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Felly Magic

Bus Shite (I'VE BEEN PAPPED, NOOOOOO LOL)

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Quite an achievement for someone to go out and build a trolleybus twelve years after the last abandonment of any system in the UK but South Yorkshire Transport went and did it anyway. Not only that, they built a test track alongside Doncaster racecourse for it to run on. This photo was taken at their depot on the opposite side of the road to the racecourse, not long after the experimentation had finished and the financial plug had been pulled on the whole project and so C45HDT was sitting there withdrawn having not carried a single passenger in public service on the streets of South Yorkshire.

Today the wires have long gone, the depot a distant memory but 2450 still exists as a testament to the days when companies (and people) used to say “ let’s see if we can do this...” instead of the all prevailing “this could be too risky/not make money” attitude that has infested our culture today.

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Last time I saw it, it was looking very forlorn at 'Scraptoft', I've seen a couple of dewirements there, they go with one hell of a bang. At Dudley after the doors shut, the pedestrian speed limits were totally ignored when I was there a few years back, enthusiastic driving was an understatement. It is looking likely that Dudsbry Bus Shed up in Yorkshire will have another bus return to the road in 2019, a Guy Arab/Roe, they really must have stocked up on green paint there. 

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Shame it wasn't saved, thankfully the WYPTE and WMPTE examples survive, Foden dipped their toe in to test the water and I think Dennis sort of scared them off with the Dominator, did this have a Maxwell box?

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Oh, the sorry tale of the Foden NC...

Just before Foden was bought by Western Star, they looked again at the bus market. At the time Leyland had just about hoovered up all of the established players and were threatening the market with the Titan TN15 - a sort of double deck National for want of a better way of putting it. Foden had been a small player in the market before with their respected PVD6 front engined chassis along with small success with the PVR rear engined coach chassis (this was available with Fodens own two stroke).

It formed an alliance with Northern Counties who were, in turn, partially owned by G.M.P.T.E at the time. GMPTE were rather unhappy with the situation of a single supplier of their buses (Leyland) so was on the lookout for a supplier who could produce a robust and economical bus chassis that was simple to drive and maintain. And so Foden engineers set to work.

Well, the result was an interesting combination of good industry practice. Unfortunately it was the truck and heavy haulage industry which didn't quite translate into a definite runaway success in the bus industry. Let's start with the basics. The chassis was of bolted construction. This is a good thing. If bits of chassis get damaged or rotten they could simply be unbolted and replaced. Yes, on a truck that's something of a positive but when clothed in a bus body, those same bolts and chassis members become almost impossible to get at to replace. Add to this the insistence of Foden to use ordinary bolts instead of "sticky" ones meant that these bolts frequently became loose after hours of pounding along city streets. 

Then there was the mechanicals. Taken individually they were the best you could get for the job however combining them, and more importantly how Foden combined them, made the Foden NC one of the more "challenging" chassis to keep on the road. The engine was the tried and trusted Gardner 6LXB - a slow revving, high torque engine beloved by engineers and traffic managers around the country. This was to be mated to an Allison automatic gearbox. This gearbox had been used successfully by Foden in their heavy haul units and off road tippers so they knew it would both be robust and easy to drive. However the speed needed to drive the gearbox was in excess of what the Gardner could provide so between the two, a step up drive of Fodens own design was fitted. As this combination was to be fitted transversely across the back of the bus, another transfer box and angle drive was designed and fitted to turn the output 90 degrees to meet the rear axle. All of this complexity meant that the engine was mounted in an unusually high position in the rear of the bus. 

So it was the complexity that spelled the end of the project, right? Well, sort of. Foden was still in the period of the "we know best" school of engineering. Sadly they didn't as the two drive boxes were so woefully under-specified, they were a breakdown waiting to happen. The pièce de résistance was that all of the carrier bearings were plastic. Yeah, you heard me, plastic. Eight chassis were built and seven were bodied for service with various operators (one had an East Lancs body making it a Foden EL perhaps?) and one by one these Foden designed transfer boxed failed, usually, catastrophically. It's not to say that the design was without promise though for when it worked, it worked well. The drivers found it easy to drive and the accountants liked its economy but those drives, well. Derby even went to the trouble to re-engineer their Foden with a Voith gearbox making it very similar to a Dennis Dominator in driveline but even that was not enough to save it as it was scrapped after eighteen months.

The whole project finally died as a result of Foden being taken over by Western Star who had no want to enter the bus building business and so the whole project was rapidly put out of its misery. The complete buses lingered on until, one by one, their transmission exploded in a fit of gears, collapsed bearings and exasperated engineers and so were either sold on or scrapped. Two survive and have been restored by John Cherry of Aintree Coaches of Bootle as a testament of what could have been. Could it have been re-worked to become successful? Probably yes as it had all the makings of a good bus but was let down by the design details. Solving this (as Derby did) would have made the Foden into a respectable and reliable bus. 

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Allison autos do seem to need an engine that likes to rev, The old Dennis Detonator did become a thorn in Leyland's side, especially as Dennis were so completely flexible when it came to chassis spec, I remember SYPTE's ill fated trial of the Olympian, the hydracyclic box and brakes were simply not up to the task, and SYPTE loved the Voith box, with it's meaty retarder, the Atlanteans sound weird with the Voith screams and wheezes, Dennis welcomed the SYPTE orders with open arms, and even MCW got a chunk of Yorkshire cash. SYPTE at the time were a very forward thinking operator, and did quite a bit of innovating, kneeling Nationals, the South Yorkshire Step, bendy buses.....

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^^^ modified SCG boxes so the drivers could 'flick, flick' without having to drop revs and change gears properly and they had the East Lancs bodied Foden. Their R&D department was locally known as the "play school".

 

I remember the first Atlantean with a Voith box, Leyland asked to look at it and they sent it across to them. They then had to send their engineers across to put it back together as Leyland took it to pieces and couldn't get it back together.

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Next month is a significant anniversary for my bus. 14th January 1989 was the last day of RM operations in Southampton. That evening on a trip back to Essex on RM 2116 (even though I live in Southampton, when a free RM ride presents itself it's hard to say no) we were convinced that RM ownership was possible. It took another two months for it to actually happen but it was that night that set the ball rolling.

 

So I went up there today to give it a tidy up and got a bit carried away. The paint around the beading on the cieling is getting flaky.

post-20743-0-89783900-1544370193_thumb.jpg

So I started scraping away and got it back to this.

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There are many layers right back to the original 1964 primer.

 

Unfortunately the rest of the bus now looks like this.

post-20743-0-38567700-1544370277_thumb.jpgpost-20743-0-04265400-1544370326_thumb.jpg

 

So I try sweeping it all up but half of it just ends up back in the air. It's hard to capture dust with a phone cam but it is clearly visible.

post-20743-0-32627000-1544370368_thumb.jpg

I think I need to invest in a decent cordless vacuum cleaner. Bearing in mind I set off this morning to make the bus look better.

 

On a more frivolous note, where the bus is now parked, the downstairs nearside front window nows perfectly frames Atlantean 133.

post-20743-0-51099800-1544370413_thumb.jpg

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Yes, the yard is sub sub let, or it might even be three subs, lose track. It's Bursledon Brickworks. Southampton & District Transport Heritage Trust (catchy title I know) lease the yard from them and we all pay the Trust (and have to be members) to park there. It is open to the public at various times, Wednesday and Sunday, I think, though not at this time year, check website blah blah blah. When I was there today they were having dog training classes in one of the car parks. It's good to see they find unusual ways of raising funds in the off season!

 

The buses are mostly ex Southampton in one form or other. Except that green Olympian which is Southern Vectis. Vectis of course owned Solent Blue Line who set up operations in competition with Southampton CityBus so are directly responsible for the Routemasters arriving. Blue line ran all sorts of Vectis cast offs but this wasn't one of them.

 

The Southampton bus wars were a fascinating time, so much more than RMs vs VRs as it's generally known for. I will dig out some pictures some time.

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I see that the Olympian (P571EFL?) has arrived there too.  The one that outlasted the rest by ages.  

 

Easy to forget that was one of the Olympians that ran for Stagecoach for years, and were then sold to FIrst.

 

That Olympian wasn't there last time I was there so I have no idea whose it is though I'll probably find out eventually.

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Guest Hooli

The combo looks nice, I fancy something like that & it's easier to park than a bus.

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Interwebie thing says postcard was first used in March 1951, which is roughly what I would have guessed at given that the reg of the car on the left has three letter and three numbers and the perspex screen on the motorcycle sidecar.

 

Bus, not sure, the livery looks a bit like Red Rover of Aylesbury, who were red and cream but records show in 1951 they had only four deckers, three Daimler's built in WWII and a prewar Dennis. It's definitely not a Daimler and I cannot find any pics of the Dennis (they bought another Dennis in late 1951 but it's not that one). It's therefore probably an Eastern National (subsequently renamed United Counties) one, be nice to know what it said on the blinds or the reg.

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EYMS had some of the ex Stagecoach P_EFL Olympians. They were nice to drive just hopeless in reverse.

 

 

Thought the reg seemed familiar. P531EFL ended up at Finglands in Manchester for a bit (EYMS owned them before they were absorbed into First - I think the depot is now closed/ing), along with a couple of similar P___HMPs.

Often ended up on school services as they were amongst the oldest buses Finglands had. 

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Yes it is Buckingham, but the local historian who put it up does not know the year.

 

That scene looks surprisingly similar today - all the buildings are still there but the road isn't just a flat expanse of tarmac anymore and sadly there are no Leyland Titans to be seen. It's definitely not a Red Rover bus as they never had any of that type, so I'd agree with busmansholiday. It's Eastern National if before 1952 or United Counties after that, and would have been green and cream. Pity we can't see the fleet name or reg as that would narrow it down considerably.

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And it still exists.

 

attachicon.gif80198750-9D2C-4DCF-9A04-75E1F40097B9.jpeg

 

It was transferred down south to allow fleet standardisation as the production batch was down here for the 50 route. Oh and one was to be set fire to not so long after.

 

Dundee is in the process of receiving some E400mmc in platinum spec with leather, usb charging and extra space to replace the more elderly members of the fleet.

 

I recognise that location - in Lichfield about ten minutes from my place.  Will look out for that bus.

 

Best thread on here btw, thanks to all who have contributed with some great photos.

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