Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Padwa Design

October 15, 2014

Padwa Design Studio is a little known (at least in these parts of the world) design company based in Isreal. The company design all kinds of things. One the project the company did was to design a tour coach. This coach was the award winning Meteor built by Merkavim. Merkavim is a bus and coach builder based also in Isreal. The Meteor won the award for the most beautiful coach of the year and futuristic design at the 1995 Kortrijk (Belgium) bus show :

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This is our Padwa look alike local coach built by Soon Chow :

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The front looks very similar to the original Padwa design : lower part of the windscreen with both end sloping at an angle, position of the lights and the curve line on the bumper housing the two spot lights.

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There are some differences in the rear end. The rectangular tail lights on the original Padwa coach doesn’t seem to fit in well among all the curve profiles at the rear. The round lights looks better.

 photo merkavimsR_zps6d691b0a.jpg

Delta Plan

October 8, 2014

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Local bus builders used to build buses which are “Uniquely Singaporean”. The trend towards “Europeanisation” of bus models started when Chua Heng Industries market their Mercedes O302 style coach bodies mounted on Mercedes OF1413 chassis. This is the original German built O302 :
 photo O302_zps7cc61741.jpg
The Chua Heng models were slight different from the original German version. It became very popular and the Chua Heng O302 style body were built on other type of chassis as well : Tata, Leyland, Albion and Bedford. Other builders soon followed with inspirations derived from other European models such as Drogmoller, Setra, Berkhorf, Buelas, etc. One of the more recent popular bus model built by local bus builders is this bus modelled after Finnish company Delta Plan OY (currently Carrus Delta OY) :
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Most of them were built by Asia and GTS on Mercedes, Nissan, Hino, Fuso and Isuzu chassis. Many of these buses are currently being replaced by cheap China imports. This is the European Delta Plan :
 photo DeltaStar501_zps53a75c5d.jpg

Acknowledgement : Wikimedia Commons


October 1, 2014

The other Japanese light bus which longer sold is the Nissan Civilian. The Nissan light bus was originally named as Nissan Echo GC140. It is a 24 seater and went into production from 1959 to 1966. The bus was based on the Nissan Caball truck. It uses a 1.5L, 85hp Nissan G-series diesel engine. This is a first generation Nissan Echo, model was sold and used locally as a school bus :

 photo civilain1_zpsf7938713.jpg

The second generation Echo GC240 were manufactured from1966 -1971. I am not sure if the GC240 was used locally as I have not seen any. In 1971 GC240 Echo name was changed to Civilian after several accidents due design defects. GC240 became the first generation Nissan Civilian. The model was upgraded to GC340 from 1976 to 1982. This new model was a specially developed platform, it is no longer based on the Caball truck. Earlier models uses ED30 3.0L, 85hp, later models (1980 onwards) ED33, 3.3L, 96hp diesel engine. This model was widely used by local operators :

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Second generation Civilian W40 was as popular as the first generation GC340. A large number of them were sold to local operators including the two public bus companies SBS and Trans Island Bus. The model began production in1982 using the Nissan ED33 120hp 3.3L diesel engine :

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Minor changes were made to the model in 1995 with headlights changed from round type to square type :

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The engine of the later models were changed to Nissan ED35 105hp 3.5L diesel.
Two lengths were available : short wheelbase 6.27m 26 passengers and long wheelbase 6.99m 30 passengers.
Short wheelbase Civilian :

 photo civilain5_zps54c71197.jpg

Third generation Civilian W41 went into production in 1999. This model was not sold locally.

Acknowledgements : 1. Wikimedia Commons 2. National Archives Singapore

The Journey

September 24, 2014

The Isuzu Journey BE22UH is a 29 seater light bus. The earlier generation of Journey was based on the Isuzu Elf truck. The production started in 1960s as the Isuzu BL371 :

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Production of the next generation light bus began in 1973 and the name was changed to Isuzu Journey :

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It was powered by a four cylinder 2.8 litres engine producing 85hp. Kawasaki Heavy Industries built the body for these buses. The model was given a face lift in 1987, replacing the twin round headlights with rectangular ones :

 photo isuzu3_zps7f1759c5.jpg

Due to poor sales, the production of the model ended in 1993, a rather short production span compared to its competitor Mitsubishi Rosa and Toyota Coaster. Many of the local Isuzu Journey BE22UHs were used by local private operators until 2013. The name Journey continued to be used by Isuzu. The Isuzu Journey J is a rebadged Hino Liesse, none of them were sold in Singapore.

Acknowledgements : 1. National Archives Singapore 2. Wikimedia Commons

Lost bus terminus – Keppel Habour

September 17, 2014

There was once a bus terminus outside the former Keppel Shipyard along Telok Blangah Road. STC routes 1, 8 and 38 terminates here along the road side. Which side of the road, I am not sure. The terminus is known as Keppel Habour, as displayed on the destination blinds on the STC buses even though the place was not a habour but rather a shipyard. It later became the terminus for STC routes 145 and 146 after the island wide bus re-organisation. This terminus was then shifted much further west to Clementi Road / Pasir Panjang Road junction.
The map of the location:
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STC Nissan RX102K3 on route 1 with destination blinds Moulmein Green – Keppel Habour :
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The former Keppel Shipyard is now occupied by Carribean Residences. This is a view of the stretch of road near the Carribean :
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The other side of the road :
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A stone throw away at Harbour Front Avenue / Maritime Square, behind the office buildings are some relics recovered from the shipyard.
The two gateposts which marked the entrance to the Singapore Habour Board at Gate No. 3 Keppel Road leading to the Empire Dock which was built in 1917 :
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A harpoon gun from the Russian whaling ship Sovetskaya Rossia which hunted whales in the Indian and Antarctic oceans in 1974 :
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A steam operated crane used in the docks :
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Manufacturer of the steam crane :
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Sadly, the exhibits were left neglected with weeds and tree seedlings growing on the tracks :
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Mad dogs, Englishmen, bus fans

September 10, 2014

Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun. A song by Noel Coward in the 1930s to poke fun at colonial Englishmen who were up and about doing their business throughout the day while all the locals took afternoon naps to escape from the midday heat. These days not only mad dogs and Englishmen (if there were any left locally), bus enthusiasts were up and about running all over the place at midday or any time of the day hoping to catch a ride on a bus or camp along streets to take photos of buses. This is a photo of one of the last few fully Japanese built coach taken on one hot scotching afternoon :
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This Hino RC coach was first used by Sans Tours. When it was retired, it was sold to an independent operator who still uses it to ferry tourist around until it was scrapped. Completely built Japanese tour coaches such as Hino RC, RD, RS, RJ, Nissan 4R, RA, RM, UA and Isuzu CRA were once a common sight on the streets but sadly they are no longer imported. They are now replaced by cheap China imports.

Mad dogs and Englishmen lyrics :

In tropical climes there are certain times of day
When all the citizens retire to tear their clothes off and perspire.
It’s one of the rules that the greatest fools obey,
Because the sun is much too sultry
And one must avoid its ultry-violet ray.
The natives grieve when the white men leave their huts,
Because they’re obviously, definitely nuts!

Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun,
The Japanese don´t care to, the Chinese wouldn´t dare to,
Hindus and Argentines sleep firmly from twelve to one
But Englishmen detest-a siesta.
In the Philippines they have lovely screens to protect you from the glare.
In the Malay States, there are hats like plates which the Britishers won’t wear.
At twelve noon the natives swoon and no further work is done,
But mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.

It’s such a surprise for the Eastern eyes to see,
that though the English are effete, they’re quite impervious to heat,
When the white man rides every native hides in glee,
Because the simple creatures hope he will impale his solar topee on a tree.
It seems such a shame when the English claim the earth,
They give rise to such hilarity and mirth.
Ha ha ha ha hoo hoo hoo hoo hee hee hee hee ……

Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.
The toughest Burmese bandit can never understand it.
In Rangoon the heat of noon is just what the natives shun,
They put their Scotch or Rye down, and lie down.
In a jungle town where the sun beats down to the rage of man and beast
The English garb of the English sahib merely gets a bit more creased.
In Bangkok at twelve o’clock they foam at the mouth and run,
But mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.

Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.
The smallest Malay rabbit deplores this foolish habit.
In Hong Kong they strike a gong and fire off a noonday gun,
To reprimand each inmate who’s in late.
In the mangrove swamps where the python romps
there is peace from twelve till two.
Even caribous lie around and snooze, for there’s nothing else to do.
In Bengal to move at all is seldom ever done,
But mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.

The song itself wasn’t very nice, more like 1930s version of rap music.


September 3, 2014

Ships specially built for transporting of vehicles are basically floating multi storey vehicle park :
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These ships are also known as RO-RO (roll on – roll off) vessels or car carriers as cars are the main cargo for many of these ships. They have every large ramps at the side and rear which can be lowered down to allow vehicles to be driven on and off the ship :
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Two of the car carriers unloading vehicles :
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Some of the cargoes unloaded include buses and trucks :
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In the past, vehicles are transported using ordinary cargo ships :
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Vehicles, in this case buses, are unloaded using the ship’s cranes.
Unloading cargoes are laborious and slow, only one at a time.

The STC story Part 4 : The aftermath

August 27, 2014

On 4 December 1971, it was announced to the media that there will be no STC bus service. All the company buses were driven to National Stadium carpark at Kallang. Commuters on Sunday 5 December had to make do with bus services operated by the other 3 bus companies. National Stadium carparks A and B next to Nicoll Highway will serve as the temporary depot and buses will be dispatch from there the following Monday 6 December.
STC has a fleet of 571 buses in 1970, of the different models of buses, only the Isuzus, Nissans, Fusos and Guy Arabs were transferred. The remaining 125 Albion Victors were too old, close to 20 years. Majority were scrapped with a handful bought by the private school bus operators. The remaining 407 buses were balloted and allocated to the three other companies : Associated, Amalgamated and United.
With the Albions scrapped, there was a shortage of buses, the three companies scramble to get whatever spare buses they had and put them on the roads. Although the news announcement stated that the STC buses in green livery will continue to operate, this was not the case. Commuters on the next Monday morning found that the other companies’ buses were used. Some of the routes served by STC were also suspended until new buses became available. The three companies did keep the green livery for a short while. All of them paint the strip below the window line into their respective company colours leaving the bottom part green :
Amalgamated Bus Company :
 photo STCABC_zpsfb16ff8f.jpg
Associated Bus Service :
 photo STCABS_zps9ef45b4e.jpg
United Bus Company :
 photo STCUBC_zps7d34bb08.jpg

Acknowledgement : TheBusDude

The STC story Part 3 : The demise

August 20, 2014

Throughout its 53 year history, the company suffered from several strikes and worker – management problems.
STC bus workers on strike in the 1950s :
 photo stcstrike_zps2fd9a516.jpg
Other bus companies were roped in to take over the STC routes during the strike. Kampong Bahru Bus running on STC route 16 during the strike :
 photo strikebus_zps43b8f476.jpg
There was also a problem with corruption, with bus crews and inspectors pocketing fares, did not issue tickets for full journey or recycle used tickets. Soon gangsters got involved. They also gave free rides to passengers to teach the company a lesson. The company began losing money from 1964 to 1971. No dividends were declared through the years with the exception of 1970.
With the 1971 bus system re-organisation, the 1925 STC Ordinance was repealed and the company lost the monopoly in the city area. STC had to compete the other three companies, adding to its financial burden. The company finally declared bankrupt in 1971. All that were left in the company were 407 buses and 2 pieces of depot land at Mackenzie Road and Upper Aljunied Road. The routes and buses were distributed among the three companies.
The last company annual report issued in 1970 showed an accumulated lost of $5,313,688.
Attempts were made to revive the company in December 1975, 7 years after it ceased bus operation. All efforts were futile. The company was finally wound up at an extraordinary general meeting. With a start-up capital of $14.2 million, its assets shrunk to $275,000 at the point of winding up.

Acknowledgement : National Archives Singapore

The STC story Part 2 : The “new” company

August 13, 2014

In 1964, the owners in London sold all the company shares to a group of local investors. The new owners toyed with the idea of changing the company name, logo and the liveries of its buses. The company drawing office’s draftsmen were tasked to come up with different liveries. Some of the liveries were applied to the buses for trial :
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Eventually the company decided to paint its buses lower half green with a red band below the window, retaining the original company logo :
 photo STC4_zps4feab1f0.jpg
Company logo and company flag :
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In 1964, Singapore being part of the Malaysian federation, it was only politically correct to change the name of the “new” company to Syarikat Berhad Trekshen Singapura. This did not came to pass and the original company name was retained with the “1964” added : Singapore Traction Company (1964) Ltd. The share capital in 1964 company was $14.2million and by 1970s, it operates a fleet of 500 buses, the biggest bus fleet in Singapore back then. The company also own two plots of land at MacKenzie Road and Upper Aljunied Road, both used as bus depot with the Mackenzie Road premises also housing the head office.
MacKenzie Road depot and office :
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Upper Aljunied Road depot :
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The company also embark on an attempt to start a bus building company in collaboration with Nissan in Aug 1968. A new company Singapore Nissan Motors Pte Ltd was formed with two other shareholders : Nissan Motor Co. from Japan and Tan Chong Motor & Sons Co., the local distributor of Nissan vehicles. The company produces Datsun pickups and Nissan buses.
 photo stcnissanfactory_zpsfd62d8a0.jpg

Acknowledgement : 1. National Archives Singapore 2. TheBusDude