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madannie77

Comparative Trials 1978

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madannie77

Does anyone have any memories & photographs of the comparative bus trials in 1978.

Although the 51 was one of my local bus routes I can remember very little about the trials, except that the Dennis Dominator 521 was in blue and cream livery and 430 was the only one man operated Ailsa in Sheffield.

The outcome was, of course, Dennis Domiinators and MCW Metrobuses being bought by the PTE.

very late edit: 521 was not in blue and cream, but standard SYT livery. 522 was the Dominator in blue and cream!

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Guest littlemalc

This has been mentioned in a post on Seffield Forum, I was one of the inspectors who used to work in campo Lane at the time, I remember six buses on the 51 route at that time, the Dennis of course, who no one had heard of in bus circles it has to be said, the M C W, a Leyland, I think named an Olympian, a Seddon which had very poor brakes, the Ailsa, which was radicaly different to all the others with it's front mounted engine, a Foden, which I remember little about, and they were "messing about" with the gas engine bus.

I found the Dennis interesting because of it's choice of engine, the Rolls Royce Eagle, being a great fan of the famous RR aero engines I was suitably impressed, we normally saw new buses of different brands using Gardner engines, good and reliable, but very "plodding" engines.

The Ailsa was pretty useless on the 51 route as it had a very slow acceleration, only speeding up as revs built, and the turbo kicked in, a bus needs to be able to get away from a stop smartish, top speed has no relevance.

The gas engine bus was amazingly fast, almost like a car performance, but could only carry enough fuel for two trips, once again, a RR engine, a straight six converted from a Daimler scout car.

The fact that the Dominator has given such a long and popular service probably points to the right choice being made when this was picked, it was a very controversial decision at the time, many and vociferous were the critics.

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madannie77

This has been mentioned in a post on Seffield Forum, I was one of the inspectors who used to work in campo Lane at the time, I remember six buses on the 51 route at that time, the Dennis of course, who no one had heard of in bus circles it has to be said, the M C W, a Leyland, I think named an Olympian, a Seddon which had very poor brakes, the Ailsa, which was radicaly different to all the others with it's front mounted engine, a Foden, which I remember little about, and they were "messing about" with the gas engine bus.

I found the Dennis interesting because of it's choice of engine, the Rolls Royce Eagle, being a great fan of the famous RR aero engines I was suitably impressed, we normally saw new buses of different brands using Gardner engines, good and reliable, but very "plodding" engines.

The Ailsa was pretty useless on the 51 route as it had a very slow acceleration, only speeding up as revs built, and the turbo kicked in, a bus needs to be able to get away from a stop smartish, top speed has no relevance.

The gas engine bus was amazingly fast, almost like a car performance, but could only carry enough fuel for two trips, once again, a RR engine, a straight six converted from a Daimler scout car.

The fact that the Dominator has given such a long and popular service probably points to the right choice being made when this was picked, it was a very controversial decision at the time, many and vociferous were the critics.

The Leyland involved in the trials was the Titan, which was Leyland's intended successor to the Atlantean. It sold well in London (well over 1,000) but very few elsewhere due to it's complexity compared to existing products. It was as a result of this failure to sell Titans that the Olympian was introduced, by which timw SYPTE had gone for the Dennis and MCW buses. I don't remember any Seddons in Sheffield at all, and no-one remembers much about the Foden as only a handful were made. Your mention of the Rolls Royce engine in the Dennis Dominator reminds of my father commenting once about the sound of the Dominators reminding him of RR aero engines! The standard engine fitted into a Dominator was a Gardner: I think it was SYPTE who had the RR engine fitted. Perhaps one of the reasons the Dominators lasted so long was that the RR engine was a big engine derated, and hence not running flat out.

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Guest bus man

It was reported that the pte would have liked the titan unfortunatley due to the lareg amount of alluminimum in it they were very expensive so there for they went for the cheaper option the dominator

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Guest littlemalc

Thanks for correcting my name for the Leyland, unlike most of you on this site, I can never be described as a bus enthusiast, I had an interest, but it was mainly a job which provided my living, nostalgia of course comes with age!!!

The mention of the Seddon, it was certainly tried, but I can very well remember problems with the brakes on the hilly 51 route, it did not last very long at all.

It's worth mentioning that Dennis, although new to bus building, were a firm that had a name for building very high quality specialised vehicles like fire appliances etc, the Dominator, for it's time showed some very original thinking, and was obviously well thought out, well made, and a delight to handle from a drivers point of view.

The transport authority in Sheffield took great pride in advertising they had bought buses with RR engines, ie:- nothing was too good for their travelling public. When the Dominator first went into service, it had a metal plaque with the words, "powered by Rolls Royce" on the front, all these went missing over the years, I wonder if anyone has one of these?

My own speciality currently is the history and evolution of the RR Merlin aero engine, I have given a number of talks on it in my now home town of Scarborough.

Of course, a lot of good Sheffield steel went into this!

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Waterside Echo

The Leyland involved in the trials was the Titan, which was Leyland's intended successor to the Atlantean. It sold well in London (well over 1,000) but very few elsewhere due to it's complexity compared to existing products. It was as a result of this failure to sell Titans that the Olympian was introduced, by which timw SYPTE had gone for the Dennis and MCW buses. I don't remember any Seddons in Sheffield at all, and no-one remembers much about the Foden as only a handful were made. Your mention of the Rolls Royce engine in the Dennis Dominator reminds of my father commenting once about the sound of the Dominators reminding him of RR aero engines! The standard engine fitted into a Dominator was a Gardner: I think it was SYPTE who had the RR engine fitted. Perhaps one of the reasons the Dominators lasted so long was that the RR engine was a big engine derated, and hence not running flat out.

Hi. The first Dominator I drove was 2112 on its debut on Service 65 one Monday morning. Its strange but true, whether it was because of that RR badge it did not seem like just another new bus, it was something completely different. The acceleration and handling were a joy, the air suspension gave a smooth ride and with the cab window open the burble of the engine was music to the ears. I think the powers that be were a little disappointed with the fuel consumption, and later on most had their tanks enlarged to 50 galls. In the early 90s some of the Dominators were re-engined with Volvo units but I do not know how successful these were. W/E.

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madannie77

Thanks for correcting my name for the Leyland, unlike most of you on this site, I can never be described as a bus enthusiast, I had an interest, but it was mainly a job which provided my living, nostalgia of course comes with age!!!

The mention of the Seddon, it was certainly tried, but I can very well remember problems with the brakes on the hilly 51 route, it did not last very long at all.

It's worth mentioning that Dennis, although new to bus building, were a firm that had a name for building very high quality specialised vehicles like fire appliances etc, the Dominator, for it's time showed some very original thinking, and was obviously well thought out, well made, and a delight to handle from a drivers point of view.

The transport authority in Sheffield took great pride in advertising they had bought buses with RR engines, ie:- nothing was too good for their travelling public. When the Dominator first went into service, it had a metal plaque with the words, "powered by Rolls Royce" on the front, all these went missing over the years, I wonder if anyone has one of these?

My own speciality currently is the history and evolution of the RR Merlin aero engine, I have given a number of talks on it in my now home town of Scarborough.

Of course, a lot of good Sheffield steel went into this!

I always find it good to hear from people who work in public transport, as it gives a different perspective on things from that gained as an enthusiast and/or passenger.

Was the Seddon used on the 51 a single decker, tested in the late 60s/early 70s when the AEC Swifts were introduced onto the route. One source I ahve also mentions a Bristol RE being trialled as well.

Wandering off topic a bit. Dennis had been building buses (in relatively low numbers compared to Leyland, Daimler, AEC etc) for a long time, although from the mid-fifties they made little other than the Loline (the Bristol Lodekka built under licence) and ceased bus building in the mid-sixties, before re-entering the market in the mid/late seventies due to increasing dissatisfaction on the part of many operators with Leyland's products. A summary is given here:

http://www.dennisbusowners.co.uk/history.html

Something else Dennis made: apparently they were so reliable they stopped making them as no-one wanted replacements! This one lives at Sandtoft.

I am never allowed to forget about Dennis Bros as my partner is from Guildford!

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Guest littlemalc

Yes, the Seddon was a single decker, it was a great disapointment, surprising really as they have a good track record in the field of lorry making, I agree with the comments made about the sound of the Dominator, it had a very typical RR growl, and the superb power steering was absolute luxury for all of us brought up on heavy manual steering.

The suspension was excellent, and a good heating system, a drivers bus if ever there was one.

The Ailsa was a srange beast that didnt know if it was a back loader or what, putting the engine at the front, and requiring the driver to get in from a door on the offside was a backward step, however, the steering and comfort standards were good.

Of course, the Volvo engine now seems to dominate the bus market, regardless of builder, rather like the Gardner engine of old.Interestingly, both the RR engine and the Gardener started life for totaly different purposes, the Gardner was designed as a marine engine, and the RR as a static power generator engine, but both proving superb in the bus area.

Nothing new here for Rolls, as the Merlin aero engine was de-rated and used very successfuly as a tank engine, giving oodles of power for Vickers to build a tank capable of taking on the German Tiger, it was built for many years under licence by Rover, who called it the Meteor engine.

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Waterside Echo

Leyland Bus 501. Now this was a nice bus to drive.

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Waterside Echo
Leyland Bus 501. Now this was a nice bus to drive.

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Guest transit

Leyland Bus 501. Now this was a nice bus to drive.

....probably more known for its "Sheaf Motors" all-over ad livery !!.....

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madannie77

....probably more known for its "Sheaf Motors" all-over ad livery !!.....

501 and 502 being the only Leyland Olympians owned by SYPTE, both being to standard West Yorkshire PTE specification, hence the non-standard destination display. Seem to remember they were sold on to Chesterfield after not too many years, presumably as they were non-standard with a fleet made up largely of Dominators and Metrobuses. Did 501 gain the Sheaf Motors livery when it was a SYPTE bus, or after it migrated to Derbyshire?

Here's a picture of 502, to complete a photographic record of the whole batch!

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Waterside Echo

Anyone got any early photos of these demonstrators in Sheffield ? W/E.

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madannie77

Anyone got any early photos of these demonstrators in Sheffield ? W/E.

I can't find any photos of the various demonstrators in Sheffield. The two single deckers I am aware of as having operated in Sheffield, both in summer 1969, are

Bristol RELL LAE 770E (seen here at The Commerical Motor Show)

http://www.transportimages.com/gallery/v/b...ms/bcv.JPG.html

and Seddon RU TBU 598G (seen operating on hire to Gosport & Fareham - at the bottom of this page)

http://www.regent8.co.uk/loans%201939-1969.htm

Apparently 22 Bristol RELLs were ordered in 1971, but the order was then changed to the 18 Brsitol VRTs (267-284)

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Guest bus man

Some odds and sods (not in order) the bristol vrs which are mentioned above one of them survives 271? and as been finished this year it lives at whthall musuem near birmingham

501/2 were very closse to be been blacked by the union indeed i was dragged out of bed at 8am one morning - off night duty of course - by a certain PB to be told get photos in service theres a union meeting at 11am they could be off road for good my miday - then remained in service and ended up with chesterfield corp both now scrapped

ironicly a ex doncaster sedon ended up at east bank when they were short it was used on clipper and other eb working i have a shot of it at millhouses turning circle

I have seen a shot of the leyland national demo in sheffield but its not mine

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madannie77

Some odds and sods (not in order) the bristol vrs which are mentioned above one of them survives 271? and as been finished this year it lives at whthall musuem near birmingham

501/2 were very closse to be been blacked by the union indeed i was dragged out of bed at 8am one morning - off night duty of course - by a certain PB to be told get photos in service theres a union meeting at 11am they could be off road for good my miday - then remained in service and ended up with chesterfield corp both now scrapped

ironicly a ex doncaster sedon ended up at east bank when they were short it was used on clipper and other eb working i have a shot of it at millhouses turning circle

I have seen a shot of the leyland national demo in sheffield but its not mine

The preserved Bristol VR is indeed 271, seen here in it's preserved state. Unfortunately the Vrs had all gone form Sheffield before I started photographing buses.

http://www.bammot.org.uk/vehicles/vowe271k.asp

What was the problem with 501 & 502? Anything to do with them being to a WYPTE (ie L***s) specification, not SYPTE?

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Waterside Echo

The preserved Bristol VR is indeed 271, seen here in it's preserved state. Unfortunately the Vrs had all gone form Sheffield before I started photographing buses.

http://www.bammot.org.uk/vehicles/vowe271k.asp

What was the problem with 501 & 502? Anything to do with them being to a WYPTE (ie L***s) specification, not SYPTE?

Hi madannie. You have got to remember that the union was very powerful in those days as it was a closed shop on the buses then, just a handfull of petty complaints about a certain bus could result in it being pulled out of service. I only drove these buses on a couple of occasions and cannot remember there being any problems but I was at Herries and 501 & 502 were based at Eastbank. The Ailsas were a typical example, most of us drivers wanted to oneman them but the union said no, not only because of the engine pod but for the route number box on the front N/S of the vehicle obstructing the drivers view at road junctions, eventually management gave up and relegated them all to conventional work, well in Sheffield at least. One Ailsa that we used in service for a couple of days at Herries on one man routes was the Mk 2 that later became the roadshow bus. W/E

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Guest transit

Hi madannie. You have got to remember that the union was very powerful in those days as it was a closed shop on the buses then, just a handfull of petty complaints about a certain bus could result in it being pulled out of service. I only drove these buses on a couple of occasions and cannot remember there being any problems but I was at Herries and 501 & 502 were based at Eastbank. The Ailsas were a typical example, most of us drivers wanted to oneman them but the union said no, not only because of the engine pod but for the route number box on the front N/S of the vehicle obstructing the drivers view at road junctions, eventually management gave up and relegated them all to conventional work, well in Sheffield at least. One Ailsa that we used in service for a couple of days at Herries on one man routes was the Mk 2 that later became the roadshow bus. W/E

....430 converted to the "showbus"........

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Guest transit

Some odds and sods (not in order) the bristol vrs which are mentioned above one of them survives 271? and as been finished this year it lives at whthall musuem near birmingham

501/2 were very closse to be been blacked by the union indeed i was dragged out of bed at 8am one morning - off night duty of course - by a certain PB to be told get photos in service theres a union meeting at 11am they could be off road for good my miday - then remained in service and ended up with chesterfield corp both now scrapped

ironicly a ex doncaster sedon ended up at east bank when they were short it was used on clipper and other eb working i have a shot of it at millhouses turning circle

I have seen a shot of the leyland national demo in sheffield but its not mine

....was'nt the Seddon the ex-Selnec battery bus "chloride - silentrider" which the PTE dabbled with during 76-77 ,which arrived in the Selnec colours of orange and white ?????

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Guest littlemalc

The comment about the Seddon being the ex electric bus, I remember the electric bus convention held in the 70's and the single deck bus which towed a battery trailer behind it, I must admit with the passage of time, I thought this was a National, but would be interested if you have any details of it, this era certainly saw some very interesting times in bus development, the biggest problem with the Seddon when used on the 51 route, was complaints from drivers that it suffered from brake fade.

I don't think this problem was ever resolved, and it soon seemed to disapear from the scene.

A lot of these buses suffered from development snags, the Dominator refused to re-start whenever the engine was stopped, which meant many visits from fitters while in service on the 51, it was eventually traced to the engine cover not seating properly, and the micro switch which stopped it from starting when the cover was in the lifted position did not always engage when the cover was shut, a minor problem, but one which caused quite a few lost trips untill sorted.

While on the subject of electric buses, does anyone know the fate of the little Morrisons electric bus which was stored at the old paint shop off Rutland Rd?

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Guest transit

The comment about the Seddon being the ex electric bus, I remember the electric bus convention held in the 70's and the single deck bus which towed a battery trailer behind it, I must admit with the passage of time, I thought this was a National, but would be interested if you have any details of it, this era certainly saw some very interesting times in bus development, the biggest problem with the Seddon when used on the 51 route, was complaints from drivers that it suffered from brake fade.

I don't think this problem was ever resolved, and it soon seemed to disapear from the scene.

A lot of these buses suffered from development snags, the Dominator refused to re-start whenever the engine was stopped, which meant many visits from fitters while in service on the 51, it was eventually traced to the engine cover not seating properly, and the micro switch which stopped it from starting when the cover was in the lifted position did not always engage when the cover was shut, a minor problem, but one which caused quite a few lost trips untill sorted.

While on the subject of electric buses, does anyone know the fate of the little Morrisons electric bus which was stored at the old paint shop off Rutland Rd?

....there was actually 2 buses purchased , which became no's 1000 & 1001 . Heres a couple of (poor quality !) pics of 1000 , firstly in the orange with cream front panel livery when first purchased (pic1) then after recieving the "standard" SYPTE livery (pic2). I remember it had a red "lightening" flash and "electric" wording on the front panel. I think the excessive amount of weight due to the batteries , and relatively small engine and many frequent recharges led to their demise. I dont know what became of them after Sy , but would love to see more pics if possible ????

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madannie77

....there was actually 2 buses purchased , which became no's 1000 & 1001 . Heres a couple of (poor quality !) pics of 1000 , firstly in the orange with cream front panel livery when first purchased (pic1) then after recieving the "standard" SYPTE livery (pic2). I remember it had a red "lightening" flash and "electric" wording on the front panel. I think the excessive amount of weight due to the batteries , and relatively small engine and many frequent recharges led to their demise. I dont know what became of them after Sy , but would love to see more pics if possible ????

1000 and 1001 (CWO 600K and CWO 516K respectively) were Leyland-Crompton battery buses built for the Department of Trade & Industry in 1972 and which seemed to have toured the country before being bought by SYPTE. They weighed in at 7.75 tons, with a top speed of 25 mph and a range of about 35 miles.

There was also a Lucas-Seddon battery bus (GNC 276N), ex Greater Manchester PTE, identical in body design to the Seddon Midibuses which operated the Doncaster Inner Circle service, and the Seddon-Chloride Silentrider (XVU 387M), also ex Greater Manchester. This was a full size single decker which weighed almost 13 tons, and was incapable of operating in all day service, needing to be recharged after a morning's work. I can't find any allocated fleetnumbers for these two buses.

Aside from weight and range, the cost of these electric buses was also against them. At the time it was estimated that mass produced Silentriders would cost about £75,000 each at a time when a Leyland Atlantean cost about £17,000.

A more detailed account of these battery buses can be found in Greater Manchester Buses, by Stewart J Brown (Capital Transport, 1995, ISBN 185414 174 0).

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Waterside Echo

....430 converted to the "showbus"........

Hi `transit`Have you got a photo of this bus in its demonstrator colours ?

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Guest bus man

Just to clarify the comments earlier the seddon in use at east bank and on the clipper was a normal bus of the the councils sheffield was the only one that didnt have any seddons - remember STD only bought the REs because of the railway involvement. Bristol products could only be bought by nationalasied industries

With regard to the unions remember rotherham didnt have any buses for a few days because the canteen stopped serving chips !

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madannie77

A few more notes and observations.

I don't think Ailsa 430 ever operated in any livery other then standard SYPTE livery.

I have transposed the fleetnumbers of the two electric buses: 1000 was CWO 516K and 1001 was CWO 600K. Still haven't found out what happened to them after they left SYPTE.

The other two electric buses were only on loan for about three months in 1976 and 1977, so never received SYPTE livery.

Littlemalc was right about the Leyland National battery bus. It was Crosville fleetnumber XEB 461, and carried it's batteries on a trailer, as shown here (second picture on this page).

http://www.crosville-ec.org.uk/photos.asp?p=13

It appeared in Sheffield for the Electric Vehicle conference on 23rd and 24th May 1978, and failed with flat batteries on the first day! The GMPTE Seddon-Chloride Silentrider and 1000 were also used at this conference.

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