In about 1966 a handful of ex-Rhondda Orion-bodied AEC Regents with traditional radiator and Crossley synchromesh gearboxes joined the fleet of Smith's Coaches, Reading. Registrations began with NTG, but the numbers escape me. I always assumed they were Regent IIIs, but a reference somewhere makes me think they might have been Regent Vs. They were much nicer and more positive to drive than the ex-South Wales tin-fronted Regent Vs we had, which felt very spongy. They were particularly gooey on cold mornings, as if all the oil had turned to tar. The only redeeming feature was a nice burbling Ashanco exhaust brake---though I know these devices could cause sump oil loss and worse! Could anyone shed light on these buses, particularly the ex-Rhondda ones? Many thanks
Re Ian Thompson's query about ex-Rhondda Regents. The "Bus Lists on the Web" site has these as 282-7, NTG 135-40, AEC Regent III 9613S7758-63, new in 1954. There is scope for confusion about "Crossley synchromesh gearboxes". AEC's own synchromesh gearbox was well established by 1954, but many of them were built for AEC by Crossley, which had finished building chassis and had a huge factory not doing very much. Very few AECs were fitted with real Crossley gearboxes, which are usually referred to as "Crossley designed".
Many thanks to Peter Williamson for his very helpful answers. The gearbox in the ex-Rhondda Regent IIIs certainly sounded and felt different from that in the ex-South Wales Regent Vs, and seemed to have a wider 3rd-4th ratio, so I must get digging in Alan Townsin's Blue Triangle (Venture 1994) to see whether he can give any clues. When the Rhonddas arrived, with their soulless Orion bodies dunked in a bath of red paint, I thought they were a poor substitute for the Roe-bodied ex-Halifax and Leeds d-ds that they were beginning to replace, but I did develop a certain affection for them!
Trent took some Regents and Regals in 1950 (their last) with Crossley synchromesh gearboxes, the 20 Regals were designated 6821X and the 10 Regents were 9612X. They achieved full service lives although it is written that they were unpopular with drivers due to the slow and awkward gear change. Would these have been 'pure' Crossley boxes?
AEC introduced the 9613A (crash or constant mesh) as an alternative to the 9613E (preselect) for BET. The manual alternative was attractive to many other operators - including Sheffield Transport, who immediately put in orders from 1952 delivery. AEC was having difficulty with the reliability of their own early synchromesh and the first few batches were delivered as 9613A and retro-fitted as 9613S when AEC had ironed out the problems. Trent had 9613X with (true) Crossley boxes but the other comment makes perfect sense. AEC used Crossley to test bed the Bridgemaster and it also makes sense that they might use Crossley expertise and capacity for their own synchromesh box. Neither is it inconceivable that, if it worked well, AEC simply appropriated the Crossley gearbox as their own. [Well they did own the company, didn't they?]
Comments regarding the above are more than welcome please get in touch via the 'Contact Page' or by email at
Old Bus Photos from Saturday 25th April 2009 to Wednesday 28th September 2016