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.

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