GM, many thanks for posting those lovely photos of Foden double deckers - but how come a photo of mo4034, a Leyland Royal Tiger, appeared in the middle of the selection? A senior moment, perhaps?
Four double deck Fodens operated in Australia, all in NSW, and all carrying Commonwealth Engineering bodies. However, I must clear up one slight misconception as to the chassis designation. The Foden PVD6 was a UK
double decker, built to the (then) current UK size regulations (26’ long by 7’ 6” wide) for which Fodens chassis had a 16’ 3” wheelbase. Australia then had more relaxed regulations regarding length and width, certainly in NSW. Thus the company provided four Foden PVSC6 chassis (the standard UK
single decker, with a 17’ 6” wheelbase), but fitted all round with double deck springs. This is clearly stated on the build sheets for the chassis, which I have examined at the Chester Records Office.
I said that four Foden double deckers operated in Australia. This is true, but a fifth chassis
was provided, which I have been told (but never seen any proof of) was destined for the DGT in Sydney. Why it wasn’t taken up by the DGT I do not know. It might have been any or all of the various suggestions made earlier in this thread. Fodens were fighting strongly for orders at the time and would have very much welcomed a large order from overseas, particularly as post war restrictions encouraged export of chassis, which took precedence over home market units. What happened to it? It was sold to the Western Australian Government Railways Road Services and entered service as their F33. It was smaller than the subsequent batch of twenty Fodens and in 1958 it was converted to a full goods vehicle and used on the Bunbury to Flinders Bay run. The subsequent batch of WAGRRS Fodens was built to export dimensions with a 21’ wheelbase.
Turning back to the four double deckers, one was rebodied as a single decker as early as 1954. This was the bus shown in GM’s last photograph as mo253. I have no idea why such a new bus should have been rebodied as a single decker. Was it involved in an accident, or was the need for a double decker past, but a good new chassis was worth rebodying as a single decker? Perhaps someone can enlighten me?
Punchbowl Bus Company had two Foden ‘deckers and both were rebodied as single deckers in June 1959 and March 1960, respectively. Ironically, Punchbowl later bought the rebodied mo253, by now registered mo4249, to run alongside their own two rebodied single deckers.
The final Foden ‘decker was the one bought new by Charlie Price from Austinmer. His service was sold to James Hill’s Bus service in Wollongong in December 1963, if my records are right. The Foden lasted only a few years with Hill’s B S, being taken off the road at some time between December 1965 and December 1968, by which time it had arrived at Mount Kembla / Kembla Grange. It was the only Foden ‘decker to remain as such throughout its whole life.
I was fortunate enough to visit the Wollongong area in 2000 and met up with, amongst others, Noel Rutty. He offered to take me to see the old double decker, which was still there at that time, though in a very poor state of repair. I believe that the top floor had completely disintegrated by then, as well as various bits being missing from it. A lack of time meant that I didn’t get to see it, more’s the pity. I believe that it would be a massive undertaking to try and restore the chassis, let alone the body, though if anyone had the time, money and inclination to try it, he would get my vote any day!
All Foden bus and coach chassis sold to Australia had Gardner 6LW engines, even though Gardner 5LW and Foden’s own 2-stroke engines were available as options. Coincidentally all Foden buses sold to New Zealand (all 5 of them!) were powered by the 2-stroke engine in rear engined chassis - but that is another story!
Thanks to all the previous contributors to this thread and I hope that my comments have added a little to everyone’s knowledge about Foden ‘deckers in Australia.
Foden-nut (I’m not a Foden-nut for nothing!
BTW, if anyone has any Foden bus and coach photographs (not just the ‘deckers) that hasn’t been in contact with me and wouldn’t mind sending me copies, I would be delighted to hear from them. Just PM me!