FHN 833 - 1940 Bristol L5G

The Restoration so far

Picture of FHN 818 FHN 833 front offside - 2002
in Workshop - late 1990s in Workshop - 2002

June 1999 - Work started on the cab framework, particularly that around the driver's n/s window, which was quite grim. At the time of writing Cyril was going great guns and it shouldn't be long before new frame is in place, suitably panelled where necessary.

October 1999 - The new cab framework is now fitted and makes it look like a bus once again! Still there is lots to do around the front end although the destination boxes have now been repaired and painted. Impending work is the restoration of the steel corner roof panels and the fitting of the offside inner and outer front wing.

December 1999 - No sooner than the bus was looking much more "like it" the wings were removed ready for shotblasting, along with the front dome panels, and cab interior panels - all of which had to be tidied up and welded. The front nearside bulkhead has been stripped and cleaned, the autovac removed for painting and much new wood cut for the front nearside frame work.

July 2000 - More new woodwork and repanelling here to the canopy and nearside framing in front of the doorway.

October 2000 - The roof panel and domes are now fitted and painted inside and out, and more cab refurbishing is in hand. The front panels have had to be removed for yet more complicated woodwork to be undertaken, although the majority of this is now finished and more painting has been completed.

January 2001 - Much of the "sound" areas of the bodywork particularly on the n/s and rear dome areas have been cleaned up and painted (finished in gloss) and was ready for inspection with the other vehicles mentioned above on 5 November. Much of the cab area framework has been renewed and the inner cab wing has been fitted after the surrounding areas were painted. A new pillar on the o/s is now ready for fitting.

April 2001 - Progress of late has seen a major pillar on the offside being manufactured and fitted, with further work being expended on the framework of the emergency door and the cab area. Whilst all the interior is stripped, the opportunity has been taken to make a start on the rewiring of the saloon.

July 2001 - Rewiring is well advanced with the cab switch boxes receiving attention. The emergency door is virtually ready for re-panelling, and new pillar cappings have been manufactured from aluminium for the cab area. The off side rear wheel arch steel frame has been repaired, shot blasted and painted. All six wheels have also been shot blasted and painted.

October 2001 - This has received some more offside framework to the body skirting.

January 2002 - Work has now started on the offside rear wheel arch framing, with some more work on the emergency door. Some specialist metalwork has been contracted out to a local firm including a rather rotten bulkhead window frame, bonnet side, brackets and body panels.

April 2002 - Cyril has fitted the body frame bracket to the cab window and is continuing with the rebuilding of the emergency door. Thanks to Brian Bloomfield for repairing the support bar of this door! Carl has manufactured aluminium cappings for the cab window pillars and fitted some. He has also manufactured and fitted a rubber sealing strip between the front dash and front of body structure. Steve and Jonathan have fitted destination gear to the front of the bus, together with bonnet top and radiator tie bar. Cab interior engine panels have also been fitted. Louisa is painting the various parts for the restoration as required, ie bonnet side, offside front wing together with repaired and new panels for the cab etc. Terry Westons have repaired the front cowl panel, side advert panels, extended the destination gear rods, repaired the window surround between the cab and saloon and repaired the entrance step well and metal framework in that area. They have also repaired the bonnet side and lower cab windscreen frame. Terry Westons have made a new cab front screen "hinged top", a new corner panel for the cab exterior and 'T' and 'L' shaped brackets for the framework where pillars meet the horizontal framework. The illuminated fleet name panel glass has been re-lettered by Allens Signs (for front dash). The headlamp surrounds and one reflector have been sent via Bob Brewer to Calladines of Bilsthorpe for rechroming/plating. (The other reflector is in excellent condition).

May 2002 - Panelling of the cab continues together with some new woodwork. The cab outer wing has now been fitted and the cab seat is being reupholstered.

October 2002 - The two rear wheel arches have now been machined, set out, cut and are being assembled. The remaining body panels of the nearside will be removed shortly so examination of the frames can be carried out. Work will then continue anti-clockwise from the offside wheel arch and onwards around the rear of the bus. A volunteer is being sought so we can create a flow-line in the restoration.

January 2003 - A concentrated effort on the passenger door area has resulted in reconstructed steps and "stairwell" as well as new associated framework. New bearings are now being sourced for the door runners.

April 2003 - Following the sourcing of the bearings for the door, this has now been given a trial run - the first time the door has been on the bus for about 30 years! The near side panelling (steel) has been removed to reveal the framework is in rather good condition except for one pillar where it joins the waist rail (just behind the door area) and the compulsory wheel arch rot. However, two new wheel arches have been constructed already and are ready to be fitted. Work is also in hand on a roof rib so that the roof area can be panelled before too long.

'FHN' in 2003

July 2003 - A partial new roof rib on the third bay has been fitted by our neighbours, Complete Joinery Services, who also tackled the work needed on an awkward pillar/waist rail section behind the sliding door which had rotted away quite nicely. A new section has been welded into the nearside rear wheel arch frame so that the wood frame can now be attached. More wood has also been replaced on the roof area around the sliding door. As it is planned to clean and paint the chassis by hand over the summer/autumn various components such as the fuel tank (needs welding!), servo, exhaust, battery box and vacuum tank have been removed and the offside rear axle hub stripped revealing the need for a brake reline and the drum skimming. A new battery box is currently being manufactured, as is part of the exhaust system.

October 2003 - At the time of writing all the interior has been stripped of parts (in store) in readiness for the chassis to be sandblasted and painted, [which has since been done]. The rear brake drums have been skimmed, and the new exhaust pipes have been received and are ready to be fitted shortly. Work also has been carried out in the cab to the instruments and cab panelling, and further body brackets have been fitted.

January 2004 - Following the shot blasting and painting of the chassis, the fuel tank has been repaired and fitted, servo and vacuum tank fitted, and the new exhaust system added. Similarly the battery carrier has been fitted. The bus moved under its own power on the Open Day weekend and was on show in the Exhibition Hall. Following the Open Day the rear springs were removed and sent away for overhaul. New brake linings and shackle pins are also awaited.

April 2004 - The rear springs have now been overhauled and fitted - not a particularly nice job in very cold weather! New shackle pins were sourced and fitted at the same time, the brake linings have been fitted to the shoes and refitted to the axle which needed new oil seals. New dynamo couplings have also been fitted. The rear boot doors have now been completely rebuilt, and further work is being expended on the front bulkhead area around the emergency door where new wood and some new fabricated brackets have been fitted. The next job on the bodywork will be rebuilding the boot area which needs some new pillars, framing and steelwork - a big job - which is scheduled to start at the end of April 2004.

2004 - new framework for boot area

July 2004 - The back brakes have been reassembled, with the new hub seals fitted at the same time. The dynamo drive coupling has been refitted with new parts. Following receipt of monies from Lincolnshire County Council Heritage Grant the complete boot area has been replaced, with pillars being spliced and replaced as required by Complete Joinery Services of North Hykeham. A splendid job. Only a few minor bits of structure are needing attention before the wheel arch frames and new framing can be fitted and a start made on the panelling. The rear chassis was cleaned and painted before the new boot structure was fitted.

January 2006 - Work has now commenced on the interior roof panelling and the manufacture of new luggage racks together with one or two jobs on the framework, including some new ash around the rear wheel arch and offside back window.

April 2006 - Still a long way to go but a flurry of activity has seen the transformation of the offside of the body and at the time of writing it is all panelled with the exception of the emergency door. New 'Zinctec' panels have been fitted below waistband level (the original rotted ones were steel), being cut, bent and rolled by a local firm who have also manufactured new rear panels for the roof and "advert" sections of the windows.

New guard rail brackets were fabricated, painted and fitted before the panels went on, together with renovated wheel arch splash guards. The chassis side was also given another coat of gloss black and the furl tank treated similarly. A new rubber gaiter was also fitted to the servo and brackets fitted to the front wing, again, whilst access was good! The boot area has seen a new full width panel fitted (behind the wheel arches) and the wheel arch framing both sides have been bolted in place with new ash inserts.

One section of the cast aluminium waist rail has been fitted, and the following section will be back from the welders shortly with a repaired cab step. the cab door now has a new locking mechanism and the passenger sliding door mechanism has also been overhauled and a shiny new handle fitted in lieu of the nasty rusty one! The cab area has benefitted from new ply panels and the reinstatement of a door to the cubby hole 'above the engine' and various authentic 'card holders' refitted.

A new rear seat frame has also been constructed (the old one was splintered and had woodworm infestation) and three of the seats which will be fitted in due course have been totally renovated, cleaned and the frames treated to three coats of paint.

One step back, however, is the removal of a pillar and part of the waist rail on the nearside as what was thought to be a minor repair has turned out to be a big exercise!

An event at the Carlton Colville Museum in July 2008 has been mentioned as a target date - hmmm - but we have a vast amount to do yet. There is a great deal of willing help even when the weather is really cold(!) but we will need another fund raising drive soon as the project funds are going down fast and there are lots of items required.

The glazing will come to something like £1,400, new luggage rack stanchions have to be manufactured in stainless steel (the originals were of a peculiar alloy which has degenerated and just snaps with a minimum of pressure) and these will be something like £600. We may just be able to cover the cost of these at the moment but new lino is required for the saloon (£400) and tyres at £900. Oh and we need new rexine too!

July 2006 - Virtually all the offside of the bus is now panelled (including the rear corner panel) and the waistrail has been fitted to the middle of the rear together with its vertical straps. The emergency door has been panelled in aluminium and will be fitted soon. Work has continued with the boot area interior being painted and the nearside of the chassis similarly treated with another coat of gloss black. The rot mentioned last time has been removed and a new part pillar and ash waistrail fitted with one or two other smaller sections around the rear of the nearside frame. One of the rubber rear wings has had a tear repaired and hopefully the cab step will be fitted soon.

An inventory has started on the interior woodwork trim to see what we have or haven't got - and what needs to be made. It's been something like 40 years since these were taken off! Over the following months the headlights will be refurbished and the interior pillar lights will receive similar treatment. These are of the BMAC 311 type - with many missing their glass shrouds. Can anyone help?

October 2006 - Work continues around the cab this time with the destination area being “panelled and strapped” and the rebuilt destination box door receiving a trial fit (or fits!!!). The cab windscreens have also received a trial fit. The cab wiring is being tidied up and the panels and panel straps for the n/s are now being cut and prepared. The o/s rear wing is fitted after repair (temporary fit) and the cab step is now on, along with the emergency door, complete with its rebuilt mechanism.

Lots of ’little jobs’ have also been completed - including new wood around the rear window! Work has started on the interior light refurbishment too.

January 2007 - Prior to the Open Day the bus was turned round in the workshop so that the n/s panels, below the window line, could be replaced – including the repaired corner panel. Since then the valance lower panel has been fitted together with associated beading. The lower windscreen unit is now securely fitted with the recessing rubber edging and more work carried out on the wiring.

The front wheels (previously shotblasted) have been given several coats of paint so that new tyres can be fitted. the front end of the bodywork has been undercoated.

Soon we will have to plan the re-rexining of the interior panels, for the interior ceiling panels and luggage racks. Can anyone give us a hand with this, so the panels can be fitted in the first half of 2007, once the glass has been fitted and the necessary floor repairs finished?

FHN, along with Bristol Ks DBE 187 and HPW 133, featured in the magazine ‘Bus & Coach Preservation’ – December 2006 issue.

April 2007 - All the exterior panelling is now complete on the n/s of the bodywork - one very small window capping needs to go on the o/s - together with the cast waist-rails and associated new strapping between the panels.

The n/s wing is temporarily in place and the sliding door has been refitted following the fitment of new bearings (the originals have long since disappeared!) to the bottom of the door. New aluminium cappings had to be made for around the door apertures of the boot area.

Work has also included stripping the rear boot doors of paint revealing that Greyhound’s had painted FHN at least twice (it was Greyhound’s fleet No. 23) and that the doors are off similar bus - United fleet No. BG 120. FHN 833 was BG 147.

A new rear number glass is being lettered at the present time and thought is being given to lining out the interior of the boot with plywood and wooden strappings as per the original spec, before the boot doors go back on. The boot door locks will also have to be fitted once we have sussed out the mechanism properly.

We have had to repair the rather beaten up and corroded n/s/f wing rather than replace it with a nice new one which we had in the shed due to the nice and new one being slightly larger and not fitting under the valance no matter how we tried! Very frustrating and expensive. Other work has seen new woodwork go in around the canopy so that area can be re-panelled and framing preparation before the zinctec panelling could be fitted to the lower body and some of the roof.

A picture update - click here for a set of pictures taken in May 2007

July 2007 - Recent work has seen the interior and cab wiring now in place and a full set of tyres and wheels ready to go on (subject to a little touching up with the paint brush).

A few little woodwork jobs are also being attended to (back window surrounds and a little nasty bit on the floor near to the step) and the old floor lino has been taken up.

Preparatory work is being undertaken in readiness for the windows to be fitted and the interior framework around the roof area has been painted.

Oct 2007 - The end of August saw a four man team re-cover the middle section of the roof with Calico and paint one Saturday. This has since received more coats of paint and looks rather good (if you get the ladder out and take a look!) More beadings are also being applied to the roof edging.

The rewire is now virtually at an end although the main leads have yet to be checked. New destination roller ends have also been manufactured. These are of the spring loaded type rather than the usual fixed rollers with spring gear located in the winding mechanism. The rather tedious job of filling in the screw heads in the waistrail and beadings has commenced.

The interior circular ‘Clayton’ heater has been dismantled for re-chroming but a 12V heater motor for this unit complete with fan is required. Can anyone help?

FHN 833 - November 2007 FHN 833 Rear - November 2007
Front view of FHN 833, 3 November 2007 Boot area of FHN 833, 3 November 2007

January 2008 - Work continues on filling and rubbing down the screw heads on most of the moulding around the body. Some ‘T’ beading has been reattached to the pillar adjacent to the cab door and the door fittings have been modified so that the cab door does fit better. Some small round joint mouldings have been made from a large piece to replace a missing unit on the cab. Some ‘finishing’ work has started on the rear boot doors, rear corner panels and ‘advert’ panels and the rear light units have been fitted. Work on the interior of the boot will recommence shortly. New sidelights have been fitted too, following the manufacturer of a missing bracket.

April 2008 - The usual hours expended weekly on this have seen all the screw heads now fit­ted up (Alleluia!) and the window 'pans' receiving attention prior to painting. The boot doors are now on and awaiting the check strap being fitted (after they have been covered in real leather or similar). The hinged flap above the passenger door has now been repaired and welded (it was rather rotten) and the rain louvers are being manufactured. These should be fitted shortly.

Among the assistance we have recently received is from Chris of the Wensleydale Vintage Tour Bus - whose operating fleet includes post-war United Bristol L5G, LHN 823, and Lincolnshire Road Car Bristol L5G FFW 830.

Update - 20 April 2008

FHN 833 - Roof VentsRoof vents have been fully painted and re-fitted

Exterior body preparation continues

Window rubbers have been made and delivered

Opening windows have been dismantled for chroming etc - we have one complete (opening) window missing - HELP!

Update - July 2008

Many hours have been put in by the team over the last few months resulting in a lot of fiddly jobs being completed, including manufacture of roller blind end pieces (not the "normal type") and completion of the front blind (handles etc.) More work has been carried out on the window pans. The locking mechanisms have now been fitted to the rear boot doors (sourced at a recent rally) and the final beading has been completed on the emergency door along with the lower inside panel (not as easy as it seems!)

Most of the interior wood has been cleaned, stained and varnished so that this will be ready to fit once the glass is in - not too far away now we hope! The rear destination box has been renovated. Many smaller items have been checked over and painted - fan heater motor, fan blades, wiper motor, horn and a new brake light switch fitted. Attention has also been paid to the cab windows, with the glass being cleaned and the metal finishers removed for chroming and polishing. The 3 (out of the 4) existing opening windows have been stripped down for re-chroming and the search is on for a 4th window mechanism which is proving elusive. We have e-mailed many museums and enthusiasts to see if they can help. The new window rubber has been sourced and is at the museum.

Items in need of re-chroming - i.e. the interior heater, door handles and widow fasteners - are also being checked and marked up with many pieces being 'smartened up'. One step back in the project has been an idea to remove the radiator grill for fettling up. This did not come out easily - different fittings to the post-war ones we had previously encountered - and along the way we found a 'frost crack' in the bottom tank, above a previous repair, no doubt in 'United' days. So the radiator is now off the bus and being repaired. The water pump has also been removed for overhaul.

Update - October 2008

The bottom tank of the radiator is still away for repair - and is still causing some concern. On a happier note the water pump has been overhauled and fitted, the interior 'Clayton Dewandre' heater refurbished and now in place on the bulkhead with the necessary plumbing attached, being manufactured as necessary. Some new woodwork has been fitted to the n/s bulkhead and the small panel behind the n/s wing fitted.

The canopy has also been receiving more attention with further beading fitted together with the 'eye' for cylinder head removal. The front of the chassis has also been repainted. The hinged panel above the passenger door and the n/s/f wing are also being ti­died up. Aluminium rain louvers have been manufactured and at the time of writing are being fitted to both sides of the bus and the rear window surrounds are being smart­ened. The front destination box has had the locking mechanism fitted, new chrome covers applied to the front, and the blinds fitted to both front and back boxes. The front 'flashers' are now in place.

Update - January 2009

Good news is that the radiator bottom tank has been successfully repaired after 12 hours of specialist help with a welder(!) and the radiator has been rebuilt with new gaskets and some new studs etc. While the radiator was off the opportunity was taken to manufacture and fit a new fuel pump cross shaft and bearings, and clean and fit a new fuel filter. Work has also started in earnest on the interior with the front bulkhead being inspected first of all. Some new ply is being shaped, and the conductor's cubby hole door being repaired. Whilst this was being undertaken a 'United' conductor's docket was found in good order under the ventilator - for route 107 in 1954 - a Scarborough local service we believe.

The luggage rack stanchions are being manufactured and repairs are being made to the clutch housing cover which has the legend ECW cast into it, and the decency cover inside the n/s saloon. The seats are also being 'offered up' in the saloon to see just how they will fit (these replacements slightly differ than the originals) sourced form Ben Jordan at Coltishall, Norfolk about 30 years ago! One of the seat frames will have to be altered and two leg units manufactured, and some of the supports will also have to be made for the seat rail on the body but it should not be too much of a problem - maybe! The rear seat will have to be completely rebuilt and reupholstered - yet more shaking of the piggy bank again!

Update - April 2009

Recent work (even in the cold snap!) has included the engine pipework, new throttle springs and clevices being specially made. Work to tidy up the ceiling framework, repairs to the stanchion pole that will fit by the passenger door, and more bulkhead work has been done.

More seat units are being cleaned and painted, and in one case modified to suit, and the radiator painted ready for fitting. The conductor's and driver's bulkhead blinds are being renovated.

FHN 833 FHN 833
Drivers cab - April 2009 Interior - showing seats in position
prior to fitting - April 2009