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THE SELNEC PRESERVATION SOCIETY

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THE EXPERIMENTAL NORTHERN COUNTIES BODIED FODENS

After the formation of SELNEC (South East Lancashire/North East Cheshire) Passenger Transport Executive on 1st November 1969 there was a major programme of standardisation and replacement of inherited older vehicles, many of which were still front engined back loaders with the standard designed Leyland Atlantean/Daimler Fleetline.  However it was quite apparent as the 1970s came to a close that the Leyland Atlantean and Daimler Fleetline would not be available forever.   Indeed they had been in production in early form since 1959 and 1962 respectively and the technology with rear and under-floor engine chassis was progressing.  Although in 1979 and 1980 it looked as if separate chassis production with independent body builders might come to an end with vehicles being of integral or semi integral off the peg designs as are cars, lorries and other vehicles, with the introduction of the Leyland Titan and MCW Metrobus, this did not happen. GMT did buy small quantities of these vehicles, being 15 Leyland Titans and 190 MCW Metrobuses.  These were placed in main fleet series as they were intended to be operational vehicles and originally it was intended they would be delivered in larger numbers had it not been for supply problems, particularly with the Titan. 

That aside Greater Manchester Transport were conscious that they would need to look at developing their standard body to fit the new rear or mid engined chassis and embarked upon a close collaboration with Northern Counties who were the main supplier of their standard bodied Leyland Atlanteans and Daimler Fleetlines to come up with what was hoped to be the standard bus of the future, the Foden NC rear engined bus.  Foden working in collaboration with Northern Counties and GMT provided the chassis with Northern Counties adapting the standard body being fitted to Atlanteans and Fleetlines to fit.  The main specifications of the chassis were as follows:-

BASIC DIMENSIONS AND DESIGN WEIGHTS

Wheelbase: 5105mm (16' 9")
     
Front overhang: Body: 2260mm (7' 5")
  Frame: 2159mm (7' 1")
     
Rear overhang: Body: 2260mm (7' 5")
  Frame: 2235mm (7' 4")
     
Frame height: 508mm (20") in areas corresponding to main gangways
     
Minimum overall Vehicle Height: 4166mm / 4420mm (13' 8" / 14' 6") depending upon type
     
Width: Body: 2451mm (8' 2")
  Frame: 2350mm (7' 8")
     
Design maximun Swept turning circle 21.6 metres (71' 0")
   
Maximum road speed 44mph

UNDERFRAME
Fully fabricated framework comprising of straight pressed channel members and standard hollow rectangular sections.

Engine Gardner 6LXB
Full power rating at 1750 rpm.  Engine mounted auxiliaries:  compressor, power steering, pump and shaft drive for cooling fan.  Air operated accelerator with solenoid shutdown.

TRANSFER GEARBOX FODEN
Comprising of a four gear train including two idler gears.  A pressure lubrication system is used with an integral gear pump.  Also included in the gearbox is an auxiliary gear drive for the vehicle alternator driving alternator at 2.26 x engine speed.  Gearbox input at 1.3 x engine speed.

GEARBOX ALLISON MT.640
Flexplate drive to torque converter direct from transfer gearbox.  Four forward gear ranges, one reverse with automatic converter lockup in third and fourth.  Manual range selector with automatic upshifting and downshifting within each drive range.  Inhibitor mechanism to prevent harmful downshifts.

BEVEL DRIVE BOX FODEN/NEWAGE ENGINEERING
Spiral bevel gears with heavy duty taper roller bearings similar to rear axle input. 

FERODO RETARDER
Air operated, oil cooler retarder with heat exchanger to cooling system to give progressive retardation in two stages.

PROPSHAFTS
Engine to transfer box:  propshaft with sliding joint and two LAYRUB 3 x 6 rubber couplings at each end.

COMPRESSOR
Clayton Dewandre PCGA 769X-15 CFM.
Engine mounted with belt drive from crankshaft.

FUEL SYSTEM
Total 45 gallons.

REAR AXLE NEWAGE ENGINEERING
Centre drop rear axle with offset differential to give low floor clearance.  Input through hypoid drive head, helical drop gears and planetary hub reduction overall axle ratio 5.71:1.

SPRINGS
Jaw type spring anchor design facilities easy removal both front and rear.  Chromium plated shackle pins in bronze lined bushes.

DAMPERS
Armstrong D.A.S. 14 front and rear.

TYRES
Michelin tubeless 11.00 x 22.5.

PUMP
Hobourn Eaton type:
Gear driven from engine 1.8 x engine speed.

In fact in total after a half vehicle experiment was built only six of these vehicles were ever put into production, two of which were delivered to Greater Manchester Transport and were numbered 1435 (LNA 258R) and 1436 (PNE 358R).  The remaining four went to West Yorkshire, Derbyshire, PMT and the West Midlands. 

A seventh Foden chassis was built but this was bodied by East Lancs for South Yorkshire.  These Foden NCs did not prove popular and 1435 and 1436 were withdrawn well before their normal vehicle life of 13 years expired.

John Cherry from whom we purchased 4002 (ANE 2T) has the only two Foden double deck buses left in existence being the West Yorkshire vehicle (TUB 250R) and the West Midlands vehicle (ROC 300R).  In order to ensure that these survive into the future in respect of spare parts he purchased mechanical parts from the Derby Foden, the PMT Foden which was scrapped at Barnsley and the half experimental Foden which had been purchased previously by Bullocks.  He sets out his story below: 

The Two that Got Away

 

In 1999 I was looking for a modern double decker bus for my Aintree Coachline fleet when I saw an advert for two Dennis Dominator buses. I called the number given and spoke to a very unusual dealer in buses, namely the Reverend David Green (now deceased) in Weymouth.  He said that they were the two Blackburn ones LFV 131T and LFV 132T which had been to Rennies and were now garaged with the rest of his stock at Filers in Bristol. 

 

The following week we went down there and soon determined that they were in a terrible state both bodily and mechanically, so whilst looking around the rest of the stock which consisted of Leopards and VRs we came upon TUB 250R.  In the line of vehicles and devoid of all badges it looked at first like a West Yorkshire Fleetline similar to one I already had, but of course it was of the seven Fodens built in 1976-1978.  After sale by WYPTE to David Green it lived on the pathway to his church for several years until the Bishop saw it one day and wanted it moved.  A deal was struck over the phone and we drove it home.

 

On the way home we came upon a broken down National Express Coach on the M5 so we picked up the passengers and dropped them off in Hilton Park Services on the M6 (the only time a Foden has done National Express work?)

 

TUB soon settled down to a regular pattern of Merseytravel Tendered Services on Monday to Friday and local private hires at weekends with a visit to the Heart of the Pennines Rally in Halifax to return it to its roots for the day.  However, it started to become evident that spares were becoming difficult to source (despite the vehicle coming with a lot of second-hand parts from the Derby Foden) and TUB then became just a toy.

 

The main difficulty was the Foden transfer box which speeds up the Gardner engine revs to a suitable speed for the Allison gearbox through a series of gears.  As no definite figures could be obtained for the gears, etc., we resorted to trial and error with a new set that we had cut.  This new set soon started to show wear and so, reluctantly, TUB was retired and parked up in the depot pending a decision on its future.  Several years later the Potteries Foden was sent for scrap to Trevor Wrigleys and it was possible to buy the drive-train from it which when fitted to TUB gave it a new lease of life, a repaint in to the new company colours of red and cream followed and she will shortly be sent to be PSV tested and will attend several rallies.

 

During 2005 contact was made by the new owner of ROC 300R, the WMPTE Foden who was trying to sell it on having purchased it from Goldsmiths Coaches in Suffolk (the only other Foden NC to work for an independent).  I decided to buy it and towed it home from Wythall to live in our Eastham Depot alongside its sister vehicle.  To my surprise the engine started despite its 15 years out of service and ran very sweetly.  Unfortunately, frost damage had caused a crack in the block and its transfer box was holed by a seized gear (same old problem).  The vehicle did however come with the drive-train from the half vehicle test bed that had been only completed up to the top deck.  This vehicle was bought by Bullocks of Cheadle and while the engine was lifted into a Fleetline, the transfer box was still intact.  I have now repaired the engine and fitted the new transfer box so both Fodens are now runners with ROC now being re-panelled and due to be repainted into WMPTE colours.  I do not think that two Fodens ever appeared together at any rally so possibly the Trans-Lancs in 2005 will be the first time.

 

The significance of the title?  Not that they were the only two not to be scrapped but TUB 250R and ROC 300R were the only two Fodens that I never saw or photographed in service with their original owners as they were always off the road or at Fodens when I tried to see them.

 


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