C.A.C/Comair:The history.

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Denv12
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C.A.C/Comair:The history.

Post by Denv12 »

If there was one bus builder in Australia that was well known it was Comair.I drove many Comair Bedfords of various year models.
I would like to get some idea of the order of each model from the first bus body to the last.If you can help out with information,photos,etc please do.
I know that they werent exclusive to Bedford's as there were other bus chassis' used throughout their history.

Thanks.All replies welcome.

Big thanks to all the replies.
Attachments
D1000024 (408 x 311).jpg
D1000024 (408 x 311).jpg (30.79 KiB) Viewed 23723 times
D1000042 (394 x 408).jpg
D1000042 (394 x 408).jpg (31.19 KiB) Viewed 23723 times
A mixed fleet of ex STA including Comair's.
A mixed fleet of ex STA including Comair's.
6.228 (336 x 228).jpg (18.07 KiB) Viewed 23905 times
Ex STA and Woodvile High School Comair.
Ex STA and Woodvile High School Comair.
6.200 (239 x 244).jpg (16.58 KiB) Viewed 23905 times
Quest Tours Comair.
Quest Tours Comair.
6.232 (357 x 253).jpg (25.76 KiB) Viewed 23905 times
STA Roadliner Comair.
STA Roadliner Comair.
y (234 x 236).jpg (15.1 KiB) Viewed 23905 times
Ex STA Comair.
Ex STA Comair.
n (236 x 240).jpg (13.57 KiB) Viewed 23905 times
Last edited by Denv12 on Fri Jun 24, 2016 9:04 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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system improver
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Re: C.A.C/Comair:The history.

Post by system improver »

The OB
http://www.busaustralia.com/forum/viewt ... 10&t=39246
The SB Flat Screen
http://www.busaustralia.com/forum/viewt ... 77#p449377
The SB Curved Screen
http://www.busaustralia.com/forum/viewt ... 55#p453755
The Comair SB
http://www.busaustralia.com/forum/viewt ... 05#p468605
The Leyland Royal Tiger Cub
http://www.busaustralia.com/forum/viewt ... 78#p519578

I thought I had posted the history of the Comair VAM on ATDB, but I can't find it. I kept my own copy so here it is:

I will begin this part of the CAC bus story, with a little history of Bedford. It begins with Vauxhall Motors.

Originally named Alex Wilson and Company (after its founder) and situated in Vauxhall, an area around South London, this company, which built pumps and marine engines, was established in 1857 and was soon renamed Vauxhall Iron Works. With the development of automobiles and the movement of the company into this business (1903), it was renamed again in 1907 as Vauxhall Motors having previously moved its main plant to nearby Luton. It was acquired by General Motors in 1925 and expanded into the manufacture of commercial vehicles. Luton was part of the county of Bedfordshire which led to the commercial range being named, "Bedford". GM remained the owner of Vauxhall Motors until the Global Financial Crisis (amongst other things) brought GM to bankruptcy. As part of the restructure and sell off of assets, Vauxhall Motors was sold to a Canadian company, Magna International, in 2009.

In the early 60s, it was clear that operators were looking beyond the forward control buses that had dominated the medium chassis market during the 50s both in Britain and Australia. Forward entrance buses and coaches were being built on a variety of chassis such as Albion. The Bedford SB was still selling in large numbers, but an increasing number of operators were having alterations done to the SB chassis before the body was built.

In Australia, this was particularly the case in NSW, with a number of forward entrance conversions appearing from around 1960. It would be true to say that the chassis manufacturer, Bedford, and its distributor here, GMH, were not enthused with the idea. CAC’s construction methods, being production line in design, certainly did not allow for chassis variation. But the wishes of operators could not be ignored.

In 1965, Vauxhall Motors produced a medium size front entrance chassis to supplement the SB called the VAM (VA series medium length). With a wheelbase of 193 inches (4.9metres) it, like the VAL (VA series long) developed two years earlier, had an 80 inch front overhang to allow for the entrance door. (NB. The VAS was a VA model "short" series.)

In Australia, the VAM was offered with a choice of two engines, both 6 cylinder front vertically mounted; the VAM3 with a Bedford 300 cubic inch petrol engine and the VAM5 with a Bedford 330 cubic inch diesel. The chassis became available here in 1966, and CAC announced its version in February of that year in T &BT. Here is an artist's impression of the VAM as seen in an advertisement in Truck & Bus Transportation:
Image

The first production vehicle (a VAM5) went to Northern Bus Lines in July and the second to Willis Bus Service, JNR 151, 1/8/66:
Image

The VAM was also available as a coach, this was a VAM3 for Grenda's registered JPP 764 in 11/66:
Image

In 1967, Vauxhall Motors released a VAM with a larger 466 cubic inch Bedford diesel, designated as the VAM70 and was available in Australia in early 1968. The VAM3 had an option of 4 or 5 speed synchromesh gearbox, whilst the diesel engine models had a 5 speed gearbox as standard.

With the advent of the VAM70, Ventura Bus Lines placed 9 into service in 1968/69. The first was KBG 156 registered in 8/68:
Image

Other body builders in Australia began to offer the VAM with an extended wheelbase and even with a repositioned engine at the rear. Whilst CAC did not ever offer the latter, it did eventually offer an extended wheelbase VAM from late 1970. It meant a 36 foot (11 metres) body rather than the standard 33 feet (10 metres). Few were built, all were single door coaches or school buses except for a couple of two door versions, one to Frankston PS and the other to Southland Bus Service. Brien's, Reid's and Thomas Tours in Adelaide were all purchasers of the longer coach version.

Here is the Southland Bus Service vehicle new in November 1971. It has been preserved in the Southland colours by Grenda's:
Image

Brien's Comfort Coaches was the major purchaser of the extended wheelbase VAM. Not only were they an early purchaser and also took the only two underfloor VAMs produced, both with the longer body. Here is the first UF VAM, LGN 427, at handover in September 1972:
Image

One oddity in the VAM production run was the placing of the VAM body type on a Ford R192 chassis. It was advertised by Bus Sales to be the first of many, however, it remained unique. It was new to Hoffman of Horsham in 3/71 and registered as KVU 263:
Image

In all, about 200 bodies on VAMs were built from 1966 to 1973, with the final VAM going to Brien’s in June of 1973. Grenda's took 27, the Sitch group 15, Peninsula Bus Lines had 10 and the 9 to Ventura as mentioned above.

Four examples of the VAM have been preserved, three by Grenda's and one by John Usher (formerly Invicta). Here are some shots of those which show the CAC rear window style which premiered with the VAM as well as some inside views:
Image

Image

Image

(The photographers: pic 1 from T&BT, pics 2 and 4 from Bruce Tilley, pic 3 from Grenda's, pics 5, 8, 9 and 10 from Paul Kennelly, pic 6 from CAC/Bus Sales and pic 7 from Andrew Potts.)

The remaining history of CAC bus production, until they finally ceased in 1980, was contained in additional parts in Australian Bus Panorama. I will endeavour to make some additional posts here.

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Bedford-29
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Re: C.A.C/Comair:The history.

Post by Bedford-29 »

Here is a selection of Bedfords with Comair bodies for your viewing.Pictures from the Andrew Potts and Graeme Turnbull collections.
Attachments
BENTLEIGH BUS LINES BEDFORD SB3 KLM-652
BENTLEIGH BUS LINES BEDFORD SB3 KLM-652
DRIVER BUS LINES (2) BEDFORD SB3 JZS-894
DRIVER BUS LINES (2) BEDFORD SB3 JZS-894
FOWLERS PARLOR COACHES BEDFORD SB3 HYR-716
FOWLERS PARLOR COACHES BEDFORD SB3 HYR-716
GRENDAS BUS SERVICE (82) BEDFORD VAM70 KAR-550
GRENDAS BUS SERVICE (82) BEDFORD VAM70 KAR-550
MOONEE VALLEY COACHES BEDFORD SB3 JVF-622
MOONEE VALLEY COACHES BEDFORD SB3 JVF-622
PENINSULA BUS SERVICE (24) BEDFORD VAM70 KSX-213
PENINSULA BUS SERVICE (24) BEDFORD VAM70 KSX-213
REID`S BUS SERVICE BEDFORD VAM70 KTZ-745
REID`S BUS SERVICE BEDFORD VAM70 KTZ-745
US BUS LINES (85) BEDFORD VAM70 KAW-643
US BUS LINES (85) BEDFORD VAM70 KAW-643
WILLIS BUS SERVICE (17) BEDFORD SB3 HPU-657
WILLIS BUS SERVICE (17) BEDFORD SB3 HPU-657
WILLIS BUS SERVICE BEDFORD VAM70 KAP-564
WILLIS BUS SERVICE BEDFORD VAM70 KAP-564
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Denv12
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Re: C.A.C/Comair:The history.

Post by Denv12 »

[quote="system improver"]
Thanks system improver.Thanks for contributing.Thats some great history of the company.I added a few more photos.
The SB Bedfords were very popular in their day.Saw many of these over the years as motorhomes and school buses,etc.
I didnt know that the Comair was available in longer versions like the Brien's Comfort Coaches #16 and the Reid's.

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system improver
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Re: C.A.C/Comair:The history.

Post by system improver »

Denv12 wrote:...I didnt know that the Comair was available in longer versions like the Brien's Comfort Coaches #16 and the Reid's.
There weren't many made on the extended WB (about a dozen), but Thomas Tours did have two (both VAM 70), No.16 new 3/71 and No.14 new 9/71, along with 6 other Comair VAMs (some VAM5, mostly VAM70). Here is a Bruce Tilley picture taken at the Thomas Tours depot which shows the extra length compared to the first VAM they received in 8/66 as their No.8:

Image
Last edited by system improver on Fri Sep 26, 2014 7:16 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Bedford-29
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Re: C.A.C/Comair:The history.

Post by Bedford-29 »

Another selection of Bedfords.Pictures from the Andrew Potts collection.
Attachments
BRIEN`S COMFORT COACHES (14) BEDFORD VAM70 KYX-623
BRIEN`S COMFORT COACHES (14) BEDFORD VAM70 KYX-623
FOWLERS PARLOR COACHES (7) BEDFORD VAM70 JVT-077
FOWLERS PARLOR COACHES (7) BEDFORD VAM70 JVT-077
GRAEBERS BEDFORD SB3 SA-7336
GRAEBERS BEDFORD SB3 SA-7336
KASTORIA (2) BEDFORD VAM70 JRE-977
KASTORIA (2) BEDFORD VAM70 JRE-977
MORELAND BUS LINES (7) BEDFORD VAM70 LHN-075
MORELAND BUS LINES (7) BEDFORD VAM70 LHN-075
ORGANS BUS SERVICE (5) BEDFORD VAM70 LCW-778
ORGANS BUS SERVICE (5) BEDFORD VAM70 LCW-778
SWEETS BEDFORD VAM70 KLZ-474
SWEETS BEDFORD VAM70 KLZ-474
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Re: C.A.C/Comair:The history.

Post by notch »

There are two more preserved, both ex Victorian Railways. 381 (sorry, don't know the details aside from it's a 1965 Bedfored with a petrol engine) by the ARHS, which was located at Seymour Bus Lines for many years and has since been relocated to Newport Workshops and I think 384 inside Newport Workshops East Block with the PTC Heritage bus collection, in a rather garish Metropolitan Transit colour scheme.

Neither have been restored as yet - when I was involved with the ARHS, there were the very beginnings of plans to restore 381.

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Bedford-29
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Re: C.A.C/Comair:The history.

Post by Bedford-29 »

Here is 381 and 384 when still in service with VR and went the Tait trains were still running.Pictures from the Graeme Turnbull collection.
Attachments
VICTORIAN RAILWAYS MOTOR SERVICE (381) BEDFORD SB3 MZS-291
VICTORIAN RAILWAYS MOTOR SERVICE (381) BEDFORD SB3 MZS-291
VICTORIAN RAILWAYS MOTOR SERVICE (384) BEDFORD SB3 MZS-300
VICTORIAN RAILWAYS MOTOR SERVICE (384) BEDFORD SB3 MZS-300
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Denv12
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Re: C.A.C/Comair:The history.

Post by Denv12 »

Bedford-29 wrote:Another selection of Bedfords.Pictures from the Andrew Potts collection.
I love the collection of photos you added.I remember the Graeber's of Lobethal.That must have been before Len Johnson of Aldgate bought the fleet.I that bus was still being used in the mid 1980s.All the buses look great in their respective liveries.It shows that someone knew how to make them look good.

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Re: C.A.C/Comair:The history.

Post by bosun »

Very Informative.I loved the Grenda photos you added.Grenda #17 is the comair bus I liked most.It was a regular bus on the Glen Waverley 850,my local route.I believe it was built around 1971.Does anyone have a photo of it? I'd really like to see it again!

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system improver
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Re: C.A.C/Comair:The history.

Post by system improver »

bosun wrote:Very Informative.I loved the Grenda photos you added.Grenda #17 is the comair bus I liked most.It was a regular bus on the Glen Waverley 850,my local route.I believe it was built around 1971.Does anyone have a photo of it? I'd really like to see it again!
Sorry, I don't have a pic of No.17, KPV 627. It was new 6/70 and had dual purpose seating. It lasted in one form or another until 1994. Here is a pic of No.19 which came 6 months later and was identical:
Image

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Re: C.A.C/Comair:The history.

Post by Denv12 »

It would be interesting if there had been any step deck versions built.

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Re: C.A.C/Comair:The history.

Post by system improver »

Denv12 wrote:It would be interesting if there had been any step deck versions built.
This was the closest they came. The Bruce Tilley photo shows the lone example of the slightly raised roof on Dyson's coach with an underfloor VAM70 chassis that was registered in 7/73:

Image

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Re: C.A.C/Comair:The history.

Post by krustyklo »

Any photos of the Comair in the background? I remember both of these at various times. I have a vague recollection the type of bus in the background was used on the Kinglake service, or possibly Whittlesea services in general, for some time in the 80s. I also saw them occasionally on school buses from Watsonia High on rare occasions in the same period. Open to corrections about the Whittlesea / Kinglake services if my memory is faulty. Especially backed by photographic evidence :wink:

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Re: C.A.C/Comair:The history.

Post by Bedford-29 »

Three more Bedfords for you to look at.Pictures from the Andrew Potts and Graeme Turnbull collections.
Attachments
DYSON`S BEDFORD VAM70 KND-058
DYSON`S BEDFORD VAM70 KND-058
DYSON`S BEDFORD VAM70 KWM-127
DYSON`S BEDFORD VAM70 KWM-127
GRENDA`S COACH SERVICES (50) BEDFORD VAM70 JPP-070
GRENDA`S COACH SERVICES (50) BEDFORD VAM70 JPP-070
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Re: C.A.C/Comair:The history.

Post by Apollo »

Glad i didn't buy those CD's now. Cheaper just to save all the shots as Bedford-29 posts them...... :lol: :wink: :mrgreen:

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Re: C.A.C/Comair:The history.

Post by krustyklo »

Glad i didn't buy those CD's now. Cheaper just to save all the shots as Bedford-29 posts them
Lol, but I'm guessing the CDs have better quality images. Seeing the pictures makes me very tempted to buy them if it were a relatively straightforward process.

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Re: C.A.C/Comair:The history.

Post by Bedford-29 »

Here is one picture I for to add.Picture from the Graeme Turnbull collection.
Attachments
STA ADELAIDE (8208) BEDFORD VAM70 SML-918
STA ADELAIDE (8208) BEDFORD VAM70 SML-918
Last edited by Bedford-29 on Thu Oct 02, 2014 10:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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system improver
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Re: C.A.C/Comair:The history.

Post by system improver »

krustyklo wrote:
Glad i didn't buy those CD's now. Cheaper just to save all the shots as Bedford-29 posts them
Lol, but I'm guessing the CDs have better quality images. Seeing the pictures makes me very tempted to buy them if it were a relatively straightforward process.
The process is straightforward. Both the Andrew Potts and Graeme Turnbull Collections are still available, each with about 1200 photos. They are $20 each or, as a special, $30 for both including postage. Purchase can be made by sending a letter to Bus and Coach Society of Victoria, PO Box 33, Caulfield East, 3145 together with the appropriate amount in cheque or by direct credit to the BCSV account: BSB 063 159 Acct No. 10024243 either electronically or in person at a CBA branch. Where this method is used, an email should be sent to bcsv@y7mail.com to expedite delivery with address details.

I have no objection to relevant images being posted with credit.

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Re: C.A.C/Comair:The history.

Post by stevegj52 »

I have found this thread very interesting with some excellent photo's. They were a versatile body from school/route to coaches My question is how far and wide were they sold, going by photos and text and Bus Panarama several went to S.A with the bulk of them sold in Vic. I do know that a couple went to Tassie with Renison Mining having 2 and Ayers Motor service may have had 1 or maybe 2 and Crawns but that is all I know off,were there anymore sold interstate eg NSW I am talking about the VAM bodied units ?.
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Bedford-29
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Re: C.A.C/Comair:The history.

Post by Bedford-29 »

Here is one Comair Bedford 7SB that went overseas to Fiji.Picture from Ian Lynas Buses Worldwide website.
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SHORE BUSES LTD BEDFORD 7SB W-888
SHORE BUSES LTD BEDFORD 7SB W-888
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Re: C.A.C/Comair:The history.

Post by system improver »

stevegj52 wrote:I have found this thread very interesting with some excellent photo's. They were a versatile body from school/route to coaches My question is how far and wide were they sold, going by photos and text and Bus Panarama several went to S.A with the bulk of them sold in Vic. I do know that a couple went to Tassie with Renison Mining having 2 and Ayers Motor service may have had 1 or maybe 2 and Crawns but that is all I know off,were there anymore sold interstate eg NSW I am talking about the VAM bodied units ?.
Steve, as far as I can tell, there were five operators in NSW who acquired them: Purtill of Deniliquin (3), Martin's of Albury (3), Deane Sydney (1),Fasham of Barham (1) and Hill Temora (1). In Tassie, both Renison and Ayers got two and Bardenhagen of Lilydale one. Any that went to Crawns must have been second hand. If you still have ABP 26/6, the full list is printed there.

Denv12
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Re: C.A.C/Comair:The history.

Post by Denv12 »

Bedford-29 wrote:Here is one picture I for to add.Picture from the Graeme Turnbull collection.
Since the STA sold off these buses,my father Jack Sellick seemed to have bought up most of the Bedfords as they became available.There were several Comairs amoungst them.Starting around early 1980s then buying some of the AEC's and Leylands too.

Denv12
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Re: C.A.C/Comair:The history.

Post by Denv12 »

system improver wrote:
Denv12 wrote:It would be interesting if there had been any step deck versions built.
This was the closest they came. The Bruce Tilley photo shows the lone example of the slightly raised roof on Dyson's coach with an underfloor VAM70 chassis that was registered in 7/73:

Image
I hadnt seen this vehicle before.Nice photo.

Denv12
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Re: C.A.C/Comair:The history.

Post by Denv12 »

system improver wrote:
Denv12 wrote:It would be interesting if there had been any step deck versions built.
This was the closest they came. The Bruce Tilley photo shows the lone example of the slightly raised roof on Dyson's coach with an underfloor VAM70 chassis that was registered in 7/73:

Image
Its a very modern look for its time.Nice looking bus too.Thanks for sharing.

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