Since the last update in September, work has continued on the full restoration of Dual Purpose Leopard number 461. Firstly, the rebuild of the lower front of the bus has mostly been completed; the lighting and polished trim will be added once the vehicle has been painted. We have also taken delivery of a sign-written "Southdown" which illuminates when lit from the rear. The sign is seen in a trial fitting and has since been placed in store.
Following the rebuilding of the passenger entrance steps last year, attention turned to the passenger doors. These are massive, standing nearly 8 feet tall with a single piece of glass in each. Fortunately, they were found to be in reasonable condition except for the bottom panels which were replaced. The first picture shows the underside of the door-motor mounting plate above the main entrance undergoing repair. The second picture shows the the doors, which have been painted in full Southdown apple green, (a much easier task when laid on the bench), fitted to the bus. Final adjustment and testing has produced a pleasing end result.
Attention has also turned to the cab area, a time sink of any project. Electrical, air and water systems all lurk below the covers and have to be checked and repaired long before the paint brush can come out. The next two photographs give the reader a clue as to the condition of the foot-well, the rest of the cab being in similar condition. The third picture depicts the partition wall behind the driver, rubbed down and ready for a primer-undercoat.
The foot-well transformed! The old floor was stripped out and repaired, throttle and brake pedal systems refurbished, electrical circuits for the 'Setright' ticket machine and cab door 'Pay As You Enter' illuminated sign reconnected, new green 'Treadmaster' floor covering fitted, steering column and gear stick repainted and aluminium trim removed, polished and replaced. The other half of the cab floor and handbrake mechanism is still to do. The hole is where the driver's seat is usually fixed: the raise/lower mechanism sits below floor level.
And the partition behind the driver has received its final top coat. Fixtures and fittings are yet to be applied.
The cab light didn't work but after sourcing spare parts and some TLC it once again shines bright!
Other small details add to the charm of this vehicle.
The cab seat is supposed to adjust up or down and swivel to allow the driver to face the passenger. Needless to say, the mechanisms seized years ago and the whole unit has been stripped completely. These pictures show the various parts stripped of paint and prised apart. Painting and reconstruction will follow in due course.
There is still much to do before 461 runs again. Some idea of the challenges ahead need no imagination when viewing the condition of the lower body pillars!