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Thunderguts Leylkand Merryweather TTL
Fire Engine Photos
No: 12165   Contributor: John Walker   Year: 2006   Manufacturer: Leyland   Country: New Zealand
Thunderguts Leylkand Merryweather TTL

I'm delighted to be able to post pictures of Thunderguts our 1948 Leyland Merryweather TTL. We have ascertained that this was the prototype Leyland OPS bus chassis which was used for "performance" trials before it went to Merryweather for the ladder etc to be added. The appliance served until 1977 in Auckland, I then had the dubious pleasure of driving it to Wellington some 430 miles away. it was then shipped to Christchurch in the South Island and did two years service there before returning for restoration and retirement at MoTaT in Auckland. Still fully operable
Picture added on 05 November 2008
add commentComments:
Great to see, that other folk have affectionate names for their rigs.

Very evocative - must have been some ride, for the driver, perched out there on the hood [bonnet], atop the engine.

On-board pump ? And, Wilson Pre-Selector Gear-box, or equivalent ?

You would have to know something about the typical British Bus lay-out; to understand this Aerial !

Great photo - glad to see this unique Fire-Truck preserved in such good shape, and running, too.

Regards, from Canada,

PS picture #12167 shows the other side.

Added by Pat Rivers-Bowerman on 06 November 2008.
Pat R-B, if you ask John Walker nicely he may even post a black and white pic of this unique ladder at a fire in downtown Auckland City around 1955! She sure is looking good, what a credit to John and his team! I rode the Dennis Metz 125ft to many a turnout but I don't think I ever crewed on this ladder as it was stationed up on the hill at Parnell overlooking the Waitemata Harbour bulk fuel installations, , , ,

Added by Pav on 06 November 2008.
I'm glad that John Walker posted us a picture of this classic Leyland/Dennis
Turntable Ladder to all see.Pictures I have of old Thunderguts I couldn't send
in and its a truly wonderful appliance.Brilliant photo John.Thanks Pete.

Added by Pete Matten on 06 November 2008.
Thanksa for a great picture, John; I've not seen this before, excluding the war-time GLW Leylands. Question: Is it diesel or gas, petrol? Is it's engine under floor or alongside the drive. Was it strictly a one-man machine--Operator/Engineer alone, or did a crew somehow hang on standing grabbing the ladder(a la Braidwood pumps)? Excuse my ignorance.
Bob Graham

Added by Bob Graham on 06 November 2008.
The strange thing is - and it goes without saying that someone will say I'm wrong - is that this machine (probably pre-delivery) was actually lettered up as Canberra - a place which to the best of my knowleddge it never even saw ! I do have a shot of it so marked, but am unable to post it as it's obviously not my copyright.

Added by Ian Moore on 07 November 2008.
It's diesel pwered with the engine alongside the driver. The gearlever is alongside the engine cover to the left of the driver and was the downfall of many. you have to change very S l ow l y and judge the revs just right. Generally it carried a i man crew (others were too embassased) but if it carried any crew they could sit on the seat or stand Braidwood body style.

Added by John Walker on 07 November 2008.
Have a peak at picture #5844 - a Dennis Pump with same seating arrangement, and one very interesting detachable roof.

Again, Pat_R-B

Added by Pat Rivers-Bowerman on 07 November 2008.
Found another interesting variation of "Forward Control" in picture #2604.

In this case, the Hoseman/Pump Operator(in a pulpit) and Front-Mount Pump all ride right up forward - while the Driver is safely ensconced in a conventional cab.

It is a 1970's International Lodestar/Superior, with "pump & roll" for the USA Mid-West country-side.

Regards, from Canada,

Added by Pat Rivers-Bowerman on 12 January 2009.
Hi, to keep us bus nuts happy is there any chance you could tell me the chassis number please? I'm betting on one of 472980 or 472981 both OPS bus chassis known to have been shipped to NZ.

Added by Martin on 21 January 2009.
The chassis number is 461000 I understand this to have been a prototype chassis according to an article in the Leyland Journal some years ago.

Added by John Walker on 21 January 2009.
Lest any one think that this was a "One-off" idea; Pete Matten has posted picture #12312 of 1942 Leyland TD7 Merryweather TTL, in NFS war-time gray/grey colours/colors.....

And, in later years, Crown Coach of Los Angeles/Chino, California, USA - built the Firecoach open-cab fire-engine on coach/bus chassis.

Regards, from Canada,

Regards, from Canada,

Added by Pat Rivers-Bowerman on 25 January 2009.
Yes, but what must be remembered is that the New Zealand one was on a post-war OPS chassis, whereas the NFS ones were all on the TD7 and had been "frozen" bus chassis. The concept of a half-cab vehicle was the same - I fully agree - but there were considerable differences.

Added by Ian Moore on 26 January 2009.
Thanks for the chassis number. Leyland say 461000 was an OPD1 [double-deck, not OPS single-deck] chassis to a one-off spec despatched to Auckland in 1948. So a double-deck chassis like the TD7s but it had a 12" longer wheelbase.

Added by Martin on 26 January 2009.
Thank you Martin. That is basically what we understood but there was some confusion as to whether it was a single or double decker chassis.

Pat has made a comment about Crown Coach and the Firecoach. The only commonality between the fire truck and the bus/coach was the front panels. The bus had a flat underfloor engine midmounted and the Firecoach had a Hall Scott 18 litre OHC engine mounted over the front wheels. The chassis was quite different as well. We have a 1961 Crown Firecoach ex LA City Fire Department in the MOTAT collection and it is a most impressive vehicle. 4 inch exhaust and a wonderous roar when climbing a hill and a magnificent flame when descending the other side. 2 MPG !!!

Added by John Walker on 26 January 2009.
This ladder still poses a mystery - at least to me! Having scrutinized both photos, showing both sides, it obviously has a pump. Just as obvious, the inlet and two valved deliveries are just ahead of the ladder turntable on each side. But there are no contols - throttle, primer, gauges, etc anywhere in sight! Was this pump operated by telepathy? What is the secret?

Added by Rob Johnson on 16 August 2014.
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