St. H elens
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plans big switch to single-deckers
by Derek Moses • Nine AEC Swift 505 rear-underfloorengined single-deckers currently being de livered to St. Helens Corporation Transport mark the first stage of a complete switch to o-m-o single-deckers planned by this undertaking. The bodies built by Marshall of Cambridge (Engineering) Ltd. seat 44 and are licensed for 20 standing. A further nine identical buses are due for delivery in August and September.
The Swifts, fitted with Monocontrol transmission and automatic chassis lubrication, are built to an overall length of 33ft 51-in. and are 8ft 2+in. wide. Special features include sealed windows and a Clayton Dewandre Compas air-conditioning system. Full-length ducting is fitted along each side of the body, with numerous heat outlets, and the whole system is thermostatically controlled. Ventilation is provided by air intake grilles in the front canopy above the nearside windscreen and three Adwest Highlift lift-up roof vents in the ceiling.
The front entrance and separate central exit are fitted with Deans electricallyoperated glider-type doors. A single-step entrance leads to a gently-ramped platform from which a 10in, step leads into the saloon. A ramped step-free gangway is provided and there are two steps at the exit. The top step is fitted with a special tread which illuminates a light in the driver's cab when a passenger is waiting to alight. A full-length bell strip is fitted above the off-side window, and there are additional bell pushes on the stanchions adjacent to the exit.
The seats, of Vulcan manufacture, are fitted with double stainless-steel rails to the seat backs. They are trimmed with fluted Connolly's hand-boffed red hide and rear faces of the backsquabs are trimmed with bird's eye maple Formica. The casing panels are trimmed with soft glow scarlet Formica, the window finishes are white and ceiling is lined with white Warerite panels, giving a bright interior finish.
Although no external handrails are fitted at the entrance, curved elliptical handrails on the doors are a useful aid to passengers. I would have preferred circular rails, but there is sufficient clearance between the rails and the doors. A handrail is fitted to the panels beneath the windscreen for passengers waiting to pay the driver.
Inside the saloon a full-length handrail is fitted along the offside of the ceiling, with hanging straps for standing passengers. All rails and stanchions are stainless-steel. A tubular parcel rack is fitted on the nearside between the entrance and the exit, but access to this is barred above the front longitudinal pair of seats by a sloping overhead rail. A small pram compartment is fitted immediately in front of the exit screen.
Saloon lighting is provided by 10 Phillips 2ft fluorescent tubes with BMAC opal covers. The light fitted above the parcel rack appears vulnerable to accidental damage from passengers using the rack.
The driver's cab is designed expressly for o-m-o with a Setright ticket-issuing machine and a change-giving machine designed by the transport department.
Externally, the buses are painted in the St. Helens livery of bright red and cream, and "please pay driver" signs are fitted beneath the nearside windscreen and behind the entrance. They are only visible when illuminating lights are switched on.
Excellent access is provided to the engine by a rear locker door and two side doors. In place of the normal radiator two heat exchangers are provided, one on each side of the body.
Ample destination equipment is provided in the front canopy, with a destination blind, a "via" blind and a triple route number indicator. Twin headlamps and a fog lamp are fitted.
Sound and heat insulation around the engine compartment and forward to the rear axle is provided using a 2in. thick B. 75 glass re-inforced plastics blanket covered with .015in. PVC. The effectiveness of this insulation was demonstrated on a short run, the engine sounding particularly quiet, even to a person sitting immediately above it.