Thursday, 24 December 2009

24th December - Progress Report

Good progress continues on RTW335 and prior to the Christmas holidays, a template for the lower deck horizontal stress panelling was fabricated and fitted. The existing stress panels, which are welded to the vertical steel frame, are all badly corroded and replacements will be in zintec metal sheet.

We wanted to get the offside of the vehicle stripped down as far as possible prior to christmas, allowing replacement steel and specialist timber to be ordered whilst keeping the nearside frame intact at this stage. The upper deck plywood ceiling panels have been removed for replacement and early in 2010 the upper deck floor panels will be replaced. This will give the staff dedicated to the project a clean sheet from which to start the re-assembly of the upper deck, whilst also being a visible milestone for the project.

The interior aluminium domes will be paint stripped and the offside cove panels have already been sent away for paint removal.

See Leon Daniel's own blog for the account of Leon and others saving RTW335

Saturday, 19 December 2009

19th December 2009 - Progress Report

By 19 December, all exterior panels and mouldings have been stripped off and work is focusing upon the offside of the vehicle, removing rotten timbers and steelwork beyond repair. The timbers and steelwork removed have been labelled and stored for use as templates - and the most common sections are now being fabricated by a local specialist joinery company. The removal of the timbers has allowed access to the steelwork which can now be treated with red oxide paint.

The plywood ceiling panels have been removed and these will be replaced with new. Although the ceiling panels were in poor condition, the framework they concealed looks as good as new!

More stripping!

This view, taken on 12 December, shows RTW335 stripped further with all the corroded steel window pans removed. Although some specific parts removed can be re-used during the restoration the majority of panels and mouldings will be scrapped and replaced with new. With the exception of one window pan, which will be used as a template, all are others are severely corroded. It is planned to make a fibreglass mould from the good one and use this to make new units - but this is a way off yet!

Stripping commences

The BusWorks team lost no time in getting RTW335 into the workshop and stripped down to its main frame - but not before the whole bus was extensively photographed as a record for the future. There is considerable interest in the work on the RTW and to examine the all-Leyland construction in comparison to the standard Park Royal, Weymann and Metro-Cammel examples.

Because the type had a relatively short life in London, the class was never extensively overhauled or repanelled unlike the standard RT class, many of which survived in London service until the 1970s.

Stripping of RTW335 has revealed that the type employed the standard Leyland "patented metal construction" with a basic steel frame with timber inserts. But stripping has also revealed that all the timber is essentially rotten, whilst much of the high quality steel used is still in good condition - although there are areas of corrosion - particularly around the rear platform and cab area.

Friday, 18 December 2009

About RTW335

The RTWs had the distinction of being London's first 8ft wide motor buses with 500 being introduced in 1949 on modified Leyland Titan PD2 chassis. Originally they were banned from Central London, and from anywhere with tram tracks, which limited their scope somewhat. The Metropolitan Police were only prepared to admit them as suburban buses until trials took place that allowed them into central areas from 1950.

RTWs had a relatively short life with London Transport with withdrawal commencing in 1963 after the last trolleybuses had been replaced by the conquering Routemaster. Some survived in use as driver training vehicles, others were sold to small UK operators whilst a large number (279 of them) were exported to Sri Lanka.

RTW335 ended its service career with London in 1965 and was exported to Solingen, Germany and latterly used as a demonstration bus for Hywema vehicle lifts. It was stored outside for many years where it's condition deteriorated until rescued by two prominent preservationists in 2004 and returned to England.

In 2008 it passed to Ensignbus for future restoration to join their heritage fleet and in October 2009, Ensign commissioned the BusWorks to rebuild the bus. It arrived in Blackpool on 24 November and will be fully restored to operational condition over the next 12-18 months.