1 February 1979
Volvo Ailsa Mk II (Aa B55-10 Mk II)
Volvo TD70E Diesel
Alexander Ar AV23/3977/16
Tayside Regional Council
Taybus Vintage Vehicle Society member(s)
Tayside received a batch of six early Mark II Ailsas in 1979 having been an enthusiastic customer for the Mark I version. WTS276T differed from the others in that it was fitted with a Voith D851 automatic gearbox rather than the SCG gearbox (self-changing gears) used in most other Ailsas at the time. The new Dennis Dominator and MCW Metrobus, which were launched in 1978, used the same gearbox and there was an understandable incentive for Volvo to try out a gearbox that was not supplied by its major competitor given that the SCG gearbox was a British Leyland product.
WTS276T spent the first six months of its life on loan to Volvo Bus (GB) as a demonstrator along with sister vehicle WTS275T (now scrapped). As well as travelling all over the UK, Volvo took the bus to the first Congress of the UITP in Helsinki and the bus still carries a plaque commemorating this visit. WTS276T finally entered service in Dundee in September 1979 on routes 26/ 28/ 29 between Douglas and Charleston. The following year it was used in vehicle trials in Dundee along with a Dennis Dominator and an MCW Metrobus. WTS276T was fitted at this stage with an Evershed electronic destination display but like most early displays of this type it proved unreliable - it required a replacement panel and was quickly removed.
Commercial Motor, which sponsored the trials, reported that the Voith gearbox had proved to be less popular with drivers than the SCG box and so the next delivery of Ailsas were to Tayside’s normal specification. However all of Tayside’s later Mark III Ailsas used the Voith box. WTS276T settled down to a conventional existence, latterly working on the Fintry service. It was withdrawn in late 1996 and sold to a Perthshire farmer for use as a berry bus, the same farmer who owned former Tayside Ailsa NSP326R.
Towards the end of its life at Tayside 276 received a single door conversion in which the centre doors were sealed up, a metal framework placed in the stairwell and covered with linoleum, and the wiring isolated. This was relatively easy to reverse and the door now works again.
The bus changed hands at the end of 2013 and restoration work has restarted after a gap of several years.