Tao gets the YRT treatment-and likes it
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3rief appraisal: Bedford YRQ with Plaxton body
)y Martin Hayes
/HEN Bedford's YRQ coach chassis as introduced four years ago it was ited as one of the best psv chassis 'ound. Since then, of course, standards we changed but the YRQ — with latively minor modifications — stands ) well to the test of time. This short ipraisal was mainly aimed at assessg the latest batch of modifications ade earlier this year. Essentially, these insfer to the YRQ the added refineents of the longer YRT chassis which Is introduced two years ago.
The modifications are these: full airakes with increased lining area stead of an air-over-hydraulic item); Eaton 542 five-speed, overive gearbox; new instrumentation and lumn controls for lights, wipers, ishers and indicators; an /hydraulic clutch and power steer; as standard. All these items are ninon to the YRT chassis.
Dur appraisal was completed on a 45t Plaxton-bodied YRQ which was ly loaded, A 167 km (104-mile) test ite starting and finishing at Bedford's ;ineering centre in Luton was used ich included motorway, town and intry road conditions. The vehicle ered from standard in that it was ipped with Bedford's own two-speed axle which is a new addition to the list of options for both YRQ and YRT chassis. It costs £147 extra and provides axle ratios each side of the standard unit.
From the driver's viewpoint the first feature worthy of note on the revised YRQ is the instrumentation. There are two circular dials. The right-hand one is normally the speedometer but the test vehicle was equipped with a Lucas Kienzle tachograph, another recently introduced extra. The left-hand instrument has a central dial which gives the pressure in the two main brake reservoirs and is surrounded by warning lights identified by pictures. The lights cover oil pressure, air pressure, temperature (with a gauge); indicators,. high beam, spot light, fuel (with gauge); low coolant level (not available yet on psv), generator and a master electrics warning. This dial is now standard on all Bedford trucks and psv. There is a separate brake pressure gauge.
Once on the move the most immediate improvement that the driver. notices is the gear change. Our initial road test of the YRQ in 1970 found only this area worthy of real criticism. The new box, familiar to YRT drivers, provides a much easier change provided that movements in the gate are made slowly and deliberately. However, 1 never wrong slotted, which is something I sometimes did on previous YRQs.
Our route began with a 26 km (16mile) stretch of MI between junctions 11 and 14. Despite heavy traffic and at least one set of roadworks which forced me to lift off the throttle, I was slightly surprised that I was able to cruise at 112 kb (70 mph) for less than five minutes altogether. I soon found that it was well worth changing down from 5th high to 4th high on gradients and the lowest speed recorded in that gear was 76 km/ h (47 mph).
This section was completed at an average of 98 km/h (61 mph). The vehicle was outstandingly quiet at this sort of speed with only minor wind noise from the area of the passenger door. Another small irritation was the throttle pedal which was heavy to hold down at the fully open position.
1 mentioned earlier that part of the new YRQ package is a column-mounted two-speed wiper and 'washer control. This is well-sited on the left of the column and should have been most use ful on the day of our test, which produced conditions with lots of spray and stop-start drizzle.
However, Plaxtons had seen fit to disconnect this switch and fit its own airpantograph wipers. These were operated from a control on the instrument panel. Not only was this difficult to reach but it leaked air with an annoying hiss pretty well continuously, Surely there is no good reason why electric wipers could not be used these days?
Having turned off the motorway we drove on some twisting, undulating main roads around the borders of Beds and Bucks. These gave plenty of opportunity to try the new gearbox and twospeed axle. This device gives a really high top gear which in many instances is too high for give-and-take driving at about 48 km/h (30mph) when 4th high is more suitable. As can be seen from the list of ratios, the situation in 4th and 5th is different from the other gears in that 5th low is lower than 4th high. This is rather unfortunate in that 5th low is the very gear which ought to be most useful to maintain speed up a gradient. Instead it is really necessary for a smooth transition of speed to change down to 4th high.
However, the two-speed axle really comes into its own in filling the gaps in the gearbox. These are really only noticeable on hilly conditions where the space between third and fourth is critical. Here third high is a real boon, In town work not involving complete halts third high and low are very useful gears indeed. I would say that only operators in hilly areas would really find the twospeed device worthwhile, though its higher top gear could be useful on extended motorway work, too.
Because of the wet conditions it was impossible to try any brake tests. However, I was impressed with the amount of feel that the air system offers — a considerable improvement over th( previous system. 1 was never able ti detect any trace of fade or any tendenc! to lock-up in some greasy downhil conditions. The parking brake, handil] situated on the right of the driver's seat, easily held on the 1 in 6 Bison Hill.
Starting on the same hill produce few problems and I was impressed that after a restart half way up, the vehid had reached over 32 km/ h (20 mph) it 3rd low at the summit. For norma starting 2nd low was quite adequat though some careful clutch control wa necessary to ensure a smooth take-up c drive. In other conditions the aui hydraulic, clutch proved smooth i operation.
The power steering is one of the best have used. It leaves the driver wit enough effort to make him realize wh; the wheels are doing while at the san time taking the backache out of loN speed manoeuvres. It gives absolute precise control in tight situations ar few road shocks reach the wheel even high speed over rough surfaces.
The overall fuel consumption 4 km/ 1 (11.25 mpg) is very similar that produced by the YRT over o Midlands route and is about 0.7 km (2 mpg) worse than the YRQ we test four years ago. However, the test vehi( was appreciably heavier than the earl model, performance testing (norma completed separately) was included a the weather conditions were poor.
Overall, the YRQ mod ificatic seem well worth while to me and the t vehicle was one of the best balanced ps have driven for some time. It is a so reflection of the times we live in, hc ever, that the YRQ basic chassis pria 0,632 is getting on for i,1,000 more tl the unit we tested four years ago a indeed, is £400 more than the YRT tried in 1972. However, the YRQ v the YRT look should, I think, pr even more popular with operators ti it has done previously.