AEC REGENT III 31-SEATER - 2878
During a decline in patronage in the early 1950s, the Department of Road Transport & Tramways designed a small single deck bus, to be driver-only operated, to be used on lightly trafficked routes and to replace the last of the pre-war single deck half-cab buses and war-time Austerity buses still in service. These new buses carried 54 people - 23 standing and 31 seated - hence being dubbed the 31-seaters.
All were bodied by Commonwealth Engineering, Granville. Between 1951 and 1954, 120 31-seaters were built on Leyland OPS2/1, AEC Regal III and Daimler CVG6 chassis. Around this time, after the last Leyland OPD2/1 double decker deliveries finished, the Department issued a notice that no more double deckers were to be built, despite still having 52 double decker bus chassis in storage.
In 1954 the Department decided to have the 52 chassis bodied as 31-seaters. This comprised 34 Leyland OPD2/1s and 18 AEC Regent IIIs. The bodies of these 52 buses differed slightly to the original batch of 31-seaters.
2878 is an example of the last batch of 31-seaters. It was issued to traffic in December 1954, initially to Randwick depot. Later the bus was allocated to Brookvale, Willoughby and North Sydney depots, becoming a regular sight on lower North Shore 'wharf' runs to Musgrave St, Mosman, Cremorne and Neutral Bay wharves.
In the mid-1970s 2878 recieved an overhaul into the PTC blue & white livery, one of a very small number of 31-seaters to do so. It was withdrawn on August 31, 1979. The bus was purchased by a member for preservation, who then sold the bus to another member in the late 1980s, and carried out a thorough five-year restoration. 2878 was back on the road in 1995.
The bus today remains in a fully operational condition.
Engine: 9.6 litre OHV AEC diesel engine, bore 4.72", stroke 5.59", developing 125 B.H.P. at 1800 R.P.M.
Transmission: Four speed 'Wilson' air-operated pre-selector gearbox driving a worm drive differential.
Brakes: Air operated foot brake to all wheels and a mechanical park brake to the rear wheels.