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New Bedford range proves its paces

28th June 1980, Page 24
28th June 1980
Page 24
Page 24, 28th June 1980 — New Bedford range proves its paces
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AT BEDFORD's Mil!brook proving ground last week I had my first chance to drive some vehicles in the new TL range which was announced a few weeks ago, writes GRAHAM MONTGOM ERIE.

The first was a TL860 fitted with an aluminium box body by Besco and fully laden up to the non-hgv 7.5-tonne limit.

In spite of having no power assistance, the 860 was easy to drive on the Millbrook ride and handling circuit, although a lot more effort was required to park it. However, at no time did it seem that power assistance was essential.

Bedford engineers claim to have put in a lot of work to improve cab visibility, and they have certainly succeeded — especially in the case of tall drivers who had to crouch to see out of the TK.

With its 4-63 Bedford axle and Turner five-speed overdrive gearbox, the TL860 had a top speed of around 90km /h (56mph).

All the Bedfords tested showed one characteristic which I do not remember as being inherited from the TK — an off-centre gear gate. In practice it was always advisable to keep the gear lever further over to the left than at first seemed appropriate to make sure of engaging the right slot. After a minute or so it became second nature, but initially with the five-speed box it proved remarkably easy to shift from first to fourth in one go.

The TL 1630 was fitted with excellent power steering which gave just the right amount of assistance.

One feature about this model (with Blue Series 8.2-litre engine, Bedford 6.17 axle and Turner five-speed box) which did not impress was the overall gearing.

The ratio spacing left a lot to

-be desired even on flat roads. In hilly country, this could be a difficult vehicle to drive for a working day.

The TL1630 was fitted with the 112kW (84bhp) version of the Bedford Blue Series engine in contrast to the TL1260 which had the 95kW (71 bhp) rating. With an identical gearbox but a higher (5.83) axle ratio, this TL variant was far better matched in the transmission department.

Considering their overall similarity, there was a surprising variation in noise levels between the three models. One featun which was consistent, however was the engine cowl which go in the way of my left foot whet easing out the clutch.

As yet Bedford has no inten tion of phasing out the TK whicl will continue in productioi alongside the TL. This will raisi certain marketing anomalies a it means, for example, that Bed ford will have no less than threi distinct 16-ton models with till TK, TL and TM — all with thei respective driveline and wheel base variations.