Friday, 11 December 2015

2722CD - December 2015

Further to our updates in July 2014 & October 2015, the winter work programme on this vehicle is progressing full steam ahead! Firstly, all of the seating has been removed, the old floor covering taken up, side cove panels removed and the 1970s Southdown alterations around the front wheel arches dismantled. The first view shows the seats removed and each wrapped in black protective wrapping.

Once the seats were placed into store, the coach looked like this:

The heaters, old linoleum, side cove panels and various trim and brackets were then taken out, leaving this view:

The Southdown 1970s changes to the front entrance were next to be dismantled, revealing parts of the chassis and frames not readily accessible from below. The opportunity has been taken to descale and paint where appropriate. Other minor jobs tackled from above include changing water hoses, (the blue ones in the last picture), renewing throttle linkages and overhauling clutch and brake rod runs. (In the first picture, the back of the driver's seat is to the left - the area in the middle is the top of the off-side wheel arch).

Meanwhile, one of our volunteers has been beavering away in the background preparing the new seats for the trimmers. Here are some of the new seat bases, all made in-house by our carpentry expert, receiving a first coat of primer.

The new seat backs received similar treatment. They were constructed using ply curved to shape and fixed to the widened Chapman seat frames.

In the article last July, we described how Chapman seat frames were being altered and reconditioned. However, as we don't have enough arm-rest brackets, we commissioned an aluminium foundry to cast more. The items have been made and delivered to us and are now being drilled for assembly. The first picture shows the template used for casting, with the original bracket used as the pattern. In the second are the new, un-drilled items, again with an original.

Finally, as if there wasn't enough going on, whilst the vehicle is laid-up we have taken the opportunity to remove and overhaul the CAV 'N type' injector pump and hydraulic governor fitted to this class of vehicle. Unfortunately, these 'N type' pumps are becoming increasingly rare and parts difficult to obtain. We plan to carry on using this type for as long as possible, but such overhauls are now usually accompanied with an expensive invoice! The injectors will be tested at the same time. Here, the pump and injectors are ready to go away to the specialist.

Monday, 9 November 2015

HCD350E - November 2015

Further to the report filed on this Blog in January and following a summer hiatus, work has recommenced on reconditioning an engine for this bus. As previously reported, the first engine selected (from scrap sister vehicle HCD363E) was found to be damaged and has subsequently been stripped down for spares and the carcass scrapped. A second block, previously discarded many years ago from HCD347E, was found the be usable but required a lot of work to bring it back to life. However, we decided that this work should go ahead and during the summer a set of liners and pistons were obtained and the block sent away for skimming. The top surface, to which the cylinder heads bolt, is now perfectly flat and free of pitting; the block is seen here, painted and ready for reassembly.

Meanwhile, a gearbox (Leyland type GB124 but rebuilt as a GB112) previously fitted to 972CUF has been refurbished and now awaits fitting during the next few weeks.

Sunday, 1 November 2015

LUF828 - November 2015

Steady progress is being made on rebuilding the near-side body of this vehicle. However, some of the existing frame is in such poor condition that much time is being spent piecing together what remains so as to form a pattern. The first three photographs show the near-side below floor level, just behind the passenger entrance which is located in the middle of the vehicle. A brand new stainless steel fuel tank has been fabricated and fitted, around which the complicated teak and ash frame is taking shape.

This photograph was taken just forward of the previous three and shows the newly shaped heavy wooden rail around the passenger entrance. The steps, (yet to be fitted), rise up from the bottom lefthand corner to floor level, the remains of which can be seen either side of the new material.

And finally, a general interior view looking forward toward the driver's seat, showing the extent of the restoration work still to be tackled.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

XUF141 - October 2015 visit

Southdown was rightly famous for its extended “Coach Cruises”, and it is perhaps inevitable that vehicles built to the company’s touring specification have shared most of the limelight and are well represented in preservation, even though they formed a relatively small part of Southdown's coaching fleet. For example, all four coaches in the Southcoast Motor Services collection were originally touring coaches, and although all were downgraded and upseated for general work later in their service lives, we are restoring them to their original luxurious specification.

A much rarer bird visited our depot recently, in the form of XUF 141, a Southdown Leyland Tiger Cub with Weymann “Fanfare” body, built in 1960 (fleet number 1141). This vehicle is believed to be the sole survivor of a batch of no less than 155 coaches built between 1955 and 1962 on Tiger Cub chassis, with bodies by Beadle (130) and Weymann (25).

Designed for “Beacon” Tours, Day Excursions, private hires and general coaching work, these coaches were a familiar sight throughout Southdown's home territory, and further afield. 1141 has been authentically restored externally and internally, and features the “Cirrus” pattern of seat covering, which was also used on contemporary batches of Leyland PD3 “Queen Mary” double deckers.

Friday, 16 October 2015

954CUF - Bluebell Railway free bus service

Bus 954CUF took part in a reenactment of Southdown service 20 between Brighton and Sheffield Park Station (Bluebell Railway), on Sunday 1st November 2015. A regular, free of charge service operated throughout the day, starting from Brighton Pool Valley at approximately 10:00 and calling at Lewes Prison 18 minutes later. The last return journey from Sheffield Park ran at around 17:50.

Car 954 operated the following journeys:

1400 Brighton Pool Valley - Sheffield Park
1525 Sheffield Park - Brighton Pool Valley
1615 Brighton Pool Valley - Sheffield Park
1750 Sheffield Park - Brighton Old Steine

Saturday, 3 October 2015

2722CD - October 2015

When we purchased car 1722 in February 1990, it was still fitted with 41 'high capacity' coach seats installed by Southdown during 1971. These had replaced the original 2+1 aside Chapman reclining seats which previously gave an overall passenger seating capacity of 28. When the vehicle entered the Southcoast Motor Services operational fleet in 2002, we reduced the seating to 37 by removing one row and repositioning the seats to the original pitch.

It has always been an ambition of ours to restore the vehicle back to the original seat layout, and much experience was gained following the restoration of car 1749 (also with 2+1 aside seats). On return from 1722's last private hire of the season on Saturday the 26th of September, work started to mark out the flooring alterations required. As well as new seating, the luggage rack will require repositioning and a new floor covering fitted. Various other alterations will also be required. As the project progresses, regular updates will appear.

These seats are to be removed and placed in store for use in another vehicle.

The luggage rack will require repositioning to its original fixings.

The markings on the floor.

406DCD - October 2015

Our convertible open top double deck bus, number 406, has had its 'bonnet' recovered. The bonnet in this instance being the engine access cover which is inside the driver's compartment. Measuring roughly 3 square feet, and covered in brown linoleum, it allows access to the engine by lifting on a massive piano style hinge. The old covering was becoming slightly tatty, so the cover was disconnected and lifted out of the cab to be worked on. Here it is seen being stripped down.

Minor repairs were carried out and a new aluminium sheet fitted, on to which the linoleum is glued.

Finally the new linoleum and polished aluminium strip were also fitted. The finished job seen back in the bus.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

PUF161H - September 2015

Various restoration tasks have been completed, including refurbishment of the saloon heater matrices and heat exchange boxes. Here, one of the matrices is seen under leak test.

The heat exchange boxes sit under the saloon floor. A fan draws air from the outside, passing it through a heater matrix where it is warmed before entering the passenger saloon. Below are several pictures taken of one of the restored boxes.

A new fuel tank has been fabricated from stainless steel, as seen here.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Southdown antimacassar find

Recently, we were delighted to be offered around 200 original Southdown coach antimacassars - head rest covers which protect the seating material and add a pleasing look to the inside. When we restored 1749, we commissioned reproductions which, whilst of excellent quality, proved very costly. With an eye to the forthcoming re-seating of coach 1722 this winter, and future requirements for coach 1828, this acquisition couldn't have come at a better time. They were even delivered in their original laundry box!

A taster of the future seating in 1722: here our reproduction antimacassars really look the part in Harrington coach 1749. It will be great to see original items back in use. We would like to thank the generous well-wishers who helped us to secure these original Southdown items. It's amazing what's in people's lofts!

LUF828 - September 2015

Restoration of individual items quietly progresses in the background, resulting in some amazing transformations. One such example is the front interior panel which curves under the windscreen on the kerb side. The first photograph shows this panel after removal, but with the lamp inspection hatch already restored in the seating fabric which will adorn the interior side panels; the rest of the panel is in a diabolical state. The aluminium section is the kick-plate which goes at floor level.

The same panel after restoration. The rest of the lining material will be fitted after the panel has been fixed into place. A close up of the chrome plated ash tray is below.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

972CUF - August 2015

Work on the rear axle has continued since the last update in May, becoming rather a painful saga. After the refurbished hubs were put up, it was found the replacement brake drums wouldn't fit: they were binding on the new brake linings. Odd, as all of the replacement parts were new and within the manufacturer's tolerance. This vehicle is a side project, but quickly became the focus of attention for several staff for many, many weeks. The hubs were taken down, bearings rechecked and refitted; the brake pins and bushes checked for excess play - nothing amiss here; the brake shoes were swapped for others, again no difference; then, the brake drums were slightly turned down and checked for ovality. Finally, the near-side went together perfectly - ah, we thought, the off-side would be a doddle. Wrong. (The off-side hub is seen here, once more removed).

Hours more were spent carrying out checks. Finally, micrometer checks to the wheel studs (to which the wheels are fixed), revealed small variations in measurement between each stub.  This variation prevented the brake drum from sitting true. This bus has not yet joined our operational fleet since being purchased from its previous owner, and this sort of check is imperative to ensure future safe operation. It would seem that sometime in the past, the off-side rear wheel assembly has been strained, possibly due to hitting a severe pothole or similar. There was nothing for it but to change the studs for new ones; fortunately, these were in stock, purchased as part of an auction lot during the sale of items from the former Southdown garage at Hilsea. Here is a close-up shot of one of the wheel studs, and next to it the hole where one has been removed. Finally, we can report that the work was successful and at last the rear wheels are on!

PUF161H - July 2015

Much of the mechanical overhaul is complete, save for one or two jobs which need to be tackled nearer the end of the project. Earlier, when the front axle was checked, we found excessive play in the king pins. These are large steel pins fitted to each end of the front axle and enable the wheels to steer left or right. Too much lift or tightness can usually be adjusted through adding or removing shims. However, too much sideways play often suggests the pins are worn. Dreading the task ahead, much to our delight we found that new king pin sets are still available and very reasonably priced at that! A small miracle considering the vehicle is over 45 years old.

First, we stripped out the old pins and removed the stub axle. This is a daunting job, as king pins often seize in position. However, a few taps and out they came, much to the relief of the people involved. The first two pictures show one of the stub axles after removal of the pin. In the first. the wheel bearings run on the polished surfaces on the right hand side; in the second, the apertures in which the pin sits and upon which the stub assembly swivels can be seen. Photo three shows the end of the axle into which the pin slides.

Below: a pandora's box of replacement parts! The old pin is to the left; in the box is a new pin, new brass bushes, seals and grommets. 

And finally, the wheel assembly refitted, free from side-play.