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WIL6
Bristol K5G Willowbrook Lowbridge rebody - North Western Road Car

Willowbrook Ltd of Loughborough developed its wartime utility body into a stylish timber framed double deck body in the late 1940's, of which the rounded front and lower saloon end windows were a distinctive feature. Both lowbridge and highbridge bodies were produced. Some 150 lowbridge bodies were produced between 1948 and 1952 and were fitted both to new and existing chassis.

Principal examples include:

       North Western Road Car, 1950 rebody of 21 wartime Guy Arab Us, previously with lowbridge utility bodies by Roe and Strachan.

       North Western Road Car, 1951-52 rebody of 64 1938/39 Bristol K5Gs, previously with lowbridge ECW bodies.

       Trent Motor Traction, 1948, 10 bodies on new AEC Regent 0661 chassis.

       Trent Motor Traction, 1948-49 rebody of 22 1937 AEC Regents, previously with highbridge Weymann forward entrance bodies.

       East Midland Motor Services, 1949 rebody of 12 1935/36 Leyland TD4s, previously with lowbridge Leyland bodies.

This model is based on North Western Road Car's Willowbrook rebodied pre-war Bristol K5Gs, of which AJA 152 (432) is preserved at the Manchester Museum of Transport. However it can be modified, with the assistance of the appropriate front end/bonnet unit, to produce a model of some of the other examples.

There were differences in the fuel filler position, cab front, windscreen and depth of front bulkhead windows to suit the various chassis used. Only the Bristols and the pre-war Leylands had the autovac on the front bulkhead, which needs to be removed for other chassis versions. There were also differences in the number of opening windows, the destination indicator layout and the arrangement of the roof panels. These need to be addressed in any conversion. The main change to the reference kit will be to remove, carefully, the push-out ventilators in the front of the upper deck for the Trent and East Midland versions, retaining a smooth curve just inside the beading.

As usual, I would recommend the consultation of appropriate photographs before completing your model.

The Model - North Western Road Car, rebody of 64 pre-war Bristol K5G, 1951-52.

At the same time as rebodying, the K5Gs were renumbered into a new series to separate them from the single deck fleet. Fleet and registration numbers were 400-411 (Stockport Registrations JA 7716-7727), 412-423 (JA 7784-7795) and 424-463 (AJA 144-183).

The Bristol K5Gs retained their pre-war high bonnets but received deep front mudguards similar to post war Bristol Ks. The bodies are as the reference model with push-out ventilators in the front upper deck windows and had deep valances over the bonnet and rear platform. "Top slider" ventilators were fitted in the first, third and fifth upper deck and in all the lower deck rectangular side windows. Thus the second and fourth upper deck "top-sliders" need to be removed on the kit. The panel-join cover strips on the roof matched the side pillar spacing, except the rearmost panel which was of 1V4 panel length. The seating layout of these buses was 26 in the lower deck with five transverse pairs each side and three-seaters over the wheel arches. Some of the rebodied Bristols remained in service until 1965. The North Western buses had a protruding rear destination box, which is not represented in the model. This needs to be fabricated from a piece of 40 thou styrene, 12 mm wide and 8 mm deep, with the top edge bevelled at 45.

References: a number of books have photographs of the rebodied Arabs and Bristol Ks. A useful reference for North Western is "Prestige Series, North Western" published by Venture Publications in 2001.

The Model - North Western Road Car, rebody of 21 wartime Guy Arab II, 1950.

The 21 wartime Guy Arab Us, which were the first double deckers addressed in North Western's 1950 rebodying programme, originally had lowbridge utility bodies by Roe or Strachan. Fleet and registration numbers were 10-11 (Stockport Registrations BJA 89-90). 12-21 (BJA 131-140), 22-24 (BJA 107-109), 25-30 (BJA 181-186).

The Guy Arab Us were rebuilt with the lower bonnet style of the Arab III. The bodies were similar to those fitted later on the K5Gs, but conversion will require a Guy Arab bonnet unit and the cab front and fuel filler need modifying to suit the Guy Arab chassis. The Arabs did not have an "autovac". Some of the rebodied Guys remained in service until 1963.

The Model- East Midland

The North Western Bristol K5G can be converted to represent the East Midland TD4s by substituting a Leyland TD4 bonnet unit, available separately from LBC. The cab and front mudguard area needs to be altered to fit the TD4 bonnet unit. An autovac needs to be added to the nearside of the front bulkhead.

The main change to the basic kit will be to remove, carefully, the push-out ventilators in the front of the upper deck, retaining a smooth curve just inside the upper line of beading.

The valances over the bonnet and rear platform need reducing in depth to about 30 thou'. A near side destination indicator needs to be added above the rear platform and the front indicator altered to the East Midland style (by a transfer if preferred). All top sliders in the side windows need to be retained. The panel joins on the roof need to be altered to the mid point of each window bay, with a half-length panel at the front. The fuel filler needs to be moved to the correct position for the TD4 and an extra line of beading, using 10x10 thou microstrip, needs to be added about 2mm below the beading below the upper deck windows.

The seat backs need to be trimmed to a straight topped pattern and, to be strictly correct, the rear mudguards should be moved backwards by 1mm and the wheelbase extended to match the 16" 6" wheelbase of the TD4. The chassis unit should also be modified to provide 28 seats with six transverse pairs each side and longitudinal two-seaters over the wheel arches. Therefore a new chassis should preferably be built.

References for East Midland are "Prestige Series East Midland", published by Venture Publications in 1999. "The Heyday of the Bus, the Postwar Years", incorporating Carter's early colour photographs, published by Ian Allan in 1997, includes an excellent colour photograph of BRR 712 (D12) at Doncaster in 1950. Classic Bus No 18 (September 1995) has two excellent colour images ofDW In original East Midland livery and of D8 in the later red. TRENT MOTOR TRACTION

The Model-Trent

The North Western Bristol K5G can be converted to represent the Trent AEC Regents by substituting the AEC Regent bonnet unit, prepared separately by LBC for the WIL6H model. The cab and front mudguard area need to be altered to fit the Regent bonnet and a new front dash needs to be extended downwards to include the cover over the offside dumb iron to balance the nearside one included in the bonnet unit. The 1948 new Regents had deep radiators, while the rebodies retained the short pre-war pattern. The AECs did not have an autovac.

The main change to the basic kit will be to remove, carefully, the push-out ventilators in the front of the upper deck, retaining a smooth curve just inside the upper line of beading.

The valances over the bonnet and rear platform need reducing in depth to about 30 thou'. A near side destination indicator needs to be added above the rear platform and the front indicator altered to the Trent style (by a transfer if preferred). Only the first, third and fifth top sliders on the upper deck, and first and third on the lower deck need to be retained for the new 1948 Regents but all need to be retained for the 1948/1949 rebodies. The panel joins on the roof need to be altered to the mid point of each window bay, with a half-length panel at the front.

The fuel filler needs to be moved and the rear number plate needs to be set higher on the back panel. Rear bumper bars were fitted to many of these buses.

The seat backs need to be trimmed to a straight topped pattern and, to be strictly correct, the chassis unit should also be modified to provide 28 seats with six transverse pairs each side and longitudinal two-seaters over the wheel arches.

 

The Model- The Rest!

 

There are some other Willowbrook lowbridge bodied buses, of similar style, from the same era, which are worthy of mention, although a more substantial conversion of the kit may be required in order to build a model of them.

Caerphilly Urban District Council - four Guy Arab Ills -1948

These were built on the low bonneted Guy Arab III with long bonnet to suit the Gardner 6LW engine. Numbers included 43, 44 and 45 (HTX 443-445). I! am not sure what modifications need to be made to the kit to suit the 5 ft bonnet.

Wass Brothers, Mansfield - Crossley DD42/5 -1948

Wass Brothers of Mansfield received a Crossley DD42/5 in 1948 with Willowbrook lowbridge body. Fleet number 22: registration KAL 278. The DD42 had a 16' 6" wheelbase and the bonnet was slightly longer than the Bristols and Regents, however this should be achievable without changing the body supplied in the kit.

Wass Brothers' operation was later sold to East Midland, although I am not sure whether this Crossley went with the sale.

Hebble- four AEC Regent III 9613 -1952

Hebble bought four AEC Regent Ills in 1952 with Willowbrook lowbridge body. These were fleet numbers 67-70, registrations CJX 68-71. This would not be a simple conversion as the first bay of the body needs to be lengthened by about 1 mm to match the longer bonnet of the AEC Regent III and further extension at the back is necessary to match the 27 foot length of the 9613 Regent.

Silcox of Pembroke Dock - four Bristol K6G -1961

Silcox was not noted for conformity and a number of Bristol K6G chassis, purchased in about 1950, were fitted with whatever body might be available at the time.

IDE 949 and 950 received new bodies from D J Davies of Merthyr Tydfil, while ODE 401 and 402 received full front bodies (circa 1940) from Birmingham trolleybuses. By 1961 these bodies were worn out and the four received 1948 WillowbrooK iowbridge bodies, previously fitted to 1937 .AEC Regents from Trent {see above).

I have mentioned earlier in these notes the problems of converting this kit to chassis with 5 foot bonnets, but in this case the 26 foot rule was long gone and the wheel arches of these buses lined up approximately with the rear window pillar, producing a longer rear overhang. At the front the cab was adjusted to the long bonnet by fitting a very sloping window. See - it can be done. References are "Bus Monograph 4 Bristol K Type - Geoff Green - Ian Allan 1984" and a photograph from the "SCr6?"website.

And a Foden - HMB 395 and/or KMA 570

This is an extreme conversion of the kit, which requires replacement of the whole front, forward of the front bulkhead. While it has the wider window pillars of the 1947/48 style bodies, this 1945 body has a parallel sided upper deck, right to the front, thus overlapping the cab. I recollect that it was the subject of a Modelcraft drawing, which had some sixty years ago.

HMB 395 was a Foden PVD6 demonstrator with Gardner 6LW engine, built in 1945, and a nearside photograph can be found in "Warrington Trams & Buses", by John Robinson, published in 1987 by Cheshire Libraries. In 1948 the body was removed and the chassis was sold to Warrington Corporation, where it received a pre-war MCCW body from a Crossley Mancunian and became fleet number 36.

In 1948 the original 1945 body from HMB 395 was mounted on a new Foden PVDE6 chassis, KMA 570, which had a Foden FD6 2-stroke supercharged 4.1 litre 6
cylinder
diesel engine. This was sold in 1950 to W & A Cawthome of Barugh: Bamsley, where it operated a service to Wooiley Colliery. Cawthornes were taken
over
by Yorkshire Traction in 1952 and KM A 570 duly became 128L in the YT fleet. Albeit somewhat noisy and very much non-standard, it could not have been
that bad, because Tracky kept it until 1959. An excellent colour photograph of this bus can be found in "Glory Days - Yorkshire Traction", published by Ian Allan in
2008                                                                                                                                                          

Happy modelling - Tony Swift, Kirribilli, NSW, Australia - 2010

 

 

 

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