Monday 10 December 2012

Winter is upon us

With all the efforts made to get vehicles ready for our Running Day on December 1st, I thought for this months blog I would stick to the 'new' vehicles that were either finished or debuted at the event, as well as welcoming you the new style blog that is now embedded within our new website, where we have more room for additional pictures info and a full update means all the recently acquired or available vehicles are now represented.

So first up here's our long standing restoration project finally back on the road in a fine photo taken by Kevin Smith on its very first journey. Restored into the first London Transport Country Area livery the vehicle looks resplendent. It was scheduled to do, and duly completed without fault a few trips with passengers on around Lakeside.

Capturing the cold evening well and just before its departure back for home is this shot sent in by John Lidstone. The vehicle is now back having a few minor adjustments sorted as well as having the powered door reinstated, but overall after a gap of some 60 years since it last ran on passenger carrying duties we were very pleased with its performance

 Another seasonal shot from John, is from our latest from the Routemaster family RMC1513 to join us. Equipped with original type engine and having had the luggage racks reinstated and having been returned to the X15 type livery, she will make an excellent partner for our ever popular RMC1485 which is always popular.

Our longest serving vehicle, which has now been with us for 33 years got a repaint back into one of her previous liveries, in this case the Green Line version. Equipped with X81 blinds in yellow she looked every part one of the 'elite' vehicles these were when they entered service on the busy commuter runs into the capital.
Staying with green, a local vehicle for many years is our Bristol MW from Eastern National. New to them in the late 1950s she worked out of Braintree, Chelmsford and Prittlewell. We know the vehicle well as for many years it was garaged with us at London Pride and indeed we repainted it many years back. Not only has the vehicle been recertified but also repainted as well as having a number of seats retrimmed. Its seen here in a picture taken by Russell Young on the X55 with a healthy load.

Meanwhile RTL1014 that we repatriated from California earlier this year hit the streets. We have kept alot of its USA heritage on it as it has spent some 45 years of its life there, hence the large nearside mirror, marker lights, rear California number plate, Unitrans logo's and even air assisted hand brake! A London with a real Californian accent looking resplendent in another of Russells pictures.

Even with all this going on work didnt stop on other projects and I am delighted to report that RMC1485 is back in service, RT1431 has had all the rot removed new timber work in the rear end and is now away being repainted, whilst DUF179 has started to get panels put back and is no longer as skeletal as she has been for many months. I will however do some more updates on those next month, but until then have a great Christmas and New Year and see you all in 2013.


Friday 7 December 2012

October Update

Been a really busy month with an even busier one to come as we get ready for our Winter Running Day on Saturday December 1. As always we like to try and get vehicles out that haven’t been seen before to add something different. This year if everything comes together we should get out no less than five of our own vehicles that have not yet been out and at least two and possibly three guest vehicles, so if you fancy a ride on something different then December 1 is the day for you.

Lights camera action…one that won’t be out this year but will return to the road next is long time Australian resident and repatriated 1938, 10T10 T499c. The interior as can be seen is coming along in leaps and bounds and will recreate the pre-war period and feel of these illustrious motors, with every detail from the period being faithfully recreated.

But buses are far more than just mechanical beasts, they are about the people, those who traveled on, drove, conducted, or worked on but that is often largely overlooked as no official record will ever add a personal story. So it was with great delight that we were sent this picture by Mr J. Harding whose grandfather had driven T499c during the war whilst it was an Ambulance based out of Hendon. I’m sure you will agree a great shot and one for which we are very grateful to have received.

And whilst on the subject of long term 1930s London Transport projects here’s our own ‘right little pain’ that has now departed us for painting. It was successfully COIF’ed last week and whilst we do still have some minor some issues to solve, the next time you see a picture of her she will be resplendent in the chosen livery and complete with all the finishing touches….

And with the move of the Cub away for a couple of weeks we are able to catch up on a few jobs that have been pressing now for some time. RT1431 was pulled off the road by us until we could re-frame the rear end. This is now being done requiring new steel work as well as much new woodwork. All is progressing well though and following this remedial work she will probably go for repaint having had a busy season and being a popular vehicle.

And whilst I am on RT’s, well an RTL in this case, here’s ex California based RTL1014 having been recovered from the ‘awaiting restoration’ line to having her first inspection prior to the journey back to being made UK road legal.

Meanwhile despite all the other work and time requirements on the restoration team for the Cub and others work has continued on the re-framing of DUF179. As can be seen the cab is now completed and we are just waiting for some leather than the backed on to the radiator to be delivered before the last part of the front can be finished. We also found some live woodworm rot today that means part of the bulkhead we had no intention of removing now needs to be replaced to stop the spread. Once that is done and the rear door framing completed we will start to put her back together, starting with the cab door, emergency exit etc, so hopefully by next month she may be starting to look less skeletal.
Added to all this the RMA B frame was completed and RMC1485 is now undertaking the same work, so as I have said (more than once) a really busy time lately which hopefully has given a good insight as to what goes on behind the scenes to keep them all on the road.
Next update will be after our running day so as not to ruin any surprise vehicles that may (or may not) be ready so look forward to seeing you there and if you do capture any shots that you think we could use on the blog or on the vehicles history page then we would love to see them.
Cheers for now

Autumn Arrives

Its been a really bus period for bookings, hires and general work for the vintage fleet. Some is probably down to the fact that a lot of people seem to have held off getting married during the Olympics and chosen Sept as the month to tie the knot.
On top of that we have been catching up with some long term off the roads, such as RT624 which now has a replacement reconditioned engine fitted, as has RMC1513 which can be seen in the final stages before being road tested, which was successfully completed earlier this week. The vehicle now needs repainting and some interior TLC to bring it up to fleet standard.

Meanwhile another long term off the road that is about to reappear is RMA50 which had the  B frame requiring a great deal of work on it and means the rear axle and diff all need to be removed whilst the work is undertaken as can be seen from the rather forlorn looking vehicle thus marooned in the air.

However, the work has been completed after some weeks now, the units all reassembled and finally this week she has been put back together and will be road tested either today or perhaps next week now.

Meanwhile of the larger projects both make progress albeit with the Cub in a very ‘one step forwards two back kind of way. That said we are now finishing off all the remaining body work issues, fitting mirrors, wipers, wiring in headlights etc. That will leave us with two outstanding issues mechanically, which is a now a minor leak and excessive smoke, but to be able to test the vehicle we need to be able to drive it now further distances than around the yard, hence the push now to complete it so it can be passed over to the mechanics and to enable it to clear its final few hurdles, but as can be seen from below, its certainly looking like a Cub now. 

Which brings us onto T499 which is starting to not only take shape but also colour! As can be seen some of the interior rexine is in as it has to be fitted before the luggage racks are fitted. Originally these had a diamond pattern embossed/stitched into the ceiling rexines, something we have faithfully recreated by studying the original pictures and working out how many diamonds match up again known sized parts, such as the air intakes, so we could recreate the exact pattern. The visual is starting to prove that this extra time on detail is paying dividends in my opinion


We also now have another RML on the fleet, 2588 but I will add a bit more about her in my next update


Busy Time

… But less so on the vintage bus restorations and more on the operations with the Olympics in town and the work that has created. But what a wonderful time to have been British, great show put on by everyone, from the atheletes to the organisers, great effort.

Not as fast across 100m as the competitors but nevertheless certainly with more longevity three of our Routemasters were in service everyday with Bosco, who make the kits for a number of the competing nations and rebranded the buses into the national kit of Spain, Ukraine and Russia. They were used for all kinds of publicity for the teams and sponsors and traveled all across London for the past fortnight.
Meanwhile back here at PT we started on the cab of the TS7 before having to cease work on it for a few weeks due to the demand for regular sales buses that require single dooring before the new school term starts. The cab however as can be seen has over the years been rather bodged! Bits of a chair, pallets and all kinds of assorted wood have been nailed, whacked, pushed and squeezed into every available space to try and stop the sagging… 
However the 10T10 moves on… and these shots taken some four weeks back now, show the end of the reframing with the rear end and emergency door now in place. Since these photos have been taken a lot of the interior has started to go in and following a lot of research into how these looked when new and a lot of hunting for someone who can make it the way we wanted it to look, some lovely features have beeen going in these past few weeks…

The cab is the last section that needs completing in terms of framing and then with the wheels going back on, she will be allowed to stand on her ‘feet again. We still actively target July next year for her, hopefully thats an achievable date.
Cheers for now

Into May

So we move on into May and despite the drought warnings it seems to be colder wandering about than it was in January. However, this time of year does mean the rally season starts and one of the earliest transport events was at Carlton Colville, where RTL453 operated having just received its new engine and gearbox and having been repainted only days before. As soon as it arrived back though it was made ready for signwriting for period adverts and I thought a shot of it with first layers on would be interesting without giving to much away! 

Meanwhile the Southdown TS7 continues to take shape with the reframing of the offside largely complete and the rear end now being tackled. Fortunately the nearside is much better and only the door area and one pillar need to be replaced on this side. Hopefully therefore the reframing of the cab can start in earnest in June, following Tony’s (whose baby this is) holiday. We have also worked out how to reinstate the long since closed shut sliding sun roof and thanks to some of the original parts being returned to us by a previous owner, for which we are very grateful for. As to when it will be ready… I dont usually stick my neck out but I think we are going to be very close come the end of the year, lets hope I havent now jinxed it.

The other major project that inches ever closer to completion and really has been the problem child of bus restorations is the Cub that Pete has been working on now for longer than he cares to remember. The wings have needed to be adjusted to ensure a good fit and thus allow us to put the bonnet area together, once this is completed we can finally start on some proper road tests. All that though however was reliant on finding a front wheel, which took some time and I am delighted to say eventually ended in a successful conclusion and is now fitted, which is a huge relief as that was starting to look like it would be the major bottleneck. Next on is final adjustments and then its time to fit the headlights.

So that’s the progress on the major projects this month which I think overall has been really good. Added to these is obviously T499 which has progressed really well this month and RTW335 and MD60 which have also made progress. Lets hope 2012 sees some of these back on the road after extensive restorations and increases the number of roadworthy types of our vehicle heritage that can be seen out and abou
Cheers for now

Whats new in March 2012.

Lots of people have been asking to have a look at the various projects and the state of play of each of them. So with that in mind I will concentrate on the projects that are being done and start with these two views of the 10T10. As can be seen the reframing with the exception of the cab is now complete and the first section of interior panelling and flooring are now in place. On July 1, 2013 it will be 75 years since T499 entered service in Grays and that surely is our target date for completion…

The next full scale project is the Southdown TS7 DUF179 which has been undergoing a major strip down to rectify the rot. The nearside is not in bad shape whereas the offside requires the replacement of all the pillars. Throughout this month we have been stripping this down and just today ‘the tide has turned’ and the new pillars are being cut in readiness to being fitted. The two shots below show the various stages of the strip down.

 In amongst the rotting pillars on the rear we found this name inscribed into one of them, can anyone shed any light on who J. Pavett was? Is that from its days in preservation or does it date back further?

 And here are the six pillars being readied to be added to the offside and start seeing us putting back together some of what we have had to strip off.
 Meanwhile taking shape up at Busworks Blackpool is our RTW335 which is now ever nearing completion and the progress can be followed directly on the RTW335 blog, which can be seen at

 And the reason that the Cub has not featured this month is that we have been working on RTL453 to start getting her all set to take her place in the Wartime London Tour fleet, that starts operating on April 3, have a look at the website if you are wondering what I am talking about and whilst out having tacho fitted a careless truck driver damaged the rear end… This has needed to be tackled and a new pillar fitted as well as the panels, it has however meant that the vehicle will now need a full repaint and we will also now add signwritten adverts to her for the late 1940s so she will end up looking special, so every cloud and all that… Apologies for not having rotated the photo as I am damned if I can find the rotate button on this new blog feature so will get someone to explain it to me…!!

And lastly up is RTL1014 that returned to us after 45 years in California. The vehicle was sold by our Chairman here Peter Newman way back in 1967 and he delivered it to the docks at Southampton for its new owners UniTrans at University College Davis. They have owned, operated and loved the vehicle all that time and due to Californian emission regulations RTL1014 became an outcast from their fleet as she still has her original engine, so we acquired her back. She sailed back on the same shipping line she went out on, came back to the same port, and was collected by myself and Peter, bringing the story full circle. I commented to him as he got out of the cab back at PT ’45 years and you got the bus back, must be a record breaking period for a money back guarantee!’ The intention will be to restore to London 50s condition but preserving her 45 years of US service… looking forward to that one…

So thats it for the month
Cheers for now

1 March 2012

Well firstly welcome to the new site and indeed the new blog. Excuse me in advance if I make a mess of this post as it has already taken me longer than the restoration of RT8 to actually insert images and rotate them!

Perhaps not the most exciting of views or jobs but clearly the point of this blog is to show some of the work that goes behind the scenes to put and keep these vehicles on the road. So we decided to take a look at ourpre war Southdown Tiger, which is a lovely vehicle and could be ‘bodged’ to get a season or two more out of her but in reality requires some pretty decent sized reframing to bring her back into the land of the healthy and secure the future. It would seem that this bus having passed througha few hands has put off people tackling the work as clearly one job here is going to lead to another. The shot above shows the emergency door that was already hanging at a slant and with a window that would not open or close was the first thing we decided to look at. As feared the wood was rotten in 75% of it, and where it had been repaired many of the repairs were done in poor quality wood, so we rebuilt it….

With new framing, the right sized screws (as they always get longer when the rot gets worse and was what was blocking the window from opening) the door is just about done. Now whether this is our next large scale project is still up for debate here but either way when you take something off to inspect it, the very worst thing you can do is not repair and refit it, as things left to one side for ‘later’ generally have a nasty habit of being mislaid and thus causing more work later. Personally I really like the vehicle and can imagine that with a good quality repaint on a decent flat surface the coach could be made to look wonderful. That said I will have to do some homework on Southdown paint colours and liveries as its not my strong point and there are at least five different shades of green that I have counted on her thus far. If anyone out there can help on these  be great to hear from you?

And off site the 10T10 progresses really well but we still tackle many parts of it from here. This is the front axle (lying next to the Cubs new bumpers) that has required a lot of work on it to free it up, fit new bushes and bring it up to PSV standard. It is now complete and ready to go back and be reunited with the bus itself which progresses well and I will update on next month. The target date for it being ready is July next year which would mark the 75th aniversary of it entering service at nearby Grays depot, which is surely an aniversary we just cannot miss… or will we?

Lastly, is another one thats come back to life. Our ex JMT Tiger had an engine failure last year. For some time she sat and waited whilst we looked to find a replacement which was duly delivered and fitted, and runs like a dream. Whilst we had the bus in bits we have taken the opportunity to reline the clutch as whilst not worn to its limits it was getting low and with whats shaping up from the bookings thus far to be a busy season as well as some of the buses being used on the new London Wartime Tour, have a look at it was prudent to tackle the job now we felt.
The Cub now is also back with us having been away for some further work on its engine, which in due course has shown up some other minor system problems associated from it now running under its own power, but we are getting ever nearer with that, and now that I think I am mastering this new format, I will endeavour to do a more detailed update next month.
Cheers for now

Thursday 1 March 2012

New Year... New Blog.... New Site

Well we have finally got the new website up and running which for the first time houses all our vintage and PH fleet on one site and allows me to put the blog there for a wider audience to view...

So if you go to and click on the blog section you will see the latest post and whilst you are there you can have a look about the site.



Tuesday 3 January 2012

Happy New Year

Well indeed all the fun and festivities are over, so certainly time for an update.

First up is our backlog or poorly engines has started to be unblocked. The first to get its reconditioned lump put back in was RTL453 that we had running on Christmas Eve, and she sounds superb, and was a great Christmas present for us all here. This vehicle has not been out and about as much as we would have liked and we have some jobs for it in the New Year so we can now at last concentrate on getting the interior brought up to speed.

Well as everyone knows we are never averse to the odd acquisition, and this month has been no exception with a few vehicles joining us. First up was RB51 one of the Green Line AEC Duples. Sadly we could not get it ready in time for our own running day, as to Class 6 it took some time, happily however it did debut in Southend on New Years Day, which is quite fitting as I remember the old 795 running there in years gone by and of course later the X1 became a Green Line service, albeit after the hey day of the service.

One that we did get ready in time for our running day was RF319 which joined us in very late November. The vehicle is in wonderful condition and makes a nice change from our ususal basket case condition. The vehicle is seen here on its debut on our running day in a photo taken by Russell Young and kindly sent in. If anyone does have any shots of this vehicle from the past be really grateful.

At the same time we collected the RF and had a family day out, we also bought back a superb addition to the fleet. A wonderful 1937 ex Southdown, Harrington bodied Leyland TS7. Taken at Clacket Lane services on our final run for home, it proved faultless on the drive back. The vehicle has some rot and requires some attention in places but is a fantastic survivor of a by gone era and one we look forward to having on the road sooner rather than later.

Another lucky survivor is the STL breakdown tender that we recovered from Florida and which finally arrived back in the UK on December 28 and here in PT the following day. Our fitters instantly took a shine to it and decided it was far more appropriate than our Transits or Scanias. The intention will to to retain it as a service vehicle, as whilst the attraction of owning it as Bluebird STL175 is there, we would be into the realms of replcas rather than restorations, so as 739J she will remain.

Last but not least is the Cub restoration here which is nearing completion. The vehicle has been run a few times but is smoking quite heavily so we are completing all the exterior work now before it is moved to the specialists who reconditioned the engine so they can resolve the smoking issue. Once that is done it will be returned to us for bonnet and front mudguards to be fitted before once again moving on for painting.

I will update a few more of the jobs that have been done on the buses as winter maintenance as they prepare for the summer season as well as an update on the 10T10 which is coming along very well in my next update.

Cheers for now