The Volvo B55 Ailsa - Origins/Development, Service History & Survivors

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Strathclyder

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Following on from the Scania-Metropolitan thread, I thought I'd start one on another of the 'upstarts' that emerged in the 70s to challenge the Leyland monopoly: the Ailsa-Volvo B55 (or the Volvo Ailsa, the Volvo B55 Ailsa, the Volvo Wulfrunian or whatever your preferred term for it is lol). This thread is mainly about the Ailsa's origins & development history, it's service history (this can include the prototype(s), the pre-production examples and lastly, the examples built for export) and present-day survivors, whether they be in preservation or fulfilling a non-PSV role of some kind. Personal recollections of them are of course also welcome, either from their in-service days or in preservation.

To round this first post out, here are a few videos showcasing Ailsas either in their service days or in preservation, highlighting just how characterful they are, the Mk1s/Mk2s in particular, from the groans of the Hamworthy hub-reduction drop-centre rear axle, the screaming alternator belt to the roar of the Volvo TD70 powerplant:






Over to you. :)
 
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CN04NRJ

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When I passed my test in 2009 just after my 19th birthday was fortunate to drive quite a few of these near the ends of their working lives at Edwards Coaches, all of which were ex-Cardiff or second hand examples purchased by Cardiff Bus (Alexander bodied examples from Fife Scottish and Merseybus, the former being a mix of Voith and SCG gearboxes).

Out of the ones owned by Cardiff Bus I believe 407, 412 and 415 survive in preservation - all of which have been restored although I believe 412 is awaiting a new engine/engine rebuild by its owner.

Didn't take that many photos back then but here's my album of Ailsas during my time at Edwards. I drove almost all of the ones they had left at that time (around 28 if I remember correctly);


Former Cardiff 448 and Merseyside 0055, not my photo but this was certainly an interesting vehicle to drive. By the time I got a go of it it didn't have first gear and had lost it's upper deck windows. I do believe someone tried to preserve it but the chassis condition was pretty much terminal - i've also got a video of it when a friend of mine took it to the Barry Festival of Transport in 2008 -



Preserved 407 and 415 posing together at the CTPG's Barry Museum looking absolutely fantastic;


412 with the Oakdale Preservation Group, although it's privately owned.


NDW408/9X were (surprisingly) painted into Edwards contract blue to be used as spare vehicles for the Cardiff Uni shuttles, it was great to see them still running around the streets of Cardiff as late as 2012/23 at which point they would have been over 30 years old;


Cardiff 436 was sold into preservation, but eventually passed to Watts Coaches where it gained their 'service' livery - it eventually fell into a state of disrepair as seen here and I believe it was scavenged for parts by the CTPG and the owners of 412;

 
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TheGrandWazoo

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The Ailsa was a curious one. It was/is indelibly linked to Scotland with certain SBG firms adopting it with some enthusiasm, such as Fife. Yet others were almost tepid in their response - Eastern got some (diverted?) but then waited another four/five years before they took some more substantial numbers before acquiring more secondhand whilst others didn't take to them at all.... did Northern ever get any? When I visited my relatives, the ride, sounds and internal ambience of the Eastern ones were a bit of a change from my usual fare of NBC VRs and Olympians.

South of the border, they were a bit rarer. Think all the PTEs had some but London, Tyne & Wear, GM and West Yorkshire were confined to small trial batches. There were the famed WM examples and the South Yorks Van Hools, and I think Merseyside took a few but interestingly, all three PTEs withdrew them relatively earlier; that might have been in pursuit of eliminating non standard types and, of course, the WM ones ended up with London Buses probably as they were cheap for the Harrow scheme.

Not many municipals took them though Cardiff did and added secondhand ones (from Fife and Merseyside) - perhaps they were seen as too niche for most? The NBC took a batch too for evaluation in the Medway towns.... they still kept on buying VRs in the main!
 

GusB

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The Ailsa was a curious one. It was/is indelibly linked to Scotland with certain SBG firms adopting it with some enthusiasm, such as Fife. Yet others were almost tepid in their response - Eastern got some (diverted?) but then waited another four/five years before they took some more substantial numbers before acquiring more secondhand whilst others didn't take to them at all.... did Northern ever get any? When I visited my relatives, the ride, sounds and internal ambience of the Eastern ones were a bit of a change from my usual fare of NBC VRs and Olympians.
Central, Eastern, Fife, Midland and Western had them new, and of course there were significant numbers purchased by Greater Glasgow/Strathclyde and Tayside. Despite being a fairly frequent visitor to Glasgow, they were fairly evasive on the routes that I used and I never got to travel on any in that area.

While Northern didn't get any new, those that Highland had acquired for work in the Far North were sent back south to Fife (1990). For some reason they stopped off in Elgin for a few weeks and naturally they were pressed into service on local work. It was during this period that I had my one and only trip on one, a journey home from school, and it was a fairly hair-raising experience! My first impression, other than the noise (!) were that they were very quick off the mark. It was also driven by a newer driver whose right foot was known to be a little bit on the heavy side. The SCG gearbox was a bit rough too - the mechanism for cutting the throttle between changes didn't seem to be functioning properly.

My final recollection of seeing them in service was after I moved to Edinburgh in 2001 when they were running around in the cream with yellow, blue and green First Edinburgh livery.
 

Richard Scott

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Remember chasing the two remaining London examples and riding on those. Harris bus had two, think ex Manchester and had those on rail replacement services around Upminster. Also had most of the Cardiff examples, last ones remaining well into the 2000s. Always thought the Voith wasn't too well suited to Cardiff's hilly routes as would shuttle between gears constantly. Went to Leeds once to have a ride in the earlier examples they had up there. Did used to enjoy a ride on an Ailsa, must admit preferred the sound of the MkIIIs with Voith transmission. Not been on one in years although had one or two ex WM examples at some local rallies in past few years.
 

CN04NRJ

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Further to my original post, Cardiff Bus had 36 Volvo Ailsas initially with fleet numbers 401-436.

The first 18 as seen here at their launch at City Hall were registered NDW401X-NDW418X, with subsequent batches being RKG419Y-RKG427Y and the last being A428VNY-A436VNY. They were all fitted with 3 speed Voith gearboxes although I believe one was experimentally converted to SCG later in life, i'm not sure which one this was though.


These were joined by second hand examples from Merseybus which gained fleet numbers 437-446 and were registered A151HLV-A163HLV and all had Voith Gearboxes. They underwent extensive refurbishment to 'Cardiff Spec' as seen in the below photographs;



They were later followed by two further examples from Merseybus, 447 and 448 registered DEM821Y/DEM822Y - these were fitted with SCG automatic gearboxes.


A further batch was purchased from Fife Scottish, which gained fleet numbers 449-457 and were various examples from the A-YSX batch, one example being A968YSX as seen here. These also underwent full refurbishment into Cardiff specifications.


They remained in service until late 2007 with a significant portion of them passing to Edwards Coaches up to that point, with a running day being held on the 15th December 2007 with vehicles 407 and 436 - they were replaced in the October of that year by a batch of 13 Scania N230UD East Lancs Olympuses but I believe the remaining roadworthy examples saw sporadic service on schools/bus routes until their final withdrawal on the running day.

 
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JModulo

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South of the border, they were a bit rarer. Think all the PTEs had some but London, Tyne & Wear, GM and West Yorkshire were confined to small trial batches. There were the famed WM examples and the South Yorks Van Hools, and I think Merseyside took a few but interestingly, all three PTEs withdrew them relatively earlier; that might have been in pursuit of eliminating non standard types and, of course, the WM ones ended up with London Buses probably as they were cheap for the Harrow scheme.
There was also 2 Vanhool ones purchased and operated by Hunter of the A1 service group, one of which is preserved.
 

TheGrandWazoo

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Central, Eastern, Fife, Midland and Western had them new, and of course there were significant numbers purchased by Greater Glasgow/Strathclyde and Tayside. Despite being a fairly frequent visitor to Glasgow, they were fairly evasive on the routes that I used and I never got to travel on any in that area.

While Northern didn't get any new, those that Highland had acquired for work in the Far North were sent back south to Fife (1990). For some reason they stopped off in Elgin for a few weeks and naturally they were pressed into service on local work. It was during this period that I had my one and only trip on one, a journey home from school, and it was a fairly hair-raising experience! My first impression, other than the noise (!) were that they were very quick off the mark. It was also driven by a newer driver whose right foot was known to be a little bit on the heavy side. The SCG gearbox was a bit rough too - the mechanism for cutting the throttle between changes didn't seem to be functioning properly.

My final recollection of seeing them in service was after I moved to Edinburgh in 2001 when they were running around in the cream with yellow, blue and green First Edinburgh livery.
I seem to recall that Central got some but then decided to go for Dominators. Midland also had a batch but then went for Metrobuses and think most went to Strathtay with the Perth operations? Western had a few more mixed in with Fleetlines and Dominators. Think some of the Central and Western ones ended up with Eastern with their expansions in Edinburgh IIRC.

I certainly recall the Eastern HSF-X ones that I travelled on in the mid 1980s and still seeing them, as you say, in the First Edinburgh combination livery!
 

delt1c

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Travelled on V1 -V3 many times in London, loved V3 when on the 77 group of services and crew operated. They then moved to Potters Bar along with 2nd hand Vanhool Volvo's which again I used regulkary on the 242. They were all good and comfortable buses but V1 - V3 were always the nicest to ride on
 

Strathclyder

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Central, Eastern, Fife, Midland and Western had them new, and of course there were significant numbers purchased by Greater Glasgow/Strathclyde and Tayside. Despite being a fairly frequent visitor to Glasgow, they were fairly evasive on the routes that I used and I never got to travel on any in that area.

While Northern didn't get any new, those that Highland had acquired for work in the Far North were sent back south to Fife (1990). For some reason they stopped off in Elgin for a few weeks and naturally they were pressed into service on local work. It was during this period that I had my one and only trip on one, a journey home from school, and it was a fairly hair-raising experience! My first impression, other than the noise (!) were that they were very quick off the mark. It was also driven by a newer driver whose right foot was known to be a little bit on the heavy side. The SCG gearbox was a bit rough too - the mechanism for cutting the throttle between changes didn't seem to be functioning properly.

My final recollection of seeing them in service was after I moved to Edinburgh in 2001 when they were running around in the cream with yellow, blue and green First Edinburgh livery.
I seem to recall that Central got some but then decided to go for Dominators. Midland also had a batch but then went for Metrobuses and think most went to Strathtay with the Perth operations? Western had a few more mixed in with Fleetlines and Dominators. Think some of the Central and Western ones ended up with Eastern with their expansions in Edinburgh IIRC.

I certainly recall the Eastern HSF-X ones that I travelled on in the mid 1980s and still seeing them, as you say, in the First Edinburgh combination livery!

Central took a total of 30 split across two batches. 10 Mk1s in 1978 (BGG-S reg) and 20 Mk2s in 1979 (LHS-V reg). The Mk1s spent their entire Central careers at East Kilbride (they later moved across to Eastern Scottish to assist with their deregulation battles in Edinburgh, these are the ones @TheGrandWazoo is referring to above), while the Mk2s were originally split between Wishaw & East Kilbride depots, but slowly gravitated towards the latter. They lasted into the Kelvin Central era and survived that company's takeover by Strathclyde's Buses, but just barely. They were all long-gone by the time First entered the picture in 1996. And yeah, the Dominator ended up becoming Central's decker of choice in their last years, with a total of 50 being bought between 1981-1983 (following on from a single prototype that arrived between the two batches of Ailsas in 1978).

As for the GGPTE/Strathclyde examples, the last of the later examples (the A-Class or Alphas as they were commonly called) lasted well into the First era, the last examples (by then mostly confined to school work) being withdrawn in mid-2006. The last AVs were all gone by the mid-90s, the Larkfield fire claimed a good number of them, one of the pre-production trio (GGG 302N/AV3) among them. Of these, only AV1 (the second-oldest surviving Ailsa overall) & AV8 survive.
 
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JModulo

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As for the GGPTE/Strathclyde examples, the last of the later examples (the A-Class or Alphas as they were commonly called) lasted well into the First era, the last examples (by then mostly confined to school work) being withdrawn in mid-2006. The last AVs were all gone by the mid-90s, the Larkfield fire claimed a good number of them, one of the pre-production trio (GGG 302N/AV3) among them. Of these, only AV1 (the second-oldest surviving Ailsa overall) & AV8 survive.
Not to mention a couple of them were also converted to single deck.
 

Strathclyder

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Not to mention a couple of them were also converted to single deck.
Aye, normally as a result of losing a arguement with a low bridge. They gained their own class-code to signify this: AS. This included the as-built single-deck Ailsa, bodied by Marshall (NHS 782Y, new as a demonstrator intended for Tayside and carrying the AS1 fleetnumber). This, sadly was yet another victim of the Larkfield fire (linked image taken by Geoffrey Morant).

 

JModulo

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Is there a list of all surviving vehicles? Understand the original prototype didn't survive, ending its days fitted with a Leyland 0600 engine?
Was it not a 680? If im thinking of the same vehicle anyway, I recall the front end had quite a droop due to the extra weight.
 

Strathclyder

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Is there a list of all surviving vehicles? Understand the original prototype didn't survive, ending its days fitted with a Leyland 0600 engine?
Was it not a 680? If im thinking of the same vehicle anyway, I recall the front end had quite a droop due to the extra weight.
THS 273M, exported to Hong Kong and was the first bus purchased by the then-fledgling Citybus (founded by ex-China Motor Bus traffic manager Lyndon Rees and initially known as Citybuses). Sources seem to be conflicted as to whether it had a O.600 or O.680 powerplant shoehorned into it latterly, but here is a pic of it with CTB dated December 1981, carrying the BZ 5769 reg and the V10 fleetnumber (from the Cliff Essex Flickr collection). The front looks to be protruding out far more than usual; looks to me that this was taken after it's powerplant swap. E: this was a locally manufactured modification before it's powerplant swap. Thanks @awsnews for putting me right there.


@Richard Scott Not got a list of all surviving Ailsas to hand (not sure if one even exists tbh), but here are the examples currently based at the Glasgow Vintage Vehicle Trust in Bridgeton (from oldest to newest):

  • GGG 300N/AV1 - Greater Glasgow PTE (second-oldest surviving Ailsa)
  • MGE 183P/AV8 - Greater Glasgow PTE
  • PSJ 825R - Hunter of Ardrossan (A1 Bus Service)
  • SSN 248S/248 - Tayside Regional Council
  • WTS 276T/276 - Tayside Regional Council
  • LHS 747V/AH24 - Central SMT
  • KSD 103W/A103 - Western SMT
  • A735 PSU/A109 - Strathclyde PTE
 
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TheGrandWazoo

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THS 273M, exported to Hong Kong and was the first bus purchased by the then-fledgling Citybus (founded by ex-China Motor Bus traffic manager Lyndon Rees and initially known as Citybuses). Sources seem to be conflicted as to whether it had a O.600 or O.680 powerplant shoehorned into it latterly, but here is a pic of it with CTB dated December 1981, carrying the BZ 5769 reg and the V10 fleetnumber (from the Cliff Essex Flickr collection). The front looks to be protruding out far more than usual; looks to me that this was taken after it's powerplant swap.


@Richard Scott Not got a list of all surviving Ailsas to hand (not sure if one even exists tbh), but here are the examples currently based at the Glasgow Vintage Vehicle Trust in Bridgeton (from oldest to newest):

  • GGG 300N/AV1 - Greater Glasgow PTE (second-oldest surviving Ailsa)
  • MGE 183P/AV8 - Greater Glasgow PTE
  • PSJ 825R - Hunter of Ardrossan (A1 Bus Service)
  • SSN 248S/248 - Tayside Regional Council
  • WTS 276T/276 - Tayside Regional Council
  • LHS 747V/AH24 - Central SMT
  • KSD 103W/A103 - Western SMT
  • A735 PSU/A109 - Strathclyde PTE

Some others in various states of preservation

Ex South Yorkshire LWB388P (in pieces)
Ex M&D LKP385P
Ex WMPTE JOV738P/TOE527N
Ex LT A101/102/103SUU (think V2 is still extant)
Ex Derby TRR814R (RTO1R)
Ex TWPTE GCN2N
 

Swanny200

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I remember reading the book on the Ailsa, all stemmed from a couple of guys importing the first Volvo F series truck to the country, IIRC the first few chassis were produced in Sweden and imported here. The Irvine plant was probably a good reason for a lot of the SBG taking them along with the Alexander body, the only real issues were with the rear axles which meant that by time the mk3 Ailsa came along it used a rear axle from Volvo's lorry range.

In terms of rarities, apart from V3 and the single deck Ailsa, there was a lowheight version that was the only one made (SBG bosses ran a mile when they saw it) last place I remember it being after it went to Derby was with WJC coaches before they went bust.
 

JModulo

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  • GGG 300N/AV1 - Greater Glasgow PTE (second-oldest surviving Ailsa)
  • MGE 183P/AV8 - Greater Glasgow PTE
  • PSJ 825R - Hunter of Ardrossan (A1 Bus Service)
  • SSN 248S/248 - Tayside Regional Council
  • WTS 276T/276 - Tayside Regional Council
  • LHS 747V/AH24 - Central SMT
  • KSD 103W/A103 - Western SMT
  • A735 PSU/A109 - Strathclyde PTE
248 due to leave soon, and KSD is also being stripped for parts as the chassis (or "spine" as sometimes referred to) is in a particularly poor state.
 

Strathclyder

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248 due to leave soon, and KSD is also being stripped for parts as the chassis (or "spine" as sometimes referred to) is in a particularly poor state.
Was actually aware of KSD's poor condition (pity, as it is/was the only surviving Western Ailsa), I just wasn't aware it was being stripped for parts. Wasn't aware of 248's impending departure though.

Other extant Ailsas include ex-Eastern Scottish CSG 773S (VV773; based at Lathalmond & presently off the road for further restorative work), Tayside WTS 272T (300 aka Broughty Castle), WTS 263T (263) & Fife Scottish KSF 1N (the first Ailsa to be delivered to a SBG company. This one hasn't seen the road for a while, was last noted at Stagecoach's former Methil depot).
 

busesrusuk

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They were quiet an interesting vehicle and London bought a significant number second hand after not following up with orders after the trials of V1-3. They bought all 50 from West Midlands PTE for the Harrow Bus network and London Northern.

London Northern also bought a number of the SYPTE Van Hool bodied examples and all the LN examples were concentrated in Potters Bar garage along with V1-3 (after single door conversion) to turn that garage into a low cost operation. The thing I remember about them most was a loud whistling noise under braking but otherwise an exciting bus to ride on compared to the usual London fare of Metro's and Titan's.

Here are a few images of preserved examples:

Preserved Strathclyde A109 Jul19 | Bridgeton, Glasgow. Jul 2… | Flickr
Preserved Eastern Scottish VV773 Aug14 | Lathalmond, Aug 201… | keith wood | Flickr
Preserved M&D 5385v2 Apr16 | Detling rally, 2016 | keith wood | Flickr
Preserved LT V1 Apr17 | Cobham Spring gathering, Apr 2017 | Flickr
Preserved WMPTE 4738 Aug 14 | Lathalmond 2014 | keith wood | Flickr
 

90sWereBetter

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Indonesia was the main export market for the Ailsa, taking over 300 of them including the last batch of chassis in 1984/85. Unfortunately it doesn't appear they were as long-living as UK Ailsas, photo evidence of them is very scarce on Flickr and nothing dated beyond late 1994. Their general condition makes a lot of the "cowboy" deregulation operators look like friggen Lothian!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/5310385891/in/photostream/

The last UK Ailsas made it onto B-plates, 10 for Eastern Scottish and 15 for Strathclyde. Both batches made it into First ownership but interestingly, while most of the B-YYS ex-PTE Ailsas lasted until the bitter end of Ailsa operation in Glasgow, the ex-Eastern B-GSC ones came off several years earlier and were outlasted by the older HSF-X batch...

Indeed, some of the last Glasgow examples even made it into Barbie 3 livery and looked about 10 years younger than they were!
 

L401CJF

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Cant see this already in the thread so apologies if its already been mentioned
Im sure one of the Merseyside Ailsas still exists in the North West pending restoration. 0071 I think?

It lived at the North West VRT in Kirkby for a while back around 2011/2, later moved to an outdoor yard in Birkenhead, had lots of windows smashed during that time but I believe has since been sold and is waiting restoration.

EDIT Now seems to be at the Merseyside Transport Trust in Burscough.
 
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Royston Vasey

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Following on from the Scania-Metropolitan thread, I thought I'd start one on another of the 'upstarts' that emerged in the 70s to challenge the Leyland monopoly: the Ailsa-Volvo B55 (or the Volvo Ailsa, the Volvo B55 Ailsa, the Volvo Wulfrunian or whatever your preferred term for it is lol). This thread is mainly about the Ailsa's origins & development history, it's service history (this can include the prototype(s), the pre-production examples and lastly, the examples built for export) and present-day survivors, whether they be in preservation or fulfilling a non-PSV role of some kind. Personal recollections of them are of course also welcome, either from their in-service days or in preservation.

To round this first post out, here are a few videos showcasing Ailsas either in their service days or in preservation, highlighting just how characterful they are, the Mk1s/Mk2s in particular, from the groans of the Hamworthy hub-reduction drop-centre rear axle, the screaming alternator belt to the roar of the Volvo TD70 powerplant:






Over to you. :)
They all look different in that first video, like the bodywork was assembled from whatever was available in the depot spares bin!
 

overthewater

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THS 273M, exported to Hong Kong and was the first bus purchased by the then-fledgling Citybus (founded by ex-China Motor Bus traffic manager Lyndon Rees and initially known as Citybuses). Sources seem to be conflicted as to whether it had a O.600 or O.680 powerplant shoehorned into it latterly, but here is a pic of it with CTB dated December 1981, carrying the BZ 5769 reg and the V10 fleetnumber (from the Cliff Essex Flickr collection). The front looks to be protruding out far more than usual; looks to me that this was taken after it's powerplant swap.


@Richard Scott Not got a list of all surviving Ailsas to hand (not sure if one even exists tbh), but here are the examples currently based at the Glasgow Vintage Vehicle Trust in Bridgeton (from oldest to newest):

  • GGG 300N/AV1 - Greater Glasgow PTE (second-oldest surviving Ailsa)
  • MGE 183P/AV8 - Greater Glasgow PTE
  • PSJ 825R - Hunter of Ardrossan (A1 Bus Service)
  • SSN 248S/248 - Tayside Regional Council
  • WTS 276T/276 - Tayside Regional Council
  • LHS 747V/AH24 - Central SMT
  • KSD 103W/A103 - Western SMT
  • A735 PSU/A109 - Strathclyde PTE


There is also the First One built for fife, two for West midlands and one from Kent also persevered.
 

awsnews

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THS 273M, exported to Hong Kong and was the first bus purchased by the then-fledgling Citybus (founded by ex-China Motor Bus traffic manager Lyndon Rees and initially known as Citybuses). Sources seem to be conflicted as to whether it had a O.600 or O.680 powerplant shoehorned into it latterly, but here is a pic of it with CTB dated December 1981, carrying the BZ 5769 reg and the V10 fleetnumber (from the Cliff Essex Flickr collection). The front looks to be protruding out far more than usual; looks to me that this was taken after it's powerplant swap.


@Richard Scott Not got a list of all surviving Ailsas to hand (not sure if one even exists tbh), but here are the examples currently based at the Glasgow Vintage Vehicle Trust in Bridgeton (from oldest to newest):

  • GGG 300N/AV1 - Greater Glasgow PTE (second-oldest surviving Ailsa)
  • MGE 183P/AV8 - Greater Glasgow PTE
  • PSJ 825R - Hunter of Ardrossan (A1 Bus Service)
  • SSN 248S/248 - Tayside Regional Council
  • WTS 276T/276 - Tayside Regional Council
  • LHS 747V/AH24 - Central SMT
  • KSD 103W/A103 - Western SMT
  • A735 PSU/A109 - Strathclyde PTE
The Citybus Ailsa was renumbered to L10 after the fitting of the Leyland engine. The revised front end used corner panels more akin to those used on ECW Olympians, there is an image in Hong Kong Buses Vol Three, Citybus Ltd by Mike Davis. The front in the linked picture was a locally manufactured replacement but it was still Volvo engined at that point.
Staying in Hong Kong China Motor Bus also has Ailsas, AV1 was a normal 9.8m example with AV2-8 were longer 10.3m examples. They also had AL1 and 2 which were 3 axle examples with a capacity of 170.
 

route101

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Remember the Glasgow ones. They lasted to 2006 though I missed getting on them as I didn't really use the buses until late that year. I imagined they were scarce by then.

I remember the older one at SMT over in Edinburgh.

I'm not an expert on models etc but the Aberdeen Atlanteans have the same body as the earlier ailsas, same bodywork?
 

Statto

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The Merseyside Alisa's i remember vividly, because of the staircase layout, there was only 3 rows of single seats on the upper deck front which was very unusual, the Merseyside Alisa's 0069 to 0081 had that knifeboard seating, 0054/0055 same layout but with canvas seating, i remember them being beasts you could hear them from what felt like miles away.

0054 was originally fitted with a small dot matrix blind, but after criticism it was hard to see, it was later refitted with a new blind, here's 0054 with a perfect example of the original inadequate blind that it couldn't fit the full destination

 

Strathclyder

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Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire
Indonesia was the main export market for the Ailsa, taking over 300 of them including the last batch of chassis in 1984/85. Unfortunately it doesn't appear they were as long-living as UK Ailsas, photo evidence of them is very scarce on Flickr and nothing dated beyond late 1994. Their general condition makes a lot of the "cowboy" deregulation operators look like friggen Lothian!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/5310385891/in/photostream/

The last UK Ailsas made it onto B-plates, 10 for Eastern Scottish and 15 for Strathclyde. Both batches made it into First ownership but interestingly, while most of the B-YYS ex-PTE Ailsas lasted until the bitter end of Ailsa operation in Glasgow, the ex-Eastern B-GSC ones came off several years earlier and were outlasted by the older HSF-X batch...

Indeed, some of the last Glasgow examples even made it into Barbie 3 livery and looked about 10 years younger than they were!
There was a pic on Flickr of a Jarkata Ailsa pulling away from a stop producing enough smoke to rival a Deltic, but it seems to have vanished sadly. As you say, they made the worst of the cowboys around the time of dereg here at home look like Lothian by comparision! To be fair however, the operating conditions there are/were far, far more challenging than even Hong Kong & Singapore, so it's not too surprising to see that they ended up like rolling wrecks.

Far as I remember, at least 2 ex-Strathclyde Ailsas made it into Barbie/Willowleaf colours: A735 PSU (31213; ex-A109) & B27 YYS (31221; ex-A126), the latter linked above. The former, A109, is now one of 3 Glasgow Ailsas in preservation as I mentioned above. Here it is in Barbie/Willowleaf (dated August 2005, from the haley111 Flickr collection).


The Citybus Ailsa was renumbered to L10 after the fitting of the Leyland engine. The revised front end used corner panels more akin to those used on ECW Olympians, there is an image in Hong Kong Buses Vol Three, Citybus Ltd by Mike Davis. The front in the linked picture was a locally manufactured replacement but it was still Volvo engined at that point.
Staying in Hong Kong China Motor Bus also has Ailsas, AV1 was a normal 9.8m example with AV2-8 were longer 10.3m examples. They also had AL1 and 2 which were 3 axle examples with a capacity of 170.
I see, thanks for the correction/additional info. :)
 
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