Old Bus Photos

Aldershot & District – Dennis Lance – GOU 845 – 145

GOU 845

Aldershot & District Traction Co
1950
Dennis Lance K3
East Lancs L25/26R

Aldershot & District Dennis K3 fleet number 145 seen above at Alton Station, Hants celebrates its 50th year in preservation with Tim Stubbs by running an hourly service between Hindhead (145′s home garage) and Haslemere, Surrey, this coming Saturday, July 19.
First departures are from Haslemere Station at 10:35am and from Hindhead National Trust Car Park at 11:05. Last departures are from Haslemere Stn at 4:35 and Hindhead at 5:05 for the full round trip, and 5:35 from Haslemere at 5:35 for Hindhead, Farnham and Alton.
This is a small-scale event originally planned for friends associated over the years with 145′s preservation and running, so Tim asks me to point out that capacity may be limited, but 145 and 220 (Dennis K4) will be running trips the next day (Sunday July 20) at the Alton Running Day, Anstey Park, with frequent departures from Alton Station. Both of these deckers are unique survivals. 145 has a Dennis O6 engine (7.58 litres), vacuum brakes and Dennis overdrive gearbox; 220, dating from 1954, has a 1939 Gardner 5LW engine, vacuum-over-hydraulic brakes and Dennis o/d gearbox.
The very different engines give them totally different characters.
145 is also unusual in having 8 rows of seats upstairs, each seating 3 except for a 4-seater at the front. 220 (East Lancs L28/28R) is a foot longer and 6" wider, also with 8 rows aloft, arranged as alternating 3s and 4s.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Ian Thompson


19/07/14 – 08:11

Every month, for ten years, from the mid ’50′s, I used to get one of these buses from Woking Station to Botley’s Park Hospital at Ottershaw, then back: not a long journey, about 6 miles/30mins. How I looked forward to riding on them – their unique engine sound and that ‘U’ turn on the gear lever when the driver engaged overdrive.
One distinctive feature of them was the unusually large width between the headlights, the same size and height, too.
Thank goodness one has survived, looking so very kempt, too!

Chris Hebbron


19/07/14 – 08:12

Lovely to see an unfamiliar face even if it looks like a cousin of a Daimler CV. How does 220 end up with a 5LW, 25 years its senior? Dennis must be the great survivor, with an unfailing eye for a niche and a willingness to change, even if this includes ownership… but AEC, Leyland, Bristol, Guy, Daimler… where are you when we need you?

Joe


20/07/14 – 07:11

Joe. All the makes you mention have one thing in common –
Donald Stokes. First we gave him a knighthood then a peerage. That’s what we do in this country- reward incompetence.

Paragon


20/07/14 – 07:30

GOU 845_2

Here is a rear view of the vehicle: Copyright John G. Lidstone

Chris Hebbron


20/07/14 – 15:23

Sir Donald Stokes (knighted before the merger) was probably not the sharpest tool in the box for someone who was a company leader, although he was a good salesman, but taking over the newly-enforced merger of the ‘batty’ BMC, which should have gone into bankruptcy, was a poison chalice for anyone. Definitely a case of being between and rock and a hard place!! This was an era of strikes and mayhem at the best of times, mainly centred in the Midlands, with strong unions with leaders and shop stewards, like ‘Red’ Robbo, with Communist leanings, a Labour government which was always interfering with the running of the company, but never grasped the nettle of bringing in union democracy (despite Barbara Castle trying) adding more chaos to the brew! His peerage, in my view, WAS debatable.

Chris Hebbron


21/07/14 – 07:20

Joe. The Gardner engines came from 1939/40 Lances and Lancets when they were taken out of service. The engines were overhauled and incorporated Gardner approved updates to increase the BHP.
Today this is called recycling!

Paragon


 

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Aldershot & District – Dennis Dominant – HOU 900 – 174

Aldershot & District - Dennis Dominant - HOU 900 - 174
Copyright Roger Cox

Aldershot & District
1950
Dennis Dominant
Strachan B41C

The Dominant represented the initial attempt by Dennis to offer an underfloor engined single deck chassis. Like the contemporary Regal IV, Royal Tiger, Freeline and Arab UF models, the Dominant was a heavy beast, but, unlike those competitors, it never achieved quantity production. The engine was a horizontal version of the advanced 24 valve wet liner O6 diesel of 7.58 litres coupled to the Hobbs semi automatic gearbox, which used disc clutches instead of annular brake bands to engage the gears. A two speed axle was also specified. The middle section of the chassis was ‘humped’ slightly to clear the engine and gearbox, which made the design rather more difficult to body than its competitors. Only three Dominants were made, and all were shown at the 1950 Commercial Motor Show. One was displayed in left hand drive chassis form, but it is believed never to have run under its own power. The other two received Strachan bus bodies of very different character. The bus in the demonstration park had a supercharged (not turbocharged) engine, raising power from 100bhp to 130 bhp, and full air braking, and had a front entrance bus body, probably with 41 seats, of conventional appearance. The other, vacuum braked Dominant became very well known as Aldershot & District No.174, HOU 900, and its B41C body was an example of the uncertain approach to styling adopted by a number of coach builders in the early years of the underfloor engined chassis. The initial strange wing pattern was subsequently simplified to a more usual style by A&D as seen in the picture above.
The Hobbs transmission revealed early weaknesses, and it was replaced in both running Dominants by standard Dennis two plate clutches and five speed gearboxes. The demonstrator was sold to Trimdon Motor Services who registered it MUP 297 and ran it, now without the supercharger, for seven years, before selling it on to become a mobile shop. The other Dominant remained in the Aldershot & District fleet from 1951 for fourteen years, spending much of that time ploughing its way on the Aldershot – Cove group of services. It is seen here in 1961 leaving Aldershot Bus Station with Weymann L25/26R rebodied Guy Arab I of 1943 No.873, EHO 695 alongside. This Arab was one of a number of such chassis originally destined for, but ultimately not wanted by London Transport. It was initially fitted for A&D service with a Strachans L22/26R body, rebodied in 1950, and finally withdrawn in 1962.

More information about the Dominant may be found on this site:-
www.dennissociety.org.uk and a picture of the Trimdon example may be found here:- http://trimdon.com/galleries/

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox


20/01/13 – 13:38

Thank you for posting this view. It has settled a problem I’ve had for some years, in respect of my "bought" slides. Not all photographs come with an indication of where (and/or when) they were taken. I have several where this building features in the background. Clearly, it was in A&D or AV territory, but the precise location was a mystery until now!

Pete Davies


20/01/13 – 14:11

Thanks for the links Roger. The original wing embellishments were rather odd – those sort of things did not really belong on coaches of the new underfloor-engined era, but the front one being the ‘wrong way round’ was plain silly. Many coachbuilders and operators of the time must have been really confused as to what to do with this new layout of vehicle. However once A&D had modified it in the fashion depicted on this photo I think it looked rather nice, with its gently curved lower windscreen line just taking the edge of any tendency to boxiness. The A&D livery of the period was just superb and enhanced any vehicle.
The Arab looks really fine too. Weymann bodies looked great on any type of chassis. Many operators who rebodied their utilities after the war also converted them to the low-bonnetted Arab III layout, but I always felt – purely from an enthusiast/aesthetic perspective – that the Arab II’s original tall bonnet looked far more balanced, and in keeping with its rugged, no-nonsense nature.

John Stringer


20/01/13 – 14:51

The bus station at Aldershot was opened in August 1933, and I believe that it was the only company owned bus station within the BET group. Sadly, it has now gone. The site is now occupied by residential development, and the replacement bus station is an austere affair near the railway station entrance.

Roger Cox


20/01/13 – 15:31

Omnibus Stations Ltd, a company jointly owned by North Western and Ribble owned Lower Mosley St Bus Station Manchester, also long gone.

Phil Blinkhorn


20/01/13 – 16:26

The Wilts and Dorset bus station in Endless Street, Salisbury is up for sale. When it is gone all the services using it will be decanted onto the surrounding streets to join the local services in an already congested City centre. Is this progress? No,it’s called asset stripping. Sorry to go off topic. I’m a great Dennis fan and on a sunny summer afternoon I sometimes cut my grass with my 1960′s Dennis lawnmower.

Paragon


20/01/13 – 17:56

I know it’s off topic, unless the lawnmowers were scale model prototypes for buses, dustcarts or fire appliances, but I’d no idea they were still being made as recently as the 60′s. I saw one at Amberley on one occasion, several years ago.
To be fair, Paragon, I visit Salisbury every couple of months or so, to exercise my "dodders’ pass". Salisbury Bus Station is in dire need of fairly extensive refurbishment, at least. Is it purely asset stripping, or is it another of those odd instances where the site is sold and then leased back? Is the aim to clog Blue Boar Row, Endless Street and New Canal even more than they are already as a permanent feature, so even more shoppers will be discouraged from visiting, and go out of town or use mail order/internet shopping instead? You’re right. It is NOT progress!

Pete Davies


21/01/13 – 06:12

………with supercharger, no doubt, Paragon!

Chris Hebbron


21/01/13 – 06:13

Paragon, Is it a petrol mower?


21/01/13 – 06:14

Pete, the Dennis lawnmower business was sold off by Hestair, which also disposed of the Mercury truck business. However, Dennis lawnmowers are still made, albeit by the Derby firm of Howardson. See http://www.dennisuk.com/history/

Roger Cox


21/01/13 – 06:16

With reference to Roger’s comment (20/01) about BET-owned bus stations . . . how about: Cleckheaton, Dewsbury, Batley – YWD (or corporation?; Newcastle Worswick Street, Northern; Scarborough Westwood, and Bridlington, EYMS; Skelhorne Street (Liverpool) and Carlisle, Ribble; Ammanford, James; Haverfordwest, Western Welsh; and this is now getting too far south for clear recollection – didn’t Southdown own a bus station at either Lewes or Uckfield? (one of the few instances of Southdown using their own premises – on the grounds that they’d already paid road tax to use the public roads, so why pay again to provide their own terminal facilities off-road). And then again what is a bus station – didn’t BMMO use its Stourbridge garage as a "bus station" of sorts?

Philip Rushworth

Oops, I forgot! Didn’t M&D own two bus stations in Maidstone until the early ’70s?


21/01/13 – 06:18

As has been mentioned, body builders weren’t quite sure what to do with the new-fangled underfloor-engined chassis. A few builders seem to have noticed that, unlike half cabs where the front and rear were very different, it was possible here to build in features which emphasised the symmetry of the new shape. A flat side view of this Dominant in its original form would show this symmetry in the ‘wings’, and perhaps something similar was attempted in the mouldings above, but they didn’t quite have the nerve to carry it through. The whole idea was, of course, a big mistake, because a bus/coach is not a static object but something that moves FORWARD!

Peter Williamson


21/01/13 – 14:25

The BET Group North Western Road Car Co also owned many of its bus stations – Macclesfield, Oldham, Altrincham, and Northwich for sure. This was fairly common practice among area agreement companies of any size. More interesting perhaps (to me at least!) are the independent operators who had their own bus stations – Birch Brothers’ Rushden facility springs to mind along with Blair & Palmer’s East Tower Street premises in Carlisle.

Neville Mercer


21/01/13 – 14:26

Yes it is a petrol mower. The engine was made by another great British engineering company now long gone, Villiers of Wolverhampton. I use a modern Dennis on our bowling green, superb quality but unfortunately powered by a trouble-free Japanese engine, just like my car. Where did we go wrong? No. Don’t lets get started on that.

Paragon


22/01/13 – 06:52

Villiers was a long established company in small engines for motor-cycles and lawnmowers. In the early 1980s, they produced a 2-stroke engine for lawnmowers with Mountfields. Unfortunately, this was a disaster and led to the demise of the company.

Jim Hepburn


22/01/13 – 11:07

Mention of Villiers reminds me of a Fanny Barnett motorbike I had, briefly, in the 1950′s. It was a distress purchase from a friend, when my trusty Ariel broke down, and was soon sold on. A similar distress purchase was a Wartburg, also briefly owned. I was not a lover of two-strokes, although, of course, I exclude the Commer TS3 engine!

Chris Hebbron


22/01/13 – 12:26

Chris, my dad and I drove a 1967 Wartburg Knight from Stockport to Rome and back in the summer of 1967 with my mum and two sisters.
Fuelling was a two stage process which we thought might cause problems once we left French and German speaking countries. The first fuel stop in Italy at Aosta we were approached by a typically dressed Italian widow, all in black. I handed her a note in Italian stating what we needed. Her reply was "Awight Duck, nah problem I’ll get ma son ta fill y’ap all cushty".
Turns out that, though she was Italian, she’d lived in London from 1920 to 1965.
The Wartburg was faultless, its 998cc engine tackling Alpine passes with 5 adults on board as brilliantly as it managed the autobahns and the Autostrada del Sole.

Phil Blinkhorn


22/01/13 – 14:11

I know others who share the positive view of the old Wartburg. I also know people who swore by – not at – their Comecon Skodas. As a dyed in the wool VW person (from Beetle onward) I am a very happy modern Skoda (VW in sheeps clothing) owner – despite recent comments by Phil. Just bought a new one at the weekend – so haven’t worn it out yet!

David Oldfield


22/01/13 – 17:04

Wife had a fourth hand Comecon Skoda in the late 1970s. Rubbish body ended up 50 shades of mustard but the engine and transmission were fantastic as, I’m told, were their PSVs which I have ridden on from time to time over the last 40 odd years.
BTW my latest Skoda troubles with the bonnet lock follow on from a leaking water pump and damaged timing belt at 38,000 miles. Have had partial compensation from Skoda but they are hardly my favourite people at present.

Phil Blinkhorn


23/01/13 – 15:49

There was a lot of snobbery about Comecon products fostered by the likes of Clarkson and Co. who rarely have to pay for their motoring. Saab won the Monte Carlo Rally using a 3 cylinder 2 stroke engine just like the Wartburg. My daughter had a Comecon Skoda for a couple of years. I had to replace the water pump but other than that it was totally reliable. She then wanted a more fashionable Seat-disaster. For nearly 40 years I have ridden East German MZ motorcycles, I’m on my second one now. Practical, easy to maintain – just like we used to make in this country.

Paragon


HOU 900_lr Vehicle reminder shot for this posting


06/03/13 – 06:57

A slightly late comment on Roger’s excellent article and the mention of the "hump" in the chassis rails – which was actually on the nearside only, over the engine and certainly no higher than the raised sections over front and rear axle. The contemporary press were most unforgiving and scathing with their comments about the uneven surface. Strangely, other manufacturers with even worse "humps" escaped such criticism. I have always thought that quite possibly the press were encouraged by the likes of AEC and Leyland who were marketing their chassis (Regal IV, Royal Tiger) with the expectation that the provided outriggers would be used as pick up points for the vertical body frames and floor. The truth was of course that many body builders simply ignored the top level of the chassis and used substantial cross bearers as a foundation for floor and body where required. Certainly though, this issue pointed the way to the later dead flat chassis on Reliance, Tiger Cub and Lancet UF, to name but three.

Nick Webster


06/03/13 – 16:44

Thanks for your very informative comment, Nick. I am sure that you are right in your suspicions that the ‘big two’ massaged the publicity machine of the commercial press to wound the sales of the Dominant. During WW2, notwithstanding the supreme peril of the nation, Rolls Royce, with its eye on post war dominance, tried every trick to get the Napier Sabre aero engine cancelled, and much of the unbalanced criticism of that engine that still holds sway today derives from that campaign. Dennis engineering was of a high order, but the trouble with the Dominant (and the later Lancet UF) was the dependence upon the old ‘O’ type gearbox once the Hobbs transmission had proved to be unreliable. That gearbox, with its sliding mesh engagement for indirect gears, and the preselective overdrive that required familiarity for successful operation, together with the wrong way round ‘right to left’ gate, required some skill in use when located halfway along the length of an underfloor engined chassis. If Dennis had equipped the Lancet UF from the outset with a straightforward constant mesh five speed gearbox as it did with the Loline, then the sales might well have been more of a challenge to AEC and Leyland.

Roger Cox


06/03/13 – 18:13

Roger, without wanting to drift too far off topic, there may well be truth in what you say about Rolls Royce but there is no doubt that the 24 cylinder H block Sabre suffered from complexity and poor quality control from the start which, had it emerged through a time of peace would have been solved.
In time of war where reliability was all,it was too unreliable compared to the less powerful Merlin and probably too complex for the Erks to deal with as the war moved swiftly forward through Europe with minimal facilities at the forward bases where the Typhoons and Tempests found themselves in the ground attack role, the Sabre, for all its power being uncompetitive in dog fights above 21,000 feet. Post war there was little for the Sabre to power as air forces turned to jet and turboprop power.

Phil Blinkhorn


08/03/13 – 07:30

Phil, the legend of the Sabre’s ‘unreliability’ dies hard. The most convincing and clearly documented assessment of this engine may be found in the book "The Power to Fly" by the extraordinary author LJK Setright. This site, as you rightly point out, is not the forum for aero engine debates, but the facts about this remarkable engine show the traditional, Derby briefed view to be highly jaundiced. To quote Setright: "..when properly maintained instead of being criminally bodged (a reference to the widespread practice of tampering with the automatic boost control by mechanics at several airfields to achieve even higher outputs and thus airspeeds) it was exemplary in its reliability". Production of Typhoons totalled 3300, and that of Tempest V/VIs reached 942. Engine production would have well exceeded the 4242 airframe total. Those figures could not have been achieved by an untrustworthy piece of engineering. It’s high time that the Derby manipulated Sabre legend was despatched once and for all. Meanwhile, back at OBP…..

Roger Cox


 

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Aldershot and District – Dennis Lance K4 – LOU 40 – 212

Aldershot & District - Dennis Lance K4 - LOU 40 - 212
Copyright Roger Cox

Aldershot and District Traction Company 
1953
Dennis Lance K4
East Lancs L28/28R

This picture was taken in Woodbridge Road, Guildford, about 1961, and shows one of the 32 "tin fronted" Dennis Lance K4 buses unique to the Aldershot and District Traction Company. The first 20 of these had East Lancs L28/28 bodywork of the type shown, and the final 12 were bodied by Weymann with a version of the Orion, again seating 56 with 28 on each deck. The Gardner 5LW engines in these buses were removed from withdrawn Lancets of 1940 vintage, but were rebuilt and updated to the latest specification to virtually new standard. As usual with A&D buses, these vehicles had five speed gearboxes. I never drove one of these, but I understand that, with their slow revving (1700 rpm) 94 bhp engines they were less than lively, and not popular with the Aldershot and District driving staff, who christened them "Lulus" from their registration letters. The motorcycle and sidecar combination overtaking the bus is entirely characteristic of those times and something that is never seen today. I cannot identify the make of motorbike, but it is certainly something of a veteran itself as it has girder type front forks.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox

———

26/06/11 – 11:32

The same nickname was given by Samuel Ledgard staff to ex London RT LLU 803 – her thunder was somewhat stolen though by the later arrival of some RTLs with the same "Christian name."
Despite the cumbersome and leisurely progress of the A & D Dennis Lance I have to say that it is an extremely attractive vehicle indeed – the characterful destination display and the beautiful livery of that operator being the icing on the cake.

Chris Youhill

———

26/06/11 – 19:59

Aldershot and District always had a small engine policy, and it is difficult to understand why the Lance K4 should have been singled out by certain staff for a modest performance. The pre war Lances with the high set radiator style (as on the Lancet II and III) were delivered with Dennis four cylinder sixteen valve O4 engines of 6.5 litres giving 82 bhp. Most of these early Lances were later rebodied and refitted with 5LW engines, and the wartime Guy Arabs also had the 5LW powerplant. The first postwar ‘deckers were Lance K3s with the Dennis O6 of 100 bhp, and these were lively, smooth running buses, and the following K4s of the type shown above must have seemed much more sedate by comparison. Then came Lolines powered by the 6LW engine, and it is probable that, by a certain point in time and within the experience of some drivers, the Lance K4s were the only double deck buses in the fleet still using the 5LW. My experience of the K4 as a passenger indicated that its road performance was fully up to the general standard of the time.

Roger Cox

———

27/06/11 – 11:48

Happily, Tim Stubbs and Malcolm Spalding rescued sister ship A&D K4 220 some years ago, and it has been a regular at running days and other events for at least seventeen years. I’ve had the very good fortune to be on the driving rota, and it really a most characterful bus, with the reassuring thump of the 5LW and the unique 5-spd gearbox, with 1st, 2nd and 3rd sliding (not constant)mesh and preselective overdrive. The cab is not a model of comfort or convenience, but the steering is a joy. Brakes are vacuum over hydraulic, and seem to need frequent adjustment but are wonderfully progressive in action.
Seating is 28 on each deck. On top, counting from the front, the seats are for 4, 4, 3, 4, 3, 4, 3 and 3. Even on a 27-long body eight rows upstairs was still less common than seven on mid-fifties lowbridge bodies but—as on contemporary Roe lowbridge products—the back seat upstairs is set as far back as it can be without compromising staircase headroom, so there’s plenty of knee room between seats.
She’s admittedly slow in hilly country, but will do 48mph on the flat and on a well-chosen route puts the miles behind her surprising quickly.
Tim’s K3 of 1950, with the Dennis O6 engine, is 6" narrower and a foot shorter but is actually slightly heavier than the K4. Unlike the 5LW, the amazingly smooth O6 is a spinner, not a slogger. The difference in engine gives the two otherwise very similar vehicles a totally different character. The 5LW demands a well-adjusted clutch-stop, but the lighter flywheel of the O6 makes it unnecessary for upward changes—except 1st to 2nd on hills.
These two vehicles are wonderful survivals, and it’s a pity that none of the lightweight (and apparently very lively) Weymann Orion-bodied K4s survived. When I first saw one at Reading Station the pop-rivets put me off. How could my schoolboy judgment have been so flawed!
There should be Dennis delights at Alton Running Day, Hampshire, this July the 17th, and the big event is 100 years of Aldershot&District at Farnborough, Hants, Sunday May the 27th 2012.

Ian Thompson

———

28/06/11 – 06:24

Ian, I lived in Farnborough, Hants, for nine years from the mid sixties, by which time the Loline reigned supreme in the A&D double deck fleet, and I had a spell at Aldershot depot as a driver before returning to the admin side of the bus industry at Reigate. Although I have travelled as a passenger on the A&D K3 and K4 Lances, and my knowledge of Dennis buses goes right back to 1946 to 1949 when, as a child, I used to travel with my mother on the pre war O4 engined East Kent Lancet IIs between Faversham and Herne Bay, I have never driven a Lance or a Lancet. I have always had a strong regard for traditional Dennis machines, and Dennis were the only British manufacturer to put oil engines with four valves per cylinder into quantity production. Crossley made a wartime prototype "four valver" that performed well, but when Saurer asked for a royalty or licence fee for the use of its combustion chamber design, Crossley hastily redesigned the engine as a "two valver" with catastrophic consequences for reliability and performance. I am envious your driving sessions in these old Dennis buses, and it is wonderful to see them in preservation. My own short lived foray into the preservation scene was as part of a group that saved the Dennis Ace YD 9533. The costs of restoration became prohibitive, and we sold it on, and it is now thankfully a regular on the rally scene. The Ace was certainly an interesting machine to drive with its central accelerator pedal! I now live in East Anglia, but I will certainly bear in mind next year’s Aldershot and District centenary

Roger Cox

———

28/06/11 – 11:38

Roger, I’m equally envious of your youthful rides on 04-engined Lancets. From what I’ve heard, they were livelier than one might expect from only 6.5 litres. I believe one is preserved and I very much hope one day to have a ride on it. I used to think the days of four-cylinder engines powering full-size buses were behind us, but the new Alexander-Dennis diesel-electrics in Reading, Oxford and Manchester seem to manage very nicely with their little fours.
When I worked at Smiths in Reading there were still 04 engine bits in the workshop, although the last 04s were probably off the road by 1960.
The only Ace I’ve ever ridden on in genuine service took me from Yarmouth to Freshwater, Isle of Wight, but the sound was all wrong as it had a Bedford OB engine and gearbox.
I can see why Crossley had for legal reasons to hurriedly redesign the Saurer combustion chamber, but I wonder why at the same time they abandoned the 4-valve head? That surely wouldn’t have infringed any patents.
The Reading downdraught-engined Crossley deckers were certainly slow, with their UW of 8.3.1, and they tended, oddly, to be used on the hillier routes, but they lasted for 18 years, so the workshop must have got a feel for keeping them happy.

Ian Thompson

———

29/06/11 – 06:52

Ian, your comments on Dennis and Crossley machines has prompted me to add a few more. My memories as a four to seven year old might now be optimistically tinged with nostalgia, but I do recall the curious muffled drumming sound of the Dennis O4 engines, very different from the local Maidstone and District Tigers (petrol and diesel), but the progress was very smooth and lively. I loved those old Dennis Lancets, and the high mounted radiator offset to the nearside denoted a truly independently minded manufacturer. The later Lancet III was surely one of the finest vehicles of its time.
I have some b/w pictures of three Smiths of Reading Lancets that brought a private party to Hampton Court in 1961. I will send them to the site in due course.
Still with Reading, I have a few pictures of that operator’s all Crossley DD42/8 machines which, as you say, were fitted with the downdraught engine that represented AEC’s attempt to mitigate the abysmal characteristics of the HOE7. I took the pictures in 1967 by which time the Dennis Loline reigned supreme in the double deck fleet. Having moved to the Gosport area when I was nine years old, I frequently saw the Portsmouth Crossleys in service, but I never travelled on a bus of this make until 1958, by which time I was living in the Croydon area. This was the year of the seven week London bus strike, and an outfit grandiosely calling itself "The People’s League for the Defence of Freedom" obtained permission to run some routes during the stoppage. One of these was route 2 between Croydon and New Addington, and two of the four buses allocated were ex Lancaster Corporation all Crossley SD42 (the others were an ex Crosville TD7 and an ex Lytham St Annes CWA6). Admittedly the Crossleys were 11 years old by then, and always well loaded, but I was amazed by the truly mediocre hill climbing performance of these machines. I have a picture of HTC 614 at New Addington taken with my trusty Brownie 127, and will send it in sometime.

Roger Cox

———

29/06/11 – 06:58

The strange thing about the Crossley HOE engine was that they never cured, or bothered to cure, the breathing problems that became apparent with the conversion to two-valves per cylinder. Yet, when AEC took them over, the problem was sorted out quite quickly!

Chris Hebbron

———

29/06/11 – 19:41

Chris, judging by the comprehensive "Crossley" book by Eyre, Heaps and Townsin, the Crossley Motors company did not take kindly to external criticism, and any that was forthcoming merely served to strengthen the firm’s intransigence, a very curious attitude to adopt in a fiercely commercial environment. Thus, not only did it take no meaningful action to solve the shortcomings of the HOE7, but it appeared to resent the AEC solution that appeared as the downdraught engine, even continuing to supply unmodified HOE7 engines in new buses. A similar cussedness was displayed in respect of the steering geometry on all Crossley buses. A simple readjustment in design would have cured the exceptionally heavy steering characteristics, that, in the case of the three axled "Dominion" trolleybuses, bordered on the impossible, but Crossley would not shift its position. No wonder AEC got fed up.

Roger Cox

———

30/06/11 – 05:33

What amazes me about Crossley is the difference in attitude between their chassis and body departments. Whereas the chassis people stuck stubbornly to their own ideas come what may, their first standard postwar body was designed not by Crossley but by Manchester Corporation. The special Manchester features – curves, waistrail steps and cantilever platform – quickly became optional, and even the first Liverpool bodies were actually the de-Manchestered Manc design reworked as a four-bay body with a flat front, as required by the Liverpool spec. I don’t think Crossley ever designed a double-deck body from scratch at all, although their postwar framing system was all their own.

Peter Williamson

———

01/07/11 – 05:27

Thank you Roger and Peter, for mentioning the diverse attitude of the two parts of Crossley, one self-serving and the other accommodating towards its customers. As we know, a chain is only as good as its weakest link!

Chris Hebbron

———

03/07/11 – 19:54

Talking about Track routes to this day the Arriva service 268 Dewsbury- Bradford service is still referred as the Track although in tramway days the service only went as far as Moorend as did service G in bus days.The service 281 Bradford to Thornhill is always referred as The Donkey for obvious reasons.

Philip Carlton

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30/04/12 – 07:53

Roger, in his copy, records that these vehicles had five-speed gearboxes, but I seem to recall that they had four-speed boxes with overdrive. The driver would move the lever in a semi-circular way to gain overdrive. I only travelled on them from Woking to St. Peter’s Hospital, Ottershaw, a very flat route, so was never able to judge their hill-climbing capabilities. When living in Portsmouth, I did travel on the Petersfield – Guildford route as far as Milford on a couple of occasions, but that was on a Loline. I imagine that the Lances would also have been on that challenging route over the North Downs and I’d have loved to have ridden on them up there!
A childhood delight was going on holiday, around 1950, from Kingston – Southsea on a duplicate Southdown Leyland Cub coach. But I digress!

Chris Hebbron

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30/04/12 – 09:12

Oh, there you go – as Chris Youhill has said elsewhere, that’s the fun of this site. Digress away. After the pathetic failure that was yesterday’s Cobham/Wisley event, we may only be left with our digressions!

David Oldfield

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01/05/12 – 06:48

Well, the weather must have been appalling, if Gloucester was anything to go by, but were there other problems, too, David?

Chris Hebbron

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01/05/12 – 06:50

Chris, the Dennis gearbox was an overdrive unit, giving five gears in all. Overdrive was a preselective gear designed using Maybach principles. To engage from fourth, the gear lever was moved at any time, as with a conventional preselector, to the left and forward, and actual engagement occurred when the accelerator was released to allow the revs to die. When the accelerator was pressed again, fifth gear was already engaged. To change down, the lever was moved back to the fourth position, and engagement occurred when the accelerator was released and then pressed again to raise the revs for the fourth ratio. Sadly, I have never driven a Dennis with such a gearbox, though I have travelled many miles as a passenger on Lances and Lancets so equipped. Ian T is the expert when it comes to practical experience.

Roger Cox

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01/05/12 – 06:51

Is that Arthur and Olive from On the Buses just passing?

Philip Carlton

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01/05/12 – 19:27

We were discussing this on Sunday, Chris, saying that the organisers might use the weather as an excuse. The weather was atrocious – but that wasn’t the problem. Most of the "runs" were a circuit of the airfield – not a decent run on proper roads. The 499 to/from Weybridge Station was supposed to be half modern low-floor vehicles – it was even worse. More of them, supplemented by re-engined RMs. I have friends "high" in the industry who said after Dunsfold, and then this, they will no longer be supporting it. Likewise people in the business who are enthusiasts who brought their own vehicles from wide and far. We were charged £10 to enter, get soaked and find nothing to entertain us – and a further £2 for the programme. Sorry you got me going Chris, but it wasn’t the weather and, despite living up the hill, it won’t be in my diary next year.
Rant over, now let’s get on with friendly sharing of expertise and experience.

David Oldfield


 

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