Old Bus Photos

Sheffield Corporation – Leyland Titan – 4461 WE – 461

Sheffield Corporation - Leyland Titan - 4461 WE - 461
Copyright Ian Wild

Sheffield Corporation
1959
Leyland Titan PD3/1
Roe H39/30R

An earlier Sheffield posting showed sister bus 462 when brand new outside the Roe factory. Here is 461 towards the end of its life on 13th July 1974 passing the Three Merry Lads pub returning from an occasional extension of the 51 service to Wyming Brook. By now it has the standard three blue band livery and the final version of the fleetname used prior to the formation of South Yorkshire PTE. It still looks smart and elegant despite its fifteen years in service.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ian Wild

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09/02/12 – 05:59

Only possible improvement would be for it to be a successor 1325 – 1349 Regent V. I came across the 901… batch rather than these, but it is strange how memory plays tricks. I had a Grandmother, an uncle, aunt and cousins living at Lodge Moor and never remember riding on any of these to visit them.
Christmas was always spent with said Grandmother (a superb cook) and the men (Dad and uncles) would all repair to the Three Merry Lads until time to return for Christmas Dinner!
Even before the 1974 Government reorganisation which expanded Sheffield greatly, this was part of the City of Sheffield but well out in the countryside. "Oh my beloved homeland!" Despite this, it is obviously an "A" fleet route – otherwise it would read "Sheffield" rather than "City".

Just realised that 13 July 1974 would put it under SYPTE ownership (from April 1974).

David Oldfield

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17/02/12 – 08:03

You probably don’t remember travelling to Lodge Moor on a PD3 because only the two daily journeys which extended to Wyming Brook (for a few schoolchildren, I think) were crew-operated, because of the reversal needed there. The regular service was operated by AEC Swifts from OMO conversion in 1969, and later by Atlanteans. The extension was finally withdrawn around 18 months ago.

Phil Drake

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21/02/12 – 16:51

I seem to remember similar buses in the 900 number series replacing the trams on Abbey Lane. I travelled from there to Pitsmoor to school at De La Salle college. If memory serves routes 61/63 were Shirecliffe – Beauchief/Woodseats Circular, I can’t remember which was which. It meant a walk from Burngreave to Scott Rd where school was but it meant that I Passed Burngreave Convent school which was full of girls so there is always a silver lining! These buses seemed to be a great improvement over the trams that they replaced and of course the bus service was very reliable. As the route crossed the city centre it was possible to get off on the way home and sample the delights on offer!
We had passes which allowed free travel to and from school which had to be shown to the conductor on the way in and out of the city, even if the crew didn’t change.
Happy days!

Stan Zapiec


 

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Western National – Bristol KS5G – LTA 813 – W994

Western National - Bristol KS5G - LTA 813 - W994
Copyright Ken Jones

Western National Omnibus Co Ltd
1950
Bristol KS5G
ECW L27/28R

In 2009 preserved Western National LTA 813 visited the Plymouth Rally travelling under it’s own power there and back from it’s base in Coventry. One of the people travelling back with it was Ken Jones originally from Taunton in Somerset. He managed a photographic stop in the rain at The Parade in Taunton recreating a scene for the 274 service to Roman Road which he used to catch in his youth.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ken Jones

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07/02/12 – 06:51

A superb photograph of what a good British bus should look like! Having said that being brought up in Municipal Lancashire, BTC group buses and Bristol/ECW products were a bit of an alien concept to me as a youngster. They were only seen when holiday trips were made to far flung places like North Wales (Crosville) and Whitby (United) for example. Looking back now however I realise what fine vehicles the BTC had and what classy liveries they used, even if they were standardised on two colours (with odd exceptions). I think of the two standard colours I preferred the red.
In the 1950’s they also sported very clear and practical destination displays. It’s a great pity they were not always used correctly and as time progressed were reduced by painting out or taping over.
Speaking of destination displays, many of the BTC companies showed the fleetname in the destination display. On an outing by coach to Chester Zoo as a boy, I remember seeing lots of vehicles showing ‘Crosville’ on the front and rear destination display. In my innocence I thought this was a place and with the number of buses going there, a pretty big place as well. I never did find it on any map!

Philip Halstead

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07/02/12 – 10:58

I think that destination blinds could easily warrant a subject of their own! Two from opposite ends of the country were ‘WORLD’S END’ on Southdown buses around Petersfield. and Glasgow trams sporting the mysterious ‘NORMAL SCHOOL’, the answer to which has always eluded me!

Chris Hebbron

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07/02/12 – 15:11

Not to mention Booth and Fisher going "Halfway" (current terminus of the Supertram) or Sheffield Corporation Trams "Intake" – not a suspicious breathing activity!

David Oldfield

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07/02/12 – 15:12

Destinations:- a few others that come to mind. "LOOSE" in Maidstone, "BEEHIVE" in Halifax and, uniquely in my experience, "NR. WILLESDEN JUNCTION" on the 630 trolleybus in London. I have never since seen a bus destination blind displaying a point other than the true terminus, but I am sure that our experts will come up with another.

Roger Cox

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07/02/12 – 16:34

…and of course there’s the Tracky bus to (or via) JUMP!

Joe

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08/02/12 – 06:10

Philip conveys my feelings exactly about what a bus should look like. I became aware of the new Bristol KS6Bs 810 to 813 delivered to West Yorkshire in 1950 when only 9 years old. This was the time when my interest in buses developed and when I see a lovely photo of a Bristol KS, I get flashbacks to my first sighting of a West Yorkshire one in Bradford. The Bristol KS/ECW was a classical design of bus and hopefully I can find one in my photo collection for a future posting.

Richard Fieldhouse

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08/02/12 – 06:12

Other destinations that spring to mind are Spittal Tongs and Two Ball Lonan both Newcastle, Clock Face in ST Helens, Bleachworks in Wigan, Load a Mischief in Accrington, Boggart Hill Drive in Leeds who also went to Intake as did Doncaster. Bristol went to Fishponds and Hotwells While Manchester ran to Southern Cemetery.
North of the Border Edinburgh ran to Joppa while Glasgow served Nitshill.
West Riding used to serve Bottomboat while Pennine still serve Giggleswick

Chris Hough

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08/02/12 – 09:08

Interesting comments about both odd destinations and the attractiveness of the Bristol Ks with ECW bodies. Can’t add to the destination discussion, (Loose was served by Maidsone Corporation and not M&D, so we confined our amusement to corny remarks about the Loose Womens’ Institute), and I do remember a lad at M&D causing an upset by producing a load of traffic notices referring to ‘Five Aok Green’.
Richard and Phillip are absolutely correct, in my view, in their opinion of what a fine example the Bristol K/ECW combination was of excellent design that proved itself so well in service. I had exactly the same reaction as Richard when York-West Yorkshire took delivery of their first K6Bs, (highbridge, of course). Tilling/Bristol/ECW give the lie to the currently fashionable nonsense that state-owned commercial concerns can’t ever be successful or compete effectively with private enterprise.

Roy Burke

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08/02/12 – 11:30

I preferred the KSW6B with highbridge body (United) or similarly clad KSW6G (Lincolnshire and Midland General group). …..an elegant and balanced design.

David Oldfield

PS: How many of you thought LMS was a railway station in Manchester?

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08/02/12 – 13:42

I always thought the lowbridge KSW was the least attractive of the K/ECW combinations (though by no means ugly). As David says, the additional height on the highbridge version gave it balance. Personally I thought the narrower KS (and K) looked well in lowbridge format. In always associate them with Summer holidays in Devon and West Cornwall, where narrow roads made their 7 foot 6 width useful well into the Lodekka era. LMS? Nice one David. The giveaway was that all four (five if you include Mayfield) mainline railway stations in Manchester were LMS (though LNER managed to have a bit of London Road)!

Stephen Ford

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08/02/12 – 13:43

Speaking of destinations, from Newcastle you can go by bus to New York – Washington – Quebec – Toronto and Philadelphia

Ronnie Hoye

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08/02/12 – 16:30

Roger mentioned Halifax buses going to ‘Beehive’. They also went to ‘Cunning Corner’, whilst Wigan’s ran to ‘Dangerous Corner’. Bradford served ‘Idle’, and Huddersfield’s ran to a ‘Hard End’. No further comment on that one.

John Stringer

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Careful everybody, the better half is a ‘Cunning Corner’ lass.

I’m surprised ‘Wetwang’ as not been mentioned yet.

Peter

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08/02/12 – 16:37

I have to agree that this is a superb bus picture, and it brings back to me those happy days of working for Eastern Counties at Hills Road Depot in Cambridge, when I first started bus driving in 1970. At that time they had several ageing K5G’s with Gardiner engines–so easy to drive. The gears would fall in once you’d got the hang of it. I don’t give all these modern buses a second look, as they seem to be without any character. I progressed to London Transport at New Cross Gge onto RT’s which took more skill, especially changing down for sharp corners.
What a brilliant website this is…it makes me wish I could do it all again.

Norman Long…Retired

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08/02/12 – 17:36

Lincolnshire Road Car also did New York, as well as Jerusalem, and the quaintly named Drinsey Nook.

Stephen Ford

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08/02/12 – 17:38

Is that Norman Long (retired) or Norman (long retired)?
Peter, you’ve just mentioned Wetwang – actually a very nice village in the Wolds. …..but what about the late Mayor of Wetwang?
As Stephen says, the lowbridge were not ugly – I can never remember ECW doing ugly.
…..and can anyone tell why I can visit Washington and Ashington in West Sussex?

David Oldfield

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08/02/12 – 17:39

How wonderfully correct are Richard and Roy when remembering the introduction of the KS series. I share that memory, and can still feel the excitement they caused, as they were so modern looking with their well radiused windows, and "unfussy" squarish outline….so unlike any other marque.
Ours (WY) were KS6Bs of course, and I well remember the whole West Yorkshire Information Service fraternity being equally impressed, and coining the phrase "window specials".
It all goes to show what a quality outfit was the whole BTC enterprise. Unlike other nationalised organisations, it seemed to embody total efficiency, which must have been a carry over from its original Tilling parentage.
These preserved ECW buses, and I have seen many over recent years, still exude that feeling of solid quality which they had when new!

John Whitaker

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09/02/12 – 05:49

Morecambe and Heysham went to Battery, Bury went to Jericho, Manchester went to Exchange (sometimes via FOG!)

Peter Williamson

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09/02/12 – 05:50

…..but there’s one I don’t recollect ever seeing on a bus destination display – Normandy. [In Surrey, between Guildford and Aldershot.]

David Oldfield

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09/02/12 – 05:52

ECW quality – as a little lad I always had to sit down hard about three times before I was satisfied that I had got my money’s worth out of the satisfying "wheesh" that you got from standard ECW seats with the standard green and red criss-cross pattern moquette.

Stephen Ford

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09/02/12 – 05:53

To my mind just about everything ECW produced looked just right – until the ‘sliced-off-to-length-on-a-conveyor-belt’ RE bus, and the early LH spoilt their reputation somewhat. They always managed to achieve the perfect balance of understated elegance and practicality.
I also particularly liked the appearance of the lowbridge KS (in spite of its awkwardness from a passenger’s and conductor’s point of view), but it would have to have a Bristol engine for me. I know what Stephen means though about the lowbridge KSW – its extra width emphasised its squatness. Not bad though.
One of my ECW favourites was always the LS coach. Just look at old photos depicting these on coach parks in their dignified, well maintained BTC liveries, parked alongside all the other 1950’s monstrosities and ‘chromeblazers’. (I speak purely from a design point of view, not their driveability, which may well have been a little different).

John Stringer

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09/02/12 – 14:09

Couldn’t agree more about the Bristol engine, John, but even the RE bus body could look good in the right livery. [I’m thinking of the East Midland DP versions in pre NBC cream with maroon stripes.]
I have nothing but respect for (especially the 6 cylinder) Gardner engines – in just about all applications; but I still prefer the Bristol powered (and indeed the Leyland powered) Bristols on offer at different times in the company’s history.

David Oldfield

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09/02/12 – 14:10

You raise a very interesting point, John S, when you say ‘it would have to have a Bristol engine for me’. My own experience of Bristols is really limited to the comparison between the Bristol engine and the 5LW, and I’m sure everyone would agree with your conclusion in that comparison. On the other hand, I later developed a great admiration for the 6LW in Guy chassis, (and the 6LX too, but that really post dated the K series Bristols). I’d be grateful for the views of other correspondents with experience of both the Bristol engine and the 6LW in Bristol Ks.

Roy Burke

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11/02/12 – 07:28

I agree with John Stringer about ECW LS coaches looking dignified. I think my top three coaches for being eye catching without being flash would be, ECW LS in United green and cream, the centre entrance Burlingham Seagull in Yelloway livery, and the Weymann Fanfare in a photo finish between BET cream and maroon and Southdown green

Ronnie Hoye

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11/02/12 – 07:28

On the subject of destination blinds, Bradford C T ran buses to Tong Cemetery and also to Shelf. (Their operating territory also included Idle, famed for its Idle Working Men’s Club). Sandy Lane could also be seen on the front of a BCT bus – not sure who she was, but may have been related to Lucy Hall seen on some of West Yorkshire’s Bradford-based vehicles. Her distant cousin Hazel Grove, could be seen over in Stockport. (West Yorkshire and BCT could also take you to Dick Hudson’s if you so wished). East Yorkshire had the quaintly-named North Cave, and West Riding had buses stating "Hall Green", which pre-NBC, most of them were, give or take the cream band…..

Brendan Smith

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11/02/12 – 09:23

Ronnie, I would tend to agree with you on all three counts – but what about Sheffield’s cream and blue Fanfares?

David Oldfield

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11/02/12 – 11:47

To add to Roys’ comments, I would like to contribute my own experience of the Bristol KS. I have always regarded the KSW6G as the "cream" of the marque. The Gardner 6LW was slightly larger in engine capacity at 8.4 litres compared to the Bristol AVW engine at 8.1 litres so consequently was more responsive and in my view gave a better ride. I would like to know what drivers liked with the Bristol KSW.
I was fortunate enough to ride on both West Yorkshire KSW6Gs and KSW6Bs on a regular basis as these were rostered as School Specials each weekday morning. These were halcyon days in 1954 which I treasure and I was always thrilled when KSW6G 855 or 856 appeared. However KSW6Bs 853 and 854 were also good, as all the LWR registered buses (845 to 864) had rear platform doors, so I felt superior on my school special to other Bristol KSW6Bs on normal services with open platforms.
Perhaps this was a case of bus snobbery but perhaps excused when you are young.

Richard Fieldhouse

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11/02/12 – 15:12

David, you’re right about Sheffields livery being smart, but I think the destination blinds on the Fanfares made then look too much like a bus and just took the edge off them. As to the debate about Bristol engines, I can’t comment on that as Northern Group being a BET company we didn’t have any, however, we did have quite a lot of Guy’s with the Gardner 5LW, and later we had Daimler Fleetlines with the 6LX, and both were virtually indestructible. As a foot note, we had both, and for my money the Fleetline was a far superior vehicle to the Atlantean, one bad thing with the Gardner, or to be more accurate, the garage staff, was that they would check the oil level when the bus came back to the garage at the end of it’s shift and the engine was still hot, the less intelligent ones would then put about a gallon of oil in and complain about the amount of oil that Gardners used, the more experienced garage hands would check the level when the engine was cold and the oil had had time to settle

Ronnie Hoye

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11/02/12 – 15:12

As one who has driven a preserved KSW5G (with platform doors) for nearly thirty years I would say that the 5LW is not really powerful enough for the vehicle. Although it will climb a mountain it just takes so long to do it. The problem is made worse by the maximum revs being governed so tightly. This means that on ascending a hill you cannot change from fourth to third until the speed drops to 20mph by which time too much momentum has been lost. The other aspect of this is that I’m never sure what to do at a roundabout, do I chug round at 21mph in fourth or use maximum revs in third at 22mph ? I suppose that there weren’t many roundabouts in existence when it was designed.
One very positive thing about the KSW is the lack of corrosion on the chassis or the alloy frame of the ECW body after almost 59 years on the road. Having seen the amount of rebuilding that some enthusiasts have had to do on their vehicles, we are very grateful for that.

Nigel Turner

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11/02/12 – 16:05

Point taken, Ronnie, and I would agree the Fleetline was superior to the PDR1 Atlantean – but the AN68 was a different story.

David Oldfield

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11/02/12 – 17:17

Todmorden buses ran (and still run) to Portsmouth, a 15 minute journey, although not many terminate there now.
I’ve read about Manchester buses showing "fog on route" and wondered what it was for – was it to warn drivers going the other way?

Geoff Kerr

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12/02/12 – 07:13

I worked as a Schedules Clerk for SELNEC Central at Frederick Road for an all too brief spell in the early 1970’s. I seem to recall being told that fog around the docks area could be really severe and wreak havoc with timekeeping, and that ‘FOG’ (on the via blinds of ex-Manchester buses) was just to indicate to would be passengers the reason for late running.

John Stringer

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12/02/12 – 07:22

Gentlemen..having lived in Bristol and for many years close to the Bristol works, I grew up thinking all buses were as good as "ours" and the ECW bodies were normal. In those days my travels to other areas were mainly, Dawlish and Devon General, South Wales and so Rhondda, Newport, Red & White and up to London for the joys of London Transport. Whilst I loved seeing something different, even then I appreciated the outstanding construction of the KSW and later LD/Lodekka plus all the other different Bristol variants. I clearly remember the joy of finding out when a brand new bus was due out and recall riding on KSW’s fresh from the works.
Now, some 54 years later, on Bristol Bus Running Day held each August, I can actually stand at the same bus stop (now 100 yards further up the road due to "improvements") and catch one of the batch of KSW’s that I caught each night to come home from school. Whether any of the preserved vehicles are one of those I caught on the No.1 Cribbs Causeway route I do not know but they are identical and so I can recreate that exact journey on a KSW/ECW that looks, feels and sounds just like those years ago.

Richard Leaman

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12/02/12 – 11:00

Thank you, gentlemen – especially Richard F, Ronnie and Nigel – for your illuminating comments. Fascinating. West Yorkshire didn’t have many 6LW-engined Bristol Ks, (ten, I think?), and I never really came across them in York. I totally understand Nigel’s opinion of the 5LW; great engine, quite indestructible, utterly dependable, but, by the 1950’s its limitations in powering heavier vehicles – not just Bristols, of course – was making it a retrograde choice, even though a few BET companies persisted with it.
Ronnie’s and David’s comments comparing the Fleetline with early Atlanteans struck a note with me, too. My views exactly! In his posting of a PMT PDR1, Michael Crofts makes the point that the Atlantean easily out-performed the Fleetline. True, but from a management point of view, early Atlanteans could have worryingly high running costs. Nigel’s ‘dilemma’ about gear choice for roundabouts in the KSW5G reminded me of one particular instance of that at Chatham. In a Guy Arab, you knew that you had to slow to 20 mph at the top of Chatham Hill in order to be able to select 3rd gear; bad drivers could, however, abuse the Atlantean pneumo-cyclic gearbox by changing at higher speeds part way down. I have seen a hole in a cylinder block that I could put my fist in, caused by this practice.
Then there was the issue of centrifugal clutches requiring conversion, fuel and oil consumption, and maintenance costs generally. No wonder to me that M&D changed to Fleetlines.

Roy Burke

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13/02/12 – 07:36

For more on Manchester fog, see my article at this link.

Peter Williamson

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13/02/12 – 15:48

May I venture another view on Bristol/ECW? In my youth, I was not a regular user of ex Tilling companies like West Yorkshire. When I did have contact with them, they seemed to be another version of British Railways: boring conformity in liveries and bus styles- red or green with no attempt at modern graphics in fleet names. The Lodekka seemed to be an old rather quirky design, again with a depressing uniformity wherever you went: drivers looked uncomfortable in that "half-decker" cab and they could sound like tractors (when we did live on a WY bus route eventually, the electrics played havoc with our TV/Radio reception). Compare this with Sheffield- say- dirt-defying livery, modern fleet name, early introduction of "new generation" buses & variety- even a few Bristols. Give me a Roe-bodied Daimler CVG6 anytime!

Joe

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14/02/12 – 07:36

I think you’re being a bit harsh, Joe, but surely you mean a Roe bodied AEC – especially in Sheffield!!!???

David Oldfield

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18/02/12 – 07:08

Bristols are definitely the best buses – but I’m glad my first contribution has generated so much discussion on so many points.

Ken Jones

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LTA 813_lr Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

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23/02/12 – 07:16

To add to the destination screen saga Southdown showed High and Over on the 126 Eastbourne to Seaford route. My abiding memory of ECW bodies is of M&D’s Bristol L6A’s they seemed to have such deep plush upholstery, extremely comfortable. I made frequent journeys on the 35 route which ran from Ore (another odd destination) to Cooden Beach which had two low bridges. The LS coach was an elegant design especially those with curved glass in the front corners, the bus bodies were also attractive much more so in both cases than the later MW’s. Unfortunately my driving experience was limited to the later and lesser types VR, RE, LH the RE being the best of those. Being born and bred in Sussex guess whose colours I prefer on the Weymann Fanfare.

Diesel Dave


 

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Eastbourne Corporation – Daimler Roadliner – EJK 891F – 91

EJK 891F_lr
Copyright Ian Wild

Eastbourne Corporation
1968
Daimler Roadliner SRC6
East Lancs B45D

This is one of the trio of Roadliners operated by Eastbourne Corporation referred to by Diesel Dave in his comment on Roadliner CVC 124C under the Halifax Corporation heading. These were the only Roadliners bodied by East Lancs (although Chesterfield had ten built by closely associated Neepsend Coachworks). The photo was taken on 3rd October 1975 when the vehicle still looked very smart but probably only had a short time left in the fleet. The 30,000 mile engine life mentioned by Dave was similar to that which we obtained at PMT although the half dozen allocated to Longton Depot did rather better as did most other types. This was nothing to do with the operating terrain at Longton but everything to do with the quality of maintenance achieved by Depot Engineer Frank Ling.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ian Wild

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03/02/12 – 06:20

This photo took me back to our June 1975 annual holiday when we stayed in Eastbourne for the first time – there had been a couple of day trips previously. I discovered that you could buy a £1 travelcard which allowed unlimited travel from Sunday to Saturday. Sadly we were there from Wednesday to Wednesday which meant I had to work hard to get my moneys worth. I managed 43 trips in four days which enabled me to sample a number of unfamiliar vehicle types. My notes of the time indicate that the exterior noise of the Roadliners was impressive (and I don’t mean quiet) but the transmission seemed unhappy and hill climbing ability was poor. According to Mick Hymans’ recent book, the Corporation was offered an AEC Swift at £2,889 or a Leyland Panther at £3,072 whilst the Roadliner was the dearest at £3,311. The Daimler was chosen because it would not need any steps in the interior.
Eastbourne had also acquired ten Panthers and an ex demonstrator Panther Cub but it was a couple of other single deckers that featured in my notes. Looking out of the hotel at about 08:30 I saw No.93, the 1950 AEC Regal III with a splendid East Lancs DP30R body pass by and it appeared to be in normal service. Needless to say, I was at the appropriate bus stop the next day and enjoyed an excellent ride.
Rather less impressive was the Regals replacement, No. 94, a Seddon Pennine IV with a Pennine body, also said to be dual purpose but you could have fooled me. On this bus the driver apologised to an elderly female passenger for the vehicles shortcomings and she replied that she and her friends knew all about it’s problems and that it wasn’t the drivers fault. Either she was a closet bus enthusiast or else it really was a bad buy. The Regal still survives but the Seddon became baked bean tins long ago.

Nigel Turner

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03/02/12 – 15:58

How right you are, Nigel, about the Seddon Pennine IV. I would nominate this type as the most primitive abomination that I have ever driven. Back in September 1977 I had to take KWW 901K, which had a Seddon B56F body, from Gomshall in Surrey up to Yeates in Loughborough. The racket from the Perkins 6.354 engine was absolutely deafening, the suspension would have disgraced a London B Type, and the steering was frighteningly imprecise and needing constant correction. The Bedford YRQ that I brought back in exchange seemed like a Rolls Royce by comparison. The Pennine IV was little more than a basic lorry design with a bus body on it.

Roger Cox

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27/04/12 – 07:39

I must initially admit to having been an employee of LG&S,CECO, SA and also being involved with Neoplan.
I just hope that facts never get in the way of a good story.
Re: Cummins, The Darlington V6/V8 (Val/Vale)engines were not fitted into buses in the UK, the larger Krupp built V6 (Vim) was. The Vim was used in the Guy truck chassis (200 HP) and, was acceptable in that installation. The V6 Roadliner engine did not endear itself to customers, it was not designed to spend most of its life idling and I suspect the installation was not the best either. The L10 engine was theoretically designed to compete with the LXB/CT range, capacity wise, but CECO never built designs to suit only one market sector.
The Cummins PT system was produced as an alternative to what GM offered in their two stroke engines. The PT fuel pump in a Cummins is ‘load sensitive’, it is not an ‘all road speed governor’ type as supplied by the ‘Bosch’ designs used in European engines. The Pennine 7 chassis was an equivalent to the Leopard, like for like the HLXB was usually 2 mpg and upwards, better on fuel, with lower overall life costs.
The demise of Gardner, as with all the other UK manufacturers was self inflicted mainly by a lack of foresight by their managements. On one trip to OZ I spoke to a truck operator, once Atki but now 100% M-B.
Why Mercs? "Because I wanted Air Con and a double skinned roof, my one way trips can be 2000 miles with extreme temps one side to the other. M-B listened and actioned my request Atki’s did not" For Atki insert any UK manufacturer of your choice, not a happy story but reasonably factual.

Peter Hobson

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29/04/12 – 08:07

Hi Peter H
I am also ex-Gardner, like yourself, and agree with your reasons why UK manufacturers, however good in their time, because of bad attitude and complacency they could not survive.
On your comment about the Roadliner engine weaknesses. I worked at Daimlers for a short time involved in warranty repairs prior to Blue Bus getting their new Roadliner. The biggest issue which blew the engines was over-revving, not idling. Black and White coaches dropped valves regularly because of over-revving, which caused the valves to bounce. The design of 4 valves per cylinder with crossheads was not common at the time and adjusting the tappet clearances regularly were critical in that V6-200 engine. There were two clearances, between the rocker and crosshead, and the crosshead and each valve. If the clearances were not kept to specification the gaps eventually opened up, and when the over-revving valve bounce occurred the crossheads had room to slip sideways hitting the valve, then the collets flew out, and the valve disappeared down through the piston at high speed. Result, bus stops suddenly at side of road with a big pool of oil, piston has probably broke the crankshaft or crankcase, and customers inconvenienced.
Other weaknesses I encountered were the throttle sticking wide open – and the Roadliner coach was a fast vehicle for the era. Squeaky bum moment if it happened! Also, the engine/gearbox mounting did not support the gearbox sufficiently so the support casting cracked where the gearbox fastened to the engine, and it could land on the tarmac if not noticed early enough!
The Blue Bus Roadliner did not blow up in the 3+ years while I looked after it, and it was a pleasure to drive.

John Ashmore

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29/04/12 – 17:11

In the years from the mid 1950s, the Gardner company was run in an exceedingly autocratic style by Hugh Gardner, whose engineering capabilities were excellent, but whose intolerance of alternative points of view was extreme. In particular, he hated the concept of induction pressure charging, and forbade any work on the application of turbocharging to Gardner engines. With no new designs in the offing, Gardner engines increasingly fell behind in the ability to deliver the bhp outputs consistent with increasing lorry payload weights, and, by the time that Paul Gardner was eventually permitted to embark upon a programme of turbocharging applications, it was too late. The later Gardner designs produced under Hawker Siddeley ownership soon revealed weaknesses that had hitherto been unthinkable in the context of the Gardner name, and HS simply ditched the Gardner company. Those chassis manufacturers that had nailed their colours to the Gardner mast very successfully for several years were forced to look elsewhere for power units, but the outstanding traditional Gardner features of reliability and economy could not be recreated. Having lost their unique selling points, the smaller manufacturers simply died out in the new world of sophisticated continental engineering.

Mr Anon

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30/04/12 – 07:45

A very informative post, Mr Anon, and one which tells the story of so many intransitive bosses who think they know what’s best for the customer. You have to feel sorry for the Paul Gardner’s of this world: his position was invidious. So many companies go from creation to closure in three generations.

Chris Hebbron

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30/04/12 – 07:47

Hi John A,
Your memories of the Roadliner V6 engines are more vivid than mine, but I have to admit putting far more fires out due to the mayhem caused by the Darlington built small V6 and V8’s fitted to the Dodge ‘K’ and Ford D1000’s!
The high incidence of failures to Roadliner V6’s was not mirrored by the Guy Big J engines.My comment about the installation also includes the driveline which was outside our remit. I think the crosshead was responsible for many dropped valves when an overspeed condition was underway, i.e. pressing down on the valve retainer thus releasing the collets. Surely why and how it was oversped is the question to be asked of the driver, not the engine?

To Mr Anon,
Perhaps I can shed more light on your comments.
"JHSG being autocratic", absolutely. e.g. I have a copy of the LXB Sprayer drawing (Injector)’ it states "This drawing is intended solely for the use of Mr JHSG and must not be circulated without his consent".
Did my very limited, and circumspect, use of this info result in repeated engine and parts sales? in a word yes. Would he have let me use it outside the company, had I asked him, I leave you to judge.
Paul was the Technical Director responsible for the introduction of the 6LXCT/6LXDT/6LYT engine designs. I can assure you they did not lose their unique selling points, but, a lack of funding to ‘debug’ and ‘productionise’ them did not help their introduction into the market. It should be remembered that Hawker Siddeley was at that time in the process of dismembering their group. Perkins bought Gardner in 1986. There are various reasons put forward as to why they made the purchase, but, they did fund the revision of the 6LXDT. The resulting engine, the LG1200,is what had been needed at the start of the 80’s. There were many potential alliances that came to nought, but, mainly due to uncertainty about future ownership and legislative changes the spiral was always downwards. Dismissive one liners, regarding the demise of Gardner, I can assure anyone, are very wide of the mark.
I have to admit that hindsight is always 100% accurate, if only we all had a crystal ball to look into before we made a decision!

Peter Hobson

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30/04/12 – 09:10

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but the end result is always the same. I know numerous examples of family members wrecking the efforts of founder members of a company – not the least independent operators. There is a "Gardner" story to tell with a pipe organ builder who for a hundred years was England’s, and one of the world’s, finest only to be wrecked, as it seemed overnight, by the great-grandson.
I would also contend that maybe you protest too much over the Roadliner/Cummins. I’m an advanced motorist and take a pride in my driving but surely a manufacturer should make their product driver/idiot proof rather than simply blame the idiot. This is the difference between a Rolls Royce and a Commecon Lada.

David Oldfield

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01/05/12 – 06:58

I am the writer of the comment above attributed to "Mr Anon", and I can’t imagine how my name came to be missed. I am certainly not reluctant to stand by my entries to the Forum. Personal acquaintances of mine will testify that I would qualify for the title of "Gardner’s greatest fan", and I do not dismiss the demise of Gardner in one liners. The 6LXB was the supreme bus engine, especially for double deckers, and its high torque delivery throughout the entire rev range gave buses so powered a road performance better than the nominal bhp would have suggested. Hawker Siddeley tried to rush the new range of Gardner engines into production, and when problems emerged, they simply gave up on the company. Another critical aspect of the Gardner story is the devastating effect of the Euro emission regulations. The traditional Gardner engines could not meet the Euro standards, and sales just dried up. However, it is interesting that modern bus engines complying with the Euro standard (now at Euro 6) deliver absolutely pitiful mpg figures, way behind those reliably turned in by Gardners, and, since matter can be neither created nor destroyed, one wonders just how meaningful the Euro emission targets really are. The chemical character of the emissions might be modified to reduce nitric oxide and nitrogen dioxide levels using AdBlu or similar agents, but more fossil fuel is being burnt to achieve the result. As they say in exam papers – "Discuss". I would be pleased to hear the views of others on this subject.

Roger Cox

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01/05/12 – 19:33

Roger, very few of us would disagree with you. The inability to do anything to a high standard – in any field of work – is probably due to beaurocrat’s supreme ability to churn out initiatives (and clear the forests as well) at such a prodigious rate. We’re all so busy ticking boxes that doing the job in hand is secondary. Because the job is secondary, cutting corners is an easy answer to problems at both design and production levels. Those who would do it properly (Gardner?) take too long and the costs escalate and they price themselves out of the market. QED. How do we reverse this tendency? I fear we may be too late. It is probably only crinklies like us, who remember what a good bus is, who are even bothered. A friend of mine, who died recently and spent many years on Tillings (cab and management), always complained about the junk London was running these days. But so what? The contract will only last five or so years, then the bus can collapse and no one will care.

David Oldfield

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02/05/12 – 08:42

In the last 40 odd years, I’ve driven PSV and HGV vehicles of all shapes and sizes with virtually every type of engine you can name, during that time I’ve had pistons trying to escape through the side of the block, blown gaskets, dropped valves and all the other problems you would expect to encounter in a lifetime in transport, but I can only remember one breakdown where a Gardner engine was the problem, and that proved to be down to water in the fuel so it would be a bit harsh to class that as mechanical failure. I’m a driver not an engineer, and no doubt some more qualified than me will disagree, but in my opinion. best engine – Gardner 6LXB – worst – Leyland 500 fixed head.

Ronnie Hoye

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02/05/12 – 08:51

Please may I make a rather general observation which covers various "threads" and that is that as I have never worked in the Bus industry nor even driven one, I am both fascinated and amazed to read so often about how terrible so many buses were to drive, maintain and operate yet despite this, all modern vehicles seem to attract universal dislike and derision.
Purely as a passenger, I can fully appreciate the skills needed to drive older vehicles having been involved in Vintage (pre 1930) and pre War cars for many years so am always impressed by the excellent drivers of preserved vehicles these days. What does surprise me is that to me, a new, reasonably smooth riding, self changing, power steered and braked bus must be much easier to drive yet I read differently..I do notice that most bodywork seems flimsy with loads of rattles and creaks though!
My other experience is from 26 years of regular travel in Switzerland where as long ago as 1986, a Mercedes Benz 0303 seemed like the proverbial "magic carpet" and also any Postbus is both beautifully maintained, quiet, powerful and appears very well engineered.
Now I do not mean anything to upset anyone but am confused so, what buses were considered delightful and are any of today’s offerings a pleasure to drive?

Richard Leaman

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02/05/12 – 11:20

Oh Richard, your mention of Swiss postbuses makes me think of all those wonderful normal-control Saurer’s and FBW’s of the 1950’s.
I’m quite sure that needing skill to drive, steer and brake with a bus that gave a sense of pride to drivers in the past, even though many pre-war buses were hardly paragons of virtue, in fact, downright unreliable and unsafe! There was probably more camaraderie among drivers, too.
With standardisation and modern driving aids, it all seems routine. I was speaking to a couple of Stagecoach drivers recently for about 10 minutes and they seemed to consider the job a sort of 9-5 office routine. They did prefer the recent models and were glad that the Volvo B10’s were disappearing. For all this, we must beware of wearing rose-tinted spectacles! Being able at soundless gearchanges with a crash gearbox , with 5 secs delay while double de-clutching, would be unbearable in today’s urban congestion!

Chris Hebbron

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03/05/12 – 07:53

In answer to Richards question, it’s over 20 years since I’ve driven a bus, for the last 18 years until I retired I was driving lorries, the last 12 as an R.T.I.T.B. instructor/assessor. I can only speak from my experience with Northern General and Armstrong Galley, but what were the best and the worst. The oldest buses I ever driven were 1950’s Guy Arabs with Gardner 5LW’s, by todays standards they were under powered, no power steering, crash box, poor brakes which you needed very strong leg mussels to apply, very hard leaf springs and no heaters, but they were virtually indestructible and almost impossible to abuse, you only had one way to drive them and that was properly. So what would I keep from todays buses and what would I change? Power steering? yes, as long as it still has ‘feel’ Air brakes? Yes, no argument Air suspension and anti roll bars? defiantly. Automatic gears? NO, I would go for semi auto on local service buses, okay they’re more open to driver abuse, but when used properly you get a much better ride with no lurching as the bus comes to a halt, and drivers have MK1 eyeball which gives them a distinct advantage over a sensor, no matter how sophisticated it may be, on coaches I would opt for a 6 speed ZF with two speed axle. What are my best and worst? As regards half cabs, the best looking were the 1956 Park Royal bodied Guy Arab IV’s, but the best to drive were the Leyland PD3’s, best rear engine bus? Alexander bodied Daimler Fleetline with Gardner 6LXB, worst? PDR1 Atlantean. Best coach? Sorry if I upset anyone but it has to be a Volvo B10M with 6 speed ZF and two speed axle, mind you, I think that AEC could have given them a run for their money if BL hadn’t killed them off, and my worst bus ever? MK1 Leyland national, no contest

Ronnie Hoye

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03/05/12 – 11:02

Well Ronnie, I can only agree with everything you said (including the bit about AEC).

David Oldfield

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03/05/12 – 11:03

Ronnie and Chris..thank you so much for your thoughts! I can understand why different vehicles attract diverse feelings..it depends on whether you prefer a driving challenge and are rewarded with getting something "right" or would go for easy and undemanding. I guess that lady bus drivers were quite rare until 10/15 years ago and so the "he-man" controls thought acceptable became rather less so in recent times. What has puzzled me most though is that from comments, the bus manufacturers have not advanced anything like as much as the motor car industry. Around 6/7 years ago my cousin joined First to become a driver and had to do the full training etc. but was aghast at how dreadful the training bus he was told to drive actually was. Sadly I cannot tell you what exact vehicle but I suspect an early Dart or something. He described the steering as being completely devoid of feel and had so much slack that keeping it in a straight line was nearly impossible. The brakes barely worked and the performance from the tired engine was less than a moped. He gave the job up after six months after being set upon by a gang of late night yobs on his last run.
Purely as a passenger, I loved the smooth "London" sound of early RM’s, have always appreciated the build quality and sound of nearly all Bristol’s and am fascinated by the variations in older manufacturers…but when you get to the 1970’s maybe I lose inspiration! I do share your recollections on those dreadful Leyland National’s and have never enjoyed a trip on a Dart although we still have some 1994/5’s in service in Bristol so they must last well!
Chris…The Postbus is my great favourite and I recall one journey from Grindlewald up to the mountain stop at Bort where the snow was fluffy deep at 2′ deep all the way up with steep drops on the side and sharp bends with the fearsome reverse experience! It was a short wheelbase, narrow body Mercedes fitted with a 9 litre, twin turbo engine, double reduction transmission with four wheel drive and double snow chains…not fast but it ploughed through the snow and up glassy ice without a flinch. The driver wore a very thick flying suit and gigantic leather boots looking like Danny Kay in Hans Christian Anderson. The journey back down was..memorable..but the bus and driver were as sure footed as a mountain goat.

Richard Leaman

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03/05/12 – 14:04

Richard, if I can make one further point. Although I have never been full-time in the industry I became an Advanced Motorist forty years ago and gained my PSV sixteen years ago. When you have a stick and left foot pedal it concentrates the mind. You have to think and read the road ahead to make smooth and safe progress. At a time when, albeit part-time/casual, I regularly drove an automatic Volvo B10M, I became aware that it was making me lazy and that the standard of my driving was suffering. From then on, I was more aware and always take more care when driving an automatic but far prefer the 6 speed ZF – one with a splitter is just icing on the cake.

David Oldfield

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03/05/12 – 14:11

If I might add one small tweak to Ronnie’s idea of the perfect bus, with today’s technology it would be perfectly possible to build a semi-automatic gearbox which is NOT open to abuse. The control system would change down automatically if power was demanded at too low an engine speed, and refuse to change down at too high a road speed. Many automatic gearboxes in cars nowadays have a sequential override mode which does exactly that.

Peter Williamson

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05/05/12 – 16:55

The over-revving of the Roadliner coach was probably caused by drivers changing down at too high a speed, or using the engine to assist braking, more often than not down hills. The Cummins V design was not as tolerant of this as, perhaps, some other engines were under engine assisted retardation. Indeed, the 14 litre in line 6 cylinder Cummins of the same era was fitted with an engine exhaust brake as standard, and seemingly could accommodate the stresses in its design.

John Ashmore

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EJK 891F_lr Vehicle reminder shot for this posting

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16/05/12 – 07:57

John Ashmore – many thanks for the clearest explanation of the mechanical problems that beset the Cummins V6 engine in the Daimler Roadliner. It’s very difficult to find out just what caused this engine to be such a disaster, but you have certainly helped. It’s all so long ago now, but I can clearly hear the sound of the V6 in Black and White coaches in Derngate bus station in Northampton in the 70’s, and the recent YouTube video of the restored Walsall Corporation Daimler CRC6 with that same engine brought it all back. It’s important to remember that the Roadliners were Black and White’s first rear-engined coaches, and a powerful engine at the opposite end of the coach from the driver,which sounded totally different to AECs and Leylands, coupled to an easy-to-abuse semi-automatic gearbox, would have made it very easy for the less-sympathetic drivers to over-rev the engine. No engine protection systems in those days! If you get a few spare minutes, any reminiscences about your time looking after Roadliners would be much appreciated.

Richard Heron

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17/05/12 – 08:42

Some years ago I travelled up the M1 on a hired-in coach: the only identification on the white coach was the word "Cummins". We seemed to arrive in no time- faster than my usual car progress- and when I went to speak to the driver near our destination I remember looking down and the speedo was reading 90 (can’t have been kph with that timing and we were swaying gently from side to side). I said something like "Goes a bit" to which he replied- I remember clearly- "Yes it builds on you". These posts make me wonder if it was a poor old Roadliner- ungoverned, untachoed, unretarded….. misjudged?

Joe


 

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