Old Bus Photos

Aldershot & District – Dennis Lancet – LAA 228 – 193

LAA 228

Aldershot & District Traction Co
1953
Dennis Lancet III J10C
Strachan FC38R

In 1948, Aldershot & District took delivery of fifteen Dennis Lancet J3 coaches with Strachans C32R bodies. These replaced the externally very similar Lancet II/Strachans C32R vehicles of 1937-38, the main difference being the longer bonnet of the Lancet III which housed the 7.58 litre O6 in place of the 6.5 litre O4 in the pre war model. These post war machines were very fine coaches giving a high standard of refinement. The 24 valve, wet liner, O6 engine was probably the smoothest running diesel engine of all time, and, coupled with the Dennis ‘O’ type five speed gearbox, it was capable of excellent performance on the road. However, by the early 1950s, the traditional half cab, heavy duty, front engined coach was regarded as passé in major fleets, having been supplanted by the fashionably new underfloor engined machine. Even small independents had begun taking the superficially more modern Bedford SB. In 1950, Aldershot & District bought one of the only two Dennis Dominants ever completed (a third was constructed in chassis form only and subsequently dismantled), but had been obliged to look elsewhere for an underfloor engined chassis when Dennis decided not to produce that model in quantity. In 1953, wishing to upgrade its image, but still undecided about the underfloor configuration, Aldershot & District tried out a number of underfloor engined machines from a variety of manufacturers – Guy (Arab LUF), Atkinson (PM 744 & 745), Leyland (Tiger Cub) and Dennis (Lancet UF). Surprisingly, in view of later developments, AEC was not represented in these trials. The story of the Aldershot and District demonstrators may be found at this link.
Instead the company sought to update the coach fleet with 15 full fronted examples of the 30 feet long and 8 feet wide J10C Lancet, with Strachan FC38R bodywork, Nos.188-202, LAA 223-237. These were attractive coaches of traditional appearance, though the effect was spoiled slightly by the cheap looking wire mesh grille, the apparent frailty of which seemed to to be endorsed by the dents that it soon acquired in service. Like all Lancets, these coaches were excellent, smooth running, reliable machines, though the drivers’ cabs reputedly became unpleasantly hot, particularly so in the summer months. Aware that these coaches presented an outdated image in a world increasingly dominated by modern, underfloor engined vehicles, Aldershot & District succumbed in 1954 to the lure of the AEC Reliance, purchasing twenty-five examples of the MU3RV model with the 6.75 litre AH410 engine. Angular Strachans Everest C41C bodies were fitted with a high floor level and corresponding waistline. The arrival of the Reliances resulted in the relegation of the full fronted Lancets from regular express work to other duties, and they were all withdrawn in 1963 after a relatively short life of ten years. In the photograph, taken at Victoria in 1960, No.193, LAA 228, its windscreen significantly open wide, is laying over in the company of one of the Strachans bodied Reliances. Behind is LCD 857, one of Southdown’s Beadle rebuilds with FC35C bodywork, 30ft long and 8ft wide on 7ft 6ins chassis sections. This coach was constructed using the units of pre war Leyland Tiger TS8 EUF 96, and retained the 8.6 litre oil engine. Like the full fronted Aldershot & District Lancets, this vehicle (and its fellows) was sold in 1963.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox


04/11/19 – 06:15

How surprising in 1953 for such buses/coaches to be delivered to a "substantial" company? Times had already moved on e.g. Ribble with its Leyland/Leyland coaches in 1951 and Tilling with the LS/ECW "beauties" in 1952. A nice story Roger, thank you.

Stuart Emmett


05/11/19 – 06:12

SOU 446

This picture, taken in 1961 in The Grove alongside Aldershot Bus Station – now long gone, the current bus station is a pitiful apology of a facility – shows the Winchester outstation based 1958 Dennis Loline I 338, SOU 446, with East Lancashire H37/31RD body, passing a pair of the fine 1948 Lancet III coaches with Strachans C32R bodies; these were displaced by the 1953 full fronted machines from express duties to private hire and excursion work. 984 GAA 620 and its fellow fourteen coaches were all withdrawn in the year of the photograph, 1961; the Loline survived in A&D service for a further ten years.

Roger Cox


08/11/19 – 10:27

Full-fronted Lancet J10C has thankfully been in preservation for some years. There remains work to be done before we see its welcome appearance at rallies. Thanks, Roger, for the mid-’50s demonstrators link: before reading Eric Nixon’s piece I had no idea how many types had been assessed. The Atkinson is my biggest surprise! But I still can’t help wishing that, like East Kent, they had gone for underfloor Lancets.

Ian Thompson


11/11/19 – 07:09

I think the half cab Lancet III in Roger’s second photo looks much better than this last fling from 1953. Obviously an additional window bay has been inserted to achieve the extra length but it causes the body to droop excessively towards the rear giving a strangely unbalanced look. The side flash doesn’t help either!

Chris Barker


 

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London Transport – AEC Merlin – SMM 15F – XMB 15

SMM 15F

London Transport Board
1966
AEC Merlin P2R
Strachans B46D

In the mid 1960s London Transport began moving away from its ageing bespoke designs – RT family/ RF/ RM family – and belatedly began investigating the standard offerings of the bus manufacturing industry. The ensuing saga became a sad, expensive story of incompetence, profligacy and waste, from the RC Reliances, XA Atlanteans and MB/SM Merlins/Swifts of the 1960s, and onward through the 1970s and beyond with the Daimler Fleetlines and Metro Scanias. The first London Transport Merlins (Chiswick clung to this appendage even when Southall changed the name of the AH691 engined 36 ft long version to Swift 691) had Strachans dual doorway bodies seating 25 at the rear and accommodating (exceedingly closely – I speak from personal experience) 48 standing passengers in the lower front section. These early examples of the Merlin had a low driving position that was raised on later production models. Classified XMS, fourteen of them equipped with coin operated turnstiles went into service in central London on Red Arrow service 500 in 1966 and performed that duty well. At the same time, the Country Area was pursuing a policy of adopting the Merlin for conventional one man operation as the XMB type, and had nine Strachan B45D bodied examples ready for service in the early months of 1966, but the T&GWU refused to accept them. All except XMB 1 were then repainted red, de-seated to the 25 plus 48 standing format, and used on Red Arrow services. The solitary Country Area survivor, XMB 1, which had 46 seats and then carried the registration JLA 57D, went into store, during which time it was first reclassified as XMB 15 in November 1966, and then re-registered in January 1967 as NHX 15E. In August 1967 its registration was changed yet again to SMM 15F, and it continued to spend time in store with occasional forays out and about for route surveying and training purposes. Finally, in January 1969, nearly three years after delivery, it was transferred to Tring garage where, in the following month, it carried its first fare paying passengers on the single bus allocation route 387 between Tring and Aldbury village. In 1970 it became a member of the London Country fleet, but its identity crisis was still set to continue. In mid 1971 it was reclassified MBS 15 in accordance with the rest of Merlin fleet, but in November 1973 it was sent to the by now GLC controlled London Transport who repainted it red and promptly put it into store. MBS 4, formerly XMB 4 was sent from LT to LCBS in exchange. MBS 15 saw very little, if, indeed any service use with LT thereafter, before being dumped at the old Handley Page airfield at Radlett in 1975 along with very many other unwanted LT Merlins. The following web page illustrates the chequered career of this bus:-
https://ccmv.aecsouthall.co.uk/

In the picture above, taken early in London Country days in 1970 at Tring garage, XMB 15 has lost its London Transport roundel on the front panel, but has yet to receive its LCBS “Flying Wheel” symbol. The Strachans bodies on the early Merlins proved to be of sounder construction than the Metro-Cammell examples on the later deliveries, which quickly showed evidence of structural failure in the roof section above the central doorway.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox


10/05/19 – 06:58

Thank you Roger,
Little known about vehicle article and photograph, I just thought these were rather mundane vehicles but did travel on the Red Arrow when they were new. So which one was the model done of ?, possibly a Dinky Supertoy or a Corgi, I did have one, but in my younger days it was repainted to look like an LUT Seddon, that will start the comments flowing, methinks.

Mike Norris


10/05/19 – 07:00

Didn’t quite a lot of these end up being sold to Belfast after being stored at Radlett?

David Pomfret


11/05/19 – 07:00

Several of the Strachan bodied versions along with the regular ones ended up at Gatwick Airport. Gatwick Handling had both types but Bcal and Airtours only had the latter ones. Nearly all replaced by Leyland Nationals.

Keith Hanbury-Chatten


17/05/19 – 06:50

In fairness to LT they were far from alone in having to withdraw MCW Scanias early as they suffered badly from corrosion. The one bought by WYPTE were all withdrawn early for this reason.

Chris Hough


17/05/19 – 10:32

All MetroScanias suffered this fate but, eventually, the Metropolitan had feet of clay. It did not fail as quickly as the MetroScania but in later life there were serious corrosion problems at the back end which some operators addressed by rebuilding them. The reasons for the LT failure with "off the shelf" designs is well documented (here, as elsewhere) – a sad indictment …..

David Oldfield


18/06/19 – 07:49

Surprisingly, when the Docklands Light Railway had a strike last year, 40-year old Metropolitan MD60 turned up on the replacement service. No corrosion apparent. So there’s a bit of life left in the design in London yet.

Bill


19/06/19 – 05:38

Bill, There are very few Metropolitans on the road now, because of the dreaded ‘metal moth’. MD60 is only in circulation thanks to a very lengthy (and no doubt costly) rebuild by the guys at Bus Works Blackpool and owners EnsignBus. See reference to it here: http://ensignvintagebuses.blogspot.com

Petras409


26/06/19 – 09:45

Leicester Trust have one on the road as well.

Roger Burdett


17/07/19 – 07:04

Sister vehicle XMS6 (JLA 56D) finished up with The Violet Bus Service at Blackrock, County Louth but none of the Strachans bodied Merlins ended up with Citybus/Ulsterbus in Northern Ireland.

Bill Headley


 

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Maidstone & District – Leyland Panther – LKT 132F – 3132

Maidstone & District - Leyland Panther - LKT 132F - 3132

Maidstone & District
1968
Leyland Panther PSUR1/1R
Strachans B48F

LKT 132F is a Leyland Panther PSUR1/1R new to Maidstone & District in 1968. It has a Strachan B48F body, somewhat unusual for a BET firm, and we see it in the Netley rally on 14 July 1996 so the body at least is more or less ‘home’ as Strachans later products were built just along the road in Hamble. The Parish Council calls it Hamble Le Rice now, and it’s nothing to do with puddings. In this sense, it means ‘rich’.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Pete Davies


20/11/16 – 15:48

Yes its a standard BET front, but the livery does a great deal to hide the uneven window and panel spacing layout. Just by example if you were to look at Liverpool 1097 currently in the heading on the ‘other’ bus blog page, it shows how neat this one really is. Its a pity we don’t have sound on here as Panther exhausts were in a class of their own.

Mike Norris


21/11/16 – 07:54

Mike there is a section on here for bus noises. To be found at the ‘More pages’ tab top right in the menu, then select ‘Old Bus Sounds’.

Stephen Howarth


05/11/17 – 07:30

With reference to 3251 (ex SO251) as I knew it when I drove it. This was always a delightful vehicle to drive and was usually requested by our depot engineer – Ernie Marks – at Gravesend. I remember using it on many runs to High Halstow, Cliffe and also Meopham & Harvel. I have a photo slide of it taken when I used it.
With reference to S1-S5 or 3701-5, again when I drove all of them, these would often tread there way onto the 122 London to Brighton run and I had the pleasure of driving them between Gravesend and Tunbridge Wells. The only problem I found was the bodywork rattle caused by over-inflated tyres, something which Tunbridge Wells was usually in favour of. Hence, all vehicles from both garages had bodies that were shaken to pieces – sometimes almost literally!

Freddy Weston


09/11/17 – 07:14

Although my memory is not so good nowadays, I have to hand a fleet allocation list for 1st October 1971. From that it looks as if Freddy’s and Ernie Marks’ favourite Reliance 3251 had left the fleet by then. 3701-6 are shown as allocated to Tonbridge and 3125 was allocated to Maidstone. With regard to comments about high tyre pressures, it is relevant that M&D had three tyre mileage contractors in 1970. I think Gravesend and possibly Borough Green were covered by Michelin who would only have used radial ply tyres which have more flexible walls. The Tunbridge Wells district (inc Tonbridge, Hawkhurst and Edenbridge) was covered by Firestone with cross ply tyres which may have felt harder. Dunlop was the third contractor. This made it a bit difficult when vehicles were re-allocated across contracts! Around 1971, Dunlop were contracted to cover the whole fleet using a new centralised tyre workshop for fitting new and re-grooving tyres. Mobile inspectors examined the fleet regularly for pressure and tread depth. Each depot had a supply of wheel assemblies with fit tyres for failures in service. An interesting aspect of this was that quite a few vehicles were found to be fitted with wheels of the incorrect offset, so a supply of new wheels had to be bought to facilitate a sorting out!

Geoff Pullin

PS – I meant to add that Panthers 3131 and 3135 were delicensed for repair of fire damage and 3127 for major body repairs! Engine compartment fires were a bit endemic for Panthers and also Reliances at the time. As I have said elsewhere, M&D found that the Willowbrook bodied Panthers were better than the Strachans bodies which suffered a lot of panel movement and aluminium dust permeating the insides. They were strengthened by a scheme devised by Wiollowbrook!


 

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Old Bus Photos from Saturday 25th April 2009 to Saturday 14th December 2019