1955 Bristol Lodekka LD6B

LFW 326 - 1955 Bristol Lodekka LD6B

Eastern Coach Works H33/25RD body

Lincolnshire Road Car No. 2318

The Bristol Lodekka was the first production double decker to be built to low height (13 ft 6 in) specification but with a normal centre gangway in the upper deck instead of the more traditional, but less comfortable side gangway. This was made possible by a dropped centre axle and offset transmission line. (In recent years 'Low Floor' buses have used a similar method).

Over 5,200 Lodekkas were produced between 1954 and 1969, Lincolnshire Road Car taking delivery of 136 new examples including 12 forward entrance, 30 ft long ('FLF') models. It is likely that far more could have been sold, but the model was only available to nationalised bus companies, both Bristol and Eastern Coach Works having been nationalised under the British Transport Commission in the late 1940s. From 1958, Dennis produced the similar 'Loline' for the open market under licence from Bristol.

No. 2318 is fitted with a Bristol AVW engine (6 cylinders, 8.2 Litres) and a 5 speed overdrive "crash" gearbox, also of Bristol manufacture, it operated mainly from the Skegness and (now closed) Boston depots before withdrawal in 1973, by which time it was one of the last remaining 'LD' models in service - most by this time were the later 60 seat 'FS' type.

No. 2318 was acquired for preservation by Mr Vincent LeTall, and with the rest of his collection, was bequeathed to the Society. In recent years, it has been a consistent and reliable performer on our Open Days and other special bus services in recent years (The photograph at the top of the page shows it re-creating service 11 at Doddington Village for 'Discover Greater Lincoln' weekend.)

LFW 326 No. 2318 in service, as a duplicate to service 57 (Skegness - Boston) - this service often required duplicates on Boston market days.
Photo courtesy of Bristol Vintage Bus Group.
Lodekka Interior Lodekka Interior
Interior View - Lower deck looking towards front. Bench seat for 5 passengers along the front bulkhead is a Lodekka feature. Interior View - Upper deck looking towards rear.

April 2013 - This is now back on the road following rectification of an electrical fault in the cab which resulted in a partial rewire of the lower saloon.  The ceiling panels etc had to be removed in the process!  An engine water hose was also replaced. 

LFW326 LFW 326 - re-wire in progress, March 2013

January 2014 - The propshafts are being overhauled.

July 2014 - The Lodekka has been to Lincolnshire Co-op for repairs to its prop-shaft. It transpires that this has not been the cause of the underfloor 'knocking'. The pinion in the differential has been found to have a missing tooth, a replacement is being sourced.

October 2014 - A new pinion for the back axle has been located courtesy of the Scottish Vintage Bus Museum. The axle needs to be stripped down so that the two pinions can be compared so we know we do finally have the right one, then re-assembled. Hopefully this (until recently) ever present and very useful member of our fleet will be back on the road soon.

January 2015 - It has been found that the damaged pinion in the differential can not be repaired, and will need to be replaced. Pinion and crown wheel need to match, so a new crown wheel will be required as well. A supplier of both has been found in Leicester, so once the old ones can be removed, manufacture should be a relatively quick process.

April 2015 - It has been discovered that the crown-wheel, which must be removed so that a new set of “crown-wheel and pinion” can be made, can only in fact be removed by taking out the whole back axle. A contractor is being sought who can do this, the drawback being the vehicle will have to be on jacks while the new gears are made, which could take 3 weeks. Any ideas regarding who could do this gratefully received.

January 2016 - During July 2013, on the way home from the 'Mallard 75' event in Grantham, a heavy knocking noise from under the floor was noted on the Lodekka. Initial thoughts were that a propshaft bearing needed attention, but after investigation this was found not to be the case.

Attention then focused on the pinion where the propshaft meets the crownwheel in the differential. This was stripped down to reveal damaged teeth on both, and an old repair which had now failed. Sadly this meant the end of the road for our trusty Lodekka, a stalwart of LVVS events. Our friends at the Scottish Vintage Bus Museum had a spare set of gears which they kindly sent down to us, but they turned out to be of a lower ratio which would have significantly reduced the vehicle's top speed.

With regret we had to send these parts back to Scotland, as we wanted to retain our vehicle's characteristics. In depth research found Sovereign Gears of Leicester, who appeared to specialise in heavy machining jobs. A conversation with them confirmed they could produce a matched set of pinion and crownwheel, machined from solid steel. Our near neighbours Lindum Construction Group agreed to remove the rear axle which involved using their heavy duty jacks, and could look after the bus while the old parts went to Leicester to act as patterns.

Four weeks later, the call came to collect the parts from Sovereign's Markfield works. This is a very well equipped engineering works of the sort which could well come in handy again. On the return journey, the handling of the estate car used was 'interesting' with four large chunks of steel in the back!

The rear axle is now being reassembled using the new gears, and the Lodekka will soon be back in the Museum, and we hope it will return to 'service' at our Easter Open Day event.

Many thanks to Lindum for their help and to those members who helped with this difficult job.

page updated 7.2.16