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


 

Quick links to the  -  Comments Page  -  Contact Page  -  Home Page

 


 

Upminster & District – AEC Regent V – 220 CXK

220 CXK

Upminster & District
1961
AEC Regent V 2D2RA
Park Royal H38/31F

In 1961, London Transport bought a Regent V on behalf of BEA to test the practicality of using double deckers on the service between Cromwell Road Air Terminal and Heathrow. The vehicle had a Park Royal H38/17F body, the restricted seating figure arising from the adaptation of the rear section of the lower deck to serve as a large luggage carrying compartment. The 2D2RA chassis had a 9.6 litre AV590 engine coupled with a Monocontrol gearbox. Proving that the double decker concept was feasible, it wore several liveries as it served with BEA for a number of years alongside RMF1254 and then the RMA fleet with their luggage trailers. It was sold in 1968 to Super Coaches (Upminster) Ltd., one of whose trading names was Upminster & District, and the new owner converted it back into standard bus configuration with windows and 31 seats on the lower deck. It is seen here on the HCVC Brighton Run in 1971, where it seemed to be functioning as a support vehicle rather than as an entrant itself.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox


09/04/19 – 09:13

Surprisingly, there doesn’t seem to be any references to this vehicle after 1971. Super / Upminster & District were rather fond of AECs and ex London vehicles, probably due to their traffic manager, a young man called Peter Newman. In 2019, as chairman of Ensign Bus, his fleet suggests that he is still very fond of AECs and ex London vehicles.

Nigel Turner


11/04/19 – 06:16

I’m pretty sure that this Regent V was destroyed not long after this picture was taken. I cant recall now if it was a fire or an accident that put paid to it, but think it was the former. I’m sure someone with better knowledge will confirm my thoughts

Malcolm Pelling


13/04/19 – 06:00

I don’t believe that this was taken on the 1971 rally, since by then it had been sold from Super Coaches to City Coaches and on to Ementon, Cranfield.
It’s history is:-
B.E.A, Ruislip 6501 12/61
P.V.S. (London) Limited (dealer), Upminster 5/67
Super Coaches, (Upminster) Limited, Upminster 1/68 re-seated to H37/31F as no 681
City Coach Lines (Upminster), Limited, Upminster No, 506 2/69
S.M. Ementon, Cranfield 10/70
Withdrawn 6/72 after an accident and to Paul Sykes Organisation (dealer), Barnsley 12/72 for scrap. I photographed it with the identical destination setting, including the paper insert, on the 1968 rally as seen in this link.

John Kaye


14/04/19 – 06:11

You are right, John. As you suggest, it was the previous year. My mistake.

Roger Cox


21/04/19 – 07:18

I am not really a bus person (more into coaches) but to me the rather square Park Royal body on 220 CXK looks very similar to the bodies supplied to East Kent also on Regent V chassis, perhaps 220 CXK was tagged onto an EK batch?. I like the coach style wheel discs, Delaine used to have them on their Atlantean d/ds.

Andrew Spriggs


 

Quick links to the  -  Comments Page  -  Contact Page  -  Home Page

 


 

Aldershot & District – AEC Reliance – VCG 596H

VCG 596H

Aldershot & District Traction Co
1970
AEC Reliance 6U3ZR
Duple C49F

Having vacillated for some time before settling upon an underfloor engined saloon chassis, even buying some full fronted Dennis Lancet III coaches in 1953, Aldershot & District finally chose the AEC Reliance as its standard single decker, and stayed with this model for its coach requirements right up to its subjugation to Thames Valley (mis)management from January 1972 under the new guise of Alder Valley. Seen here in The Grove alongside Aldershot Bus Station is No.596, VCG 596H, the first of four 6U3ZR Reliances supplied in 1970 with Duple C49F coachwork sporting the (to my eye) hideous Detroit “inspired” front grille that spoilt many of the later Duple designs. Aldershot & District bought two more Reliances of the 6U3ZR specification in 1971, but these had the aesthetically more pleasing Plaxton C49F coachwork. VCG 596 passed to Alder Valley from 1 January 1972 as No. 49.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox


22/12/18 – 06:37

I have to say that I like this coach! Functional, neat without meaningless frippery: where is the Detroit? Burlingham, Whitson, Yeates, other Duple perhaps…this is more Turin!

Joe


22/12/18 – 12:11

Joe – the "Detroit"-inspired part is the full-width chromed grille, which does look rather "overpowering" to my eyes. The chromed strip that runs the length of the body and at across the front at headlight level is also an excessive amount of polished metal.
In a monochrome photo, and wearing a livery with various colours, it doesn’t look so bad, but with a different "livery", and in colour, the effect is pretty dire:- https://thetransportlibrary.co.uk/index.php
I see from other photos that Southdown had the sense to specify their RUF-H batch of Leopards with the same body without the chromed strip on the sides, but they were stuck with the grille.
The polished metal soon went out of fashion, but the advent of the Dominant with curved side windows made the Commander look very old-fashioned in just a couple of years.

Nigel Frampton


26/01/19 – 06:48

The 36ft long AEC Reliance with the AH691 engine & the later AH760 power unit was a real drivers coach & the best premium weight coach on the market until the Volvo B58 surpassed it. With a Reliance the only thing to watch is they tended to run a bit hot on sustained motorway journeys. My boss instructed his drivers to keep an eye on the temperature gauge & if it starts to climb, drop a gear & keep it down to 55 to 60 MPH while it drops. Good advice, never had overheating on later Reliances.
Leyland Leopard, very good, but I think the chassis was more suited to a service bus body rather than a premium coach. As a coach, the gear ratios were all wrong on a semi auto Leopard, but in terms of reliability & strength of the chassis they were unsurpassed.

Andrew Spriggs


26/01/19 – 09:59

Not sure about the overheating: if you had a Sunbeam Imp with the usual gasket problem, going faster improved the air cooling effect!

Joe


06/03/19 – 07:17

I think the overheating problems associated with the Reliance were mainly confined to the wet lined AH470 engine, later replaced by the more successful, dry lined AH505.
The least said about the Hillman Imp, especially the very early examples, probably the better.

John B


 

Quick links to the  -  Comments Page  -  Contact Page  -  Home Page

 


 

All rights to the design and layout of this website are reserved     Old Bus Photos does not set or use Cookies but Google Analytics will set four see this

Old Bus Photos from Saturday 25th April 2009 to Saturday 15th June 2019