09 April 2019

Whirlwind catch up

As has been pointed out to me several times, the blog is well overdue for an update. It has been a busy time and something had to give and writing updates was what fell by the wayside. It was busy because of the anniversary at the end of March / beginning of April. 2019 being the 80th Anniversary of this bus type, but also being 40 years since they came out of normal service with London Transport. More about that in another post, but that was what I was working so hard towards.
So here is a quick whirlwind catch-up through a six month period.

To start with, I spruced up the battery bay valance panel. A 5 minute job, not. But very rewarding.

At this point I cleaned out the lower saloon, which had been used to store the seats, to start to prepare for putting the bus back together. Another 5 minute job - not.

Multiple streams of work ensued next, making the new hoop sticks for the roof panels and preparation of windows. Once I had successfully completed a hoop stick, I then proceeded to make the remainder exactly the same. These are a new design of my own making as London Transport used only a hoop stick at the front and rear of a one-piece roof. Trying to make and fit a one piece roof on your own is not practical, so I opted for the RT2 method of framework. The RT2s were a pre-war design and were fundamentally timber framed and construction. I did not want to rely upon wood alone, so I integrated steel brackets of my own design (based loosely upon LT drawings) which were laser cut in 3mm steel (self taught CAD). It took 3 attempts to get them how I wanted them to be, but the final product is spot on.

I also needed to make my own brackets and to make sure that they were sturdy, I made these from angle iron manually cut into the right size and laboriously drilled out. It’s all worth it in the end, despite the fact that they took about 12 hours to make.

A number of the non-standard windows needed repairing. That is a time-consuming job that I never want to have to do ever again. I was told it was the worst part of the restoration and it most certainly was. But eventually, they were all repaired and prepared in etch primer.

The domes needed my attention. Both front and rear domes were badly damaged and not just dented. Enter a new skill of panel beating. I don’t use paint stripper through choice, so like everything else, they needed rubbing down. It seems to take forever, but it’s not actually forever, it just seems that way. I repaired both of them and finished them off once I had fitted them back onto the bus (single handed!). If I had a pound for every time I went up the ladder to do more work upon the front dome, I could probably pay for a good night out. Except that I didn’t have time for any nights out.

Rear dome damage uncovered

Front dome damage uncovered

Time to teach myself panel beating...

It takes about 4 hours to strip a dome

Christmas was spent making a roof framework and then as the bus had been roofless for at least a couple of years, kept smashing my head (front and back) on the new framework. Sometimes you have to learn the hard way, but it took a long time to teach this old dog. But nothing much in the noggin to damage, so no harm done.

Domes on, roof panels on. All done by a team of one, just in time before the wind picked up. I make it sound easy. It wasn't. Did I tell you that I don't like heights?

A setback in the engine bay by a leaking coolant pipe meant that the already prepared components there had to be done again as they were already beginning to rust through the primer. That was something I could have done without and as rust was now about, rust inhibitor needed to be used. So the bonnet, the wing, the front mudguard and the pieces between the driver and the engine all needed to be stripped down again, treated, rubbed down and primed. A huge amount of work that I could have done without.

Destination boxes – they hadn’t been touched and now needed a considerable amount of work too. The mechanisms needed overhauling and I also worked upon the wheel inner skin (sits underneath and deflects water thrown up by the wheel).

Time to do the main windows and the opening ones needed a complete overhaul. You probably need to allow a day per opening window. I had some help, but some of them were completely seized. We managed to refurbish all of them so that they are as good as new. It is a steep learning curve.

By this time I was into March 2019 with just a couple of weeks until the big event at Barking. The wood to fit above the lower saloon windows needed finishing off and fitting. Before the windows could be fitted to the bus, the small bits of wood that they sit on and that support the interior shrouds needed to be fitted and I hadn’t even made them all. So next up was making intricate pieces of wood, working until about midnight most nights.

The front destination display had all new wood made and treated. All the screw holes were pre-drilled, new glass was obtained and new rubber to fit around it. Sealant was added to the bottom edges and with the securing aluminium strips on the inside stripped and prepared, the glass was fitted. The display supports were repaired at their rotten ends (welding) and the front destination display was once again reunited with the bus, but only after all of the display boxes were rubbed down and given a couple of coats of new white paint.
Fitting windows required holes drilling in the new window pans and countersinking those holes. I had another pair of hands but it was yet another laborious task. Another of those '5 minute' jobs.

Fitting the cab side window proved difficult. It appears that the batch of rubber obtained (it is a special type for this window) was slightly oversized. Unfortunately after 3 hours of making the glass get into the window pan, it shattered.
This meant that I had to obtain new glass. Due to the impending deadline, I got 2 pieces made. The new glass did not fit either and had to be ground down by the glass merchants and then took 3 people to get it to fit. Adjustments were needed to the framing to fit the window into the correct position.

With just days to go, electrical wiring issues had to be resolved and the headlights refurbished. By this time the working days had well passed the 12 hour mark every day and the temperature was not great.

Finally I was able to cut and fit some panels. I took advice on setting up a circular saw as a large scale table saw, but it's not a nice job with tiny shards of aluminium fired at you by the blade, so considerable personal protection was needed. 

Anyone who has any criticism regarding the completeness of the bus at this time - I'd like to know what you did in the last six months.

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