Monday 7 November 2011


Been a very busy period with some personal projects as well as some company disposals that have kept me away from the PH fleet more than ususal, but as always we have been busy...

First up we are off to sunnier climes, Florida to be precise, where 739J the former STL175 has spent her time since 1994, the humid climate having taken its toll... To svae the vehicle being loaded on a container ship, we need her to be able to drive to qualify for a ro-ro boat. So one of our chaps was despatched and after 48 hours had it running. All things being equal later today he will oversee the loading of its departure from Florida and onwards to the docks in Georgia. I will keep you posted on progress with some more detail on the journey when shes back.

Couple of pictures to try and show the strides that have been made in both the improvement of the area the operational buses are garaged and their all round presentation. The new arrangment means that all the buses are far more accesible then they have ever been and we ae able to get any bus out without having to move numerous other vehicles. They are also away from the body and restoration bays which helps with far less dust gathering on the vehicles. Also a full time member of staff dedicated to presentation, restoration and cleanliness has helped no end.

But sadly this has been a period about engines... RT1499 overheated badly on the road during the October heatwave which left the engine in a poor state. As such whenever we reach that point we take a vehicle off the road, as a tired engine is repairable, a blown one is not. So 1499 had its engine removed and had a replacement out of scrap RT3865 put in. At the same time we alos fitted an isolator to 1499 to save on battery wear and also an alternator to replace the old style dynamo. This was all completed within 10 days and 1499 is now fit and sounding great. The tired engine will go away for recon this week and be swapped over with the now ready engine for T499, when complete the reconditioned engine will go into RT624 which has been off with its own engine issues for to long.

And to make the point about 624 still being in sick corner here it is... However its engine will soon be back with us, the parts for RTL453 are due in anytime to get her back on the road, and the PS1 engine went away for recon this week as the Cub engine (below) was returned to us. Hopefully this run on needing engines reconditioned will now end and we can catch up on putting them back on the road!

Lastly the Cub engine, which has been our bottle neck on this project for sometime now is back with us. We are hoping to have it in and fitted by the end of the week. If all is well and systems are all good, we can hopefully push on to finish the project relatively quickly.

We are also now working on a new vintage/hire website which will be going fully live shortly and where this blog will then move to allowing for more interaction and photos to be put up, quicker and easier but I will post all the details up here, once the move is ready and some one has explained it to me!

Until then Cheers for now

Wednesday 31 August 2011

Aug 2011

I'm getting used to apologising for missing deadlines, but holidays, work commitments here, running day and just about everything else have eaten away my time.

Of course on of the downsides to running vintage vehicles in service is that they sadly get pranged from time to time. RML2405 had its rear end taken out by a colossal speed bump at the bottom of a hill and what a mess it made. In the end we had to strip off the entire rear end and fit a complete new framework to the vehicle.

The work took approx 10 days but fortunately no lasting damage done. We took the opportunity to then do other body work on the vehicle and decided to repaint it as well, as its a very popular performer on PHs and is now at the three year point since last repaint. A few amendments have been made to its livery, which you can see below, yes I know not authentic LT but eyecatching and a good advert for our vintage fleet and by getting work for them we can keep them on the road.

I have been asked to keep everyone abreast of how other projects are moving on, and one which there is great interest on is the 10T10. The vehicle is being done off site and such has been the workload here I have not got down to look over the actual project this month. However, one part is with us, which is the front axle, seen here getting new bushes and brake cylinders readied. The engne is also away being restored and should be ready for collection and refit onto the chasis shortly. I will certainly endeavour to get down and see it later this month.

Talking of engines and projects, these are the reworked pistons and new rings and pins for the Cub. The Cub itself has been delayed by having to recover, find, restore and build many of the engine components, not a quick task. The completed engine is expected back with us mid to late September, at that point the project will be able to move on to system testing and into the final stage as 90% of the interior is done and its now largely complete on the exterior with the windows being the latest to go in. I will focus a bit more on that next month, when hopefully the engine refitting can be covered.

With it being the celebratory 50 year of the RML, heres on of the first resting after having been out on wedding duties. The vehicle itself is one of our most popular for hires and very popular with drivers as it is a lovely vehicle to drive. We have as those of you who know the site here moved most of the vintage fleet into the opposite 'barn'. This is due to the fact that we are carrying out more and more work in the original barn and dust is becoming an issue, so the front line fleet are now stored together as can be seen in the background.

Sadly and despite our very best efforts, our RTL453 failed to make the running day following a very nasty engine failure. Despite us sourcing another engine, time was aganist us and the replacement engine not fit enough to go straight in, so an in house rebuild of the original is taking place. Seen here from the offices looking forlorn with its front ened removed, she awaits the road again...

But for everyone that doesn't make it we try and get something else new into our running day... This year was no excpetion with our Royal Blue Bristol, making its debut back in passenger carrying service after many years out. We like vehicles witha colourful history and this one is no exception. Having completed its life with Royal Blue/Western National it went through various owners before ending up with Asian Greyhound, doing a UK to India service! Now thats quite a run, even by our standards and the vehicle even used to boast 'jacked up' suspension to cope with the road conditions. Seen here in far more sedate Lakeside on its inaugrual journey back in service in a photo kindly sent in by Mark Lyons, many thanks.

Linking in buses with international connections and the running day here is a picture of RLH61 under the moody showery skies we had here on Saturday and kindly sent in by Russell Young, as is the phot below of RM371 which we got out for a rounder in between showers to enjoy the last of the summer sunshine, on a very enjoyable day

Wednesday 15 June 2011

June Update

The old and the new. ER882 is one of the early batch of RML's of which there were 24 of, she was the third one. The first three were originally given the ER designation rather than RML, but this was soon changed. They are interesting vehicles as they carry many of the early RM body features on an RML, for PH duties its a great vehicle as the capacity is higher than an RM, it has a Cummins engine but yet still enjoys many of the earlier looking features. Its always a popular vehicle and is this year celebrating its, and the RML's 50th birthday.

Its been a busy period for private hires and many of the buses have been out and about a lot, being the height of the wedding and open top season. Derby Day saw all manner of vehicles head off to Epsom including our own RM371 amongst others. Somebody mentioned 371 is the lowest numbered open top RM, I cannot believe thats right but perhaps someone out there knows better either way? We have also taken to moving many of the front line operational vintage fleet to the barn opposite where they were kept, this is due to there being less dust in that area as no body work is carried out there and thus it assists in keeping the PH fleet far cleaner.

But worrying about dust is not really an issue when it comes to the next major project which is at early stage restoration... T499 has now completed strip down and the tide has turned so to speak and bits start going back together like a giant jig saw! The chassis has been sand blasted and painted, the gearbox is going back in, the engine has gone away for reconditioning and the front bulkhead is going back on about now. We have made some interesting discoveries on the strip down but more about them next month once I have some photos to accompany my ramblings...

Vehicles here continually run through various maintenance procedures and M1 is nearing return to the road, RMC1485 has just been retested and RT624 will shortly have its engine reconditioned as it developed a bad oil leak early last year. We are also now owkring on a new Ensign Vintage Hire website and vehicle history section and are on the look out for any really good shots of any of the fleet out and about, so please if you do have any feel free to send them in!!

Cheers for now

Friday 29 April 2011

Spring update Part 2

At the other end of the restoration road 1935 London Transport, Leyland Cub, C4 is ever nearing completion. Problems with the emergency exit have slowed us down and getting some of the parts required for the engine is proving troublesome but in the meantime, the body work gets smoothed ever finer in readiness for its painting. We are still hopeful that late summer is realistic as long as the engine parts can be found.

From buses that we are starting on, to those we are finishing to one that we have finished but like all old buses they require a lot of attention to keep them roadworthy. RT8 has a minor water leak from the pump which has had to be stripped once again. It would appear part of the solution is going to lie in washing machine seal technology and so the first ever AEC/Zanussi water pump will be refitted and trialled next week.

And staying with water pumps, DM2646 had a number of delays for its MOT largely caused by water pump issues, but as can be seen in this shot taken from the offices looking down on to the test lane she was up for test and has now had all those issues resolved.

Well that largely covers most of what has been going on here with the exception of routine MOT's and servicing.


Spring update Part 1....

Firstly apologies for the lengthy delay, various subsidiary companies that we have recently sold have meant a lot of time and has spent on dealing with other matters rather than the vintage fleet, but hopefully now monthly updates can be reinstated.

First up today being Royal Wedding Day, most of the worlds media is pointing at the happy couple, and I like everyone else wish them all the very best for the future, they seem a great pair, but I do feel a little sorry for the other brides getting married today, must be quite a show to follow! But even Royalty don’t have a PS1 to take them home, which was today being cleaned ready for a wedding as I entered the office.

Keeping it topical (to both the Royal Wedding and the extended absence of this blog) and linking nicely is that as a part of the sale of Bath Bus Company, heritage RM25 returned to us and now form its stay in Cardiff as a PH vehicle to become part of the private hire fleet here at PT. Its first job was with four of our other RM class vehicles and two of our Darts taking the elite competitors to the start of the London Marathon. Seen here in a picture taken by Glyn Matthews passing through Admiralty Arch at the top of the Mall, something not to many double decks get to do, and of course scene to mass flag waving and pomp and ceremony today.

Onto half cab single deck classics and what vehicle is more than handsome than a 10T10, (well I certainly cannot think of many) and our very own returned from Australian exile, T499 has now commenced its long journey to be returned to the UK roads after an absence of some 60 years. I will update on this as we go along but here a couple of pictures of the initial strip down to give you an idea of the task ahead.

It would appear that I am going to have to do this post in 2 parts....


Monday 7 February 2011

January Update

Firstly, apologies for the delay in my latest update, a combination of weather, work, family sickness and just generally not enough hours in the day combined to make it difficult... New years resolution must try harder...

Anyway above is the underneath of a Routemaster, RM371 and its B-Frame to be precise. The frame on this was starting to show signs of corrosion where at some stage the edges had been 'folded over' and moisture had been allowed to collect in between. The frame had to be dropped out and specialist welding done to all the areas affected. Its one of those long and invisible jobs to the public that just has to be tackled and is part of the point of this blog to show some of these kind of things. The good part is you only need do it once properly and it will last a lifetime, the bad news is the RMA and RMC will probably need the same treatment at some point in the future. It would appear that the grit and salt on the roads has affected the RM's that ran in Scotland in this way, as it is not a problem repeated on buses that have spent all their lives in London.

Talking of vehicles that have spent all their lives in London M1 is one such bus. Originally delivered to Chiswick in April 1978, she went to Cricklewood where she entered service in June of the same year. With the fleet number MT1 she was the only Metro to run with a black skirt. She also had the three piece destination displays like the DMS class, whereas the later Metros had two piece displays. It was always our intention to keep a Metro for preservation and when M1 came long it was the obvious choice. Usually though when the bonnet number is dictating the vehicle you keep, it often turns out that it would not have been the bus you would have kept on the basis of drive and condition! Not so in M1's case, as it really is a great Metro to drive and is in good shape underneath. However, like all vehicle it requires much looking after and here it is getting some attention on its rear brakes prior to MOT.

Diving back underneath again, here we are looking at our latest major restoration project. I showed the interior a few months back and I think most of you worked out what it was. For those of you who haven't its a London Transport Country Area, Leyland Cub, of 1935 vintage. It has been under restoration now for some two years and hopefully will be completed in the summer time. Who knows maybe next month I will include an exterior photo of it...

...And Finally... Our newest recruit...

Yes its an RTL and a roof box one at that.

Numbered RTL453 it has been with the RTL453 preservation group since they acquired it direct from LT some 40 years ago! The gents of that group wanted to see it go to a good home and we are deligthed that they decided that we were just such a place! It avoided going to Ceylon from LT due to the fact that it had a broken spring all those years ago. On acquistion we checked it over and recertified it, getting it back to bus status for the first time in some 40 years. The log book and getting the tax class changed was another story as there was an ID issue/confusion with RTL123 (which was exported to Ceylon) that we had to sort out. Fortunately all was resolved and on finally getting the paperwork back on Friday 4th Feb, she debuted on Saturday 6th taking a group of enthusiasts on a trip around routes out here in the east, as well as a visit to our depot, as seen here on this image kindly supplied by Russell Young of her at the Tilbury Ferry Terminal.

Another newbie with us is Royal Blue Bristol VDV749, that requires some TLC to be brought up to our private hire standard, but fills a gap we have for a period coach after the departure of our Tiger Cub a couple of years back. Always a smart looking fleet this is one we look forward to tackling as Im sure the result will be very satisfying. The photo is courtesy of Colin Lloyd, many thanks.

OK until next month cheers for now