Saturday, 3 December 2011

Big Bus olympians update

A view of resprayed Big Bus Olympian F90SYE and sister bus E338NUV about to be resprayed following the completion of bodywork. As part of the work the buses have been reduced in height to 4 metres, the n/s centre door has been transplanted on the offside for european use and fuel tanks have been relocated and modified. Buses are receiving internal repainting as well as a full respray in Big Bus Tours maroon and cream livery prior to export to Budapest.

Picture: David Umpleby

UCOC Lodekka 651 - painted

A view of UCOC Lodekka 651 being shunted out of the paint shop earlier this week. Its repaint had actually been completed back in October but it has been stored in the paint shop whilst other minor work was finished off. 651 now awaits a full inspection to update our client on the likely costs of mechanical and electrical work required to get 651 into running order again.

Lodekka SRU981 progresses

The restoration of Bristol Lodekka SRU981, now in the heritage bus hire fleet of Crosville Motor Services in Weston Super Mare, is progressing at the BusWorks. Extensive rot of all bodywork inserts, between the robust ECW aluminium framework, has been found and this will now result in the bus having a complete exterior repanel. Unlike later Lodekkas, even the vertical framework sections have timber inserts. Other work discovered includes rotten platform flooring, particularly under the staircase area. In this view, the window pans have been removed from SRU981 in preparation for further stripping of the exterior between deck panelling.

Crosville acquired this ex-Hants & Dorset bus during 2010 but despite its very tidy paintwork, this had merely 'papered over the cracks' of the rotten timber inserts underneath which had resulted in panelling that was insecure and causing further water ingress.

FOKAB 419 in for painting

King Alfred Panther 419 entered the paint shop last weekend following the rebuild and repanelling of its roof structure. The BusWorks has matched the interior matt plastic laminate and once the interior work and painting is completed, 419 will be delivered back home ready for the FOKAB event in Winchester.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Two early RMLs meet again...

This week was a chance opportunity to take a picture of two early batch RMLs together at the BusWorks - RML885 & RML887. The first is being returned to owner Mike Mitchell after some remedial work to paintwork on the crown of the roof whereas this maybe the last opportunity to see RML887 in GENERAL livery.
RML887 will soon receive an all-over advert for a national advertising campaign and will be touring the country in January so adorned. After that, it will be repainted in traditional London red to join our wedding hire fleet.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

A Crosville Lodekka arrives

Crosville Motor Services' owned Lodekka SRU981 arrived at the BusWorks today for interior refurbishing and a partial repanel, plus full repaint. Built in 1956 for the Hants & Dorset fleet, the vehicle has had several owners since 1997 and at some point the original interior was stripped out and replaced with soft trim.
Although more commonly associated with North Wales and Cheshire operations, the name Crosville is now used by a family owned private hire business in Weston-Super-Mare and SRU981 is amongst their classic bus operating fleet.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

UCOC Lodekka 651 gets painted

Painting of United Counties Lodekka 651 back into Tilling Green & Cream has now started, completing the Busworks' work programme for the restoration of this vehicle to operating condition. During its time at the BusWorks, 651 has had its rear axle area completely rebuilt to remedy severe corrosion of the subframe and has had timbers replaced prior to repanelling. All glass and window rubber is new, whilst the interior has been restored including specially commissioned green treadmaster.

Upon the completion of painting 651's owners, the Rushden HTS group will complete the engine, gearbox and electrical work required to complete the vehicle's restoration to an operating condition.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

FOKAB 419 - roof reframed

FOKAB Panther 419's roof has now been reframed following the arrival of the kit of parts from our specialist joinery contractors. Our newly recruited joiner assembled the parts and shaped all the joints last week, with the result that the body frame of 419 is no much more robust. The next step is to repanel the roof and reassemble the interior panelling and light fittings.

Friday, 14 October 2011

BusWorks gets the Message

Isn't it just typical - you wait ages and then three come at once! We now have three 3-axle buses at the Busworks as the two Big Bus Olympians are joined by an ex-Stagecoach Dennis Dragon, M680TDB.
The Busworks has won a £75,000 contract with the Message Trust, an award-winning Christian organisation working to improve the lives of young people in deprived areas of Greater Manchester. Over the next few months, the bus will be converted to include computer, games and wifi terminals, beauty boutique, recording studio and a state of the art "limo lounge" and counselling area. The BusWorks was chosen after other competitors were eliminated from the bidding process. Two additional jobs have been created at the BusWorks to deliver this project, both of whom have significant experience in bus conversion work.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Big Bus Olympians arrive for conversion

The first two tri-axle Olympians have arrived at the BusWorks this week for conversion work prior to export. They are part of a batch of former Hong Kong 12-metre Olympians recently withdrawn from London service in advance of higher emission standards in the London Low Emission Zone. As part of the preparation work, the BusWorks will move the centre door to the offside, reduce the overall height to 4 metres and respray the buses. E338NUV and F90SYE made the journey north to Blackpool on 11 October. Though now 24 years old, both buses are in excellent condition, having been well looked after by Big Bus Tours.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

The summer fruits of Busworks...

One of the rewards of running the challenging business of bus restoration is seeing the 'fruits of our labour' at events and running days throughout the country, particularly during the summer months. With 150+ projects now completed, the chances of bumping into these buses again is obviously quite high, but two noteworthy projects spotted recently are the Eastern Counties RE864 and London Country Routemaster RML2456.

864 was exhibited at Showbus where it has been described as "one of the stars of the positively sparkled" whereas RML2456 in NBC green was busy carrying passengers at the recent Amersham running day.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

UCOC Lodekka 651 retrimmed

Not previously reported on this blog is the retrimming of the interior seating on UCOC Lodekka 651. The seats supplied with the vehicle prior to restoration were very badly worn, the foam cushions were life expired and many of the plywood bases were rotten - after suffering water ingress when the bus was vandalised some years ago.

The BusWorks has replaced 80% of the plywood backs & bases, replaced all foam cushions, retrimmed in traditional moquette and replaced the rexine backs. The result certainly recreates the period feel of the 1960s when these Lodekkas were new.

Monday, 19 September 2011

CBNW Metrorider

Former Blackpool Transport Optare Metrorider 502 is the most recent addition to the ClassicBus North West operating fleet. Given the number of ex-London Routemasters in the CBNW private hire fleet, LT red has been adopted as the standard fleet livery and 502 has been treated to this, even down to the indian red wheel centres. 502 is now available for private hire work.

Leicester 100 ready for next stage of restoration

Leicester Dominator 100, now externally repanelled and refitted with exterior mouldings, is now ready for the next phase of its restoration to original condition. The first phase has already revealed that sealing the panel joints prevents water ingress - when 100 arrived with us, it suffered from chronic water ingress because of no seals between panel joints. This was apparently typical of East Lancs output of this era.

The next stage is to restore the original interior lighting and replace the window rubbers. 100 will then start approaching repaint stage.

CJH119V ready for export

Bristol VRT reg CJH119V has been prepared for export to Budapest to join the three ex-Lothian Olympians acquired from Ensignbus in June. The BusWorks has inserted an offside doorway for european use and CJH will soon be delivered to Hungary.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Return to the BusWorks

The BusWorks is scheduled to reopen after a summer recess during the w/c 12 September. Problems with staff shortages, following a recruitment drive for a short-term contract at Optare in Blackburn, coupled with funds owed to the BusWorks by some clients resulted in the summer recess. However, the BusWorks will be resuming work under new management and looks forward to adding to the 150+ projects it has handled since 2007.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Dominator 100 repanelled

Leicester Dominator 100 has returned to the workshop and a pause in its restoration whilst other projects progressed. The offside is now being repanelled and the restoration will depart from the original East Lancs specification, by using sealent to stop water ingress! Another major exercise though is the replacement of all glazing rubbers. The original design used standard claytonrite rubbers with mitred corners to fit the square-edged frames instead of the more typical radius corners. Unfortunately, as the rubbers shrank this gave rise to four points on every window where water ingress could occur!

A King Alfred discovery - Panther 419

King Alfred the Great is noted for his defence of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of southern England from the vikings. Now the picture shown could be mistaken for the carcass of one of the long boats that the invading vikings travelled in, but it is actually the skeleton roof structure of King Alfred Panther 419!

The roof framing of 419 was loose and the original Plaxton construction can, at best, be described as flimsy! We have stripped down the main longitudinal areas for renewal but, as part of the process, the structure will be improved upon.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Budapest Tour buses go blue

All three of the ex-Lothian open top Leyland Olympian buses acquired through Ensignbus have now been exported to Hungary for use on a new sightseeing tour in Budapest. The buses are former Lothian E303/304/335MSG, built in 1988.

The BusWorks has converted the buses for right-hand drive operation with additional door and door opening/closing warning devices required for passenger service in Hungary.

After their successful 1,000 mile road trip across Belguim, Germany and Austria, the buses have passed their certification in Hungary and the first two buses, E303MSG and E304MSG have been re-sprayed in the operator's blue livery and await vinyls for the Budapest tour.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

UCOC Lodekka glazed

UCOC Lodekka 651 has been transformed by the fitting of the newly manufactured cream window rubbers and new glazing, making the bus look much more complete. 651 has not been fully glazed for many years, having suffered badly at the hands of vandals who had smashed almost every window on the bus before it was rescued by Rushden HTS and despatched to the BusWorks for restoration.

Work has also commenced on the re-flooring of the bus in specially commissioned green Treadmaster.

King Alfred Panther roof rebuild resumes

After devoting many man hours to the extensive restoration & conversion work on two ex-London RML Routemasters, work is now progressing apace on other projects, including the King Alfred Panther 419.

The bus has come to the BusWorks for a complete roof rebuild and as can be seen in this view, the roof has been stripped down to its basic frame. This revealed that many of the roof joints were rotten or broken, but also the exceptional amount of timber and little strenthening steelwork. This was a feature of the traditional Plaxton coachwork of the period, but even so the full length timber cant & waist rails were unusual by the early 1970s.

Unfortunately, the stripping of the roof has revealed weaknesses elsewhere in the structure of the bodywork - typical though of the 36ft. long 'Derwent' style bodies.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Bristol VRT prepared for export

Former Alder Valley, but latterly Western Greyhound Bristol VRT CJH119V is being prepared for export to Budapest, Hungary where it will be used on sightseeing work alongside the recently converted ex-Lothian open top Olympians. An offside door is being fitted to the vehicle before it makes the journey to the Hungarian capital, whilst the upper deck seating is being replaced.
Acquired by the BusWorks' parent company back in 2008, CJH119V has been in store and never used by the ClassicBus North West subsidiary and so the vehicle has been selected as a reserve bus for a new sightseeing venture.

Olympians exported to Hungary

Two of the three ex-Lothian open top Olympian buses have been exported to Hungary in readiness for sightseeing work this summer in the capital city, Budapest. E303MSG and E304MSG made the journey to Hull and then by P&O ferry to Zeebrugge, before the 1,000 mile road trip across Belguim, Germany and Austria. They arrived in Budapest on Sunday 19 June and are now being resprayed in the sightseeing operators' colour scheme. Both buses were fitted with offside platform doors for European use by the BusWorks before export.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Stagecoach Olympian surfs back to Devon

The first of the North Devon "Surf & Cycle" buses has now been completed by the BusWorks in Blackpool after successfully passing its VOSA test for the notifiable alterations. The lower deck has had all seating removed and replaced by surf board, cycle and general storage racks for a summer service that will link Barnstaple and Ilfracombe and various watersports developments along the North Devon coastline. Stagecoach in Devon will operate the new service from their Barnstaple depot.

The project is European funded as part of the trans-national project to develop sustainable marine leisure activities along the Atlantic Coast, and North Devon Plus was successful in bidding for funds to stimulate watersports activities in the area.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Eastern Counties RLE864 launched

Eastern Countries Bristol RE No.RLE864 was launched at the North Norfolk Railway event in April following the completion of its restoration at the BusWorks. It had left us the previous month for the 230 mile journey back to its owner Julian Patterson of Konectbus fame, but on a low loader. RLE864 has been internally restored, repanelled, re-glazed with new cream rubbers, repainted into NBC express livery and had its engine rebuilt during its time at the BusWorks. No doubt it will be appearing at many rallies this summer.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

RML885 arrives at the BusWorks

Isn't it just typical - you wait ages and then two come along at once! The Busworks has never handled one of the original 24 RML type Routemasters during its first four years of trading, but now, following closely behind the arrival of RML887, RML885 arrives for a makeover. Owned by former FirstGroup Director Mike Mitchell, RML885 arrived in 'as withdrawn' condition but is being treated to Class VI PCV preparation and test, replaced glazing rubbers and respray into London red and Chiswick cream.

Monday, 23 May 2011

6LXB engine for Lodekka 651

Work on United Counties Lodekka 651 has progressed very well over the last couple of months, but the challenge of fitting an overhauled Gardner 6LXB engine into the vehicle is currently delaying the process of 651 roaring into life once more. Although some of the chassis cross members and mountings are the same as a Gardner 6LX (and these have been sourced to replace the former mountings since 651 was originally Bristol engined). The 6LXB is, however, a bigger unit and some major components on the engine are in different places compared to a 6LX requiring some modifications to the vehicle.

Meanwhile, we have managed to persuade Tiflex to manufacture a run of the original green Treadmaster flooring for this vehicle - this flooring, once common on PSVs is only manufactured to special order and generally only in the more common brown colour. This is an example of the problems in vehicle restoration - sourcing materials that are no longer in regular production and the costs of procuring short production runs. Glazing with cream coloured window rubbers will soon be refitted.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Olympian Export to Hungary

Three former Lothian Buses’ Leyland Olympians are passing through the BusWorks before export to Hungary. The buses have been acquired from Ensignbus and are in a superb condition, having been fully overhauled by Lothian and well maintained following open-top conversion. The Olympians have been replaced on sightseeing tour work in Edinburgh by early generation low floor buses.

The work being undertaken by the BusWorks includes the fitting of an offside door for use in Hungary where they are intended for sightseeing work in Budapest. Other work will involve the reduction of the overall height to 4 metres and a repaint in the Hungarian operator’s colour scheme.

Friday, 6 May 2011

BusWorks wins Surf & Cycle bus contract

The BusWorks has won a contract with North Devon Plus to convert two double deck Volvo Olympian buses into 'Surf & Cycle' carriers for a new bus service in the county. Stagecoach Devon has supplied the buses and won the contract to operate the summer service which will start in June.

Both buses will have their lower deck seating removed completely and replaced with racking for surfboards, bikes and general luggage but retain their upper deck seating. The BusWorks will also repanel as necessary before an attractive vinyl wrap is applied, sub contracted to Fylde Autolines.

Friday, 15 April 2011

A Routemaster for Burton Agnes

The BusWorks is once again a bit of a mecca for Routemasters. The latest one going through the works is RM348 for Burton Agnes Hall, near Bridlington. After several years of outdoor storage, the bus looked in a sorry state - despite being one of the Arriva London refurbishments from as recently as 2002 and generally operated on the 137 service. Despite being refurbished in 2002, RM348 was withdrawn by July 2004 after route 137 was converted to OPO and later passed to Burton Agnes Hall, via dealer Ensign. Seats were removed and the bus was initially used as a stationary art gallery for artists to display their paintings. However, as the appearance deteriorated the Hall decided to get the bus spruced up for 2011 and mechanically sound once again. The BusWorks is therefore overhauling the brakes and steering for MOT work and repanelling the bus. RM348 will return to use as an art-gallery for 2011 summer season, but at the end of the year it will return to the BusWorks to be internally restored so it can once again be used as bus in 2012.

BINKY goes Dartmaster retro

After three seasons of being kept busy on weddings and other private hires, our Classic Bus North West division decided it was time to treat RM1568 to another repaint ready for the 2011 summer season. Affectionately known as "Binky" because of its non-standard registration plate letters, it lost its original 568CLT upon withdrawal from London service in 1999.

We wondered whether to keep it with a cream band or have a change and go for the later LT livery with white band. Undecided, we have opted for the third option of going Dartmaster Retro! Binky has therefore adopted the all-red style applied to the Dartmaster conversions by Marshall and the guise in which this vehicle operated in London with Sovereign & Transdev on the 13's until withdrawal in October 2005.

After life in London, Binky operated for Oxford Bus Tours briefly before passing to FizzBus Promotions in Bury as a promotional bus. However, it was soon up for sale again and was acquired by Classic Bus North West back in March 2008. Now gleaming again, Binky is ready for a busy schedule of hires over the summer months - but we may apply some typical London adverts to the bus corners to break up the expanse of red.

Bristol J gets ready for all the fun at the fair!

Bristol J-type BHW432's thorough restoration at the BusWorks is now almost complete, and all it awaits now is new cream glazing rubber which is on order - and awaited. Although the aluminium framed ECW bodywork, actually a rebody dating back to 1947, every single piece of timber insert along the sides and roof has been replaced by the BusWorks. Following this, BHW was repanelled and the BusWorks fabricated new fibreglass window pans to replace the badly corroded originals.

BHW432 has been returned to its vintage fairground style livery of mainly cream, but this time with Tilling red as opposed to the maroon it carried in later years. The bus will soon rejoin the vintage fairground for the summer after missing a summer season whilst under restoration.

More news on the two re-engineered RMLs

The thorough re-engineering and overhaul of RMLs 2590 and 2680 at the BusWorks continues. Both buses have dominated the workforce over the last two months, as the buses are rebuilt from the skeleton frames they had become. This view shows RML2590 during a shunt around ready for the next phase of work - interior repainting and then exterior repanelling.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Catching up with the London RMLs

Back in September, two London RMLs 2590 & 2680 arrived at the BusWorks for which may possibly be the most extensive rebuild and restoration work ever carried out commercially on a London Routemaster. Both were stripped right down to the frame and the thorough rebuild process continues.

RML2680 (nearest the camera) has had its rear platform rebuilt to RCL standard and new platform doors will arrive soon. It is also being "Dartmastered" and the new engine mountings and prop-shafts are now on hand for this.

Meanwhile, RML2590 is going retro and will be restored to almost as-new condition - even being refitted with an offside illuminated advertising panel.

UCOC Lodekka 651 - rear end stripped

Another good week of progress on 651. The rear wheelarch sub-frame has been welded up this week and the timbers have returned to reassemble the sides - but some of this work will need to await the fabrication of the semi-circular wheelarch frame in aluminium and surrounding sections. An assessment of the rear end revealed some further timbers that needed replacement and the rear platform doors and emergency door have been stripped for renewal.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Reframe of London MD60 moves to new heights

The reframing of London Metropolitan MD60 continues to progress and now that the substantial work on the lower sections are nearing completion, work has moved to a new level - the top deck. Upper deck glazing has been removed to access the steel rail below the top deck windows, which is corroded at the joints between the vertical pillars. Like the lower sections of framing, there is little evidence of any quality protection of the steel, with only etch-primer applied at construction stage.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

UCOC Lodekka 651 - further progress

Work continues to progress on UCOC Lodekka FS 651. The timberwork under the canopy was found to be rotten requiring the removal of the front nearside between deck panel to access the timbers. The offending section has been removed and sent to our specialist joinery contractors. Similarly, one of the timbers above the lower deck windows was also rotten, requiring a window pan and between deck panel to be removed to remedy.

Meanwhile, the wheelarch framing is being treated for corrosion and the aluminium stress panels are being fabricated.

FOKAB Panther - roof stripped

King Alfred Panther 419 has had its roof stripped to reveal the cause of water ingress and body movement. To put it simply, most of the timber joints are either snapped or rotten and few timbers are connected to anything else - only the aluminium exterior and plastic interior panels seemed to have been holding the structure together. There are some steel supports to the roof coving but now the exterior panelling has been removed the roof structure is very delicate.

It is particularly surprising how little 'structure' there is to the roof of a Plaxton Derwent and how much of the structure is timber. Now the job of the BusWorks is to completely rebuild the roof structure and we are proposing to increase the strength of the structure to increase the robustness of this 36ft. long Panther.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

UCOC Lodekka progresses

Work is now progressing well on UCOC Lodekka 651 after a return to the main workshop last week. Rotten timbers underneath the half cab canopy are being replaced whilst the nearside panelling has been stripped off, revealing oxidised stress panelling and corrosion of the main wheelarch frame.

The offside had previously had to be stripped off and completely rebuilt, but thankfully the nearside frame should be repaired in situ.

Monday, 24 January 2011

UCOC Lodekka 651 returns to BusWorks

Ex-United Counties Lodekka 651 (651EBD) has been returned to the main BusWorks site today for the bodywork restoration to resume. Restoration of this vehicle stalled during 2010 due to problems with the engine/gearbox combination. Recently, however, the brakes on both axles have been relined and the skimmed brake drums refitted and a decision was taken to resume the bodywork restoration whilst the running unit problem is solved.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Metropolitan reframe progresses

The reframing of London Metropolitan MD60 continues to make good progress at our Brinwell Road site. A freelance welder/fabricator has been dedicated to the project and has reached the stage where the steel supports that were bracing the upper structure whilst the waistrail was rebuilt have now been removed.

There is still much work to do but MD60 is certainly on the road to recovery. Further horizontal steel sections are required and upon completion, the lower structure steel stress panelling will be welded to the frame structure.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

FoKAB Panther 419 arrives

FoKAB's Panther 419 (UOU419H) has arrived at the BusWorks for a roof rebuild. Built in 1970 with a Plaxton 'Derwent' style body, the construction includes a substantial amount of timber, which was very uncommon for buses even by the 1960s.

The FoKAB group had become increasingly concerned by body movement and water ingress on 419; sister bus 417 owned by the group had its roof extensively rebuilt many years ago, but the extent of the work meant that 417 was off the road for several years.

An initial inspection of 419 shows that there is soft or rotten roof timbers and the sealent between the roof panels and timber has broken down, leading to loose panelling, corroded screws to secure panel mouldings and water ingress. The BusWorks has therefore been tasked to rebuild the roof of this fine vehicle.