Bristol Lodekka

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Bristol Lodekka
Bristol Lodekka F56G - 1961 - reg 109 DRM.jpg
Preserved Bristol Lodekka FS6G
Overview
Manufacturer Bristol Commercial Vehicles
Body and chassis
Doors 1 door
Floor type Low Floor
Powertrain
Engine Bristol/Gardner/Leyland
Capacity 33/25 or 33/27
- LDX/LD/LDS/FS models
37/33
- LDL/FL models
34/26
- FSF models
38/32 or 40/30
- most FLF models
44/32 or 44/34
- Scottish longer FLF
Coach seated vehicles varied.
Dimensions
Length 26ft 0in (LDX)
27ft 0in (LD, LDS, FS, FSF)
30ft 0in (LDL, FL, most FLF)
31ft 0.875in (Scottish longer FLF)
Width 7ft 6in (LDX)
8ft 0in (all other models)
Chronology

The Bristol Lodekka was a low-height double-decker bus built by Bristol Commercial Vehicles in England. It was the first production bus design to have no step up from the passenger entrance throughout the lower deck, although Gilford and Leyland Motors had produced low floor buses in the 1930s, these did not enter production.[1]

Design and development[edit]

The point of its design and introduction was to end the uncomfortable and inconvenient Lowbridge double-deck bus layout, replacing it by lowering the chassis frame and integrating it with the body, and fitting a drop-centre rear axle, so that there were no steps from the rear entrance platform to the front of the passenger gangway, itself sunk about 10 cm (6 inches) below the seating platforms on the LDX, LD and first five LDLs. A full flat floor was developed on the last LDL, then used on the LDS and the F series Lodekkas. Bristol Commercial Vehicles, Eastern Coach Works and some of their employees obtained a number of patents relating to the design.[1]

Bristol manufactured over 5,200 Lodekkas from 1949 to 1968, as a standard double-deck vehicle for the UK state-owned bus sector. With all examples bodied by Eastern Coach Works in Lowestoft, they have a traditional half-cab design and a lower floor level allowing a low overall height. The earlier LD-series and the later FL and FS had a rear platform, but the FSF and FLF had a forward (behind the front axle and driver's position, rather than 'front' ahead of the front axle and alongside the driver) entrance. Most were powered by 5 or 6-cylinder Gardner engines, with fewer having a Bristol or Leyland power unit.

An engineering option was designed to reduce the power loss due to engine radiator fan operation and to increase the heat available for heating of the passengers. After experiments by Wing-Commander T.R. Cave-Brown-Cave (CBC), Professor of Engineering at Southampton University, a satisfactory design was produced. The 'CBC' system involved two small engine radiators being placed above the driver's cab roof level at the front outer corners of the double deck to give maximum aerodynamic air flow. The engine coolant water was pumped around these instead of the traditional radiator. In cold weather, all or a portion of the air passing through these radiators, was diverted by flaps, the left into the upper saloon and the right to the lower deck. In hot weather, the flaps could be changed by push-pull levers in the driver's cab roof to divert all the hot air to the outside of the vehicle. The movement of the vehicle was (usually) adequate to cool the engine without the need for a fan or radiator at the traditional position in front of the engine. The traditional 'radiator' grille at the front of the vehicle was not required but was retained and blanked off behind. 'Varivane' wax capsule operated shutters were fitted in front of the upper radiators to keep the coolant at optimum temperature. There were some disadvantages to the scheme and eventually customers stopped specifying it.

The first prototype vehicle (chassis no. LDX001) was operated by Bristol Tramways & Carriage Company Ltd Ltd who designed and made the chassis at its 'MCW' (Motor Constructional Works) which at that time was still an integral part of the company. It was allocated fleet no. LC5000 and registered LHY949. There is a story that the first vehicle originally had two separate propshafts, one to each side rear wheel with the differential at the front of the vehicle. This was soon changed to incorporate the differential into the off-side gear train - a concept still used today by several international bus manufacturers.

West Yorkshire Road Car Company had the second prototype Lodekka (chassis no. LDX002), originally fleet number 822 but renumbered DX1 under the April 1954 renumbering scheme, registered JWY712, which operated in the Harrogate area and lacked the distinctively stylish fairing of the production models. This was displayed at the Festival of Britain (South Bank Exhibition) in 1951.

Lodekka users in the UK included: Brighton Hove & District, Bristol Omnibus, Crosville, Cumberland, Eastern Counties, Eastern National, Hants & Dorset, Lincolnshire Road Car, Scottish Omnibuses, Southern Vectis, Luton & District, Thames Valley & Aldershot, United, United Counties, West Yorkshire Roadcar Co, Western National, Central SMT and Wilts & Dorset. Whilst no Lodekkas were bought by any London based companies, they often worked into the capital on services operated by Thames Valley and Eastern National.

With the arrival of more modern "OMO" or one person operated buses, such as the Leyland Atlantean and Bristol VRT (the Lodekka's successor), many Lodekkas found themselves relegated to driver training duties. The urgency with which the National Bus Company wanted to convert operations to one man operated double deck vehicles led to the unusual exchange of 91 Lodekkas of the newest FLF type with a similar number of older Bristol VRT (rear engined and front entrance suitable for one man operation) double decks from the Scottish Bus Group which was keen to have the more reliable older design. The exchange took place at the Carlisle (Willowholme) depot of Ribble Motor Services.

The Bristol Lodekka was also manufactured by Dennis under licence, and was sold as the Dennis Loline. This arrangement was necessary because the Bristol company was prohibited by law from selling its products at the time to anyone other than similar government owned undertakings. The design, though, was attractive to other operators, so this arrangement allowed them to purchase vehicles to the same design.

Chassis codes[edit]

1959 Bristol Lodekka LD6B built new as convertible. Now in service with Cumbria Classic Coaches.[2]

In accordance with Bristol Commercial Vehicles practice, chassis were designated by a two or three letter code, followed by the number of engine cylinders and engine manufacturer.

LDX: Low 'Decker, Experimental (the first two LD vehicles)
LD: Low 'Decker
LDL: Low 'Decker, Long (Essentially pre-production FL models - introduced when the maximum legal length of double deck buses was extended from 27 ft to 30ft. Braking was improved from the earlier vacuum assisted to compressed air assisted)
LDS: Low 'Decker, Short (Essentially pre-production FS models)
FS: Flat-floor, Short length
FSF: Flat-floor, Short length, Forward entrance
FL: Flat-floor, Long
FLF: Flat-floor, Long, Forward entrance

Example engine classifications

FS5G: FS with Gardner 5LW engine
FL6B: FL with Bristol BVW engine (AVW type in Bristol LD6B)
FLF6G: FLF with Gardner 6LW or 6LX engine
FLF6L: FLF with Leyland O.600 or O.680 engine

Further use[edit]

Surrey-based Top Deck Travel converted approximately 100 to "decker home" caravan standard between 1973 and 1997, and used these buses on extended tours to Europe, Asia and North America.

In the early 1990s, Surrey based "Leisurelink" used a former Southern Vectis example (MDL 954) on a weekend-only tourist service, linking Gatwick Zoo (now closed), Gatwick Airport and the Bluebell Railway.

Some overseas operators acquired second-hand Bristol Lodekkas from the UK for further service. For example, Fok Lei Autocarro S.A of Macau operated a small number of Lodekkas between the 1970s and late 1980s.[3] Citybus of Hong Kong operated one example in 1980s.

The Lodekka Double Decker Dress Shop in Portland, Oregon
A Bristol Lodekka serves coffee in Salem, Oregon

A charter/limousine company named Double Decker PDX in Portland, OR operates a refurbished Bristol Lodekka.

A bakery in Saratoga Springs, NY, named Bettie's Cakes, operates a Lodekka as a Double Decker Cupcake Stand affectionately named DeeDee.

Popular culture[edit]

In popular culture, Bristol Lodekkas featured extensively in the early-1970s London Weekend Television series On the Buses, with actor Reg Varney driving and Bob Grant his conductor. One of these Lodekkas has been preserved.

See Also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Curtis, Martin (2009). Bristol Lodekka. Passim: Ian Allan. 
  2. ^ "1959 Bristol Lodekka LD6B". Cumbria Classic Coaches. Retrieved 2012-05-27. 
  3. ^ http://www.ssfoto.net/mob.html