Wednesday 8 June 2016

Time for some Bus Archaeology!

 You reach a point in a restoration where you have to start looking at the end finish you want to achieve and of course livery and layout are perhaps two of the most important things to consider. This becomes harder when the project in question is over 80 years old and no colour shots of it when new are likely to exist so you have to work off what you can. Below is a photograph of our Jeresy TD2 taken when new at Leylands. A very good quality print for the day but of course in black & white but what do we see that can help.

So we want to put it back to its as new livery so what do we need to consider. Firstly the JMT letters are clearly far further spread apart than they are later in life with each letter on its own panel. Next the livery is 'lined out' note the thin darker lines in the white where the colours meet and the thin lighter line in the dark. Next though is the colours... Now whilst B&W pictures can be notoriously hard to work from a quick glance at this image compared to later post war images seem to show it the green is much darker, the what we would expect to be 'cream' is actually an off white, and look at that mud guard... looks black, or is it an even darker green?

 Its always a brave man who will paint a bus in a well known companies livery but not to do it in what are the 'accepted' colours, we are no different to that and wouldn't go for any old dark green on the basis of one B&W picture, so we are start looking to see if the archaeology of the bus can be tied back to period images. In the shot above, looking in at the platform we found the fifth, or actually first time the fleet number was painted on was on a far darker green. You can see the difference in shaded clearly. As the bus has only been owned by ourselves Michael Banfield (who restored it once in 1961) and JMT it cant be under five layers of paint an enthusiasts version, it has to be an early part of the buses story, but enough for us to base the whole livery on?
 Next we went hunting for the line out stripes. No sign at all on the near side but a photo we found in Michael's file explains why as the whole side was repanelled in 1961, so the offiside was where to look. Lo and behold exactly where it should be the line outs were visible. They were a little battered from various rub downs but on this one we can be sure they were in green This far we haven't found the light line out on the green, but this has to be most likely cream or just possibly gold....

 Above is the livery that everyone thinks of with JMT but should it be darker for when the bus is new is our dilemma...

 We then moved to the front, looking for the line out again around the bonnet that wasn't re-skinned in the 60s. After the various fleet numbers were gone through we go to the last two. One was on the darker green we had found at the back, whilst the other in gold font was on a burgundy! Far more Portsmouth than Jersey! A spare part, a change of buyer for the bus, anyone fancy explaining this away as no sign of it anywhere else so not an undercoat or protective layer?

 But they need to run so engines need to work. The crack in the block has been resolved but sadly putting it back together showed the shells were cracking up and would without doubt lead to a spectacular failure down the line. So its engine apart again and back to the drawing board....

 Meanwhile other work goes on as the fleet gets busier and busier. The Leeds PD was found to be suffering from corrosion in the front mud guard so she has been released from active service to get the repairs done. Should all be finished tomorrow and then back to the weddings at the weekend for the old girl!

 And finally some successes! The MW has been off the road with a major engine problem. The engine has twice been away and twice come back out again. Finally when we though we were set a number of the ancillary units could not be reused and had to be remade. Fellow MW owners Ian and David came to our rescue here and supplied some parts we needed to copy and to them our thanks go as without their help we would be scratching around still for a solution. However first road test was A1, a couple of minor leaks to resolve and shes back in service.

And then of course were our two Leylands that were both of with issues. The RTW was finally repaired just in time to take part in the 50th anniversary runs on the 95 of the RTW withdrawals, whilst RTL453 also got the thumbs up to be operational again. Seen here with the other stars of the day in Brixton tram shed in a photo by Peter Zabek.

Those of you who follow EnsignVintage on twitter will have seen the latest acquisition, those of you who dont will have to wait until my next update.

Cheers for now


  1. Is the burgundy just shading to the numbers to make the 25 look a bit 3D? Not unusual for the period, I would have thought.

  2. Hi G, no not the picture of the rear number with the shadow but the front one where the whole panel is burgundy under the green, from front bulkhead to mud guard

  3. Ah, sorry. That will teach me to read the article first and then look at the pictures properly in the larger size. Or not so properly in this case!

  4. I'm not surprised G is confused; I cannot figure out where the picture of the number on the curved burgundy panel is on the bus. It doesn't look like the number on the front bulkhead panel behind the mudguard, which is flat.

    I presume you have the front nearside official view but for the benefit of readers it can be found on Flickr here:

    The front fleetnumber is clearly on green.

  5. Hi Andrew,

    The panel is indeed the one at the front NS behind the mudguard and under the gravity tank and front facing bulkhead window

  6. I am still waiting with bated breath for the next update giving details of the latest acquisition alluded to in the last update!