The London Bus Page In Exile

Monday 2 April 2007

Longcross 2 – DM 2646 Returns!

Filed under: Special Events, Vehicles — londonbuspageinexile @ 7:47 pm

Preserved Ensignbus Leyland Fleetline DM 2646 (THX 646S) at Longcross, 1st April 2007 Another picture from Longcross is of DM 2646 (THX 646S) – the superbly restored last of the DMS-type Daimler Fleetlines. If just one of the much-maligned B20s could be saved, this was the one, and Ensignbus have done a terrific job returning it to the Shillibeer livery which it wore in 1979.

Poor old DMSs – nobody liked them (neither passengers nor engineers), the majority completed less than seven years service each (the length of a Certificate of Fitness in those days) and only the B20s accomplished anything close to a decent innings, perhaps due to the fact that absolutely nobody would buy them! I grew up with the things – my school journey was on the 93, a route introduced to crew DMs on 4th September 1982 and converted to OPO the following 23rd April, on which date the 80 was extended up from Morden to support it. Never once did they give me any trouble, while quite a few Ms and Ts broke down while I was travelling on them…

This bus’s career, in fact, would end on the 93; after its period in Shillibeer colours (during which it was advertising the Leyland products of the time, the National and Titan), it moved to Stockwell and then to Sutton, where it spent its last six years (as D 2646), four of which were spent with an Iveco engine like the rest of the garage’s DMS fleet. It was Sutton’s last Fleetline, seen working the 93 on 19th June 1992. A spell with Haven Coaches followed before a formal decision was made to preserve it, but it wasn’t until this year that its transformation into Shillibeer glory was complete. And under the distinctive, dual-chimneyed bonnet, a Leyland engine beats once more.

With contemporary adverts all re-created to complete its period look, DM 2646 is seen working the 448 shuttle service to and from Woking station.



  1. All credit to Ensign for the bus, looks superb. I drove many DM’s and DMS’s during my driving time with London Transport at TC and BN and have to say that, when properly maintained (and I suppose properly driven) they were a good tool for the job. The main problems I encountered were:
    1. poor heating and demisting in the cab area which was a design fault cured by extension nozzles on the screen vents and retro fitting a much more powerful blower motor.
    2. ineffective saloon heaters, largely a result of air in the system and blockage through a build up of silt/rust. Only cured by engineers who had the will to do so!
    3. problems with the parking brake, which operated like a normal car handbrake but with air assistance. Two things could happen, one of which was dangerous and the other very inconvenient; firstly when used on busy or hilly routes DM class brakes needed regular almost daily adjusting to reduce drum/shoe clearance otherwise the handbrake would not stop the bus moving when fully applied; secondly when applied hard by a strong driver against hot brakedrums in say a bus station where the bus may be left for meal relief purposes, you came back to find the brakes locked on and unreleasable from the cab due to the drums contracting onto the shoes. Cured by mechanic dismantling the mechanism from under the cab, accompanied by suitable swearing, particularly on a wet day. However BN’s crew DM’s were like Rolls Royces to drive on the 109/133, why? simply because of the high standards of Mr Buck and his men responsible for maintaining them.

    Comment by Doug Ely — Tuesday 3 April 2007 @ 2:56 pm

  2. Hi Matt

    Good to have your web page back and to see you are kept busy and out of trouble updating the site! Interesting comment re the DMS as 2646 seems to have the best heaters of any DMS on it, or was it just such a lovely warm day Sunday out of the wind?


    Comment by Steve Newman — Wednesday 4 April 2007 @ 2:39 pm

  3. Matt,

    Just to add a bit to the history of DM 2646. Haven Coaches swopped it for another DMS vehicle with Arrow Travel of Pulborough. Eventually, when they disposed of it, 2646 went to Blue Triangle, where it sat in their “showroom” yard amongst the containers near the “new” A13 road. I finally persuaded them to part with it in March 1998 and since then I had the engine converted from IVECO back to Leyland, also managed a few repairs to the bodywork. The steel stress panels behind the outer skin were rather corroded and I was distracted from 2646 by other restoration projects of a London Country nature. About a year ago, Ensign very kindly agreed to give 2646 a good home, so I donated it to their museum. As seen at Longcross, there are still a few further items to do to complete the vehicle, but it does still look rather better than when I pushed it out of my garden with a tractor!
    I am the driver shown in your picture, by the way!



    Comment by Eddie Knorn — Thursday 5 April 2007 @ 12:24 pm

  4. Riding this bus was better than I remember the original, but it is one the final batch of Leylands, not a real Daimler.

    Nice to see Matt W back from the dead, but not convinced about the new format. Only found the site after a chance meeting with Dick Gilbert at Chopham. Liked the new venue and hope to get a coach party up from the Badgerline Enthusiasts Club to bring our Leyland Leopard next year.

    Comment by Martin Layton — Saturday 7 April 2007 @ 9:14 am

  5. DM2646 looks fantastic and is a welcome addition to the growing number of post-Routemaster London buses in preservation. Will you be doing a DMS book after you’ve finished the Titan one, Matt?

    Comment by Phil McCavity — Friday 13 April 2007 @ 8:04 pm

  6. definetly a superb looking bus. i live in glasgow and although i’ve never seen a DMS in service (or liked fleetlines much to the matter) i’ve now taken a keen interest in the DMS’s. The museum i am a volunteer at, the glasgow vintage vehicle trust, is hopefully to recieve one of the other preserved B20’s – DMS 2333.

    Ensignbus surely are a credit to bus restoration and from what i’ve seen there work looks fantastic.

    Comment by sean moriarty — Tuesday 24 April 2007 @ 8:38 pm

  7. I’ve told this story before but it’s worth repeating in this context: when Titan and Metrobus comparison trials were being held on route 51 out of Sidcup garage in 1982 alongside the incumbent DMSs, I rode one of the first journeys performed by a brand-new T to Woolwich. On arrival at the stand, the driver promptly deserted his cab to find out the driver of the DMS in front of him ready to depart, and commenced to call several shades of the smelly stuff out of the Titan, whereas I had thought it a most civilised machine (and still do). From recall Sidcup generally didn’t get on too badly with its Fleetlines although a visit to nearby Bexleyheath with a row of unfit / semi-cannibalised buses seemingly always present in the shed told a different story.

    Comment by Andrew Jeffreys — Wednesday 25 April 2007 @ 9:39 pm

  8. I own DMS 2456 and have done since the age of 15 and it is a fantastic bus. Ensign have done the preserved London bus scene proud with 2646, and wouldn’t it be great to see a line up of forty DMS’s at a rally instead of RM’s.. I’ve wanted to say that for years!!!

    Comment by Stuart Boxall — Friday 25 May 2007 @ 9:36 pm

  9. Hi all. Cool site Google

    Comment by Jady — Monday 11 February 2008 @ 10:24 am

  10. This actual bus is in use in Central London today on Route 25 as back up for the tube strike, I have a photo but don’t know where to post it…

    Comment by Michael Tulley — Thursday 9 July 2015 @ 7:09 am

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