Heritage bus roundup: Spring 2018

Early Spring 2018 brought a flurry of heritage bus activity for me. Although we’re now well into a very hot summer, here’s a sample of what I was up to earlier.

This is a very attractive Bedford OB coach which was once operated by the original Crosville Motor Services in north Wales and now resides in Weston-super-Mare. It is now up for sale but I was asked to drive it up to Bristol to have its analogue tachograph calibrated as part of preparations for sale.

I’ve have driven this delightful vehicle several times before and I savoured the sounds from the very tuneful and distinctive gearbox. However I didn’t much like the steering, which is very heavy! I don’t know if this is typical of OBs because this is the only one I’ve driven (so far).

I saw this OB in Dorset recently, during on a birthday treat visit to Ringwood Brewery. I would have volunteered myself as a driver but Ringwood is quite a trek from Weston-super-Mare! If it had a canvas tilt on the back it would have looked exactly like the Bedford OB van that my grandfather used to operate (there’s a tiny me standing next to him). That was green as well!

One of the stalwarts of the Crosville fleet in recent years has been ex-Crosville Bristol FSF6G 891VFM and this is seen here having a thorough steam clean prior to its first outing of 2018. This was a trip down to Minehead to spend the day giving free rides to people who attended the Paw Patrol special event for children put on by the West Somerset Railway. I’ve driven at several of these events before and I was happy to be rostered as the driver. I really enjoy driving this Lodekka because I find it easy to drive it smoothly. It also has a good turn of speed (45mph+ on the level) thanks to having a rear axle from a¬†coach fitted.

As you can imagine, it was very popular for these free trips and, together with my volunteer conductors Alan and Anne Grieve, I was kept busy most of the day driving round the town and along the seafront.

 

 

I was sent up to the Stoke-on-Trent premises of Reliance Bus Works to collect a single deck bus for Crosville. It had been purchased for the school bus fleet but, for reasons which I will go into in my next post, it didn’t see any active service. The journey south was quick and easy as the Volvo B10B bus was mechanically in good shape. Reliance had put in quite a few hours’ work on the body though and the bus faced further problems when it arrived in Weston-super-Mare.

A job with an early evening finish was a duty with ex-Bristol Omnibus Lodekka 972EHW, a 1959 Bristol LD6B. Again, I’ve driven this bus many times for Crosville and it’s always a particular delight to be driving it around the city where it once operated when new. It is seen here unloading after arriving at the Avon Gorge Hotel which, as the name suggests, has magnificent views over the Gorge and Mr Brunel’s famous suspension bridge which is nearby.

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2 comments on “Heritage bus roundup: Spring 2018

  1. Alan Bond says:

    Hi John – nice to see the OB, we used to have one when I worked for Armstrong’s in Bletchley (JDV 754 – now preserved) and it was very pleasant to drive. I would agree that the steering is a little on the heavy side but it it is fairly high geared which makes a difference. The lorry version is known as the O type, the additional B being used to indicate a chassis for bus use which has a much lower chassis frame. It isn’t all that many years ago that you could still get bits for them from Luton but these days there is a chap in Bournemouth who has spares. 891 VFM has always had the same back axle ratio as it was one of a number used on Crosville express services. It performs much the same as the Thames Valley FLFs used to and they all had five speed boxes, a company requirement in case there was need to cover a breakdown on the Reading to London A & B services and often to run duplicates. It wouldn’t have been much fun to run to London at 32 mph. Even the Thames Valley K types had five speed boxes and the K6As with the AEC engine were the best of all and would go like the wind.

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