Old Bus Photos

Portsmouth Corporation – AEC 663T – RV 4663 – 215

Portsmouth Corporation - AEC 663T - RV 4663 - 215
Photo from the T. Dethridge Collection

Portsmouth Corporation
1934
AEC 663T
Metro Cammell H32/28R

This impressive beast is Portsmouth Corporation 215 an AEC663T/Metro-Cammell H32/28R trolleybus from 1934. Originally delivered as 15, it was last of a group of trolleybuses of different makes of 2 and 3-axled chassis (AEC, Sunbeam, Leyland and Karrier), with different electrics and bodies (Metro Cammell and English Electric) to evaluate the most suitable for the future fleet. It was re-numbered 215 in 1938 and lent to Pontypridd UDC, along with some of its other non-standard stable mates, from 1942-46. Shown here in its maroon/white with grey roof livery, straight from the paint shop at Eastney Depot in 1949, it was scrapped in 1952. As for the evaluation, although the main fleet centred on 2-axled AEC/BUT chassis, most (100) were bodied with non-evaluated Craven bodies, with a sprinkling (9) of English Electric and, postwar, (15) Burlingham bodies! One non-standard (No.1) and one Burlingham example (No.313) survive, but, sadly, not one Craven example, the mainstay of the trolleybus fleet. The whole network was swept away, in 1963, by Leyland/MCW Atlanteans. The unexpected one-year delay in delivery of these, caused by a disastrous fire at Addlestone, resulted in a very sad-looking trolleybus fleet and a great maintenance effort to keep the vehicles in one piece and capable of moving!

Photograph and Copy contributed by Chris Hebbron

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10/02/11 – 17:12

Portsmouth Corporation had a wonderful livery displayed to perfection by their paint shop work on 215 in 1949. I visited Portsmouth for a day in 1963 to ride on the remaining routes and still recall the wonderful livery of the AEC 661T/Craven and BUT9611T/Burlingham trolleybuses even at this time.
I wonder what decision criteria were used by the Portsmouth managers in 1934 to choose a 2 axle fleet rather than 3 axle fleet of trolleybuses. The 3 axle trolleybus was able to accept the higher starting forces from the traction motor but perhaps this was not recognised at the time. The single worm drive differential on a 2 axle trolleybus was always subjected to much greater forces than that on a motor bus.
I do believe that 3 axle trolleybus fleets had less trouble with drive failures than those with 2 axle fleets and these were compounded with the longer length 2 axle types which appeared in 1954. I do believe Sunbeam addressed this single axle drive problem by introducing a double reduction epicyclic differential axle. I do believe these appeared in Walsall, Glasgow, Belfast and Bradford. Can this be confirmed?
I do know these axles made a growling noise but nothing as loud as a Bradford AEC661T "Regen".

Richard Fieldhouse

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10/02/11 – 17:13

Thanks Chris for this wonderful shot of the 663T.
The early PCT experimental fleet was quite fascinating, as, although not unique by any means, early trolleybus operators tended to purchase "experimental" fleets, and PCT`s such fleet was quite extensive!
The MCCW bodies were obviously metal framed, whereas I believe, that the English Electric ones were composite. This gave them another feature to work out and study, as well as the chassis and equipment suppliers, giving them more reliable data before placing further orders.
The subsequent 9 English Electric 661Ts were metal (I believe), as were the Cravens, but I am wondering why the change to Cravens was made. Was it simply cost based, or did PCT have similar problems to other operators of EEC metal bodies. Perhaps they had picked up rumours, and were "scared off". Who knows?
A fascinating post, for which many thanks.

John Whitaker

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04/03/11 – 07:22

Lovely shot of this Portsmouth trolleybus, as repainted post-war after it’s war-time loan to Pontypridd UDC with the other three six-wheelers. Three of the four returned to service after loan, but one did not (212, an AEC 663T/EEC).
Incidentally all the 15 mixed test vehicles and the following 9 AEC 661Ts did not have manoeuvring batteries and were all stored from 1940 through the war on wasteland at Hilsea (apart from the six-wheelers sent to Pontypridd). They were all returned to service from 1945 onwards.
I have always been fascinated by the very mixed bag of trolleybuses taken as the experimental batch of 15 by Portsmouth. It was not an even spread of orders. Four AEC 2-axles, all with the same body make. Three Leyland 2-axles, also with the same body make. Then variety is brought in – Two Karrier 2-axle, each with a different body; Four Sunbeams, but two are 2-axle and two are 3-axle, and each pair has different bodywork, and two AEC 3-axle, also with different bodies. It doesn’t seem to give a fair spread to assessing the necessary qualities. And the choice of chassis make fell to the supplier of the highest quantity! (AEC).
It seems to have been common for municipals to try out an experimental batch of trolleybuses in the 1930s. But the rest had more "equal" fleets of trial vehicles. Take Belfast, which in 1938 took pairs of 3-axle Crossleys, Guys, Karriers, Leylands, AECs, Daimlers and Sunbeams. The bodywork contracts weren’t so evenly spread, but then Harkness might be expected to corner the market there.
Reading made do with just six in 1936, of which two were Sunbeam (but one I think was an ex-demonstrator, so that may have been an influence), and then one each of AEC, Guy, Leyland and Ransomes. All were two-axle and Park Royal bodied the lot. In spite of two Sunbeams the next bulk order went to AEC.
Bournemouth had just four trial trolleybuses in 1933, one Sunbeam 3-axle, one AEC three-axle, one AEC two-axle, and one Thonycroft single-decker – a very odd choice. But the point is that, compared to Portsmouth, there is a "one of each" approach going on. Both of the AECs were converted to a motorbus (petrol)in 1936, and the next bulk orders went to Sunbeam.
Walsall had two AEC and two Guy three-axle vehicles for their tests in 1931, again a fair share to trial – they then chose Sunbeam for their main orders!
It’s difficult to imagine what kind of committee sat down with manufacturer’s catalogues and selected the chosen makes for these trials in each city. But we can make sense of those that decided "one of each" or "two of each" – but the Portsmouth mix seems to defy any of that kind of logic! But it’s what keeps us interested as observers of these events of the past.
Incidentally I have never read any other account than that the Corporation chose Cravens for the batch of 76 plus the 30 Leyland TD4s because of obtaining appropriate delivery dates. No mention has been made of EEC build quality.

Michael Hampton

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04/03/11 – 17:19

Interesting comments, observations and comparisons, Michael, much appreciated. As it happens, logical or not, their choice of bodywork for the main fleet, Cravens, was as sound as the bodies turned out to be, lasting around 25 years, although some re-building was necessary.
I never realised that the non-standard vehicles were parked on wasteland for the duration.
I also never realised that the other vehicles, especially the second batch, the 9 AEC 661T’s, lacked off-line manoeuvring ability. I always felt rather sad about them, living a rather shady life and always giving off an air of neglect – I’m not sure whether all of them were ever repainted. Considering the far less use they got, this was surprising. I always thought them the nicest looking of all the trolleys, even in comparison with the later Burlingham-bodied examples. The Pontypridd escapade fascinates me. Can you imagine the towing of these large six-wheel vehicles over to Bristol, over the Aust Ferry, then up the valley to Pontypridd, an estimated 150 miles without motorway or Severn bridges. Or, if the Aust Ferry wasn’t man for the job, a journey via Gloucester would have entailed a 190 mile slog! I daresay these journeys were not without incident!

Chris Hebbron

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04/03/11 – 18:13

Don’t forget that every one of the Cravens trolleybuses would have been towed down the even greater distance from Sheffield! Towing trolleybuses would have been an everyday occurrence in those days – think about Glasgow’s with Weymann bodies!

David Beilby

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06/03/11 – 08:13

And, of course, the chassis would have had to be towed to the bodybuilders first!

Chris Hebbron

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06/03/11 – 09:16

Wartime loans fascinate me too Chris!
Bournemouth trolleys running in Newcastle, Southend in Bradford, Hull in Pontypridd. Quite a few examples and some interesting pre-motorway routes to plan!

John Whitaker

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06/03/11 – 11:52

You raise in my mind an interesting point, John. If Pompey sent its four six–wheelers to Pontypridd and Hull also sent some, what was the reason? AS a UDC (Urban District Council), it’s hard to believe it had a large fleet of vehicles, especially trolleybuses, and enemy action seems unlikely to be a significant cause, was it an upsurge in coal production and colliers, mainly impressed (and probably unimpressed!) Bevin Boys?

Chris Hebbron

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07/03/11 – 08:33

Re. wartime loans of trolleybuses.
Good point Chris.
I can only assume that the resort towns had surplus vehicles in wartime, whereas the industrial areas needed extra capacity. Where that leaves Portsmouth, itself a prime target for the Luftwaffe, I do not know. Southsea is, I suppose, a resort, but Portsmouth as a whole would have had quite a lot of industrial activity apart from the Naval dockyard (?)

John Whitaker

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07/03/11 – 08:37

The bus fleet in Pontypridd exploded (if I can use that term) during the war. The fleet strength in 1966 was 53 yet during the war they received 21 utility double-deckers and 2 unfrozen double-deckers. There were also eight utility trolleybuses which became the postwar fleet but they were really used to replace the pre-war fleet which it must be remembered was mainly single-deck EE vehicles which later moved to Cardiff, as well as releasing the loaned vehicles. There had been 8 LT ST-types on loan as well.
This reflects the boom in demand during the war years, with local collieries and factories working flat out and therefore a greater need for transport. It’s probable that not only were more people travelling but also they were travelling further – there was certainly a lot of long distance travelling to the various Royal Ordnance Factories.
The trolleybus route served very little directly and the way the traffic on that route expanded was probably more complex. The southern end of the route at Treforest was a long way from Treforest Trading Estate which was a major source of employment at the time and therefore would not have been used to take people there. Maritime Colliery in the centre of Pontypridd would have generated some traffic but its location in the centre of town means workers could have come from anywhere. Albion Colliery was the only large colliery directly served by the route and was at the northern terminus at Cilfynydd.

David Beilby

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07/03/11 – 09:27

John – Your post triggered something else in the back of my mind about Bournemouth trolleybuses on war loan. No fewer than 18 of them were lent to London Transport between December 1940 and September 1942, partly being relieved by some new ones destined for South Africa being diverted to London. Braking-wise, they were not up to the job of London’s demands. They had to go to Ilford Depot because of their exceptional height – 15′ 11"! Ilford had no routes which went under low bridges.

Chris Hebbron

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08/03/11 – 06:05

John W – CPPTD lent some 3-4 TSM buses to London around the Blitz for six months and a couple more locally towards the end of the war. They lost several buses when Eastney Bus Depot was bombed (including the sole AEC Regent they ever owned!). They then took in 10 Bedford OWBs and 9 Daimler CWA6’s in the middle of the war, but I would say that they were well positioned with trolleybuses. They also had some Leyland Lynxes surplus from sea front duties, but I don’t know if they were ever used in anger! So the fleet just about remained the same or slightly larger. This doesn’t really answer the question about pressure in maintaining services, though.

Thx, David B, for a wonderfully detailed picture about Ponypridd’s situation in the war. It goes to show how a war can distort situations and produce hotspots which, in normal times, would never arise. I’ve seen photos of LT ST’s all over the place in wartime, but never any in Pontypridd, not even by that ubiquitous bus photographer, DWK Jones!

Chris Hebbron

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Provincial – AEC Regal I – GOU 449 – 66

Provincial - AEC Regal - GOU 449 - 66
Copyright Stan Fitton.

Provincial (Gosport & Fareham Omnibus Co)
1931
AEC Regal I
Reading FB35F

The Regent in the above shot was on the Crossley Omnibus Society Grand Southern tour and here it can be seen at the Provincial bus depot parked next to their number 66. Provincial had a tendency to get their monies worth out of the vehicles they owned and 66 was no exception. The vehicle was purchased from Timpsons of London in 1949 with the original registration of GN 7271, on arrival at Provincial it was immediately fitted with an AEC 7·7 litre diesel engine, rebodied with a Reading half canopy C32R body and reregistered as GOU 449. Ten years later it was rebodied again with the one in the shot above which was a Reading FB35F, it served a further 11 years at Provincial before being sold for scrap in 1970. This vehicle must be fairly high on the list of ‘longest serving vehicles’ at 39 years.
When David sent me this shot he said it was scanned from a very dark slide and he would understand if I did not use it, I think it would be a waste not to, especially a colour one and anyway David if you want to see a shot that should not be used click here.

Photograph contributed by David Beilby

Bus tickets issued by this operator can be viewed here.

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09/02/11 – 05:48

It’s a bit like the old story of Paddy’s brush – or Caesar’s original penknife isn’t it? Nearly everything has been replaced, but there is still a clear historical trail that says it is still the original! I do not say this in any sense of criticism – I grew up in Barton’s territory, and beneath some of their shiny "new" vehicles (well, bodies anyway) you could discover mechanical antiques continuing to serve their original purpose perfectly satisfactorily.

Stephen Ford

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01/07/11 – 06:15

Further photos of this vehicle with its original Reading coach body, plus what it might have looked like with Timpson can be found on the AEC Regal page at: http://www.regent8.co.uk/ click on rotating arrow

Stephen Didymus

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01/07/11 – 09:22

As Stephen rightly says at one time there were many fascinating "enigmas on wheels" giving splendid service for incredible lengths of time. Perhaps the most spectacular that I ever actually worked on was Samuel Ledgard’s magnificent Burlingham bodied AEC Regal – it was a Birmingham Corporation Regent 1 of 1930, but how many happy day trippers to the seaside could possibly have imagined that?? It had been rebuilt by Don Everall of Wolverhampton – a Corgi model of it exists, but with a Duple body instead of the correct Burlingham, and the registration FWJ 938 – should be FJW – but a lovely model nevertheless.

Chris Youhill

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02/07/11 – 07:10

And here is The Maggot Wagon, Chris Y. http://www.flickr.com/photos/21940361@N08/3883856963/

Chris Hebbron

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02/07/11 – 07:12

Chris, the same could be said of the coach just visible behind 66. It is either 68 (OCG 444) or 69 (PCG 436)both of which were chassis that started life as City Of Oxford Regents in 1932, and acquired as such by Provincial in 1940. 68 was originally 22 (JO 5406), whilst 69 was rebuilt from a combination of 20/21 (JO 5404/5). Both were given Reading coach bodies in 1955/56 and survived until early 1969.

Stephen Didymus

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02/07/11 – 12:07

Sorry for digressing slightly but FJW 938 seems doubly strange because it is pre-war, with a Regent (or Regal) II radiator and front wings and a Mk III bonnet!

Chris Barker

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02/07/11 – 16:24

It’s a shame that virtually no information is immediately available about Reading and the other Portsmouth bodybuilder, Portsmouth Aviation.

Chris Hebbron

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03/07/11 – 05:54

Thanks Chris H and Chris B – the bonnet and radiator are indeed fascinating features too – I wonder where they originated ?? – not from the shelves of a dealer in new parts I’ll be bound !! As the old darling is displaying "Otley" on the destination blind it has obviously recently carried "stage carriage" passengers in style and acoustic delight at absolutely no extra charge !!

Chris Youhill

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03/07/11 – 20:40

Chris H: David Whitaker has written an excellent book on Readings the Portsmouth coachbuilders. Titled "Reading First & Last", it is available from the Provincial Society website. In addition to many bus photos of Provincial, Portsmouth, and Channel Island vehicles, there are also a considerable number of lorries, ambulances and ice cream vans.

Stephen Didymus


 

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Yorkshire Woollen District – Leyland Titan – UTF 930 – 773

Yorkshire Woollen District – Leyland Titan – UTF 930 – 773
Copyright Bob Gell

Yorkshire Woollen District
1954
Leyland Titan PD2/20
MCW H34/29R

The above shot was sent to me by Bob Gell with the following comment:

There is correspondence under the Yorkshire Woollen District Tiger PS1 posting about this vehicle – I took the attached photo in July 1969 at Dewsbury Bus Station.

I’m intrigued by the total lack of opening windows on each side upstairs, with ventilation only from the two vents in the front windows – presumably part of its ‘spec’ as a demonstrator. I wonder if it was built around the same time as the Edinburgh lightweights, the ‘Monstrous mass of shivering tin’, as they were known in Edinburgh?

The vehicle was actually an ex Leyland Motors demonstrator and I think it was built to Edinburgh specification it does look very similar. I am not sure what year the vehicle entered service with Yorkshire Woollen District but my thanks to John Blackburn who informed me that it was renumbered 54 in 1967 and withdrawn in 1970 going to Norths of Sherburn in Elmet in 1971 and presumably scrapped. If you wish to read the comments on the Yorkshire Woollen District Tiger PS1 posting click here.

Photograph contributed by Bob Gell


06/02/11 – 09:12

This former Leyland demonstrator did indeed have an MCW body to Edinburgh specification hence the strip bell (see Tiger comments) It also had an Edinburgh blind layout. I only ever saw it once whizzing up Whitehall Road Leeds at a great rate of knots with its exhaust booming off the surrounding buildings

Chris Hough


06/02/11 – 09:12

With regards to Y.W.D. 773 [later 54] this was a standard Edinburgh Corporation PD2 that was taken from a batch that were being built for them. An Edinburgh Baille once described them as being monstrous pieces of shivering tin. Anyway I always liked it. The crews liked it too because of the Edinburgh style destination box it could show a lazy blind of the two ends of a route.

Philip Carlton


07/02/11 – 20:11

Edinburgh’s Titans may well have been monstrous masses of shivering tin but most of them gave up to 20 years service. Their grey and red interiors were still being used until the advent of low floor deckers in Edinburgh I well remember my first visit to Edinburgh in 1971 when every bus seemed to be one of the Titans. The other gems such as the Alexander bodied Guys just paled into insignificance alongside the Titans

Chris Hough


07/02/11 – 20:37

I had never noticed its lack of upper deck ventilation windows until now. Looking at views of its Edinburgh contemporaries I note that they all had two upper and two lower ventilators. Was the lack of upper deck ventilators on the demonstrator a one-off or was it a YWD alteration?

Paul Haywood


10/02/11 – 05:48

I worked for YWD at the time UTF 930 or 773 as it was known and loved was in service, this was the BEST vehicle on the fleet. As I said in another reply this vehicle was the most reliable vehicle we ever had!. It used to go out on duty and was forgotten until some one remembered it may need cleaning, a liner check, or greasing/oilchange The vehicle was fitted with Vacuum brakes and Leylands RP (Ratchet Paul) brake adjusters which worked perfectly (If maintained correctly) and only came in when it required a reline. Unlike modern day practice of relining an axle set we only relined one corner at a time, with NO problems!! The driver would fight over it!! And it made the most wonderful noise when accelerating (almost like a Ferrari!!!). I just wish someone had had the money to preserve it but alas it went to the big bus haven in Sherburn in Elmet, Norths Scrap Yard.(unless some one can tell me different!!)

Chris Bligh


10/02/11 – 09:07

Chris Hough’s comment on the Edinburgh "shivering masses of tin" took me back many years to when a temporary shortage of buses in Sheffield resulted in a batch of those splendid vehicles being sent south on loan. Visiting the Steel city with a friend one evening we took a random ride on one for the experience and were most impressed by its incredibly good condition. I don’t know the Sheffield routes at all really, but would I be right in thinking that it was on service 75 or 76 to Low Edges ?? The bus was full to capacity and on one very steep street in particular we were treated to one of the most masterly pieces of driving – starting off in first gear and going to full revs the driver changed beautifully into second without a click or a jerk of any kind – and the conductress was an immaculate efficient Caribbean lady with a cultured "BBC" accent and the politest of manners – a lovely journey to recall.

Chris Youhill


10/02/11 – 10:14

I wasn’t living in Sheffield during the "shortage" but still have family there and visit regularly. If it were a 76 Lowdedges then the steep hill would have been Woodseats Road. Had it been a 75 Bradway, it could also have been Meadowhead.
I was brought up in the Lowedges area of Greenhill which was originally serviced by the 38 (later by 42/53), the 75/75 originally serviced by the 59. The stop at the bottom of Meadowhead was a classic test of hill starting with a full bus with a crippling gradient. The 38 was basically an AEC route with Leyland input. The AECs posed no problems by the PD3s sorted the men from the boys with grinds, grauches and lurches! This stop was notorious and was subsequently moved back to a flat approach to Meadowhead, nearer Graves Park’s Woodseats entrance, to avoid the hill start.

David Oldfield


11/02/11 – 06:59

Thank you David for the information on those forbidding Sheffield hills – whichever was the one that I remember so well it was a most creditable performance by the driver – he must without doubt have been one of those chaps with a genuine interest in the job and a real pride in his work.

Chris Youhill


16/04/11 – 05:00

The reason they lasted so long in Edinburgh was the fact that the bodies were rebuilt every 6 years. The quoted phrase was – “They are ungainly, inelegant, monstrous masses of shivering tin. They are modern to the extent of becoming able to produce a perfect synchronization of rock `n` roll. As far as Edinburgh went the bodies were a disaster,with front and back domes breaking free and the odd staircase detaching itself from the top deck among the other numerous problems such as cracking the nearside chassis rail, which resulted in expensive and time consuming body off repairs. The Edinburgh cobbles did these bodies no favours.

Brian Melrose


02/01/14 – 17:24

Most deckers of PD2s and 3s suffered this complaint of broken chassis rails which when you think about it all the swaying with a full top load of passengers over 10 years or more did these buses no favours l hope this may answer your questions on this matter. I am a bus enthusiast and have been for the last 50 years or so.

JohnE


03/01/14 – 07:55

Sheffield had their own almost identical batch of 20 Weymann/ PD2/30 but with more ventilation. The bodies were a nadir – and most unworthy of the name Weymann. Later deliveries were to a higher standard – more like earlier Weymanns. Going back to Chris Y’s earlier comments; in retrospect, my memories of STD drivers in the PD2/PD3 era are that they were well trained and generally drove very well.

David Oldfield


UTF 930_lr Vehicle reminder shot for this posting


24/09/14 – 08:38

I congratulate all those who knows which bus is made by who, all I was interested in was getting from A to B; never trusted any of the service busses, there was never any guarantees I would finish with the same bus I started with!
From Frost Hill, I did Batley/Birks, Dewsbury/Cleckheaton, Halifax/Leeds, Dewsbury/Bradford, but that was a story of its own, Huddersfield/Leeds, Elland/Leeds including Rastrick, but by gum, I don’t know or remember anything about bus types, models or the likes, I just drove them, so God bless those who remember so much. To me, they were Leyland with a cab, Leyland Atlantean, Leyland air/auto, Guy bronze box and crash box, and that includes double and single deckers; but, does anyone remember the new coach we got at Frost Hill in 1968 that was all electric push button geared, now that was a coach worth taking to the footy matches, but I made sure I was last there and first out, especially when Leeds played at home!

Donald Campbell


25/09/14 – 16:11

What was a Guy Bronze box?
Was it anything to signify the H pattern being different for gear changes?

John Blackburn


26/09/14 – 05:41

The original Guy Arab of 1933 had a four speed sliding mesh (crash) gearbox with "right to left" upward gear selection positions, and this box was used in the wartime Arab utilities. Towards the end of 1945, Arabs were delivered with a new constant mesh gearbox which had conventional gear selector positions. I would think that Donald was unlikely to have experienced the old Guy crash gearbox.

Roger Cox


27/09/14 – 07:09

Roger.I had the pleasure of driving former Burton Corporation Guy Arab 111/Massey no 18 when first preserved and this also had the right to left gearbox. YWD also re-bodied many wartime Arabs so they could still have this gearbox.

Geoff S


 

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