What was the appeal of Bedfords to private operators?

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Re: What was the appeal of Bedfords to private operators?

Postby Deano » Thu Apr 10, 2008 3:36 pm

Never thought i'd see the day, but saw Sydney Coachlines Bedford BLP m/o7020 pulled over by the Highway Patrol on Homer St in Earlwood today! I would assume it was for speeding, as this road is targeted heavily by Police as it's only a 50 zone.

In Wollongong John J Hill were a keen supporter of Bedford's for a part in their life buyign quite a number with Smithfield bodies, and later acquiring some second hand from other bus operators. Not exactly heavy duty, but they bought upon themselves many new technologies, ie Air Brakes etc back in the late 70's. And were probably the only way financially that John J Hill could improve their fleet age in the time. Dunno how many exactly there were, but 3 bedfords remained at the end.

m/o6273 BLP2 (Short chassis) with Isuzu Engine and Alison Automatic transmission. Looked very run down, but provided sterling service right up into the Premier Era.
m/o6354 BLP2 Long Chassis, with Bedford Engine and 5 speed gearbox. Last bus in the old JJH Livery. Was seen on route work right into the Premier era.
m/o6397 BLP2 Isuzu Auto ex Western Road, which was always on route work right up until the end also.

I quite often got these on route services right up until 2002, and on School Charters all the time.
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Re: What was the appeal of Bedfords to private operators?

Postby mrobsessed » Tue Apr 15, 2008 8:43 pm

Deano wrote:Never thought i'd see the day, but saw Sydney Coachlines Bedford BLP m/o7020 pulled over by the Highway Patrol on Homer St in Earlwood today! I would assume it was for speeding, as this road is targeted heavily by Police as it's only a 50 zone.


It was obviously the downhill part of Homer St!

Deano wrote:m/o6273 BLP2 (Short chassis) with Isuzu Engine and Alison Automatic transmission. Looked very run down, but provided sterling service right up into the Premier Era.
m/o6354 BLP2 Long Chassis, with Bedford Engine and 5 speed gearbox. Last bus in the old JJH Livery. Was seen on route work right into the Premier era.
m/o6397 BLP2 Isuzu Auto ex Western Road, which was always on route work right up until the end also.

I quite often got these on route services right up until 2002, and on School Charters all the time.


When Stan Horrell bought m/o 6397, it had a 250 Ford on LPG in it. His mechanical magician Kevin Williams put the 6BD1 Isuzu in it. Same bloke who blessed 6210 - an SB/Euro with a Leyland 0.400/6 speed.
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Re: What was the appeal of Bedfords to private operators?

Postby Rail Bus » Tue Apr 15, 2008 9:52 pm

mrobsessed wrote:6210 - an SB/Euro with a Leyland 0.400/6 speed.

Now that's a BIG improvement! Problem is, I'll bet the brakes didn't match the power. :(
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Re: What was the appeal of Bedfords to private operators?

Postby Jazzy » Tue Jul 08, 2008 12:18 am

Deano wrote:Never thought i'd see the day, but saw Sydney Coachlines Bedford BLP m/o7020 pulled over by the Highway Patrol on Homer St in Earlwood today! I would assume it was for speeding, as this road is targeted heavily by Police as it's only a 50 zone.

Actually it was for going through a red light. But there was no way the driver could have stopped safely in the distance he had.

The fine was later dropped.
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Re: What was the appeal of Bedfords to private operators?

Postby Andy Lee » Tue Jul 08, 2008 8:26 am

Bedfords have never had great stopping powers.
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Re: What was the appeal of Bedfords to private operators?

Postby Ben O » Tue Jul 08, 2008 9:17 am

A trip through western NSW revealed Bedfords still operational in Cudal, Gilgandra (although on the verge of withdrawal), Wellington and Parkes. I was fed the idea that Ogden's, Wellington are operating the last Smithfield "Euro" bodied Bedford in the state.. I couldn't think of any others?
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Re: What was the appeal of Bedfords to private operators?

Postby GM » Tue Jul 08, 2008 10:56 am

I had a VAM 70 which passed all the DMT brake teasts whilst empty, but once you put a load on it, it was a case of being on a wing a prayer. GM
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Re: What was the appeal of Bedfords to private operators?

Postby Jazzy » Tue Jul 08, 2008 11:50 am

As we say, they have "slowing down brakes", not stopping brakes, but yes they pass the HVIS tests with no problems.
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Re: What was the appeal of Bedfords to private operators?

Postby GM » Tue Jul 08, 2008 1:14 pm

When I was operating in the late 70's there were forty sets of traffic lights between Doonside and Sydney.
You approached each set with fear and trepidation and you prayed that they didn't change.
The gearbox got a good work out, plus fitting a Smiths Gate Valve (Exhaust Brake) helped a lot.
As you say the brakes were only for slowing down.
Many different methods were used to try and improve the braking system, one was changing the fulcrum rods so that greater pressure could be put onto the Booster when using the foot pedal and another to fit a second Booster Unit.
When adjusting the brakes you had to be careful which shoe you adjusted first, the upper or the lower?
The mechanic at John A Gilberts, Jack Blades, was always very helpful. GM
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Re: What was the appeal of Bedfords to private operators?

Postby EK200 » Tue Jul 08, 2008 11:03 pm

If you were an bus operator in the late 1970's & early 1980's you would know that benford 500's besides being cheaper, they had less oil leaks & fuel pump problems then major competitor Leyland and at the time Hino had nothing, denning, RFW & Tour Master were for the well established operator with good finances & Volvo were new on scene with front end weight issues.

Given the choices......
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Re: What was the appeal of Bedfords to private operators?

Postby GM » Wed Jul 09, 2008 2:25 pm

In 1980 I decided to purchase a new bus, it was a toss up between a Bedford 500 or a Hino.
I chose a Hino BG100 because there were lots of problems with the Bedford 500 motor at that time.
The Hino was a very good vehicle, Air Brakes, Power Steering etc, except it was geared very low and was very slow on the Highways. The Clydesdale with its Over Drive Box was a better Charter Vehicle.
The gearbox ratios were improved in the BG300.
I also had a Ford with a 360 Motor which was hopeless. GM
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Re: What was the appeal of Bedfords to private operators?

Postby EK200 » Fri Mar 04, 2011 8:51 pm

Benfords from understanding could be classfied in recent years as a RG197 Hino or 1418 Mercedes Benz

All these chassis were designed for short, medium rigid use - 30 to 47 seats

However being private bus operators they had their chassis extended and of course became very cheap 53, 57 or 61 seater buses
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Re: What was the appeal of Bedfords to private operators?

Postby Centralian » Sat Mar 05, 2011 5:49 pm

GM wrote:I had a VAM 70 which passed all the DMT brake teasts whilst empty, but once you put a load on it, it was a case of being on a wing a prayer. GM


And I think of all those outings my lot did with you in the Vam 70 :shock: :shock: :)
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Re: What was the appeal of Bedfords to private operators?

Postby GM » Sun Mar 06, 2011 12:21 pm

Centralian, you were lucky you only drove it when it was empty.
The main problem with the brakes was that you could not get enough pedal pressure to operate the brakes properly because they had used a SB brake booster.
Many different schemes were devised to try and over come this problem, like using two boosters, one for the front axle and one for the rear.
Changing the ratio of the ratio of the intermediate transfer lever, this increased the pressure but reduced the pedal travel. so that the pedal was always close to the floor.
I approached the mechanic at John A Gilbert and he advised a special way to adjust the brakes which required one shoe being adjusted first (I have forgotten whether it was the top or bottom) this did help.
Also the fitting a SGV exaust brake helped a lot.
Ask any VAM driver and he will tell you, when approaching a set of traffic lights you prayed for them to stay green until you got through, other wise you approached with great caution, including standing on the brake pedal and praying it would stop.
Not having driven a VAM bedford for close on thirty years I can still remember Air over Hydraulic brakes.
Air Brakes were the best. GM
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Re: What was the appeal of Bedfords to private operators?

Postby Centralian » Sun Mar 06, 2011 9:09 pm

I still have fond memories of travelling down to Hills Bus Sales in Wollongong with your family GM to pick this unit up and being driven around by Jimmy Hill in his Leyland P76.

650.jpg
Bedford Vam 70(UF) ex Keiraville mo6238 with PMC body of 1969.
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Re: What was the appeal of Bedfords to private operators?

Postby T HUB » Mon Mar 07, 2011 7:58 pm

Bedfords were a great old bus in their time, they were easy to repair and they lasted the distance. A cheap purchase for operators in comparison to some of their competitors at the time. The downside to some of them is they got hot if worked too hard and they didn't like hills and felt like they didn't want to stop. I had a few hair raising expierences with the bastards not pulling up.

My couple of favourites of the Bedford range when I first started driving were the BLP and YLQ with 500 motors mid mount and with Turner boxes. The 466 motor was a good motor mechanically easy to overhaul as I did a few of these when I was on the spanners and the best I thought was the 500 even though there were some problems with these motors. All up Bedfords were a good old bus, a bit like the Hino in todays times, affordable,reliable,easy to maintain,basic bus chassis that can last the distance.
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Re: What was the appeal of Bedfords to private operators?

Postby mcvicars bus service » Sat Mar 19, 2011 12:05 pm

The best Bedford i have ever driven is the blp and the val
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Re: What was the appeal of Bedfords to private operators?

Postby Bedford-29 » Sat Mar 19, 2011 12:49 pm

This here is happens to be the last Bedford bus product in the UK a Bedford JJL.What do you think.Bedford was part of Vauxhall Motors? Picture from Wikipedia.
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Re: What was the appeal of Bedfords to private operators?

Postby Looselion » Wed Mar 23, 2011 10:18 am

Redline operated many Bedfords over the years, but only three in standard SB "cab-over" configuration. Rex knew the advantages of rear-engines and they were all converted, to become extremely quiet pleasant riding and handling units. The vacuum hydraulic brakes were the main negative, but never a great issue as compared to those operators doing short distance or track work with much more demand on the system.

They were on long distance Interstate work and generally did a marvellous job, considering they were going directly up against the might of Pioneer's Flxible Clippers!

Photo below from System Improver of one example, No 30, pictured in Melbourne after a tour arrival from Sydney, circa 1963.
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Re: What was the appeal of Bedfords to private operators?

Postby Wolseley » Wed Mar 23, 2011 3:48 pm

Cottrill's ran Bedfords on their runs around Turramurra, Pymble and Gordon in the sixties (there would have been other makes in use as well, but I can't think of what they were). I remember some of them at least having an oval plate on the inside above the centre of the windscreen saying that the bodywork was by Custom Coaches of Guildford.
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Re: What was the appeal of Bedfords to private operators?

Postby Daz » Wed Mar 23, 2011 7:34 pm

How did Leyland's (esp. the Leopard) brakes compare to that of Bedfords?

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Re: What was the appeal of Bedfords to private operators?

Postby Rail Bus » Wed Mar 23, 2011 10:41 pm

Daz wrote:How did Leyland's (esp. the Leopard) brakes compare to that of Bedfords?

Daz
There is NO COMPARISON!!! Bedfords don't stop, Leylands - especially Leopards with good brakes - do! I've had some interesting times trying to stop Leopards in a hurry, but if it'd been a Bedford, I think it would've been all over! Nearly as bad as Bedford brakes are Merc brakes when the retarder is burnt-out, and the brakes out of adjustment due to worn slack adjusters. I had one last week that I was trying to stop using the maxi brake!!! :shock: Again, I'd hate to be driving Bedfords along Sydney's busy roads in today's traffic. :(
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Re: What was the appeal of Bedfords to private operators?

Postby mrobsessed » Thu Mar 24, 2011 1:29 am

Daz wrote:How did Leyland's (esp. the Leopard) brakes compare to that of Bedfords?
,

The full air brakes on the Bedford BLPs and the heavier duty Beddies weren't too bad. A car propped in front of me one day going down a hill while driving a front engined BLP, I braked and the rear of the bus went skipping across the road!!

The SBs and later VAMs had air over hydraulic brakes which could be dubious, and the earlier SBs and VAMs had vacuum over hydraulic brakes which werejust woeful. They had little 8 stud rims, 9.00 tyres and poor little brakes to match. If the handbrake came up too far, you knew you'd have to be extra gentle. Times weren't quite as rushed on route service as they are today and drivers (on the whole) were far more sympathetic towards their vehicle.

So not quite Leopard stopping power - mind you, I ran out of brakes in a Panther once. That was fun.
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Re: What was the appeal of Bedfords to private operators?

Postby ax8 » Tue Mar 29, 2011 9:42 pm

I've driven lots of Leylands when I was at Westbus and even owned a 1971 leopard that i was going to convert to a motorhome back in 1995, it stopped well and went o.k but I wasn't a huge fan of the semi-auto box.
In 2008 I bought a 1981 Bedford YMT with an Isuzu 6bg1 and an Allison auto, great bus, sits on 100k's and stops very well.
The air over hydraulic bedfords had a bad rep for brakes but some mechanics could get them to brake o.k.

Any how plenty of Bedfords are now travelling this great big country of ours and also a few Leylands. :)

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Re: What was the appeal of Bedfords to private operators?

Postby EK200 » Thu Dec 29, 2011 10:42 am

Most Benfords as previously noted above, were upgraded in the later stages of their with isuzu engines and allisons as noted however, most Benfords were upgraded firstly with axles from Leylands to improve the braking as it was not so much their down fall as it has been said here (bad braking systems) but the government regulators were at fault. They failed to stop bus operators from buying Benfords and extending chassis to increase capacity on new vehicles.

light weight Benford chassis were mostly built and used in circumstances of overweight capacity. The Benford was a fine bus of it's time, slow amidity, but what were they replacing??

I do not know how far bus australia's records go back, but i would love to see a sort of listing of what vehicles over the years were replaced by Benfords, what a delightiful list of vehicles we would be able to rack up!!

Likely to be Leyland OSP's, OSD's, Panther Cubs, AEC HMU's and Reliances, Albion Aberdonians.

If you were to upgrade anything from a early Gardiner engine to a Benford for instance, what an improvement to your fleet!

I hope someone has the records out their to let history show and be noted!!
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