Bristol Handbooks & Manuals

In order to improve accessibility we have now put all the manuals (Instruction Manuals, Spares Handbooks and Workshop Manuals) into a password-protected dedicated area in the Archive under Bristol Manuals.

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V8 Cooling Problems and a Solution

Note: Even if you don’t live in New Zealand here is some useful advice!

Having checked everything people have suggested to improve my cooling with no change, I pulled the rebuilt radiator and the water pump and took them to Trevor French Radiators in Auckland ( ).

He saw nothing wrong with the water pump, so he suggested that he unsolder the radiator and check it out. First they put a hose into the top, and water flowed out the bottom, but he said that did not mean that it was travelling through the cooling fins. Not sure I understood that one, but as it turns out, he was correct.

For a fixed fee of NZ$90, he completely disassembled it and found the engine rebuild resulted in debris that had blocked the reportedly rebuilt radiator. He rodded it out and soldered it back together. He began at 2 pm and handed it back to me at 5 pm with a fresh coat of black paint. He also recommended that I take a woman’s nylon stocking and put it over the entry of the upper hose to catch any more debris.

He also said that the radiator design was quite good… more sophisticated in construction and should last another 30 years before needing attention.

On reinstalling it, I hooked up a second capillary temperature gauge and discovered that the Smith’s gauge was reading 140 C while the aftermarket gauge was about 93. Without that second opinion, I probably would have presumed I had not cured the problem. Unlike previous runs, the engine was not making those noises related to high temperature, so I am more comfortable that it is running in the 90’s. The fans going off and on seem to agree,

After a few runs up and down the hill, I pulled the upper hose off to inspect the nylon stocking. I found significant debris, blue engine paint and other junk that would have contributed to the need for a 3rd disassembly of the radiator.

Advice to others in the future…

1.      When you install a newly rebuilt or cleaned radiator, or if your car has been sitting and may have built up scale in the engine block, use the nylon stocking trick to protect the radiator.

2.      If the car overheats, it is easy enough to remove the Bristol radiator and have a shop take off the top to check for any obstructions to water flow. Even if it was just rebuilt, it could be blocked again.

3.      Do not rely on the Smiths temperature gauge. The engine block has nearby places to add a second temperature gauge, which costs less and is more reliable than an infrared gun.

4.      Other advice they gave was to never use a water blaster that comes near the radiator fins. It flattens and does damage. I’d never given it much thought, but it makes sense. He showed me an example.

Finally, anyone in NZ needing radiator work, these guys are highly recommend. Three older fellows, all white hair, the oldest radiator in the shop was from a 1927 Alvis. Good prices, great service, super knowledgeable.

V8 Torqueflite auto-box repairs and servicing

The following contact details and addresses are for companies who undertake supplying spares and who conduct strip and rebuilding of automatic gearboxes (ie Torqueflte) and Salisbury axles.

  • American Auto Spares Ltd., Kingsbury Road, Minworth, B76 9DD.
    Telephone:- 0121 351 7655. Contact: Phil
  • VMTP Midlands Ltd., Unit 10, Conduit Road, Norton Canes, Cannock, Staffordshire WS11 9TJ.
    Telephone:- 01543 270555. Contact: Nigel Bishop
  • Penn Autos Ltd., 3 Spring Lane, Wolverhampton, WV4 4SH.
    Telephone:- 01902 344004. Contact: Andy Frost.

American Auto Spares Ltd. no longer conduct strip and rebuilds but can provide most engine, gearbox, starter motors, alternators, etc. which is now the focus of their business.

The others are renovation companies who have conducted strip-down and rebuilding of Bristol V8 gearboxes and axles in the past and felt confident in ensuring a good outcome.

They always prefer to have the vehicle and are quite prepared to remove the gearbox which is taken out from the inside of the car and replaced. Both stated that the final adjustment to the auto-box is best achieved by a series of road trials.

The axle can also be stripped whilst still assembled to the vehicle saving the cost of removing it and the shipment cost of transporting such a large and heavy item.

Wheel Bearings


Manufacturers do not want to make replacement from other sources that easy, regularly mixing two standard bearings into one assembly, although I doubt that Bristols went this far.

Take off one complete set of bearings (2 sets of bearings per hub; the inner bearing is usually larger than the outer; both will be tapered roller bearings) and find yourself a local  machine tool service company.   Take your bearings in and they will measure them while you wait (about 5 minutes).  There are 3 grades of bearings used classed  A, B and C.  The tolerances in manufacture are, of course, extremely tight so they employ an automatic grading system – A being the best and that’s what you want.  C are the poorest and probably go into washing machines and the like.   I think the classification system may have changed possibly 1 – 3.  If the numbers on the bearings are visible you should be able to quote these to any bearing company and avoid the need to go to a machine tool service company.

Valid at time of writing in October 2016:

There are a number of good bearing suppliers eg Seager Bearings, Kings Heath, Birmingham (0121 444 5391) who will supply at trade prices.

Door boot seals & draught excluder

Please find contact details of the Furflex/draught excluder supplier:-

William Marston Ltd
70 Fazeley Street
B5 5RD

Tel: 0044 121 643 0852 or 0044 121 643 0372


The boot seals can possibly be obtained from:-

Phoenix Supplies
Unit c1a Langlands Business Park
Devon EX15 3D4
Contacts: Nigel or Kaye Coles

Tel: 0044 1884 849294


or –

Woolies (I & C Woolstenholmes Ltd)
Whitley Way
Northfields Industrial Estate
Market Deeping

Tel: 01778 347347


Both of these companies carry a large range of extruded sections and just may be able to help with boot and door sections.

Classic Car Keys

This company can supply any of the Bristol key patterns, either as a duplicate or to a code.  The code can be found on the barrel of the lock.  This does entail removing the barrel from the lock.

Wilco Direct

Unit D1/D2, Pinetrees Road, Pinetrees Business Park, Norwich, Norfolk, NR7 9BB


Classic car key page at time of writing

Email address

V8 Braking systems

 407-410 Brake data


Master Cylinder Repair Kit
407 – 88840 KL 71410
408 – 88840 KL 71410
409 (All) – 88840 KL 71410
410 (All) – 88840 KL 71410

Other Vehicles that use the 88840 Master Cylinder

  • Austin Commercial LD1, LD01 (1 Ton), LD2, LD02 (1.5 Ton) up to chassis 16120
  • B.M.C. Commercial 1 Ton FC LDM20 1962 – 1967 & 260LD 1968-onwards B.M.C. Prime Movers FD.2 Loader 2WL Loader
  • British Jeffrey Diamond – Wakefield Road Grader 603 1966 on
  • Conveyancer E20-20 / 6-20 (Some) / E20-20 1955 Mk XXV / E2-24, G4-24
    E3-20, D4-24 / E4-15, G4-15 / E4-20, G5-16 / E22 RC Truck 1965-onwards / MkII, MkIv, MkVI
  • Coventry Climax IGY / Electrical IndustrialTractor Model-TE 1965-onwards Universal Major Trucks Models MSD, MSDA, MSP, MSPA, MCD, MCDS, MCP, MCPA, MED, MEDA, MEP, MEPA,
  • Universal Major Electric Fork Lift Truck MSE, MCE, & MEE 1963-onwards / Research Truck RT.812 / TLJ / UTF
  • Universal Petrol & DieselFork Lift Truck IGPT, IGPTA Series II, IGDT, IGDTA Series II / IGEUS
  • Universal Major Electric Fork Lift IGET / Series I & II, IGETA Series II / Bulkloader (Mechanical Shovel)
  • Halifax Tool Company 26Hr Battery Electric Tractor 1967-onwards
  • Lister Tractor 50cwt 4’7.5″ W.B.
  • Morris Commercial LLD1, LD01 (1 ton), LD2, LD02 (1.5 Ton) up to chassis 16120, LD4 LDOA Petrol RHD & LHD)
  • Morrison Electricars E type25 cwt. BE, E25 cwt. / BEV (Morrison BM60 & BM60 MkII 1928-onwards
  • Trojan 15cwt, Van 1950-onwards / Electrojan Battery Electric 20cwt Van 1952 onwards / Trojan -Carrimore Articulated 1952 onwards Trojan-Tasker / Articulated 1954 onwards.
  • Yale & Towne K51-60 Fork Lift Truck Model Yale Tractor Shovel (Throttle Control).



Servo Unit Repair Kits
407 = 4257-567 (Bristol Cars Only) Major Repair Kit SSB.72573
Piston Packing Kit KL 72523
Air Control Valve Kit 72525
408 (To Chassis 7200) = 4257-567 Major Repair Kit SSB.1034
Air Control Valve Kit SSB.1011
408 (From Chassis 7201) = 4258-445 Major Repair Kit SSB.1034
Air Control Valve Kit SSB.1011
409 (All) = 4258-445 Major Repair Kit SSB.1034
Air Control Valve Kit SSB.1011
410 (All) = 4258-445 Major Repair Kit SSB.1034
Air Control Valve Kit SSB.1011


  • Major Repair Kit – Includes the items that should be replaced whenever the unit requires servicing, regardless of cause.
  • Piston Packing Unit – Includes parts which must be used, in addition to the parts included in the major repair kit, if the leather Piston Packing needs to be replaced.
  • Air Control Valve Kit – Consists of a sub-assembly of the end cover, valve and air pipe, to be fitted as a complete unit, each time a valve requires replacement.

Other Vehicles that use the 4258-445 Servo Unit

  • A110 Westminster MKII 1964-onwards / A110 Westminster MKII Provincial Police Car 1967-on.
  • Daimler Majestic Major 450/1 Limousine from chassis 136573.
  • Vanden Plas Princess 4 Litre R 3909cc 1964-onwards.
  • Wolseley 6/110 MKII 1964-onwards / Wolseley 6/110 Provincial Police Car 1967-onwards.

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Front Exchange Caliper Models Dates
Lucas SP2511 411 – All Models 1969-75
Lucas SP2511 412 S2, 603 E, 603 S2 1976-82


Make Also Used On Dates
SP2511 Jaguar (Daimler) Daimler Double Six – 5.3, 5.3 HE 1972-09/73
SP2511 Jaguar E Type – 4.2, 5.3, V12 1968-74
SP2511 Jaguar XJ12 5.3 1972-09/73
SP2511 Jensen Interceptor MKIII 7.2 1971-76
SP2511 Reliant Scimitar 3.0 GTE 1968-72
SP2511 Rover Group P6 3500 1968-76



Rear Exchange Caliper Models Dates
Lucas SP2524 411 – All Models 1969-75
Lucas SP2524 412 S2, 603 E, 603 S2 1976-82




Make Also Used On Dates
AC 3000 ME – All Models 1974-86
AC 428 – All Models 1969-74
Aston Martin DB6 – All Models 1969-71
Aston Martin DBS 6 – All Models 1971-73
Aston Martin DBS V8 – All Models 1970-72
Aston Martin V8, V8 Volante – All Models 1972-77
Jensen Interceptor MKIII 7.2 1971-76


Rear Hose Used On Dates
PCH100 411 1969-75
PCH100 412 Conv. S2 1975-77
PCH100 412 S, 603 E, 603 S2 1976-82
PCH100 603 E, S, S2 1976-82


  • Brake pads for the 407-onwards (EBC & others) are frequently listed for sale on EBay.
  • 408 MkII Brake Pad Set Rear Calipers are as fitted to Jaguar Mk2/V8. The Handbrake Pad Set, are also as fitted to the Jaguar Mk2/V8
  • 407- Fighter are available from EBC. EBC Brakes Direct Tel: 0845 225 5011 There are several other sources for EBC brake pads.




 Brigand, Beaufighter and Britannia

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Currently listed at Discount Car Parts at £192.70 as of August 2010. A French site lists the Cylinder as fitting Land Rover: Range Rover Mark I (EA, NA , HAA , HAB, HAM, HBM , ER , RN) 3.5 ( 132Ch ) Braking System AP Lockheed. They are currently selling at half price = €174.84 ~ approx. £145.70 from Mister Auto.



Front Calipers Models Dates
L.H. Girling 64033006 / Dunlop VB 1198B 407 & 408 1961 – 65
R.H. Girling 64033007 / Dunlop VB 1198A 407 & 408 1961 – 65


Also Fitted To Model Dates
Alvis 3 Litre TD21 1961 – 64
Aston Martin DB4 1959 – Oct 60 / 1964 On
Jensen 541s 1961 – 62
Jensen CV8 MkI & II Oct 1962 – June 65
Jensen CV8 MkIII July 1965 – 66
Jensen Interceptor 1967 – 68


Rear Calipers Models Dates
L.H. Girling 64033142 / Dunlop VB 1284-B 407 & 408 1961 – 65
L.H. Girling 64033143 / Dunlop VB 1284-A 407 & 408 1961 – 65


 Note: The catalogue notes that these were used only on Bristol Cars.

SP2556 Service Kit Also Used On Models Dates
Alvis 3 Litre TD21 1961 – 64
Aston Martin DB4 1959 – Oct 60 / 1964 On
Daimler Majestic Major 1960 On
Daimler Limousine DR450 1961 On
Daimler V8 2 1/2 Litre 1962 On
Ferrari Berlinetta Coupe
Cabriolet 250GT
1961 – 64
Ferrari 330GT 1963 On
Ferrari 248GT & 275GT 1964 On
Fiat Arbarth 2200 1960
I.S.O. Revolta GT Coupe 1962 – June 63
I.S.O. Revolta GT Coupe July 63 – 1964
Jaguar XK15 & 150S 1958 – 59
Jaguar 2.4 & 3.4 Litre 1958 – 61
Jaguar 3.8 Litre 1959- 61
Jaguar 2.4 & 3.4 & 3.8 Litre 1961 – 64
Jaguar 240 & 340 1967 – Oct 69
Jaguar 3.8 “E” Type (First 5,000 1961 – 64
Jaguar 3.8 “E” Type (5,001 on) 1961 – 64
Jaguar 4.2 “E” Type 1964 – 68
Jaguar 2+2 “E” Type (XJ8) 1966 On
Jaguar 3.8 Litre Mk X (First 1,500) 1961
Jensen 541s 1961 – 62
Jensen CV8 MkI & II Oct 1962 – June 65
Jensen CV8 MkIII July 1965 – 66
Jensen Interceptor 1967 – 68
Lancia Flaminia GT & Sports 1960 – on
Lancia Flaminia Saloon & Coupe Undated
Lancia Flavia Saloon 1961 – 68
Lancia Flavia Coupe 1961 – 68
Lancia Flavia Coupe 1968 – On
Lancia Fulvia Saloon & Coupe 1964 – On
MGA Twin Cam 1964 On1 – 68
Rover 2000 1963 – 66


SP2555 Service Kit Also Used On Models Dates
Alpha Romeo T2 Competition 1963 – On
Daimler V8 2 1/2 Litre 1962 On
Facel Facella 1964 – On
Ferrari 248GT & 275GT 1964 On
Fiat Arbarth 2200 1960
I.S.O. Revolta GT Coupe 1962 – June 63
I.S.O. Revolta GT Coupe July 63 – 1964
Jaguar XK15 & 150S 1958 – 59
Jaguar 2.4 & 3.4 Litre 1958 – 61
Jaguar 3.8 Litre 1959- 61
Jaguar 2.4 & 3.4 & 3.8 Litre 1961 – 64
Jaguar 240 & 340 1967 – Oct 69
Lancia Flaminia GT & Sports 1960 – on
MGA Twin Cam 1964 On1 – 68
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How shock absorbers work


(Extracted by K. Lutz)

Shock absorbers don’t really absorb shock, they dampen it, hence they are often referred to as dampers. Why is this important for you to know? To improve ride quality. Basically put, a shock absorbers sole purpose is to dampen the compression and rebound of any suspension system by controlling the speed at which a suspension cycles. Without them, your car would continue to bounce up and down until the kinetic energy is finally dissipated from the suspension’s springs (e.g. leaf springs, coil springs, torsion bar, etc.) and sea sickness may follow.

Now let’s think about the law of conservation of energy. With this law in mind, shocks will perform two functions. The first function is to slow the suspension’s cycling of compressing or rebounding. Secondly, since energy can’t be destroyed, the shock transforms the kinetic energy into heat as it dampens the “bouncing” of the springs. That’s it. That’s what a shock does.

Or otherwise put – in a vehicle, it reduces the effect of travelling over rough ground, leading to improved ride quality, and increase in comfort due to substantially reduced amplitude of disturbances. Without shock absorbers, the vehicle would have a bouncing ride, as energy is stored in the spring and then released to the vehicle, possibly exceeding the allowed range of suspension movement. Control of excessive suspension movement without shock absorption requires stiffer (higher rate) springs, which would in turn give a harsh ride.

Shock absorbers allow the use of soft (lower rate) springs while controlling the rate of suspension movement in response to bumps. They also, along with “bounce” in your tyres, dampen the motion of the unsprung weight up and down on the springiness of the tyre. Since the tyre is not as soft as the springs, effective wheel bounce damping may require stiffer shocks than would be ideal for the vehicle motion alone.

Spring-based shock absorbers commonly use coil springs or leaf springs, though torsion bars can be used in torsional shocks as well. Ideal springs alone, however, are not shock absorbers as springs only store and do not dissipate or absorb energy. Vehicles typically employ both springs or torsion bars as well as hydraulic shock absorbers. In this combination, “shock absorber” is reserved specifically for the hydraulic piston that absorbs and dissipates vibration. Below are some images which illustrate these principles, and the technical features of dampers.