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

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PostPosted: Sat Dec 07, 2013 12:20 pm 

Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2012 4:44 pm
Posts: 171
I am indebted mainly here to the work of Paul Adams and Stuart Milligan in their Albion Of Scotstoun, published by the Albion Vehicle Preservation Trust in 1999 and also to Doug Jack’s The Leyland Bus (Mark 2) published in 1984 by the Transport Publishing Company of Glossop and Harry Barker’s The Alexander Y type story 1961-2011 (Venture, Glossop, 2011).

Home Market Buses would end, a new market missed…

As early as April 1947, almost four years prior to the 1951 consensual take-over by Leyland Motors, the Albion Motors board, led by 37 year old new MD Hugh W. Fulton, son of one of the founders, had decided to order no further dropped frame longitudinal chassis members from their suppliers once outstanding demand was exhausted for the CX-series bus chassis requiring them (Valkyrie four-cylinder single deck bus, Valiant six-cylinder single deck coach and Venturer six-cylinder double-deck bus). Thus after the last Venturer (now owned by Glasgow Museums Service) was bodied in 1953 the surviving examples of the Albion-designed bus and coach range were straight-framed; the HD61 Viking (a PSV version of the 9.9 litre engined HD57 Lorry) and the FT39 Victor, the PSV version of the FT37 Chieftain lorry, both of these featuring the 4.88 litre 85bhp EN286 engine. Underfloor engined versions of both Chieftain and Victor (the FT31 and FT33) featuring a horizontal EN286 engine had been drawn-up by 1948 and thus Albion could have produced an underfloor engined lightweight bus by 1949, a year before the big-builders’ heavyweight UFEs and fully three years prior to the Tiger Cub and four before the Reliance. See my Flickr photostream for my rather crude coloured pencil drawings of a prototype and production FT33.

The KP experiments, a super-powered bus and coach, neither for sale.

An odd diversion was the research contract committed-to by Albion in 1948 at the commission of major customer South African Railways, this required high-output normally aspirated engines and a modular series of horizontal engines were devised using the cylinder bore dimensions of the EN286 engine. These engines were of the horizontally-opposed layout, designated the KP series, with swept volumes as low as 2.44 litres (air-cooled) in the EN301 and as large as 14.64 litres in the EN1200. Whilst the 240bhp 12-cylinder diesel version was tested by Albion in the KD23 6x4 lorry (the petrol version was too thirsty to leave its test-bench at Scotstoun) in its own distribution fleet, prior to its despatch to SAR; two eight-cylinder versions of the engine were fitted to the only independently Albion Motors-designed underfloor engined PSVs built. These were coded KP71NW. Both were bodied by Scottish Aviation of Prestwick, Ayrshire, and had the eight cylinder version, the 9.76 litre 150bhp EN800, for parts-standardisation reasons the first example of this engine had crank pins at zero and 180 degrees, giving it the performance and (lack-of) refinement of a big four. It actually ran so for a while as bodied B40D with rear entrance and extreme front exit and demonstrated to Glasgow Corporation. It was converted to the later model of EN 800 and licenced to Glasgow Corporation in 1952 as FYS495 numbered BS1, known as ‘Bessie’ it worked from Knightswood garage on Clydebank area local routes until 1959. The second KP71NW was delivered to Western SMT registered BSD470 with thirty reclining seats and a central sliding entrance door. It was built as new with the revised EN 800 with 90 and 270 degree crank-discs, the use of roller-bearings and fabricated crankshafts was a venturesome undertaking for a firm as small as Albion; RHP provided the roller bearings, Saurer advised on fabricated crankshafts. The KP71 frames may have been straight in elevation but they swept out massively in plan to accommodate the flat-eight engines. The radiators were at the front, and the engine, like the Volvo THD 100, was of dry-sump layout, the lubricating oil tank and the engine being linked to an Albion-patented centrifugal oil-filter. This one assembly earned Albion useful patent revenue. BSD 470 had the last Scottish Aviation PSV body, by the end of March 1953, working from Kilmarnock on London-Glasgow overnight diagrams it had done almost a year’s service and covered 33,000 miles at an average of 14.6mpg. (from other sources I understand that the preselective AEC Regal IVs averaged 9.1, however the KP71 did not have a toilet compartment and was most probably not scheduled for all the stops on the run, non-stop running for at least part of the way thus biasing its figures) when in late 1953 the ‘Coronation’ Guy Arab UF’s arrived it was transferred to touring work and the direct-drive fifth gear was “blocked-off” (I think that means its position in the gate was made unavailable for selection rather than anything more complicated): like Barton’s Dennis Loline it attracted more than its fair share of speeding tickets. (Then no bus or coach was meant to exceed 30 mph.) After two years in Western’s tours fleet it was returned to Albion in 1955, Albion kept it in Western’s white and black coach livery but with Albion fleet names and used it for staff transfers between Yorker and Scotstoun until 1967, then they sold it to Millburn Motors, the Lanarkshire Leyland-Albion concessionaire, a customer of theirs bought it and converted it to a mobile home, it was purchased for preservation in 1972, it is still extant but is not yet restored. The 12-cylinder KD23 lorry did scheduled work, generally with a drawbar trailer, in half the time of lorries of equivalent payload for SAR until it encountered a flash-flood in 1953 and water-ingestion wrecked the engine: it was then repatriated to Scotland and dismantled. Albion also had a six cylinder KD lorry in its internal fleet.

Leyland Motors ended the bulk of KP experiment but gave Albion’s engine designers the task of finishing off the design of the 15.2 litre O:900. Leyland also briefly gave Albion the project of making petrol-powered P:600 and P:680 engines, but these were aborted, The EN301 two-cylinder was continued by Leyland, it was to have been used in a rear–engined delivery van version of the Cairn (LD1) coupled to a Daimler fluid flywheel and pre-selector gearbox, this also would have been air cooled, one of Albion’s senior engine designers had come from the Bristol Aeroplane company so knew about this, after tests and the replacement of the gearbox by a constant-mesh Albion unit, it was decided that it was not a viable project and the sole LD1 was broken-up.

Under Leyland until 1957

The two continuing Albion PSVs were the HD Viking, which was taken in petrol and diesel engined forms by South African Railways and in an HD73XLW variant of the HD 73 lorry with an O:680 engine. Last of these were however delivered by 1954, and the FT39 Victor, although it sold poorly in mainland Great Britain, was the standard bus in the Channel Islands and sold exceptionally well to customers in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. There is no record of a version with a Leyland O:350 engine as fitted to equivalent Reivers and Chieftains, had such a model been sanctioned at Scotstoun it would have been either PF37 or PF37K with length and width suffixes, the latter post-1956 with a separate vacuum exhauster for the braking system rather than the engine by-pass valve which gave no braking assistance at low revs. 1953 heralded the introduction of the short-lived vertical engined Claymore FT25 and 27 lorries, these featured the EN218 engine, a four cylinder version of the Leyland O:350.

The horizontal version of the EN218 was the EN 219, and it was a feature of the MR5 and MR7 Claymores, and the briefly-offered even lighter MLH3 Cairn. Scottish Bus Group’s Scottish Omnibuses Ltd built Claymore units into an integral 31 seater bus and convinced Leyland that a similar vehicle would replace their Regals and Tigers on low-demand routes, hence the Nimbus, originally MR9. The engine had problems, not helped by its lack of development, Albion felt that only four studs between the cylinder-head and block not sufficiently containing the gasket was the problem, the EN 286 used six; GG Hillditch felt the entire engine was only fit for scrap withdrawing two batches of Nimbuses ordered by his immediate managerial predecessors –successively at Great Yarmouth and Halifax– early. However, despite a lack of repeat business in profitable quantity the Nimbus and Claymore continued until 1965 and the EN219 until 1966 in the Bristol SUL4A. That year marked the end of Albion Engine production with the last EN335s also being produced.

Also built in this technological period and at the other end of the scale to the Nimbus were the twenty HD175 Albion Royal Scot buses built in 1957-8 for South African Railways. These had the horizontal version of the 15.2 litre engine, coded EN901H in this application and conservatively rated at 200bhp. The chassis had only a short front overhang and a front mounted radiator with air being drawn from a high mounted oil-bath air filter, like the KP71s a dry sump was employed. These ultra-heavy duty dirt road buses featured a ZF AK6 air-assisted constant mesh gearbox with six forward ratios and air brakes, the twin axle rear bogie was to the same design as the HD-series 6x4 and 8x4 lorries with overhead worm axles, there was no inter-axle differential and the rear wheels carried single wheels and tyres, these like the front examples being of deep section with an off-road tread pattern.

Five similar but O:680 powered buses were the whole run of the TA3 Talisman, constructed for Rhodesian Railways in 1960. Details on them I have are sketchy, I have no idea of the orientation of the engine or the gearbox.

AEC sold some quantities of Reliance on grounds of light weight and better power than the Tiger Cub and others on the basis they had vacuum brakes. The Tiger-Cub was the first British bus chassis since the fundamentally badly designed Karrier 6x4 buses of the late 1920s to offer air-brakes only. UK bus operators seemed as wary of air brakes as New Zealand’s and the USA’s of the compression-ignition engine. Albion’s Aberdonian MR11 enabled a superior power-weight ratio than the Tiger-Cub (by using a stretched Nimbus frame thus lower weight rather than more power) and had vacuum brakes; it did not sell massively and was discontinued in 1960.

Post 1957 PSVs. Two New Models and a revised Nimbus.

There were two initial PSV variants of the 1958 HGV range, the VT Victor and the CD Clydesdale; The VT replaced the FT Victor, which had sold 2000 units from its introduction in 1948, most of these being the diesel version although the FT3AB six cylinder petrol powered version was sold until 1953: the end of petrol Albions. The initial VT Victor models were VT15, with the EN289 of 5.5 litres as fitted to the CH3 Chieftain and the Leyland O:350 powered VT17, N suffixes denoted a 27ft nominal body length and L a 30ft length, it did not sell in either variant to a great extent on the home market but export sales manly to south east Asia made the lines profitable, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong operators all taking the model. African and Australasian sales also took place. One bright spot on the home market was the VT19, designed for the pantechnicon trade. It was longer than the longest wheelbase CH3 by two feet, having a 15ft 6in wheelbase and being designed for one piece furniture van bodies it was not fitted with the LAD cab. It even had a beefed up derivative for a higher GVW, the VT 19(HD) of which one at least is restored.

The initial bus version of the Clydesdale, the CD23, used a straight frame to similar lengths to the Victor but the ten-stud wheels and axles of the Clydesdale lorry were used; together with a larger dynamo and fuel tank, it was a best seller in Africa. Unlike the VT it had the option of 8ft width.

Revisions to the Claymore to cut first cost, including bought-in axles and gearbox, and to improve reliability, including a larger engine the 4.1 litre(250 cu in) EN250H, resulted in the CL3 and CL5 models, the latter for a 3 ton nominal payload and the former five. The Nimbus was now the NS3. The Austin axles enabled 7ft 4in bodywork to be fitted, and this resulted in the Nimbus attracting good continuing business from the Guernsey operators who had previously taken the FT37.
Further developments in 1960

Some markets for the Victor found the spiral bevel double-reduction axle noisy in operation, and others required an extreme front entrance, this resulted in the VT21 and 23 models, both of which were Leyland powered (O:350 then O:370) and had Eaton rear axles, with an option of two-speed operation. The front axle on the VT23 was set back by 14 inches so only a narrow front entry door was possible. It is believed that most of this variant went to Kowloon Motor Bus. Under LMC the VT21L was marketed to UK operators with the choice of Duple Northern Firefly or Plaxton Embassy coachwork, these placed as complete stock vehicles with dealers such as Stanley Hughes of Cleckheaton, Lancashire Motor Traders of Oldham and Alf Moseley of Loughborough for Immediate delivery, these all had the single-speed back axle and 90 units were sold from 1963-66, the majority with Blackpool-built coachwork; it was only third place in the market for 41-seat trip coaches dominated by the Bedford SB, but it helped kill off the Commer Avenger

Following the CL5A and CL3A Claymores, the NS3A Nimbus re-introduced the Albion gearbox, unlike the David Brown unit used from 1958, this had five or six ratios, the latter an overdrive, and it was this version that attracted the largest orders for the type, Western Welsh ending up with 48. The last was delivered to the associated Guernsey Railways and Guernsey Motors in 1965: the last comparable Bristol SU types following for THC fleets a year later.

1961: the Lowlander

As I’ve said in greater length in the Wikipedia article, the Lowlander was a vehicle Leyland Motors felt it had to build to retain continuing Scottish Bus Group business. Although a low-frame derivative of the Titan PD3A, and featuring Leyland designed units it was drawn up and developed at Scotstoun and the first four chassis were constructed there, the rest assembled at Scotstoun from units supplied by Leyland. SBG sales were in the majority of the types’ six year run, although most of these were the Pneumocyclic-gearbox LR1 variant, which gave SBG a lot of problems; it was their first semi-automatic bus type. Had SBG taken the Lowlander to the same extent as Titans, there would have been roughly 500 sold by 1966, instead of 274 produced (one prototype sold at the end of its demonstration run and 273 bought new by one independent, two Corporations and three BET associates as well as SBG). It was a bitter disappointment to Leyland, and adding to LMC chagrin, the first SBG Daimler Fleetline was delivered in 1963 and Western and Midland started taking the type in preference to Lowlanders, Western’s 1965 order was the last from SBG. By 1980 all SBG subsidiaries had taken Daimler or Leyland Fleetlines new, although Central SMT’s examples only spent three years with them, which is about how long their 30 Lowlanders also lasted under Motherwell ownership.

1963: the Viking VK41

This was a development of the VT23 Victor with a longer front overhang allowing a wider doorway, and a length with body of almost 32ft. A specially-finished version of the Albion spiral bevel double reduction axle was fitted which usefully reduced noise in the passenger compartment. The prototype was shown at the 1963 Kelvin Hall Scottish Motor Show and was bodied by Alexander as a Y Type bus with 41 seats and demonstrated during 1964 to SBG in Alexander Midland livery, SBG had not taken the Nimbus to its heart (only highland having a batch of buses whilst Alexander and its David Lawson subsidiary took coaches for tours on restricted roads) The Viking was seen as a substitute for all the early post-war Leyland Tigers and AEC Regals that SBG needed to replace by the beginning of the 1970s. BWG650B was a badly compromised product however, both Albion and Alexander wished to use as many standard parts as possible; this resulted in the doorway being well ahead of the rather rearward-set driving position and engine intrusion being such as to leave seating capacity lower than either the similar Dodge S300 of 1961 or the Yeates-converted Bedford SB’s of 1960-4. Indeed the 27ft 6in long Maudslay SF40 Magna of 1934-9 only sat one fewer. After SBG had rejected the type and suggested a better entry layout was required it was sold to Barrie’s Loch Lomond Bus Service of Balloch, from there it went to Lochs Motor Transport of the Outer Hebrides. African, Indian subcontinent, Australian, Caribbean, South American and East Asian operators took the type however and nearer to Scotstoun it was to become a standard school bus in Northern Ireland and business was won for it with Jersey Motor Transport; however ownership of that concern passed in 1968 to Bob Lewis, who in his British operations starting with Trimdon Motor Services in 1958 had developed a close relationship with Ford.

1965: The Viking VK43

Revised Construction and Use rules in force this year allowed the rear overhang of a UK PSV to amount to as much as 60% of the wheelbase, so a Leyland O:400 and Albion Constant mesh gearbox could be mounted at the rear of a Viking frame, with the radiator at the extreme rear of the chassis and a drive shaft of 584mm (1ft 11in) driving into a Chieftain type rear axle with an inverted driving head. This gave SBG the better entrance arrangement they wanted and although Alexander’s standard Y type body had to lose an offside rearmost seat to give access to the emergency exit door, all the SBG companies who had previously bought new 31ft 10in Y-Type Reliances and Tiger Cubs switched to it. These were the Alexander Companies and Scottish Omnibuses, by now trading as Eastern Scottish. By the time of the 1965 Scottish Show Central SMT, trying to get shot of their Lowlanders, were not best pleased one gathers to have the show exhibit of the VK43 exhibited as their AC1 (a forty seater, standard for coaches and dual-purpose variants although Fife had 43-seat buses and Eastern took 34-seat touring coaches). They had previously ordered five 42-seat Duple Bella Venture bodied Bedford VAM5 from Glasgow Dealers SMT (like Alexander Coachbuilders separated prior to its sale to the British Transport Commission from the bus-operating part of the SMT group). These arrived as 45-seat Duple Viceroys in 1967 when the Vikings (FGM101-5D) were transferred to Highland, who had previously benefitted from many of Central’s Lowlanders and would acquire more VK43Ls from other SBG operators. As I have discovered riding on preserved examples operated by Glasgow Vintage Vehicle Trust, the major problem for the driver is the constant mesh gearbox is the best part of 25 foot (8m) away from the gear lever and so gear changes are both slow and lacking in certainty.

Bizarrely, LMC then came up with the wheeze of offering the VK43L to the independent coach sector with an in-house body, they commissioned external designers to come up with it (Bob & Sylvia Reid) and decided that it would be built with a steel-reinforced ash frame at Park Royal Coachbuilders. The Park Royal Royalist, which had all of its side panels below the skirt finished in ribbed anodised aluminium only sold six units, although sixteen were planned in the initial batch, the prototype was shown at the 1966 Earls’ Court show but the last delivered had a post August 1967 F-suffix registration. Three operators took the type. Fraser (Clyde Coast) of Saltcoats Ayrshire took the demonstrator, Red House Group of Coventry took four, to go with Daimler Roadliners and the last one went to Hirst of Holmfirth, the five with English operators were the entire Northern Hemisphere sales for the model as new outside Scotland. Albion-owned EGG569C demonstrated to a number of operators in the UK but was eventually sold-off to always bargain-conscious Rennies of Dunfermline.

LMC Viking Developments

It was the VK43’s export business (almost totally to Australia) like that of the VK41, that saved it from an early demise. The last SBG examples were taken in 1970, by which time it was only the Alexander companies, Eastern having switched to Bedford, whence Central had returned and Highland strengthening its acquaintance with Ford. Ford were also to supply to all the Alexander companies until the late 1970s after a brief Midland and Eastern Scottish flirtation with the Bristol LH6P.

One VK49 also ended up with Alexander Northern, this was a 1969 variant with a Leyland lock-up coupling and Self-Changing Gears rationalised Pneumocyclic change-speed mechanism rather then the Albion clutch and constant mesh gearbox. ORS84H was the last SBG Viking and was sold to an operator in the Shetland Islands by 1981. Export business for the Viking in rear engined form also resulted in two further variants, both designed for tropical operations, these were the 1965 VK45 Viking and the 1966 VL3 Valiant, The tropical cooling group featured a larger radiator and shaft-drive equipment (from the gearbox) which featured a fan designed to push hot air from the engine compartment out through the radiator, the shafts and radiator occupying the space used for the parcel-locker in SBG Y-types. The engine was mounted further back, meaning a marginally-longer prop shaft, the VL3 featured Clydesdale style ten-stud axles and wheels. Mediterranean and Northern Australian customers were the main takers for these variants.

Leyland Australia offered models not catalogued elsewhere (nor in Adams & Milligan’s otherwise comprehensive model table): these were coded AVK with appropriate numeral and featured the 8.2 litre AEC AV505 engine either at front or rear. The only vehicles built at Scotstoun with this engine were the RE129/229 Reiver cement-mixer bases.
BLMC Clydesdale and Viking PSVs

By 1968 the Albion PSV range was to have the 401 instead of the O:400, the main modification was to the cylinder head. However by 1970 versions of the Clydesdale and Viking PSV’s had proliferated to meet different demands in different territories, among them Clydesdale PSV’s with big-block Leyland power. Frame lengths and wheelbases were bespoke to customer orders ranging from 17ft 6in to 19ft 4in.

CD23B 401 12t Albion Constant Mesh
CD25 401 12t SCG Leyland Front Axle
CD27 401 12t SCG Leyland Front Axle; dual line brakes
CD29 600 12t SCG Leyland Front Axle
CD33 401 13t Albion Constant Mesh Leyland Front Axle; dual line brakes
CD35 600 16t SCG Weweller rubber shackle suspension
CD37 600 16t Leyland manual
CD39 680 16t SCG Rockwell rear axle: dual –line brakes

Doug Jack quotes detailed 1968-76 sales for all models in this range (selling as far north as the Netherlands and as far south as New Zealand, as far west as Costa Rica and as far east as Fiji) but by 1976 many models had been dropped and wheelbases were standardised to four, giving nominal body lengths between 10 and 11m, most with long front overhang, but central African variants often without, only constant mesh and Pneumocyclic. Also by the end of 1970 all Albion PSVs were designated with an E prefix; this conceded that no further home market sales would be achieved.
The 1970 Viking range was as follows

EVK41L 370 Front Engine Albion Constant Mesh Air Over Hydraulic 16ft 1in 31ft 6in
EVK43BL 401 Rear Engine Albion Constant Mesh Air Over Hydraulic 16ft 2in 32ft
EVK45AL 401 Rear Engine Albion Constant Mesh Air Over Hydraulic 16ft 2in 32ft Tropical Engine Cooling Equipment
EVK55AL 401 Front Engine Albion Constant Mesh Dual circuit Air 16ft 1in 31ft 6in
EVK57 401 Rear Engine Turner Synchromesh Dual circuit Air 16ft 2in 32ft
EVK67 401 Rear Engine Albion Constant Mesh Dual circuit Air 16ft 2in 32ft

Of these the VK55 was the overwhelming majority choice, sales nearly as widespread as the Clydesdale, with markets not taking that model including Jamaica and Macau China Motor Bus of Hong Kong took a shorter wheelbase EVK55CY with 7ft 6in wide 25ft long bodies whilst for Malaysia and Singapore the EVK55CUL with a 20ft wheelbase for 37ft bodies was built. Albion’s lines were closed in the 1980s and all PSV production had by then ceased, with other makers taking business from a much enfeebled BL Truck and Bus.

A late VK55 (circa 1982) with Alexander [Belfast] Body, a former Northern Irish school bus, is preserved. Some way still be at work with Fijian operators.

PostPosted: Mon Dec 23, 2013 12:53 pm 

Joined: Tue Jan 24, 2012 4:44 pm
Posts: 171
According to an article by Basil Hancock in the latest number of Buses there is an EVK55EUL 'Super Viking' (411 engine Allison AT545 transmission, 36ft nominal length) still in service with an operator in rural NSW, it was bodied in 1983 but not registered until 1995, making it most likely the last Leyland badged PSV to enter service.

PostPosted: Sat Jan 25, 2014 9:27 pm 

Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2012 7:34 am
Posts: 56
Location: Mount Maunganui, New Zealand
The attached Leyland Australia brochure provides some details for the Viking VK55AL and VK57AL models. The AV505 engine is shown as an option for the VK57AL.

The same brochure also covers the ‘B’ Series Leopard. This was available with 19’6” wheelbase for 37 ft bodies in addition to the standard 18’6”. Australia was a major destination for the 17’6” wheelbase variants (plural) of the PSU3.

The eagle-eyed might note that the brake dimensions shown for the Leopard correspond to the original numbers, not to the wider drums (essentially Worldmaster-sized) that arrived with the PSU3B. Poor brochure editing or did Leyland Australia delay the change?


Leopard, Viking Australia.pdf [1.17 MiB]
Downloaded 365 times
PostPosted: Fri Jan 31, 2014 9:48 pm 

Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2012 7:34 am
Posts: 56
Location: Mount Maunganui, New Zealand
The three basic iterations of the Nimbus, MR9, NS3 and NS3A were covered by separate Albion brochures.

Nimbus p.01.jpg
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Albion Nimbus NS3 1958-09 p.01.jpg
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Nimbus 1960-09 p.01.jpg
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I have only come across one brochure for the Aberdonian.

Albion Aberdonian 1959-11 p.01.jpg
Albion Aberdonian 1959-11 p.01.jpg [ 204.1 KiB | Viewed 8145 times ]

This was late enough to include the 6-speed overdrive gearbox option (GB240) that was introduced in 1957 March. But there was no mention of the 14'8" wheelbase version, which was probably a special and not viewed as a regular production option.

That Albion gearbox, both 5- and 6-speed versions, was largely superseded by the GB241 "Group" gearbox during 1958, which was original on the CH, CD, 14SC, VT, RE and CS3. The GB241 also went into the ECO2, ECOS2 and I imagine the ECPO2 by late 1958. But the "old" gearbox stayed on the Aberdonian until its demise, and in 5-speed form only, on the Tiger Cub until its demise. Whilst one might surmise that the side-entry shifter on the “old” gearbox better suited the Tiger Cub’s underfloor layout than the top-entry shifter of the GB241, that theory is at least challenged by the fact that the GB241 was fitted to the NS3A iteration of the Nimbus. And why the six-speed option was not offered on the Tiger Cub is a mystery. It would have required a slightly shorter drive shaft, but as there was room on the PSUC1 for an island-mounted Pneumocyclic gearbox, that should not have been a problem.

Unlike the Tiger Cub, the Aberdonian did not get the O.375 engine option. Perhaps its Nimbus-derived drive axle could not handle the extra torque. The “old” gearbox was certainly up to it, and in fact handled the torque of the O.400 engine that was fitted to the Tiger Cub from 1962 March.

The demise of the Aberdonian was recorded in Bus & Coach magazine for 1960 September.

Albion Aberdonian B&C 1960-09 p.318.jpg
Albion Aberdonian B&C 1960-09 p.318.jpg [ 389.23 KiB | Viewed 8145 times ]


PostPosted: Sat Feb 01, 2014 1:10 am 

Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2012 7:34 am
Posts: 56
Location: Mount Maunganui, New Zealand
The Victor VT17BL (HD) was offered in Australia in two wheelbase lengths, 17’3” and 19’4”, respectively for 30 and 33 ft bodies. This is basis a 1962 December trade magazine advertisement. The VT17BL had been announced 1961 October, one of a clutch of LMC models that had migrated from the O.350 Mk III to the Power-Plus O.370 engine around the same time.

Basis a 1964 December trade magazine item, as first released in Australia the Viking VK41 had an 18’0” wheelbase and was intended to carry 33 ft bodies. The UK release was 1963 November. By then Albion already had a similarly-configured and O.370-engined competitor in the form of the Dodge S307, released 1962 December. Albion did get there ahead of Ford (R192, 1965 April?) and Bedford (VAM, 1965 June). The VAM had the advantage of having the O.400 engine and a two-speed axle.

Leyland introduced the 18’0” wheelbase with the Worldmaster ERT1/CRT1 in 1954 September. In doing so it broke ranks with the 17’6” number, which had been the de facto standard for British-built transit-type bus chassis, and for example was the standard wheelbase for the BUT ETB1, the Sunbeam MF2B, the AEC Regal IV, the Leyland Royal Tiger the Guy Arab UF and the Daimler Freeline, all of which were intended to carry bodies in the 32 to 33 ft range.

The ERT1/CRT1 chassis was 33’3” long, and was intended to carry bodies of 34 ft or so, often 35 ft. Presumably, in building upon the big success of the Royal Tiger, Leyland had analyzed the market requirements and had decided that this was the best choice for what was likely to be the most popular version of the Worldmaster (in fact to get very specific, probably it was the LERT1, just as the LOPSU1 had been the most popular Royal Tiger variant.)

Having moved the wheelbase from 17’6” to 18’0”, Leyland then evidently decided that the new number should also apply to chassis intended to carry 33 ft bodies. Thus the Royal Tiger Cub, announced 1960 May, and the Australian version of the Viking VK41, both nominally 33 footers, had the 18’0” wheelbase.

Be that as it may, the 17’6” wheelbase would not go away. It was standard for Sydney (to the extent that its early Mercedes Benz O.305 models conformed), so that Sydney’s Worldmasters had a 17’6” wheelbase for 33 ft body length. I’d guess that effectively, 6 inches was taken out of the chassis rails ahead of the engine. All Worldmaster variants had the same engine-to-gearbox-to rear axle spacing, unlike say the Leopard family. Sydney must have been a target customer when the Worldmaster was designed, so presumably the 17’6” wheelbase “special” was included from the start. Sydney’s first Worldmaster order was announced 1955 May, so came quite early.

The 17’6” wheelbase appeared again on the Brisbane Leopards, which had 33 ft bodies. Here Leyland may have been under pressure to match AEC, which had offered a 17’6” wheelbase export Reliance from circa 1957, for 32 to 33 ft bodies. Unless Brisbane, like Sydney had a wheelbase-specific requirement to suit workshop lifts, etc., then the Royal Tiger Cub would have met the 33 ft requirement, and one may assume that the RTC1 was in part intended to compete with the 17’6” wheelbase Reliance. However, the RTC1 retained the relatively short front overhang of the Tiger Cub, so quite possibly the longer overhang of the PSU3 was more attractive for urban operation, which in turn pointed to a shorter version of that model as the best fit. But whichever way one looks at it, the RTC1 and PSU3 were just variations on the same 13 tons gvw chassis, so the naming could have gone either way. Subsequently Wellington acquired similar 33 ft Leopards with the 17’6” wheelbase. These had island-mounted gearboxes, per the standard PSU3 (I know because I have been underneath one or two), and as best I could work out, simply lost a foot in the frames ahead of the engine.

The Sydney Leopards also had the 17’6” wheelbase, but were further modified with a longer front overhang and carried 35 ft bodies. The earlier examples had close-coupled gearboxes, I’d guess following the PSU4 example in terms of engine-to-rear axle spacing. Later examples reverted to the standard island-mounting. As far as I know that all had Eaton spiral bevel driving heads in Leyland one-piece axle casings, as on the Panther, rather than the standard Leyland spiral bevel driving head in the Leyland three-piece casing. Dunedin acquired some 17’6” wheelbase Leopards in the 1970s. I understand that these had very low gearing for use of the steepest hills (on which the trolleybuses had operated with ease).

In retrospect, it is surprising that Leyland did not assign a different designation to the 17’6” wheelbase PSU3. The PSU4 was originally ordered (by CIE, 1964 June) as a “short” PSU3, but the PSU4 name was adopted 1965 August. It should not surprise me if total PSU4 sales were not materially greater than total PSU3 17’6” wheelbase sales.

Notwithstanding that Australasia was probably the main destination for the 17’6” wheelbase PSU3s, it was also a significant market for the modestly-selling RTC1, which tended to go to smaller operators.

The PSU4 connection also came up with the Perth PSU3 Leopards, which had engines mounted more rearward than standard and close-coupled gearboxes, probably following the PSU4 arrangement.

But the 18’0” wheelbase returned for the Brisbane and Perth Panthers. Those Panthers were 36 ft long, so I imagine that effectively, 6 inches was moved from the wheelbase to the front overhang. That might have put them half way between the standard model and the 17’6” wheelbase domestic specials in terms of front overhang. The Perth Panthers, except the first one, had rear-mounted cooling groups, possibly (or probably) based upon the Swift layout.

Back to Albions, the Clydesdale bus was offered with a set-back front axle (trambus layout) from some time in the first half of the 1960s, but I cannot trace when this was. Also, the Pneumocyclic gearbox was first fitted somewhere in this period. I suspect that to start with, these variants were viewed as specials, and did not attract separate model designations.

Perhaps a sign of the times, the Viking VK41 differed from its VT predecessors in having air-actuated hydraulic brakes, as previously seen on the Chieftain Super Six and before that, the Reiver RE25 and RE27. The Dodge S.307 had the same system, as did the Ford R192 (and R226) originally. The Bedford VAM had an air assisted hydraulic braking system with the Clayton Dewandre pull-type servo as originally developed for the TK truck.

The Ford R series started with a single diaphragm-type brake actuator, then moved through two actuators, one for each axle, fed from a dual brake valve, finally moving to the Clayton Dewandre dual-tandem actuator that Ford had introduced with the D800 truck in 1965 April, following BMC’s lead on the FK 1964 September. Why Ford did not adopt the dual tandem actuator for the R from the outset is not clear. I suppose that given that the R was derived directly from the Thames 36 (1963 October), it was easier to replicate the same braking system. The Thames 36 had had air actuated hydraulic brakes regardless of whether a gasoline or diesel engine was fitted.


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