19 March 2020

Blog retired

I've looked at the statistics for the blog and found that it simply isn't read by enough people to warrant it any longer. Everyone likes Facebook; so I've decided to retire the restoration from the blog and move updates solely to the Facebook page - https://facebook.com/rt3316page

Instead I will use this space to give a short background to the restoration. Once you've read this you'll be up to speed as far as the global Coronavirus disaster of 2020...

In 2014, I bought a London Double Decker bus, a RT type from 1951. I’d been a bit of a bus fan and liked this type of bus in particular. It’s the same type that Cliff Richard drove in the film, Summer Holiday. For many years I’d enjoyed going to bus running days where you can ride on them, owned by preservationists. I just got to a point where I decided that I wanted to own one myself. To buy one that is in really good condition costs in excess of £35,000 and I knew that if I ever had that much money I wouldn’t spend it on a bus. So the only way I could afford one was to buy one that needed doing up. The plan was to buy a doer-upper and work long hours and pay someone to do it up. Lots of overtime means extra money. The cost at the end of the day would work out the same as buying a good one, but I could pay for it in dribs and drabs. As this is the short version of the story, I’ll cut to the chase – I found a bus for sale. It cost more than it was worth, but at the time it was a seller’s market and I wanted to get on with it. I found somewhere to store it temporarily and tidied it up a bit to take it to the 75th anniversary of the bus type to show everyone what it was like before being restored. I then spent the rest of the next year working out who could restore it and found a place who would do it for a fixed cost. However, they reneged on the deal once they started the work and I realized that I would have to do it myself. I’d never done anything like this before, so I asked around and listened to advice from those who had done it. I asked the London Transport Museum if I could copy the original drawings and they agreed. I found somewhere that I could not only store the bus, but work on it as well. I started buying tools and stripped bits off the bus. Before long I worked out that I needed to strip it right back to basics – a skeleton. The roof was busted. The riser that holds the platform on was shot. I needed to get a new riser made, which definitely meant that as much had to come off the bus as possible. I had bits made. I removed the rotten wood (90% of what was on it), treated the rusty metal and fitted new parts. New floor channels, repaired pillars, repaired and new rails between the pillars, new wheel arch hoops, new platform, a frame for a new roof, repaired window frames and had new ones made. Fitted new wood (which was treated to make it last), refurbished windows, fitted them with new rubber. Cut new panels and fitted them, new roof panels, repaired front and rear domes, repaired bonnet, cab framing, light fittings, canopy structure, destination display frames and glazing. I spent many thousands of hours working on the bus, sometimes in the cold with hardly any light, sometimes out in the warm with a cold beer. When the bus came together, it came together quite quickly with a goal in mind – the 80th anniversary of the bus type. It wasn’t finished, not by a long shot, but it went along anyway to show what a work in progress looks like. With primer and undercoat added afterwards and various bits revisited to get them right, the restoration continues. I’m hoping that it is in the final year of external work, with the interior still to be done, which will take a couple more years to do.