Saturday, 4 December 2010

Dome of discovery

Ok, I know exactly what you're thinking - one step forward, two steps backward. Why is the roof panelling now off?
Well, this week we removed the front roof dome off RTW335 - it is completely shot. This resulted in two discoveries. The first was that it wasn't one dome - it was two! The outer panel was battered but this was actually a replacement dome with the layer underneath even more battered. Our other discovery was rot in the timbers underneath the dome. The roof panels on the RTW are solid riveted and overlap. To remove the front dome, the first roof panel had to be disturbed and some soft (but not rotten) timber was discovered. In the interests of RTW335's long term conservation and undertaking a thorough restoration, it was therefore decided to repanel the entire roof and replace the timber inserts. The ceiling panels have been taken down - although these were only loose fitted. Other developments are the fabrication of new seat frame supporting brackets and the top securing bolts so characteristic of the London RT and RM classes. Whilst new timbers for the front between deck area are awaited, the back board for the destination box has been replaced with new bulb holders and new wiring.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Plenty of seats on top!

We have been busy fabricating the original style seat fixing brackets and this has allowed a trial refitting of the RTW seat frames. We have also made an interesting discovery - the seat backs from a Routemaster will (with a slight modification) fit RTW seat frames. RTW335 returned from Germany without seat frames, so the use of standard RM/RML backs will save having to fabricate from scratch.
Other progress includes removal of the front and rear domes - which are both badly dented and not fit for re-use. A local company will make new, using sister bus RTW467 as a template.
Fabrication of new window pans is in progress and the re-fitting of these will make a great visual appearance to RTW335's extensive restoration.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

All that should glisten

Not the most exciting of photographs, but one that illustrates one of the many tasks in bus restoration - one of the tasks that are taken forgranted. The photo is of the component parts of the wind-down half drop windows from RTW335. The units have been stripped down and separated from the glazing ready for re-chroming. Screws were seized, gears were seized or covered in years of solidified grease and rubber gaskets have perished - all need restoring to form their part of the many pixels that will become the fully restored picture of a London RTW.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

RTW467 at BusWorks too

As previously reported, RTW467 is currently at the BusWorks for some mechanical work and MoT submission - but also to have its seats completed retrimmed. We have taken the opportunity to take lots of detailed pictures of this vehicle to inform the detailed re-assembly of RTW335.

Friday, 29 October 2010

More from the blog roll!

Other work in hand is the rexine covering of the internal window cappings on RTW335. If you scroll through the back pages of this blog, you'll see the condition of the interior with its cracked emulsion paint - the condition which 335 arrived to us. Despite the years stored outside and the generally damp interior, the aluminium window cappings are in good condition and fit to re-use. We are therefore stripping off the emulsion covered rexine, cleaning them up and fitting new green and cream rexine. The picture is not of a before and after - but of a cleaned up capping and one with new green rexine applied.

Back & blogging

Steve Newman at Ensign reminded me that it has been over 3-months since any fresh news on RTW335 appeared on the blog. I know this is unforgiveable but I can only use the excuse of a very hectic summer, day-to-day life at the BusWorks being very busy and frankly being a bit 'blogged out' with keeping track of events for the Blackpool tram 125th anniversary and the projects I was managing as part of this once in a lifetime celebration. Anyway, enough excuses - I apologise!

Although visually work on 335 does not appear to have progressed as far as I would have hoped by now, work is still progressing. The rear platform was stripped down to reveal to usual corroded rear step riser (which is now being replaced) and timberwork around the rear end has been replaced (see picture). There is still a reasonable amount of timberwork to replace around the front & cab area which is one of the next jobs - our specialist joiner has been laid up in hospital for two months after a big operation - but he is back part time now.

Other news to report is that sister bus RTW467 is now with us - and we have photographed it to death! Ironically, 467's body used to be on 335's chassis! We will be using the sister bus to create patterns over the next few months to rebuild parts of 335.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Panelling commences

Repanelling commenced today on the RTW, another major step forward in the restoration phase. Next major obstacle, is tackling the corroded step riser and platform bulkhead area and getting window pans fabricated. Certainly the pictures of RT8 now completed by Ensignbus is an inspiration - we look forward to seeing RTW335 alongside RT8 when its own restoration is complete.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

New floor fitted as re-framing progresses

A new lower deck floor has been fitted to RTW335 this week, whilst continued good progress on re-framing continues. The offside is now 90% complete and the nearside around 70% complete. There is still a lot of work to tackle around the front and rear ends, but it is proposed to start repanelling between the decks over the next few weeks.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Reframing makes more progress

There are times at the BusWorks, like with all restoration projects, when work appears to progress rapidly and we all smile with satisfaction, and other times when either jobs stall or visual progress (well, lack of!) gets us frustrated. RTW335 has suffered this over the last two weeks awaiting timber from our specialist joinery contractor after we overwhelmed them. Also, Andy Ashton (the lead coachbuilder on this project) has just had a well earned holiday.

Anyway, suffice to say more shaped timberwork is now arriving and Andy is once again progressing well with RTW335. See picture - ok not the most inspiring but every step brings RTW335 closer to the day it will come back to life.

We've also had good news that RTW467 may be up with us by the end of the month and we look forward to crawling all over it for the detail for RTW335. I found out from Nick Agnew (one of the owners of RTW467) that it carries the body originally on RTW335 - now there's a great coincidence!

Friday, 14 May 2010

Lower deck floor out

Work on RTW335 is again making good progress this week. The lower deck floor has been stripped out for renewal revealing the chassis underneath which is in excellent condition.

This can be attributed to 335's history with Hywema Lifts in Germany - the bus was used to demonstrate the vehicle lifts to potential clients so keeping the underframe in good clean condition was important. The floor will be replaced next week.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Lower deck re-assembly

The gap in posting updates has been twofold - partly a brief diversion of the team working on RTW335 to other projects and partly because in bus restoration there are many jobs which are laborious, unglamouress and for which there are no great picture opportunities. This describes much of the tasks of recent weeks which has seen rewiring of the lower deck and fitting of some more complex shaped timbers between decks.

Anyway, to make amends here is a view of the lower deck now with ceiling panels and aluminium cove panels refitted.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Lower deck stripped for restoration

We have now started work on the next stage of the build programme for RTW335. The lower deck has been cleared and stripped with all ceiling panels and fittings removed.

It is intended to now concentrate on getting the lower deck to the same stage as the upper deck, which will include all timber replacement, rewiring of saloon lighting, new stress panels and a new floor.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Great progress on upper deck

The basic re-assembly of the timber and steel stress panels on the upper deck of RTW335 has made great progress this week as seen in the accompanying photograph. The next stages for the upper deck would be refitting mouldings and window cappings - but it is more likely that we will now start stripping the lower deck to get it to the same stage before the detailed finishing work commences.

Because RTW335 was devoid of much original interior detail when it arrived at the Busworks, we really need another RTW to refer to. Sister vehicle RTW467 is earmarked to make the journey north to Blackpool during the Spring allowing us to extensively photograph the bus and apply this to the restoration of RTW335.

Thursday, 18 March 2010


Work has now started on replacing the framework timbers on RTW335 as shown in the picture opposite. New between-deck stress panels are also being fitted to complete the basic assembly of the upper deck.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

We are hitting the ceiling with RTW335!

Yes, we really are hitting the ceiling with RTW335 this week. New ceiling panels, already covered with primer and a first coat of gloss have been fitted. Also fitted following paint stripping are the aluminium coving panels, refitted now that rewiring of the upper deck saloon ceiling has been completed.

Machined timber, based on the originals used as templates, is now on hand and will allow further re-assembly of the upper deck over the next few weeks.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Factory finish for aluminium pressed panels

Another batch of aluminium pressed panels has returned from a commercial metal paint stripper after dipping in a bath that removes all paint but leaves the metal with its as-new factory finish. Included in this latest batch are the destination screen panels and the characteristic RT-style panel below the driver's windscreen (illustrated). Just another piece of the RTW jigsaw!

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Upper Deck floor goes down

Forgive me for the lack of posting in recent weeks. This has not been because no work has been taking place (far from it!!) but because the work has no visual output to communicate on this blog. The effort has been on the thankless tasks of cleaning up and repairing specific areas of framework and also some rewiring tasks - none of which make for exciting photographs!

Anyway, the photogenic tasks return with this view of the new upper deck floorboards fitted and ready for fine tweaking and then securing down. Another milestone achived!

Saturday, 30 January 2010

A strange view of the cab!

As part of the rebuilding of the front end and upper deck floor, the cab ceiling panel has been removed giving this unique view of the cab from the upper deck. The ceiling panel was in poor condition and like the rest of the interior it had been painted with household emulsion paint which was badly flaking - it was decided to be faster to replace than prepare the old panels.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Rebuilding of upper deck front commences

In addition to the tasks in hand on the upper deck such as rewiring and re-flooring, this week's focus has seen the destination equipment stripped out for overhaul and a start made on replacing corroded framework around the front end. This includes the horizontal steel sections below the upper deck front windows which have been fabricated from scratch - the area was so corroded there wasn't anything to make a pattern to!

Monday, 18 January 2010

Let there be light!

The removal of the ceiling cove panels gives full access to the lamp units and wiring and the opportunity is being taken both to replace any dodgy bayonet fittings and rewire RTW335 where necessary. This view shows the work in progress with all bulbs illuminated.

Other progress has concentrated on the lower deck offside where the horizontal stress panels have now been replaced. We are also fabricating the steelwork to replace badly corroded sections at the front of the bus and around the destination box.

Friday, 8 January 2010

8th January - New Year Progress

The UK is experiencing the coldest spell of winter weather since 1963 - 47 years ago and a year when RTW335 was still in service on the streets of London!

Despite the cold weather our two guys dedicated to the restoration of the RTW continue to make good progress. This week the brackets securing the upper deck structure onto the lower deck have been cleaned up and painted if they are in good condition - or new ones made to replace those that were corroded. The upper deck floor panels have been lifted to reveal the lower deck roof structure which is in good condition, but needs a coat of protective paint before it gets hidden again. The nearside panelling has also now been stripped to the basic frame.

The floor will be replaced as part of the next phase of work and this represents a milestone in the project with the upper deck moving from dismantling to re-assembly stage - not bad progress after just 5 weeks in the workshop!