The red double-decker buses in London have become an icon of Britain. Bristol-built buses have a reputation the world over for longevity and reliability. This is partly due to the quality and care with which they were built and partly due to a reliance on tried and tested technology.
The Lodekka was an innovation for which the railways were largely responsible; the number of low-clearance railway bridges that had been constructed during the period in which the railways were being developed meant that uncomfortable 'low bridge' double-deck bodies had been constructed with an upper deck with four seats in a row and a side gangway with limited headroom. These were very unpopular with the travelling public so, the Lodekka addressed this issue by a clever design in the 1920s. The Lodekka's running gear was kept low down in the chassis, thus allowing the lower deck gangway to be lower. This in turn led to an overall reduction in height comparable with a standard 'low bridge' model. The Lodekka, though technically sophisticated for its time, proved to be an excellent vehicle and many still exist. Although never sold on the open market, many still exist either in preservation or in use all around the world.
This bus was built (in October 1965) for Western National Omnibus Company (Fleet #2097), was exported to the US in 1978 and spent some time in Mobile, Alabama before being brought to Tacoma by Harold LeMay, then donated to the Museum by Nancy LeMay in 2005.
The original engine is a Bristol BVW (introduced in 1958) and the configuration is H38/32F - 38 seats on the upper deck and 32 on the lower. The FLF model means Flat-floor, Long, Forward entrance.
Lodekka's were not operated by any London-based transport companies (standard double-deckers were used). The Western National operated in the southwest of England, specifically between Cheltenham and Penzance. In 1949 the company was nationalized, then in 1983 privatized and absorbed by other companies.
Mr. Rob Sly, Bristol Commercial Vehicle Historian, UK http://bcv.robsly.com/bod39c.html
Photo by Renée Crist
Model: FLF Lodekka Bus
Style: Double Decker BOD39C
Serial No: 229169
Engine Cyl: 6
Trans: 4 speed manual