17 April 2015

Restoration intro

Welcome to the RT3316 blog, which provides progress on the restoration of this 1951 AEC Regent III (RT type) double decker London bus. For the uninformed, it's the one before the Routemaster and it is red (always has been) with the engine at the front (with a half-cab) and platform at the back. There were c. 7000 of these buses built, but less than 300 survive today (most were scrapped).

The bus is undergoing major restoration. The original plan was to get the restoration performed by specialists but this did not pan out. The restoration is now being performed personally with assistance from various individuals who will be referenced and credited (where appropriate) through this account of the overhaul.

The restoration involves a considerable amount of work, but it is worth doing. A warning to anyone who thinks about buying an old bus to fix up - they can look quite good but conceal the real condition beneath the skin. It can be difficult even for a trained eye to really assess whether a purchase is worthwhile (as it can easily require £60,000 to make a bad bus good). This is not the case with RT3316. This bus revealed much of it's need for repair upon first inspection and consisted of an even balance of good and bad bits. Knowing that 50% needs repairing or replacing simplifies the task at hand and the desire to crack on and get the work done means that the timescale of completing this within a year is realistic (which is better than the 7+ year estimate that other RT owners state, from their own experience).

<EDIT> It later transpired that 95% of the bus needed reparing or replacing, including major items.

I will be bringing the blog quickly up to date with the work that has been performed so far. I am not an expert at restoration (I have never done anything like this before), however I am learning quickly from an incredibly helpful and knowledgeable array of people. I have quite high standards, so if I think that the result is good enough, only total purists are likely to disagree. I am also quite capable when it comes to 'fixing things' - it isn't what I do by day, nor am I talented at everything - I know when to ask for help. But I am happy to get my hands dirty, possess good common sense, have a positive attitude and drive. With the right tools, I can do lots of stuff. With these attributes, the restoration will get completed and will be done properly to a good standard.

I hope that you enjoy this account of the work. It may not always be completely serious, but it's not meant to be Pulitzer material!

Steve Downing


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