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hilldweller

Introduction Of Diesel Bus In Sheffield

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At the first snow flake to reach the ground, my car is normally confined to the garage. However circumstances this year meant that we had to brave the snow and ice.

Driving a large saloon on ultra wide low profile summer tyres proved to be somewhat interesting to say the least.

As we careered down ice covered pistes around Matlock we both decided a 4 X 4 was the way to go in future.

Accordingly we are now chugging around in a butch looking Yeti Outdoor. The four wheel drive version is now only available with a diesel engine. This will be my first diesel although my mileage does not normally warrant what the registration describes as a "Heavy Oil Engine".

Thinking about this raised a distant memory.

I'm sure when I was a nipper, most Sheffield buses ran on petrol. I'm sure I remember a kerfuffle in the local paper about the introduction of diesel powered buses. If I remember correctly the people living on the new estates did not want smelly diesel buses running down their tree lined avenues. I seem to remember many of these routes were covered by single deckers.

Can any of the "bus & transport brigade" on the forum tell me when diesel buses were generally brought into service ?

HD

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First diesel engined bus in Sheffield was Karrier single decker no 139 which had a Mercedes Benz engine.fitted in place of a petrol engine and entered service in this form in March 1930. A Gardner diesel engined double decker, number 138, followed in November 1930.

Until the mid-1930s a mixture of petrol and diesel buses was bought but by the time WW2 started all new buses were diesel engined. I guess that this means that all petrol engined buses were out of service by no later than the 1950s.

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Straining my little grey cells even more I think I am thinking of the Wisewood route as it was.

This ran as the Nos. 13 & 14 from Campo Lane to Hillsborough Corner then the route divided, the 14 running clockwise around a loop comprising of Malin Bridge, Hallowmoor Road, Ben Lane, Far Lane, Dykes Hall Road and Middlewood Road. The number 13 ran the other way around the loop. I think the same fair applied to anywhere around the loop.

Certainly in the fifties the route was run by rather elderly single deckers except a peak times.

I think it was the people on Hallowmoor Road who complained about the smell.

HD

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I'm not sure about in Sheffield, but early buses did indeed tend to have petrol engines. Although diesel engines are technically a much simpler machine (no electrics required for ignition systems etc) the early engine technology meant diesels were very difficult to start. You needed to either heat up the combustion chamber of each cylinder or have a very high compression engine, which would have destroyed itself once running for a while. Most early diesels were started by either pointing a paraffin blowlamp at the engine, inserting what looked like a rolled up burning cigarette paper, or by putting a shotgun cartridge in a special chamber and hiting the end of it with a hammer! (Really!) So you can see why early diesels didn't really catch on until the 30s and 40s.

Annie, does Sheffield's early conversion to diesel mean the city didn't have any wartime gas buses? They would only have worked with a converted petrol engine.

Regarding the smell... Ironically the complaining residents were about as wrong as they could possibly be. Apart from the visible particulates in diesel, it's actually pretty harmless if burning correctly. Petrol engines, although maybe less smelly, contain far worse fumes.

Interestingly, many early buses were petrol electric, with a petrol engine driving electric motors which turned the wheels. Stagecoach now seem to think this is a new idea on route 140. They're only about 100 years late adopting the technology!

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I'm not sure about in Sheffield, but early buses did indeed tend to have petrol engines. Although diesel engines are technically a much simpler machine (no electrics required for ignition systems etc) the early engine technology meant diesels were very difficult to start. You needed to either heat up the combustion chamber of each cylinder or have a very high compression engine, which would have destroyed itself once running for a while. Most early diesels were started by either pointing a paraffin blowlamp at the engine, inserting what looked like a rolled up burning cigarette paper, or by putting a shotgun cartridge in a special chamber and hiting the end of it with a hammer! (Really!) So you can see why early diesels didn't really catch on until the 30s and 40s.

I can remember working across from a haulage yard in the sixties and seeing substantial bonfires lit with bits of old pallets under the diesel tanks of big lorries on winter mornings.

I wonder what elf & safety would make of that today.

HD

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Annie, does Sheffield's early conversion to diesel mean the city didn't have any wartime gas buses? They would only have worked with a converted petrol engine.

In "Sheffield Transport" by Chas C Hall mention is made of 10 Sheffield buses converted for gas producer operation. Of these the first two were petrol engined, but the other eight were diesel engined. I have not yet found any other evidence to corroborate or refute this.

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In "Sheffield Transport" by Chas C Hall mention is made of 10 Sheffield buses converted for gas producer operation. Of these the first two were petrol engined, but the other eight were diesel engined. I have not yet found any other evidence to corroborate or refute this.

I'm not sure how you make a diesel engine run on gas. Don't you need a spark ignition to ignite the gas?

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I can remember working across from a haulage yard in the sixties and seeing substantial bonfires lit with bits of old pallets under the diesel tanks of big lorries on winter mornings.

I wonder what elf & safety would make of that today.

HD

The bonfire under the diesel tank would be to stop the fuel from waxing up. Before they started putting modern nasties in diesel it used to go quite gloopy in winter to such an extent that the fuel pump couldn't suck it out of the tank. The easy solution is to mix 5-10% petrol with it. I still do this with my diesel car which runs on get oil to thin the oil out a bit.

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On 26/02/2015 at 20:46, madannie77 said:

 

In "Sheffield Transport" by Chas C Hall mention is made of 10 Sheffield buses converted for gas producer operation. Of these the first two were petrol engined, but the other eight were diesel engined. I have not yet found any other evidence to corroborate or refute this.

    It's getting a bit distant now but I can remember the gas buses. We lived at Hunters Bar and the grandparents at Middlewood. Once and sometimes twice a week we did the long tram ride. At the bottom of Snig Hill I looked for  a bus with a two-wheel.trailer turning out of the stand, slowly coming up from Bridge Street and heading off along West Bar. Makes were a mystery at ten years old and again I omitted to make notes to use seventy years on. Best I can do  is ancient doubledeckers towing a two wheel trailer with a vertical boiler and spindly chimney with signs of fire down below.  Somehow I have a thought that they visited Chesterfield  but that was out of our area.

My recollection is that having been tried out all over they were not overpowered and could only cope with level routes so Stocksbridge got them. We saw them going both ways always with a stately gait. By the time I wanted a closer look, as usual they had gone. I have searched the commercial dealers without success for photographs, as much as anything to see whether they were four or six wheelers .Civilian photography was banned and there were no films anyway Anyone with a camera was regarded with suspicion.Someone no doubt will turn up with  some official photographs. The prize would be one of the conductor with his little shovel firing up at Bridge Street.

Like other members the petrol conversion is straightforward. The suggested diesel conversion seems less likely. Later in life I was concerned with diesel powered cranes for offshore gas platform service in the North Sea. One essential extra which was always fitted and carefully checked was an emergency flap valve in the air intake. In a gassy atmosphere a diesel engine will take off and run as an uncontrolled gas engine and destroy itself. Not nice, hence the need to be able to cut the air off instantaneously. I suggest that if  a diesel  conversion was possible it would be  interesting to see how it was done, if a trifle academic now. 

 

 

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12 hours ago, Keith_exS10 said:

    It's getting a bit distant now but I can remember the gas buses. We lived at Hunters Bar and the grandparents at Middlewood. Once and sometimes twice a week we did the long tram ride. At the bottom of Snig Hill I looked for  a bus with a two-wheel.trailer turning out of the stand, slowly coming up from Bridge Street and heading off along West Bar. Makes were a mystery at ten years old and again I omitted to make notes to use seventy years on. Best I can do  is ancient doubledeckers towing a two wheel trailer with a vertical boiler and spindly chimney with signs of fire down below.  Somehow I have a thought that they visited Chesterfield  but that was out of our area.

My recollection is that having been tried out all over they were not overpowered and could only cope with level routes so Stocksbridge got them. We saw them going both ways always with a stately gait. By the time I wanted a closer look, as usual they had gone. I have searched the commercial dealers without success for photographs, as much as anything to see whether they were four or six wheelers .Civilian photography was banned and there were no films anyway Anyone with a camera was regarded with suspicion.Someone no doubt will turn up with  some official photographs. The prize would be one of the conductor with his little shovel firing up at Bridge Street.

Like other members the petrol conversion is straightforward. The suggested diesel conversion seems less likely. Later in life I was concerned with diesel powered cranes for offshore gas platform service in the North Sea. One essential extra which was always fitted and carefully checked was an emergency flap valve in the air intake. In a gassy atmosphere a diesel engine will take off and run as an uncontrolled gas engine and destroy itself. Not nice, hence the need to be able to cut the air off instantaneously. I suggest that if  a diesel  conversion was possible it would be  interesting to see how it was done, if a trifle academic now. 

 

 

From this website     --------    http://www.old-bus-photos.co.uk/wp-content/themes/Old-Bus-Photos/questions/gas_buses_in_hull.php      -----------    

QUOTE   - I have copied the following from the internet.
"Diesel engines can be converted to full producer gas operation by lowering the compression ratio and the installation of a spark ignition system. Another possibility is to run a normal unconverted diesel engine in a "dual fuel" mode, whereby the engine draws anything between 0 and 90 per cent of its power output from producer gas, the remaining diesel oil being necessary for ignition of the combustible gas/air mixture. A diesel engine cannot be operated on producer gas alone, it needs to be operated on dual fuel or converted completely into spark ignition engine.
The cost effectiveness of trying to run a diesel on producer gas must have been abysmal.

Roger Cox    - UNQUOTE

There is a picture of a Hull bus on that site with the equipment fastened to the back of the bus. There are many pictures about of gas propelled buses but I have never seen a Sheffield one. Were the Sheffield ones something like this London example please Keith_exS10  ?    (c)    http://chandlersfordtoday.co.uk/my-memories-of-the-war-years-in-chandlers-ford-1939-1945-part-6-doug-clews/

Bus-with-Gas-Burner-Trailer-during-WW2-Large.jpg

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Britishgas 

On 29/10/2017 at 11:45, boginspro said:

From this website     --------    http://www.old-bus-photos.co.uk/wp-content/themes/Old-Bus-Photos/questions/gas_buses_in_hull.php      -----------    

QUOTE   - I have copied the following from the internet.
"Diesel engines can be converted to full producer gas operation by lowering the compression ratio and the installation of a spark ignition system. Another possibility is to run a normal unconverted diesel engine in a "dual fuel" mode, whereby the engine draws anything between 0 and 90 per cent of its power output from producer gas, the remaining diesel oil being necessary for ignition of the combustible gas/air mixture. A diesel engine cannot be operated on producer gas alone, it needs to be operated on dual fuel or converted completely into spark ignition engine.
The cost effectiveness of trying to run a diesel on producer gas must have been abysmal.

Roger Cox    - UNQUOTE

There is a picture of a Hull bus on that site with the equipment fastened to the back of the bus. There are many pictures about of gas propelled buses but I have never seen a Sheffield one. Were the Sheffield ones something like this London example please Keith_exS10  ?    (c)    http://chandlersfordtoday.co.uk/my-memories-of-the-war-years-in-chandlers-ford-1939-1945-part-6-doug-clews/

Bus-with-Gas-Burner-Trailer-during-WW2-Large.jpg

Apologies for the delay.

Good clear photo, strong suggestions of being official, just as I remember them. Perhaps not surprising as there presumably weren't that many makers.  

 Nice clear  explanation as to how to do it. Either way the engine ceases to be a diesel. Simple when you think about it.

Thanks for your efforts. All nicely tidied up after all these years .........unless someone goes off about the relative  calorific values of the fuels......

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On ‎26‎/‎02‎/‎2015 at 08:30, andy1702 said:

I'm not sure about in Sheffield, but early buses did indeed tend to have petrol engines. Although diesel engines are technically a much simpler machine (no electrics required for ignition systems etc) the early engine technology meant diesels were very difficult to start. You needed to either heat up the combustion chamber of each cylinder or have a very high compression engine, which would have destroyed itself once running for a while. Most early diesels were started by either pointing a paraffin blowlamp at the engine, inserting what looked like a rolled up burning cigarette paper, or by putting a shotgun cartridge in a special chamber and hiting the end of it with a hammer! (Really!) So you can see why early diesels didn't really catch on until the 30s and 40s.

A bit of a late response, I know, but alternatively, on really cold days, you took the air filter off, then a really tightly rolled up newspaper. Once the newspaper is well lit, hold same over exposed air intake, and turn the engine over. Quite unorthodox really, but it does work - certainly on Perkins and Gardners.

Good discussion by the way - never knew that Sheffield had gas-powered buses - would love to see a photograph of one.

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 At the risk of outstaying my welcome I have to agree about these unusual.starting practices. At one time  or another to customers order we used Ford, Ruston, Paxman, Dorman, Perkins Cummins, Caterpillar and  Deutz diesels in  plant  guise and a very few Volvo,  Scania, Foden and R.R. engines. All of them had their little starting quirks whether indoors in assembly  or outdoors in frost to  -20  but they had to go. It was a matter of remembering how..

  All we could do was hold the button down and hope. A 24v. system got them going sooner or later. The problem was the unburned fuel in the exhaust. Once the  engine fired that came out as thick black smoke, guaranteed. The worst offenders were the big Paxman RPH  V engines which could bring the shop  crane drivers down to ground in a matter of seconds. 

 Then somebody found "Bradex Easystart", in aerosol form, "One shot only" whatever that meant into the air cleaner and they went every time. No problem till the makers found and raised a storm. It turned out this was neat ether which reacted very violently to being compressed and had been known to stretch cylinder head bolts and would we please desist. It was too good to do without. I did mention it to the test gang. I say no more.

Only the Scandinavians ran electric heaters in the cylinder blocks overnight in the winter. Now I sIt in my elderly diesel car and wait for the automatic heater light to go out. Wonder what the ancients would say about that?

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I remember my Mum, who was a secretary at East Midland Buses in Chesterfield during the war, telling me that their buses were converted for gas propulsion during the conflict - but I'm sure she mentioned that they had a large gasbag on the roof (these were single-deckers) rather than towing a trailer - or perhaps they had both. I am not sure whether route 99 was already in operation in WW2, but if so, these buses would have come into Sheffield.

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On 08/11/2017 at 11:26, Athy said:

I remember my Mum, who was a secretary at East Midland Buses in Chesterfield during the war, telling me that their buses were converted for gas propulsion during the conflict - but I'm sure she mentioned that they had a large gasbag on the roof (these were single-deckers) rather than towing a trailer - or perhaps they had both. I am not sure whether route 99 was already in operation in WW2, but if so, these buses would have come into Sheffield.

  Simple answer re the big silver roof bags. These were used in WW1 and WW2 and were filled with ordinary town gas. The trailers were producer gas units. My recollection   is that it was one or the other, not both. The beauty of the gas bag was the same as  gas powered cars today; pull In, couple up, fill the bag and drive off, that is it.  The producer gas trailer allowed the vehicle to go out to where the was no gas supply, but required more attention from the crew. Pay your money and take your choice sort  of situation.

As an odd observation at this distance, my recollection is that of what traffic there was, the gas bag was the more common and was in civilian use only.  The sight of one nearly empty sprawling and wobbling  about all  over the roof if it didn't have a frame to restrict it was quite something.

Going back to boginspro's post of 29 November, the business of converting a diesel engine to spark ignition looks horribly messy, particularly the need to provide a synchronised drive for the ignition. Considering the scarcity of labour and materials (the times we heard "Don't you know there's a war on?),  I can't  see SCT  doing a major conversion of  eight buses. Somehow the dual fuel option looks more likely yet is at variance with Chris Hall. Let us hope there is some information  buried somewhere.

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Looking back over the various posts it occurred to me that there were a lot of loose ends regarding the producer gas buses. I thought there might be a few problems because of the time lapse back to 1934-1944; in fact there proved to be more than I expected for this period only.  As of now,  far from being dead,  producer gas is alive and well and well documented, being used in places like India and Brazil using biomass, dried bio waste,  wood chips  or anything  carbon based  where  coal is scarce or hard to come by. It is used on constant speed stationary applications like pumping in gas turbines or reciprocating engines designed  specifically for gas power. . So far however there is silence on transport applications. There a flood of literature including academic research results and some unexpected odd contributions by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation. 

Reverting to this thread re World War 2 there are odd bits to be picked out of many sites but because of the time lapse  I have not yet found any drivers experiences; only those of  passengers reminiscences passed down from years  back. Equally very few performance figures have survived but the views of transport managers have. 

  There are references to early trials but  the Birmingham trials of 1934 using very high pressure compressed gas can be discounted. The continentals were at it and Germany quoted  500000 units in wartime use including motorcycles The U.K. government had already distributed 3000 producer gas units round the country in 1938.  In 1942 questions were asked in Parliament as to why only a few hundred were in use, the answer being that operators had  bought them as insurance in case of war.   Supposedly at the beginning of the  war the C.E.O. of the Tilling Group persuaded the government that producer gas would be a Good Thing, but I have my doubts as  the gas units in were  production and out to users.  The government had an overall target of 10000 and issued a directive to all  U.K. operators telling them to start converting with a fleet target of 10 percent,  Originally there were one or two variants mounted either on wheels or fixed somewhere around or behind the vehicle on brackets. The photo of the London bus is the ultimate government standard so we  know why they all looked alike whoever made them. Oddly enough by some legal  quirk this instruction was also binding on Australia who dutifully  complied. 

The system was essentially a closed vertical furnace with an airtight lid and was filled to the top. Anthracite was the fuel of choice as being over 99 percent carbon. Although only available from a small number of pits in the Swansea area supply does not seem to have been a problem. Australia used wood chips.The furnace had air inlets near the base, solid bottom, no fire bars or similar. The gases went up and out  through  a grit filter and a minute water wash to catch any acid or tar vapours and  was then piped to the engine. To start up,  light oil of any sort was poured over the fuel, slight pause to let it penetrate,  then ignite it  and put the lid back on. Running the engine provided the draught for the fuel which only burned in a ring at air intake level. From start it was reckoned that the system was in full going order in about 12 minutes. One filling was good for 80 miles or so, but no figures for what weight of fuel that was. Some operators did carry extra on the bus. 

As an example of deterioration of information over time, one eminent preservation body calls it producer gas but then  describes making water gas. Another  journal roundly states that only petrol engines could be converted. Enough said.

Dealing strictly with the common simplest system of hitching the trailer on and piping in, both petrol and diesel engines had a  T piece  with flap valve let into the air intake plus other odd driver controls. Both types  as boginspro has quite properly posted were run as dual fuel engines but slightly differently.

A petrol bus was started on petrol, the driver then opening the gas flap valve and actually closing the petrol feed by an additional tap operated from the cab.. Ignition of the gas thereafter by the built in ignition system. After this it gets hazy. There is a reference that once running on gas that was it for  the journey. Whether there was ever any use of both fuels together is not stated. . By implication the throttle pedal was used as normal.

The diesel engine also  had a T piece let into the air inlet but which had a driver controlled flap valve in both arms. To provide ignition  the  engine ran all the time on a minimum of  about 12 -15 to a maximum round 40 percent diesel, the remainder being producer gas.Again there are only sketchy  operating details but presumably  the gas valve  was   fully open. We are left to assume that the throttle pedal was used  conventionally except that seems to negate the idea of saving  diesel.  There is no indication that the gas line valve was used to control the speed level.. Confusingly there are some instructions for no reason that makes sense to me  for  turning  corners by shutting the gas off and doing right or left turns on diesel,  remembering to turn the gas back on afterwards.and adjust the air valve as necessary.

There are two major drawbacks to the system. Firstly there is the engine. A petrol engine compression ratio is too low for gas which lowers  the power output. A modern high efficiency  diesel would be  too high.The WW2 diesel was thought to be only slightly over, but  lead to some combustion problems.  This whole situation  was simply dealt with by ignoring it. Producer gas is rated as a Low Calorific Value Fuel for a start. A good ratio in the producer gas was 35 percent combustible  and 65 percent nitrogen compared to 100 percent with liquid fuel. In use the gas is further diluted with nitrogen from the combustion air so the overall power loss was finally  reckoned to be at best  30 percent or up to 40 percent on a bad day. Not helpful looking hopefully up the climb to Meadowhead. The diesel seems to have come off slightly better when hillclimbing. The air line flap valve was used to give smooth running and maximum power depending on the fuel/gas ratio and seems to have needed frequent adjustment 

 Service stops needed to have the engine running fast to keep the draught up and don't let it go out on a layover  at the  terminus. That had to be a loop;  no backing with a trailer. The one good thing was that the fire was self regulating by the induction suction and needed no attention from the driver. Then there is the end of the day's  work. A  dedicated maintainance unit was required  Each day the furnace had to be cleaned out and refuelled. The grit filters were cleaned and the water wash checked and filled.. One  check with the system working was to test  the piping for leaks with a flame. A little blue flame at a joint indicated repairs were needed.  All extra work. Engine problems are conjectural in my mind. The lack of lubricity by using gas in the cylinders is mentioned but not stressed though one source claimed a total engine  failure after three months service. Another point stressed  but nothing more was increased wear due to more bottom gear work.There  are some references to problems with the gas trailer itself but again nothing  specific. 

Sheffield converted two petrol buses, the first being a singledecker  with the gas plant inboard at back of the saloon which must have made life  interesting. Seating dropped from 32 to 20. It had the usual power problems and was banished to the Stannington route where it apparently coped as in 1942 it was reported to have done 20000 miles at lower (unspecified) running costs. The second bus was a double decker, converted once, had a unit change and quietly  soldiered on. Eight diesel buses were then converted to have trailer units with a ninth in prospect that never got done.

Reading the literature one thing which has survived is the general dislike due to lack of power and inability to climb which  transport managers were not backward at saying. There are nationwide  reports of stalling on hills, male passengers then having to get out and walk or all passengers having to walk uphill. No record of actual pushing though. Very rapidly where possible the gas buses were drafted to flat routes to get some use out of them. One odd record which has baffled me is the statement that the bus he was on   "had to pause to get more gas into  the bag before it could go". Not Sheffield I hasten to add. I cannot see how engine suction gets gas into a  big roof storage bag.  Was it perhaps a straight town gas conversion mistaken? I found no reference to a two gas set up.

The complaints carried on and Sheffield Transport decided enough was enough and said as much  so the ninth  conversion never got done. Boginspro's post suggests the costs were abysmal. Rather surprisingly perhaps I found no direct emphasis or specific figures on the cost aspects. Certainly there were no records of miles per lb. versus miles per gallon. There are published figures of calorific values for anthracite, producer gas, diesel and wood but I admit to coming to a halt in trying to compare a gas with a liquid.  Possibly the fact that the buses  did provide a service of some sort in the war was recognised but my impression is that the lack of power took precedence over all else.  For whatever reason the government in 1944 cancelled the conversion instruction.  By all accounts the conversion back to whatever  had been was  done very rapidly. Think about it; remove the trailer and disconnect the gas pipe at the engine. Anything extra to choice and it might never have happened. 

What I expected to be a reasonably straightforward search wasn't. The information is scattered and sometimes dubious or impossible or useless. One slightly promising  post further north of a late return home by gas bus turned out to be due to a flat tyre. My regret is the absence of first hand driving facts. Driving a diesel/gas bus appears to have been  fairly complicated due to the need to keep adjusting the air and gas valves , a point not missed  by one manager who declared it took "an extraordinary man to drive one"  Probably experience counted for a lot. I doubt now if  we shall get to know how difficult it really was and was it a problem.

Apologies all round for having to assume and presume here and there. More hard facts would have been useful.

And it's left one more question of the same era. Sheffield got complimented on keeping services going by buying creosote from Leeds and using it to dilute the diesel.  What do we know about that?

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10 hours ago, Keith_exS10 said:

And it's left one more question of the same era. Sheffield got complimented on keeping services going by buying creosote from Leeds and using it to dilute the diesel.  What do we know about that?

Creosote is just another hydrocarbon derivative that would have been readily available at that time, as it is and was, a by-product of coal-gas and coke manufacture, both common enough industries back then. Creosote in its primary distilled form is a thick, oily liquid, though still readily combustible, like most hydrocarbons. However, when generally sold for retail, or industrial uses, it is usually diluted with other, more free-flowing hydrocarbon based solvents, in order to make it easier to use. Benzene, Toluene, Xylene, Ethyl-benzene most probably. These other, hydrocarbon based solvents, would also be by-products of coal-gas and coke manufacture, again, readily combustible, and in some cases more so. So it is probable that what they were really after, were these diluting solvents.

So, you could most certainly use such a mixture in an internal combustion engine.

Certainly an impressive piece of lateral thinking on the part of Sheffield Corporation Transport, but I would imagine that Revenue and Customs might not have been too impressed had they known, as it does sound a little akin to using red diesel on the public highway.

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9 hours ago, Unitedite Returns said:

Creosote is just another hydrocarbon derivative that would have been readily available at that time, as it is and was, a by-product of coal-gas and coke manufacture, both common enough industries back then. Creosote in its primary distilled form is a thick, oily liquid, though still readily combustible, like most hydrocarbons. However, when generally sold for retail, or industrial uses, it is usually diluted with other, more free-flowing hydrocarbon based solvents, in order to make it easier to use. Benzene, Toluene, Xylene, Ethyl-benzene most probably. These other, hydrocarbon based solvents, would also be by-products of coal-gas and coke manufacture, again, readily combustible, and in some cases more so. So it is probable that what they were really after, were these diluting solvents.

So, you could most certainly use such a mixture in an internal combustion engine.

Certainly an impressive piece of lateral thinking on the part of Sheffield Corporation Transport, but I would imagine that Revenue and Customs might not have been too impressed had they known, as it does sound a little akin to using red diesel on the public highway.

Many thanks for the info. Took me back seventy years or so when I contemplated being an organic chemist. 

Just to add what little else I  found. The statement was to the effect "Sheffield should be congratulated on keeping bus services  going by using creosote." Straightforward so far, then " Sheffield had no licence so could not buy it. Leeds had s licence so Sheffield bought it from them" The mention of a licence sounds like wartime control and Leeds would have had to justify why  one should  be granted. It suggests it was a use recognised by the government. Did the licence cover the additives as well? Nothing other than two city names so presumably it was a deal between two transport departments?.  It was hardly secret; this is an extract from a 1942 issue of " The Commercial Motor".I can find little more than this so far, just a passing references in a page of news paragraphs . As usual the technical bits of interest aren't  there. 

A general search only threw up three names, Nottingham being the third. Any other unrecorded  users  anywhere?

The common expression was " There is war on"  which  was used to justify anything and everything and  could have been used on Customs and Excise. Today's  reaction no doubt would be rather different.  I take the red diesel point. I always had that. problem. Our quarry machines went out with anything up to 150 gallons of red in the tank so they could be offloaded. Empty on arrival was too common but there were many happy  heavy hauliers. We never heard of one being tested. The police usually wanted them out of their county as soon as possible and I don't  supposed that's  altered either.

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