Everything takes a very long time to do and there’s always going to be setbacks. My assistant (Ken) has suffered with health issues that have taken him out of the picture (wishing him a speedy recovery for his own sake, not mine). That does leave me completely on my own to work on the bus - I don’t mind working alone, sometimes listening to music, but there are a lot of things that need another pair of hands to hold the other end and it makes it ten times harder when you don’t have that. Which means things take ten times longer. An extended period of no work has also meant that I cannot afford to spend money on the bus, so I have had to work on bits that require no expenditure at all and most things require money. This perception that you have to be rich to afford an RT is incorrect, but you do have to recognise that they are 'money pits'.
This time has given me an opportunity to get acquainted with my router, which involved taking it and the router table apart and putting them back together in a usable format. That means removing all the Health and Safety aspects, something which I can do when it is just me using it. The band saw got the same treatment and the grinders had already been “tweaked”.
One thing that just needed time and effort was the bonnet. The one that came on the bus had weld spots along the bottom of the vertical face (as many do) and required some work. So I sourced another, which in fact also required a lot of work and I wasn’t happy with it after the work was complete. Fortunately I was able to swap it for yet another, which (you’ve guessed it) required work. This one had about ten layers of paint and some of those clearly indicated that it had been on a Lesney RT. After rubbing all the paint off and carrying out other repairs on it, I ended up with a bonnet that suits my requirements. It still needs some hinge accessories and finishing work, but it is done, for the most part.
Working on the bonnet required removal of the wing and front nearside mudguard again and also uncovered a worn out water pipe. I’ve had to perform a temporary repair on this as I have no money to get it replaced – it will need replacing as it has rusted through along the pipe.
Whilst the bonnet was off, the timber along the bottom of the cab (beneath the sliding emergency window) needed dealing with. I was going to patch a section in, but decided to replace the whole length. This turned out to be a very time and effort consuming piece as the old wood was extremely hard and difficult to remove. The trim attached to the wood had to be repaired and treated and the timber at the front of the cab needed to be finalised to fit with it. All in all, about 100 man hours required to achieve the desired results. There is no rushing these things and the best that I can hope for is that I only have to do something once. Having to redo something is wasted time and effort and sometimes expense too.
I had hoped that the work on the bus would be finished by early next year. That is clearly not going to be the case and the best that I can hope for now is the end of next year. Getting the outside of the bus painted will take a couple of months and my distant goal is to present it at RT80 and be involved in the event. That is a long way off, but I need to keep up the momentum as there is so very much still to do.