Firstly welcome to the new blog, which following on from the RT8 one seemed a natural progression. It is the case that an awful lot goes on behind the scenes to keep the vintage fleet on the road and the idea of this blog is to show you all a little of the 'behind the scenes' stuff that goes on, so apologies in advance for some of the pictures, as many will be taken on mobile phones and from odd angles during the month as things are being worked on, to try and give an idea of the diversity of what gets worked on...
One of our longest residents and indeed second only to RT3232 I believe is DMS33, which is our 333 or more commonly known as 'Treble 3'. It joined us in 1982 and was converted to open top for use on our sightseeing work on hire to LT, (which is by the way when we gained the PT garage code). It then joined our London Pride fleet, and wore various overall adverts, including Marks and Spencers and Royal Britain. It then went red and silver in the standard LP livery and had a jaunt to Spain as a 'Pathfinder' for our later City Sightseeing operations. Then to Blue and Silver livery and in 2007 back to red and silver. Well 28 years of being an open top had taken its toll, and in 2007 when it went back to red it had an extensive rebuild, the top deck was refloored, the sides were reframed and it got a new engine. We also took out the 'MK1' one door conversion and replaced it with a far more pleasing on the eye version, as we have done one or two since 1982!!
However, when up for recent 28 day inspection, it was discovered that the rain water over the years had now attacked the bottom of the stairs to the point that it could no longer operate in the fleet. With a rush at the time to finish RT8 she gathered dust and waited in line, but with RT8 having some mechanical work done (see below) we took the opportunity to squeeze her in for a fortnight to sort out this problem.
Well delighted to say that the work was completed in time, which turned out to be quite extensive and involved taking out the staircase and not only is the floor now done but she also passed MOT this morning, so if the weather is good she will be making a return to the road tomorrow on our running day.
Whilst we are on open tops, is a slightly unusual view of our PS1, which suffered a cracked shock absorber mounting and required some remedial work. It was carried out in the main workshops and was completed in a couple of days, this should be another of our vehicles presnet and out and about tomorrow.
After RT8's debut and then an evening out with the Classic London Bus Society, she went back into her familiar bay to start the time consuming job of all the finishing touches. It will probably be late September by the time we have completed all the little bits and pieces, but we are getting there now One of the first things tackled was the cork tiles that run under the upstairs seats. Alas this means taking the seats out yet again, to get the perfect finish...
Interestingly, the front has a completely different look to it than on the post war variants. The cork is cut and angled to (in theory) assist spilt liquids to find their way to the drain holes. Whether or not it was successful seems open for debate but in the interests of authenticity we have recreated as it was in the period depicted.
Another thing that was on the wartime RT's were signs advising people to lower the windows during an air raid. This was to allow the blast to pass through the vehicle, rather than blow out the windows, again how much difference this would make against a V1 landing nearby is debateable but blast is a strange thing and morale for people thinking they were doing something was also important. One thing we know that people did do during an alert is take the bench seat cushions off the bus and down into the shelter for something comfortable to lie on. Of course many people forgot to bring them back and such was the problem that budget locks were added to these cushions to stop them being 'borrowed'... another small difference between the 2 and 3RT's for you...
So here's a photo taken from our offices overlooking the workshop, which shows RT3232 next to a 2006 Enviro. 3232 has been with us since 1979, so we have had it longer now than LT did! One of the Green Line examples that ran from Romford, she is now needing some interior tidying up, particularly on the upstairs ceiling. This is now booked in and with RT8 coming to the end of its restoration, the opportunity will be taken to bring up to speed all the buses that have niggly problems before we tackle another major project on site.
Another RT that was back in the air for some work was RT8. As with all such projects when you start to run them with people on you find certain issues. In this case it was the springs we were unhappy with. The vehicle when fully loaded was running to low and with speed bumps and the like we took the view that it needed to be sorted. As such the back axle was dropped out and the front springs removed as well and all were changed. It is now quite noticeable that she is sitting more 'comfortably' but the real test will be with passengers onboard where we will see if the problem has been solved.
Sometimes it can be like an old LT garage around here, such as in this view with an RLH, RML, RMA and Carvens RT all sitting together. The vehicles are kept in Class 6 condition and this does involve alot of inspections and checks on vehicles that are in the 'frontline' private hire fleet particularly. Often these inspections lead to vehicles being 'grounded' until specialist work can be done, something that following on from RT8 we need to catch up a little on. First up has been 333 which as we have seen is now done, next will be the Green Craven RT 1499, which has some rear end body rot around the axle, then it will be 3232 in. These will be the jobs that amongst the other more routine comings and goings I will update on next month, that all said though there is one major project that is fast nearing completion and should be back with us shortly...
Until the end of September though , have a good month