Historic Transport Club



Book Reviews


Wooden Bodied Vehicles Buying, Building, Restoring and Maintaining

Author: Colin Peck

Publisher: The Crowood Press (www.crowood.com)

Email: enquiries@crowood.com Telephone: 01672 520320

ISBN: 978-1-84797-491-4

Published as a Hardback 8.4 inches x 11.8 inches.

Price 20.00 / $44.95 US

Review by Chris Dugdale April 2014.

Wooden Bodied Vehicles (Buying, Building, Restoring & Maintaining)

A few years ago, well to be precise, 1965, I put a 1939 Standard 8 Drop Head Coupe in the garage as it failed the MOT, too much play in the steering with the intention of making the necessary repairs. The off side door hinge pillar was also suffering from rot in the ash frame. This would allow the door to fly open when the car went over a bump in the road, not good when they are the suicide type, so a small catch was fitted to keep the door in position.

Well nearly 50 years on and the little Standard is still in the garage (not the same one I hasten to add). I really do want to drive it on the road again so on seeing a book last Christmas called "Wooden Bodied Vehicles, Buying, Building, Restoring and Maintaining" by Colin Peck I put my hand in my pocket and made a purchase.

The title of the book "Wooden Bodied Vehicles" means exactly what it says, the content is not all about wooden bodied utilities but covers all aspects be they the conventional ash framed car, to Vans, Lorries and Buses.

The author has copiously illustrated the book with over 450 colour photographs and illustrations, which cover, before, during and after completion. Some of the pictures show woodwork in a far worse state than that of my Standard.

The book is divided into neat sections, some 16 chapters in all. It commences with the types of vehicles covered and then goes on to describe on How to chose and buy the right vehicle, The tools you will need, Dismantling, stripping the varnish and sanding, How to chose the correct wood, Patterns and templates, Making repairs, Preserving, and an introduction on How to build a new wood framed body.

The next four chapters go on to describe how to build "Coach Built Cars"; Shooting Brakes"; Vans, Trucks and Buses with the final two chapters on Colouring, Varnishing and Woodgraining. All this in 190 pages with lavish, informative illustrations.

In each chapter the author goes into great depth and research, there are interviews with specialists in various parts of the world who have given much useful advice to the novice restorer on the best way to carry out the numerous tasks that he/she will be called upon to carry out during a rebuild.

Wooden Bodied Vehicles is a most practical and invaluable manual for owners of all types of wooden bodied transport and I can thoroughly recommend it to anyone who either owns or is contemplating ownership of such a vehicle. Knowing the correct way to carry out the task in hand and doing the work only once can save much money and time, not to mention lost temper. It is a book that will give confidence to the practical owner to get on and have a go at restoring a wooden framed car or indeed to build a completely new frame.

Chris Dugdale April 2014.


The Buses & Coaches of Bristol & Eastern Coach Works

The Buses and Coaches of Bristol & Eastern Coach Works

Author: Nigel Furness

Publisher: The Crowood Press (www.crowood.com)

E-mail: enquiries@crowood.com Telephone 01672 520320

ISBN: 978-1-84797-697-0

Published as a Hardback 8.5 inches x 10.5 inches.

Price £25.00

Review by Chris Dugdale July 2014

Back in the early 1950`s I used to travel with my mother on the Stoke Bus (between Paignton & Stoke Gabriel) a Bedford OB, the service was run by Bert Weeks & Mr. C .Foxworthy, the vehicle was garaged in a galvanised iron shed at the bottom of Mill Hill. From memory I think it was an hourly service. Western National then introduced a service to compete on the halfhour with a double decker that held a great fascination for me; it was The Bristol Lodekka. I just loved walking along the sunken gangway and sitting in the 4 abreast front seat on the topdeck.

This new publication, written by Nigel Furness explores the history of two iconic Companies, that of Bristol Commercial Vehicles and Eastern Coach Works, between them these two manufacturers have given us some of the most familiar buses and coaches to be seen on the road of Britain.

The author, who was born in Chesterfield, Derbyshire in 1955 has owned a number of classic vehicles, two of which have been Bristol's, a 1949 L6B single-decker bus and a 1966 MW. Nigel, now retired, spends his time working and restoring buses belonging to others. In addition in this book he shares his experience and advice if you are considering purchasing a bus for preservation.

This beautifully presented book covers the full production history and detailed specifications for the standard range of these two Companies from 1936 to 1983. In this fully illustrated book the reader is spoilt of choice with some 250-colour photographs (plus numerous black & white) many of which have never previously been published.

The author takes the reader back to the origins of the two firms and the development of Bristol models during the 1930`s - the J-type single-decker, K-type double-decker and the L-type single-decker. The Bristol petrol and diesel engines and those of other manufacturers used in the Bristol chassis, this includes the various designation letters used in the model number code to show which makers engine had been installed.

Discussion is then given over to describing the range of engines commonly fitted to Bristol/ECW buses and coaches from the 1930s onwards. This section takes the reader into a detailed examination of each unit, firstly the JW petrol engine and then on to the diesel motors of various manufacturers such as Gardner, Albion, AEC and Leyland.

The next section brings us into the post war period with production of the "K" resuming in 1944 to M.O.D. requirements. The author then goes on to describe the KS, KW & KSW models. Body styles & modifications are also discussed with numerous illustrations of seating layouts.

The book then moves on to the 1950s and the Lodekka, the 1st prototype of which appeared in 1949. This was used as a demonstrator by both Bristol and ECW. Some 19 informative and superbly illustrated pages cover this era, which also includes an owner's experience of the model.

Consideration then goes on to the drive for economy with ever increasing fuel costs, this lead Bristol into the concept of underfloor engines. The introduction of the LS is considered in great detail, likewise the MW (medium weight). Both buses and coaches were constructed on this chassis. The Company was also noted for the SC models and the later SU, also discussed.

The 1960s saw many influential changes in the lives of the inhabitants of Britain and the bus industry was no different. This was the era of the larger rear engine vehicles, the government having increased the dimensions for single deck buses to 36ft in length and 8ft in width. This lead to the introduction by Bristol of the RE in its various guises for both coach and bus operation. The VR appeared in 1966 and in contrast to the Leyland Atlantean which had a transverse mounted engine Bristol opted to mount their unit longitudinally. Two years later the VRT arrived on the scene with the now traditional transverse engine.

The final chapter is all about preservation and ownership of both buses and coaches by individuals and the various costs and problems which will be encountered by those prepared to take on such a mammoth task. All aspects are covered including the issues of health and safety.

To sum up this book is a must for lovers of Public Service Vehicles and the products of Bristol and Eastern Coach Works in particular, whilst this is very detailed book it is also an easy and flowing read and very difficult to put down. A valuable addition to the bookshelves of the enthusiast.