Old Bus Photos

PMT – AEC Reliance – PVT 103F – SL1103

PMT - AEC Reliance - PVT 103F - SL1103

Potteries Motor Traction
AEC Reliance 691 8U2RA
Alexander DP49F

SL1103 is at the Barlaston terminus of services 24/25 having worked the service from Hanley on 3rd May 1970. Barlaston was a pleasant village on the south eastern side of the Stoke conurbation, it’s main fame at that time being the nearby Wedgwood China factory. This was one of PMTs second batch of these Reliances, differing from the previous delivery in having folding doors in lieu of glider type. Both batches had low back dual purpose seating. The 8U2R chassis specification denotes coil spring suspension. The ride on these could be quite bouncy when the shock absorbers were in less than good condition.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ian Wild

20/02/15 – 16:31

The last couple of years of its life were spent at the Newcastle under Lyme depot I loved this bus I remember one weekend on the Saturday doing express to Skegness and being relieved at Newark on the way back, I then travelled on the cushions back to Depot. Next day I took it to Blackpool on excursion. I probably drove this vehicle more than any one else whilst it was at Newcastle some one wrote in the cab "Croftys bus" another favourite
Route was express to Peterborough Saturday’s only. It was great on service as well. Happy days.

Michael Crofts

02/05/20 – 06:48

Looking at a PMT Fleetlist for May 1979 it stated that most of the Alexander Y type Reliances had AH590 engines. This begs the question, was the AH691 unreliable or was there a difficulty in obtaining spares? I recall seeing several former Maidstone & District Reliances dating from 1965 passing through the Central Works at Stoke for parts recovery and so some of the AH590 engines could have been sourced from these. Likewise at least one former North Western Reliance was received from Crosville for the same reason.


03/05/20 – 06:34

Could be that the fleetlist is wrong. The AH691 gradually replaced the AH590 from 1967 and by 1969 had done so completely. The 8U2R was a variant of the 6U2R – which only ever had (initially) the AH691 and (latterly) the AH760.

David Oldfield

04/05/20 – 05:46

David, the fleetlist was included in a publication issued by PMT in 1979 entitled ‘a century of public transport in North Staffordshire’. The fleetlist states that buses 1092 to 1096, 103 to 109 and 161 to 163 as 8U2R with AEH691 engines, whilst fleet numbers 164 to 173 as 6U2R with AH691 engines. However there is a footnote along side the entries stating – most have AH590 engines.


05/05/20 – 05:52

The 8U2R Reliance had coil spring suspension (very few built), the more common 6U2R had conventional leaf Spring suspension.

Ian Wild

05/05/20 – 05:53

Confirmation, FEH 171J fleet number 171 had a AH691 engine.

Alan Coulson

06/05/20 – 07:06

All the Alexander Y type bodied Reliances were supplied with AH691 engines. From memory, the cylinder liners in this engine were a VERY tight fit in the parent bore (figures of 20 tons needed on the press come to mind). It could be that as the engines aged, the cylinder blocks got past having new liners fitted and fitting redundant AH 590 engines in place could well have been a more economical method of keeping elderly vehicles running.

Ian Wild


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PMT – AEC Reliance – 761 CVT – C8761

PMT - AEC Reliance - 761 CVT - C8761

Potteries Motor Traction
AEC Reliance 470
Willowbrook C41F

PMT had five of these coaches plus one similar acquisition on a Leyland Tiger Cub chassis from the takeover of Dawsons, Ash Bank. They suffered as always with AH470 engines with cylinder head gasket and wet liner seal failures. This is why this photo was taken adjacent to Llandrindod Wells Railway Station on a summer evening in June 1971. A similar Reliance had taken a party of Scouts on a weeks expedition to Tenby and inevitably the engine had failed in South Wales. I was summoned at short notice to take a replacement vehicle arriving at South Wales Transport Ravenhill Depot shortly before midnight. I chose the scenic route rather than the M6/M5 as I didn’t fancy becoming another engine failure casualty at the side of the Motorway. During 1971 and 1972 three of these Reliances were modified for one man operation and repainted in bus livery. The conversion included jack knife doors the motor for which would only fit in the space occupied by the nearside front passenger seat hence reducing the capacity to 39. As the vehicles were 13/14 years old by this time one wonders if it was really worth the effort. I recall 762 which was allocated to Biddulph Depot put in some quite respectable mileages as an omo saloon.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ian Wild

16/11/14 – 09:44

An odd design which seems to transition from the early 1950s at the front to the late 1950s at the rear.

Phil Blinkhorn

16/11/14 – 11:21

JCN 449

Northern General had a batch of very similar C37F Willowbrook Viking coaches on an AEC Reliance 2MU3RV chassis, so as I understand it, they would have had the larger AH590 engine. Delivered in 1959, they were JCN 445 to 454, numbered 1845 to 1854. About 1967, it was decided to convert them for use as OPO vehicles, but the changes were far more radical. I don’t know if the conversion was carried out ‘in-house’ or whether they went back to Willowbrook to be done, but the whole front end was chopped off, and a new service front grafted on, I believe they were also up-seated to 41. Here is an example of the end result, I believe they remained in service until around 1975

Ronnie Hoye

16/11/14 – 18:03

Were the gasket/liner problems eventually cured by AEC?

Chris Hebbron

17/11/14 – 06:47

In a word, Chris – No! AEC’s involvement with wet liners began in 1935 with the introduction of the ‘6.6’ A172 engine (actually of 6.75 litres) in the lightweight Regal II. This engine proved to be decidedly troublesome, and the wet liner problems were carried through into its postwar ranges developed from about 1953. In the end, AEC reverted to dry liners in the AV/AH 505/691/760 engines. By contrast, Dennis employed wet liners in its ‘Big 4’ petrol and O4/O6 diesels from the mid 1930s onwards, and all were generally free of the troubles that plagued the AEC efforts.

Roger Cox

17/11/14 – 06:47

2MU3RV was still the AH470, Ronnie – 2U3RA was the AH590. Both of these had wet liners and gasket head problems. The AH691 and AH760 were new dry liner engines which did not have the same problems. Sadly the reputation was tarnished and many did not return to AEC. Also, like the later Leyland Panther, others persevered and overcame the problems.

David Oldfield

17/11/14 – 09:51

Thx, Roger. It’s amazing, from what you say, that folk continued to buy AEC’s with these engines, if they were so troublesome, although I admit that post-war distress purchasing would retain undeserved loyalty to a large extent. Were LTE’s engines of this type? I’ve never heard of problems with those Incidentally, did AEC/Leyland ever offer ‘outside’ engine options at ordering stage, such as Gardner? I’ve never heard of any, but who knows?
David O, strange that, following on with gasket/wet liner problems, which existed for decades, AEC cured Crossley’s engine breathing problem within months!

Chris Hebbron

17/11/14 – 11:37

The AV (vertical) engines never suffered to the same extent as the horizontal AH engines and substantially LTE had no problems with RMs (once the teething problems were ironed out) – including the AV590. Neither did Sheffield with its Regent Vs and Bridgemasters. [In passing, the AV version of the AH691 was actually a wet-liner and really an "out-boring" of the AV590.] It is surprising that they carried on so long before they eventually reverted to dry-liners – and as I said lost friends along the way. Those who stayed were rewarded by the AH691/760. AEC were not alone in having problems with putting an engine on its side. I am a "fan" of the O.600/O.680 – but this was not without its problems either – as Stephen Barber has alluded to in his Wallace Arnold Books. Conversely, there was enough faith in the later AEC engines to offer them, initially, as an option, in Series 2 REs and VRTs. The famous Werner Heubeck at Citybus who force BL to continue the RE for Northern Ireland was known to be very interested in an AH691 RE but BL back out at the last minute and cancelled the option – much to Heubeck’s anger. [Something similar is thought to have happened with the VRT – when someone showed interest, the option was withdrawn.] As for Gardners, there were the famous Rochdale D2RAG Regent Vs and the less famous Glasgow and Aberdeen D2RVG Regent Vs.

David Oldfield

17/11/14 – 16:50

Huddersfield JOC took delivery of 16 Regent’s and 37 Regal’s with 6LW engines between 1935 and 1939.

Eric Bawden

17/11/14 – 17:19

Forgot those, Eric. Crossley engines were another, and simpler, matter. AEC basically knew the problem – Crossley refused to pay royalties to Saurer and so mangle the design of the piston/cylinder head to make it different. AEC simply came up with a design which solved the problem without infringing the rights of Saurer. [I’m not an engineer, so I cannot elucidate.]

David Oldfield

18/11/14 – 06:23

As I have always understood it, the bored out 11.3 litre version of the AEC AV590 wet liner engine was the AV690, which was introduced at the same time in 1958. It was most commonly employed in commercial vehicle models such as the Mammoth Major V and in many export PSV’s, but was optional in the 2D version of the Regent V, and in horizontal AH690 form in the 2U and 4U larger Reliances, though it was not differentiated in the model designation.
The AV/AH691 was the 11.3 litre dry liner engine which was announced in late 1964 at the same time as its smaller equivalent the AV/AH505. The AV691 was then offered as an option in the Regent V and Renown, models, which were then designated Regent 691 (prefixed 3D) and Renown 691 (prefixed 4B) though none of the latter were built.

John Stringer

18/11/14 – 06:23

David, the wet liner 11.3 litre was the AV/AH 690. The 691 was a dry liner in vertical and horizontal formats. Even the switch to dry liners did not resolve AEC’s engine reputation. The AV/AH 505 in particular soon revealed weaknesses in service. A cover plate was fitted on the top of the block under the cylinder head, and this plate was held in place by a number of set screws. The inevitable expansion and contraction of this component in service caused the screws to fail, leaving a hole that allowed coolant to escape. This, if not spotted and remedied, could result in a seized engine. The design defects were progressively eliminated, but AEC’s reputation as an engine builder was not enhanced.

Roger Cox

18/11/14 – 06:24

Ronnie – that’s a proper bus conversion done by Northern, however as they were done in 1967 they would operate for quite a few years to get the money back. We only started conversions in 1971 and as I said, perhaps a bit late in the day – but don’t forget PMT had the largest fleet of Roadliners in the world and anything had to be tried to mitigate the chronic unreliability.

Ian Wild

18/11/14 – 06:25

Chris, for a short period in 1956/7 the AEC Regent V was offered with the option of a Gardner 5LW or 6LW engine. There were only three takers; Glasgow and Dundee Corporations bought examples with vacuum brakes and spring operated preselector gearboxes (model D2RV6G,) and Rochdale Corporation had examples with air brakes and air operated preselector or semi-automatic gearboxes, model D2RA6G. The Rochdale examples were described in my article on this site.

Don McKeown

18/11/14 – 10:19

The prototype Crossley HOE7 engine design came about when the firm’s engine designer, W.C. Worrall wwas diagnosed with tuberculosis prior to the outbreak of WW2. He was sent to Switzerland to recuperate, and, whilst there, visited the Saurer factory, where he himself had once worked. Saurer gave him permission to use the company’s advanced four valve head and toroidal piston cavity in his new engine design. Shortly after Worral’s return to Britain, war broke out, limiting Crossley’s commercial options, but three prototype engines were constructed with combustion chamber detailed design being made by Leslie Bennett, a mathematician and combustion specialist. Thus Crossley had done all the right things and succeeded in a designing a powerful and reliable unit. Then, as the new SD/DD42 chassis production began to get under way in 1944, Saurer, entirely reasonably, asked for a royalty or licence payment in recognition of the fact that the Swiss company’s patents were employed in the head design. The exact details of the fees involved have since been buried in the passage of time (probably deliberately). The Crossley MD, Arthur Hubble was having none of this, and refused to comply, instead ordering that the cylinder head of the new engine be redesigned completely to avoid any payment to Saurer. The new head had two valves per cylinder instead of four, and the toroidal piston cavity was reshaped with sharp concentric ridges, the (misplaced) theory being that these would improve the swirl effect. The new head was married up with the original block intended for the Saurer type head, and the result was a motor strangulated by hopelessly contorted airflows. In addition, poor coolant circulation led to overheating and high back pressure in the crankcase. This ill advised redesign ended the involvement of Saurer, but left Crossley with a exceptionally poor engine. When AEC took control of Crossley, it lost patience with Gorton’s refusal to attend to the cylinder head deficiencies and undertook remedial design itself. It is an overstatement to suggest that AEC simply solved the problems with the Crossley engine. The downdraught cylinder head was not a cheap conversion, and, although it did improve the airflow characteristics and reliability issues to a very great extent, the HOE7 could never be turned into a truly good motor. What baffles me somewhat is the fact that Dennis used a four valve head and toroidal piston cavity in its O4 and O6 diesels, yet no payment was ever made to Saurer. Presumably the Dennis design differed sufficiently to escape the Saurer patents.

Roger Cox

18/11/14 – 15:50

Aberdeen Corporation did have five Gardner engined AEC Regent V’s with Crossley bodies (205 – 209). In 1959 they purchased five AEC Regent V’s with AEC engines and Alexander bodies (271-275). By 1963, they also had been fitted with Gardner 6LW engines.
I seem to recall that Maidstone and District also converted some coaches in the same manner as that done by Northern General.

Stephen Bloomfield

19/11/14 – 05:57

Stephen, I think the Maidstone vehicles you refer to had Harrington bodies but the end result was quite similar.

Ian Wild

24/11/14 – 17:03

On the subject of seized AEC Reliance engines I Drove for Stanley Gath Coaches of Dewsbury in the late 1970s. Due to a vehicle shortage one weekend a AEC Reliance/Plaxton was hired from Kirby Coach dealers of Sheffield. Returning from Blackpool on the Saturday night the engine seized up on the M62. Rather then owning up to this, a visit was made to a scrappers at Barnsley and a similar engine was obtained and shoe horned in. I dare say no one was ever the wiser.

Philip Carlton

25/11/14 – 06:31

Thx, folks, for the answers to my queries.

Chris Hebbron


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PMT – Beadle Rochester – 717 AEH – C7717

PMT - Beadle Rochester - 717 AEH - C7717

Potteries Motor Traction
Beadle Rochester
Beadle C41F

Taken in the summer of either 1963 or ’64 this photo of Potteries fleet number C7717 registration 717 AEH which was a Beadle Rochester C41F integral coach delivered in 1956, it is seen here about to enter Southdown’s Royal Parade garage where most tour coaches were parked and heavy repairs were carried out at that time, the Rochester was an unusual choice for extended tours probably due in some measure to it’s raucous 3 cylinder 2 stroke engine although if the revs were kept up it gave a creditable performance, for it’s day, but more revs meant more noise.
Southdown had 20 similar coaches delivered in 1957 No’s 6-25 with registrations TCD 6-15 and TUF 16-25 which were used mainly on express services.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Diesel Dave

12/10/14 – 08:53

A beautiful example of a Fanfare clone by Beadle. Shame about the raucous underpinnings.

David Oldfield

12/10/14 – 09:28

Fanfare clone was my first thought. Those engines were awful. There was a company called Trumix near Reddish, Stockport with a fleet of Commer mobile concrete mixers which regularly deafened the neighbourhood.

Phil Blinkhorn

12/10/14 – 09:29

A delightful looking coach indeed, but with integral construction I wonder what the longevity of such vehicles was. The specification "chassissless" always fills me with horror at the memory of the Yorkshire Woollen District Leyland Olympics of the 1950s – these seemingly modern buses showed signs of disintegration when almost new on the admittedly very rough minor roads of the 36 route from Sovereign Street Leeds to Elland.
Since then of course there have been commendable strides in the construction method – a certain Routemaster comes immediately of course to mind along with many other very satisfactory designs.

Chris Youhill

13/10/14 – 07:41

London Transport’s tram/trolleybus division, led by an essentially LCC tram team, were unusually adventurous in ordering chassisless trolleybuses from about 1936, yet the bus division continued the traditional way until the advent of the Routemaster. The majority of the pre-war trolleybuses led a full life, too.

Chris Hebbron

13/10/14 – 07:42

Well, I never had first hand experience of these beasts, Chris, but I never heard of any structural problems. They were, literally, Fanfare clones, Phil. In its last ten years (as "Weymann Story Part 2" explains) there were lots of happenings which added up to the eventually death of a proud and distinguished coach-builder (Weymann). One was when the directors forced the removal of a popular and competent manager, Jack Davies, in 1955. [This was just after the introduction of the Fanfare coach.] Jack Davies was snapped up by another well regarded coach-builder, Beadle, who almost immediately brought the Rochester onto the market. [To be fair to Beadle if you "remove" the Fanfare front, the rest of the coach still bears a strong family resemblance to existing Beadle coaches!] As for the weakness of integrals. Chris is, as ever, correct in his assertions. AEC (Monocoach) and Bristol (LS) had the same problems as Leyland (Olympic/Olympian). Beadle however also had extensive experience building their post war integral vehicles using pre-war parts. Again I never heard anything particularly bad about these vehicles – and they were hardly mainstream, mass-produced vehicles.

David Oldfield

13/10/14 – 07:43

These were sold shortly before I joined PMT in September 1968 after 12 years service so they must have been reasonably successful. More than can be said for the Roadliners that replaced them! We had the dubious distinction of changing the engines (due to failure) in all six Roadliners at various times at East Kent, Maidstone and District and Southdown Depots whilst they were on extended tours.

Ian Wild

13/10/14 – 17:25

Beadle were certainly an innovative concern.
Can someone explain the reason for and date of their demise?

Chris Hebbron

14/10/14 – 06:31

Beadle gave up building buses in 1958. The last were the PD2s for Southdown, built on Park Royal frames. They probably gave up because the golden years were over and supply far outweighed demand. They were a family firm with other irons in the fire – not least a Rootes car franchise. Eventually this became a VW franchise and they remain one of the most prominent VW dealers in the south.

A look at their web-site shows a big set up with, in addition, franchises for Kia, Land Rover, Nissan, Skoda and Toyota.

David Oldfield

14/10/14 – 06:33

There was certainly nothing wrong with Beadle bodywork, as it was widely used in many quarters, and not just the south east. They also built up quite a reputation with those chassisless rebuilds using Leyland Tiger/Titan or AEC Regent/Regal chassis. I always felt these looked stylish. Southdown used Beadle for a significant quantity of new builds, rebuilds and re-bodying from approx 1947 to 1957.
These included rebodying 37 Leyland TD3,4,5;
New bodies on 23 Leyland PS1’s (half-cab), and later rebuilding these and 40 Duple-bodied PS1’s to full front;
Rebuilding 50 Leyland TS7/TS8’s into chassisless coaches (20 at 30 feet and 30 at 26 feet length);
New bodies on 12 Leyland PD2/12 d/d’s (Park Royal supplied the frames);
A magnificent total of 130 coach bodies on Leyland Tiger Cub chassis (I remember these most as being on the regular Portsmouth/London service, but they fulfilled many duties);
and finally 25 Beadle-Commer TS3 coaches of the Rochester style. They look slightly different to the PMT one above due to having a central entrance.
That’s a total of 190 new bodies, 37 rebodying older stock, and 113 rebuilds of various means – grand total of 340.
I think they also did some rebuilding of Leyland TD3//4/5s which weren’t given a total re-body post-war.
I don’t recall the details of Beadles giving up coach or bus building, but they seem to have produced satisfactory work for all their customers.

Michael Hampton

14/10/14 – 06:34

John Clayton Beadle established a horse drawn carriage construction business in Lowfield Street, Dartford in 1893, and, in 1900, built a new factory in Spital Street, which was extended in 1910 to include a car sales showroom. The firm expanded during the motor age into passenger and haulage vehicle bodywork, and general engineering. During WW2 it was a subcontractor to Shorts of Rochester, supplying parts for Sunderland flying boats. Beadle continued to make bus/coach/general bodies and integral vehicles up to 1957, by which time the declining demand for such products resulted in the firm concentrating on its private car sales activities. These continue to the present day from showrooms in Princes Street, Dartford, but the firm also has outlets in other towns in Kent and south London. The 1910 construction and car showroom premises in Dartford of J. C. Beadle are now, ignominiously, a Wetherspoon pub called the ‘Flying Boat’, but the workshops to the rear were demolished many years ago. A gallery of Beadle vehicles may be found here:- www.flickr.com/groups/1890258@N22/  
Strictly speaking, the Routemaster was a semi chassisless design, employing front and rear subframes to carry the engine, wheels/axles, suspension and transmission components. The self supporting bodywork provided the structural integrity for the vehicle as a whole. It has been suggested that one reason for the abandonment of the FRM was the difficulty of introducing a centre exit without seriously weakening the structure, though redesign could doubtlessly have resolved the problem. (The other reason was that Stokes was firmly against the FRM, and Leyland had the integral Titan to sell.) One fully successful integral vehicle was the Bristol LS which ran to a production total of 1409.

Roger Cox

14/10/14 – 10:59

I too can remember this Rootes engine in various vehicles- sounding like a monster version of a mad moped. Thanks for the potted history, Roger. Beadle seemed to be jobbing coachbuilders, seeing a niche for modern-looking but cheap (?) coaches for firms perhaps wanting to replace half-cabs. If we are around 1956, as seems the case, the Commer engine could also provide a response to the massive post-Suez fuel price inflation.
Eventually, sixties "affluence" and the multi-nationals with their service networks must have squeezed them out.


15/10/14 – 07:22

…..and of course the Rootes franchise also explains to Commer/Rootes running gear!

David Oldfield

15/10/14 – 07:23

Thx, folks, for the potted history of Beadles. At least they’ve survived in some form. As for their Dartford showroom, to their credit at least Wetherspoon’s have a history of preserving old buildings which otherwise would have decayed away and/or been demolished.

Chris Hebbron

29/10/14 – 07:10

At my time at Beadles they also built Commer vans, a number of Commer trucks built for the G P O MOBILE workshops for the erection of telegraph poles,and for a short while Humber Hawk estate cars. My jobs were to fit wheel arches, floor trap doors for access to the engine, stair treads. also about 12 double decker buses cant remember if they were for Southdown or Maidstone & District.

Dave Parslow


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