On the busses – again

Unique Cars - - MORLEY’S WORKSHOP -

Just been read­ing is­sue 414 about the Clip­per bus and its demise. Shame about the old dear. They’re ver y scarce now. Pioneer stepped up later and started us­ing MCIs (busses) on their runs and I have a 1976 MCI Mark 8 Cru­sader which still runs

an 871 Detroit, other wise known as the scream­ing GM. Driv­ing that thing, I am king of the road.

It’s a lways been ul­tra­reli­able and I be­lieve Pioneer pol­icy was to re­place the mo­tor and gear­box around 750,000 miles. It was a ll done on a slide-out; a few hours later and back on the road. None of t hese MCIs were re­tired un­til bet ween seven and nine mil­lion k ilome­tres.

Mercedes OM355 mo­tors rated at 240 horse­power were used in wooden pearling lug­gers. A ver y smooth mo­tor. Some of the other big brand mo­tors used to v ibrate t he screws loose. Not rea lly idea l when at sea.

For those who don’t know, when it comes to t wo-stroke GM en­gines, t he num­bers say it a ll: The last two num­bers were t he size of each pot (53 cu­bic-inches, 71 inches, 92 inches) and t he f irst num­ber was the num­ber of cylin­ders. Hope some­body f inds t hat in­ter­est­ing. Rob, Pros­ton, QLD. WOW, 750,000 MILES from an en­gine and gear­box and some­where be­tween seven and nine mil­lion kays for the bodyshell. Makes a Toy­ota taxi look like an am­a­teur, doesn’t it. You make and in­ter­est­ing point, Rob, about an en­gine’s smooth­ness be­ing im­por­tant in a wooden boat. I hadn’t thought about that, but when you see it writ­ten down, it makes all sorts of sense.

My own ex­pe­ri­ence of a Benz car en­gine do­ing marine work was in Thai­land where I hitched a ride on one of those long, nar­row boats that go up and down the rivers, canals and chan­nels in Bangkok. Typ­i­cally for the breed, this was a six-cylin­der car en­gine, mounted on a pivot with a long prop-shaft driven straight off the fly­wheel. The pivot was care­fully lo­cated so that the en­gine was per­fectly bal­anced, im­por­tant be­cause the whole en­gine was ar­tic­u­lated and swung around and up and down as part of the tiller.

To stop, the bloke sim­ply ti­tled the whole mo­tor, lift­ing the prop out of the wa­ter and to go again, the prop was dropped back into the wa­ter. To hear those en­gines free-revving with the prop in mid-air, through a straight-out ex­haust sys­tem was some­thing else. Prob­a­bly doesn’t hap­pen now, but it was just part of Bangkok life 20 years ago.

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