Wednesday, 22 November 2017

406DCD - November 2017 winter works

The winter is upon us and the buses have been put away until the spring. Now the engineering fun starts! First in the queue is our 1964 Leyland PD3 number 406 which has come in for some well-deserved TLC. The cylinder heads which were previously fitted to car 350's old engine, (the one which was removed last winter after a refurbished one was installed), have been sent away and completely stripped down. The surfaces of each head were skimmed to make them true and replacement valve guides and brand new valves (sourced from eBay!) fitted. They were recently delivered back to us and are seen here nicely wrapped.

The plan is to remove the existing heads from 406's engine and replace them with the refurbished ones. This project was driven by the existing head gaskets showing signs of stress and suspected valve wear. The engine itself is the original one fitted to the bus when we bought it from Southdown in 1988 and generally performs well. The thinking is, that refurbished cylinder heads should prolong the engine life for many years to come. Here we see the inside of 406's engine bay with the old cylinder heads during and after removal.

A thorough inspection and clean ensued prior to the new heads being fitted (seen here).

We have been lucky enough to source some army surplus CAV type injectors to replace the existing Leyland ones: the latter being obsolete and no longer sensibly repairable due to lack of parts. However, spares for the CAV type can still be sourced. Two of the refurbished set of six are seen here.

Whilst the engine job has been coming to its conclusion, another team has removed the anti-roll bar attached to the rear axle. One of the large rubber bushes was showing early signs of wear and so a replacement has been fitted. This photograph shows the unit way from the bus.

The next job on 406 is to adjust the front springs and also replace the remaining rubber bushes within the engine support brackets.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

PUF161H - September 2017

There's has been the usual summer lull in restoration work whilst regular maintenance and operation of the main fleet continues. September has been particularly busy with Goodwood Revival and a whole weekend hire requiring all five operational vehicles to be out on the road. However, one small but pivotal job on DP Leopard 461 has been the making of new wheel-arch assembly from aluminium sheet. An old one is seen below, whilst a replacement is fabricated on the bench. Winter work will soon ramp up as the main fleet is mothballed until the spring.

Monday, 28 August 2017

972CUF - August 2017 update

There has been a big push with this project of late. As reported in June, the entrance doors are being refurbished which has entailed their removal from the vehicle and complete strip-down. Once the primer and cream top coat had been applied, the doors were refitted to the bus so that the green lower half could be marked out. The doors were again taken down, masked and the first of the green paint applied. Here are a few shots of this process.

Elsewhere on the bus, all of the windows have been removed. This enables each of the sliding frames to be dismantled and refurbished, the glass throughly cleaned and refitted with new green window rubbers. Again, pictures from this process are seen below.

Friday, 30 June 2017

972CUF - June 2017 update

It's been a little while since we told you about progress with returning this vehicle to active service. Not being one of our regular traffic vehicles, 972 has to take a back seat whilst more important jobs are tackled. This doesn't mean things aren't moving forward. At the present time, the entrance doors have been removed as part of the entrance step renewal reported here last July. Incidentally, the new steps are seen here in the process of being finished off

At the same time, the platform has been stripped of its old floor covering and the floorboards treated.

The new green 'Treadmaster' floor covering has been cut out to the correct size and is seen here upside-down, being glued for laying.

The ceiling panels over the platform area have also been removed and are presently being stripped down and repainted. The bare platform ceiling area can be seen here, with upper saloon supports exposed.

Meanwhile, the entrance doors themselves have been stripped down and are being repainted. More on this story as reassembly progresses.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

PUF161H - May 2017

The restoration of the boot and back end of the vehicle continues, with good progress being made. As can be seen here, the new steel frame which surrounds the entrance  to the luggage boot and onto which the external panels are fixed is being replaced. The two vertical steel pillars either side of the boot aperture are critical as the door hinges are fixed at these points.

From inside the boot itself, the complex arrangements of stress panels and fixing points can be seen. Once all the rebuilding work has been completed, the boot will be painted in the standard Southdown brown paint used in such areas.

There is quite a bit of wiring in this area, mainly for the rear light cluster, but also for ancillaries such as rear door warning circuits and reversing horn. The cat's cradle can be seen here, as original. This whole mess will be rewired as soon as the surrounding structural work is complete.

Monday, 29 May 2017

HCD350 - May 2017

It lives! After several months rebuilding and reconditioning, our Panoramic PD3's new engine recently ran for the very first time. The bus has since passed its MOT and is performing faultlessly on weddings and other duties.

Friday, 14 April 2017

406DCD - April 2017

Now that Spring is here, our resident open top bus has been brought out of store ready for the coming season. Routine maintenance aside, the chance has been taken to tackle one or two other jobs which will go a long way towards preventing a failure later.

The metal and rubber bushes which drive the alternator have been replaced with new ones fabricated by a firm in Sayers Common in Sussex. The associated adjuster and fan belts were also renewed. Once the cab floor was refitted after this job, a nice new leather gaiter was installed around the base of the gear change.

The front road springs were those originally fitted to sister vehicle 974CUF (long since broken-up for spares), and are due for replacement. New springs have been specially made and fitted. Below, the near-side old and new can be seen side by side; final adjustments are being made to the new one with a hand grinder.

And seen here after fitting. By the way, the silver linkage seen to the top right of the picture is part of the front near-side engine support bracket, a closer view of which can be seen below.

The top and bottom link have special rubber bushes fitted and these were showing signs of old age, so the engine was supported by jacks and the links taken down - see below.

These are the links after being cleaned-up and painted. A selection of new rubber bushes (left) can be seen against the old (right). The final picture shows the linkages reassembled and job complete.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

PUF161H - April 2017

With the majority of the saloon floor renewal (and much of the steel supporting frame repairs) completed, attention has turned to the luggage boot. This was pretty rotten to say the least: the steel supports, wooden floor and surrounding stress panels all required complete renewal. Here, the floor, back wall and near-side stress panel have been removed.

The first piece of new material was the back wall, (next to the rear axle - seen above in yellow primer), and again below from the off-side - it was fed in from here, which is why part of the old stress panel has been cut away.

Next to come out were the rotten steel floor supports. These also act as cross-members between the vehicle sides, there being no chassis at this point. The replacements made up quite a considerable order from the steel merchants, some of which can be seen recently fitted in the two pictures below. In the lower one, the new near-side stress panel can also be seen top middle - the back wall is to the right.

The most recent progress at time of writing is the part installation of the floor (below). This is painted brown and will eventually be finished with varnished slats (on which the luggage slid). These have yet to be made; again, the originals were rotten. The final picture shows the new against the old: the body-side stress panels will eventually join to the newly fabricated rear corners. This picture just shows what a difference can achieved.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

HFJ144 - February 2017

Although not part of the Southcoast Motor Services fleet, a recent departure from our depot has been HFJ144, a Leyland PD2/1 with Leyland body, built in 1948 as part of a batch of seventeen vehicles for Exeter Corporation. Coincidentally bearing the fleet number 17, this vehicle was delivered new to Exeter in February of that year, at a purchase price of £3,243.00 (£106,300.00 in today’s money).

It entered service straight away and remained so employed until March 1970 when Exeter Corporation Transport was bought out by the newly-formed National Bus Company: its vehicles were absorbed into the Devon General fleet, a company which had also recently been acquired by NBC. Along with three sister vehicles No. 17 was put up for sale and was acquired by a small consortium of enthusiasts led by Philip Platt, the well known Devon General enthusiast, who sadly passed away earlier in 2017.

No. 17 was taken to the West of England Transport collection at Winkleigh Airfield and kept under cover there until 1993, when it was acquired by a Surrey-based enthusiast. It arrived (somewhat ignominiously, behind a tow truck) at our depot on the 12th March 1994 and underwent a five year comprehensive mechanical and exterior body restoration. Exeter Corporation had somewhat belatedly realised the economic necessity of allowing advertising material to be displayed on their vehicles, but when they did, they did it in style: all adverts being meticulously painted by expert signwriters, a feature which was perpetuated in the restoration. A thorough restoration of the interior then took place, with the finished vehicle being back on the road in 2010.

Appreciated though it has been in Sussex, No 17 was a long way from its natural home, so a decision was finally taken to return it to its old haunts and it is now in the care of Dan Shears at the superbly upgraded Winkleigh facility.

The Southdown connection

Looking at the intricate mahogany interior mouldings, which are a feature of the Leyland design, it would be easy to imagine that these vehicles were almost hand built by craftsmen, but the truth was very different. In1948, Leyland built no less than 976 PD2 chassis and put their own bodies on 749 of them, giving a weekly output of 18 chassis and 14 bodies – a remarkable achievement at any time, but particularly so in view of the post-war shortage of materials and labour. As a result of this productivity, barely a week elapsed after the last Exeter PD2 had rolled off the production line before work commenced on the first of a batch of near-identical vehicles destined for Southdown. Car 316 was the first of eighty such vehicles, often referred to by enthusiasts as “the JCD’s” – a reference to their registration letters.

Prior to the advent of the PD3 'Queen Marys' in the late 1950s and 60’s, these vehicles formed the largest single delivery to Southdown in the post-war period. This version of the Leyland body design was extremely robust and widely regarded as a classic of its time, with most of the Southdown fleet serving the company well for almost twenty years. One of them also survived into preservation: car 381 (JCD81) was withdrawn in April 1967 and sold to a dealer in Greater Manchester. It was purchased for preservation in December 1968 and spent several years in the North of England, (mainly in Sheffield), before returning to the Brighton area in December 1974. Sadly it was heavily vandalised about eighteen months later, and was scrapped at Ashington in November 1976.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Social Media Update

We have a new Facebook page:

Restoration articles will still appear on this Blog as usual. Thank you for your continued support.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

HCD350E - February 2017

From last month's post: the new engine, with gearbox attached, being installed! Now just the ancillary fittings to be fitted and the engine eventually tested.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

HCD350E - January 2017

Besides the continuing restoration work to our DP Leopard PUF161H, this winter has seen our attention turn to resolving several issues with the 1967 'Panoramic' PD3 HCD350E. The November blog described work to change the king pins and this month we've turned our attention to exchanging the engine with one already rebuilt, (see September 2016 and other previous blogs). At the other end of the bus, work is taking place to replace life-expired panels and fixings.

Seen here, the engine is stripped down in-situ and then removed complete with gearbox.

The gearbox, clutch and various other small parts will be removed and fitted to the waiting new engine. Meanwhile, these are some views of the stripped down rear end. New panels are now being made, as are replacement timber and fabricated steel sections.