The LONDON TRANSPORT AEC Q classThis page created 13th January 2001, using Notepad, by Ian Smith.
The 7Q7: Six-wheeler double-decker, Q188The quest for the Green Line double-decker was one of London Transport's long-term frustrated projects, only reaching real success (once the demand was already starting to fade) with the long RCL Routemasters. They had tried before. There had been the long-wheelbase six-wheeler LT coach, LT1137, with its forward door and rear staircase. Now, in 1936, there was Q188. It was a magnificent - looking beast: only 27ft long, but on a six-wheel chassis, with a full-front. Like a trolleybus without the poles.
It was intended for the heavy duty Romford services, where Green Line coaches operated on bus frequencies. One problem was the diminutive engine. 7.7 litres of diesel engine for almost 9 tons of bus was never going to produce a grey-hound. (The RCLs had 11.3 litres, for comparison)
ConstructionChassis: AEC Q, 16ft 6in wheelbase (front axle-bogie rocker), AEC A170 oil engine, D133 gearbox, air brakes.
Body: Park Royal, 27ft 0in, H28/23C.
The body design on the 7Q7 was a quarter-century ahead of its time. Like several of London Transport's better nineteen thirties designs it would not look out of place in the nineteen sixties. The heavy mouldings of the other Q double-deckers were gone, replaced by trim lines like those on the 5Q5, curling round to enclose the windows at the front. The front was raked back, rather like the full-front STL, and the roof silver was extended down the front window frames. The upper windows were visually linked in pairs, with narrow black pillars in the middle of each pair, giving the appearance of panoramic windows. Displays front and rear were three-box, but uniquely they were one above the other, with the top box only for advertising Green Line.
There was a stop / direction indicator box below the emergency door, like on the 6Q6s, and semaphore arms in the wide pillars above the front wheels.
A large sliding door occupied the third bay, and slid back into an enclosure in the next bay,
narrowing the double-seat there. Single seats were fitted alongside the each of the rear wheelarches,
and there was a bench between the door and the front wheelarch.
An internal bulkhead prevented access to the front of the bus alongside the driver.
So the saloon only seated 23 (later 22)
- a foretaste of the problems to come with the nineties low-floor buses.
Upstairs the 28 seats were well-distributed in pairs.
Trials, then into serviceAlthough delivered in February 1937, Q188 was not to enter revenue-earning service until 1938. It went initially for trials to Reigate, who sent it out for trial runs over the Aldgate-Romford route, without passengers. All was not well with an immediate entry to service. There were two problems. One was the paltry engine. The other was a dispute over pay-rates. The Unions considered that the intensity of service on the Romford routes merited Central Area rather than Country Area rates of pay, and were not going to have their crews' work-load increased by double-decking without some shift. So Q188 kicked its heels for a year, being licensed in June 1938 as a bus, and sent to Hertford for use on the 310, with London Transport fleetnames.
In July 1938 it was joined at Hertford (HG) by Q1-4, all for use on the 310.
That lasted for a year, then all five Q double-deckers were moved to Grays (GY) for the 372.
The war saw the retirement of all five into store at various places.
Post-warQ188 was sold in March 1946 to Lancashire Motor Traders in Salford, then went to Brown of Garelochhead, along with Q5. It too was fitted with a fake AEC grille, and was used for some years on their Gareloch - Helensburgh service.
That was not quite the end for Q188. In 1951 it was rebuilt as a thirty-foot long furniture van by a firm in Timperley, Cheshire, but only lasted in that form until 1953, when engine problems led to its demise.