Old Bus Photos

Southern Vectis – Bristol K5G – DDL 50 – 703

Southern Vectis - Bristol K5G - DDL 50 - 703

Southern Vectis Omnibus Company
1940
Bristol K5G
ECW O30/26R

In 1937 Southern Vectis took two examples of the Bristol GO5G chassis, and then ordered two examples of the later K5G design. CDL 899, which arrived in July 1939 with fleet number 702, was followed in January 1940 by DDL 50, number 703 which, like its predecessors, had ECW H30/26R bodywork. These G and K buses had the high mounted version of the Bristol radiator, whilst all later Southern Vectis K types had the PV2 style. The next K chassis to enter the Southern Vectis fleet came in 1944/45, but these were four K6A machines which were very quickly converted to Gardner 5LW power, and all subsequent K/KS/KSW deliveries had 5LW engines from new. Nos. 702 and 703 were both converted to open toppers in 1959 for operation on the scenic coastal routes, where 702 is seen on 28 August 1967. Sitting “outside” as these veterans climbed up the stiff gradient out of Ventnor was a musical experience to savour. In 1969 703 was converted into a tree lopper, and finally sold off into preservation in 1979, but 702 continued in occasional and promotional service on the Isle of Wight. Happily, both CDL 899 and DDL 50 survive.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox


28/05/18 – 06:45

Living In Portsmouth for twenty years from 1956, I experienced inside and outside rides on both these buses over the years. Outside was always pleasant, both from the weather and mechanical aspects, but inside was a cacophony that assaulted the eardrums. How the drivers ever put up with the noise is beyond me. I always assumed from the vibration that the engines were mounted directly on the chassis. And why did SV ever deign to eschew 6LW engines on such a hilly island, producing vehicles that were hard work for drivers and so sluggish, even these with their roofs cut off! I’m glad that they’ve survived, though!

Chris Hebbron


29/05/18 – 06:34

My G certainly is directly mounted and is extremely noisy but vibration in the saloon is low. Fitting a 6LW in a K was not straightforward and I have done it in a KSW which had a re-design to allow fitment but not straight forward.
Think on K it would have reqd body mods.

Roger Burdett


31/05/18 – 07:32

There were GO6Gs and K6Gs in South Wales where the hilly operating terrain really demanded them. Significantly none of them had ECW bodies which were fairly standardised. Pontypridd had batches of Beadle-bodied Ls and Ks with both 5LW and 6LW engines and the bodies were significantly different due to the extra length of the 6LW. Merthyr was another regular K6G buyer whilst Cardiff (not as hilly) bought a batch of unique KW6Gs with Bruce bodies.

David Beilby


31/05/18 – 07:35

Chris H raises a question which has interested me for a long time; why Tilling companies never had any K6Gs. I may be wrong but as far as I’m aware, until the advent of the KS series, Eastern Coach Works never produced any bodywork into which the 6LW engine would fit. If any companies in the group had a requirement for 6 cylinder power, then it had to be the 6A or the 6B, the Gardner 6LW was never an option. Of course there were Bristol K6Gs, popular with some South Wales municipals and independents such as Silcox but not in Tilling fleets. Similarly, when Hants & Dorset wanted L6Gs, they had to send them to Portsmouth Aviation to be bodied because ECW couldn’t fit the engine into their standard single deck body.
I imagine the Bristol radiator could have been moved forward in the style of the Guy Arab but was it the builders who were unwilling to alter their specifications or was it Tilling HQ who decreed that operators couldn’t have 6LWs in the 1930s and 40s?

Chris Barker


01/06/18 – 05:56

It is said that one of the design constraints of the Bristol AVW engine was that it should fit in the bonnet of the K type chassis, thereby limiting its capacity to 8.1 litres. Not until 1950, when the maximum length of double deckers was increased to 27ft 6ins, did Bristol/ECW offer 6LW powered versions of the K type, the KS and KSW. In these the bulkhead was moved back to accommodate the extra length of this engine. As other correspondents have stated, the K6G/KW6G buses built for municipalities and Silcox all had bodywork from builders other than ECW to incorporate a set back bulkhead. Taking up Chris Hebbron’s point about the challenging Isle of Wight topography for the 5LW, Southern Vectis continued to specify this small engine in the wider, longer and heavier KSW type of which it had 15 examples. Only when the Lodekka appeared on the scene did Southern Vectis finally accept the 6LW.

Roger Cox


04/06/18 – 16:37

CDL 899_2

CDL 899 was used for a while on the service to the Needles from Alum Bay and is seen nearing the end of its climb. I did wonder whether the noise could be heard across the Solent!

CDL 899_3
A second photo shows the addition of route branding.

Keith Newton


07/06/18 – 05:31

Lovely photos, Keith, thx for posting them. can well understand the engine noise on this challenging route. The front design of the ECW bodywork, with its scrunched-up windscreen, has the effect of making the high radiator barely obvious. It certainly was when it was fitted with a wartime utility body!

Chris Hebbron


07/06/18 – 05:32

The exchanges over this bus are quite revealing. I have never been closely involved in the bus industry and others may be better qualified to comment. Whereas in pre nationalisation days- the aftermath of the last war- you could obtain (probably beg) a Bristol with AEC engine and Roe body, as nationalisation progressed you could have a K chassis as long as it had a Bristol or 5cyl Gardner engine, an ECW body and any colour as long as it was green, red and/or cream. Choice was restricted and was down purely to chassis length. Later on, the Lodekka even eliminated height as an option: was this, much later and from comments here, the terminal Leyland disease? Certainly the command economy may have been dismantled in the 50’s but lived on for years on the Bristol-Lowestoft axis.
Back to the bus and what a lovely example- the odd feature to me is the absence of elfansafety railings on the upper deck- just the side panels raised above the seat backs. If the bus were to topple, that was you done, or overhanging trees, crane jibs or whatever. Tiny mirrors, but then the conductor would watch behind. Happy days!

Joe


10/06/18 – 08:32

Joe, I don’t think that the product policies of Bristol CV and ECW in the 1950’s and ’60’s were similar to those of Leyland in the 1970’s. First of all, one must remember that the restrictions were placed on BCV and ECW, who were only allowed to sell to the state-owned operators; while those operators could continue to select whichever supplier they wanted – and, indeed, they did so, particularly the Scottish Bus Group, but the THC also bought Bedford coaches, and sometimes lightweight buses.
It is also generally known that BCV and ECW maintained close contact with their customers during that era, and some specialist models were also produced, in numbers that were probably not really economic – I’m thinking of the SC and SU small single deck chassis. The Lodekka was of course a solution that provided the comfort of an highbridge layout within the overall height of a lowbridge bus – with a stepless lower deck floor to boot with the F series models.
It is also worth remembering that BCV and ECW were relatively low-volume producers, and their customers did have more choice. As such, significantly wider choices of engines, etc, would probably not have been viable.
By the 1970’s Leyland had a virtual monopoly of the heavy duty bus and coach market in the UK – and, judging from contemporary reports, seemed to believe that they knew what their customers wanted. I guess that the subsequent history tells us whether that was correct – or not!

Nigel Frampton


 

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Midland General – Bristol Lodekka – 972 ARA – 453

972 ARA

Midland General Omnibus Company
1956
Bristol Lodekka LD6G
ECW H33/25RD

Photographed in Nottingham in August 1961 is Midland General 453, 972 ARA, a Bristol LD6G Lodekka with ECW H33/25RD bodywork, delivered to the operator in October 1956. This vehicle, together with other buses from across the NBC, went to West Riding in April 1970 to expedite the withdrawal of the troublesome Guy Wulfrunian fleet. Sadly, 453 didn’t last very long in the care of West Riding as it went to the scrapyard in December 1971 having, rather pointlessly, been renumbered No. 408 just one month earlier.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox


09/04/18 – 07:39

Such a pity the BTC had such a rigid livery policy with most Loddekkas being in wall to wall red or green. We were denied the opportunity to see such attractive vehicles in attractive liveries such as this one on a wider scale. The Midland General livery seemed to slip through the livery police net somehow but the loophole was soon spotted by the dreaded NBC and the even more dreaded poppy red was soon inflicted.

Philip Halstead


10/04/18 – 05:39

I agree – the only other attractive exception was BH&D, who had cream roofs and a much deeper band of crew around the lower deck windows – oh, and I think that either Notts & Derby or Mansfield District did something similar with Tilling Green and cream. Pity as the ECW body was beautifully proportioned, although too Spartan inside for my taste.

David Wragg


10/04/18 – 05:40

Some Midland General vehicles were initially painted dark blue with a white band and the fleetname in NBC style.

Stephen Bloomfield


10/04/18 – 05:41

Midland General never was a Tilling company but throughout it’s existence as a BTC and THC operator, it’s vehicles were always immaculately turned out, regardless of age and always sported comprehensive, fully working blind displays with via points shown, right until the later FLFs and VRs which had provision for ultimate destination and service number only. It was strict company policy that they must be correctly set too, the word ‘SERVICE’ would never have been allowed, in fact it wasn’t even on the blinds as an option.

Chris Barker


11/04/18 – 06:00

What is often overlooked regarding the BTC’s standard red and cream/green and cream ‘Tilling’ liveries is that when they were first introduced, the Tilling Group was in private hands. For many years the Group had operated a policy of centralised control and one of its aims, post-World War II, was to standardise on its ‘in house’ Bristol-ECW products – namely the K type double-decker in highbridge or lowbridge form, and the L type single-decker in bus or express form. Standard liveries for its bus fleets were also being pursued. When the Tilling Group was nationalised in 1948, outwardly it would probably have looked like ‘business as usual’ to the general public, as the old Tilling liveries remained. Interestingly, when the Balfour Beatty Group came under state control, Midland General, Notts & Derby Traction and Mansfield District retained their original liveries. Later, when the Red & White Group was acquired, Cheltenham District continued with its dark red and cream livery, applied in its distinctive fashion. The BTC did not seem to be as obsessed with rigid standardisation as perhaps the privately owned Tilling Group had been.
Although many of the coaches in the BTC fleets donned cream with either green or red/maroon relief, some distinctive and well respected coach liveries continued – those of United, Royal Blue, South Midland, Bristol-Greyhound, and Crosville spring to mind. Presumably prestige and local good will still counted for something, even under state control.
When the THC and BET Group were combined to form the state owned NBC in 1969, with the well-intentioned objective of halting the decline in bus use, for the first few years it appeared once again to be ‘business as usual’ regarding liveries. Ironically, it was someone from the private sector – one Freddie Wood – at the behest of the Heath government, who was responsible for the corporate liveries inflicted on the constituent companies in 1972. The standardised poppy red and white, or leaf green and white liveries for buses and ‘local coaches’ and the allover white National coach livery were not a patch on the liveries they replaced. In fairness, the introduction of the ‘National white coach network’ did improve public awareness of express travel and business did increase as a result, but why such an impractical colour was chosen for such hard working vehicles operating over long distances in all weathers remains a mystery.

Brendan Smith


11/04/18 – 06:04

Midland General, together with Notts & Derby and Mansfield District, were Balfour Beatty companies. Balfour Beatty initially concentrated upon tramway operation in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, whence it then broadened its activities into electricity generation and supply in those counties. When the electricity supply industry was nationalised in 1948, that aspect of the Balfour Beatty operation was taken over by the government, but the three public transport components of the business, by then using trolleybuses and motor buses, did not automatically follow suit. The disposal of Midland General, Mansfield District and Notts & Derby was a decision taken by Balfour Beatty in the light of the then Labour government’s aspirations for public ownership of the bus industry. Tilling sold out at about the same time, but the BET resisted. I agree with Chris that the standards of Midland General were very high, endorsed by the splendid livery.

Roger Cox


19/04/18 – 06:35

The reason that the Midland General fleet could be so smart was that the services operated were extremely profitable compared with other operators such as Trent.

Nigel Turner


20/04/18 – 06:40

Indeed so Nigel, Midland General had some very lucrative routes and on weekdays they operated many works and colliery services which operated throughout the day to meet changing shift patterns. On Saturdays, when vehicles which had been used on such duties might otherwise have stood idle, many of their principal services were so busy with shoppers, they were doubled in frequency, so the fleet was fully utilised. A blue livery and a blue chip company!

Chris Barker


23/05/18 – 06:47

Roger, the shareholdings of MGOC/NDT/MDT were all held by the Balfour Beatty subsidiary "MIDESCO", the Midland Counties Electricity Supply Company – it was MIDESCO which was nationalised as part of the compulsory nationalisation of the electricity supply industry, becoming part of the British Electricity Authority (BEA). It was because Balfour Beatty chose not to separate out the accounts for MGOC/NDT/MDT from those of the parent (MIDESCO) that they were nationalised (as part of that electricity supply company). Initially the BEA negotiated with a management agreement with Balfour Beatty for "oversight" of MGOC/NDT/MDT, but this lasted only months until the BEA transferred MGOC/NDT/MDT to the BTC.
The Llanelly & District company ended up in state-owned hands for similar reasons, but the outcome then was quite different.

Philip Rushworth


24/05/18 – 07:29

Thanks for that clarification, Philip. An interesting website about the Midland General Group may be found here:- https://midlandgeneralomnibus.weebly.com

Roger Cox


 

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Brighton, Hove & District – Bristol Lodekka – OPN 807 – 7

Brighton, Hove & District - Bristol Lodekka - OPN 807 - 7

Brighton, Hove & District
1959
Bristol LDS6B
ECW H33/37R

Seen in Brighton in the summer of 1960 is Brighton, Hove & District OPN 807, fleet no. 7, an example of the rare LDS short version of the Bristol Lodekka with flat lower saloon floor, air suspension on the rear axle, and air (instead of vacuum) over hydraulic braking system. With some adjustments, the LDS model then went into volume production as the FS type. The prototype LDS, an LDS6G with Gardner 6LW engine, went to Crosville in 1958 as 285 HFM, fleet no. DLG 949. In May / June 1959, BH&D received LDS buses OPN 801 to 808, the company’s first Lodekkas, which were powered by the then newly introduced 8.9 litre Bristol BVW engine. OPN 804 to 808 had ECW H33/37R bodywork, but OPN 801 to 803 were CO33/37R convertible open toppers. www.flickr.com/
As delivered, these eight LDS6B buses had the Cave-Brown-Cave heating system installed and, as seen in the photograph, lacked a conventional radiator at the front of the engine bay. The deficiencies of this heating/cooling arrangement, especially apparent with the overheating prone BVW engine, led to its subsequent disconnection and the fitment of a normal radiator, though the cooler running Gardner powered Crosville prototype retained its Cave-Brown-Cave heating and blank front panel with winged motif to the end. OPN 807 served with BH&D until January 1969 when, under NBC “rationalisation”, it passed to Southdown ownership with all the BH&D operations. Withdrawn in 1972, it then went on to Brittain’s in Northampton http://bcv.robsly.com/ who sold it, ostensibly for preservation, in June 1979. Having since passed through a number of supposedly preservationist hands, it would seem that it still exists in the current ownership of a dealer, the London Bus Export Company of Lydney, though its current condition is uncertain. If it still retains its BVW engine then spares for that will be scarcer than hen’s teeth.

Photograph and Copy contributed by Roger Cox


18/02/18 – 17:05

APN 54B

Prodded by Roger’s item, I Googled LDX 003 and found Nigel Furness’ book mentioning LDX003 and LDX004 both of which had passed me by! His book also adds that BCV changed the designation of the six LDL 30′ chassis built in 1957 (eg Bristol L8450 – see http://www.old-bus-photos.co.uk/?p=34464 to LLD after they were built which explains why I had come across this confusing reference at some time whilst at BCV.
Roger’s photo reminded me of one that I took at BCV in early 1964 showing no. 4 with two non-standard to Tilling Group features of these vehicles: the split step (making a ‘stepless’ entry into a stepped access!); and the side route no. indicator. The first feature is still extant in the photo-link of no. 7 in Brittain’s ownership.
When I took the photo I had just arrived back at the factory at Brislington after a long spell with BOC so was not aware why no. 4 was at BCV. It was the first of the eight LDS chassis built at the end of the 138th sanction for BH&D, although the last three with convertible open top bodies were given fleet nos. 1 -3. I also have a note to say that its BVW engine was fitted with a DPA (distributor) type fuel injection pump, instead of the original in-line fuel injection pumps of either CAV or Simms manufacture. I’m not aware that this cheaper component was adopted as a standard in later BVW engines.

Geoff Pullin


19/02/18 – 07:07

Whoops – got confused. This photo is of BH&D no. 54, not 4 and hence is an FS6B of the 214th sanction dating from 1964. The bit about DPA pumps definitely refers to 5no. 4!

Geoff Pullin


19/02/18 – 07:08

Thanks for the picture of the "stepless" door platform on these buses, Geoff. I had completely forgotten about these, but I now recall that they were held to create more platform stumbles than they sought to eradicate. Your reference to the use of DPA fuel pumps on these early BVW engines is notewothy. DPA pumps appeared in the mid to late fifties on smaller engines, but this must surely have been one of the pioneer applications on a relatively large commercial vehicle engine. Was it intended to thus equip the production BVW as standard? I am not an engineer, just an interested layman, but I can recognise the appeal of the DPA against the traditional, much more costly, in line pump. The DPA has to work harder serving all the injectors, but the advantages of cheaper and easier replacement together with simplified calibration must have been attractive. Was reliability a problem, and did these early Lodekkas keep these pumps?

Roger Cox


19/02/18 – 07:08

I remember these Lodekkas from my gap year conducting from Conway Street in 1969/70. The lowered rear platform step was said to be popular with all the old ladies of Hove but in rush hour with visitors and foreign students they were also what we now consider a trip hazard. Happy days!

Anthony H


20/02/18 – 06:03

As of Feb 12 it was still at Lydney. Gossip says it was possessed over an unpaid bill. I would have thought offering it for continued preservation would have attracted a buyer.

Roger Burdett


21/02/18 – 07:26

steps

Reading Geoff Pullin’s post regarding Brighton & Hove APN 54B and its modified entrance step, it put me in mind of a similar design modification applied to a East Midland VR some 9 years later. PRR 121L and its low entrance step option was presented to the local press in Mansfield as a help to the aged and infirm. I don’t know how long it lasted but photos on the web show it had gone by the time Yelloway became the owners. I captured my picture when nearly new at Mansfield depot.

Berisford Jones


28/02/18 – 07:37

Berisford’s photograph of East Midland VRT PRR 121L’s step arrangement has reminded me that one of East Yorkshire’s 1973 VRTs (932) was similarly treated, but was converted to standard layout in later life. Maybe such experimental steps were more widespread than maybe first thought.

Brendan Smith


28/02/18 – 12:21

I seem to remember that ECW did about half a dozen VRTs with this step as an experiment in 1972/3 – another one was Trent 631 (RCH 631L), which was converted to normal within a year or so.

Bob Gell


03/03/18 – 06:40

Roger asks about the DPA fuel injection pump. To my knowledge it was never used on production BVW engines, but others may know differently! I can’t find any information about its introduction to other makes of engines but remember that it was used by Leyland on 680 engines in AN68 Atlanteans and later Leopards and probably Panthers. I can’t remember about the 500/510 series.
The DPA did have some reliability problems but the reduced initial cost and ease of replacement was probably thought to compensate in Leyland’s eyes. It was not suitable for increasing power outputs at a time that competition was pushing them up. The ‘Power Plus’ series of 680 engines used in trucks were fitted with in-line fuel injection pumps and that was the engine used in the Ribble / Standerwick VRL/LH coaches and why they were able to go ‘uphill at 70mph’ compared to 36ft Leopards, which were stuck with the DPA version because the in-line pump would foul the chassis frame. We had to wait for the Tiger before this power problem was sorted!

Geoff Pullin


04/03/18 – 06:50

From memory the later 680’s had an F&M Friedmann and Maier injection pump fitted.

Andrew Charles


05/03/18 – 08:02

Geoff, thank you for the fascinating information regarding BH&D 4 being fitted with a CAV DPA distributor type (sometimes known as rotary) fuel injection pump when new, as I had no idea of such an experiment. As you comment, the standard BVW engine was fitted with an in-line injection pump of either Simms (SPE type) or CAV (N type) manufacture, although I seem to recall that in later years the CAV pump became the norm. West Yorkshire’s 0.680-engined Bristol RELHs and Leyland Leopards were fitted with DPA pumps as standard, apart from a handful of WY’s last Leopards which had Austrian-built Friedmann & Maier (F&M) in-line pumps. F&M injection pumps were also used on Leyland-engined Leyland Tiger TR and National 2 models. The Leyland 510 engine fitted to the National 1 used the CAV NN-type pump, which was a development of the N-type, the immediate difference being that the NN had its oil supplied from the engine lubrication system, whereas the N was simply ‘splash fed’ by oil from its own small ‘sump’. Also, on the National engine the injection pump was laid on its side rather than being vertical.
As Roger says, the cheaper initial cost, ease of removal/replacement and simplified calibration were in the DPA pump’s favour, but I would tend to agree that the pumps would have had to work harder than a larger in-line pump on more powerful engines. The main problem WY had with DPA pumps related to fuel leaks, mainly although not solely, around the banjo bolts retaining the high pressure outlets to the injector pipes. I think Geoff is correct in thinking that the DPA pump was not suited to the steady increase in power outputs on large diesel engines in later years, although CAV did introduce the DPC (Distributor Pump, ‘C’ type) to help counter this, but I’m not sure as to its success. Going back to the DPA pumps, it came as something of a surprise when I first saw one on a 0.680 Atlantean engine. The pump looked so small on the side of such a large engine, especially when compared to the very large (but admittedly long-lived) injection pumps used by Messrs L Gardner & Sons on their range of engines!

Brendan Smith


 

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