利蘭奧林比安 Leyland Olympian
If someone asked which bus type of British Leyland is the most successful one in HK, Olympian must be the answer, form the 2-axle demonstrators to the 3-axle air conditioned Olympian, Leyland gained a very successful market share in Hong Kong and Olympian itself also witness the change and the development of this Asia's World City. Leyland Olympian not only welcomed by the three franchised bus operators but also KCRC Bus Division and CLP. Olympian was the only Leyland product to be continued in production after Leyland was purchased by Volvo though vast modifications were done.
Leyland created the B45 project as a response to the launched of the newer generation rear-engined bus model of it competitors and this was later named as Olympian. The front mount radiator increased the engine coolant efficiency and this made it become much suitable in tropical areas like Hong Kong and Singapore. To go one step further, compared with the integral design of the Leyland Titan, Olympian allowed a wide variety of body for operators to suit their own operation environment and resulted in a good selling record. In 1981, a batch of 3 Olympian prototype was delivered to KMB with the two of them (BL2 and 3) were B45 prototype while the remaining was production vehicle. All of them were 10.3m long with ECW bodywork completed in UK and driveline was Leyland TL11 engine with Hydracyclic automatic transmission, standard combination for Olympian at that time. KMB deployed all Leyland Olympian demonstrators on cross harbour route 112 for evaluation along with various 3-axle demonstrators.
KMB acquired total of 120 Olympian chassis between 1983 and 1985 with 4 batches after the successful trial of BL1 - 3. Started from BL4 onwards, they were 9.5m in length for good maneuverability and bodywork kits were supplied by Walter Alexander with their R-type bodywork. Mechanical driveline was Gardner 6LXB and Voith DIWA851 fully automatic gearbox which were the standard of KMB fleet. Different bodywork layout and modifications including the width of staircase, radiator grille and the size of route indicator box according to different batches. Ventilation system was fitted on the last 30 units and 113 passengers (compared with 111 passengers for the others) can be carried on BL121 - 123 as a result of using the honeycomb structure body frame.
During their long service life, KMB carried out some modifications on Olympian to suit the operation environment. The powertrain of BL1 - 3 were changed to the standard Gradner engine and Voith transmission, as the government amended the ordinance about the carrying capacity of public transport, only 1 standees was remained on the prototype. The seating configuration of BL25 (DB7311) and 41 (DB9635) was changed from 3+2 to 2+2 with additional standees provided at the lower compartment for serving Tai Po internal route 71B. The original front route indicator box parts of BL47 (DC983) was replaced with the later version after a traffic accident but without the surroundings painting in black. Continuous fluorescent tube was fitted in BL77 (DE2889) compartment, however, only can operate in discontinuous mode. In addition, the radiator grille of most Olympian including the prototype was replaced with the later version after overhaul or involved with traffic accident.
Instead of the cross-harbour routes and trunk routes in the urban area, Leyland Olympian almost served the entire KMB networks and routes like 2C, 3, 7B, 8, 10, 21, 30, 53, 80M, 81K, 81M, 91 and 91M etc, were used to serve with Olympian for a long period of time and some the routes mentioned above were operated by Olympian until converted into full air-conditioned operation. BL1 and 2 were assigned on route 94 and 99 while BL3 stationed at Lai Chi Kok depot for route 36 before their retirement in 1999. BL9 (DA316) was forced to retire after involved in a traffic accident in 1998 and to be the first Leyland Olympian withdrawn from the fleet. Leyland Olympian was started to withdraw from KMB since 2000 and 4 of them (BL48 - 50 and 53) were converted to training bus and finally scrapped in 2004. Since more and more routes to be fully air-conditioned, this accelerated the withdrawal of 2-axle conventional bus including the Olympian and the last routes that a Olympian can be seen was 5D, 15A and 29M and after the deployment of other bus model or air-conditioned bus, Leyland Olympian was fully retired from KMB in Dec., 2002.
Only BL66 (DE3271) and 79 (DE3104) were under private preserved in Australia and Hong Kong respectively and the others were scrapped after withdrawal.
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