Old Bus Photos

Lancashire United Transport – Atkinson Alpha – TTD 297 – 528

LUT - Atkinson Alpha - TTD 297 - 528

Lancashire United Transport
1954
Atkinson Alpha PL745H
Roe B44F

When the BET subsidiary and previously staunch Bristol user North Western Road Car Co. found itself unable to continue buying its favourite make of chassis (due to the manufacturer falling under state-owned BTC ownership and only able to supply to other similarly owned companies), NWRCC management, not to be outdone, sought the services of the independent truck maker Atkinson Lorries (1933) Ltd. of Walton-le-Dale to produce an equivalent to the underfloor-engined Bristol LS model which they would no doubt have otherwise purchased.
The new model was christened the Alpha, and the first ones were duly delivered to NWRCC in 1951. However the BET Group were having none of it and stepped in to force its companies to stick to its preferred choice of Leyland Tiger Cub or AEC Reliance.
Atkinson continued with the Alpha though, which was initially offered as a mediumweight model, fitted with a choice of Gardner 4, 5 or 6HLW engines, and either an Atkinson 5-speed overdrive constant-mesh or David Brown 5-speed direct top synchromesh gearbox. At the 1953 Scottish Show they displayed an Alpha fitted with Self-Changing Gears semi-automatic gearbox – quoted as being the first to be fitted to a PSV chassis (Leyland – owner of SCG – had a minority shareholding in Atkinson at the time). At the same time a lightweight version was offered. Apart from orders for 40 for LUT, and 20 for Venture of Consett, the rest were mostly supplied as coaches in small or single numbers. Production diminished throughout the 1950’s, the model’s swansong occurring in 1963 when Sunderland Corporation surprised everyone by taking three updated 33ft. long buses with semi-automatic gearboxes and modern-style Marshall bodies, but these were the last of the line.
LUT took a batch of ten in each year from 1952 to 1955, and 528 (TTD 297) seen here at their Atherton Depot was a model PL745H with Roe B44F body, new in 1954.

Photograph and Copy contributed by John Stringer


24/04/14 – 08:21

Weren’t the first NWRCC examples delivered with single rear wheels, but the road holding, or lack of it, lead to the more normal twin rear wheels being subsequently fitted?
Did any other operator take single wheel Alphas?

Eric Bawden


24/04/14 – 08:22

If my memory isn’t faulty (and it often is these days) I have a feeling that Sunderland Corp’n took delivery of some earlier Alphas, with similar Roe bodies, in the mid-1950’s.

Chris Hebbron


24/04/14 – 08:22

Alpha

A survivor from the three Atkinsons bought by Sunderland Corporation. I took the photo at the 2013 N.E.B.P.T rally at Seaburn, which is to the north of Sunderland, so no doubt the bus would have been used on services in the area at some time during its working life.

Ronnie Hoye


24/04/14 – 11:37

Sorry folks, in my haste I forgot to add the fleet and registration numbers for the Sunderland Atkinson. WBR 248 fleet number 48. More photos of the vehicle were posted in my Metro Center May 2013 gallery.

Ronnie Hoye


24/04/14 – 11:38

The NWRCC Alphas did have single rear wheels, something the company tinkered with on and off in the 1950s.

Phil Blinkhorn


24/04/14 – 11:39

GCR 230
Copyright Chas. H Roe

Here’s an official photo of one of the earlier Alphas, with Roe bodies, which Sunderland Corp’n bought and I mentioned earlier.

Chris Hebbron


24/04/14 – 15:47

So upset was the North Western manager by the BET reaction he resigned and left the company.

Chris Hough


24/04/14 – 15:47

Just one minor point, John. Self Changing Gears did not succumb to Leyland control until 1957, when the Lancashire maker bought the Hawker Siddeley third of the shares in the company. Prior to that, the Wilson family, Hawker Siddeley and Leyland each owned a third. The Atkinson shown in Chris Hebbron’s picture was earlier one of two L644LWEXL long wheelbase models with front mounted vertical 4LW engines bought by Sunderland in 1956/7. The Leyland shareholding in the Atkinson company proved to be the decisive factor in the tragic sale of Atkinson to Seddon in 1970. Leyland decided to take the Oldham money and run.

Roger Cox


25/04/14 – 07:29

It is surprising that a large proportion of the Atkinson buses had unusual bodies. All the North Western Alphas had rear entrance bodies, and many of the Lancashire United examples had centre-entrance standee bodies, as did four of those for SHMD Board. The last three for SHMD had front entrance standee bodies, and the one-off double decker had centre entrance. Even the front entrance Roe bodied Alphas for LUT had an unusual (but attractive) appearance, and the driver had an offside cab door.
Surely the two Sunderland Atkinsons bought in the fifties were not Alphas, but modified lorry chassis.
Just think, if the BET Group management had not been so awkward, North Western might have bought a couple of hundred Atkinson Alphas instead of Royal Tigers, Tiger Cubs and Reliances of the FDB, KDB and LDB series.

Don McKeown


25/04/14 – 07:30

Strange isn’t it. You would expect Atkinsons with their quality and traditional reputation and low volumes to be an ideal manufacturer for the bus industry. No, it has to be Leyland or AEC. Eventually, they all eat each other, aided by too much direction- are rear engines or double deckers the answer to everything- so we now have over-large, wallowing buses with all the control subtlety of a dodgem. Am I being unfair?!

Joe


25/04/14 – 11:47

I tend to agree with Don’s comment about the lorry chassis. The layout is probably the most odd of all the Atkinson bus production as, to an extent, all the other body layouts followed traditional or, at least, accepted formats yet a long wheelbase with a double width door behind the front axle needs some explanation!

Phil Blinkhorn


25/04/14 – 14:24

The Atkinson L644 was a lorry chassis – L=Long wheelbase, 6=6 tonner, 4=4-wheel, 4=4cyl. The suffix LWEXL presumably means LW=Gardner LW (though this was not usually used on lorries, being taken for granted), EXL=Extra Long (being longer than the standard lwb lorry).
I’ve only ever seen these on photographs, but always thought they looked rather good, and that Roe had made a very neat job of them. The double width door looks unusual on a front-engined single decker, and the grille looks like a throwback to the BMMO S6 or D5. It’s almost like a slightly longer and more substantial alternative to the Bristol SC. I’m told however that their appeal stopped with their appearance, and that they were rather unrefined in reality.

John Stringer


27/04/14 – 08:08

Although it was based upon a lorry chassis, one presumes that the frames of the Sunderland buses were dropped in the conventional psv fashion to permit a reasonable floor height. I entirely agree that the 4LW engine would have been a far from refined power unit, even with a flexible mounting. (Nonetheless, the prewar Dennis Lancet with four cylinder petrol or diesel power was noted for smooth running.) The 4LW had a capacity of 5.6 litres, almost exactly the same as the experimental 6LK engine made in the 1930s but not produced in volume. No doubt the 6LK would have been more costly to produce than the 4LW, but it would have given Gardner an effective, reliable, refined 5.7 litre 85 bhp high speed six cylinder engine, suitable for automotive applications where the 4LW was much too ponderous. An excellent opportunity was lost. Under Hugh Gardner’s autocratic management style the company’s production methods did not evolve with the passage of time, and were essentially very inefficient by the 1960s, a factor that was reflected in the level of output and the unit cost. During the 1968 strike in the foundry section, personnel from other parts of the Patricroft works stepped in to maintain production. It was discovered that the technique used for the sand core for one complex casting could be simplified, reducing the manufacturing time from 40 minutes to 12 seconds. No doubt similar economies could have been effected in other processes had the will been there to take a proper look. After the 1973 strike, during which some 600 skilled employees left the Patricroft firm for employment elsewhere, the continued demand for the LX series engines had to be met by ending production of the 4LK and 4/5/6LW ranges for which markets still existed. When, in the following year, Rolls Royce decided to pull out of making diesel engines, Paul Gardner suggested that the Patricroft firm should buy the Shrewsbury factory, equipped as it was with modern manufacturing plant. Hugh Gardner responded by threatening to resign, and the project was dropped. Paul was told to apologise for wasting the board’s time. What might have been!

Roger Cox


27/04/14 – 12:58

Thx for the insight into Gardner’s problem boss. So many livelihoods affected, often those of talented people by such high-handed and misguided behaviour.
Can you say, Roger, why the Gardner strikes occurred and why R-R pulled out of road vehicle engine manufacture?

Chris Hebbron


27/04/14 – 16:16

Chris, the comprehensive record of Gardner history is the 2002 book by Graham Edge. In August 1968, a certain shop steward in the iron foundry shop took it upon himself, presumably arising from some grievance, to cast the name ‘Gardner’ upside down on the crankcase of the large and expensive 8L3B engine. He was repeatedly warned to no effect and was ultimately suspended. The other stewards in the foundry then called a strike that lasted until September, when the action collapsed and the staff returned to work, having lost their centenary bonus. The initial troublemaker left the plant soon afterwards. The 1973 dispute was more serious, and fell within a pattern of strikes that plagued almost all the UK motor manufacturing industries of the time. By the end of 1973, when settlement was made, production of engines at Patricroft had fallen to a level, 2937 units, that was half that of the two previous years. This strike was instrumental in the move by those manufacturers traditionally employing Gardner engines towards fitting other makes of motive power. Hugh Gardner was an autocrat and must surely have been an unreceptive individual at every negotiating table with the trades unions. It is possible that an undercurrent of labour dispute arose from personal resentment by the union representatives, but the eventual outcome was yet another tragedy for British industry. The appointment of Clayton Flint as Chairman in 1975, the first ‘non Family’ person ever to hold the post, led to more flexible management of the company and improved production efficiency, particularly in the foundry shop. The rigid resistance to change ceased to be, and Paul Gardner, at last, was permitted to take Gardner engines into the world of turbocharging. Sadly, it was all too late, and even the sale of the business to Hawker Siddeley could not save Gardner. New engines were rushed into production too soon, and reliability, hitherto synonymous with the name Gardner, began to fall short. In the recession of the 1980s, during which the smaller independent commercial vehicle makers began to fall by the wayside, Hawker Siddeley lost interest in Gardner and sold off the company to Perkins. The writing was finally on the wall. Perkins disposed of Gardner by 1994, and automotive engine production ceased soon afterwards, followed by marine production three years later. The residual engine parts and support business became Gardner Avon, but this is now a non trading company. Today, the so called Gardner group is a supplier to the aerospace industry. It has several sites in the UK, but Manchester is not one of them.

Roger Cox


28/04/14 – 08:27

The North Western manager who resigned when BET refused to approve the purchase of further Atkinsons was Mr H S Driver, the company’s chief engineer. He had appealed to try to have this decision overturned, but without success. He later became Gardner technical representative for Australasia, and did not return to the UK.

David Williamson


28/04/14 – 08:27

Thanks, Roger, for that detailed, illuminating and depressing story, much of it so common in those days. That was when much of the Great went out of Great Britain!

Chris Hebbron


29/04/14 – 07:55

I’d been wondering what had happened to Gardner: there they were supplying engines, along came "uniformed service" and I sort of dropped out of bus-related business . . . then when I picked-up my interest again it was in a world without Gardner.
I do remember reading somewhere that there was a specific reason why Sunderland ordered those long-wheelbase forward-entrance Atkinsons to that forma- but I can’t remember now what I read or where I read it. Something about a heavily-trafficked night/works service seems to ring a bell.

Philip Rushworth


29/04/14 – 07:55

Much of the BET Group’s vehicle policy was determined by the availability of bulk discounts. Atkinson would probably have been unable to provide the bulk, never mind the discount. NWRC’s Mr Driver had allegedly been responsible for the creation of the Alpha, and had certainly worked closely with the manufacturer to get the spec just so for the operator. But when he went to BET HQ to plead his case, he was told that Royal Tigers had already been allocated to NWRC from a Leyland bulk order, and that was that. (Info from Glory Days: North Western by A E Jones.)

Peter Williamson


30/04/14 – 07:26

Very grateful to Roger for the detailed account of Gardner’s sad slide into nothingness. Having no understanding of the business side of things, I went through life blissfully confident that Gardner’s products always had been, were and always would be the finest available on earth. Of course that was once true, but I had my illusion shattered one day at Dover, where a driver had open the back panel of his bus. (I can’t remember the make of vehicle, and was the engine a 6LXCT or did it have a slightly bigger bore?) I expected him to share my enthusiasm, but his tales were of woe, and I went away with a painfully updated understanding, although I still had no idea how long the problems had been festering.
Also fascinated to read that a 6LK had actually been built. A friend used to fantasize about such an engine. It could have competed directly with the Perkins 6.354—though certainly not on price!

Ian Thompson


01/05/14 – 08:24

Thanks Roger for your detailed account of the sad demise of Gardner. I always had (and still have) the utmost respect for their products, which were built to a very high standard as is well documented, and were often known as ‘the crème de la crème of diesel engines’. (Indeed, when the 6LXB was announced, it was regarded as the world’s most fuel-efficient diesel engine at 40% efficiency). It is also well known that Hugh Gardner was most dogmatic in his views on engine design and how the company was to be run, which no doubt maintained standards, but in the longer term stifled Gardner’s ability to move with the times. As Roger says, Paul Gardner eventually started to take the company forward but it was somehow too late. Certainly the new Gardner LYT engine fell short regarding reliability, and stories of broken crankshafts began to circulate. This was something unheard of with the LW/LX/LXB engines (unless serious maltreatment had occurred), despite their crankshafts not being of fully-hardened construction. The 6LXB continued to have a strong following in the bus market, and the ’30 tons and under’ truck market well into the ‘eighties. Then along came bus deregulation and privatisation, causing widespread disruption to full-sized vehicle manufacturers’ orders following an unpredicted swing to minibuses by operators. There was also, if memory serves correctly, a recession in the construction industry, and haulage companies were also being squeezed by competition from European hauliers. The likes of Volvo, Scania and DAF were also making inroads into the truck market, with more comfortable cabs and higher output engines. Such manufacturers built their own engines which did not help Gardner’s plight. It really is sad how the mighty have fallen. Forty years ago who would have predicted that Gardner, Leyland, Foden, ERF and Seddon-Atkinson would no longer exist in the early 21st century?

Brendan Smith


01/05/14 – 08:25

Many Gardner engines had an afterlife, they were snapped up by showmen who converted them for use as fairground generators. Ironically, since the regulations for silent running generators came into force, many of those that didn’t end up going abroad have been sold to preservation groups, some for spares, but I know of one that will go into a bus which was bought minus and engine, and is currently being restored.

Ronnie Hoye


01/05/14 – 08:25

Ian, following the apocalypse of deregulation, and the acquisition of the "split up" NBC companies by profiteers, I found myself, after five years in non psv work, working at Viscount, Peterborough, the western division of the Cambus outfit. One of the Olympians there was equipped with a 6LXCT engine for the Northampton service, which was operated jointly with Stagecoach United Counties. When outshopped from overhaul, it was often allocated to other services. If it was fully on song, this bus could really motor – I once reached an indicated 70 mph with it when endeavouring to recover lost time on the A1 route to Huntingdon – but the turbocharger arrangement was sadly lacking in durability, and regularly failed. The brakes on this bus were truly dreadful, well up to the tradition of PD3s of the past, and this also tempered one’s inclination to indulge in maximum power. In trying to catch up with other manufacturers in the brave new world of turbocharging, the later Gardner efforts were under developed and under capitalised. The eyes of the top brass at Hawker Siddeley moved instinctively to the net result figure at the bottom of the P/L sheet. The past industrial environment of steady development testing had irretrievably gone, and, after nine years of ownership, Hawker Siddeley lost interest. The sale of Gardner to Perkins in May 1986 was the final kiss of death. Perkins had already taken over the Rolls Royce diesel range, and serious investment in Gardner development was deemed commercially unrewarding. The introduction of the Euro emission regulations was the final blow. Perkins disposed of Gardner in August 1992, by which time most of the output consisted of engine remanufacturing/reconditioning. Perkins/RR and Cummins then ruled the roads and the waves, but they, too, were soon to be seriously threatened by the continental onslaught.

Roger Cox


01/05/14 – 11:48

Scania and DAF both based their success on developing the Leyland O.600/O.680, which they both originally built under licence. There is also uncorroborated evidence that there was a similar beginning to the Volvo story. Another case of the Thatcherite selling off of the family silver.

David Oldfield


01/05/14 – 11:49

….and who, Brendan, would ever have foretold that the lone survivor of all the British mid/heavy transport manufacturers would be Dennis, albeit mainly in the bus field! Perkins is still around, but not in the transport field. Such proud names consigned to history.
How lucky we were to have been around to experience and enjoy their products. Oh dear, I’m at risk of becoming maudlin!

Chris Hebbron


01/05/14 – 18:16

David, if you listen to a Scania you can hear the Lancashire accent!

Phil Blinkhorn


02/05/14 – 07:35

You’re right Chris, who indeed would have thought Dennis would rise to such a prominent position in the bus world bless ’em? And where did Wright’s spring from all of a sudden? Nice one Phil. I’ll listen more closely to Yorkshire Tiger’s Omnicity on the Bradford service next time I’m in Harrogate bus station.

Brendan Smith


02/05/14 – 07:36

I first noticed the Lancashire accent driving a new Scania K113 in 1995, Phil. [Especially driving up the hill toward the Air Balloon – leaving Gloucester in the Cirencester direction.]

David Oldfield


02/05/14 – 10:19

The accent is most noticeable on tickover. I can well understand how driving up towards the Air Balloon would bring out the Leyland in a Scania.

Phil Blinkhorn


02/05/14 – 10:20

Brendan. Wrights were around for years building school buses, welfare vehicles and libraries for appropriate "boards" in Northern Ireland. Their joint venture with GM to produce an advanced coach probably first brought them to attention here but it was almost certainly the Handibus – on the Dart – which set things flying. The use of Alusuisse and quality work didn’t harm them, either.

David Oldfield


02/05/14 – 15:17

Thanks for the info David. I am aware of the Handibus/Dart connection, but I had not realised that their history went quite so far back with vehicles produced for what we would probably term ‘Local Authority’ departments. They appeared to really take off following the arrival of the attractively styled Cadet/Renown-type single-deck bodies. The Wright-bodied vehicles for Blazefield certainly seem well put together and have stood the test of time in the various fleets. In some respects it could be argued that long term, Wright’s have taken up the slack left by the closure of ECW. I must admit however that I much preferred the styling of the latter.

Brendan Smith


06/09/14 – 06:30

Regarding the North Western Atkinson Alphas being rear entrance I understood this was because many queue barriers etc were designed, at that time, for rear entrances (which had been standard until then). For example an allocation of Alphas were needed at Urmston to service the 22 (Levenshulme-Eccles) which was joint with Manchester Corporation, who used rear entrance Royal Tigers, as the very substantial barriers at Eccles Bus Station, Davyhulme Nags Head etc. were positioned to suit rear entrances.

Richard Ward


24/04/15 – 06:22

May I ask through this column, for more information (or where to find information) about the BET Preferred Suppliers list. I find this aspect of PSV history quite disturbing, that private companies could be dictated to in this way. One wonders how many BET group managers would have preferred to take Gardner engined products, and how different PSV history would have been given a level playing field.

Allan White


24/04/15 – 13:34

Allan, I’m not sure of your premise. BET owned each individual company. As owner it could dictate policy to its constituents which, though each had its own General Manager, was really a branch of the main company with a small degree of autonomy. The individual operating companies were not private companies and, as BET was a FTSE listed company, their results contributed to the group balance sheet and affected the share price.
Nothing unusual in that in just about every sector of business.
The classic case of North Western and Atkinson may be the case in point which has sparked your comment. BET had decided that the group would buy Leyland Royal Tigers and later, Tiger Cubs. The deal was financially beneficial to the group as a whole. The fact that NWRCC had its own preference that was overruled may well have been a bad operational decision where financial gain perhaps overcame common sense but in my long experience of working for and with companies within groups, in a number of industries, this is by no means unusual.

Phil Blinkhorn


25/04/15 – 07:05

The Aldershot & District Traction Company was owned in equal third parts by the BET, the THC (ex Southern Railway shareholding) and private shareholders, and this gave it some latitude in its vehicle choices, predominantly Dennis until the influx of the all conquering AEC Reliance. I don’t know if any other BET group companies still had an element of private shareholding up to the 1968 sell out to the government. The ‘delisting’ of certain suppliers, fundamentally in favour of AEC and Leyland, was prompted purely by the economies achievable through bulk ordering. Whether or not BET got the best vehicles through this arrangement is arguable. For example, some BET companies, notably the Northern General group, East Kent and, to a lesser extent, Southdown amongst others, were well satisfied with the Guy Arab, probably the most reliable and economic bus of its time, and they must have been less than pleased when further purchases were vetoed from ‘above’. Even so, individual companies still had some input into the specification of their orders. The Southdown full fronted PD3s, often called ‘Queen Marys’, were unlike anything else in the BET group, apart from the roughly similar Ribble machines. I am sure that other contributors can give similar examples.

Roger Cox

ps I should have added the East Kent full fronted Regent V ‘Puffins’ to the list of distinctive individual orders.


TTD 297 Vehicle reminder shot for this posting


28/11/15 – 06:01

Harking back to Gardner for a moment, were any engines ever fitted to diesel trains, British or foreign? I’m only ever aware of mainly AEC ones and, later, Cummins and possibly the odd Leyland, but it seems to me that the ever-reliable Gardner, which, on the surface, would have seemed the ideal choice, never penetrated the rail market. Or am I wrong?

Chris Hebbron


 

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Lancashire United Transport – AEC Swift – NTC 109G – 292

Lancashire United Transport - AEC Swift - NTC 109G - 292
Copyright John Stringer

Lancashire United Transport
1969
AEC Swift MP2R
Alexander B43D

LUT’s single deckers were often a little different from the norm. This AEC Swift was one of three (291-293) delivered in either late 1968 or early 1969 (sources differ) along with some similarly bodied Bristol RESL’s. Their Alexander bodies were based on the W-type, but featuring short window bays, flat glass, V-shaped windscreens, and a plain front roof dome, rather than the more common version with long bays, curved screen and peaked dome. Interestingly they appear to have retained the curved rear screen though.
The Swifts did not find favour and were ‘swiftly’ withdrawn in 1973 and sold to neighbouring St. Helens Corporation, with whom they retained the same fleet numbers.

Photograph and Copy contributed by John Stringer


19/05/13 – 11:31

The Bristols, delivered at the same time, had a three part rear window arrangement including a full depth emergency exit door in the centre. Short window bays also appeared on the Plaxton bodied Seddon RUs and Bristol REs, delivered up to and including 1974.
I always thought the Alexander bodies, with their deeper window line, were better looking than the Plaxton bodied Seddon RUs and Bristol REs. and decidedly superior to the, at best, unattractive Northern Counties LH6Ls delivered in 1969.
The Swift’s short service duration with the company has always been a matter of conjecture. Was it the reputation the type was rapidly gaining in London or, much more likely, the fact that the power plant wasn’t a Gardner or, at a push, a Leyland.

Phil Blinkhorn


19/05/13 – 12:08

As we saw with the DM(S) Fleetlines, failure in London was not necessarily a reflection on the vehicle – more on the rigid London "system". As an AEC man, I would accept that the Swift (& Merlin) wasn’t their finest hour – but wasn’t as bad a the Panther and certainly not the disaster that was the Roadliner. It just wasn’t the RE! St Helens, Morecambe and Leeds – not to mention in a smaller way, Sheffield – gave them full service lives. [OK. I haven’t forgotten East Kent.]
I think Phil’s final paragraph has it in a nut-shell. Non-standard – and not Gardner.

David Oldfield


20/05/13 – 07:33

Did Alexander classify these bodies as W-type? I think the more anonymous front front panels, and dome – OK the whole front! – has stood the test of time better than the "classic" W-front (and would probably be cheaper to repair in the case of any lower front panel damage). I think the three-window/smooth dome of the REs probably sat better with this frontal design than the "classic" curved-screen/peaked dome. For me though, the biggest single improvement over the usual W-type body has to be the straight window-line fore and aft. RE/RU/Swift/LH/Plaxton (bus bodywork)/Northern Counties/Alexander/LUT/LT/St Helens – I’d forgive them all shallow window-lines, inflexible practices, less-than reliable offerings etc, just to have them still around . . . I can’t see myself offering opinions on some First/Arriva etc Wright etc thingy 40+ years down the line. Its 44 years – this photograph is closer to 1926 than today!

Philip Rushworth


20/05/13 – 07:34

Four of the Sheffield two-door Swifts were sold to Hardwicks at Scarborough when they were just over three years old, and supposedly even one of those they acquired by default. Story has it that one of the buses they’d agreed to buy couldn’t be persuaded to start when they came to collect it, so they ended up taking a different one instead!
Two of the quartet, TWE 21F/22F got themselves sold on to Stokes of Carstairs a few years later, and when asked about the pair during a depot visit on one occasion, Mr Stokes himself suggested that the only good thing about the two of them was that they kept a fitter in full time employment!

Dave Careless


20/05/13 – 09:08

That quip made my morning, Dave C – don’t you just love black humour!

Chris Hebbron


20/05/13 – 09:09

And a Ribble Lowlander in view: from the (almost) sublime to the ridiculous – please refer to the Ugly Bus Page . . .

Pete Davies


20/05/13 – 11:36

As far as I know, Dave’s story is correct. You need a bit of black humour on a grey and gloomy Monday morning…..

David Oldfield


20/05/13 – 16:56

Glad you enjoyed that one, Chris and David! Again, it’s not only the vehicles, it’s the people involved with them that make this hobby of ours so fascinating and, at times, wonderfully entertaining.
And you’re not alone with respect to the Monday morning weather, it’s equally as dark as the humour here in Nova Scotia also!

Dave Careless


20/05/13 – 16:58

This style of body was also bought by Cardiff also on Swift chassis. Although LUT had bought Marshall bodies with a wrap round windscreen. They reverted to an almost fifties appearance for their Plaxton bodywork on Seddons and Bristols one wonders if this was a cost saving measure as a small two piece windscreen would be much cheaper to replace. The NCME ones were the standard product which was a strange mixture of styles that didn’t gell The next LUT saloons with wrap round windscreens would be a batch of Leopards with Plaxton bodywork which were LUTs swan song as an independent operator.
Despite their outer appearance I always had a soft spot for Ribbles Lowlanders they were certainly an improvement on a "lowbridge" Atlantean

Chris Hough


21/05/13 – 07:37

You’re right about the Lowlander Vs Lowbridge Atlantean, Chris! I have experienced the preserved Silver Star example of the latter style on a number of occasions. It doesn’t look right, somehow!

Pete Davies


21/05/13 – 07:38

Like St Helens, Blackpool also had a fairly large fleet of AEC Swifts which seemed to have full service lives.

Philip Halstead


21/05/13 – 12:40

Portsmouth Corp’n had 12 AEC Swifts in 1971, lasting 10 years. They went with some slightly older Panther Cubs and some slightly newer PDR2/1’s, seemingly part as a cleanout of single-deckers than for unreliability reasons. I seem to recall some of them finishing up with Basil Williams (Southern Motorways), actually owned by White Heather and which, during a rail strike, were used to ferry folk, working in the City, to London every day! Basil acquired quite a collection of Swifts/Merlins in the end. He’d earlier owned ex- London Transport GS’s, of course!

Chris Hebbron


21/05/13 – 15:50

Yes, Chris H, Portsmouth had 12 AEC Swifts (new 1969) with Marshall bodies, and these had wrap-round windscreens, which I always assumed were "BET style" (or similar). The 26 Panther Cubs (14 Marshall + 12 Met-Camm) were similar in appearance. The 12 PDR2/1s that followed in 1971/72 were unusual in two respects – saloon bodies on a d/d chassis, and Seddon as the manufacturer. Pompey began to withdraw the Panther Cubs in 1977, but some of them along with all the rest were still in service in 1981/82 when the MAP project was carried out. The drastic recasting of services saw all the remaining Panther Cubs, all the Swifts and some of the PDR2/1s leave the fleet, along with 14 5-year old Leyland Nationals! As you say, at least two of the Swifts ended up with Basil Williams of Southern Motorways fame. By the time deregulation came in, Williams had some ex-London Swifts/Merlins, too, and repainted them in his original Hants and Sussex red and cream livery, using that fleet name, too. A non-enthusiast friend of mine travelled on one of the ex-London ones said it was a "fantastic vehicle". Make what you will of that, good people – an ex-London bus, around 18 years old, run by Mr Basil Williams, in the opening days of deregulation…

Michael Hampton


21/05/13 – 16:50

Amazing, Michael H, that a generally derided vehicle of such age and with standard London Country bus seats should get such glowing praise. Basil Williams must have had great faith in these vehicles to let them loose on the 150-odd mile return journey to London every day, although he would not have owned them for long at that stage!

Chris Hebbron


22/05/13 – 07:27

Chris, from my own knowledge of the Basil Williams empire, and my personal experience of driving GS 43 (Southern Motorways – Guy GS – MXX 343 – Ex LTE GS 43 on this site), I believe that faith formed a major ingredient of his maintenance procedures.

Roger Cox


22/05/13 – 17:46

Just to clarify the earlier note, my non-enthusiast friend travelled on the ex-London Swift on a local route, not a London marathon. Memory says Williams used route no 451 for a service from Portsmouth to the Emsworth area. Always with grandiose ideas of route numbers, it didn’t clash with the competition!

Michael Hampton


23/05/13 – 07:49

As most of you will know from the cover of a recent issue of Bus & Coach Preservation magazine, the Cardiff Transport Preservation Group has ex-Cardiff Swift/Alexander 512 and it’s still living up to the breed’s reputation as rather troublesome beasts.
Its arrival at last year’s Merthyr Rally all the way from Barry depot brought forth some expressions of surprise and relief from members at its safe arrival but we weren’t allowed to go anywhere on it, just in case!
There may come a day when we use it to go on one of our summer evening runs, but it’s not likely to happen soon.

Berwyn Prys Jones


04/07/13 – 17:33

Leeds had the largest provincial fleet of Swifts eventually having 150 in service. They were by no means perfect but had a normal lifespan. The last 1971 batch were by far the best with more powerful engines. When the PTE took over in 1974 they went for Leyland Leopards and Volvo B55 chassis. The first Nationals (other than a one off delivered to Leeds) were Mark 2 examples which were followed by Leyland Tigers in 1983.

Chris Hough


14/07/13 – 14:25

Just wished I could have driven one of these Swifts in my LUT days and I could have told you all about them. They were allocated to Atherton and try though I may to get one whenever a changeover in ‘foreign depot’ territory was required, I never could. I did not previously know about their rear end having a single windscreen as against the similar looking but Bristol RE’s, that we had at Swinton, which as is stated had three piece rear windows that included the emergency door. They did not, as far as I saw spend much time on the hard working 84 (ex trolley bus service) and of course as soon as the Seddons arrived, even their look alike Bristols were taken off the 84 in their favour. Wide doors, good acceleration, great brakes, comfy thought out cab, no wonder the Seddons became everyones favourite, myself included.

Mike Norris


NTC 109G Vehicle reminder shot for this posting


11/04/16 – 16:22

LUT First Flat fronted bus was the Wulfrunian.
The first Daimler Fleetline to arrive was fleet number 98 it should have been 97 but wasn’t finished in time for the driver to drive it back to Atherton.

Mr Anon


12/04/16 – 06:05

Mr Anon may be right about LUT buses but the coaches in the 1950s starting from the Duple (Midland) Britannias and the following Burlingham and Northern Counties batches had a very plain frontal appearance.

Stephen Allcroft


13/04/16 – 13:38

"Leeds had the largest provincial fleet of Swifts eventually having 150 in service. They were by no means perfect but had a normal lifespan." (04/07/13) 
With respect Chris H (Chris Hough) but wasn’t the total of Leeds Swifts 120, plus 30 Fleetlines making the total of 150 OPO single deckers of that pattern ??
Sorry its taken me three years to spot this – par for the course, old age you know !!

Chris Youhill


 

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LUT – Guy Arab III – KTJ 314 – 408

LUT Guy Arab III and Dennis Lance with Wetern National Bristol K5G
Photograph by ‘unknown’ if you took this photo please go to the copyright page.

Lancashire United Transport
1949
Guy Arab III
Roe B32F

Thanks to Spencer who I think should really be called Sherlock these three have been identified and are here from the ‘Do You Know’ page.
The one on the left is as the above specification. L.U.T. was the largest independent operator in the UK and operated in the South Lancashire area. They were quite diverse with there makes of buses including Atkinson, Foden and Dennis but they did like there Guys. I think but I stand to be corrected they bought the last Guys ever built. If I am wrong let me know, leave a comment.
The bus in the centre was a Western National Omnibus registration 356 HTT fleet no 992 which was a Bristol K5G with an ECW L27/28R built in 1946. I wish I knew more about the Bristol K series so I could write more, can anybody help on that score if so please get in touch.
The bus on the right which I thought was a Leyland Titan is according to Spencer, and I’m not going to argue with him, an L.U.T. Dennis Lance K2 registration GTE 864 fleet no 196 built in 1947 with a Weymann L27/26R body. On further research I have found out that the Dennis Lance K2 had a Gardner 6LW engine which was a 8.4 litre six cylinder diesel.
Just in case you want to know the Dennis Lance K3 had a Dennis 8.0 litre six cylinder diesel and the Lance K4 had a Gardner 5LW 7.0 litre five cylinder diesel. The K4 also had a concealed radiator a touch like the well known Birmingham style, the K 2 and 3 had exposed radiators.


“The last Guy Arabs delivered to a British operator actually went to Chester City and were 1969/70 H registered, LUT bought their last Guy in 1967.

Chris Hough


“Chris is right the last three Guy Arab Vs delivered to Chester Corporation had Northern Counties H41/32F bodies, registrations DFM 345-7H, fleet numbers 45-47.

Spencer


I thought that LUT had either one or two Guy Wufrunians which they didn’t like and sold them on to West Riding Auto?

Geoff

———

They only had one Geoff.

137 were built in total delivered as follows

126         West Riding
    2         County Motors
    2         Wolverhampton Corporation
    2         Accrington Corporation
    1         West Wales
    1         Bury Corporation
    1         Lancashire United

Spencer

———

The Bristol K series and the closely associated ECW bodies – a most complex and fascinating subject concerning two absolutely top class and rightly successful manufacturers.
The vehicle shown is one of the very first post-war standard models bought widely by the Tilling Group. It is to the standard dimensions of the time, 26 feet x 7 feet 6 inches. "K5G" denotes the popular 5 cylinder Gardner 7.0 litre engine. The "lowbridge" low height body is of the type with all the upper saloon seats on the nearside, and a sunken offside gangway sadly causing pain and injury to the offside lower deck passengers, especially those who hadn’t seen the little notice "Lower your head when leaving your seat" – a high but necessary price to pay for the often essential reduction in overall height, until the invention of the highly ingenious "Lodekka."  A fair few of the early post-war vehicles of this type suffered the indignity of being diverted on loan to London Transport when brand new – this must have gone down very badly with the purchasing operators and their staff – I’ve always held the opinion that it was abominably unfair, and that older vehicles should have been sent to assist with the shortage in the Capital.

Chris Youhill


I agree with Chris’s comments re-London getting other operators’ new buses. But think of the poetic justice – London Transport drivers having to do proper gear-changing!

Stephen Ford


I hadn’t really thought of that Stephen but of course you’re right, although we tend to forget after all these years that legions of manual gearbox STs and LTs etc had "only just gone" in the late 1940s.  The strange quantity, seventy six, of the new all Leyland PD1s (STD 101 – 176) had also just arrived and would be "sorting the men from the boys" too.

Chris Youhill


It’s a bit off-subject, but I have often suspected that the reason why Nottingham broke with the long AEC tradition, and went for Daimlers as their first orders after the war was the strong preference for pre-selector. I gather AEC could only offer crash-gearbox Regent IIs initially. By 1949 NCT was again taking pre-selector Regent IIIs in large volumes, and the 31 CVD6s of 1948 remained an anomaly.

Stephen Ford


31/01/11

I lived in Clifton, between Swinton and Kearsley until 1948, I know!!!, and remember that LUT had a number of Guy double deckers, which were painted matt grey, had squared-off roof corners and wooden slat seats. At the end of the war one was painted white and had ‘fairy lights’ all round. Just a passing comment.

Jim Moyse


31/01/11 – 20:28

Words/phrases like ‘abominably’ and ‘poetic justice’ are surely a bit strong! Central Division London Transport had barely digested its independents with their multiplicity of makes by 1939. It had updated Green Line and then ordered some 350-odd RT’s which were cut back to 150, and was due to replace much of its fleet by 1942. It lost many vehicles in the Blitz/V bomb attacks (22 complete Tilling STL’s alone at the bombed Croydon Garage, with others damaged) and used up its body float on patched up chassis. It lent out a considerable number of vehicles for most of the latter part of the war, mainly petrol Tilling ST’s, many of which, on return, were condemned (the last didn’t return until 1947). Buses were failing faster than they could be replaced, despite many vehicles being renovated to an excellent standard and other bodies strapped up and maybe even held together by string! What didn’t help was RT production being delayed by a year so that the bodies could be jig-built. Craven-bodied RT’s and SRT’s helped fill gaps. Passengers rocketed, with the maximum number reached in 1949. And it was borrowing a lot of vehicles (mainly coaches) from outsiders. By 1949, nationalised, it was probably a good decision by BTC to quickly allocate new buses, than have a lot of near-scrap vehicles cascaded over a period of months.
It says something for Chiswick that buses designed for a 10 year lifespan lasted over twice that in some cases, even without a rebuild. Some LT ‘scooters’ lasted over 21 years!
And there were still plenty of manual gear change buses in 1949, all 435 Guys, Bristols, (austerity STD’s (they WERE a challenge!), many T’s, pre and post-war, TD’s and some country STL’s on loan.
Many of the drivers would originally have come from independents and be familiar with manual ‘boxes. If any men were sorted out from the boys, I’d say it was the tram drivers who had to convert over to buses!!

Chris Hebbron


01/02/11 – 05:44

Hi Chris – all a harmless bit of banter! On the same subject, I recall a Meccano Magazine cartoon at the time of the vehicle loans to London. It featured a number of buses from various cities, which were sweeping round Trafalgar Square in brilliant sunshine – all except for a Manchester Corporation vehicle which was driving along under its own permanent rain cloud.

Stephen Ford


01/02/11 – 05:44

Many very valid and respected points there Chris H and I must confess that I’d never really studied the "diverted new vehicles" question to such a depth. So I can now see the matter in a more informed way and amend my "abominably unfair" criticism somewhat – but I do still feel though that the intended recipients, both engineering and operating, of the shiny new steeds may well have felt somewhat maligned and I think that I would too. I agree about the tram drivers’ dilemma and I think it nothing short of miraculous that they were able to make the conversion in such large numbers, and those changing to trolleybuses didn’t have a very much easier alternative either !!

Chris Youhill


01/02/11 – 18:52

My comment was light-hearted, too, but I thought a bit a background info would be interesting. I also forgot to mention that the government of the day put a restriction on the number of PSV deliveries, which, in 1948, meant a shortfall of 748 in RT deliveries, which must have been devastating. Although this restriction applied nationally, too, the misery would have been spread out more and the effect less per operator.
It is on record that the diversion of the new Bristol/ECW steeds caused a lot of resentment to intended recipients. As for London Transport, the ever-difficult Met. Police put in their two penn’orth by banning lowbridge buses with their so-called slower dwell-times at bus stops, relenting eventually by restricting them from certain routes!
This meant that, at times, the Bristol K5G’s were put on hilly routes they were unsuitable for. And there were problems with hinged doors and garage capacity! In some ways, welcome though they were, they must have been a mixed blessing to LTE.
If anyone has an interest in reading more, Ken Glazier’s book ‘Routes to Recovery’ is the one to buy.
As for tram drivers in London, when LPTB was formed in 1933, the LCC was the dominant tram operator and there was resentment that local authority staff, some admin, who just happened to be there at that point of their career, were trapped in PSV-land from then on. However, there was no retirement age for such staff and many tram drivers went on for years after the LPTB retirement age! But enough, I’m digressing!

Chris Hebbron


02/02/11 – 06:23

This further information is extremely interesting to me and tells me much that I never knew, even though I was a frequent visitor to Streatham SW16 throughout the War and until around 1995. I well remember the K5Gs on route 137, and I believe that they were not confined to parts of the service but undertook the full very long journey from Highgate Archway Tavern to Crystal Palace. Based no doubt at Victoria (Gillingham Street GM) they probably posed few problems to the drivers there as the Leyland PD1s STD 101 – 176 (or a number of them) were already there. I can imagine the frustration though at having to stop half way up Central Hill at Norwood when already half an hour late at busy times. Happy days for dedicated busmen.

Chris Youhill


02/02/11 – 21:03

Would the Tilling companies concerned have been consulted about the arrangement beforehand or was it a done deal by a higher authority? When the Bristols eventually reached their rightful owners, effectively as second hand vehicles, was there any compensation or had the companies simply been obliged to lend a hand without question?

Chris Barker


07/03/11 – 09:21

After LUT were taken over by GMT, Barton of Chilwell became the largest independent operator who too had a very diverse fleet just like LUT.

Roger Broughton


07/03/11 – 16:03

Chris B – It was a done deal! The Tilling Group had voluntarily sold out to the BTC in September 1948 and almost immediately were told to divert 25% of their new deliveries to LTE, some 200, later reduced to 190 (45 lowbridge). The order annoyed the operators, who felt that LTE had brought the shortage on itself by delaying new vehicle production by insisting the RT family bodies be jig-built.
The first Bristols came in December 1948 and the last went in June 1950.
Most other non-Tilling buses which helped out were single-deckers, although my posting about the Thorneycroft Daring mentioned it was one exception. Others were three new Daimler/Brush CVG6’s from Maidstone Corporation and, from Leeds Corporation, 17 pre-war AEC Regents/Roe (with one Weymann) with pre-selective gearboxes (Leeds STL’s)!
Unlike the other surplus austerity buses, which went all over the place, but were banned from going to a BET company, when the 29 austerity Bristols were then ready to leave LTE, the word was put out to BTC in advance, so that the ex-Tilling companies could prepare for their transfer.

Chris Hebbron


10/03/11 – 07:41

Referring to the comment by Jim Moyse, I suspect the grey Guy’s were wartime deliveries with utility specification bodies. A trip to most local libraries in South Lancashire should yield a copy of British Bus And Trolleybus Systems number 7, Lancashire United/SLT, which details the whole story.
With regard to the Guy Arab IV’s and V’s of the fifties/sixties, a friend of mine drove these, working out of Swinton depot. He subsequently purchased number 134, 6218 TF, the penultimate open rear platform model, later disposed of, current owner/location unknown.
A peculiarity of the gearbox is that depressing the clutch pedal to it’s full stroke before selecting first gear results in the the box locking, preventing any attempt to upshift. I can’t remember whether double-declutching released it, or whether it was necessary to stop the vehicle. Apparently something around 75% of pedal travel is all that is required for normal operation.

Phil Meadows


15/03/11 – 16:43

It’s taken me a while to puzzle out Phil’s gearbox lock-up. Pressing the clutch pedal all the way down activates a device called a clutch-stop, which is a transmission brake on the shaft connecting the clutch to the gearbox. This may be useful in counteracting clutch-spin when engaging a gear at rest, but more importantly it can be used to speed up gear-changing. The clutch-stop on Guys was more gentle than on Bristols and Leylands, producing a comfortably fast change rather than a rapid one. But I’ve never heard of a clutch stop locking a gearbox before.
I finally realised that trying to move out of gear with a transmission brake on is exactly like trying to do so with the clutch engaged and the engine stopped. The gearbox input shaft needs to be free to rotate, so you need to lift the clutch pedal slightly to free it off.

Peter Williamson


18/06/11 – 18:31

Just a small point in the original note to this picture. The Dennis Lance K3 certainly had a Dennis power plant, but it was the O6 of 7.58 litres capacity, a four valve per cylinder engine of excellent quality. The 8 litre variant of this engine didn’t appear until the later 1950s. Dennis was the only British manufacturer to design and produce diesel engines with four valve heads, in 5 litre, 5.5 litre, 7.58 litre and 8 litre sizes. The Crossley HOE7 was initially designed as a "four valver" using Saurer concepts, but, when Saurer asked for a royalty payment, the Crossley engine was rapidly redesigned as a "two valver", with disastrous consequences, becoming notorious for its poor performance and unreliability.
Turning to the "London Transport question", a great many London buses were certainly rebuilt in their lifetimes, particularly when Aldenham was up and going. Even some of the older types were given major body overhauls. Many of the six wheeled LT single deck "scooters", which I am old enough to be able to recall having travelled on, on routes 213 and 234, were given major body overhauls by Marshalls of Cambridge around 1949. From the RT type onwards, London buses were designed to be taken apart every five years or so, with chassis and body being sent on separate tracks through Aldenham Works. Each chassis emerging at the far end then took the first available rebuilt body, not the one it went in with. No other operator in the land followed this costly procedure, and the supposed long life of London bus types needs to be balanced against the regular visits to Aldenham. The much vaunted RM only survived for so long in London service because of this rebuilding procedure. The Northern General RMs, which had to rely on standard overhaul methods, were withdrawn around 1980 after a life of some 15 years.

Roger Cox


01/09/11 – 10:55

In Relation to Lancashire United’s Sole Guy Wulfrunian, they actually ordered 3 to be fleet numbers 58-60 in the Post 1959 fleet, but only 58 (802 RTC) was delivered it being unpopular, there is a picture of it shown close to Atherton depot on service 82 on flickr. The remaining order for 2 was changed and materialised as the trusted Guy Arab fleet number 59 and 60.
The Last numbered Guy Arab in the LUT fleet was 290 delivered in 1967 (265-290) In the post 1959 fleet LUT Guy Arabs were
18-27 with Northern counties body
40-49 with Metro Cammell Weymann bodies (40 was rebuilt in 1966 to a front door layout following serious accident on the East Lancs road at Ellenbrook)
50-57 NCME
59 and 60, then 61-80, 103-135 all rear loaders with NCME 136 (6220TF) was the first build front loader NCME
159-170, 186-195, 218-240, 265-290 all NCME
Many an enjoyable day riding on, conducting and driving these buses I worked at LUT Atherton from being 18 in 1977 until it closed on 7th Feb 1998. I still work for First now some 34 years.

Chris Stott


02/09/11 – 11:23

With regard to the loaned Provincial Bristols to L.T.E. if you watch the film starring Jack Warner The Blue Lamp one passes by in the dark in one scene.

Philip Carlton


26/11/12 – 08:39

In the list of Guy Wulfrunian chassis above the total of 137 is correct but missing from the list underneath are the two demonstrators, 7800 DA and 8072 DA. I believe that they were both ultimately sold to West Riding for spares. Sold to West Riding for service were the LUT, West Wales, and two County examples – one of the ex-County ones is now preserved. Despite their illogical layout, both the Accrington ones saw further service. I have read that they initially went to Ronsway of Hemel Hempstead, but one finished up with Byley Garage in Cheshire – and they did use it, as I saw it on the road on one occasion. The Bury one was sold on to a succession of Welsh independents before ending up with Berresford’s at Cheddleton – I’m not sure whether or not it was actually used there. Later it was placed in storage behind GMT’s Hyde Road depot as a prelude to a proposed preservation, but for reasons which now escape me, this ultimately didn’t come to pass.
The two Wolverhampton examples failed to sell to any subsequent operator.
Until I read Chris’s post above I had quite forgotten that LUT 59 & 60 had been intended to be Wulfrunians. The order was presumably altered before even No.58 had been constructed.

David Call


26/11/12 – 10:28

Talking of Wulfrunians, coincidentally I have just been re-reading David Harvey’s fascinating book ‘The Forgotten Double Deckers’, in which he states that Rotherham and Belfast had ordered three and one Wulfrunians respectively but cancelled their orders very quickly when they began to hear bad news about the model. The two cancelled LUT buses would have been rear entrance types like Accrington’s pair, as would even more incredibly a pair provisionally ordered by Todmorden J.O.C – a staunch and very traditional Leyland customer. The mind just boggles at the thought of Todmorden Wulfrunians climbing up to Mankinholes!

John Stringer


27/11/12 – 07:32

I recall that West Riding ordered a batch of single deck Wulfrunians but changed the order in favour of double deckers. What would they have looked like? I was interested in the information about potential customers who suddenly got cold feet.

Philip Carlton


29/11/12 – 07:32

I imagine that a single-deck Wulfrunian would have worked a lot better than the double-deck ones did, owing to the reduction in weight. As to what it would have looked like, I think that would depend on whether Roe were allowed to design it themselves or had more nonsense imposed on them by Park Royal. It’s a fascinating thought, as there were no low-floor single deckers around at all at that point.

Peter Williamson


29/11/12 – 11:05

Wasn’t the Guy Victory export chassis to some extent a version of a single deck Wulfrunian? I believe it had a front mounted engine, semi-automatic transmission, disc brakes and optional air suspension.

John Stringer


KTJ 314_lr Vehicle reminder shot for this posting


03/11/14 – 06:24

I can see that this thread is almost two years old … but regarding LUT Wulfrunians. I always thought that nos 58 AND 59 left the bodyworker en-route to Atherton BUT No 59 was written off in a road traffic accident before arriving in Howe Bridge?

Iain H


07/11/14 – 15:43

Iain H, Please refer to Bus lists on the web and can you see any NCME body numbers for 58 & 59 if they were built as Wulfrinians?
No, they were built as standard 30 rear entrance Arab IV’s

Mike N


 

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