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Daimler Fleetline
Daimler Bus Badge IMG 1857
Daimler Fleetline produced for Greater Manchester Transport.
Manufacturer Daimler Motor Company/British Leyland
Built at 1960-1973:
Coventry, Warwickshire, England
1973-1980:
Farington, Lancashire, England
Operator(s) London Transport and others
Specifications
Length 30ft, 33ft or 36ft
Floor type Step entrance
Doors 1 or 2 door
Engine(s) Daimler (prototypes only)
Gardner 6LW/6LX/6LXB
Leyland O.680/O.690
Cummins V6
Transmission Daimatic/Self-Changing Gears
Options Various customer options

The Daimler Fleetline (known as the Leyland Fleetline from c.1975) was a rear-engined double-decker bus chassis built between 1960 and 1973 in Coventry, Warwickshire, England, and from 1973 until 1980 in Farington, Lancashire, England. However, the last complete vehicle did not enter service until 1982. It was superseded by the Leyland Olympian.

The Daimler/Leyland Fleetline was built mainly for the United Kingdom market, but a number of Fleetlines had been exported to Portugal, South Africa and Hong Kong.

DesignEdit

The Fleetline was the second rear-engined chassis to be launched, following Leyland's introduction of the Atlantean in 1958. From the outset, the Fleetline had a drop-centre rear axle fitted as standard, enabling low-height bodywork to be fitted without necessitating an inconvenient seating layout in part of the upper deck, as was the case with early Atlanteans. Leyland responded by offering a drop-centre rear axle as an option on the Atlantean, but after the two companies came under common ownership in 1968, the low-height Atlantean option was discontinued.

Initially, the Fleetline was fitted with a Gardner engine as standard (Leyland engines were later an option), whereas Leyland only offered engines of its own manufacture in the Atlantean. Some operators favoured the Gardner engine and perceived this to be an additional advantage of the Fleetline.

In late 1960s, Daimler developed the longer 36' double-deck Fleetline which was based on the single-deck Roadliner chassis. This chassis had a longitudinally-mounted Cummins engine at the rear offside corner.

In mid-1970s, Leyland developed a special version of the Fleetline, known as the B20, with chimneys on both sides above the engine compartment and reduced noise levels.

DesignationsEdit

Daimler Fleetline chassis designations started with the letters CR, of which the C is variously reported to stand for Coventry or Commercial, and the R stands for Rear-engined. For single-deckers this became SR (although not on the earliest examples which were referred to with the standard CR).

This was followed by a code to indicate the engine fitted: D6 (Daimler 6-cylinder, prototypes only); G6 (Gardner 6-cylinder, more often than not this was expanded to the more specific G6LW, G6LX or G6LXB); L6 (Leyland 6-cylinder); C6 (Cummins 6-cylinder).

The standard length of the Fleetline was 30' but lengths of 33' and 36' were also available, which were sometimes (though not consistently) identified by a suffix of -33 or -36 (sometimes with an oblique stroke in place of the hyphen).

Later Leyland Fleetline chassis designations were different: FE for Fleetline, followed by 30 or 33 (length in feet); A (if applicable) for automatic transmission; G for Gardner or L for Leyland engine; R for Right-hand drive.

United KingdomEdit

LondonEdit

London DMS Fleetline and Routemaster

The front entrance London DMS class Fleetline (left) next to the AEC Routemaster rear entrance class which it was meant to replace, but which eventually outlived the DMS in London service

London Transport was the largest British Fleetline operator, whose DMS and DM classes totalled 2646 examples (the last 400 were built as B20s), in addition to the earlier XF (eXperimental Fleetline) class of eight buses.

The DMS and DM-class vehicles were fitted with either Park Royal and MCW bodywork, and were given fleet numbers (DMS 1 - DM 2646) under the drivers' window on the offside and at the rear of the nearside of the vehicle.

The first vehicle into service was DMS 1 at 0454 on 2 January 1971 from Shepherds Bush Garage on route 220. However, celebrations at the garage meant that the bus left two minutes late and thus DMS 31 at Brixton Garage actually entered first at 0455 on route 95. The last vehicle was DMS 2438 also on 2 January, in 1993, returning home in the dark at 1845. This bus operated a farewell tour between Croydon Garage, Chipstead Valley and Hammond Street, London on special one-day only route 459.

A total of 60 garages operated DMSs in London. The smallest allocation was at Willesden where just 10 vehicles in total ever operated, and the largest at Croydon with a huge allocation total of 417 spanning a period of twenty years from 1973. In the Croydon example, an allocation could be as short as two months or as long as ten years. Croydon were the last garage to operate the type in normal passenger service in what became known as DMS heartland principally because of the other large operational garages at Brixton, Merton, Sutton, Catford and Thornton Heath.

DMSs proved unpopular in London, mainly due to the slow boarding times compared to those of the open-backed Routemaster class and the speed at which parts became defective. Withdrawal commenced in 1979 with the early vehicles being the first to go, the first to leave the fleet in this way being DMS 251 in February 1979, quickly departing for bus breaker Wombwell Diesels in Yorkshire. The very first vehicle to leave the fleet was DMS 1248 which was completely destroyed by fire whilst in service on route 280A from Sutton Garage in August 1978. In London, the successors of the DMS/DM buses were the Leyland Titan and MCW Metrobus.

Many of the sold Fleetlines were sent to Ensignbus in Purfleet as a dealer for onward sale or spare parts. So many vehicles were despatched there between 1979 and 1983 that the yards became known as the 'DMS graveyards' as not enough buyers could be sought. Often vehicles could not be brought out and so rotted away where they sat.

The withdrawn DMS/DM proved popular secondhand purchases for operators throughout Britain during the 1980s, especially in the aftermath of bus deregulation. There were also a number of DMS/DM buses sold for export, many departing for the far east in Hong Kong. In addition, nearly 50 vehicles found operations in the USA for open-top sightseeing work.

Few vehicles have entered preservation, DMS 1 being with the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden, DMS 132, 999, 1051, 1052, 1601, 1868, 2375, 2456 and appropriately DM 2646 with the Ensign Bus Museum. DM 2646 has been preserved in the Shillibeer livery which it carried back in 1979. 2008 saw a resurgence of fleetlines being bought for preservation and DMSs 115, 550, 1002, 1911, 2216, 2257 and 2357 also reached cherished status, albeit work-in-progress.

Outside LondonEdit

Birmingham City Transport No. 3796

West Midlands PTE operated over 2000 Fleetlines of varying types

Second in fleet size was Birmingham Corporation and its successor West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive with well over 1000 buses, including the first single-deck Fleetlines in 1965. Other constituent municipal fleets also contributed Fleetlines to the WMPTE Fleetline fleet to boost the number to over 2100.

Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive purchased over 500 Fleetlines in addition to a similar number inherited from its constituents (although even in such numbers they were still outnumbered by Atlanteans). One of these, numbered 583 (BCB 613V) of the Lancashire United (subsidiary of GMPTE) was sold to Chester City Transport in 1992, numbered 79, it remained in regular service until May 2007. An engine failure in service resulted in its withdrawal, but it is believed to have been sold for preservation. This is believed to have been the last closed top Fleetline in regular service in the UK.

Other English PTEs, plus many fleets in the municipal, such as Cardiff Bus with 90 examples, BET Group, Scottish Bus Group and independent sectors purchased Fleetlines.

Unusual FleetlinesEdit

Walsall Corporation specified some non-standard short-wheelbase Fleetlines, the first of which, 1 UDH and http://www.flickr.com/photos/8050359@N07/2334860070/, had its entrance behind the front axle; later deliveries had a narrow entrance in the usual position. 1 UDH had Northern Counties bodywork with wrap-around windscreens on both decks, similar to that specified by Barton Transport on AEC Regents and a Dennis Loline.

Several operators purchased single-deck Fleetlines (Birmingham was the first, in 1965).

Walsall Corporation purchased one 36' double-deck Fleetline in 1968, which is now preserved.

Hong KongEdit

China Motor Bus (CMB) introduced 336 Fleetlines between 1972 and 1980, and Kowloon Motor Bus (KMB) also introduced 450 between 1974 and 1979, these Fleetlines were mainly deployed to Cross-Harbour Tunnel routes. CMB adopted the word "Jumbo" (originated from "Jumbo Jet", which was the nickname of the Boeing 747) to describe the large capacity of its Fleetlines, so in Hong Kong, the Fleetlines were commonly known as the "Jumbo" (
中文: 珍寶
).

In 1980s both CMB and KMB purchased ex-London Transport DMS/DM-class Fleetlines. Citybus and Argos Bus, operators of non-franchised routes and private hire services in Hong Kong, also purchased secondhand Fleetlines (including ex-London Transport DMS/DM-class Fleetlines).

Many of the Daimler/Leyland Fleetlines in Hong Kong were delivered to China for further service after being withdrawn in 1980s/1990s.

TriviaEdit

  • The first and last Fleetlines built were both destroyed by fire. Former demonstrator 7000 HP, which had passed to Blue Bus Services (Tailby & George) of Willington and later to Derby Borough Transport, was destroyed in a fire at the Willington depot on 5 January 1976. The last-built chassis, former South Notts ECW-bodied SCH 117X, was destroyed in a fire at the Nottingham Transport Heritage Centre on 21 February 2007 after it had been bought for preservation.
  • In late 1990s Guangzhou Cityview Bus Installation Co., Ltd. (now known as Guangzhou Suijing Bus Co., Ltd.) rebuilt some of the ex-Hong Kong Daimler/Leyland Fleetlines in China with provision of new bodies, these Fleetlines became known as the "Eagle Fleetline" (
    中文:
    ). A number of the "Eagle Fleetlines" were sold for service in Shenzhen, with the last bus being withdrawn in October 2008. Images of "Eagle Fleetline" (Traditional Chinese)

See alsoEdit

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