24 November 2019

Testing,1, 2

I've been continuing some of the many tasks that need doing and there are loads of them. Yes, the bus came together quickly earlier in the year, but I knew of all the things that were outstanding as that happened. There's still a long way to go but I've been concentrating on making the bus waterproof. The trip to Showbus showed what was bound to happen without the eyebrows fitted above the opening windows; the rain came and in it came. I have finished those now and filled any gaps left by short trimming of panels (it seems fine when you're doing them, but some - especially the edges of the new roof panels - fall a little short). The beading and strap plates will cover most gaps, but I want to be sure and aim to do the job only once, even if it means taking longer to do it.

Saturday 23rd November 2019 provided another opportunity to go on an outing. This one was a heritage bus running day on London route 140 organised by London Bus Museum and I offered to take the bus along to promote the event. The forecast was for some light rain to die away by mid-morning. Boy, did they get that wrong, It rained solidly for most of the day, with heavy drizzle for an hour at a time, with 30 minute dry interludes thrown in. But I looked on it as an opportunity to test the bus and see what leaks. The roof was fine as were the windows (except where the rubber curls and needs to be glued down). Rain got in around the rear emergency exit window, but was expected as the rain run-off rail is not yet fitted. The jury is out on the destination display, but I think the unit will come out and have extra sealing performed on it, just to be sure. Now is the time to test these things, before the finishing parts are added. All tested well.

Despite the dreary weather, the day was a resounding success. Sean Weston joined me as conductor on my non-service bus and after starting at Harrow Weald, we followed the 140 route to Hayes. There we had to use some back roads to turn around and we parked in a bus stop which was closed due to road works. We handed out leaflets and engaged with the public, telling them about the event and pointing them in the direction of the bus stop that they could hop on a bus from. Quite a few of the buses operating in service went past in both directions. As the weather deteriorated again, the foot traffic eased, so we set off northbound on the route. We stopped at every stop that had probable customers waiting and Sean handed out leaflets and briefly told them about the old buses following on behind that they could jump on. We did this as far as Harrow, where we pulled up in the town centre at a high foot-traffic area near the main shopping area. We were quickly surrounded by a crowd wanting to know what it was all about, so we let them know and answered their questions. After a while there, we decided that we needed a break and we made our way to Harrow Weald bus garage and parked up in the back yard with some of the other buses involved in the event.
RT3316 alongside Lee Rose's M1014 MCW Metrobus

RT3316 with Peter Osborn's RT4779

We went back to Harrow to the same place we had stopped earlier and once again drew the crowds, including people we had handed leaflets to earlier in the day who had taken a ride on a bus and wanted to thank us. We gave out the remainder of our leaflets to everybody else and obliged with photo requests with the bus and answered questions about the restoration. Having done our job, it was time for Sean to get off to Central London for a Christmas Lights tour, so I decided to give him a lift, as I had nothing else on. Although traffic was bad, we got to Victoria with time to spare. Still with nothing to rush off for, I chose to tag along with Pete Legg's and Tim Barrington's Routemasters and see the Christmas Lights. As I was driving, there was no opportunity to take any photos or shoot any video, but I was impressed with the lights in Oxford Street - well worth seeing. The crowds I could have done without; they were 15 to 20 deep on each side of the road, overflowing into the traffic lanes. You need confidence to drive in a packed Central London even in a car, but you definitely need it when driving a bus. No worries there though, I can hold my own.
The route was from Victoria up to Hyde Park Corner, Park Lane, Marble Arch, Oxford Street, Regent Street, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Strand, Fleet Street, St. Pauls, Cannon Street, London Bridge and finally Tower Bridge (which was traversed at 2mph to allow for all the selfies with the bus in the background).

RT3316 pictured in an office window
An interesting colour scheme caused by red lighting opposite

I decided one direction from West to East was enough, so after a break at Tower Hill, I drove back to the storage, having spent 12 hours out and about and feeling like I'd been driving non-stop for four days. A thorough wash was well earned (for the bus) and that helped to highlight the need for the next coat of undercoat, however I am holding off on that until the beading and trim is added. That progress will be slow as this time of the year is not a great time to be hanging around in a cold barn.

Tucked up safe and sound back at HQ

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