Bristol SU

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A preserved ex. Western National SUL bus

The Bristol SU was a single deck bus and coach built by Bristol Commercial Vehicles between 1960 and 1966. The bodies for these vehicles were built by Eastern Coach Works (ECW).

Design[edit]

The Bristol SU ("small, underfloor-engined") chassis featured the same Albion EN250 engine and BMC rear axle as the Albion Nimbus NS3AN with a David Brown overdrive-top five-speed constant-mesh gearbox and a front axle by Kirkstall. The major difference from the Nimbus was that the radiator was mounted at the extreme front of the chassis. EWT 386C (West Yorkshire's SMA17) was later rebuilt with a Perkins H6.354 5.8-litre engine to test its design for use in the Bristol LH, which superseded the SU as Bristol's lightweight chassis.[1]

The single-deck ECW body was just 7.50 feet (2.29 m) wide and used some similar styling elements to those built for the heavier Bristol MW. The bus bodies were 9.42 feet (2.87 m) high but the coaches were a little taller at 9.83 feet (3.00 m); the length varied depending on the chassis and whether it was to bus or coach style (see table below).[1] A forward entrance was provided opposite the driver's position. Seats were forward-facing in pairs, but where wheel arches protruded above the floor of the bus body, the seats were turned sideways to give sufficient leg room.[2]

Model Wheelbase Body Seats Length Production Total built
SUL 15 feet (4.57 m) Bus 36 27.83 feet (8.48 m) 1960–1966 118
SUS 12.33 feet (3.76 m) Bus 30 24.16 feet (7.36 m) 1960–1964 25
SUL 15 feet (4.57 m) Coach 33 28.16 feet (8.58 m) 1960–1962 38

Operators[edit]

A trio of preserved Bristol SUL coaches

The SUs were concentrated in the south-west of England, with 73% of them being built for the shared fleet of Southern National and Western National (Southern National was formally merged into Western National in 1969). The remainder were sold to six other companies that were owned by the Transport Holding Company.[2][3]

Operator Fleet numbers Registrations Model Body Total
Western National 400–403 334 EDV–337 EDV SUL coach 4
Southern National 404–407 314 EDV–317 EDV SUL coach 4
Western National 408 922 GUO SUL coach 1
Southern National 409–411 923 GUO–925 GUO SUL coach 3
Western National 412–416 917 GUO–921 GUO SUL coach 5
Western National 417–431 267 KTA–281 KTA SUL coach 15
Western National 432–435 284 KTA–287 KTA SUL coach 4
Western National 600–608 672 COD–680 COD SUS bus 9
Southern National 609–610 681 COD–682 COD SUS bus 2
Southern National 611–615 667 COD–671 COD SUS bus 5
Southern National 616–623 318 EDV–325 EDV SUL bus 8
Western National 624–644 338 EDV–358 EDV SUL bus 21
Western National 645–653 414 HDV–422 HDV SUL bus 9
Southern National 654–662 423 HDV–431 HDV SUL bus 9
Southern National 663–667 BDV 24C–BDV 248C SUL bus 5
Western National 668–674 BDV 249C–BDV 255C SUL bus 8
Western National 675–686 EDV 530D–EDV 541D SUL bus 12
Southern National 687–696 EDV 542D–EDV 559D SUL bus 10
Bristol Omnibus 300–302 861 RAE–863 RAE SUS bus 3
Bristol Omnibus 303–306 843 THY–846 THY SUS bus 4
Bristol Omnibus 307–308 AHW 226B–AHW 227B SUS bus 2
Southern Vectis 845–852 458 ADL–465 ADL SUL bus 8
United Automobile S1–S2 AHN 901B–AHN 902B SUL bus 2
United Automobile S3–S5 CHN 3C–CHN 5C SUL bus 3
United Counties 300–303 HRP 300D–HRP 303D SUL bus 4
United Counties 304–305 JNV 304D–JNV 305D SUL bus 2
United Welsh 10–11 752 BWN–753 BWN SUL coach 2
West Yorkshire SMA01SMA1–SMA6 807 BWR–812 BWR SUL bus 6
York-West Yorkshire SMA07YSMA7–YSMA12 859 DYG–864 DYG SUL bus 6
West Yorkshire SMA13–SMA18 EWT 382C–EWT 387C SUL bus 6

The original operators generally kept their SUs running until the 1970s (Western National's last examples were withdrawn in 1979), afterwards selling many of them to independent operators such as Guernsey Motors.[2] The last one in regular service was 280 KTA (originally Western National 430) which was operated by the Tillingbourne Bus Company until May 2000.[3]

Preservation[edit]

16 Bristol SUs are known to be in preservation: 3 SUS, 6 SUL buses and 7 SUL coaches, although some of the later had their bodies modified in service to make them suitable for operating bus services. The SUL buses include EWT 386C, the Perkins-engined example.[4] 416 HDV was driven from the United Kingdom to India. It then returned to the UK and was then taken to USA and Canada before being sold to a preservationist in Mexico.[5]

Chassis number Registration Model Body Original identity Current identity[4]
157.004 672 COD SUS bus Western National 600 Western National 600
157.007 675 COD SUS bus Western National 603 Western National 603
157.109 336 EDV SUL coach Western National 402 Western National 1202
157.025 338 EDV SUL bus Western National 624 Western National 624
190.012 416 HDV SUL bus Western National 647 Western National 647
190.033 270 KTA SUL coach Western National 420 Western National 420
190.036 271 KTA SUL coach Western National 421 Ashtree Coaches 10
190.037 286 KTA SUL coach Western National 434 Delta Tours 154
190.041 274 KTA SUL coach Western National 424 Western National 1224
190.042 275 KTA SUL coach Western National 425 Western National 425
190.047 280 KTA SUL coach Western National 430 Western National 1230
190.050 862 RAE SUS bus Bristol Omnibus 301 Bristol Omnibus 301
190.056 811 BWR SUL bus West Yorkshire SMA05West Yorkshire SMA5 West Yorkshire SMA5
226.012 EWT 386C SUL bus West Yorkshire SMA17 Thornes 71
226.022 BDV 252C SUL bus Western National 671 Western National 671
234.018 EDV 555D SUL bus Southern National 692 Western National 692

At least five other Southern and Western National SULs survive, most of which have been converted to motor homes: buses 341 EDV, 351 EDV and EDV 531D; coaches 925 GUO and 276 KTA.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Bristol SU Specification". Bristol Vehicles Website. Retrieved 2012-06-08. 
  2. ^ a b c Billington, Colin (2008). West Country Lightweight Single-Decks. Collaton Raleigh: West Country Historic Omnibus and Transport Trust. pp. 3–29. 
  3. ^ a b "The History of the Bristol SU". Bristol Vehicles Website. Retrieved 2012-06-08. 
  4. ^ a b c "Bristol SU Survivors". Bristol Vehicles Website. Retrieved 2012-06-08. 
  5. ^ Billington (2008), p.50