Archive for December, 2011

Memories of bus rides – the first double deckers

December 28, 2011

It was announced in the newspapers on 31 Aug 1976 that SBS will be acquiring double deckers. A similar picture below was shown :
My first reaction was : nice model, twin headlights stack in vertical position, curve windscreen, good layout of route number and destination details and use of roller blinds.
Initial order was for 20 buses. Two body kit supplier were chosen : BACO and Metsec.
BACO uses aluminium whilst Metsec uses steel. The 20 buses were split evenly between the two body style. Chassis will be Atlantean AN68R2 built by Leyland.

Came June 1977, this was the advertisement placed by SBS in the Straits Times :
This version was bodied using BACO kits. A great disappointment. The body design was ugly, too square. The destination box was a total let down, not only were roller blinds not use, it has only a small rectangle to display only the route number, making the front look so empty.
On the day of operation, I took a ride on the upper deck, more disappointment. The windows on the upper deck was built too high, seated passengers can barely look out of the windows. On the lower deck, the windows were alright however there were not enough insulation on the last row of seat, can be quite hot.

The other model built using Metsec kits looks a bit better :
The destination box carrying the route number was slightly longer, at least it does not make the front part look so empty. The upper and lower deck windows were built at correct height and passengers can easily look out of the windows. The only drawback of the Metsec design is the lower deck off side windows. On the near side, there were 6 windows, 4 of which can be opened but on the off side, there were 5 windows, only 2 of which can be opened, resulting in poor ventilation.

On the whole, wasn’t quite please with the buses. The later batches with Alexander and newer Metsec bodies were much better in design.

The ride quality was much better than the single decks which at that time only uses spring leaf suspensions. The buses came with SCG epicyclic gearboxes which was manufactured by one of Leyland’s subsidiary. These gears always have an annoying jerk whenever it changes from first gear to second.

Acknowledgement :
1. black & white photo from National Archives Singapore
2. wikipedia commons

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Leyland Comet buses

December 20, 2011

Two versions of Comet were used by local bus companies:
Ashok Leyland Comet ALCOP3/1 built in Chennai, India, equipped with AL370 engine.
British built Leyland Comet 13C/6RP equipped with Leyland O.370 engine.
Engine capacity is 6000cc, gear box is manual constant mesh.

The Indian version was first used by Hock Lee Amalgamated Bus Company. These were bodied by Soon Chow. The second and third buses in the post card below are two of Hock Lee’s Ashok Leyland Comets :
The Hock Lee’s Comets were passed on to Amalgamated Bus Company in 1971. ABC added more Comets to its fleet, all bodied by Soon Chow. At least four variants of the Soon Chow bodies were used on the Comets. Besides the Indian Comets, ABC also acquired a small number of Comets from UK. The Comets were mostly deployed on route 5, a small number were scattered among routes 21, 32, 65 and 176.
Ashok Leyland Comet on route 65 :
Most of the ABC’s Comets suffered from brake problems. Loud screeching sound from the brakes can be heard from far away when the buses came to a halt at traffic junctions or bus stops.

The other user of Comets is United Bus Company. Unlike ABC, UBC’s Comets were bodied by Metal Sections, similar in style to Hong Kong KMB’s Albion Viking EVK41XL fleet nos. L220-269. The rear window of UBC’s Comets is also the emergency exit, similar to the Leyland Atlantean double deckers.

All the Leyland Comets eventually ended up with SBS. Togather with the Austin, Bedford, Fargo, Guy Arab buses, they were among the first to be scrapped or sold off when SBS started to standardise the fleet.

Acknowledgement : black & white photo from National Archives Singapore

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Mr Postman

December 13, 2011

Recently a friend overseas sent me some items via air mail. In the past, it took maybe a week. Now it took more than a week. Three months ago, I sent some documents to PSB via local mail, normally it takes at most 3 days, now 4 to 5 days.

Gone are the days when postal services were a government outfit, answerable to the government and the public. Now, the postal services answer only to the share holders.

Gone were the days when postal services were considered as essential services. Now, postal services are expected to make profit, a money making commercial enterprise, providing all kinds of money making services with postal services playing only a minor role. Don’t believe? Go to any post office and count how many counters are used for postal services.

Gone were the days when people join the postal services, it was a career, just like policemen, firemen, nurses, teachers, etc… Every postal worker had to adhere to a code of conduct, to carry out their duties faithfully and obey all the rules. Now, who need rules, not when part time contract workers were used to deliver mails.

Gone were the days when postmen deliver only mails. Now they also deliver junk mails to your letter boxes. When people complain, they came up with replies that they did a “survey” and “x” number of people welcome those junk mails. Since when did they conduct a survey? Which brain dead morons would like to receive junk mail in their mail boxes?

Gone were days where postmen wore smart khaki uniforms, wear pith helmets, rode on red coloured bicycles and deliver mails right up to each household’s door steps. Now postmen wore crappy t-shirts and dirty jeans and dump the letters and junk mails into letter boxes, sometimes wrong ones.

Gone were the days where post office vehicles were red in colour, each proudly carrying the Singapore crest on its side. Later the post office vehicles and all post boxes were painted in yellow before the organisation became part of Singapore Telecoms :
Now, looks like any other delivery van on the roads :

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Smoking Joe

December 6, 2011

The recent passing away of world famous boxer Joe Frazier a.k.a. Smoking Joe, reminds me of an incident while out doing bus photography one fine day.

Volvo B10M on City Shopper 579

I station myself about 5 meters away from a bus stop. A man came out of the building behind the bus stop and light up a cigarette. He walk pass me smoking. He then turned around, and walked back to the bus stop continue smoking. By the time he reached the bus stop, he finishes his cigarette. He then light up another and did the same walking. Again by the time he return to the bus stop, cigarette finished. He went back into the building. I reckoned that this Smoking Joe polished off two cigarettes in about two minutes flat. Fastest smoker I have ever encountered.
I continue my bus photography for about 20 minutes, the same Smoking Joe came out of the building and started the whole walking-smoking routine again. The smoking cycle repeated for a total of four times before I left the place. Cannot believe the amount and the kind of crap that this walking chimney pump into his lungs in a single day! And he is still alive. Maybe scientist should take out his lungs, clone it and make it into some kind of filters to meet future requirements of Euro diesel emission standards.

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