Vehicle History: The Guy Wulfrunian

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Strathclyder

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I've had several ideas rattling around in my head for a new thread in this sub-section of the fourm for the last couple of weeks, and I think it's time I throw the biggest one of them out the door now.

A bus type that has had more column inches dedicated to it than most, the Guy Wulfrunian is one of those types that fits snugly into the 'blunderbus' category. It's flaws are well-documented across the web and in print but I thought, much in the same vein as my North British Type 2 thread over in Railway History & Nostalgia, this forum was somewhat overdue a thread dedicated to perhaps the most maligned bus type to ever see the light of day. Not like that stops it from being a fascinating type, much in the same vein as the NBL Type 2s.

Linked below are two colour photographs of West Riding Wulfrunians from The Transport Library (both copyright of Geoffrey Morant), showing two of the main liveries the type carried during their time there (each being it's own form of route branding I beileve); the red/cream example (WHL 970) being one of the only 2 intact survivors in preservation. And as a bonus, a YT vid (from, appropriately enough, the Guy Wulfrunian channel) showing the other survivor (UCX 275/995; new as County Motors of Lepton No. 99) in action back in 2013.




Over to the rest of you; this should make for a interesting (or short-lived lol) thread. :)
 
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carlberry

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A timely thread as it appears quite likely that one, or even both, of the survivors may be on the road this year!

The Dewsbury Bus Museum are hoping to have both of them working at events later this year, subject to all the usual rules.
 

Strathclyder

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A timely thread as it appears quite likely that one, or even both, of the survivors may be on the road this year!

The Dewsbury Bus Museum are hoping to have both of them working at events later this year, subject to all the usual rules.
Aye, I was reading about that on the above site, with WHL 970 nearing the end of a protracted and very thorough restoration and UCX 275 being tidied up after a few years off the road. The aim is, as you say, to get one or both 'Wulfys' roadworthy again, the main event in 2021 (COVID permitting of course!) being the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the West Riding Omnibus Preservation Society (or WROPS for short), which started out as the West Riding Wulfrunian Preservation Society (a band of enthusiasts who had aquired 275 direct from West Riding in the spring of 1972, it being the last Wulfrunian in service with the company).

Interesting to learn that 275 spent a period on loan to Lathalmond a number of years ago, given that a front-engined, front-entrance decker with a linkage to Guy has called the museum home for over 20 years now (attached image is my own). ;)

47940158082_33e4760a38_b.jpg
 
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90sWereBetter

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Accrington specified rear entrances on their couple of Wulfrunians, effectively negating all of the advanced features at the front of the chassis to create a Guy Arab Mk6. Still weren't particularly successful, mind you.

I do wonder how the Leyland Victory Mk2 was so successful in Hong Kong though, given how much harsher the operating environment was out there. It had the Gardner 6LXB which was only marginally smaller than the 6LX used in the Wulfrunian. Presumably it used beam axles and leaf springs all round instead of the independent front suspension the Wulfrunian was fitted with.
 

Merthyr Imp

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One of the two that Wolverhampton Corporation had. Photographed in 1969:
 

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Mikey C

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Accrington specified rear entrances on their couple of Wulfrunians, effectively negating all of the advanced features at the front of the chassis to create a Guy Arab Mk6. Still weren't particularly successful, mind you.

I do wonder how the Leyland Victory Mk2 was so successful in Hong Kong though, given how much harsher the operating environment was out there. It had the Gardner 6LXB which was only marginally smaller than the 6LX used in the Wulfrunian. Presumably it used beam axles and leaf springs all round instead of the independent front suspension the Wulfrunian was fitted with.
What a strange choice, all the complications of its advanced layout, which were completely unnecessary if you wanted a rear entrance bus!

 

Mugby

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I've always thought that the biggest flaw with the Wulf was that it wasn't possible to use a traditional beam type axle at the front because the drive line (prop shaft) from the engine to the gear box and rear axle wouldn't go either under or over such an axle if the bus was to be low height. Therefore, separate stub axles were used on each side and the weight of the 6LX engine, everything in the cab, the doors, staircase and anything else at the front end must have exerted a tremendous downward pressure on them, such that regular failures occurred and component life was alarmingly short.

Not to mention the crazy angle of the front wheels which always gave the impression that the stub axles were about to break away from their fixings.
 

Strathclyder

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I do wonder how the Leyland Victory Mk2 was so successful in Hong Kong though, given how much harsher the operating environment was out there. It had the Gardner 6LXB which was only marginally smaller than the 6LX used in the Wulfrunian. Presumably it used beam axles and leaf springs all round instead of the independent front suspension the Wulfrunian was fitted with.
The Victory Mk.2 had, as you say, a much simpler (re: conventional) suspension set-up fitted than the one fitted to the Wulfrunian combined with a smaller/more refined powerplant. This of course also applied to the competing Dennis Jubliant (both were full-height designs as well, I believe). All taken together, this allowed both types to last well into the late 90s in Hong Kong service in spite of the inherent problems of both types (hot, noisy, cramped cab, tendency to tip over in the corners when thrown into them hard enough); the last of the ex-CMB Victories weren't withdrawn from normal service by New World First Bus until September 2000.
 

whoosh

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Nearside staircase was unusual (amongst many unusual things on this bus it seems!).

What was the reason for this? Weight distribution, covering batteries or a fuel tank? Or just to be different?!
 

Roilshead

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What a strange choice, all the complications of its advanced layout, which were completely unnecessary if you wanted a rear entrance bus!

From what I have read, the Transport Committee and the General Manager were keen to investigate newer chassis than the front-engined chassis then on the market but, faced with a very conservative council who were not mined to relocate bus stops situated for rear-entrance vehicles, didn't have the backing to even buy front entrance underfloor-engined single deckers, let alone rear-engined double deckers - Ribble had experienced problems with bus stop siting in the area when using Atlanteans and front entrance single deckers where bus stops were better situated for rear-entrance vehicles.

When Guy came calling with the Wulfrunian in 1960 the immediate answer from the management was "no", but the Department did have a number of Guy Arabs in service (which were highly regarded) and there was interest in the low floor layout and novel suspension and braking systems. Keen to keep its customer base, Guy was willing to adapt the design for an open rear platform and, for commonality with the other Guys in the fleet, fit a Gardner 6LW in place of the normal 6LX and a manual gearbox - moving the entrance to the rear allowed the engine to be mounted on the chassis centre-line and, therefore, a larger cab area.

The two vehicles purchased weren't particular successful, and were, I think, sold out of service after six years (which would be approaching the seven-year Certificate of Fitness). Todmorden JOC is rumoured to have been persuaded to place an order for a similar two chassis, but got cold feet and ordered Leyland Leopards instead.
 

Mikey C

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From what I have read, the Transport Committee and the General Manager were keen to investigate newer chassis than the front-engined chassis then on the market but, faced with a very conservative council who were not mined to relocate bus stops situated for rear-entrance vehicles, didn't have the backing to even buy front entrance underfloor-engined single deckers, let alone rear-engined double deckers - Ribble had experienced problems with bus stop siting in the area when using Atlanteans and front entrance single deckers where bus stops were better situated for rear-entrance vehicles.

When Guy came calling with the Wulfrunian in 1960 the immediate answer from the management was "no", but the Department did have a number of Guy Arabs in service (which were highly regarded) and there was interest in the low floor layout and novel suspension and braking systems. Keen to keep its customer base, Guy was willing to adapt the design for an open rear platform and, for commonality with the other Guys in the fleet, fit a Gardner 6LW in place of the normal 6LX and a manual gearbox - moving the entrance to the rear allowed the engine to be mounted on the chassis centre-line and, therefore, a larger cab area.

The two vehicles purchased weren't particular successful, and were, I think, sold out of service after six years (which would be approaching the seven-year Certificate of Fitness). Todmorden JOC is rumoured to have been persuaded to place an order for a similar two chassis, but got cold feet and ordered Leyland Leopards instead.
So a massive amount of extra work by Guy, for the sale of 2 buses! No wonder they went broke...
 

Roilshead

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Nearside staircase was unusual (amongst many unusual things on this bus it seems!).

What was the reason for this? Weight distribution, covering batteries or a fuel tank? Or just to be different?!

According to published sources it was simply Roe's solution to a very restricted entry past the engine and between the front wheel-arches, having a near-side staircase which ascended directly from the front platform reduced the number of passengers having to pass between the engine/wheel-arches - it might have also countered the uneven weight-distribution from the off-set engine, but Wolverhampton's East Lancs bodied forward-entrance Wulfrunian had an off-side mounted staircase, suggesting that passenger access was the main reason.
 

Strathclyder

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According to published sources it was simply Roe's solution to a very restricted entry past the engine and between the front wheel-arches, having a near-side staircase which ascended directly from the front platform reduced the number of passengers having to pass between the engine/wheel-arches - it might have also countered the uneven weight-distribution from the off-set engine, but Wolverhampton's East Lancs bodied forward-entrance Wulfrunian had an off-side mounted staircase, suggesting that passenger access was the main reason.
The West Wales example (XBX 350/42; later West Riding No. 959) bodied by East Lancs also had the staircase mounted on the offside (linked image from the campaigner1010 Flickr stream), so you may be correct that passenger access/flow was the main reason - aside from acting as something of a counterweight for all the weight on the driver's side! - for the placement of the staircase on standard configuration Wulfrunians.


The example Lancashire United took (802 RTC/101, later West Riding No. 938 & the sole Northern Counties-bodied Wulfrunian) had the staircase in the same place (linked image from the Dewsbury Bus Museum Flickr stream), lending further credence to the bolded part of the quoted post.


I've always thought that the biggest flaw with the Wulf was that it wasn't possible to use a traditional beam type axle at the front because the drive line (prop shaft) from the engine to the gear box and rear axle wouldn't go either under or over such an axle if the bus was to be low height. Therefore, separate stub axles were used on each side and the weight of the 6LX engine, everything in the cab, the doors, staircase and anything else at the front end must have exerted a tremendous downward pressure on them, such that regular failures occurred and component life was alarmingly short.

Not to mention the crazy angle of the front wheels which always gave the impression that the stub axles were about to break away from their fixings.
This would go some way to explain why at least 6 of the front seats upstairs were removed (and in the case of one seat opposite the stairwell, reversed to face the one behind it), the empty space being roped off with a notice saying - at least on the West Riding examples - 'Passengers must not occupy this space'. Linked photo below (from the Guy Flickr stream) shows this to rather good effect on the very last Wulfrunian built (West Riding's BHL 380C/1029). Whether or not it had any tangible effect on prolonging component life is not entirely clear.


The same reasoning no doubt lay behind a good portion of Volvo Ailsas having very few if any seats in front of the top deck (notably those bodied by Alexander; the Van-Hool McArdles were a noted exception to this).
 
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