My next driving duty, in about three weeks time, will see me sitting in this cab. It belongs to a Crosville Bristol L5G which is shortly to join the heritage fleet at Crosville Motor Services of Weston-super-Mare.
All the Bristols I’ve driven so far have been Lodekkas of various types, so this should make a welcome change. I did drive a Bristol L once, at the WHOTT ‘Drive It’ day at Westpoint, Exeter. That was on a private road network though, not on main roads and I only had about 10 minutes in the cab as I had to share a driving session with several others.
To make it even more interesting, this wedding duty won’t involve driving through Bristol city centre! This time I’m heading for rural Somerset and I will of course post some details here shortly after I’ve done the job.
I’ve had some interesting blog comments from Dave Moore, from the Isle of Wight Bus Museum (scroll to the bottom of the post). He has written a brilliant description of his PCV driving test, which he took last year. You can read it here. Like me, he is looking forward to taking charge of the noisy end of a classic bus at the beginning of the 2012 season.
My second driving duty took me into Bristol once again, with the Hants & Dorset Bristol FLF, DEL893C. Arriving in good time at the depot in Weston-super-mare, I was glad to see that I was not alone. Also being prepared by their crews were Leyland Olympian F357WSC, which was due out on Service 100 to Sand Bay wearing a fresh coat of NBC Leaf Green, and ex-Southern Vectis Bristol FS YDL318, which was on it’s 6th consecutive day of service on the Service 145 to Burnham -on-sea.
My bus, like the majority of Bristol FLFs, is fitted with the Cave-Brown-Cave cooling system. There is no radiator in the traditional position behind the grille but there are two smaller radiators on either side of the destination blind. This system has a reputation for being troublesome, with stories of overheating and even engine seizures following the type into preservation. However, as long as the system is kept free from sludge and is filled properly, it gives good service. It even serves the double purpose of providing heat via vents in the upper saloon! Help was on hand at the garage to help me top up the header tank. While I started the engine and held the throttle open, an assistant watched the coolant level drop as the water was pumped up into the radiators. He topped up the tank while I kept the revs up. Job done!
My pickup point was a residential road in Ashley Down, Bristol so I set off up the M5. This time I had no conductor (last time one was provided in honour of my first driving turn) so today I was ‘going solo’. After following the Gloucester Road through Filton and Horfield I turned off and found the street where the wedding guests were waiting. Once again, Google Maps was my friend. I know certain parts of Bristol quite well but I still spent an hour or two the previous week studying the best route for the day.