Archive for October, 2012

Bedford SB

October 24, 2012

Bedford, a subsidiary of General Motors, was a commercial vehicle manufacturer based in UK. the main products are trucks, buses and vans. The company was sold to AWD in 1987. AWD ceased manufacturing in 1992. Bedford SB bus was first introduced into the UK market in 1950. Many of them make its way here. Most of them were the SB5 model which uses Bedford 5.4 litres diesel engine. All of them had 4 speed synchromesh gearboxes. Chassis is straight ladder frame with the engine mounted in front. The front wheel axle was at the forward position, as a result, these buses had doors positioned at the centre or immediately after the front axle :
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Bedford was one of the most popular bus used by private and school bus operators. Typical seating capacity is 40 to 41 passengers. This model was, however, never popular with public bus operators, only Changi Bus Company and Associated Bus Service uses this type of bus.

Acknowledgement : Old bus photo from National Archives Singapore

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Old traffic signs

October 18, 2012

Old traffic signs used in Singapore are similar to those used in UK. Warning and danger signs have a red triangle at the top and information below. All the information are in English, tough for people who doesn’t understand the language, something which is very common in the past. Current traffic signs used by LTA are based on international standards.

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(1) traffic circus (2) double bend (3) bend (4) traffic lights (5) low bridge (6) junction/side road

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(7) hospital (8) road narrows (9) narrow bridge (10) school (11) cross roads (12) T-junction

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(13) no entry (14) no right turn (15) (16) turn left

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(17) stop at traffic junction (18) slow (19) no entry (20) one way street
For (17), the word “HALT” (compared to present day “STOP”) is also painted on the road.

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bus conductor – a fast disappearing occupation

October 11, 2012

Buses in major Malaysian cities have already switched to one man operation. Same for most small towns. However there are still a small number of bus operators still uses two man crews :
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These operators are still operating buses with center doorways, making one man operation impossible :
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The first modern city bus

October 3, 2012

STC purchased the first batch of Isuzu in 1962. The decision to buy Japanese came as a surprise to many because the share holders of the company were based in Britain and also Singapore was still a colony of Great Britain, products from Great Britain were given preferential treatment. One possible reason is that the financial situation of a company was in dire straits. Buying British products were difficult as the exchange rate was about five Straits Dollars to one British Pound back then.
A total of 137 units were delivered in three batches from 1962 to 1964. The first batch were BR351P model. The second and third batch were 20P and 20PA2. The buses were bodied by Kawasaki Heavy Industries at their Kagamigahara factory and shipped to Singapore.
The Isuzu buses were very different from all the bus models in terms of body design and material used to built the bus. A lot of the bus features which we take for granted in present day buses made its first appearance in these Isuzu buses.
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The Isuzu buses were the first buses to have separate entrance and exit doors, unlike the locally built ones which had only one door at the center for entrance and exit even though some of the chassis used such as the Albion Vikings were designed to allow the entrance door to be built at the front. The door opening and closing are controlled by the driver.
The buses used all steel construction, except the floor in which wooden beams were used. In contrast, the buses built by local body builders used all wood, including the frames. Only aluminium sheets were used on the outer body.
The destination box was mounted at the front with the route number and destination information housed in two separate sections. Roller blinds were used and fluorescent light were placed behind the blinds to ensure good visibility at night. The locally built buses mount or paint the route number and destination information at the back of the destination box with two small incandescent light bulbs installed in front of the numbers. Such an arrangement made the route number it very difficult to see at night. A side destination box was also provided above the first window after the entrance door. This side destination box also uses roller blinds.

The windows were standard Japanese half drop type. The half drop windows used on the locally built buses were notorious for getting stuck opened, closed or partially open. Throughout the years of service until they were scrapped, I have never encounter one Isuzu bus in which the windows were jammed, an excellent testimony to the great craftsmenship.

The buses also came with factory built dashboard with proper layout of speedometer, fuel gauge, air pressure and indicator lights for high beam, turn signal, brake and door open/close. This is something which was sorely absent in buses built locally. The dashboards of the locally built buses were crude and spartan, the body builder just built a metal pedestal and mount the fuel gauge, speedometer and nothing else.

The local buses has “push once” bell button mounted at certain interval above the windows. The bus conductor has to stretch himself over the seated passengers to press the bell. The Isuzu buses’ bell line was mounted on the roof running from the front all the way to the back, it make life easier for the bus conductor. This bell line layout was soon copied by all the local builders.
Interior lightings of local built buses used incandescent light bulbs resulting in a very dimly lit passenger saloon. The Isuzu buses were the first to use fluorescent lights, a big contrast in lighting compared to the incandescent light bulbs.
The seats were standard Japanese type, the seat next to the emergency exit can be folded up, just like the fold up seats at the wheel chair area of the Citaro bus. The fold up seat at the emergency exit is to make it easier for passengers to exit in the event of an emergency, not for wheel chairs.

The ride quality was superior as they were all equipped with air suspension. The only fault with these buses were the last two rows of seats, the leg room was very cramped.

Acknowledgement : Bus photo from National Archives Singapore

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