Friday, 30 December 2016

PUF161H - December 2016

The ongoing floor renewal reported last month continues and has now reached the rear axle. Recently, a further steel cross-member, located above the fuel tank, was found to be cracked and a replacement has been made and fitted in similar fashion to the first. This photograph, taken from above the rear axle looking forward, shows this new (grey) cross-member in position and the plywood floor in the process of being fitted on top.

As you may have now gathered, extensive work has been undertaken around the rear axle. The old floor was lifted and disposed of, the wheel arches removed and the associated steel sub-frame assembly cut out. Not only does the sub-frame support the floor between the wheel arches, it provides anchor points for the seat frames and adds strength to the fibreglass wheel arches themselves. The first photograph, below, shows the exposed chassis and rear axle (wheels removed). The second shows the steel sub-frame assembly leaning against the outside of the bus after removal. A completely new frame had to be made from scratch and the third picture shows the measuring process being undertaken with a piece of the replacement steel.

Turning to the chassis itself. Having been exposed to many years of water, salt and grit, the area around the rear axle needed a lot of attention, as might be expected. The two parallel chassis members, which run the length of the vehicle, are held apart with rigid steel sections and the rearmost (pictured below) was suffering from a build-up of scale and rust. It needed to be removed, inspected and the chassis descaled and painted.

Restoration is rarely ever easy: in this case, the rigid steel section is fixed to the chassis using the same bolts as the rearmost spring hangers and so the bus needed to be lifted and supported whilst the rear spring shackles were disconnected. Then the spring hangers themselves were unbolted, leaving the rigid steel section free to be slid out from between the chassis members. These pictures show the spring hangers shortly after being unbolted and the area on the chassis where they previously sat. The back of the near-side rear spring can just be seen in the bottom of the second photograph.

You may have noticed that the inside of the luggage area or 'boot' can be seen behind the steelwork. This has been exposed due to the removal of the 'back wall' of the boot to facilitate removal of the rigid steel section (by now seen here sitting on top of the chassis after removal). The final extraction of the steel section was no five minute job: the chassis had to be prised apart using hydraulic rams. Further, because the chassis was sitting on blocks of timber to facilitate the removal of the spring hangers (described earlier), jacks had to be inserted incorporating greased sliding plates to allow the chassis sections to move apart. These photographs show this arrangement still in place very shortly after the steel section had been removed.

The final floor supporting cross-member was also exposed at this point. Unlike two of previous ones which had cracked, this one was actually sound, despite the rusty nature of the surface. However, we decided to remove it to facilitate changing of associated brackets and fixings. The descaling process is also much easier on the bench. These views are of this section before removal.

Once all the various components described were repaired, painted and ready to be fitted, reassembly started - a much less messy process than removal. These views show the spring hangers and rigid steel section bolted back in position, the rear cross-member fitted and the new sub-frame assembly in place. Once the new plywood floor has been fitted to this area, our attention will turn to the boot and associated stress panels

Friday, 18 November 2016

PUF161H - November 2016

The removal of the existing floor continues. However, as with just about any job tackled when restoring an old bus, nothing is simple. It soon became apparent, that the steel sections fitted down the middle aisle to which each seat leg is attached were in poor condition. A decision was taken quickly to replace these critical fittings, So, off to our local steel fabrication people and 24 hours later we had the new parts.

The floor is spilt up into bay sections. Here are pictures of the first bay around the front wheel arches. The near-side (left hand) arch has been fitted, whilst the off side is still waiting to go in. In the middle of the first picture, the yellow piece of steel is one of the newly fabricated seat rails referred to above.

Once the other wheel arch and new ply floor was fitted to this area, bay two was started and the news got worse. Besides the expected seat rail issue, it was discovered that one of the 8 foot wide steel cross-members which support the body had a nasty crack; the tell-tale was that a previous owner (probably Southdown) had professionally welded in a repair patch. It's always wise to look closer if someone else has been there first! The opportunity to replace the support only presents itself when the floor is missing and so once more a phone call produced a replacement steel part. Here, (picture taken standing on the new bay 1 floor), the old section is still in place (left to right in the middle) before removal.

A close up of the patch covering the crack.

Two close-up views of the crack.

The replacement cross-member next to the old one.

Throughout 2016, one of our gang has been busy dismantling and inspecting each of the vehicle's seat frames, a seemingly never ending but vital task. To complicate matters, the seats are fitted with foot rests and these have been dealt with separately. They are seen here covered with a white(!) rubber grip, which fortunately is removable without damage and will be cleaned for later reuse.

The seat legs are an unusual curved shape. Each has been checked and where damage discovered will be repaired. The remaining have been meticulously rubbed down and primed. Another batch waits treatment here.

A similar process has taken place with the seat frames themselves, with the added complication that the curvature of each frame requires checking as some are distorted. About 30% require welding repairs and this job will be done over the coming weeks.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

HCD350E - November 2016

Each bus has a pair of king pins fitted to the front axle and are the 'swivel' which allows the front wheels to change direction. It is fairly rare to need to change the pins: adjustment can be made to remove excessive pin lift by arranging different shims. A certain amount of sideways play is allowed, but can only be completely eliminated by changing the pin and its bronze bushes.

Following the dismantling of the front axle from scrapped vehicle 974CUF, we were able to establish the exact dimensions and type of pin fitted to these vehicles. A recent trawl of the internet revealed four sets of pins for sale and these have been purchased for future use, except that we decided to immediately renew the pins on our 1967 Leyland PD3 HCD350E.

The first job was to remove the hub and brake chambers before the pin could be extracted. The pins usually don't just pop out, (as they did when we changed them on Leyland PSU3 PUF161H), but fight all the way. In this case, we constructed a frame in which sat a 10 tonne jack. The process looks rather 'Heath Robinson', but in actual fact was perfectly safe and very successful!

Once the old pin was out, the end of the axle could be cleaned and checked, as could be the stub axle assembly.

Finally, the bronze bushes were changed and the new pin fitted. The stub axle is seen here reassembled with its new pin. The other side will be changed next.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

LUF828 - November 2016

Like a slow cook casserole, restoration of our Southdown Royal Tiger simmers away in the background. The roof area has been taken to bits and the sliding panels released. These panels, when opened, allow fresh air and sunlight to pour into the vehicle and it becomes the next best thing to 'open top'. The panels are roughly 4 feet square and made with timber framing, which as usual is rotten and has had to be replaced.

The first picture shows one of the old sliding panels; the second picture is the same panel with a new timber frame (made 'in house') laid against it. 

Here is a close-up of one of the new corner joints.

This sideways view shows the extent of the curve to the vehicle's roof. Each part of the new frames (there are two) had to be hand shaped to match.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

PUF161H - October 2016

Restoration of our 1969 dual-purpose Leyland PSU3 Leopard has restarted after the summer lull necessitated by operating season commitments. Attention has turned to replacing the floor. Some readers may recall that these vehicles 'leaked like sieves' during their service with Southdown decades ago, (something we will address further along the restoration process) and as a result the floors were prone to rot. Our bus was no exception - this photo is typical of the damage.

Starting from the front entrance and moving towards the rear, we are systematically replacing each section with new marine-quality ply. The old floor is lifted out, supporting beams examined and repaired and new boards fitted. Eventually, a new green 'Treadmaster' covering will be laid. These photographs show the front wheel arch area stripped to basics.

The new plywood sheets have been cut to size for the relevant parts of the bus and the under-sides have received an arm-aching primer coat of paint: some sheets are 4 feet by 8 feet! The process was then repeated with a grey sealer coat - some of the prepared boards are seen here. More as progress is made.

Friday, 30 September 2016

HCD350E - September 2016

In January and November 2015, we reported on work to completely rebuild an exchange engine for our 1967, Northern Counties 'Panoramic' bodied Leyland PD3/4: the present engine has been showing its age over the past few years. Much of the work was carried out by a local engineer to our specification and we are pleased to say that the rebuilt engine has now been returned to us.

Completed tasks included: regrinding the crank shaft, fitting of new liners and pistons, skimming the block face and cylinder heads and fitting new bearings, shells, seals and valves. We will 'dress' the engine with brackets for the fuel pump, alternator and starter motor as the engine is fitted to the bus - expected to be during the coming winter. Here are a selection of photographs taken during the rebuild process.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Workshop matters - August 2016

One of the less successful design elements of the Leyland vertical O.600 engines, (which power all our double deck buses), is the adjustable fan belt pulley mechanism which also doubles as the alternator drive shaft unit. The problem stems from the fact the adjuster, which takes up the fan belt slack, is a screwed turnbuckle affair which will happily seize with no encouragement whatsoever. This results in the weakening of the surrounding cast steel housing, leading to cracks or breaks and eventual loss of adjustment to the fan belts, with inevitable risk of the engine overheating and the alternator not charging the batteries.

These units are less common than they once were and we have introduced a rolling programme of reconditioning. The photograph shows one of the pulleys undergoing heating by gas torch. The extreme temperature goes some way to breaking the rust seal within the adjuster joints and makes it less likely the casting will break on disassembly.

After the unit has cooled down, it will be suspended in diesel to penetrate and lubricate the joints. Once in bits, any repairs will be carried out before final reassembly. The unit will then be swapped for another, and so on.

2722CD - August 2016

Here are a couple of views of the new seats, freshly arrived from our trimmer, in the process of being fitted to the reconditioned seat frames in Leopard coach 1722. Green moquette to the original 1961 pattern is finished with brown leather panels and cream leather piping. Not only do they look fantastic, they smell rather wonderful too!