27 December 2015

Year summary

As the year draws to an end, it's time to reflect upon what has taken place in respect of the restoration in the last twelve months.

The year started out with RT3316 wrapped in a mega tarpaulin, being stored outdoors. Far from ideal, but storage for a double decker in the Home Counties is not easy to come by. I had determined that the only way to progress the restoration was to take on the work myself (with the grateful assistance of volunteers) and would need to find undercover storage in order to do so. I was extremely lucky and found somewhere nearby that I was able to move into in spring and start dismantling. The seats and seat frames came out and it was assessed that the platform and battery risers needed replacing. These are critical parts in this bus and it has taken the rest of the year to get them made and fitted. Thankfully that has now been finished and this major hurdle has been overcome.

During this time, lots of other work has taken place on the bus. I decided in the end that most body parts needed to come off so the year end sees a seriously stripped down vehicle. This allows me to deal with the rotten wood and corroded metal framework. The outer appearance of the bus disguised considerable decay (this is the case with many RTs) and that had to be chased back a long way. Getting to the root of this and then treating and fitting new is the only way to end up with a proper job that will last years.

There are more hurdles to overcome. Metal brackets between the decks are all corroded and need replacing and I haven't been able to find any anywhere. I've been lucky enough to find many items that I need and they will be invaluable, but some items just aren't available (or elude me) and need to be made. In 2016 I will also have a load of window pans (frames) to repair - the existing ones will be married with donor ones and cut and shut together. The work is planned to continue throughout 2016 with the aim of completion as early as feasible, whilst ensuring that it is done properly and such that it will last and not need to be done again any time soon.

I will finish with a photo of what RT3316 looked like before the restoration work began. This was just 8 months ago, but it seems like a lifetime.

16 December 2015

All systems are 'go'

The riser replacement is getting ever closer. The bus has been lifted and propped on blocks. Supports have been attached to the rear bulkhead pillars with high tensile M12 x 130mm bolts and they rest on new railway sleepers. A test has been done to lift the bus from the blocks and allow the supports to take the strain of the body. It was a successful test, although the riser is yet to be fully split from the body. A longer time period is needed to ensure that the swap out of the riser is completed, rather than chancing it by leaving the body propped up - it's just a case of being cautious. All the preparation is now done.

As if this wasn't good enough news, the steering wheel is back from being refurbished. Originally coated in plastic, it had become brittle and sharp where it had cracked due to age. Electrical tape was used to stop fingers from being sliced open and make the driving more bearable (it really did spoil the fantastic experience of driving as you'd constantly find yourself moving your hands to a different part of the wheel that was more comfortable). The plastic was stripped off, the cast aluminium wheel was sandblasted and baked in an oven to remove impurities and then coated in nylon by a company called Nylospray. The end result is superb and stated to be more hard wearing and longer lasting. So this should still be around and not need replacing decades after I am gone.

Christmas is just around the corner and it will be a good opportunity to crack on and get loads done. I'll take Christmas Day off, as I think I've deserved one day off. I'll leave you with a link to a larger version of the picture of the riser area in case you crave more detail.

13 December 2015

The good, the bad and the naked

There have been some ups and downs recently, which is to be expected of an undertaking of this size. On the plus side there has been good progress in certain areas; refurbished parts have returned to the bus awaiting refitting - the upper saloon has been considerably stripped, revealing the extent of work necessary and panels and many windows removed. Some of the advice that was received was not to be tempted to strip it all down, just work on one part at a time. I started off following this advice, but circumstances determined that I ended up having to do the opposite. I have some sources for parts that may not be around forever, so I need to make the most of those and in order to do so, requires stripping everything back (I was finding that I was purchasing items that I didn't actually need when it came to properly reviewing the existing ones). I also need to determine a plan for refurbishing window pans - most of mine need work and I have acquired a lot of donor window pans, but I still don't know if I have enough or if I now have too many. The refurbishment of these is cut and shut - cut out the bad sections of existing pans and use a donor to make good. This cannot be fully assessed until the windows are removed from the bus for inspection. This is coupled with the need to get on with the new risers and removing as much from the bus as possible reduces the weight, thus reducing the risk of things going wrong when the risers are replaced.

I have a bit of a hard-on for getting the risers done now. I have had them for quite some time and was led to believe that I would be getting assistance to fit them, but it now transpires that is never going to happen. This mammoth task falls back solely on myself to do, which has been a scary thought given my lack of experience with such things. Most people start with something small and easy to do like a car restoration and maybe never progress much beyond some simple car bodywork. I've opted to jump in at the deep end and replace major load bearing parts that sit beneath 5 tons of double decker bus bodywork. Furthermore, there are no instructions or You Tube videos on how to do it. I know what I am trying to achieve but it is far from an easy task. The rear of the body needs to be lifted off the risers so that they can be removed and the new ones fitted between it and the chassis. I need to achieve this without distorting or (worse still) dropping the body. If the latter happens, it's probably game over and I suspect it will be a case of scrapping the bus, having it towed away unceremoniously. I can see why nobody wants to help. But I jumped in with both feet to this restoration so will give it my best shot.

When risers were replaced by London Transport, they lifted the body off the chassis to do so. They had cranes and they had jigs that cradled the body and could tilt or turn it so that it could be worked on. They also didn't have 50 years worth of corrosion to deal with. I don't have those luxuries or benefits, so the plan I have devised is as follows:

  • remove the platform (not that difficult, it was so badly rotted and was not an original one)
  • remove all the connected items on or around the risers
  • remove as much weight as possible
  • brace the inside of the bus body to prevent the sides from caving in
  • lift the bus a few inches using a 10 ton jack (it's an investment required if you own a bus)
  • support parts of the body accordingly
  • lower the body onto the supports, thus allowing the remaining weight of the body to be transferred from the risers to the supports
  • remove the old risers and fit the new ones
  • lift the bus again to remove the temporary supports
  • lower the bus onto the new risers
That is a simplistic plan of how to perform the work. The amount of effort to achieve it is considerable, but I am now progressing it to the key stages of riser removal and fitting. The next restoration updates are either going to be filled with delight regarding overcoming this huge milestone or will be a sad end to disastrous undertaking and the doubters will be able to say "I told you I was going to end up saying 'I told you so'"

And a bit more (bus lifted to start riser work)...

19 November 2015

Stepping up a gear

The expression "many hands make light work" is absolutely true. Working on a restoration may be therapeutic, but doing so alone is not conducive to progress when you have set an aggressive timescale. The risk of increasing the amount of work that is being done is that you forget where things are supposed to go, so putting it all back together might become problematic. The upside is that it becomes more economical, more manageable and morale boosting as you get whole sections dealt with. This bus was a rust bucket, which is not that uncommon. Various parts have suffered from water ingression - fitch plates (they go from the edge of the upper saloon floor to the outer panels and cover over the lower saloon lights) and coving panels in particular. These have simply not been dealt with for the past forty-odd years or have been covered over without being treated. As these are all above head height, every time you hit a part of the bus with a hammer, a shower of rust would fall down. In much the same way as a dentist we have rooted out the decay. In the days of Aldenham they used to go around marking pieces with chalk that needed replacing - we're almost the opposite - if we find something that is good, it gets a label on it that says 'GOOD'. We haven't had to write too many of those. But as per the advice I was given, everything that we have taken off has been labelled. Lots of photos have been taken so that they can be referred to.

In the last update we had moved to the front of the bus and started removing parts there. One of the reasons for this was so that we could use the space directly in front of the bus for storing seats and seat frames, as these were all being stored upstairs. We applied rust treatment to all of the exposed areas on the front of the bus that had surface, non-severe or non-structural rust. We then moved all of the contents from the upper saloon out and went to town up there. The inner and outer front domes, all the seat frames, trim and cork tiles were removed, as can be seen below.

What is not apparent from the photos is the removal of all the offside trim and many of the offside panels. This has been achieved using a ladder in the confines of a gap that is less than three foot between the bus and the side wall of the building. All of this work will help to alleviate the weight constraints when the riser is fitted, which is still outstanding. However, this period has been making good use of hard working volunteers who won't always be available. With their time being productive, considerable progress has been made which keeps the aggressive target of restoration completion by next year a possibility. Watch this space for further considerable progress in the next restoration update (I know what is coming up, but I'm afraid there are no spoilers - you'll just have to wait for it!)

25 October 2015

Show us your front

Today was another one of those days where we had a plan to do something and got distracted with a 'we'll just do this first', which always leads to something else, which ends up turning into a big job. The 'we'll just do this first' was removing the d-shaped trim around the front of the bus, but what I turned into was removing the indicators, front can't rail sections, nearside and offside corner panels above the can't rail, d-shaped trim below the front upper deck windows, the front destination display windows and the trim under the canopy holding the canopy in place. Today's photo shows the final outcome, a good day's work.

According to reports and statistics, people following the progress of the restoration least like doing so on a Sunday. Well, that is when I am most likely to post an update after a long day of working on the bus. I'm sure if you all want to hear about it, you'll do so as and when you are ready but if you want to make sure you know when an update has been posted, just make sure you're following the Facebook page at https://facebook.com/rt3316page - that way you'll get a notification. If you 'Like' the page you will get notified when there is an update.

18 October 2015

Busy busy busy

Wow, I can’t believe it has only been a week since I last provided an update on progress, although I have been saying that things will get busier now.

It is time to remove the steering wheel and get it refurbished. The coating is cracked in places and has electrical tape wound around it to stop fingers getting sliced, but that has severely affected the driving experience. The wheel is held in place by a single bolt and a small slither of metal recesses into a groove in the column and in the wheel. Four bolts connected from the underside of the wheel that can connect to a wheel ‘pusher’. I don’t have one, so I set about making one. Using a strong thick piece of hardened steel, I drilled out the holes for the four bolts and another in the centre, which was tapped to accept a bolt. The pusher lined up near perfectly on the first attempt and I tightened the bolt against the steering column with a ratchet handle. As I tightened the bolt, the thread got chewed away on the bolt and I realised that it had been a waste of time. Plan B involved a copious amount of WD40 and an obscene amount of heat. Heat had been tried in the first instance but had been fruitless. This time the heat gun was placed directly over the column, suspended by cords and cable and allowed to run for at least ten minutes until the end of the steering column was glowing red and the WD40 was beginning to evapourate. When I returned to the wheel with a crowbar to lever and a sledgehammer to ‘persuade’, it only needed one light tap and the wheel was off. The metal retaining piece remained connected in the groove of the column.

With the wheel off, attention was turned to the rear destination window. In need of some TLC, it needed to be removed. The cherry picker is now proving to be invaluable, providing a safe, sturdy platform to work from that can be easily moved around the bus and adjusted up or down at the press of one button or the other. The trim was prised off the rear destination box window, followed by the surrounding panel, the panel below, the curved corner panels on the nearside and the offside, exposing the whole destination frame and allowing removal of the lower part of the destination panel. The glass in the main window was broken, so had to be extricated with a few taps of a hammer – a new piece will be needed anyway.

The nearside destination window came next. The surrounding panel was not original and was connected on the inside of the box with rusty screws. The panel could not be saved and was sacrificed in aid of ensuring that the box itself remained intact, showing few signs of decay. The right decision was made. With a couple of offside rear panel removed, the tail end of the bus looks quite different now (and better by getting back to the root of the corrosion. It is now possible to see what needs to be done underneath and allow access to do it.

The next goal is to empty the upper saloon which is being used as storage space. All of the seat cushions will be taken out and stored in the giant tarpaulin, wrapped up to protect them from dust and from damage. I also want to reduce the weight bearing down on the lower deck whilst the risers are replaced. The weight of a bus load of seat squabs, seat frames and other items adds up.

Another shopping trip was undertaken as well, obtaining a replacement bonnet that is better than the current one, brand new lower (slightly curved) outer panels, a brand new under-canopy window, various pieces of curved and shaped wood, a battery bay, a rear emergency window, pieces of trim and other essential parts. 

11 October 2015

Into dry dock

It has been quite a while since I posted an update on the restoration progress and people may have got the impression that it’s all gone to rack and ruin. That is not the case, but there have been some setbacks and delays as well as curve balls that life has thrown at me to boot.
The platform riser and battery riser proved to be more challenging than expected for the company that made them. It turned out that the original plans used don’t explicitly show an imaginary line that needs to be included to be able to get the platform brackets in the correct place. This meant that they were not lining up correctly and getting it right meant considerable delay. But at least they are right now and the drawings are correct for any further risers that anyone needs. These risers are a modern representation of the originals and have been galvanized inside and out, are stronger than the original whilst still retaining the same crucial measurements. The next stage is to put the bus into ‘dry dock’ to remove the old risers and fit the new ones.

Whilst waiting for the risers to be manufactured the nearside floor was tackled. The channel at the outer edge was corroded in too many places to warrant repair, so new channel was made to the same specification and we had some custom brackets made for these. The turnaround time on these pieces is not particularly quick – small bespoke items don’t hold much of a priority with most of the companies that we approach to do these things. But we did cater for the offside as well – this bus is being done thoroughly.

We also determined that we needed a lot of brackets to support the wood that fits between each bay. These are principally two types with holes in opposite configuration, so to all intents and purposes, left and right brackets. There were no ‘off the shelf’ brackets that suited the purpose, so we had some made to a new universal design that works for either left or right. However, the first batch of these were not right and added further delay. We now have them and they are all correct – we anticipate that we have enough for the whole bus (all of the original ones need to be replaced – there is no point in doing a half-hearted job).

Whilst all of this was going on during the summer, we sought to address the issue of accessing the upper part of the bus. Ladders and platforms are an option, but portable warehouse steps are ideal for this task. The only problem is that they are not made for being transported – they need to be strong, so they are typically welded together or so seriously bolted that it is not feasible to dismantle when it comes to buying secondhand ones. Enter the cjherry picker (or more accurately ‘vertical lift’). To suit the requirement a secondhand vertical lift on a trailer was bought. It needed some refurbishment, so it was rewired and the trailer components were modified, rust treated and painted. Hey presto, we have a fully functional 24v vertical lift with a two man cradle that raises up to 5.9 metres. Which is more than enough to get to any part of the 4.35 metre high bus. The refurbishment has most likely tripled the value of it, but it is now a useful asset and wins friends in the preserved bus scene!

Further parts stripping has been taking place as well. A project like this is very time consuming, which is why it is labelled as ‘a labour of love’. Removing old parts has to be done slowly and carefully. Most of the screws and bolts are rusted and are more like pins. The corrosion happens about half way down, so they get thin in the middle, but much of the wood has rotted and in the process has swollen. So swollen rotted wood holds onto rusted screws and bolts. Most parts need to be prised off using chisels, screwdrivers, hammers and a crowbar. Constant gentle prising is needed, coupled with the patience of a Saint. Many of the tasks seem quite daunting and you feel deflated as you uncover the extent of the corrosion. In my case I was also uncovering a lot of bodged work. Rusted pieces that have not been treated but have just had car filler applied, with the corrosion continuing to eat away underneath. Thus, some parts just come away in large chunks of filler. You have to eradicate the decay by either removing or treating all the rusted parts. Sometimes that means cutting out sections, but the end result needs to be corrosion free and then be treated against future corrosion. Eventually it will break down again - especially if exposed to the elements – but a decent protective layer can help to fight off that damage and ensure that the crucial hidden parts don’t fail the integrity of the polished final product. The latest pieces to come off are the nearside front wing and nearside front mudguard. The wing was not easy to remove, but had to come off as it is corroded and needs to be repaired. But we will make it come up like new. As for the mudguard, it needs repairing due to corrosion, but I have managed to acquire a brand new one in LT primer. That is one of the parts that I have been able to get hold of.

Getting hold of parts for a 65 year old bus is a challenge. You don’t just find them on the internet and there is no “Parts for old buses” shop. But it is not impossible. I have made sure that I balance working on the restoration with networking at various bus events. You need to get to know the fellow bus owners and take note of their recommendations and advice if you are new to the game. A project like this is a steep learning curve and there are many people who will help you along the way, but they are not going to come to you – you need to go out and find them. I found someone who has collected parts for RT restorations and has now determined that they won’t be doing any more, three is enough. Thus they have lots of parts that I need. For me it is like it is Christmas – I made a list, checked it twice and found that 90% of my wish list is available. Being able to obtain the parts will save a considerable amount of time, effort and expense. Which is fabulous as I have a ridiculously aggressive time schedule for getting the work done and I have to hold down a full time job and pay for it (I’m not a highly successful millionaire businessman, I work like most other people and maintain all the usual things that everyone else does too – this would be far more difficult without volunteers to help me).

The current stage of the restoration is the fitting of the risers (this will take a while as the old one is not going to want to come out easily), along with starting to build up the nearside lower deck again and removing more parts for renovation. The steering wheel will go away for renovation; the nearside front wing is being repaired and the front mudguard being replaced. Sean Weston has joined the Friends of RT3316 and has been instrumental in helping to remove the rear destination cover which will undergo refurbishment by Ken Brett, also a Friend of RT3316. Ken has finished refurbishing many of the parts removed during the summer. They won’t be going back onto the bus yet and I will take some photos for the next update. Some have been finished off completely and others have been etch sprayed ready to be fitted again prior to a respray.

One last thing that I haven’t mentioned is that I paid a visit to London Transport Museum’s Archive. I had to arrange this with them (and it took a while), but I found that they were very helpful and allowed me access to the original technical drawings, many of which haven’t seen the light of day in well over a decade. I now have technical details that will help when it comes to having to make up parts or have them made. As the time that was available to me was limited, I only got my hands on about four to five hundred drawings. I saw the rest and they numbered about another thousand – I will have to arrange to go back again and make sure that I have more time on my next visit to go through them all.

28 July 2015

A video update

I have not been lazy since the last update. However, work on the bus is taking priority over updating progress on work on the bus! Sorry about that, but as everything takes such a long time to do (having to be meticulously careful in removing parts), time is something that is precious.

Everyone loves a bit of video, so I decided that it would be nice to present the restoration update visually on the new You Tube channel for RT3316.

The video can be viewed by following this link:

or you can click through via the picture below:

21 June 2015

Video interlude

Trying to keep on top of what I have updated about and what I haven't is becoming a challenge. So I'd thought I'd take a break from the essays that I have done recently and summarize with a labelled photo and add a video for your pleasure.


The video is a short of starting her up and driving down the yard and then reversing back and turning her off again. It just goes to show that she still drives well (even without a third of her!) and that the sound of an RT still invokes a nostalgic feeling. Hosted on a new You Tube channel set up to store RT3316 videos. The video is available in HD 1080P (better picture quality, but uses more bandwidth). The clip is 2m27s.


07 June 2015

Still stripping

It's been a couple of weeks since I last posted, but I haven't been lazy; I've been putting in a lot of hours and have got a lot done.

In that time there has been even more stripping down. I'm still working towards removing any parts that get in the way of replacing the platform or battery risers. In parallel I am also working on the nearside to ensure that the work taking place to repair that side does not get hindered.

With the batteries now relocated, the old battery bay has been taken out. That sounds a lot easier than it was - it's a heavy beast made from strong angle iron. Some of the nuts and bolts connecting it to the rest of the bus required cutting off with an angle grinder. The panel forward of it (between the offside rear wheel arch and the battery compartment was removed to gain access to the offside end of the platform riser and the pillar attached to that end. Most items that come into contact with either riser have now been disconnected or removed, although the bus is still movable and does not yet need the back end supported.

On the nearside the panels in bays 4 and 5 have been removed revealing corrosion to the short waist rail in bay 5 (just ahead of the platform area) and the waist rail bracket connecting it to the pillar between bays 4 and 5. The corroded half of the bracket had to be cut off. A new half of waist rail bracket will be added to this pillar and a new short section of waist rail will be created for the short section of bay 5. With all the loose rust removed, the remaining parts were scrubbed with a wire brush and a wire brush attachment for the power drill and then treated with Vactan (http://performance-chemicals.net/vactan/). The pictures show the before and after (second picture taken 24 hours after application. You don't want to get that stuff on anything important, as it permanently stains (black).

During this period I have:

  • Removed most of the beading from the lower saloon external bodywork
  • Removed the horizontal tray under the stairs (keeps weather out)
  • Received new bulbs from CEAG (www.ceag.co.uk - 24v 20w 50mm pearl - product code 0601548) - they look great!
  • Removed rear offside panels and rotten wood
  • Removed over platform cant rail panel and rotten wood
  • Removed the small step at the rear of the lower saloon (over riser)
  • Removed battery bay
  • Ordered new pillar brackets (wood supports) for manufacturing
  • Placed an order for treated ash (half a bus worth)
  • Acquired 7 scrap window pans for possible cannibalization
  • Obtained an estimate for new aluminium window pans
  • Rust treatment (as previously mentioned)
  • Charged batteries
  • Had a good tidy up!

27 May 2015

Been busy

I haven't posted in a couple of weeks - not because of a lack of things to post about, but because I have been too busy. Many hours have been put in since my last update. This has been a period of further stripping down. New platform and battery risers are being made and preparation for them is being undertaken. The platform riser sits on top of the end of the chassis, connects to pillars at either side that run vertically, has the end of the lower saloon gangway on top of it and has brackets connected to the front face, which then go underneath the riser to support the platform. The battery riser connects to the platform riser at a ninety degree angle and connects to the rearmost part of the bus (at the bottom) and provides support for the battery compartment beneath the under stairs compartment (the buggy hole).

Lots of panels need to be removed to gain clear access to the risers. The batteries have been moved to a new temporary home on a wooden platform that I constructed, that wedges on the offside bench seat frame. This allows us to move the bus around (e.g. outside in the sun / daylight) whilst continuing to remove the battery compartment and other connecting pieces. Grab rails and edging has been taken off, along with some of the floor slats. I keep thinking of "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" where he shrank as he got older until he completely shriveled away. The bus is looking a bit like that right now and there is even more to come off yet. It's like a dentist doing a filling - all the bad stuff has to come out and prep for adding new.

I also has a trip to Ensign this week. I obtained some Routemaster moquette (seat covering) and arranged with Ensign to swap it for RT moquette. This will be used for seat refurbishment as many had perished over the years, in particular those exposed to direct sunlight whilst the bus was stored in the same position outdoors. Whilst it was stored outdoors last year in my ownership, it was covered with a very large heavy duty tarpaulin, despite the fact that the damage was already done. When the cover was not on the bus, the seat bases and backs were removed and inverted and for some time they were also covered inside the bus. The trip to Ensign allowed for me to see the historic vehicles that they have there. I was in RT heaven!

Also at Ensign was RT3316's former stable mate, RT4599 (ST2001). This bus remains stored with no plans to restore it at the present time - vehicles that get restored at Ensign, do so because of their desirability when it comes to private hire work. Unfortunately that's the way it is when it's a business and whilst they'd love to just go ahead and restore all of them, some may take a considerable amount of time to get done and may end up not getting done at all, but act as a donor for spares for the others.

With the longer evenings and warmer weather, there is more opportunity to crack on with getting the bus restored. It's quite therapeutic but I do like some music to egg me on. Fortunately in a former lifetime I was a pucker DJ (innit?), so I have sorted myself out with some appropriate tunes. I like non-stop music that blends well and for this kind of thing I choose to listen to some upbeat classic tunes rather than banging house. The likes of Queen, Eric Clapton, Radiohead, Coldplay - you get the drift. I believe that I have found a way to share that with you so that you can also enjoy my mixes whilst doing what you do (for me right now it's prising panels off and pulling rusty screws out). The following link should direct you to my (RT3316's) One Drive, where you can listen to or download them. As it's Microsoft's Cloud it should be able to cope with everyone connected to it at the same time:

There are 6 mixes there that are about an hour and a half in length (each). That gives you about 9 hours of music to sing along badly to and if you need more than that, you need to get a life!
I hope you enjoy the music. I'll add some more at a later time when I get bored of this lot!

11 May 2015

Short pause

There's been a little pause in the restoration of RT3316, so that I could take a short holiday. We all deserve a break every now and again, so a few days in the Canary Islands was called for. What with everything else that needed doing, work on the bus was not as intensive as it has been.

Having said that, I consulted further with various sources of information including Dave Simmons at Tilsworth with regards to the bowing of the nearside pillars and received advice on how the pillar was not actually one piece but was separate upper and lower deck pillars connected by two brackets. One bracket extends from the lower pillar across (above) the lower saloon ceiling. This ceiling is attached to the lower edge of this bracket. The other bracket is bolted to the lower one and sits above it, extending from the upper deck pillar inwards, providing a curved support for the upper saloon foot well panels to connect to. These smaller brackets have corroded. There is also a separate mild steel curved panel that sweeps downwards and is intended to act as an additional seal against water ingress. It didn't work as it is corroded along the whole length. Having discussed its usefulness (it's not structural), I've decided not to replace that piece.[edited: I've had further discussion with regards to this - known as the inter roof can't rail plate - and have been told that it is very important and that it supports the upper saloon floor and without it, the floor will sag. I am still unconvinced, partly due to the diagrams (it connects on the outer edge to a piece of wood, which can't possibly be keeping the upper saloon floor in place), partly due to all the other more significant pieces that support the floor and also because I don't have any can't rail plates now and upstairs is definitely still there. You use your own judgement and like everything else that I write, don't take what I say as gospel. I do make mistakes.]

I was able to secure what is possibly the last rear window pan for an RT still in existence (that is not fitted to a bus). It is not new and needs some repair, but it is just minor corrosion around the edges. The actual pan is in really good condition. That's really good news as what was on the bus was a mish mash of odd pieces that was previously bonded together with filler, putty and God knows what. It was a mess and was purely cosmetic external surfaces, that were not very good. It would have been impossible to create a watertight surround from what I had. I now have all the components to construct a proper rear window on the platform. I also measured this one up and have prepared a drawing so that it can be possible for further rear window pans to be made up, as needed by other RT owners in the future.

The seat frames from downstairs have now moved upstairs for storage whilst the lower saloon is tackled. To gain access to the pillars and their brackets, a panel has been removed above the can't rail. This panel is the length of two bays, so it is quite a big one. Although it was intended to stick to one bay at a time, we're having to remove additional panels to get visibility and access to neighbouring areas. It has to be done.

Some of the removed parts will be put back soon. Ken and Barry have constructed a superb bracket arrangement for the waist rails. These are not original brackets but are specially constructed to brace and provide support for the eroded pillars, whilst being stronger than the original waist rail brackets, they will be bolted to the pillars and to the waist rails, but will only be marginally heavier than the parts which they replace. In order to achieve this, a tool was made to press the new brackets to fit the replacement waist rails (allowing the securing bolts to be recessed as per the original design). I've seen the new parts in pre-assembly mode. Photos will be added in the future when they are assembled.

However, before they go in, we need to take up the floor in the lower saloon (probably most of it). The channel along the nearside edge has rusted away and there is nothing left of it at the rearmost part. Thus, the floor on the nearside (ahead of the rear wheel arch), is not supported. It simply stretches across the central floor support channels. At the edges of the floor boards, the wood is rotten (dry and flaky). From below the floor doesn't look bad, but some of the edges of the floor boards have water in down the outside of the bus, get in around the can't rail and window pans, subsequently running down the hidden side of the interior skin and ending up on the edges of the floor boards.

The bus continues to start and get full air pressure capability within two minutes - now that the user has had remedial action!

04 May 2015

I gotta wear shades

There's been lots going on this week; not all of it I can post as I don't want to jinx things. When those things happen (and they're quite significant), I will update the blog.

One big thing this week is that a new platform riser and new battery riser have been ordered. After a lot of research, e-mail conversations, messaging and phone calls, I have determined that the best way forward is to replace both of those and I got a supplier who had previously done this and was prepared to do it again. In fact, new technology has made it easier (and thus cheaper) to repeat. I am happy with the price - more in a month or so, when it will be due to arrive. There's lots to do in readiness - obviously the old ones need to come out (that will happen last), but before then, all the other stuff that obscures or sits upon these pieces has to come off. The old platform frame has gone (whilst it was no good, that didn't mean that it came off easily!) along with the stanchion (the bolt at the top is beneath the 'cuddle seat', (the seat at the back of the upper saloon). Handrails have been / are being removed. The seat frames from downstairs have now gone upstairs for storage purposes and the lower saloon is principally empty. We're working on the nearside ironwork and sorting out the issue with the pillars.

The cold starting issue appears to have been resolved. That would seem to have been user error. I will add that detail as a separate piece on the website and will link back here when it is done.

Once again she is looking worse. But I have the vision to see past this and crack on with the tasks at hand. I generally have a plan and agenda every time I go to the bus and when I get there it changes. It has to because new things arise that have a higher priority, perhaps because they are more important or typically because they have an impact on something else or a lead time / knock-on effect.

I've been surprised this week to find that I am able to source most things that I need from one place or another and not at inflated prices. The future is looking so bright, I gotta wear shades.

26 April 2015


Someone remarked this week that is very easy to get despondent when you're doing a restoration project. They're absolutely right and the irony is that last week I'd posted that I'd been listening to the song "things can only get better" whilst taking photos of the hard work ahead of me. What is so ironic about that? Well, this week I looked a little further up the framework and discovered that at least one pillar has completely corroded away. The floor above is bearing down on the lower part of the pillar and forcing it outwards. *deep sigh*

This now becomes a priority to deal with as a strong and sturdy structure is essential to the bus. I also discovered corroded supports and missing brackets (completely corroded away) for the nearside floorboards. Some of the boards have also perished and I know that when they come out, they are going to flake away into kindling. But why stop there? What is left of the platform frame was getting worse all the time. So I decided to remove the stanchion to see just how bad it was and it nearly fell off. One stubborn bracket attached to (what remains of) the riser refused to let go of the 20kg platform frame and had to be cut, levered and twisted (to weaken it) away. At least it won't fall off now. The more I do, the worse the bus looks. But it's like a cancer that needs to be cut out.

On a positive note I've had some useful and enlightening conversations this week. I have determined that the reason for the air taking so long to build up (air compressor builds up air pressure once over idling speed, which is needed for gear selection as well as brakes - no air pressure, no moving - the successful signs are that the stop flag rises, the warning light goes out and you can hear the hiss when you hit the operator or brake pedals). On cold days, or when the bus has got cold (indoors in the dark with a concrete floor is not the warmest of places) it has been taking nearly 30 minutes to achieve air pressure. The pressure does not leak, as once it is up it can stay up for hours or nearly all night (I vaguely remember those days). On Wednesday it took half an hour to get sufficient air pressure. On Friday somebody else had the same issue as they needed to move her. But when I went in on Saturday afternoon, it took less than a minute (even though it had been the previous day since being moved). So this turns out to most likely be a sticky valve on the gearbox and I'm told that some RTs are like this and others aren't and that was the same when they were in service. The advice I have been given is to try pumping the operator and brake pedals when starting as this can help to 'unstick' the offending valve. I'd really like to get it sorted once and for all, but in the meantime I'll try that and see if it helps. At the moment it's costing me a fortune to start it up just to pull outside. I will post some time in the future when I've had a chance to see if that works.

I haven't got as much done this week as I'd like to have. I had a puncture (not on the bus) this week which required breakdown recovery to come out. The following day the repair failed, so they had to come out again. Breakdown recovery eats into your time so much and 'fun' stuff is what has to suffer. I'm also trying to plan ahead to source:

  • A supplier of seasoned ash (or suitable equivalent hardwood) - if anyone has any recommendations please message me
  • A metal fabricator - I have dismantled a couple of my window pans (windows were known as 'lights' by London Transport back in the day, but if I say 'lights' you'll be thinking, wtf?!) and I have asked around for spares. I've not found anyone who has a shedload, so I am looking at getting them made up. With modern techniques and equipment I hope to find someone who wants to get into doing this, with the foresight that everyone else will go to them as well
  • Various RT spares - I've previously mentioned that I was supposedly given everything with the bus, but a rudimentary inventory has proved that I am missing various bits and pieces (shrouds, mouldings, bracelets, seat frame bolts). Fortunately there are people who have most of what I am after. I need to do a full inventory to get my shopping list prepared

Most importantly this week are the conversations that I have had and the people who I have met. I went to the Watford Running Day and talked with some great people who had plenty of time for me and it gave me plenty to move forward with. I didn't take the bus (it's properly off the road right now) but did catch RT604 there. The livery is not my favourite (I'm a red bus kinda guy) but I was scouring the inside to see what goes where and being anal and photographing bracelet positions, wood trim and tread placement. Geek stuff, but necessary for when things go back (everything I am removing is tediously being labelled, but a lot of things were already removed (some of it ripped off like the Hulk had previously been helping with restoration, some of it twisted, levered and cut off). These jigsaw pieces need to be identified, ascertain whether they all came off this bus and labeling. So now I'm bloody csi.

20 April 2015

A rollercoaster week

This week was a week of ups and downs. The week started off well with the knowledge that all important electrics were working. Then I chased up the riser pricing and had a knock back that the laser cutting suppliers previously used had got out of the business and a quote from another supplier had made my provider choke on his cup of tea. He was still searching out other suppliers, so all was not lost and I'd have to wait until the end of the week to find out if this is a feasible option.

Then I spent an evening getting on with removing the first two bays on the nearside. These bays had been restored by the previous owner and I knew that they were not right. The waist rails had been replaced with aluminium floor plates, which had no seat retaining brackets, so the seats next to them were unsafe to sit on and I refused to let anyone sit there whilst the bus was being driven. Boy was I glad I'd made that decision! When the bays came out, I found that the replacement waist rails were fixed only to the wood in the uprights with two half inch screws at either end. Bay 1 nearly collapsed when I started to dismantle it. The wood on top of the stretcher was bolted to the stretcher but wasn't attached to the pillars at either end of the bay. The wood above the window was only attached to the external panels and fell out when those screws were removed. Bay 2 was a copy of bay 1, but there was no wood above the window and no wood behind the cant rail (between lower and upper decks). I was flabbergasted.

What I don't actually get, is that the pictures found on the internet of the waist rail in bay 1 before being replaced, show that it was actually in fairly good condition and just needed some rust treatment and possibly some minor remediation work.

It is somewhat cruel to criticize people for their work, even if it is of a poor standard. I knew the first moment that I saw it that it wasn't up to my own standards (I can be a bit of a perfectionist) and knew that it would need to be redone, but had no idea just how bad it was until this week. I must admit that I was already harbouring a grudge because when I picked up the bus the destination blinds were missing. Not only that, the rollers were missing too. I questioned this and the first response I got was that there weren't any when he had bought it. I questioned that too, because just two months earlier there had been pictures posted on the internet with blinds being displayed. The response to that was that he didn't know where they were, possibly in the back of his garage. When I said I wanted them, I got told that he didn't think he'd be able to find them. It's one thing to want a keepsake like the local route destination blind, but that left me with the headache of having to get new rollers. It's like having a test drive in the car and really enjoying the sound system, only to find that when you pick it up the stereo has been removed and being told that there wasn't one, even though you'd been listening to some banging tunes. It's theft at the end of the day, but I'd let it go and moved on - until I saw the appallingly shoddy workmanship that had replaced adequate original pieces.

This bus has been wronged on more than one occasion. At some point in the past it has had work done on it that was not done properly - a cover up. I don't know who did that and it may have been done without the owner's knowledge at that time, with them thinking that they were getting a good job done. This most recent case was one of someone who got in over their head. I felt that given the circumstances that it was fair to levy criticism with my posted remark accompanying a photo, saying "All that shit has got to go".

I was ready to move on after my shocking discovery as not much phases me. However, the next day I found that all my Facebook posts had been deleted. If the previous night had been a low point, this was almost rock bottom. I'd been posting in a group on Facebook along with other bus preservationists and restorers. It worked well with the right audience and appeared to be appreciated. This is something that I am doing my way for me, but for me to share my story, my progress, the ups and downs with others who have an interest and some of whom would love to have the opportunity to do the same thing themselves, is rewarding for me. If just a handful of people find it useful or interesting, then the effort to publish is worthwhile. Having all of that wiped out because I levied some criticism (about 10% of what I have dished out in this article) along with all the comments and feedback I received, was very disheartening.

It was confirmed to me by others that the person who the criticism was made of (without actually naming them) is an admin of that group and that my posts had been deleted, I had been blocked with the additional action of being prevented from being unblocked. I deliberated about it and realized that I had actually been doing it wrong anyway. I started off using my Facebook account for the bus. Facebook don't like that, they like you to be a person. So I'd changed that and then posted to a group, but whilst that has the correct audience, it's not a good way to document your project because it gets lost among the other group posts. This blog was stale, but it is a good place to keep a diary of the progress as others can join later and pick up from the beginning quite easily. But in order to share this with the people who want to see it, I need to update them via Facebook. Hence the RT3316 page was born (https://www.facebook.com/rt3316page). This page is the place to post the updates for the bus, with the focus currently being on the blog as the permanent record. Comments are welcome on the rt3316 facebook page or on the blog itself. Questions, remarks, suggestions, opinions, praise, criticism - it's all most welcome. So we're back from the bottom, with a new spring to our step.

At the end of the week I got a message about the riser. My provider has found a supplier who can deliver what is needed without making him choke on his tea and I get the initial verbal pricing, which is better than I expected. That is great news. It will still be a big job, but it is just the end to the week that I needed.

This weekend I went back to really get the bays on the nearside thrashed out. I put in some hard work but it was worthwhile. I'd been advised to tackle it one bay at a time, but these three all needed to come out together, especially as any of them could have fallen out without their neighbours providing support.

The end result may look hideous to some, but to me it is fabulous. It's fabulous because we're making progress. The stretcher in bay 3 on the nearside needs some repair work, we have new waist rails for bay 1 and bay 2 (many thanks to Dave Simmons who saved us a whole lot of work by supplying some that he had made up some years ago). We can look to fit appropriate brackets for them and treat the rusted metal.

The cab emergency exit has been removed to be tidied up - but it is working, so that's a bit more good news. I also got sidetracked a little and started removing some trim around the cab. This revealed a mix of good and bad wood, but predominantly good. That was a concern as the cab is made up of dozens and dozens (not quite hundreds) of pieces of wood that need to be carved and are often rotten. Some of the wood in the cab has been replaced and (for once) has been done properly.

The week has ended on a good note and I'm pleased with the pace of restoration.