UNUSUAL BRISTOLS

Last Updated : December 23rd 2016 (under construction)

This page is occasionally updated with links to other pages on the website covering interesting and unusual vehicle uses and conversions.

LHN266D in 1971
WDM348R in 2016
MBO1F when new
AVW401F converted for OMO
EWS742W in 2014
HDL412N with Merseypride
818SHW in 2012
VOD592S with Ensign
AFM113B in Holland
Large protuberance
SPM22 in April 2014
Big Snail back home
SPM21 in 2014
Black Pearl
FDV779V with FADDS
FADDS cool bus
UNW928R at Burning Man
Burning Man VR #1 
 LAK938W at Burning Man
Burning Man VR #2

Home-made roof

Truly lowbridge Lodekka

REL743H as a towing wagon

GPD311N on Show

XJJ670V is almost single deck

Doctor Who's favourite bus


XOI2506 takes part in World War 3


816SHW fitted with a "balcony"

XJJ668V makes it to Ethiopia

"Toastrack" Lodekkas on St Lucia




LHN266D in 1971
United Auto 4166 (LHN266D) was severely damaged in an accident in 1969 such that it was sent back to ECW where it received a new body to the high-windscreen flat-front pattern. It remained unique as a Series 1 RE with this body. (Photo : David Little)


WDM348R in 2016
I like the use of the rear engine covers on WDM348R here, removed and turned round to create a servery for the cafe for which the VR was being used at Amsterdam-Noord in 2016. This bus was unusual for an export in having the Leyland 501 engine, and it was active for more than a decade until the engine expired at the docks in 2005 where it stayed until converted as seen in this Frans Angevaare photo taken in August 2016.

MBO1F when new
In the mid-1960s Western Welsh were looking for a replacement for the less-than-successful Albion Nimbus and the newly introduced Bristol LHS seemed to fit the bill. Nimbus 27 (WKG 27) had been involved in an accident and the chassis was written-off, so prototype LHS6L chassis LHX003 was purchased. After many alterations to 27's Weymann body (e.g. front-mounted radiator and wheelbase longer than the Nimbus) it was fillted to the LHS chassis, painted blue and ivory, numbered 1 and registered MBO1F in April 1968. This photograph shows it at the rear of Penarth Road depot on 15th June 1968. It lasted with Western Welsh until May 1977 when it was sold to Thornes of Bubwith on Humberside; it is still owned by them as a preserved vehicle, but is now registered PKH 228F as MBO1F was transferred to one of Thornes' coaches (Photo and caption : Mike Street)

AVW401F in 1976
Eastern National experimented in 1973/4 with the conversion of eight FLFs to one-man operation in the hope of extending the lives of these sturdy reliable workhorses. The first conversion in 1973 was WVX525F, followed by six more later in the year (listed here). The last, most radical, conversion was 2942 (AVW401F) in 1974 at the same time as being downgraded from coach to bus specification. The only external feature of its conversion visible here is the Pay As You Enter sign to the left of the entrance doors, but internally the changes were extensive (Photos : Richard Delahoy).
AVW401F in 1976
This view from behind the driver's cab gives some clues as to why even the conversion of 2942 was ultimately unsuccessful. The opening to speak to the driver/hand over your fare was - naturally enough - directly behind the driver causing them to have to swivel round through almost 180 degrees. Understandly this was never a popular turn along with having to slave over the gearbox, but it is a shame because of course OMO condemned the Lodekka to early withdrawal across the country.
AVW401F in 1976
A final view of AVW401F from half way down the stairs (which were reversed during the conversion) clearly showing where the paint has been worn off by drivers clambering over the offside wheelarch to use the entrance into the saloon! This was also a unique feature of 2942 - in the other conversions the only way into the saloon was to use the external cab door and walk around the outside of the bus.

EWS742W in 2014
Talk about a bus with nine lives! This is EWS742W in June 2014 now converted for use as a racing kart transporter - no easy retirement for this VR having previously been used as a mobile home for trips around Europe and beyond.

818SHW in 2012
Former Bristol Omnibus 7125 (818SHW) has been hard at work in Switzerland and Germany for many years, but in 2012 it received this unusual modification to allow the front portion of the upper deck roof to be raised on struts for promotional purposes.

HDL412N with Merseypride
The unusual moulding on the rear panel of HDL412N, which is seen here in service with Merseypride Travel in 1994, betrays the fact that for some years in the early 1990s this bus was used by Hannell (future proprietor of Merseypride) as a mobile carpet showroom. Samples were loaded through this hatch, but once Hannell's attention turned towards PSV operation he reinstalled seating - 37 dual-purpose -  and sealed the hatch. The high-mounted registration number was another consequence of this episode in its history. Many thanks to Stephen Day for permission to reproduce his photo here.

AFM113B in Holland
Former Crosville DFB113 (AFM113B) gained this enormous extension to its front bonnet when its original Bristol engine was replaced with a DAF unit during the 1980s. The conversion was obviously successful as the bus was still active in 2014 in its role as a caravan following professional cycle races around Europe.


VOD592S with Ensign
Just about everything in this view is unusual - VRs on normal London Transport service were rare enough, but VOD592S in service with Ensign has been fitted with almost standard LT blinds (they are reversed compared with normal blinds) and to top it all off it - uniquely for a VR - carries a front cowl from an LH! (Photo : Ian Kirby)


SPM21 in 2014
SPM21 seen here was a convertible open-top FS6B (later converted to Gardner 6LX engine) which had a long service career with Brighton, Hove and District and subsequent companies. After final withdrawal in 1990 it found another lease of life with this fabulous mobile home conversion and has been in use with its Swiss owner ever since.
SPM22 in April 2014
Here we see sister bus to the one opposite - SPM22 had an identical service life to 21 and was also rebuilt as a high quality motor home and exported to Switzerland. It was named "Big Snail"  to reflect the fact that it carried a home on its back and not, I hope, its performance on the road! However, the twist in the tale is that it was purchased by Adam Colby (who lives in the Norwich area) in April 2014 and it has now been repatriated to the UK for a further life in preservation.

UNW928R at Burning Man
The Burning Man Festival takes place in the Nevada desert every summer and has featured heavily-converted UNW928R for several years. The roof-mounted pedastel must be a first as well as the open staircase on the offside!
LAK938W at Burning Man
Another VR to feature at the Burning Man festival for several years is LAK938W which has been covered in fur containing thousands of LED lights along with a similarly-treated trailer. It is some sight at night time!


Adrian Flint turned up in Kathmandu in December 1988 expecting to drive a Top Deck Lodekka back to London - little expecting that he would need to rebuild it before he started! The LD in question was "Slippers" AKA ODL12 which had had its roof ripped off when running empty in India! As can be seen Adrian made a very passable job of it out of available sections of wood and Slippers was rebuilt back in England to see a further four years of service.
 
FDV779V with FADDS
This is former Western National FDV779V with F.A.D.D.S., a party bus company in Tennessee, U.S.A. At first glance I thought this had the most humungous sound system until I realised that those are all cooling units! The extra weight must certainly be testing the wooden inserts on the ECW bodywork which were only designed to carry the lightweight aluminium body panels.


Former Southern National/Western National LD6B (RTT995) was converted for use in Japan at Lydney in 2003. Work included fitting a Gardner engine, lowering of the roof to meet local height restrictions, and consequent conversion to traditional lowbridge layout with sunken offside gangway and four-abreast seating across the width of the bus. A fascinating YouTube clip can be viewed here and a passenger clearly using the sunken gangway can be seen at 2:20.
 

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