Here’s a very unique and technically interesting bus from our friends down under – it’s a Dyson Landliner and it plied the roads in Australia for several years back in the mid-to-late 1940’s.
I’m sure CC readers are familiar with the semi-tractor trailer bus – they were used in the 1920’s and 30‘s, but gained prominence during the war years transporting workers to and from defense plants throughout the country. They were cheaper and easier to construct than a regular coach, and the trailer could be built in elongated versions that could carry more passengers. They are still on the road today in some of the world’s less developed areas.
Dyson Trailer Bus with Reo Prime Mover
In Australia, Dyson’s Peninsula Motors Ltd was a bus service located in Frankston, a city just to the southeast of Melbourne. During the war, their current coaches were being used at capacity, so they built several trailer buses to augment their fleet, and transport increasing numbers of military personnel between various Army Camps and railheads in the area.
When the war ended in 1945, they leveraged their expertise in trailer buses to construct a novel new design. Instead of a prime mover that pulled the trailer, they developed a powered bogey that went under the front of the coach body.
This bogey contained two Ford flathead V8’s – side-by-side – very similar to the Fageol Twin Coach bus. Each had its own four speed transmission that was joined in a single linkage. Fortunately for the driver, hydraulic assisted steering was provided. Initially, a marker was placed on the front bogey that extended up to the front of the windshield allowing the driver to see the orientation of the front wheels – you can see its triangle shape in the photo above. Later models had an internal gauge. The driver’s cockpit was dead-center in the middle of the front.
The first coach was designed as a luxury model, with thirty aircraft style first class seats, a lavatory, and a hostess who served drinks and snacks. Later standard models had sixty regular seats. Length was forty-five feet and it was eight feet wide.
As was typical with twin-engined models of this era, getting everything to run in synch was difficult, and as a result, reliability tended to be poor. In addition, the local transportation regulation board would not certify them for regular service use – only for special charters. After two years, Dyson’s sold off their Landliners switching to regular coaches. The company did build two updated models named Cheetah in 1947 for another operator, but these also proved fairly unreliable – and after a short time the bogies were removed and the bodies converted to a standard tractor trailer bus. An example of an earlier converted model, here with a Foden Prime Mover, is above. They remained in service up until the early 60’s.
These Landliners were an innovative experiment, and certainly produced a very unique looking bus.
In the US, Santa Fe Trailways Lines also developed a bus during the war with a powered front bogey; the “Victoryliner” – we’ll take a look at it in an upcoming post.