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English   The world’s first bus series launched by Daimler
11.09.2008 von admin

First double-decker bus for London

And yet, Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG) had already proved earlier that difficulties such as these could be avoided. As early as April 1898 DMG had supplied a significantly more elegant double-decker to England, ordered by Motor Car Company. Its wheels were smaller and wider. The driver sat at the front, directly above the 12 hp (8.8 kW) engine, and the enclosed passenger compartment accommodated twelve people. Another eight were seated on the open-top upper deck. The vehicle reached a top speed of 12 mph (18 km/h).

In a newspaper report, the bus’ maiden journey from the small harbor of Gravesend to the City of London on April 23 was described as follows: “Every man, every woman and every child in Long Acre and along Piccadilly stopped and stared at the vehicle as it thundered past, pursuing its course steadily and with determination. ... One must have seen the three-tonner, working its way through dense traffic at that speed, with one’s own eyes to gain an impression of what it was like, but this impression is as intense as the circumstances are astounding.”

More likely than not, it was the success of this early double-decker that prompted Daimler to launch a complete bus series as early as May 1898.

Daimler double-decker bus for up to 16 passengers, 1898.

Maximum possible parts commonality with trucks

“The motorized Daimler bus is available in different sizes, and engines of different output ratings are fitted to match local conditions. Less powerful engines are chosen for level routes, while the vehicles have to be equipped with more powerful engines for routes through hilly terrain.” That’s how Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft described its novel vehicle in 1898, praising the engine, in particular: “Power is supplied by the new Daimler Phoenix engine whose design - specially matched to vehicle propulsion - is unsurpassed in every respect.”

Gottlieb Daimler’s ingenuity lay in identifying new applications, time and again, for the gasoline engine he had developed together with Wilhelm Maybach. On closer inspection, it becomes clear that the chassis, the 4 - 10 hp (2.9 to 7.4 kW) engines, the glow-tube ignition, the three- to four-speed gear-only transmission and the pinion drive were all completely identical with what was, at the time, the second generation of Daimler trucks.

The smallest bus model had been designed for six passengers and 200 kilograms of luggage; the largest bus had a capacity for 14 - 16 passengers and 450 kilograms of luggage. Cruising speeds ranged between four and 16 km/h and, provided the engine was sufficiently powerful, the buses climbed inclines of up to twelve percent. The unladen weight of the smallest version was 1.1 tons, whereas the largest model tipped the scales at 2.5 tons. The six-seater’s net price amounted to 6,800 Reichsmark; the larger models cost 8,000, 9,200 and 10,500 Reichsmark, respectively.

These prices did not include the simple but effective heating system for the driver’s seat and passenger compartment, with engine coolant being circulated under the floor. Depending on the model, this extra cost between 180 and 260 Reichsmark. Another option at an extra cost of 500 - 600 Reichsmark was a set of rubber tires - “recommended only for the smaller models, however”. Where the two heavier models with unladen weights above two tons were concerned, Daimler advised its customers to stick to conventional iron-clad wooden wheels.

According to a contemporary Daimler brochure, the motorized vehicles were operational after just three minutes. In those days, readers were interested in information such as the specific weight of fuel and consumption per hour and hp under full load - the brochure states between 0.36 and 0.45 kilograms; at a top speed of 16 km/h, this was equivalent to anything between twenty and thirty liters per 100 kilometers. In the early days, however, customers were not familiar with fuel consumption in liters per 100 kilometers, so the information on fuel costs amounting to ten Pfennigs per horsepower and kilometer will have been more meaningful for them.

DMG endeavored to emphasize the vehicles’ operational reliability in every respect. The fuel tank with capacity for ten hours’ driving was located “in a protected area under the vehicle,” and the water cooling was “fully operational” even in winter. The manufacturer’s brochure went on to say that “gear-changes are performed in a perfectly safe manner” and that the foot-operated brake brought the vehicle “quickly and reliably” to a standstill. However, the company did not let it rest at asserting these qualities but granted a three-month warranty on all parts.

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