Vehicle History: Leyland Fleetline (was DMS discussion)

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Journeyman

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Returning to topic, I’d be genuinely interested to hear from anyone who might have some insight on the reasoning behind London Transport’s order for the Metropolitans? E.g. were they ordered due to Leyland’s production/supply problems with the DMS Fleetlines? Or were they seen as some kind of ‘new generation’ bus to supersede the Fleetline?
It was already becoming abundantly clear by the mid-seventies that the DMS was a flawed vehicle that didn't work properly in London, and there was a serious need for something better. The Metropolitans appeared at a time when new vehicles were desperately needed - remember that in the mid-seventies LT still had hundreds of RTs they were desperate to get rid of. According to a 1974 fleet list I have on my bookshelf, there were still over 1300 RTs in stock. Many were trainers or staff buses, but over 800 were scheduled for service each day.

The B15 prototype from Leyland appeared at the same time, which had a lot of LT input at the design stage, so when the Metropolitan evolved into the Metrobus, and the B15 into the Titan, that was LT's double deck requirements sorted until the mid-eighties.

Given the problems with the MD, I'm surprised LT were willing to trust MCW with orders for almost 1500 vehicles developed from it, but I suppose they didn't have much choice.

As the Ms and Ts came into service, the MDs would have been increasingly viewed as a microfleet by LT standards. They may have been the biggest users of Metropolitans, but 164 vehicles out of around 6000 is small beer.
 
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A0wen

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It was already becoming abundantly clear by the mid-seventies that the DMS was a flawed vehicle that didn't work properly in London, and there was a serious need for something better.

That statement is a lie - which needs to have the lid nailed firmly shut on its coffin.

The Fleetline was no more flawed than any other rear-engined double deck of that time - the problem was LT, politics, management and general attitude.

LT considered itself "special" and felt it needed bespoke buses - therefore anything 'standard' they bought in was treated with a 'not invented here' disdain.

If the Fleetline was so disastrous, why then did many PTEs buy significant quantities and get good service out of them? Same for many SBG companies and even a few NBC ones - though many NBC fleets went for the Bristol VR as a result of their Tilling heritage and liking of Bristol chassis. The argument that they weren't suited to 'London traffic' is disingenuous - in many of the places they were allocated, such as Kingston, Croydon, Harrow, Romford or Enfield the traffic, even back then, was no worse than Fleetlines were dealing with on a daily basis in Manchester or Birmingham. And then look at what happened to the DMS's after withdrawl - some got sent out to Hong Kong where traffic conditions were much worse and climate more extreme than anything London had to throw at them, others were snapped up by NBC companies - such as Midland Red putting them to work in across the Midlands and then, the ultimate indignity for LT, some were bought buy independents such as Len Wright Travel who then won LRT tenders to run routes with them.

The DMS wasn't perfect - nor was the Metropolitan - but to pretend the DMS was somehow a massively flawed vehicle is wrong, and doesn't stand proper scrutiny.

Fortunately, the DMS paved the way for London to use more 'standardised' buses, which ultimately were cheaper to buy and run than building bespoke all the time.

I know it was touched on above, but given the local connections, it's odd that WMPTE didn't buy more Metropolitans when they were quite prepared to buy Ailsas and even had some Titans.

Of the firms that did buy Metropolitans, LT were subsequently enthusiastic purchasers of Metrobuses and Reading took 3 batches of Mk1s but others took relatively few. TWPTE took only 5 Metrobuses, and Strathclyde took only a few Mk1s before taking Mk2s in reasonable numbers. Leicester took only a few (5?) preferring Dominators. Merseyside took only a few but then again, they were flailing around taking odd batches of everything whilst still buying Atlanteans til the eleventh hour.

Were they scarred by the experience of the Metropolitan?

GMPTE also took almost 200 Metrobuses - having failed to get deliveries of the Titan.

Some of it may have been availability - LT, not for the first time were often the villain here. When they were taking on their 2500 DMS's they basically locked out Fleetline production, which led to operators buying other things which they may not have considered. An example here is Northampton Corporation was a long standing Daimler customer, yet in the mid 70s ended up buying Bristol VRs, where Fleetlines would have been a more obvious choice.

LT's Metrobus order of almost 1500 would have blocked out production for months on end. Also, the body choices on the Metrobus were more limited - I know GMPTE had some Northern Counties bodies examples, but most were MCW bodied as well - that may also have deterred some operators who still liked to have their own body choices.
 

TheGrandWazoo

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That statement is a lie - which needs to have the lid nailed firmly shut on its coffin.

The Fleetline was no more flawed than any other rear-engined double deck of that time - the problem was LT, politics, management and general attitude.

LT considered itself "special" and felt it needed bespoke buses - therefore anything 'standard' they bought in was treated with a 'not invented here' disdain.

If the Fleetline was so disastrous, why then did many PTEs buy significant quantities and get good service out of them? Same for many SBG companies and even a few NBC ones - though many NBC fleets went for the Bristol VR as a result of their Tilling heritage and liking of Bristol chassis. The argument that they weren't suited to 'London traffic' is disingenuous - in many of the places they were allocated, such as Kingston, Croydon, Harrow, Romford or Enfield the traffic, even back then, was no worse than Fleetlines were dealing with on a daily basis in Manchester or Birmingham. And then look at what happened to the DMS's after withdrawl - some got sent out to Hong Kong where traffic conditions were much worse and climate more extreme than anything London had to throw at them, others were snapped up by NBC companies - such as Midland Red putting them to work in across the Midlands and then, the ultimate indignity for LT, some were bought buy independents such as Len Wright Travel who then won LRT tenders to run routes with them.

The DMS wasn't perfect - nor was the Metropolitan - but to pretend the DMS was somehow a massively flawed vehicle is wrong, and doesn't stand proper scrutiny.

Fortunately, the DMS paved the way for London to use more 'standardised' buses, which ultimately were cheaper to buy and run than building bespoke all the time.



GMPTE also took almost 200 Metrobuses - having failed to get deliveries of the Titan.

Some of it may have been availability - LT, not for the first time were often the villain here. When they were taking on their 2500 DMS's they basically locked out Fleetline production, which led to operators buying other things which they may not have considered. An example here is Northampton Corporation was a long standing Daimler customer, yet in the mid 70s ended up buying Bristol VRs, where Fleetlines would have been a more obvious choice.

LT's Metrobus order of almost 1500 would have blocked out production for months on end. Also, the body choices on the Metrobus were more limited - I know GMPTE had some Northern Counties bodies examples, but most were MCW bodied as well - that may also have deterred some operators who still liked to have their own body choices.

Absolutely bang on about the DMS. Many firms got them having been withdrawn from service by LT and couldn't believe how simple maintenance wasn't undertaken correctly simply because it wasn't some archaic AEC. Coupled with the unreliability of the Swifts/Merlins (which did have fundamental design issues), it created this myth about London needing its own special vehicles.

The problems of production in the 1970s were exacerbated by industrial unrest, factory closures, low productivity whilst the new bus grant that meant operators could sweep away their half cabs at a bargain price, etc so order books were also artificially high. That may well have led firms down the Metropolitan route.

GMPTE did indeed take Metrobuses. The surprise being that they weren't on NC bodies (though a late batch did have them) when WYPTE, Midland Scottish and Strathclyde all had Metrobuses with Alexander bodies. With Northampton, they had a bad experience with single deck Fleetlines so that might have coloured their judgement. All in all, the Scania Metropolitan appeared at a fascinating time for the UK bus industry, and it was certainly interesting to see who bought them and what they subsequently purchased.
 

Journeyman

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Appreciate that - but when a statement so empirically wrong and fundamentally misleading is made, it needs to be called out.

Too often such statements are made and have become the stuff of myth - yet evidence, genuine evidence, doesn't support the myth.
I didn't intend to cause some sort of big debate about the Fleetline. I merely pointed out that it didn't work in London. Partly that was down to features that LT insisted on that other operators didn't, partly it was down to London's maintenance and overhaul regime, and partly it was a culture shock after operating very different vehicles in the past. Whatever the reasons, there's no doubt the DMS didn't do well. That's what I was pointing out.
 

A0wen

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I didn't intend to cause some sort of big debate about the Fleetline. I merely pointed out that it didn't work in London. Partly that was down to features that LT insisted on that other operators didn't, partly it was down to London's maintenance and overhaul regime, and partly it was a culture shock after operating very different vehicles in the past. Whatever the reasons, there's no doubt the DMS didn't do well. That's what I was pointing out.

Where I take issue with that is the presumption of guilt is put against the vehicle - you said "It was already becoming abundantly clear by the mid-seventies that the DMS was a flawed vehicle that didn't work properly in London"

The DMS was not flawed - the Fleetline had good reputation across the country. There were flawed vehicles of that time - the Swifts and Merlins LT bought, or the Daimler Roadliners or in fact pretty much every first gen OMO single decker bar the Bristol RE.

The Metropolitan was flawed - with serious corrosion issues. If a vehicle is flawed, then it's reasonable to expect most or all it's users to experience the problems. The problem was LT and its operation and culture. Had it bought Atlanteans you can bet your bottom dollar that it would have failed in service as well and for the same reasons the Fleetline did - not due to it being a poor vehicle, but due to a poor owner that didn't understand or look after the vehicle.

Ironically, when the Conservative government told LT it wasn't going to keep bankrolling it for new buses, LT actually focused on the Fleetline, bought some out of storage / from Ensign and got them working - and even bought some ex-Manchester examples. And, of course, a significant number of the companies that picked up LRT tenders used Fleetlines - mostly ex LT DMS but also some from other places. I'm not sure any used Metropolitans.
 

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Absolutely bang on about the DMS. Many firms got them having been withdrawn from service by LT and couldn't believe how simple maintenance wasn't undertaken correctly simply because it wasn't some archaic AEC. Coupled with the unreliability of the Swifts/Merlins (which did have fundamental design issues), it created this myth about London needing its own special vehicles.
Spot on. The DMS class was a typical case of a bad workman blaming his tools.

As others have said here, LT tried - and failed - to create a bespoke bus out of a standard production model.
Overloading the Fleetline chassis with London-spec features was asking for trouble right from the start. So too was expecting the DMS to slot seamlessly into an overhaul system that was geared towards overhauling RMs and RTs; LT almost wrecked two DMSs, 1 (PRV) and 1449 (MCW) trying to see if it was possible to detach the bodies from them. I also gather that LT refused to give garages the operating, parts and service manuals which came with the DMSs, preferring instead to supply its own versions.

Put simply, the DMS class was unreliable only because LT chose to make it unreliable.

And now, back to Metropolitans... :)
 
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In the thread discussing the Scania/MCW Metropolitans, it seems that the topic of the success or failure of London’s DMS Fleetlines generated more heat (but not quite as much smoke!) than the vehicles themselves.

I’ve no particular bone to pick either way, merely to observe that I always found it puzzling that a chassis which was well-understood, and well-liked, by operators up and down the country should come so unstuck in the capital city. It does seem as if the internal politics of the LT managerial hierarchy was a major factor, with some seasoning from internal politics and machinations at Leyland. At any rate, the whole saga led to all manner of operators picking up decent secondhand buses that were far from life-expired. There was one rumbling around the Airbus/British Aerospace site at Filton into the early 1990s, as internal staff transport.

*Mode Note*
Posts 1-6 have been copied from this thread:

 
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carlberry

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In the thread discussing the Scania/MCW Metropolitans, it seems that the topic of the success or failure of London’s DMS Fleetlines generated more heat (but not quite as much smoke!) than the vehicles themselves.

I’ve no particular bone to pick either way, merely to observe that I always found it puzzling that a chassis which was well-understood, and well-liked, by operators up and down the country should come so unstuck in the capital city. It does seem as if the internal politics of the LT managerial hierarchy was a major factor, with some seasoning from internal politics and machinations at Leyland. At any rate, the whole saga led to all manner of operators picking up decent secondhand buses that were far from life-expired. There was one rumbling around the Airbus/British Aerospace site at Filton into the early 1990s, as internal staff transport.
As others have said there was little to fault with the Fleetline and no issue with using it in London; the issue was London Transport at the time wanted things done in certain ways, because they always had.

So it had features that were London specific added to it (because they knew best) and London wanted to maintain it the way they always had which was a rebuild after 7 years. They could have learnt from the Merlin saga and realised that things were going to have to change however there was enough leeway with the Merlins to say that it was the vehicle that was the problem.

Whilst there are still London specific requirements like staircases and vehicle height we now have a situation where loads of different makes of perfectly standard vehicles operate in London on roads that are more congested than ever before, carry more passengers than ever before, have more complex electronics than ever before yet don't have a problem with working in London.
 
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As others have said there was little to fault with the Fleetline and no issue with using it in London; the issue was London Transport at the time wanted things done in certain ways, because they always had.

So it had features that were London specific added to it (because they knew best) and London wanted to maintain it the way they always had which was a rebuild after 7 years. They could have learnt from the Merlin saga and realised that things were going to have to change however there was enough leeway with the Merlins to say that it was the vehicle that was the problem.

Whilst there are still London specific requirements like staircases and vehicle height we now have a situation where loads of different makes of perfectly standard vehicles operate in London on roads that are more congested than ever before, carry more passengers than ever before, have more complex electronics than ever before yet don't have a problem with working in London.
Yes, the impression I always had was that, at the time, LT wanted the vehicles to fit their way of working, rather than adapting their way of working to vehicles that were proven elsewhere.
 

Swanny200

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Hence why the likes of the Titan was more successful because it was done wholly to suit London, didn't some of the DMS fleetlines end up at Kentish Bus?
 
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Hence why the likes of the Titan was more successful because it was done wholly to suit London, didn't some of the DMS fleetlines end up at Kentish Bus?
Not sure that I’d put the words ‘Titan’ and ‘successful’ in the same sentence. To your second point, secondhand DMS Fleetlines ended up all over the place, I‘ve got a vague recollection that some were taken on by Southern Vectis on the Isle of Wight, some went to Southern National etc etc. In short, operators that knew the characteristics of the underlying vehicle were only too happy to relieve LT of their burden.
 

busesrusuk

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Hence why the likes of the Titan was more successful because it was done wholly to suit London, didn't some of the DMS fleetlines end up at Kentish Bus?
Actually LT had to adapt. The Titan, whilst heavily influenced by LT in the design stage, was a bog standard off the shelf bus designed for a wider market (other issues prevented it being a bigger player when originally envisaged). LT had to come to terms that the Aldenham/Chiswick overhaul system would not work like it did with the RT's and RM's.

This meant that garage based staff had to re learn skills. Engineers at garage level were referred to as unit changers with the real skills being focused at Aldenham and Chiswick. In other words when an RF, RT or RM went wrong they just swapped out the defective part with a new/overhauled unit rather than attempting a repair in the garage. Skill levels changed significantly as a consequence at garage level so they were more able to diagnose and repair stuff rather than just swapping out old for new. Not forgetting that the buses were much better designed anyway with better components such as gearboxes.

The Titan and the Metrobus were both good buses and many lessons had been learnt from the MB/SM/DMS saga. They weren't perfect and the Metrobus suffered from corrosion issues but nowhere near as bad as the Metropolitan. LT also specified hydraulic braking systems when everyone else went for air brakes. Both the Titan and Metrobus were converted to air brakes later in life. It has been said that if the MCW Metrobus had the Titan body it would have been an excellent vehicle!
 

Swanny200

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Actually LT had to adapt. The Titan, whilst heavily influenced by LT in the design stage, was a bog standard off the shelf bus designed for a wider market (other issues prevented it being a bigger player when originally envisaged). LT had to come to terms that the Aldenham/Chiswick overhaul system would not work like it did with the RT's and RM's.

This meant that garage based staff had to re learn skills. Engineers at garage level were referred to as unit changers with the real skills being focused at Aldenham and Chiswick. In other words when an RF, RT or RM went wrong they just swapped out the defective part with a new/overhauled unit rather than attempting a repair in the garage. Skill levels changed significantly as a consequence at garage level so they were more able to diagnose and repair stuff rather than just swapping out old for new. Not forgetting that the buses were much better designed anyway with better components such as gearboxes.

The Titan and the Metrobus were both good buses and many lessons had been learnt from the MB/SM/DMS saga. They weren't perfect and the Metrobus suffered from corrosion issues but nowhere near as bad as the Metropolitan. LT also specified hydraulic braking systems when everyone else went for air brakes. Both the Titan and Metrobus were converted to air brakes later in life. It has been said that if the MCW Metrobus had the Titan body it would have been an excellent vehicle!
I was led to believe that it was a joint venture between LT and Leyland with the hope that with is being a success in London then orders would fly in from as you say wider markets, I know that NuVenture in Kent bought a few of the Ex London Titans and they lasted a few years.

The Fleetlines were really good machines and obviously used all over, my experiences were of the Atlantean previously which I had fond memories of and then moving to Kent and being one the border of M&D and Kentish, I had a good few trips on the Kentish Fleetlines.
 

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Engineers at garage level were referred to as unit changers with the real skills being focused at Aldenham and Chiswick. In other words when an RF, RT or RM went wrong they just swapped out the defective part with a new/overhauled unit rather than attempting a repair in the garage.
. . . and you could do that - even a complete engine change - on an RF/RT/RM relatively simply and have the vehicle back in service for its next duty, so LT employed comparatively few engineering staff at garage level; swapping engines/transmissions was not so straightforward on a DMS/DM, which meant over-worked garage engineering staff struggling with a back-log of work, increasing numbers of vehicles off the road, and a deterioration in service.

And so the engineering issues were compounded by resultant traffic issues. The DMSs had a larger carrying-capacity than the vehicles they were replacing, so LT planned route conversions on the basis of fewer vehicles and wider frequencies, but this led to longer queues at stops and slower boarding which was compounded by pay-as-you-enter operation - LT had foreseen this and sought to speed up boarding times by a dual-stream pay-driver and automated fare collection (AFC) system, but the AFC machines proved unreliable leading to most passengers avoiding the AFC machines and instead queuing to pay the driver, who also had to manually release the AFC turnstiles every time the AFC machine malfunctioned . . . and so service quality declined, compounded by the increasing non-availability of serviceable vehicles. Eventually route conversions had to be made on a one-for-one basis (in some cases, I believe, more DMSs were required than the vehicles they were replacing), which undermined the economics of the whole process.

So the problems LT experienced with its Fleetlines weren't solely chassis related - although the Fleetiline wasn't perfect, and LT created a few issues of its own with an automatic gearbox that started off in second gear, and a plethora of temperamental micro-switches designed to immobile the vehicle if they detected anything amiss - but also a combination engineering, traffic, and accounting headaches.

I dare say that if the AEC FRM had gone into production then LT wouldn't have been able to work with that either, as many of the issues would have been the same (commonality of parts with the Routemaster family being the major consideration in its favour).
 

busesrusuk

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I don't believe that Kentish Bus bought any DMS from LT; Maidstone & District did though and possibly Nu Venture before the Titan's. However the early London Country Atlanteans that went to Kentish were visually similar and their interiors were almost identical to the DMS including the colour scheme and seat coverings.

The Titan was heavily influenced by LT being a likely major customer but the PTE's were also consulted during its development. The NBC weren't that keen given it was to "full height" construction and over engineered for many of its subsidiaries, hence the development of the Olympian. It wasn't a true partnership in the same way as the Leyland National was with a 50/50 stake between Leyland and the NBC.
 
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A0wen

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Not sure that I’d put the words ‘Titan’ and ‘successful’ in the same sentence. To your second point, secondhand DMS Fleetlines ended up all over the place, I‘ve got a vague recollection that some were taken on by Southern Vectis on the Isle of Wight, some went to Southern National etc etc. In short, operators that knew the characteristics of the underlying vehicle were only too happy to relieve LT of their burden.

I don't think they were operated on the IoW by Southern Vectis who were a Bristol fleet wherever possible - to the extent of keeping REs longer than Nationals ! Though their Solent Blue Line operation did buy out some of the ex Hants & Dorset operations from Stagecoach which may have resulted in them ending up with some DMSs.

IIRC there was an independent on the IoW around de-regulation time who had some Fleetlines but don't know fi they were ex-LT ones.

Of the NBC companies that bought them, they definitely saw service with Hants & Dorset (so got split between W&D and Hampshire Bus), Western National (so Southern & Western National), Midland Red (ended up with MRN and Midland Fox), Maidstone & District, London Country (as driver trainers), Oxford -South Midland. There were a number of municipals / PTEs that also bought ex LT DMSs as well.

The one thing LT did manage to do was enable alot of companies to buy decent buses at a knock down price - by virtue of rejecting the Fleetline and sending it out onto the second hand market prematurely.
 

Robertj21a

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I don't believe that Kentish Bus bought any DMS from LT; Maidstone & District did though and possibly Nu Venture before the Titan's. However the early London Country Atlanteans that went to Kentish were visually similar and their interiors were almost identical to the DMS including the colour scheme and seat coverings.

The Titan was heavily influenced by LT being a likely major customer but the PTE's were also consulted during its development. The NBC weren't that keen given it was to "full height" construction and over engineered for many of its subsidiaries, hence the development of the Olympian. It wasn't a true partnership in the same way as the Leyland National was with a 50/50 stake between Leyland and the NBC.
As you say, Kentish Bus didn't have any - I wonder if he was thinking of Bexleybus?
 
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I don't think they were operated on the IoW by Southern Vectis who were a Bristol fleet wherever possible - to the extent of keeping REs longer than Nationals ! Though their Solent Blue Line operation did buy out some of the ex Hants & Dorset operations from Stagecoach which may have resulted in them ending up with some DMSs.

IIRC there was an independent on the IoW around de-regulation time who had some Fleetlines but don't know fi they were ex-LT ones.

Of the NBC companies that bought them, they definitely saw service with Hants & Dorset (so got split between W&D and Hampshire Bus), Western National (so Southern & Western National), Midland Red (ended up with MRN and Midland Fox), Maidstone & District, London Country (as driver trainers), Oxford -South Midland. There were a number of municipals / PTEs that also bought ex LT DMSs as well.

The one thing LT did manage to do was enable alot of companies to buy decent buses at a knock down price - by virtue of rejecting the Fleetline and sending it out onto the second hand market prematurely.
Thanks for the additional detail. It probably was Solent Blue Line I was thinking of, when associating the Fleetlines with Southern Vectis. With the passage of time it becomes more difficult to remember exactly who was doing what and where, in a very fluid, sometimes turbulent period in the history of the bus industry.

Adding to the mix of ‘post-London’ usage, we have Ensign, who quite liked a bit of short-term hire work alongside their disposal and re-sale business. South Wales Transport was one operator to run Fleetlines under this arrangement.
As you say, Kentish Bus didn't have any - I wonder if he was thinking of Bexleybus?
I wondered about Bexleybus too. Quite a smart cream livery with blue lining springs to mind.
 

A0wen

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Adding to the mix of ‘post-London’ usage, we have Ensign, who quite liked a bit of short-term hire work alongside their disposal and re-sale business. South Wales Transport was one operator to run Fleetlines under this arrangement.

Ensign actually ran some LRT tenders in the Dagenham / Barking area with them as well, in a smart blue / silver livery. Not sure they survived into the 'Capital Citybus' era though.
 

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The problem with, and the perceived unreliability of, the DMS class was solely down to LT.
As you say, Kentish Bus didn't have any - I wonder if he was thinking of Bexleybus?
It was indeed Bexleybus. They had 31 DMSs, 17 native examples and 14 returned from Scotland, bought from Clydeside Scottish. That was the ultimate irony as far as the DMS was concerned, London Buses buying back buses which its predecessor LT had so publicly rejected some years earlier.
 

Swanny200

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I remember the Bexley bus fleetlines, always thought Kentish bus had fleetlines too, turns out that they were atlanteans, I remember the being able to tell the Clydeside Scottish fleetlines apart by the bodywork and the SBG or London Destination boards

Edit: this might be a silly question but what was the difference between the Fleetline and Atlantean by time it got into the mid to late 70's both were owned by BL and seemed pretty much the same vehicle.
 
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Busaholic

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Although the DMS is now remembered as a failure in London terms, with most examples lasting a very short time, the later ones with Rolls-Royce engines seemed to have been more valued, with the last ones at Thornton Heath and Croydon garages being very reluctant to come out of service. I suspect if the bus had been more suitable for crew operation, which was the fate of many, they might well have been treated better by maintenance staff and management, but most conductors hated them and heated rows between drivers and conductors were not unknown, particularly on route 24!
 

A0wen

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Although the DMS is now remembered as a failure in London terms, with most examples lasting a very short time, the later ones with Rolls-Royce engines seemed to have been more valued, with the last ones at Thornton Heath and Croydon garages being very reluctant to come out of service. I suspect if the bus had been more suitable for crew operation, which was the fate of many, they might well have been treated better by maintenance staff and management, but most conductors hated them and heated rows between drivers and conductors were not unknown, particularly on route 24!

I don't think they had Rolls Royce engines - there were a couple fitted with RR Eagle engines, but it wasn't a widespread fitment.

There were the B20s - which were Leyland engined - that were allocated to Thornton Heath and Croydon and some of those subsequently received Iveco engines - could it be those you're thinking of ?
 
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I remember the Bexley bus fleetlines, always thought Kentish bus had fleetlines too, turns out that they were atlanteans, I remember the being able to tell the Clydeside Scottish fleetlines apart by the bodywork and the SBG or London Destination boards

Edit: this might be a silly question but what was the difference between the Fleetline and Atlantean by time it got into the mid to late 70's both were owned by BL and seemed pretty much the same vehicle.
There’s no such thing as a silly question, an enquiring mind is a blessing!

In the timescale in question, the key difference between the two types was that the Fleetline was no longer made available for general sale by Leyland. If the Mods will permit a little bit of thread drift, this situation left traditional Fleetline operators who still favoured a Gardner-engined double-deck bus with the choice of the Bristol VR and... er, well, the Bristol VR. By this time however, many a fleet manager, who had their fingers burnt by the Leyland National, were less prepared to tolerate Leyland‘s somewhat peremptory approach to customers, arguably leading to a gap in the market that eventually became wide enough to drive a Dennis Dominator into, closely pursued by the Metrobus. In the fullness of time, I expect some historians will pinpoint this period as starting the countdown clock ticking towards Leyland’s eventual disappearance.
I don't think they had Rolls Royce engines - there were a couple fitted with RR Eagle engines, but it wasn't a widespread fitment.

There were the B20s - which were Leyland engined - that were allocated to Thornton Heath and Croydon and some of those subsequently received Iveco engines - could it be those you're thinking of ?
Yes, there was only a small handful of RR-engined DMSs. Fleet numbers I can trace are 1199 (KUC199P), 1968 (KUC968P), 2059 (KJD59P) - allocated to Chiswick works for experimentation purposes, and 2120 (KJD120P). Being distinctly non-standard, all were early casualties of the culling.
 
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There’s no such thing as a silly question, an enquiring mind is a blessing!

In the timescale in question, the key difference between the two types was that the Fleetline was no longer made available for general sale by Leyland. If the Mods will permit a little bit of thread drift, this situation left traditional Fleetline operators who still favoured a Gardner-engined double-deck bus with the choice of the Bristol VR and... er, well, the Bristol VR. By this time however, many a fleet manager, who had their fingers burnt by the Leyland National, were less prepared to tolerate Leyland‘s somewhat peremptory approach to customers, arguably leading to a gap in the market that eventually became wide enough to drive a Dennis Dominator into, closely pursued by the Metrobus. In the fullness of time, I expect some historians will pinpoint this period as starting the countdown clock ticking towards Leyland’s eventual disappearance.

Yes, there was only a small handful of RR-engined DMSs. Fleet numbers I can trace are 1199 (KUC199P), 1968 (KUC9680), 2059 (KJD59P) - allocated to Chiswick works for experimentation purposes, and 2120 (KJD120P). Being distinctly non-standard, all were early casualties of the culling.
If I remember correctly wasn't Bristol by this time also under BL ownership, I must admit that the Dennis Dominator seemed to me an odd name to pick, but then Leyland had their Titan!
 
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If I remember correctly wasn't Bristol by this time also under BL ownership, I must admit that the Dennis Dominator seemed to me an odd name to pick, but then Leyland had their Titan!
Yes, I think you’re correct, though it was something of an arms-length subsidiary, only really becoming integrated when Olympian production started at Bristol. At the risk of causing more thread drift, there are some diehards who still regard the Olympian as a Series 4 VRT!
 

busesrusuk

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I don't think they had Rolls Royce engines - there were a couple fitted with RR Eagle engines, but it wasn't a widespread fitment.

There were the B20s - which were Leyland engined - that were allocated to Thornton Heath and Croydon and some of those subsequently received Iveco engines - could it be those you're thinking of ?
Only a very small number (approx 5 from memory) received Rolls Royce engines with DMS864 being the first.

The Iveco engine conversion was a Wandle District initiative with, I think, 200 buses being fitted in 1987-8

Just as an aside, this year is the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the first DMS which entered service on 2 January 1971. The last of them being withdrawn by LT/LBL in 1993.
 

A0wen

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In the timescale in question, the key difference between the two types was that the Fleetline was no longer made available for general sale by Leyland. If the Mods will permit a little bit of thread drift, this situation left traditional Fleetline operators who still favoured a Gardner-engined double-deck bus with the choice of the Bristol VR and... er, well, the Bristol VR. By this time however, many a fleet manager, who had their fingers burnt by the Leyland National, were less prepared to tolerate Leyland‘s somewhat peremptory approach to customers, arguably leading to a gap in the market that eventually became wide enough to drive a Dennis Dominator into, closely pursued by the Metrobus. In the fullness of time, I expect some historians will pinpoint this period as starting the countdown clock ticking towards Leyland’s eventual disappearance.
From a basic perspective, you're right - the Atlantean was Leyland engined, the Fleetline Gardner engined. And the VR came with either.

You've actually got to look back to the mid 60s to see how this all came into being. Leyland, Daimler and Bristol were all "independent" companies in their own right - and each had their own customer base.

Bristol supplied the Tilling group of companies - which eventually became part of the NBC.

Leyland had a following among the BET companies though there were some who also took Daimlers e.g. Potteries. - and some municipals.

Daimler were used by many Municipals and Scottish companies. They did have a following among some BET companies, but it tended to be for certain loyalties e.g. Midland Red.

All of these were merged together in the various buy-outs and mergers that created British Leyland in the late 60s - so BL then had 3 double-deck chassis which were in effect competing with each other, the Atlantean, VR and Fleetline. Each had their own following as well.

The NBC, by virtue of many of its companies being ex Tilling, went for the VR - though there were NBC subsidiaries that bought Atlanteans (London Country, Ribble), and Fleetlines (Midland Red, Oxford South Midland).

Many municipals and SBG companies remained loyal to the Fleetline - and others remained loyal to Leyland.

So BL had a problem - and consolidation was inevitable. Of the 3 - the VR was the youngest (announced in 1966), the Fleetline next (1960) and then the Atlantean (1958), however the Atlantean was extensively re-worked in around 1970 with the AN68 version replacing the PDR series. So by the mid 70s - the Fleetline was actually the oldest design. Add in the decision to close Daimler's works in the West Mids and re-locate production to Lancashire, it was pretty obvious the Fleetline's days were numbered.

This, along with the general supply and production issues BL had, meant there was a gap for others - such as Dennis with the Dominator, the Ailsa B55 and Metropolitan / Metrobus to enter the market. But only the Metrobus really made an impact.

BL's plan was always to consolidate further - initially the Titan was thought to be the way forward - again LT speccing a bus with Leyland - but even with a Gardner engine, that wasn't appealing to many operators who thought it was too complicated and too expensive. Ironically it was the Olympian, which was really the successor to the Bristol VR which won out - surviving the Volvo takeover of Leyland Bus and being in production for almost 20 years.
 

jp4712

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I remember the Bexley bus fleetlines, always thought Kentish bus had fleetlines too, turns out that they were atlanteans, I remember the being able to tell the Clydeside Scottish fleetlines apart by the bodywork and the SBG or London Destination boards

Edit: this might be a silly question but what was the difference between the Fleetline and Atlantean by time it got into the mid to late 70's both were owned by BL and seemed pretty much the same vehicle.
I'm in the unusual (for this forum) position of having worked on and driven Atlanteans and Fleetlines, as a preservationist. From photos, the two chassis types look almost identical but in fact they're really, really different. The Fleetline has a Gardner 6LX (later 6LXB) engine*, a drop-centre rear axle (which is how they achieved the low height capability) and a very different gearbox and transmission layout to the Atlantean. The Atlantean has a Leyland O.680 engine, beam rear axle and a mechanical accelerator (hydraulic on a Fleetline, which meant being booked for 'low on power' when in fact it was air in the hydraulics). One isn't really better than the other, they're just different. I'd much rather adjust the brakes on an Atlantean, I'd prefer to do the head gasket on a Fleetline.

In terms of driving, it's just preference but many/most drivers would say that an Atlantean has more get-up-and-go than a Fleetline; but the accountant upstairs would prefer a Gardner to a Leyland engine due to a Gardner being more economical on fuel.

* the Leyland engine became an option on later Fleetlines, but you could never buy an Atlantean with a Gardner engine.
 
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