Celebrating the products of AEC Southall Ltd, most famous as builder of London's buses.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 27, 2013 1:51 pm 

Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2012 4:44 pm
Posts: 171
The Leyland Motors line on subsidiares, contrasted with the LMC line.
Dear 9711T,
I m putting this as a new thread in the AEC section, although it is really about the formation of LMC and some of Leyland Motors activities before hand. You are of course right that Sir Henry Spurrier did not look at ways to obtain new development revenue. He felt that the way to do that, conventionally enough at the time, was to sell more chassis.
To say that Albion Motors were treated kindly is perhaps shorthand. I have Adams & Milligan’s ‘Albion of Scotstoun’ on my bookshelf and have read Sam McInstry’s more business-oriented ‘Sure As The Sunrise’ from cover to cover several times. They had to fight their corner incredibly vigourously to get the things they wanted from Leyland Motors in the rationalised post-1957 model range, notably, the go-ahead for the spiral-bevel hub-reduction axle, the sanctioning of the ‘long-door’ low-entry version of the Motor Panels LAD lorry cab and the continuation of the four-cylinder 5½ litre EN257 engine, rationalised shortly later with more Leyland features (nitrided bearings etc.) as the EN330 (the latter, following Leyland nomenclature, had a number denoting the swept volume in cubic inches). It was perhaps a feature of how hard the battle was fought that when these features were secured for the forthcoming CH-series Cheiftain, CL-series Clydesdale and RE-series Reiver Hugh Fulton, the Albion Motors MD and the last member of Albion’s founding families, resigned his post as Albion Motors’ MD and his other directorships within Leyland Motors on 5th April 1957; he was 51.
His sucessor (previously his deputy) was the forgotten man of the British motor industry, Stanley Markland. I have been trying for over a year to find his dates of birth and death, but to no avail so far. He took on another Managing Directorship in 1961 when Leyland Motors were persuaded to take over Standard-Triumph International Ltd, sold to them by the plausible Alick Dick without it seems any of what is these days called due diligence. Mr Markland, who was also deputy MD at Leyland under Sir Henry, had his work cut-out at Canley; the Herald small-car, as initially produced, was of poor build quality and appalling reliabilty, the Standard Atlas van (fitted with a 903cc engine, when Ford Thames, BMC, Bedford and Commer used 1.5 litre units) was woefully underpowered and undergeared thus quickly building up resentment resulting in poor sales and through-the-floor residual values. The large saloon Ensign and Vanguard line only sold to the Royal Air Force and the TR3 sports car was outdated and outclassed for its key US Market by the new Jaguar E-Type. Graham Robson, the car historian,has called Markland ‘the man who saved Triumph’: he sacked the bulk of the Dick-era sales, marketing and senior management team, cut production jobs by a quarter and sanctioned production of the Triumph Herald 1200, Spitfire 4, TR4 and 2000 cars and the 1.6 litre Atlas Major (later Leyland 15) van.
He was still returning STI to profitability when Sir Henry announced the share exchange with ACV. The terms of that deal were wrong with hindsight, but so was the acquisition of Standard-Triumph. A combination of these left Mr Markland out of the picture when Sir Henry became terminally ill. The former ACV shareholders felt they had the right to the chairmanship, this fell to the genial Sir W.R. (Bill) Black, a time-served coachbuilder, who was by then 72 years of age, and for the chief executive the LMC shareholders chose Stanley Markland’s arch-rival within the Leyland Motors set up, the ‘super-salesman’ Donald Stokes.
This left Stanley Markland with nowhere to go, and led in my opinion to the loss of the engineering integrity (Stokes used the phrase ‘value engineering’) that Leyland had stood for since 1896. Markland retired aged 60 in 1963. His eventual successor in an engineering director role within LMC was the rather academic AW ‘Bertie’ Fogg; recruited from the Motor Industry Research Association in 1964. He was right that more horsepower would be needed but wrong in the way he went about it. He gave the go-ahead for a Leyland-built lightweight turbocharged eight and a half litre straight-six engine for 130-250bhp with the novel feature of no cylinder head gasket, the cylinder head and cylinder bores cast as one. For 250-300bhp he sanctioned a Southall-built 12-13 litre range of normally aspirated V8 engines and (obviously seeing the footage from Le Mans) decided that for applications over 300bhp the future lay in the Gas-Turbine. Leyland bought Rover Ltd (and its Alvis subsidiary) in 1967, obviously the Land-Rover was the prize but Leyland Gas-Turbines Ltd was set up slightly after the takeover.
All three of these new engines failed, and in the wrong order. Re-equipping of machine tools was an almost unknown practice in British manufacturing industry at the time and it seems Southall was building the LMC engine of the future on equipment installed forty years before in 1926. A sales-driven LMC skimped on development time and the V8 Mandator, launched 1966, which like the equvalent O:680 powered Beaver had a Pneumocyclic transmission as standard, rapidly lost all operator confidence. This led LMC, by the 1970 launch of the BLMC Lynx to offer the 500-series in high powered variants without development. Incidentally at the same 1968 Commercial Motor Show as the 500-series was announced the Gas Turbine Truck was exhibited.
The 500-series in high-powered applications gave unprecidentedly-low (for Leyland) mileages before failure. This just as Volvo, Scania and Daimler-Benz began serious import operations into the UK. No funds were availble as Leyland had now to rescue the BMH group which was financially holed below the waterline, sapping all development funds. The Gas Turbine by the early seventies had a prolongled devlpment programme and was almost ready for production as the oil crisis hit… so to plan B, the 411, the TL12 and the TL11. Arguably these should have been plan A.
AB Volvo, like LMC, saw that head-gasket failures would proliferate at the higher gas pressures implied with turbocharging, but instead of designing-out the cylinder head joint, which made valve-clearance adjustment a nightmare and assement of the combustion area in the upper bore of the cylinder near impossible, they gave each bore its own gasket: thus the supremely reliable THD100 series which was launched at the same time as the BLMC 500-series...
Stephen Allcroft

PostPosted: Thu Nov 28, 2013 2:53 am 

Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2012 7:34 am
Posts: 39
Location: Mount Maunganui, New Zealand
Hello Stephen:

Thanks for the detailed background.

In respect of the 1958 medium weight Albion and Leyland models rework, I’ll freely admit that my comment about its being primarily an Albion benefit exercise was based upon analysis of the outcome, not the internal machinations involved. In respect of that, and based upon your observations, one may infer that Albion must had made a persuasive business case to get what it did.

I agree that the 500 engine, gas turbine and AEC V8 were blind alleys that could have been seen as such before the work was started. Of these, the V8 was the least risky, and in its defence one might say the 1960s decade was one in which vee engines were flavour-of-the-month, so as to speak, although with more disasters than successes. One thinks of the Cummins VIM and VINE, VAL and VALE as less successful examples, but at least Cummins did not abandon the development of its N-series in-line sixes. If Cummins, with its resources and prior vee engine experience, could not make a major success of the VINE, then there was not much hope that LMC could get there from a standing start with a similarly-sized engine. Mack and Scania, both with “big sixes” of limited block size (and allegedly related to the Leyland 600/680 family), opted to go the vee pathway for greater power outputs, but their respective sixes remained their mainstays.

That the O.680 core was capable of much further development and much higher power output was evidenced by what DAF did with the same basic design, and that pathway, if executed reasonably well, was really a “no-brainer” for LMC, one with an assured return and likely with not much more than teething troubles. Absent the V8, LMC would also have needed a bigger block six for the future. Whether the O.900 was remediable for that purpose I do not know, but unless it had some fatal flaws, it might have been a suitable starting point. At the bottom end of the range, the O.400 was probably amenable to progressive “pushing”. Leyland itself had a gap in the middle, for which two solutions would have been apparent. One would have been to develop a 6-cylinder version of the Albion EN335 4-cylinder engine, which would have come out at 501 in3. How well that might have turned out is hard to say; I understand that the four did have some “British parsimonious” features such as narrow intermediate main bearings that would not have endeared to export customers. The other, following the AEC acquisition, would have been to start from the AEC A410/470 block. Of course this was partially done with the 1964 A471/505 version, but here the motivation appears to have been primarily remedial, and the engine was not brought up to full “Power-Plus” standard. By that time I think that the 500 was in development, and presumably LMC did not want to be competing with itself. Had the AV505 been more like an O.500, then perhaps Leyland might have offered it as an option to the derated O.600 in its Badger and Retriever models, both of which used the AEC D197 gearbox. But it did not, instead staying with the rather stopgap form of these models until the 500-based range was available (whose gearboxes appeared to stem from the D197 design.)

Getting back to the 1958 medium weight activities, the first round involved the Albion Chieftain, Albion Clydesdale and Leyland Super Comet. The Chieftain CH3 and Clydesdale CD21 were virtually new chassis, with the long door version of the LAD cab. The Chieftain got a modestly updated 4-cylinder engine, the full upgrade not arriving until the Chieftain II CH3A in 1959. The Clydesdale got the “new” O.375 engine, but this was essentially an enlarged O.350 Mk III, as previously used on some earlier Clydesdale variants. The Clydesdale no longer had a 4-cylinder option, though. Hydraulically operated clutches were new to these models, but not to Albion, as such had been used previously on the underfloor-engined Claymore and Nimbus models. Both got the new GB241 gearbox and the new hub reduction drive axles. The Chieftain had hydraulic brakes with a Hydrovac servo, the latter being new to this model but with previous Albion use on the Claymore and Nimbus. The Clydesdale had full air brakes with diaphragm actuators, derived from those first used by Leyland on the Tiger Cub. This was a major change, as previous Clydesdales had had vacuum-assisted hydraulic brakes using the erstwhile Clayton Dewandre air-suspended master servo.

The Super Comet 14SC used a beefed-up Comet chassis, which readily accommodated the short-door LAD cab. Engine, hydraulically operated clutch, gearbox, standard drive axle and air brakes were as on the Clydesdale CD21. The optional two-speed drive axle had electric operation, as on the Tiger Cub, but new to the Comet range.

At this stage, the Comet ECO2 and ECOS2 models remained largely unchanged, although they did gain the GB241 gearbox in place of the previously used GB236/240. The latter was not phased out completely, though, as it was still used on the Aberdonian MR11 through to its demise in 1960, with the GB236 lasting until the end of Tiger Cub production. The ECOS2, but not the ECO2, also gained an O.375 engine option at this time.

In 1959 the Reiver and forward control Comet were updated. The Reiver was again virtually a new chassis, with the long-door LAD cab, O.375 engine (no 4-cylinder option), hydraulically operated clutch, GB241 gearbox and hub reduction drive axles. The 6x2 version was, I think a new option; the 6x4 incorporated a rather anachronistic pillow-block tandem drive arrangement in place of the previous through-drive. Initially, the previous simple balance-beam suspension was carried over, the non-reactive type not arriving until the “A” suffix versions in 1960. The braking system was new, being of the Bendix air-actuated hydraulic type (although not a stellar example of same) that Clayton Dewandre was promoting at the time.

The Comet CS3 was basically the ECOS2 face-lifted with the short-door LAD cab. It also gained the hydraulic operated clutch and hub reduction standard drive axle, and the two-speed option was now electrically operated not vacuum operated. The brakes were updated somewhat, with a Hydrovac remote servo (new to Leyland practice, I think) replacing the previous master servo, and with individual rather than a single central rear wheel cylinders. Leyland presented the Hydrovac servo as a major feature, but for the export market at least, the Reiver air-over-hydraulic system would surely have been a better choice. But the retrogressive domestic market was not to be denied. At the time, the Airpak servo, essentially the air pressure counterpart to the Hydrovac, had not reached the UK despite being extant in the USA and elsewhere. It was not until late 1960 that Clayton Dewandre and Lockheed released it in the UK, and it did it become an option on the CS3, although I do not know exactly when. (I have a 196205 brochure on the AWD 4x4 version of the CS3 in which it is listed as an option.) Apparently the only additional change made to the Comet ECO2 (Briggs cab, semi-forward control) was the change from vacuum to air pressure operation for the two-speed axle option. In a 195907 specification, it retained the mechanically operated clutch, three-piece spiral bevel single-speed drive axle, and the original Comet braking system. That drive axle remained in production for quite some time, for the Tiger Cub bus chassis and the Comet bus chassis through to and including the 13C-P.

During 1958, the Victor and Clydesdale bus chassis were also majorly updated, the former to more-or-less align with the Chieftain and the latter with the Clydesdale truck, but I have not traced the exact details. The Victor also had the option of the O.350 Mk III engine; I am not sure if that had arrived earlier with the outgoing model or not.

The Comet bus chassis skipped the CS3 iteration. I suspect that it stayed at the final ECOS2 truck level, except perhaps for a change to an electrically operated two-speed axle, until the 12C variant arrived in 1962.

In summary, there were big changes to the Albion range, but relatively minor changes to the Leyland Comet range.

Subsequent significant updates through 1966 were:

The reworked EN335 4-cylinder engine for the Chieftain in 1959.

The O.400 Power-Plus engine for the Clydesdale, Reiver and Super Comet in 1960, also the non-reactive suspension for the Reiver. (Albion did quite well in a year when the Leyland heavies were the main focus.)

The Albion Super Reiver in 1961, with full air brakes, unusually in British practice (trailers aside) combined with 8-stud wheels, thus following the examples of the Tiger Cub and Leopard L bus chassis. It also had recirculating ball steering (I am not sure if from the start or through an early update.)

The Leyland O.370 Power-Plus engine in 1961, going into the Comet CS3 and the Albion Victor bus chassis.

The Albion Chieftain Super Six in the early part of 1962, with the O.370 engine, recirculating ball steering and an air actuated hydraulic braking system similar to that of the Reiver. (Wot – no vacuum option!)

The Comet 12C in mid-1962, with full air brakes and 8-stud wheels, following the example of the Super Reiver, but still using more-or-less the original forward control chassis.

Multispeed versions of the GB241 gearbox in 1964, initially the crawler version with the splitter version added by the year end.

The Albion Super Clydesdale CD65 in 1964, 16 tons gvw with Ergomatic cab and upgraded brake actuating system. (This in an AEC benefit year, too. But the Super Comet had to wait for the Ergo cab treatment.)

In 1966, an Ergo-cabbed Super Comet and as an additional model, the Albion Super Reiver 20, with 10-stud wheels.

So I’d say that Albion did quite well in the update department, as well.

As mentioned, 1964 was an AEC benefit year. Its two main engine families came out of remedial school, and its Ergo-cabbed medium- and heavy-weight models were substantially new, whereas the Leyland heavies were not much more than recabbed. AEC continued though with its D197 and D203 gearboxes which had been new circa 1961. Strangely, it developed a 12-speed version of the D203 with air-operated splitter for use by Guy in its Big J series, but as far as I know it did not appear on any AEC models until it became an option on the export Marshal circa 1968. By then the export market, having tolerated “two-stick” Mandators and Mammoths for a while, was specifying Fuller Roadranger 13- and 15-speed units. LMC and its constituents stubbornly resisted the development of easily operated multi-speed gearboxes, despite the evidence that they were needed in the export market. It would seem that the contra-pull of the domestic market weighed heavily until the late 1960s. I suspect that the buoyant domestic demand following the major 1964 UK C&U regulation changes somewhat justified a domestic bias, as well as disguising the fact that the British industry was falling behind in technical and development terms.

Volvo certainly chose a much better pathway, and managed to do with its 9.6 litre engine what others did with 12 litres or so. Along with others, it did run into bore polishing problems with highly turbocharged engines in the 1970s, and although this could be and was designed away, there was also a quick fix available in lubrication terms.

One wonders what possessed Leyland to rescue Standard-Triumph, and to do so without adequate due diligence. I don’t think that there is any evidence, then or now, to show that heavy truck and bus makers fare better when they are part of a car company, although that might be true to some extent for the mass producers. In his “Standard” book, Graeme Robson notes that Stanley Markland and Sir Henry Spurrier had quarrelled about the succession plan, which resulted in the former’s resignation. Interestingly, and as an aside, the Vanguard III and Vanguard 6 were reasonably common in NZ, along with their predecessors. I well remember driving an early Vanguard I, with the ball-ended right-hand column shift, which operated an unusual arrangement in which the column shaft was effectively the selector rail. Once the mechanism as worn, it was possible to have 1st gear engaged with the shift lever stuck in neutral unless one was very deliberate in making the 1-to-2 shift three distinct movements. That trick mastered, it was actually quite slick, very amenable to quick double-declutch downshifts, and much better than other 1960s and 1970s cars with “three-on-the-tree” shifts that I drove.


PostPosted: Sat Nov 30, 2013 2:55 am 
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This is fascinating stuff, many thanks.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 03, 2013 4:55 pm 

Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2012 4:44 pm
Posts: 171
Dear 9711T,

The post 1957 Albion range (with the exception of the Claymore and the home-market bus chassis, these often wished on Scotstoun to curry-favour with the Scottish Bus Group: cf: my recent Wikipedia article on the Albion Lowlander) justified the business case made for them, thus the improvements made to the range and the investment made in the Scotstoun plant, including that rare thing a new assembly track, installed in 1966, were amply justified by the sales figures, never were Albion stronger than 1958-70 either in terms of profitability or sales.

Likewise Scammell were producing at record levels in the 1960s and not only gave Leyland the kudos of a specialist builder of ultra-heavies, but gave them a bespoke line of heavy vehicles (Highwayman, Handyman, Trunker and Routeman, and later the Crusader offering the customers who wanted this a choice of proprietary engines and gearboxes. Until a change in c & u rules in 1968 which mandated dual circuit brakes on artics (not easy to do with five wheels and the Atlas-based Scarab-four was a sickly puppy which died early), the mechanical horse, of the Scarab or the Michelotti-cabbed Townsman ranges, did good year on year business with British Rail.

Scammell did not cannibalise Leyland sales much but directly competed with Atkinson, Foden and ERF and also with the Guy Big J, which of course had the same cab as the Crusader and at least three other types of British Isles HGV (1968-76 Seddons and the much rarer Scottish Argyle and Irish Dennison, some ERF’s also using the cab and some Mainland European specialist makers if memory serves…) The cab concerned was the work of Motor Panels in 1966; who gladly took it on, having lost-out to GKN with the Ergomatic, although the last LADs also built by them were produced in 1972, all by then of long-door form and going on Clydesdales, Reivers, and the rare Bear in the Leyland Zoo. Dodge had dropped the short-door cab when the 500 series was launched. Cliff Elliot of Dodge had made the move to Guy, the Big J was his work. Post 1971, the last financial year of Albion Motors, there were some late ergo-cab Albions, but the rest of the Leyland (Scotland) haulage range until the end of Scotstoun chassis-building in 1986 had the Bathgate G-cab, whilst ergo-cab Albions had a down-specced version, the G-cab was a deluxe version for the Clydesdale and Reiver.

Ironically Motor Panels was sold by SS Cars to Rubery Owen in December 1939, according to a business history of Jaguar, because the cancellation of contracts with SS Cars from Hawker-Siddeley for the sub-standard Armstrong-Siddeley Albemarle bomber left SS Cars short of cash-flow; William Lyons had purchased Motor Panels the year before to provide standard steel bodies for SS Cars’ saloons; it was only the big-engined sports tourers that were called Jaguar then, and that was a model name: SS Cars Ltd was eventually renamed Jaguar Cars Ltd shortly after VE-day. Sir William’s relations with Rubery Owen obviously remained good, as the prototype Daimler Lorry produced in 1961-2 had a long-door LAD cab.

It is interesting to speculate why the EN900 range (so-called as it was built at Scotstoun and developed there) was not evolved for UK haulage applications, I think it was still optional on the Scammell Constructor range, but the Rolls-Royce C series was a preferred choice, there seemed sometimes a form of corporate amnesia in the Leyland Group. As you know the short-wheelbase OPSU3 Royal Tiger of 1951-6 was forgotten when the (perhaps it had a pre-production L3 code) 36ft Leopard was coded PSU3 , the seven litre E181 was discontinued early in 1952 when Central SMT took the last Titan PD1s, a revised version a year or so later would have given Leyland a way to meet the medium-weight AEC range head-on, and could have produced a Tiger Cub coach with a less marginal power to weight ratio and better torque at lower revs than the O:350: only real Leyland loyalists like Ribble and Southdown took repeat orders of Tiger Cub coaches, the open-minded customers who switched to the Reliance for coaching included Barton Transport, Wallace Arnold, West Riding and Lancashire United Transport (the four biggest independents in the UK), as well as BET fleets such as North Western Road Car and (after the de-listing by BET of Guy Motors as an approved supplier on grounds of first cost) Northern General, all conquest sales by ACV. By 1962 the EN900 series was most likely seen within Leyland as a railcar power unit, and the last of the British Railways Trans-Pennine units were being equipped with it, and this was very neraly the end of the BR Diesel Multiplue Unit Programme, but as you said, at the time vee-form engines were in fashion rather than big sixes. AEC’s equivalent AV1100 was not developed into a dry-liner version in the same way as the 690 and the 470 were morphed into the 505 and 760.

Leyland Motors invested in Scammell and Albion and made them into complementary manufacturers, contributing profits to the group, another feature definitely down to Markland was the rigorous costing of component production and a transfer-pricing regime throughout the group. This is why Albion became something of a drive-line profits centre and conversely why very few LAD cabs found their way on to Scammells. (I only recall a few Junior Constructors whose bonnet did not match the cab contour, and an early Gardner 6HLX-powered Trunker, that having a long door cab and an unusual application of a front-mounted horizontal engine.)

Contrast and compare with ACV, after the emergency re-design work on the Crossley HOE6 engine, which was done more to stem warranty claims and to retain spare parts business, with some operators re-powering their Crossley DD42’s as early as 1949 with Leyland E86 and Gardner 5LW units, than with an eye to the future of the marque, most of the Crossley drawing-office staff left, finding a home in late 1950 under Roe, ECW and Northern Coach Builders alumnus Bill Bramham on Anglesey with Saunders-Roe; you will be familiar with the ‘SARO Rivalloy’ body product that team produced. The last true Crossley design left Errwood Park in 1952, for Rotherham who would have still been buying Bristols if the law had allowed them to.

Much work on the Bridgemaster from 1952-6 was farmed out to Stockport, but the inspiration was clearly from Park Royal, busy with a London Transport Contract (for ‘the bus of the future’), the General Manager of PRV had arrived after nationalisation from ECW and the works manager of AEC from Bristol Commercial Vehicles; both had their names on Lodekka patents. This work on what ACV falsely puffed as ‘The World’s First All-Route Double Decker’ was the last hurrah for design at Stockport, as body production, mostly on AECs for Liverpool and Aberdeen, with Guys for Sunderland and Leylands for Stockport and Preston, adopted Park Royal framing designs and aesthetic preferences. After the six aluminium-framed Crossley Bridgemasters were completed in 1958 (one finished by Harkness of Belfast for the Belfast Corporation fleet) there were a few body contracts left but AEC were clearly going to let Crossley waste away, the management put in place after the takeover did not have the ability to retain the confidence of the work force and with many booming engineering businesses in the area, Avro for one, in the midst of the Vulcan nuclear bomber programme, workers simply resigned; the huge works standing near empty with the final batch of buses for Stockport Corporation uncompleted. The local municipal took the buses in part-built state and then procured the parts from unguarded Crossley stores and assembled them itself.
Before these Titans there had been a batch of Tiger Cubs for Stockport, which carried a winged device on the front very similar to the one fitted to PRV Monocoaches and Reliances, recently the preserved example had this removed for refurbishment, once the pop-rivets were drilled out of the Tiger Cub shield an AEC triangle was found lurking behind it.

Maudslay did some chassis assembly work after the discontinuation of their own range, but this was mainly late Mark III Regals: some badged Maudslay Mark III (ignoring their own Marathon Mk III) and Regents, a Brush-bodied batch ordered by Coventry and examples built for Merryweather & Co, who had switched to Maudslay from Albion for fire-appliance bases post-war. After about 1953, Alcester was used solely for axle manufacture. Even as late as September 1958 with neither Warwickshire or Cheshire factories capable of building a chassis ACV sales still had the chutzpah to badge vehicles as Crossley and Maudslay to get extra space at the Commercial Motor show.

ACV, LMC and BLMC used Castle Maudslay at Alcester (est 1943) as an axle plant until the mid 1970s: they sold it (probably as a result of the Ryder report) to Rockwell Corporation. When Rockwell Inc. later divested its land-vehicle operations to a management buy-in, serendipitously they named the company Meritor: a Maudslay model-name prior to the ACV takeover.

Thornycroft on its buy-over in 1961 immediately had all its design staff made redundant. The loss of Alan Townsin to manufacturing industry was arguably a greater gain to transport and engineering history, and his issues of Buses Illustrated are still a joy to read, notwithstanding all his other contributions over the years. Thornycroft engine manufacturing ceased, as did their general haulage range, only the (Rolls-Royce powered) super heavies and airport fire tenders remained in production at Basingstoke, although the six-speed constant mesh gearbox was adopted as an ACV and then an LMC component, and assembly of the Dumptruk line was moved to Hampshire from Middlesex by 1964, presumably the constant-mesh gearbox went the other way.

Park Royal had bought over Charles H Roe prior to their absorption into ACV, but PRV left well alone when Roe designs were asked for, the last teak-framed double deck bodies were delivered in 1968, and ACV sales found a useful niche for Roe between big (mainly Yorkshire) municipal orders building dealer-stock Reliance coaches for immediate delivery throughout the 1954-60 period.

Verdict of history seems to be that ACV wasted the human and physical assets it took over whilst Leyland Motors rationalised and developed theirs. Albion were mass-producing premium lightweight HGVs for Britain and the world and basic export buses. Scammell had a niche, even when the product seemed directly competitive; the people who’d buy a Routeman would not have considered an Octopus, nor for that matter a Mammoth Major 8, so every sale was a conquest from Foden, ERF, Atkinson or Guy.

Through the correspondence columns of Classic Bus I have been trying to establish an all-time global top ten of bus production. The current top five is headed by Hungary. Viz:

1. Ikarus 260 72,547
2. Ikarus 280 60,093
3. Bedford SB 45,000
4. GM ‘Old Look’ 38,091
5. GM ‘Fishbowl’ 33,413

So always assuming the rather neat figure from Luton is correct (the ball-park must be right), then General Motors is the free market leader, obviously the SB was NZ’s top bus of the last century. I wonder how many of the GM Truck & Coach ‘Transit Coaches’ went to replace trams in companies GM Corporation had purchased? I suspect fewer than a thousand, although GM Corporation’s buy-over of ‘the interurbans’ still stokes conspiracy-fires throughout the USA. Interstingly there was one Morris FF bodied as a service bus for a UK operator, this was a Wadham bodied bus for Liss & District, it was the same firm who built the now-preserved Morris Motor Works Band observation coach. BMC seemed to be unable to secure a UK dealer for the type, but it was facing the Bedford SB, Commer Avenger and Ford Thames Trader 570E. Odd how it did so comparatively well at the other end of the earth, although some Singapore operators also purchased it.

Was the introduction to Michelotti the only positive outcome for Leyland of the Triumph takeover? One thing seems clear, Stokes when he became both Chairman and Chief Executive on Lord Black of Barrow-in-Furness’ retirement in 1966 definitely took Daimler-Benz as his benchmark and wanted LMC to be as big—and to become as big as AG D-B in every market they were in. The still-born P8 Rover, whose engine later went into the Leyland Australia P76, was explicitly designed as a competitor to the Mercedes 600, as was the Triumph Stag to the Mercedes 280.

According to Doug Jack’s The Leyland Bus (mark2) DAF NV got the rights to licence-build the O:680 and O:400 in 1967, they shrewdly negotiated a clause allowing them to independently-develop both, by 1990 the DAF LC1160, their evolution of the O:680 was, in intercooled variants, producing well over 330bhp in haulage applications, and 315bhp for coaches whilst the DHS, based on the original O:400 was producing 230bhp even in PSV applications. Had LMC been properly led and financed there is no reason why they could not have gone as far by then, however the TL11 stalled at 260 bhp by 1982 and the 412 was only around the 200bhp mark when in 1987 Leyland Truck was taken over by, of all people, DAF NV, leaving then independent Leyland Bus a year to switch to Cummins or Gardner power units as engine production ceased at Leyland.

Shortly after that Lord Stokes of Leyland (as he was by then) expressed some regret over the events of 1968, had he had his time over, he said, he would have let BMH go bankrupt and then bought over ‘the best bits’. One assumes that he meant the Jaguar group and perhaps Pressed Steel Corporation. DAF of course had sold off their car operation in 1975 to AB Volvo: they later sold their car brand and factories to Ford.

The Claymore and Nimbus were in many ways engineering-led rather than market-led designs, there was no real market for an ultra-lightweight 30 seater bus in the quantities that would make it viable, none other of the open market manufacturers even considered a purpose–built public service vehicle in that size range at the time: Dennis and Guy supplying modified lorries, although there were a handful of shortened Reliances after the Nimbus (some replacing them). Ford Thames and Bedford also simply modified goods chassis until the VAS (which was seen as an OB replacement) in 1962. Bristol’s SC was its way of preventing BTC fleets from ordering Bedford SBs for low-demand bus work. The SU (which used Nimbus / Claymore components) was specifically requested by the Western and Southern National companies after neighbouring BET-affiliate Devon General became one of the few fleet users of the Nimbus.

The fashion for underfloor engined HGVs in the UK was probably started by Sentinel, who had never built a vertical engine, all its external-combustion Waggons being of the undertype form, When it went diesel in 1946 its buses and coaches followed suit. The Sentinel was the first open-market underfloor engined bus and Ribble Motor Services intentionally needled Leyland by buying 20 Sentinel buses in 1949-50 and running them on routes passing the Leyland Factory.

The original Claymore (the first Leyland-Albion) had a front-mounted vertical engine, but it was superseded after a year in build by the underfloor-engined version, which, despite its shortcomings, was not killed off until 1965. However Leyland, through Albion, were not the only builders to essay the underfloor-engined lorry in the 1950s, there was the Guy Seal and the Dennis Stork and its Paravan pantechnicon offshoot, both failing to compete with the Claymore; less heralded but probably the best option in terms of reliability, Atkinson did a Gardner 4HLW engined lorry for the brewery trade. Not to be forgotten though, as well as all of its buses in the Federal Republic years having horizontal-engines; Büssing’s lorries did also, even into the 1970s and the MAN take-over; MAN—Büssing lorries were available with horizontal engines into the 1980s.

To unpack the 1960s fad for them, vee-form engines were attractive (on packaging grounds) like the UFE wagon, a three man cab and a meaty engine could both be accommodated and the advent of the tilt-cab made maintenance access to both cylinder banks and all the stuff between them a doddle, but it could be argued that only Perkins got continuing business from the 1960s into the 1970s from a four-stroke example aimed at the mainstream UK market.

A few years ago I read a business history of Rolls-Royce, IIRR from 1946-79: around 1964 both Jaguar (William Lyons beginning to get complaints about the characteristics of the Cummins VIM in the initial Roadliner (Potteries Motor Traction’s SN 6000 (6000EH) and a Fleetline placed with Sunderland and had decided not to enter a joint venture to build this and the VINE at the former Henry Meadows works at Wolverhampton, neighbouring Guy Motors) and Ford of Europe approached the R-R Diesel Engine Division, which was by then based at the former Sentinel Works at Shrewsbury, both with a requirement for a vee-form engine of 150-200bhp. The people at Shrewsbury took as their starting point the Crewe-based Motors Division’s new V8 petrol engine: Rolls-Royce Diesel rarely built engines out of anything other than aluminium-alloys and turbo charging was a standard feature: Ford required by 1966 that the engine carry Ford identification, and no R-R branding, thus R-R pulled out of their contract with Ford, Jaguar had by that time become part of British Motor Holdings and the engine not only had applications in Guy Big J lorries and the Daimler Roadliner but would also enable the Bathgate-built tilt-cab BMC FJ to be extended up the weight range. BMH chief executive George Harriman had already decided to take the Bathgate lorries into direct competition with Bedford and Ford who were also climbing into the heavy market, so he continued the work; one wonders if his engineering director, Sir Alec Issigonis knew: or even wanted to know: about it (his engine debacle, the BMC E-series, the only engine of Issigonis’ design to be produced, was just around the corner). A turbocharged 6.7 litre all-aluminium-alloy Rolls-Royce Diesel V8 was under bench-test at Wolverhampton at the time BLMC was formed. Repudiating the contract Sir Donald Stokes is quoted in the R-R history [rather hubristically as it turned out] as saying: “We are Leyland: we know about Engines.”

Of course R-R diesels were built on more modern plant than LMC’s: both in Hillington (Strathclyde)which specialised in generating, heavy-plant and tank engines and Shrewsbury which took the B-series petrol engines from Crewe and made the C-series diesel haulage line; the former plant being re-equipped from work on Merlins and Griffons in 1956 and the latter re-equipped in 1955 after the purchase of the Sentinel factory from its receivers. In 1966 as a speculative venture R-R Diesel also launched the 12.17 litre straight-six Eagle, a lighter-weight development of the C-series initially at 200bhp, and by 1970 220bhp, this became a favourite engine for the Scammell Crusader, the Guy Big J4T and heavier versions of the Seddon (the 32:four) all with the same Motor Panels cab, the three of them becoming the de-facto standard early 1970s 32-tonne haulage vehicle for the nationalised British Road Services. South Yorkshire PTE also took 320 220bhp versions of the R-R Eagle in its Dennis Dominators from 1981-87, some other Dominator and Metrobus customers taking the power-plant. It was eventually stretched to 350bhp but by then Vickers PLC who had taken the Motors and Diesel Engine divisions of R-R at a bargain price in 1971 after the state-intervention (due to the RB211 crisis) that kept the Aerospace division producing, had sold the Diesel Engine division to Perkins. The Perkins Eagle 350 was the engine of choice in many operators later Leyland Roadtrains. Vickers later merged with British Aerospace to form BAE Systems.

Ford-badged Perkins V8s were a feature of larger Ford D-Series until the model was discontinued. The Perkins-badged version was a feature of the larger versions of later Dodge 500 series, after the VAL and VALE were repudiated by customers and also the BMC-designed, Guy-chassied Bathgate Leyland Mastiff, which even had a PSV variant in the southern hemisphere, the MS1600RE. This being one of three UK-built PSVs to feature a rear-mounted Perkins V8, the others being 1968-70 Roadliners and certain examples of the Seddon Pennine V, including the only UK-registered example. Ironically the last Roadliners delivered (to Pretoria in 1972) were badged Leyland, those for SNCV in Belgium and the Spanish SRC6 bodied as a double–decker by Irizar had Guy Conquest badges: the Pretoria buses were all but one of the SRL8 Roadliner produced (the other was a show-chassis) and they had 13-litre BLMC [AEC] AV810 engines rated at 291bhp (presumably at sea-level as that sort of output and the equivalent torque was way beyond the capabilities of a Daimatic gearbox, Daimler thus relying on altitude to render the engine weak enough not to wreck the gearbox...)

Of course the Bathgate plant was to affect Scotstoun, and not in a good way.

Interestingly Iveco, DAF/VDL (and soon Scania as announced at the recent Kortrijk World Bus Xpo Europe) brand the Cummins ISBe6.7 as their own engine; this powerplant with its roots in 1984’s Cummins 6B (briefly marketed also as the Leyland 300 series) is manufactured at the Darlington (County Durham) plant originally established to build the Chrysler-Cummins VAL and VALE engines. The Euro 6 version of the four-cylinder B-series is now exclusively built in China.
Look forward to your further thoughts and everybody else’s.

Best Wishes
Stephen Allcroft

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