Old Bus Photos

WYPTE – AEC Reliance – Pennine – ECP 950D – 250

WYPTE - AEC Reliance - Pennine - ECP 950D - 250

WYPTE (Calderdale)
AEC Reliance 6MU3RA
Pennine B39F

Having suffered a number of Albion Nimbuses whilst in his previous post at Great Yarmouth, Geoffrey Hilditch arrived as GM at Halifax only to find that his predecessor there had bequeathed him a batch of ten more, only recently delivered. Bought originally with the intention of operating out-of-town feeder services to and from the hilltop villages linking with double deckers on the main valley roads, the plan never really came to fruition and the Nimbuses found themselves operating through services from town to these places, as well as substituting for heavier duty single deckers on more local services. In these circumstances rather too much was perhaps expected of them and they soon began to give problems, and were generally unpopular with drivers (except Roger Cox !).
Hilditch was not impressed and within two years he began to sell them off, but there was still considered to be a need for some shorter and narrower than standard single deckers to negotiate the narrow lanes and tight reversing points. He chose to repeat what he had done at Great Yarmouth and ordered some AEC Reliances with Pennine bodywork of reduced dimensions. Seven arrived for the JOC fleet in 1966 – 249-255 (ECP 949-955D) – based on the 505-engined 6MU3RA chassis. Bodies by the Seddon subsidiary Pennine Coachcraft seated 39, 252 having seats with headrests (removed from the two Nimbuses that had been fitted with them previously). 249 was even exhibited at the Commercial Vehicle Show at Earls Court in that year.
They proved to be very useful on the more rural routes and were regular performers on the Heptonstall, Midgley, Booth and Mill Bank services. All passed to WYPTE Calderdale District in 1974 and were withdrawn in 1979/80. 250 was withdrawn on 31 July 1979 and sold at Central Motor Auctions the following month to Askin’s, the Carlton breaker. 251 escaped the breaker to operate for Everton Coaches of Droitwich for a while and was the subject of a sadly failed preservation attempt. 252 was exported to Malta, where it operated in a non-PSV capacity for a number of years.
Here 250 is pictured in WYPTE days (1975) still in Halifax livery as it rests in Rawson Street, Halifax whilst its driver has his mealbreak in the Powell Street canteen, which was down a passageway behind Harvey’s department store on the left.

Photograph and Copy contributed by John Stringer

10/11/17 – 06:53

Nice interesting buses-always seemed in a hurry and went fast!

Stuart Emmett

10/11/17 – 06:54

I recently paid a return visit to the Halifax area to see relatives who live high above Mytholmroyd on the way up to Pecket Well. After living in the flat lands around Peterborough for over 12 years I found those moorland roads, hills and twists quite challenging even in my humble Vauxhall Zafira. I have nothing but admiration for the men and machines who piloted those orange and green buses into that hinterland. Even these short and narrow Reliances must have been a tight squeeze but unlike the Nimbuses they ousted they would at least have had some power.

Philip Halstead

12/11/17 – 07:17

I remember in the 70’s when I looked after the police radio stations. I was going to one near Blackshaw Head on a quite snowy day when one of these could not make it up a steep climb and had to assist in guiding the driver reversing for almost a 1/2 mile before he could turn round. I then had to walk back to where I had left my Land Rover.

Brian Lunn

12/11/17 – 07:18

That’s an interesting point, Philip. Some may know better than me, but the Halifax/ Heptonstall bus has to use a turning circle to approach the steep hill up to the village. At the top the road narrows through the village and is cobbled, becoming for a bus a single width. Every sort of bus seems to have been used, though, and the whole thing certainly requires skill.


12/11/17 – 07:19

Philip, I now live some 10 miles down the A1 where the Black Fens abut the rolling hills of West Hunts, and I agree that there could be no greater contrast with the dramatic Calderdale skyline than the the billiard table top topography of South Holland lying to the north of Peterborough. These Pennine bodied Reliances began to appear during my last months with HPTD in the latter part of 1966, but, being earmarked for (what was then called) OMO, they were not driven by we humble office employees who covered only crew duties. On the subject of the Nimbuses (yes, John, I loved ‘em) my acquaintance with them was always on the 46 route to Heptonstall, which, because of the unbelievably constricted terminal reversing point, colloquially known as ‘The Rathole’ – even the mirrors had to be flattened against the bus sides – these little machines carried a conductor. Before the coming of the Nimbuses, I believe that the route was previously operated with Regals, and I commend those drivers struggling over the years to turn round these bigger vehicles at the Rathole. However, I can vouch that the Nimbus did not lack performance when in good order, and could scamper up the steep Heptonstall Road from Hebden Bridge every bit as effectively as the Leopards that initially superseded them when the 46 was mercifully extended onwards beyond the Rathole to follow a circular terminal working round Heptonstall – why this route could not have been adopted long before I cannot imagine, unless there was some Road Service Licence difficulty. Having resolved the terminal problem, it was logical that the 46 would become a driver only operation, but, in my day, the Booth and Midgely services, which ran common with the 46 as far as Luddenden Foot, were PD2 crew runs. It would seem that they, too, soon became OMO workings with the then new Reliances. The Nimbus certainly had mechanical weaknesses, but so did the AH505 engine in the Reliance, so troubles were certainly not over. I have long thought that the fine Reliance chassis (much superior to the Leopard) should have been fitted with the superb Dennis O6 engine – we are all allowed to dream.

Roger Cox

12/11/17 – 09:40

An example of Heptonstall village bus "squeeze" as Joe mentioned. http://www.sct61.org.uk/hx266

John Lomas

21/11/17 – 07:18

Ah, the short Pennine Reliances. What do I remember? Clutch problems, snatching brakes, skidding in wet weather, the inevitable cold heaters and demisters, head gaskets (yes even on the AH505 engine). I have to bow to Roger and John who were there before me that the Nimbus was actually worse!!!!

Ian Wild

24/11/17 – 07:27

Provided all was working well I always much preferred the 505 Reliance to the heavy, clunky L1/L2 Leopards, though of course I wasn’t involved with having to maintain them. Cold heaters and demisters were a feature of most of the buses that I remember driving throughout my career (except during the summer months when some suddenly seemed to blow hot !). The dimensions of these reduced Reliances rendered them just right for the roads they were intended for.
However, I would completely agree with Ian that Reliance brakes could be unpredictably and frighteningly snatchy, and that these short ones were the worst of all. Many of the routes they were used on were tightly timed and yet involved negotiating miles of narrow, steeply graded and winding country lanes with blind bends and shiny worn surfaces, along which numerous farm tractors with muddy tyres and leaking muck spreaders would have passed, and to which herds of cows would have added their messy contribution. All it needed then was for it to rain and you had a recipe for disaster. You had to be extremely careful, yet the running times often didn’t exactly encourage this.
It always seemed to me that when a standard chassis had bits lopped off it to make it shorter and narrower it always upset the balance of things. Even worse than these Reliances were some Bristol LHS6L’s that WYPTE graced us with for a while. The LH was designed primarily as a 32ft x 8ft vehicle and may well have been okay in that form (can’t say – I never drove one). The LHS was a shorter version, maybe around 27ft 6in and sometimes 7ft 6in wide, but ours were as short and narrow as it was possible to make them, with seemingly just enough wheelbase to allow for the engine and transmission to fit, the front and rear overhangs cut down as far as they could go, and with small wheels. This resulted in a 24ft x 7ft 6in, 27-seater roller skate of a bus yet which had the same powerful 0400 engine, gearbox and braking system of the full sized version – seemingly unmodified – and all its weight distribution completely messed up. Those things really were the most fearsome buses I’ve ever driven – too much power for their own good, rear wheelspin, bouncing up and down on the back end and the brakes locking up, skidding and sliding. Terrible things.

John Stringer


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Huddersfield Corporation – AEC Regent V – PVH 992 – 192

Huddersfield Corporation - AEC Regent V - PVH 992 - 192

Huddersfield Corporation
AEC Regent V 2D2RA
East Lancs. H37/28R

192 (PVH 992) was an AEC Regent V 2D2RA with East Lancs. H37/28R bodywork, one of a pair (192/3) added to the Huddersfield Joint Omnibus Committee fleet on 1st February 1960. They had the AV590 engine and Monocontrol semi-automatic gearboxes. The traditional exposed radiator arrangement had remained an option for the Mk. V and the JOC had taken eight Roe-bodied examples (182-189) a couple of years previously, but this pair must have been amongst the last examples before the option was withdrawn. With their sturdy and well finished East Lancs bodies they were in my opinion the most handsome of buses, so typical of the Huddersfield fleet in that period – oozing real quality.
The Corporation/JOC system at Huddersfield had worked in a different way to the one at neighbouring Halifax, not being based on whether the services operated outside the borough or not, but on what type of vehicles were used. Tram and then trolleybus routes had all been run by the Corporation whilst all motorbuses were the responsibility of the JOC. However when trolleybus abandonment in favour of motorbuses began in the early 1960’s the old arrangement would have eventually meant the JOC would have operated all the routes so a new agreement was reached such that former trolleybus routes would remain in Corporation hands and a separate fleet of buses was gradually built up carrying a more streamlined trolleybus-like livery and numbered from 101 upwards.
From the 1st October 1969 the Corporation took over the former railway company’s share of the JOC (by then owned by the NBC) as well as the local stage service of Hanson’s Buses, and from then until the formation of the West Yorkshire PTE in April 1974 all services were Corporation operated. 192 and 193 passed into the PTE fleet as 4192/4193 and were withdrawn shortly afterwards and scrapped.
193 is seen here in Huddersfield’s Manchester Street Bus Station in the latter all-Corporation days having just been treated to a magnificent repaint.

Photograph Peter Berry – Copy John Stringer

20/09/17 – 06:08

The exposed radiator AEC Regent V seemed to be very much a Yorkshire thing. In addition to the Huddersfield examples, Leeds, Doncaster and East Yorkshire also had them. The only non-Yorkshire examples I can recall were some for City of Oxford and Rhonda. As we’re talking Yorkshire here where the natives have a reputation for thrift, could it have been that the exposed radiator version was cheaper!

Philip Halstead

20/09/17 – 08:22

But in Sheffield we had 86 Regent III with Regent V fronts!

David Oldfield

20/09/17 – 08:24

Thrift, nowt wrong wi that lad, after all, it is easy for anyone to identify a Yorkshire man abroad; he is the one at the till saying loudly "How Much"?
However, the real reason for the exposed radiators is some Yorkshireman appreciate beauty more than tin fronts (the manager in Bradford who bought hundreds of tin fronted Regents, was not, after all, a native thee knows).

Stuart Emmet

20/09/17 – 14:34

I suspect that it was more an accessibility issue. I can remember in my far off preservation days what an awkward and painful experience it was just trying to remove and refit the lift-pump on my AEC Renown, standing precariously on a step ladder slumped over the wing with the bonnet edge trying to crush my ribcage as I reached down into its innards. With the exposed radiator you just lifted the bonnet and there it all was, and if the job was a bit bigger you just unbolted the wing, lifted it off and you could get right in there and reach everything with ease.

John Stringer

20/09/17 – 14:36

Nottingham City Transport had a little matter of 65 exposed radiator Regent Vs – nos. 209-273 (UTV 209-238 and XTO 239-273). Park Royal 62 seat bodies. Delivered 1955-56.

Stephen Ford

20/09/17 – 14:37

Huddersfield also had two Guy Arab IV with exposed radiators, and nearby County Motors had four.

Don McKeown

20/09/17 – 14:42

A small correction to the caption – motorbus deliveries to the Corporation fleet were numbered 401 up, 101 being reserved (at that time) for JOC double-deckers.

David Call

22/09/17 – 07:20

Don’t forget the elegant Guy Arabs of Exeter Corporation which took delivery of 20, all with exposed radiator, between 1956 and 1960.Five had Park Royal bodies, five had MCW, but the best looking were the Massey-bodied ones – the first five and the last five. Fotunately number 50, TFJ 808, the first of the Masseys, survives in superb condition. It was chosen for preservation by Colin Shears as it was ‘the most musical’!

David Chapman

23/09/17 – 07:07

An exposed-radiator Mk.5 that is easy to overlook is the most individual one of all, Longwell Green bodied PWO783, number 9 in the fleet of Bedwas & Machen UDC.
Of the fleets that have been mentioned, only Doncaster and Nottingham failed to go on to buy concealed-radiator equivalents.

David Call

25/09/17 – 13:36

True, David: Doncaster returned to Daimler in the 60’s and had to buy concealed radiator CVG6’s but amongst its last half-cabs were some exposed radiator PD3s around 1963. I used to wonder if exposed radiators were seen as more macho in the Council Chamber- like Atkinson coal lorries or even Peterbilts. There was not a lot else Macho about a PD3 and Doncaster transport seemed to be about eking out, so cost was probably the answer: although making an exposed radiator look respectable cannot have been so cheap compared to a glass fibre moulding.


27/09/17 – 06:19

As John Stringer says the exposed radiator arrangement made it much easier to access the engine and its ancillaries than with a tin (fibreglass or aluminium) front. Also the view of the nearside kerb from the driver’s seat was better.
The big snag was, I suspect, the exposed radiator was deemed old fashioned in the eyes of the fashion police of the time. Plus the fact accident damage was probably easier to repair on a "tin" front with the use of plastic filler.

John Anderson

02/10/17 – 07:29

In Manchester the issues were certainly engine accessibility and driver sightlines, to the extent that, when Daimler refused to supply chassis with exposed radiators, Manchester worked with them to redesign the alternative.

Peter Williamson


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British European Airways – AEC Routemaster – NMY 641E

NMY 641E

British European Airways
AEC Routemaster
Park Royal H32/24F

From 6 October 1957 until 1 January 1974, British European Airways operated a passenger transfer service between its West London Air Terminal at Cromwell Road, Kensington and Heathrow Airport. The rolling stock fleet was staffed and maintained by London Transport, and this was reflected in the vehicle types operated. By the 1960s, the increase in size of airliners meant that the BEA fleet of AEC Regal IV observation coaches of 1952/3 vintage were offering inadequate capacity, and were approaching replacement anyway. In 1961 an evaluation of the practicability of employing double deckers for the job was undertaken, initially using AEC Regent V, 220 CXK fitted with a Park Royal H38/17F body, the limited lower deck capacity arising from its adaptation to accommodate luggage in the rear portion. Between 1964-66, the 30 ft long front entrance Routemaster RM 1254 was tried out towing a separate luggage trailer, and this experiment was deemed to be successful. Thus, in 1966/67, BEA took delivery of 65 front entrance Routemasters of the shorter 27ft 8ins length with the slightly reduced seating of 56 to allow space for hand luggage at the rear of the lower deck. They had semi automatic gearboxes and AEC AV 590 engines, but were geared for 70 mph running with trailers on the M4 motorway, which would surely not be allowed today. Marshall constructed 88 luggage trailers so that the buses would not suffer luggage loading/unloading delays at the terminals. The Routemasters were delivered and initially operated in the traditional airline livery of blue and white, but, in 1969 the emerging distressing vogue for the use of orange in bus liveries gravely infected the BEA fleet. Mercifully, the merger of BEA and BOAC into British Airways in September 1973 saw the consignment of the execrable orange to oblivion with the restoration of a blue /white livery. The RMAs were progressively withdrawn from airport work from January 1975 until mid 1979, when the entire fleet of 65 was sold to London Transport, thereafter to suffer a curiously chequered, and somewhat wasteful career. In the photo taken at Heathrow in March 1972, orange adorned BEA 41, NMY 641E stands alongside BEA 32, NMY 632E. These vehicles were renumbered RMA 53 and 49 respectively on acquisition by London Transport in 1979. It is thought that both survive – somewhere!

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox

06/09/17 – 07:00

Not one vestige of luxury abounded these vehicles – just a normal inside. Not the way to start an air flight, even with non-Transatlantic flights.
Was there an equivalent BOAC system such as the one BEA operated here, or did one have to make one’s own way to Heathrow?

Chris Hebbron

06/09/17 – 09:19

BOAC operated some Metro-Cammell bodied Leyland Atlanteans during the 1960s between Buckingham Palace Road, London and Heathrow Airport. They were fitted with higher backed coach type seats more suitable to long-haul airline passengers.
Photographs may be seen here:

David Slater

07/09/17 – 07:36

BOAC’s fleet pre-dated the Atlanteans and consisted of a fleet of single-deck vehicles, although I am not sure about the technical details. Unlike BEA, operations were not subcontracted to London Transport.

David Wragg

08/09/17 – 06:42

We have to remember the vogue for these colours in the 70’s- bright and striking and definitely non-traditional- a reaction against formal "liveries". Having said that it was a bit dire!
What does seem naff is the choice of vehicle- high floor with perhaps a noisy transmission and speeds for which it was not really designed- with trailer! A Neoplan Skyliner type would be better- but a lot dearer and less patriotic?! Was luggage checked in at the city terminal- so why not just use a van?


09/09/17 – 06:41

Here is a shot of one of the Routemasters at the west London Air Terminal in 1969 in the original livery: www.flickr.com/photos/
At the same time BEA was still using the one an a half deck AEC Regal IVs from London Transport. they were new in 1953 and had Park Royal bodies.
BOAC also had their own fleet of vehicles which operated from their terminal close to Victoria Coach Station. In 1966 they acquired a fleet of Leyland Atlanteans with MCW bodies.

Stephen Bloomfield

09/09/17 – 06:42

Joe – I think you’ll find BOAC left Buckingham Palace Road in the early/mid 70s. My 1978 office looked out on to it and I can remember, at one point, it being used for South Western Services on peak days to relieve pressure on the Coach Station itself. In the days of much smaller coaches they were accommodated in the underground car park of the Coach Station but I feel we’re talking about an era far before Neoplans came on the scene with Trathens.

Nick Turner

10/09/17 – 06:38

Nick- the Skyliner is celebrating 50 years this year – would it have filled the bill?! So would the Atlantean or even Bristol VR but they weren’t Routemasters!


11/09/17 – 06:26

I bow to your knowledge, Joe, but I can recall when Trathens of Plymouth introduced them to their London – Exeter and Plymouth contract for the newly created ‘Rapide’ brand, they were billed as state of the art. Certainly new to the likes of me. They must have been in use elsewhere, I presume, but they’d certainly have done the job!

Nick Turner

11/09/17 – 06:28

The BEA Routemasters were fitted with AV690 175 bhp engines. In my opinion, these vehicles were the right ones for the job. They had well padded comfortable seats , superb suspension, were nimble and quiet (certainly no problem with transmission noise). They were also a reliable and proven design. The Atlantean may have looked better, but as a tool for the job, would have been inferior.

Allan White

11/09/17 – 06:32

I can vouch for the basic seating of these RM’s, plus also on the "smart" clippies that made a lot of money because arriving travellers had no sterling.

Stuart Emmet

11/09/17 – 09:07

Re: Joe’s question "Why not a van?"
Surely using a trailer made it much more likely that the luggage got on the same plane as the passengers.

John Lomas

12/09/17 – 06:39

Why not a van? Why not? One summer, I drove for a major London Operator – a cruise transfer from Central London to the Liner at the coast. American Tourists with huge amounts of luggage. How will I fit it all in? Oh, don’t worry, there will be a van for that. ….. and there was, a big curtain sided vehicle just for the luggage.

David Oldfield

12/09/17 – 06:41

Nick, Although launched in 1967, the first right-hand drive UK versions were in service in 1981.
Joe, Regarding a van: I was working in Cork in 1975 when the hotel was invaded by by a C.I.E. coach with 40+ American tourists doing the Irish heritage circuit. As they all had about 5 large suitcases, the coach was accompanied by a C.I.E. container wagon.

Dave Farrier

12/09/17 – 14:44

Regarding the trailer, it was seen as a simple, effective solution whereby passengers and luggage travelled together. Even in 1960s London traffic, a bus and a van could easily have become well separated and the essence of the operation was to check in passengers at Cromwell Rd and give a smooth transit at Heathrow for both passengers and luggage. Keeping them together was the key to this.
The RM was chosen because BEA had long used LT as its contractor and the RM was its current vehicle just as the Regal was the basis for the half deck coaches and LT’s RF in the 1950s. The shorter version of the RM was chosen as BEA Tridents, Vanguards and 1-11s in service by the late 1960s had seating capacities between 100 and 135. Based on experience of the split between passengers checking in at the airport and those using Cromwell Rd, 56 seats was deemed to be the most viable option allowing room inside for hand baggage. Outbound to Heathrow vehicles were assigned to specific flights with the luggage in the trailers going directly to the aircraft. There were enough vehicles for duplicates if necessary, but in practice this was rare. Inbound passengers picked the first available bus and trailer as they had to pick their luggage in arrivals and, if necessary, clear customs, so it was impossible to keep passengers from any given flight together. Buses departed for London either when full or after a predetermined time after the first passenger had boarded so as not to delay arrival in Cromwell Rd.
BOAC and TWA both successfully used Atlanteans with internal luggage space between city terminals in London and Heathrow. To say the Atlantean was inferior is a nonsense as BOAC re-ordered Atlanteans and TWA’s contract with Hall’s of Hounslow specified the Atlantean based on BOAC’s experience.

Phil Blinkhorn

13/09/17 – 06:34

As Allan White correctly states, these did have AV690 11.3 litre engines, though I suspect that they might have been de-rated a bit. This, however, raises an interesting point. If these powerful, very highly geared, fluid flywheel coupled double deckers could run regularly at high speeds without problems, why did the Halifax Lolines suffer such transmission trouble?

Roger Cox

14/09/17 – 06:53

Maybe something to do with the terrain

Roger Burdet

14/09/17 – 06:55

Forgive me for straying from the main subject to mention the problems with Halifax’s Lolines for a moment.
A mechanic (and also an enthusiast) at Halifax Corporation with first hand experience of dealing with their five Lolines once wrote a piece in the local bus club’s newsletter (and I am taking the liberty of quoting him here):
"The transmission was unusual in that there was a transfer box at the rear of the engine which altered the rotation of the propellor shaft and gearbox, but allowed the propellor shaft to run along the chassis side, thus permitting a low floor level.
The Dennis mechanic from their Manchester service depot spent so much time at Skircoat Garage that it began to be said he was on the payroll. He was an odd fellow in that he would not show anyone how to do the job or even let them see him working. If an HPT mechanic passed near him he would stop work and cover the job up………………..
…………….Mounted at the back of the engine was the fluid flywheel coupling driving into the transfer box. A major fault on this was a lack of ventilation around the flywheel and transfer box for cooling purposes. So the flywheel got hot, then hotter and hotter still until the oil within it boiled, leaked through and spoiled the oil retaining seal. Alternatively the same might happen to the transfer box. Whichever it was, it was expensive – for Dennis Bros. anyway!
The other main problem was the gearbox. Most gearboxes have the input and output shafts rotating the same way i.e. anticlockwise – the same as the engine – but the Lolines were different, they had to have non-standard clockwise rotating gearboxes which were almost impossible to obtain, as no-one else used them.
The verdict? It was a love/hate relationship. When they were healthy (and new) most drivers (only short men could drive them comfortably) seemed to like them, but when they were poorly the Lolines were unloved (and unlovely). My opinion? Best left unrepeated!"
I do remember being told his opinion – and it was indeed best left unrepeated!
I knew many Halifax drivers who had driven them and most agreed that as long as they were going they were great buses to drive (but then to many bus drivers of my acquaintance A Fast Bus=A Good Bus. The main complaint seemed to be that they didn’t like the driving position, with the raked steering wheel (i.e. different to what they were used to) and that the cab roof was too low and had a prominent section of trunking passing across it just above where the driver’s head would be, causing taller drivers to constantly be striking their heads on it. Otherwise they would have to lower the seat to the point where they had to adopt an uncomfortable posture.
Speaking purely as a passenger with enthusiast tendencies at the time, I thought they were marvellous vehicles. Even Hilditch later went on to imply that it was a shame at the time he sold them that he hadn’t known that his undertaking would shortly afterwards take over Todmorden JOC with its requirement for low-height double deckers – so even he must have still have harboured positive thoughts about them.
Could there have been a certain amount of pressure within the NBC/APT part of the JOC to help West Riding out with Wulfrunian replacements and slightly raise the age profile of the fleet with these comparatively new buses (considering all the older Lodekkas they were having to take on) and it just seemed like a good idea at the time – especially if they’d offered a good price for them ? Who knows ?

John Stringer

14/09/17 – 07:01

Dave – I now live 50 miles from Cork City and was actually there yesterday. I think the governing factor behind the CIE van in ’75 would have revolved around the fact that Ireland only established bespoke bus/coach licences comparatively recently. With trailers already a reality, anyone being tested without a trailer on the back of the vehicle would have received a simple ‘D’ entitlement. Now, old fogeys like me, as long as we took our tests on a decker with manual box, would be entitled to an ‘All Types PSV’ which was literally converted to ‘D+E’ when trailers became recognised.
When I arrived here in 2007, and not being averse to a few extra Euros in my pocket, I spotted an ad in the local paper for D+E Drivers to drive a tourist road train round a local town. I got the job and found the other, main driver was also English. Any Irish drivers had worked in the UK where they, too, got an old ‘All Types’ licence but actual native D+E licences were as rare as hen’s teeth and I’m suspecting CIE had no option but to use a separate vehicle if they had no D+E drivers.

Nick Turner

15/09/17 – 06:37

An enlightening posting, John. However, several batches of Lodekkas had the SCG semi auto four/five speed gearbox, and this driveline must have incorporated a step down box in the transmission, reversing the direction of rotation, unless an intermediate cog was used to turn it back the "right" way. Does anyone on here know anything about the Bristol/SCG setup? As for the Dennis engineer’s singular secrecy, perhaps he was out of his depth himself, and didn’t want the customer to witness his struggles. The Lodekka/Loline driving position issue is often debated, and surely comes down to a matter of familiarity – the unusual is generally unpopular with bus drivers (enthusiast types like us are exceptions, of course). All I can say is that I liked it.

Roger Cox

15/09/17 – 06:39

The Routemaster, having a conventional height chassis and the gearbox remotely mounted towards the back axle, has much more room for cooling air to flow around it. Unlike the Loline which hasn’t. That could have also been a factor.I assume, because of constraints of space under the chassis, the Loline and the Lodekka had their semi auto gearboxes close coupled to the engine, under the stairs, where air flow over them would be even more restricted. Maybe it would have been kinder in retrospect, to have ripped the semi auto boxes out and retro fitted them with constant mesh units. Although, given the hilly terrain of Halifax, that may have created more problems than answers.
It would be interesting to know how the West Riding Auto Co. got on with their acquired Lolines. Maybe someone out there knows. Regarding the Dennis fitter. If you are called upon to solve a problem, but are mainly used to working on refuse disposal vehicles and not too sure how to go about working on a bus and its added complications, it must be tempting to avoid public scrutiny, retain an air of mystique, and hide what you are doing from people, who you feel may know far more than you do. But I bet the Lolines must have given him many sleepless nights! Regarding the reversal of drive through the transfer box into the gearbox on a Loline/Lodekka reminds me of a story. In the mid 1970s the Northern General Transport Group, found themselves short of serviceable vehicles, which prompted them to acquire a number of ex Crosville Bristol LD6Bs. It was not long however before the driving staff were complaining about their low power Bristol AVW engines and slow change constant mesh ‘boxes. In an attempt to remedy this the engineering staff successfully managed to fit a Leyland 0600 engine into one of these Lodekkas. However they must have forgotten about the transfer box and its reversal of drive, as they ended up with one forward and five reverse gears. Under those circumstances I do not know whether you would be tempted to laugh or cry!

John Anderson

15/09/17 – 06:40

The lack of DE licences in Eire might have been a factor in 2007, but surely not in ’75 when Dave saws the CIE container.
D and DE categories only came into being in June 1990 before that HGV and PSV licences were separate documents.

John Lomas

16/09/17 – 06:51

My reasoning, John, is that, whereas I’m told the UK introduced bespoke PSV licences in 1931, it could have been well into the ’70s before they were brought in in Ireland and, if they were already aware that trailers existed, there MAY have been some sort of exclusion written into them. I honestly don’t know, so it could have simply been that CIE didn’t have vehicles with tow hooks or trailers to put on them.
As something of a side issue, I remember petrol companies advertising for tanker drivers with a note ‘PSV drivers preferred’ because, in those days, you could drive 5,000 gallons of petrol around on a car licence.

Nick Turner

16/09/17 – 06:52

Roger Burdett’s comment about terrain deserves further exploration. The BEA Routemasters were dedicated to one service which involved sustained high-speed running, without, I imagine, a lot of gear changing. I wonder also if perhaps they had dedicated drivers. The Halifax Lolines were purchased for a long-distance contract, but were also used on local work in hilly terrain, for which their gearing must have been wildly unsuitable.
Drivers switching between high and low geared vehicles do not always make the necessary adjustment in driving style. I certainly experienced this every evening going home from work in Bristol, when a cascaded RELH was allocated to one trip on a service otherwise worked by RELLs. None of the drivers seemed to know what to do with it, and the transmission must have suffered significant punishment from being in too high a gear most of the time.

Peter Williamson

17/09/17 – 06:50

A few observations about the operation of the BEA and later BA Routemasters.
Whilst geared for high speed running, the first 4.4 miles from the Cromwell Rd Terminal to the end of the M4 was through London Traffic which, even in the early days of the service, could be very slow. The motorway sector to the airport was just over 9.5 miles but though the vehicles could attain 70 mph, they rarely did. From personal observation regularly driving that stretch of the M4 between 1967 and 1976 and, from time to time using the service, 50-60 mph was the norm, as traffic permitted on the motorway sector.
The first trailers were built by Marshalls. With different baggage limits in those days, a full bus could be pulling a fully laden trailer with a gross weight of 2 tons. The trailers were replaced in 1973 when check in was moved to the airport.

Phil Blinkhorn

17/09/17 – 06:51

The semi-automatic Lodekka had its gearbox amidship, there being a raised cover beneath one of the offside pairs of seats. The Loline, I am not sure about, but a photograph of the flywheel and step down gear cover in "A Further Look At Buses" (G.G.Hilditch) shows that, next in line, is a U/J and shaft, thereby implying a remote gearbox.

Allan White

18/09/17 – 07:25

This has turned into a most fascinating thread: Front entrance Routemasters v Atlanteans; trailers v vans; BEA livery variations; Halifax Lolines; Loline and Lodekka transmission differences. Wonderful stuff and all grist to the mill.
John(S), I enjoyed reading your comments regarding the semi-auto Dennnis Lolines and how and why they performed as they did (or didn’t!) at Halifax. Roger(C), you may well have hit the nail on the head with your point about the Dennis fitter being out of his depth with the foibles of the semi-auto Loline, hence his secrecy – or could he have held the view that "knowledge is power" and didn’t want to share it? Fortunately most manufacturers’ technicians I came into contact with were generally very helpful in troubleshooting, problem solving, offering advice and giving useful tips, but as the saying goes, "there’s always one".
Relating to Lodekka gearboxes, the design of the manual gearbox was quite clever. Most gearboxes on a conventional chassis of the time would have the input and output shafts on the same plane, rotating in the same direction, with a layshaft running underneath allowing the various gears to be selected. With the Lodekka having a dropped-centre rear axle and consequently requiring a lower transmission line to match up with it, the drive from the rear of the engine had to be taken down to a lower level in order to mate up with the prop shaft. Bristol did this in effect by using the gearbox layshaft as an output shaft. The input shaft remained at the usual level, but the layshaft beneath now became the output shaft, giving the required drop for the transmission line. (The engine also sloped down slightly to the rear and across slightly to the offside to assist with this). However, by utilising the layshaft in this way, the direction of drive from the output end was reversed, but as the dropped-centre rear axle took the drive from the lower level back up to wheel-centre level by means of an extra gear, the correct rotation of drive to the wheels was restored. Simples! (I do hope all this makes some sense).
The manual gearbox was bolted onto the rear of the engine.
On rear entrance Lodekkas it was partly beneath the rearward facing seat for five behind the front bulkhead, whereas on front entrance models there was a small protruding cover on the front bulkhead at floor level to accommodate the shape of the gearbox. When semi-automatic transmission became an option on the front entrance Lodekka in late 1966 (the last year of rear-entrance Lodekka production), the semi-auto gearbox was squarer and a little bulkier than the manual version, and couldn’t be mounted in the usual position. Bristol solved the problem by mounting the semi-auto ‘box remotely under the floor partway down the offside of the chassis. (Locating the semi-auto ‘box under the stairs was not really an option, as on F-series Lodekkas that position was taken up by the fuel tank). As Allan mentions, a shallow cover under a pair of seats on the offside gave the game away as to the transmission type. In order to bring the drive down from fluid flywheel to prop shaft level, Bristol used a pair of transfer gears behind the fluid flywheel, which gave rise to the distinctive transmission whine of the semi-auto FLFs.
I am unfamiliar with the transmission layout of the semi-auto Loline, but it sounds like it may have been similar in principle to that of the semi-auto Lodekka. Peter, you may be on to something regarding Roger(B)’s comment about terrain being a factor in the Lolines’ reliability problems. Presumably they would have had higher ratio rear axles for their higher speed duties, but which would have made them sluggish on town work. Does anyone know if West Riding considered fitting lower ratio diffs to improve reliability and performance or had they settled down by then on suitable routes? Also, does anyone know of any problems encountered with the semi-auto FLFs, and if so, what were the remedies?

Brendan Smith

21/09/17 – 06:34

The statement by Geoffrey Hilditch in in his book “A Further Look At Buses” suggesting that the five speed gearboxes of the Halifax Lolines were unique to the batch was certainly true when the vehicles were delivered, as the semi auto version of the FLF Lodekka was still several months in the future. However, Dennis had pioneered a four speed semi automatic transmission option right at the beginning of Loline III production in 1961, when it supplied a solitary example to Belfast, and built another for the China Bus Company. A year later the semi auto demonstrator EPG 179B appeared. It must be the case, therefore, that the semi automatic drive line, including the step down gear train, was designed by Dennis. The step down gearing must have been quite costly to produce, particularly since only three examples were made up to the delivery of the five Halifax Lolines in February/March 1967. The Halifax order was preceded by a batch of eight (constant mesh) buses to Reading in December 1966 which marked the resumption of Loline production after a gap of no less than 13 months. These Reading Lolines were fitted with the Bristol gearbox and rear axle, whereas all previous Lolines had Dennis’s own gearbox and axle options. The Halifax Lolines also had Bristol rear axles. By late 1966 it must have been apparent to the Guildford firm that the limited future demand for the Loline did not justify the resumption of manufacturing penny numbers of its own gears and axles when entirely suitable Bristol components could be bought off the shelf. One wonders, then – did Dennis really retain all the casting/tooling equipment from five years previously just to manufacture a mere five more of the complicated step down gear train behind the flywheel, which surely cannot have been a cost effective exercise for Dennis. We know that there was contact between Dennis and Bristol during the Loline production period. Did Dennis subsequently make the step down gears for Bristol, or did the Guildford firm, perhaps, sell/pass on its design work and tooling to Bristol for its own semi auto version of the Lodekka? If only we knew for certain.

Roger Cox

22/09/17 – 07:11

Roger – Your mention of The China Bus Co (Hong Kong?) reminds me that that was the destination for the Southdown Guys (Arab IVs) when they were eventually pensioned off, but one modification they underwent for service there was some form of auto or semi auto gearbox, much to the disgust of most of us. Does this tie in in any way with your last post?

Nick Turner

27/09/17 – 06:16

Where did the problem with the Halifax Lolines transmission lie? Was it the fluid coupling, gearbox, back axle or all three, does anyone know.
Eastern National’s semi auto FLF coaches must have been high geared also, although their operating territory flatter than Halifax.
I would have thought that as Dennis presumably owned the the tooling for the step down gears they would supply Bristol, if an apropriate price could be be negotiated. But its little more than a guess.

John Anderson

24/10/17 – 06:51

Even today "airline" luggage presents problems for coach operations. For many years I was involved in dealing with moving passengers from flights by road and each task had to be looked at specifically. A 49 seat coach could often only carry around 25 passengers because of the weight and amount of passengers baggage and it really depended on the airline and the destination/origin on the passengers concerned. We used trailers and even drafted in Pickfords on occasions. For one task we undertook to move an entire cruise from Liverpool Docks by road to Southampton. For this job we drafted in a large number of Pickfords pantechnicons to carry the luggage as it was so much easier. Luggage was sorted into appropriate vehicles prior to loading and was delivered to the right points on the quay for immediate loading. Meanwhile some 40 coaches moved all the passengers without problem as the nightmare of baggage had been removed!

Bill Headley


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