The Little Bus Company the-bus.gif (21152 bytes) LITTLE BUS COMPANY

6 Appleyard, Haworth Close,
Halifax, HX1 2NN.
Tel: 01422 301600



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BD4 Bedford OWB/Duple UB32F (Utility)

BD4 Bedford OWB / Duple UB32F (Utility)

Vauxhall Motors revamped its Bedford truck and bus chassis range in the summer of 1939 as the 'O'- series. One of the major changes from the previous W-series was a V-shaped windscreen, coupled with the 'Willenhall' bonnet and radiator, already introduced to the W-series in 1938. The bus version of the O-series was the 'OB', which increased the wheelbase to 14' 6", seven inches more than the previous WTB. It also had a lower and wider chassis frame and the rear axle differential was offset to the nearside. Some 70 OBs were built before Vauxhall abandoned production in favour of military vehicles. These 70 included 18 with Duple Vista bodywork for Southern and Western National.

Faced with a requirement to meet the demands of war production and to replace war-damaged and life-expired vehicles, the Ministry of Supply authorised the construction of 'utility' buses from 1941. The only single-decker available was to be the Bedford OB, the chassis of which, as the OWB, differed only from the pre-war OB in respect of the military-style head and side lights and the lack of chromium trim. A prototype was built in 1941, which had an offside emergency door and upholstered seats for 29 passengers. Production vehicles differed in having a central rear emergency door and timber slatted seats for 32 passengers, the most which could be crammed in with minimum knee room to comply with Construction and Use Regulations. The OWB was built from 1942 through to 1945 and over 3,000 were built with a Duple-designed angular-shaped body. The majority were built by Duple at Hendon, North London, although production was shared with Charles Roe of Crossgates, Leeds, SMT's Edinburgh Workshops and Mulliners of Birmingham. Relaxation of utility standards saw a return to upholstered seats and an increased number of opening windows in April 1945. Further relaxation saw the introduction of the 'Mark 2' body, with more curvaceous styling, in the summer of 1945 and this body continued to be built on the OB chassis, mainly by Mulliners, into the late '40s. BD4 Bedford OWB/Duple UB32F (Utility)
BD4 Bedford OWB/Duple UB32F (Utility) OWBs were delivered in an overall semi-gloss dark brown finish, although many operators were able to source paints to repaint them into their individual livery. The OWB was essentially a 'small operator's' bus and they were supplied in ones and twos according to needs. 'Major' operators included Southern and Western National, Bristol Tramways, Western Welsh, Lincolnshire Road Car, Macbraynes and Alexanders. Supply to municipal operators included Portsmouth, Bournemouth, Merthyr Tydfil, Douglas and Edinburgh Corporations, together with the Aberdare and Bedwas and Machen UDCs, the latter with an entire fleet of OWBs, all four of them!
After the war, many OWBs were converted to 28 upholstered seats and others were rebuilt with new bodies, the addition of new radiators concealing their OWB origin. Four were converted by Bournemouth Corporation as open toppers for summer sightseeing services, which would make an interesting conversion from this kit. BD4 Bedford OWB/Duple UB32F (Utility)
Source references for this model and essential reading for anyone contemplating building it include:
  • 'The Best of British Buses No 8 - The Utilities' by Alan Townsin (TPC 1983)
  • 'The Bedford OB and OWB' by John Woodhams (DPR 1986)
  • 'Bedford Volume 1' by Stuart Broatch and Alan Townsin (Venture 1995)
  • 'Duple - 70 Years of Coachbuilding' by Alan Townsin (Venture 1998)
  • 'Bedford Buses of the 1930s and 1940s' by Alan Earnshaw (Trans-Pennine 2000)
BD4 Bedford OWB/Duple UB32F (Utility) For insight into how OWBs soldiered on into the '50s and '60s, I can heartily recommend the late Gordon Jamieson's seminal work, 'Shetland Buses in the 20th Century'.

Tony Swift, Kirribilli NSW, Australia, June 2006

Master for the model designed and built by Tony Swift for Little Bus Company

BD4 Bedford OWB/Duple UB32F (Utility)

Kit Parts

The body parts have been produced in the best quality resin with a metal base for weight. Included are:

  • 1. Resin bodyshell
  • 2. Resin chassis/seating/unit
  • 3. Metal baseplate
  • 4. Steering wheel
  • 5. Metal radiator
  • 6. Gear lever and handbrake
  • 7. Set of 6 wheels with 2 axles
  • 8. Printed screen and glazing

BD4 Bedford OWB/Duple UB32F (Utility)


The model may be completed in any order , but the following is suggested.

  • The main body parts may need cleaning in the aperture areas with a craft knife or small file.
  • Unless the parts are handled excessively they do not need cleaning, sanding or any other abrasive action, as this will do more harm than good.
  • If cleaning is needed use warm soapy water and rinse afterwards.
  • Fit metal base to seating/chassis unit, and drill and fit steering wheel and column.
  • Cut axles to the required length. The wheels are a push-fit and may be put on the axles for painting purposes.
  • Fit and glue baseplate to the chassis.
  • Fit steering wheel, gear lever and hand brake.
  • All parts are now ready for painting and this is a matter of choice. You may brush or spray and, in either case, a primer undercoat is recommended.
  • Cut glazing material to size and glue to the inside with a light contact adhesive - Kristal Klear or Bostik Solvent-Free.
  • Fit screen to the outside.
  • Fit axles through the holes and push-fit wheels on to axles.
  • Fit the radiator.

Suggested suitable adhesives are Superglue, Araldite and Bostik.


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