether that was part of the original 240 route left for single deck operation after the rest of the route was converted to double deck buses during WWII. I do not recall seeing a standing area or a luggage pen.
I doubt if the standard double deck buses of the mid-1950s would have done the job as London Transport specified automatic gearboxes for the red Routemasters and semi-automatic for the green country area and Greenline Routemasters, probably to provide a mechanically common set of buses for the country area depots. In any case, Greenline drivers sometimes worked a country route when necessary (they were paid the same as the central area crews, which was slightly more than that paid to the country area crews).
That said, I never warmed to the Routemaster. My favourites in the late 1950s and 1960s were the Southdown Guy Arab 4s wit Park Royal Bodywork and Weymann-bodied Dennis Loline IIIs.

David Wragg


14/08/17 – 07:31

The offside seat behind the driver was a single seat on the central area TDs as illustrated here – www.flickr.com/photos/ (taken at a route 227 running day) – think the idea was to give the conductor somewhere to stand without being in the way as passengers got on/off.

Jon


15/08/17 – 07:56

Referring to Philip Halstead’s comment about standard types, the Guy Arab (which, like the others, was available in semi-automatic form) should not be forgotten, particularly in view of the large number operated in Hong Kong. It’s been suggested that if something will work in Hong Kong, it will work anywhere!
As for Birmingham’s Crossleys, they were of the later type with engine design modified by AEC. Apparently they were more successful than the CVD6s that BCT were obliged to take because of a shortage of Gardner engines.

Peter Williamson


16/08/17 – 06:50

Peter, only the second half of the Birmingham Crossley DD42/6 1949/50 order for 260 buses, numbers 2396-2525, had the HOE7/5B downdraught engine. The first 130, numbers 2266-2395, plus the earlier 10 buses delivered in 1946, numbers 1646-1655, were delivered with standard HOE7 engines that were retained to the end. Even so, as you point out, Birmingham regarded the Crossley engine more highly than the contemporary Daimler CD6, individual examples of which proved to be extremely variable in quality.

Roger Cox


16/08/17 – 06:52

I apologise Peter for omitting the Guy Arab. I well remember the Hong Kong Arabs while living out there in the mid-1980’s. They would storm up Stubbs Road on the route on the Island over the mountain to Aberdeen. At the summit they would be boiling profusely but by the time they had thundered down the other side and had chance to cool down a bit they were ready to return. The same can be said about the DMS’s. London offloaded them over there in large numbers saying the were unreliable or some such excuse. They operated quite happily for CMB in far more taxing conditions than London. 30deg of heat, mountainous terrain, severe traffic congestion and some ‘enthusiastic’ handling by the Chinese drivers.

Philip Halstead


17/08/17 – 07:19

I think I might have got on well with the bus drivers in Hong Kong, as my colleagues used to say my style of driving was ‘enthusiastic’! I suppose they were right. Southampton to North Lancashire or the Southern end of the Lake District as a day trip . . . Yes, some of them used a different word!

Pete Davies


17/08/17 – 07:20

Interesting to see mention of Guy Arabs in a thread on Leyland Tigers. Have no personal memories of either as too young but I have pictures of my grandfather stood in front of both a Guy Arab and a Leyland Tiger TS8 while he worked for Thames Valley. Pictures of Thames Valley liveried Guy Arab’s I can find but a Tiger TS8 with ECW B35R coachwork in Thames Valley livery seems to be more of a challenge.

Andrew Stevens


18/08/17 – 06:32

Andrew: that was Thames Valley’s golden age—at least for enthusiasts! There are also some pictures of TV TS8s in the later pages of Thames Valley 1931-1945 and near the beginning of Thames Valley 1946-1960, both written and published by Paul Lacey. The last of the TS8s were withdrawn in October 1954. As a young passenger I loved the "woody" sound of the engine, the groaning in second gear, the gentle whine in third and the big Clayton heater on the front bulkhead.

Ian Thompson


17/05/19 – 07:13

When the TD 32-131 Mann Egerton bodies were built they had 31 seats, but one was removed to give the conductor more room, I think in the mid 1950s. London roads were narrow, and the 26ft x 7ft 6 in size was standard at the time. Luggage pens are a recent idea!
The comment about route 240A – originally Edgware to Hale Lane Mill Hill later extended to Mill Hill East Station, the low bridge at Mill Hill station preventing double decks from Mill Hill to Edgware. TDs originally alloc to EW as 240/240A. If LT had completed the 1935-40 works programme that they should have done the link from East Finchley via Mill Hill East, Mill Hill Hale Lane to Edgware of the Northern line would have replaced the LMS steam line for the Northern line to link up with the route to Golders Green. When the Mill Hill bridge was rebuilt when M1 opened at the southern end, a new bus station was built under the main line at Mill Hill, and route 240A which had had TDs from 1949 to 1962, then RF’s was withdrawn and covered by an extension of route 221 from North Finchley to Edgware with Routemasters.

Mark Jameson


18/05/19 – 06:13

26ft x 7ft 6in was standard for double deckers, but the standard size of a PS1 was 27ft 6in x 7ft 6in. If London Transport’s were really only 26ft long, that would go some way to explaining why they only had 31 seats, but it seems most unlikely.

Peter Williamson


19/05/19 – 07:25

Peter is right. The LT TD class were entirely standard PS1 buses having an overall length of 27ft 6ins on a wheelbase of 17ft 6ins. The usual wheelbase for a contemporary 26ft double decker was 16ft 4ins. The erroneous 27ft length figure for the LT TD class comes from the usually accurate Ian’s Bus Stop site. A few examples of 17ft 6ins wheelbase PS1/4 chassis for the then new permitted length of 27ft for double deck bodywork were taken by Birch Bros in 1951.

Roger Cox


 

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London Transport – AEC Regent II – HGC 225 – STL2692

London Transport - AEC Regent II - HGC 225 - STL2692

London Transport
1946
AEC Regent II
Weymann H30/26R

HGC 225 is an AEC Regent II with Weymann H56R body, and it dates from 1946. It wears Country Area green in this view, and the fleet number STL2692. Allowing for the London method of bus overhauls, how many chassis and bodies have worn this fleet number over the years? It is on Itchen Bridge, while taking part in the Southampton city transport centenary rally on 6 May 1979.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Pete Davies


19/03/17 – 10:49

"How many chassis and bodies have worn this fleet number over the years?" The answer is, just this one. These post war STL Regents didn’t last long enough with LT to pass through the Aldenham works, which only became fully operational in 1956. These buses were sold off by LT in 1955 as deliveries of the RT type became an embarrassment to the point where many new ones, together with others of the RTL class, were put straight into store upon receipt from the manufacturers. Some of these light STLs were used in 1954 on the 327 route at Hertford which traversed a weak bridge, but they were replaced in the following year by "pre war" (actually wartime) RTs which were less heavy than their post war cousins. This allowed the entire class of post war STLs to be sold to the dealer North of Leeds in July/August 1955. They soon found new owners with Dundee, Grimsby and Widnes corporations where they gave sterling service for upwards of six more years. STL 2692 went to Grimsby who got twelve years out of it before withdrawing it early in 1968.

Roger Cox


21/03/17 – 06:19

Thanks, Roger!

Pete Davies


21/03/17 – 06:20

Roger, do you happen to know if one of the municipalities you mention, perhaps Grimsby, changed the gearboxes in their examples from crash to pre-select?
I’m sure I’ve read it somewhere!

Chris Barker


21/03/17 – 08:45

Chris B – I hadn’t heard of this procedure, but if it did take place in Grimsby you have to wonder why go to such expense in a town which I assume is "as flat as a pancake" and driving a bus with a traditional transmission should surely present no problems.

Chris Youhill


21/03/17 – 15:55

Chris and Chris – I can find no record of any of these former LT STLs undergoing a gearbox change from crash to preselector, but, if true, the most likely candidate amongst the subsequent owners must surely be Dundee which had a fleet of Daimlers and AEC Regent III at that time. Do we have a Dundee expert on OBP? The Grimsby situation should be easily determined by an examination of HGC 225 itself.

Roger Cox


22/03/17 – 06:08

One of my wife’s friends lives in Grimsby. I’ll check and find out in respect of the pancakes . . .

Wife’s friend has been consulted. Grimsby is largely flat with bumps, but Cleethorpes is generally hilly with flat bits.

Pete Davies


22/03/17 – 06:10

I think I travelled on all of Grimsby’s ex-STLs (nos. 42-47 of which HGC225 was 47. 43 was HGC222 and 46 HGC219 – don’t know the others). I am sure that none were changed to pre-selectors. However there were four (I think) ex-Sheffield Regents – nos. 41 and 48-50 (?) with registrations in the KWE250 series. These had more or less identical Weymann bodies, and were pre-selectors from new. They were visually identifiable by the deeper windscreen. I’m away from home at the moment, so this is all from memory plus one or two snippets I have filed on here!

And then I realised…one of the Sheffield transfers featured in David Careless’s post in June 2013, and I responded at the time thus : "The transfers became Grimsby-Cleethorpes Transport numbers 41 (KWE 258), 48 (KWE 251), 49 (KWE 252) and 50 (KWE 254). The intervening numbers 42-47 were occupied by similarly Weymann-bodied Regent IIs ex London Transport (HGC 233, 222, 227, 228, 219 and 225 respectively)."

Stephen Ford


22/03/17 – 06:11

As a one-tome Grimbarian, I remember STL2692 as Grimsby No. 47, bought in 1955 with five other STLs to replace trolleybuses on the 10 route. Dundee was the only buyer of this batch of STLs to convert them to preselector gearboxes. HGC 225 served her initial Grimsby years in a crimson lake and cream livery, after the 1957 combination of the Grimsby and Cleethorpes operations, her colours were various permutations of blue and cream.

Mark Evans


12/01/19 – 08:25

As conjectured earlier, it was for the Dundee tram-replacement fleet that some of these London Transport Regent II were converted to pre-selector transmission. A Buses Extra article detailed the changes. I believe all the gearboxes were reconditioned, previously fitted to pre-war Dundee buses in process of withdrawal.

Stephen Allcroft


15/01/19 – 06:55

Thanks, Stephen A for the information, so it was Dundee who swapped the gearboxes for pre-selectors. I understand the post-war O661 Regent II was not offered with such a gearbox but the pre-war model (just Regent, not Regent I) was. I believe the gear selection was by means of a conventional type gear stick which rose from the floor rather than a steering column mounted unit although I’m not sure if this was universal.
Stephen says the gearboxes were reconditioned units salvaged from pre-war buses. It would be interesting to know which method of selection was employed, whichever it was, it made Dundee’s conversions unique as Regent IIs.

Chris Barker


16/01/19 – 07:19

My recollection of all the London Transport pre-war pre-selective buses (I regard the first RT’s as being Wartime) I travelled on as having conventional floor-mounted gearlevers.
I never came across a pre-war Daimler CO bus, but imagine that they would have had the simpler type of steering column lever which the CW types did in the war.

Chris Hebbron


18/01/19 – 06:34

My CO bus has the same lever set-up as CW

Roger Burdett


19/01/19 – 06:24

Thx, Roger B.
"Why change something so simple?" might well have been Daimler’s attitude and it certainly continued with their CV’s.
I had a neighbour when I lived at Morden, in Daimlerland, who’d worked both at both Putney and Merton Garages and felt that Daimler’s simple gearchange was preferable to the RT’s one.

Chris Hebbron


20/01/19 – 06:57

The later Daimler CVs (e.g. Derby Corporation’s fleet of CVG6s and no doubt many others) had an H-gate selector, similar to the AEC set-up, on the left side of the steering column (as opposed to the earlier quadrant type selector mounted on the right).

Stephen Ford


20/01/19 – 06:58

The quadrant type of gear selector used on Daimler’s CO, CW and early CV series was the same as on Daimler cars. The CV changed to the AEC type around 1953-5.

Peter Williamson


21/01/19 – 07:12

The preselector version of the Guy Arab had a floor mounted gear lever; Guy built its own preselector gearbox.

Roger Cox


 

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Old Bus Photos from Saturday 25th April 2009 to Sunday 25th August 2019