Friday, 14 April 2017

406DCD - April 2017

Now that Spring is here, our resident open top bus has been brought out of store ready for the coming season. Routine maintenance aside, the chance has been taken to tackle one or two other jobs which will go a long way towards preventing a failure later.

The metal and rubber bushes which drive the alternator have been replaced with new ones fabricated by a firm in Sayers Common in Sussex. The associated adjuster and fan belts were also renewed. Once the cab floor was refitted after this job, a nice new leather gaiter was installed around the base of the gear change.

The front road springs were those originally fitted to sister vehicle 974CUF (long since broken-up for spares), and are due for replacement. New springs have been specially made and fitted. Below, the near-side old and new can be seen side by side; final adjustments are being made to the new one with a hand grinder.

And seen here after fitting. By the way, the silver linkage seen to the top right of the picture is part of the front near-side engine support bracket, a closer view of which can be seen below.

The top and bottom link have special rubber bushes fitted and these were showing signs of old age, so the engine was supported by jacks and the links taken down - see below.

These are the links after being cleaned-up and painted. A selection of new rubber bushes (left) can be seen against the old (right). The final picture shows the linkages reassembled and job complete.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

PUF161H - April 2017

With the majority of the saloon floor renewal (and much of the steel supporting frame repairs) completed, attention has turned to the luggage boot. This was pretty rotten to say the least: the steel supports, wooden floor and surrounding stress panels all required complete renewal. Here, the floor, back wall and near-side stress panel have been removed.

The first piece of new material was the back wall, (next to the rear axle - seen above in yellow primer), and again below from the off-side - it was fed in from here, which is why part of the old stress panel has been cut away.

Next to come out were the rotten steel floor supports. These also act as cross-members between the vehicle sides, there being no chassis at this point. The replacements made up quite a considerable order from the steel merchants, some of which can be seen recently fitted in the two pictures below. In the lower one, the new near-side stress panel can also be seen top middle - the back wall is to the right.

The most recent progress at time of writing is the part installation of the floor (below). This is painted brown and will eventually be finished with varnished slats (on which the luggage slid). These have yet to be made; again, the originals were rotten. The final picture shows the new against the old: the body-side stress panels will eventually join to the newly fabricated rear corners. This picture just shows what a difference can achieved.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

HFJ144 - February 2017

Although not part of the Southcoast Motor Services fleet, a recent departure from our depot has been HFJ144, a Leyland PD2/1 with Leyland body, built in 1948 as part of a batch of seventeen vehicles for Exeter Corporation. Coincidentally bearing the fleet number 17, this vehicle was delivered new to Exeter in February of that year, at a purchase price of £3,243.00 (£106,300.00 in today’s money).

It entered service straight away and remained so employed until March 1970 when Exeter Corporation Transport was bought out by the newly-formed National Bus Company: its vehicles were absorbed into the Devon General fleet, a company which had also recently been acquired by NBC. Along with three sister vehicles No. 17 was put up for sale and was acquired by a small consortium of enthusiasts led by Philip Platt, the well known Devon General enthusiast, who sadly passed away earlier in 2017.

No. 17 was taken to the West of England Transport collection at Winkleigh Airfield and kept under cover there until 1993, when it was acquired by a Surrey-based enthusiast. It arrived (somewhat ignominiously, behind a tow truck) at our depot on the 12th March 1994 and underwent a five year comprehensive mechanical and exterior body restoration. Exeter Corporation had somewhat belatedly realised the economic necessity of allowing advertising material to be displayed on their vehicles, but when they did, they did it in style: all adverts being meticulously painted by expert signwriters, a feature which was perpetuated in the restoration. A thorough restoration of the interior then took place, with the finished vehicle being back on the road in 2010.

Appreciated though it has been in Sussex, No 17 was a long way from its natural home, so a decision was finally taken to return it to its old haunts and it is now in the care of Dan Shears at the superbly upgraded Winkleigh facility.

The Southdown connection

Looking at the intricate mahogany interior mouldings, which are a feature of the Leyland design, it would be easy to imagine that these vehicles were almost hand built by craftsmen, but the truth was very different. In1948, Leyland built no less than 976 PD2 chassis and put their own bodies on 749 of them, giving a weekly output of 18 chassis and 14 bodies – a remarkable achievement at any time, but particularly so in view of the post-war shortage of materials and labour. As a result of this productivity, barely a week elapsed after the last Exeter PD2 had rolled off the production line before work commenced on the first of a batch of near-identical vehicles destined for Southdown. Car 316 was the first of eighty such vehicles, often referred to by enthusiasts as “the JCD’s” – a reference to their registration letters.

Prior to the advent of the PD3 'Queen Marys' in the late 1950s and 60’s, these vehicles formed the largest single delivery to Southdown in the post-war period. This version of the Leyland body design was extremely robust and widely regarded as a classic of its time, with most of the Southdown fleet serving the company well for almost twenty years. One of them also survived into preservation: car 381 (JCD81) was withdrawn in April 1967 and sold to a dealer in Greater Manchester. It was purchased for preservation in December 1968 and spent several years in the North of England, (mainly in Sheffield), before returning to the Brighton area in December 1974. Sadly it was heavily vandalised about eighteen months later, and was scrapped at Ashington in November 1976.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Social Media Update

We have a new Facebook page:

Restoration articles will still appear on this Blog as usual. Thank you for your continued support.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

HCD350E - February 2017

From last month's post: the new engine, with gearbox attached, being installed! Now just the ancillary fittings to be fitted and the engine eventually tested.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

HCD350E - January 2017

Besides the continuing restoration work to our DP Leopard PUF161H, this winter has seen our attention turn to resolving several issues with the 1967 'Panoramic' PD3 HCD350E. The November blog described work to change the king pins and this month we've turned our attention to exchanging the engine with one already rebuilt, (see September 2016 and other previous blogs). At the other end of the bus, work is taking place to replace life-expired panels and fixings.

Seen here, the engine is stripped down in-situ and then removed complete with gearbox.

The gearbox, clutch and various other small parts will be removed and fitted to the waiting new engine. Meanwhile, these are some views of the stripped down rear end. New panels are now being made, as are replacement timber and fabricated steel sections.

Friday, 30 December 2016

PUF161H - December 2016

The ongoing floor renewal reported last month continues and has now reached the rear axle. Recently, a further steel cross-member, located above the fuel tank, was found to be cracked and a replacement has been made and fitted in similar fashion to the first. This photograph, taken from above the rear axle looking forward, shows this new (grey) cross-member in position and the plywood floor in the process of being fitted on top.

As you may have now gathered, extensive work has been undertaken around the rear axle. The old floor was lifted and disposed of, the wheel arches removed and the associated steel sub-frame assembly cut out. Not only does the sub-frame support the floor between the wheel arches, it provides anchor points for the seat frames and adds strength to the fibreglass wheel arches themselves. The first photograph, below, shows the exposed chassis and rear axle (wheels removed). The second shows the steel sub-frame assembly leaning against the outside of the bus after removal. A completely new frame had to be made from scratch and the third picture shows the measuring process being undertaken with a piece of the replacement steel.

Turning to the chassis itself. Having been exposed to many years of water, salt and grit, the area around the rear axle needed a lot of attention, as might be expected. The two parallel chassis members, which run the length of the vehicle, are held apart with rigid steel sections and the rearmost (pictured below) was suffering from a build-up of scale and rust. It needed to be removed, inspected and the chassis descaled and painted.

Restoration is rarely ever easy: in this case, the rigid steel section is fixed to the chassis using the same bolts as the rearmost spring hangers and so the bus needed to be lifted and supported whilst the rear spring shackles were disconnected. Then the spring hangers themselves were unbolted, leaving the rigid steel section free to be slid out from between the chassis members. These pictures show the spring hangers shortly after being unbolted and the area on the chassis where they previously sat. The back of the near-side rear spring can just be seen in the bottom of the second photograph.

You may have noticed that the inside of the luggage area or 'boot' can be seen behind the steelwork. This has been exposed due to the removal of the 'back wall' of the boot to facilitate removal of the rigid steel section (by now seen here sitting on top of the chassis after removal). The final extraction of the steel section was no five minute job: the chassis had to be prised apart using hydraulic rams. Further, because the chassis was sitting on blocks of timber to facilitate the removal of the spring hangers (described earlier), jacks had to be inserted incorporating greased sliding plates to allow the chassis sections to move apart. These photographs show this arrangement still in place very shortly after the steel section had been removed.

The final floor supporting cross-member was also exposed at this point. Unlike two of previous ones which had cracked, this one was actually sound, despite the rusty nature of the surface. However, we decided to remove it to facilitate changing of associated brackets and fixings. The descaling process is also much easier on the bench. These views are of this section before removal.

Once all the various components described were repaired, painted and ready to be fitted, reassembly started - a much less messy process than removal. These views show the spring hangers and rigid steel section bolted back in position, the rear cross-member fitted and the new sub-frame assembly in place. Once the new plywood floor has been fitted to this area, our attention will turn to the boot and associated stress panels