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Dennis Domino
Manufacturer Hestair Dennis
Built at Guildford, England
Specifications
Floor type Step entrance
Options Various customer options

The Dennis Domino is a midibus built by Hestair Dennis in Guildford, England between 1984 and 1985. It is, in essence, a scaled down Dominator. Developed for intensive urban work, the Domino was fitted with Perkins T6.354.4 turbocharged engine, Maxwell automatic transmission, front radiator, full air suspension and power steering. It can be regarded as a predecessor of the successful Dennis Dart.

It was only sold to two customers, Greater Manchester Transport and South Yorkshire Transport. The Dominos for Greater Manchester Transport were Northern Counties-bodied, and South Yorkshire Transport ones were bodied by Optare.

HistoryEdit

In 1983 Greater Manchester PTE realised its nine-year-old Seddon Pennine 4-236 midibuses in use on the Manchester shuttle between Piccadilly and Victoria stations were nearing the end of their useful lives. Nothing was at that time readily available that would meet the PTE's requirements and Dennis was requested to provide a solution. This used a very-short-wheelbase version of the Dominator frame, with the optional air-over leaf suspension to axles with 16-inch wheels and low profile tyres, overall body length was 7.6m and width 2.3m. The engine was mounted transversely and vertically as in the Dominator, but was a 130 bhp 5.7-litre Perkins T6.354 unit, this drove through the radical Avon Maxwell transmission, an automatic electronically controlled constant-mesh gearbox using small multi-plate clutch units to select drive ratios, this also did the jobs of retarder and angle-drive. The radiator was smaller but like most Dominator derivatives mounted at the front, low down in the frame. Greater Manchester PTE were unique among bus operators of the time in having (as a result of buying Lancashire United Transport) a wholly owned coachbuilder, the Northern Counties Motor and Engineering Company. Also GMPTE were unique outside London in having an in-house design-consultant in Ken Mortimer who had styled the Manchester Corporation Mancunian bus in the 1960s.

The 20 GMPTE Dominos with Ken Mortimer-designed Northern Counties bodies entered service in late 1985 with C-prefix registrations. 1760 (C760YBA) demonstrated for an extended period early in 1986 to London Transport in a version of their livery but the only other customer for the type was South Yorkshire PTE, who wanted to replace a batch of second-hand Bristol LHS on services reaching into more inaccessible areas of Sheffield. Whereas the 20 GMPTE Dominos were quite stylish for their day with bonded glazing and had low entrances with 2+1 seating forward of the rear-axle to maximise standing capacity and thus were 23 seaters, SYPTE chose to specify a body with all glazing, lights, doors, seats, and other parts standardised with its Alexander-bodied Dominators, the all-aluminium bodies were the first to be built by Optare after they had taken over the Charles H. Roe coach works from British Leyland. Unlike most subsequent work from Crossgates they were far from stylish, being of very angular outline and fitted with a higher floor than the Greater Manchester buses with a three-step entrance leading to a slightly ramped obstruction free floor with 33 seats. These fourteen buses were marginally longer than the GMPTE buses at 7.8m and delivered before the first of the GMPTE buses.[1]

The first of the GMPTE Dominos 1751 (C751YBA) exhibited at the Bus and Coach Council's show at Earls Court in 1985 and is now preserved by the SELNEC Preservation Society. One of the SYPTE batch adorns the scenery at the Alton Towers Nemesis ride. Most of the 32 other Dominos have been scrapped.[2]

ReferencesEdit

  1. Morris, Stephen (1985), "Optare: New Optimism from Former Roe Plant", Buses Magazine (Shepperton: Ian Allan Publishing) (365): 348–50. 
  2. Lamb (2006), "Domino Effect", Bus and Coach Preservation (Portsmouth) 8(10): 4–9. 

External linksEdit

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