Sunday, 16 December 2012

RTW goes mobile!

Another breakthrough this week with RTW335 - it is now fully mobile again! Excuse the poor quality mobile phone picture, but this week has seen the bus on our Hywemas in our servicing workshop. Although we got the engine running a few weeks ago, the fuel lines got blocked and so now the tanks have been completely drained removing some very dirty liquid. At the same time, the compressor belts have been changed and various air valves removed, stripped down & refitted to solve the lack of gears problem. The engine oil, that seemed to be 50% water, has also been completely drained and replaced and finally new filters fitted. Finally, RTW335 was dropped down off the Hywemas, started up and engaged gears - it is now mobile once again!

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Let there be lights!

Rewiring of RTW335 is nearing completion and the view below shows the small & headlights glowing, as well as all interior and destination lights. Also this week, the first fibreglass mould for the opening window units was returned and trial fitted - and now further examples can be produced.
RTW335 ablaze with light following the completion of rewiring.
Meanwhile, the upper deck flooring is now almost complete and looks superb!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

A window pan - at last!

After several false starts, not to mention the mileage travelled by some of the corroded RTW window pans around potential suppliers, I think we now have a template for RTW335. The window pans, which differ from standard RT pans because of the Leyland bodywork on RTWs, have proved to be a stumbling block in the restoration project. All the originals were fabricated in steel and were severely corroded. Several suppliers of replacement steel window pans have been attempted, but either the finished result has not been accurate enough or the small production run has meant that costs would be prohibitive.
As an alternative, my good friend Nigel Powton who is now managing the RTW restoration project, arranged for all the original RTW pans to be returned to Blackpool and from the assorted originals, a local fibreglass company has fabricated a standard non-opening window pan in fibreglass. This will be used to check the critical tolerances between glazing, rubber and the interior window cappings. If it fits - then we can go into production at last!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

As sweet as a nut!

Saturday 3rd November represented a milestone in the restoration of RTW335. After completing the rewiring of the main 24v battery cables and link to the starter and ignition circuit, batteries were refitted. A replacement starter motor has been fitted and the fuel system was primed allowing Nigel (in the cab) to get the vehicle's engine running - for the first time since it came to the Busworks for restoration. The result - it sounds as sweet as a nut! No gears at the moment - that is the next stage...

RTW on the move

RTW335 being shunted into the operating depot on 19 October after vacating the original Busworks' site for the new facility. Apart from the window pans the exterior is essentially nearing completion - see text below for update on window pan fabrication.
We have recently vacated the Busworks' site at South Shore Business Park for an adjacent unit that forms part of our "Classic Bus North West" operating depot. RTW335 has been relocated here until the new workshop is ready to be commissioned during w/c 5 November and the view below shows it being shunted into the operating depot.
Meanwhile, work has continued on completing the upper deck interior restoration. Within the next week or so, the seat frames will be refitted, once the final batch of cork sheeting arrives and is laid down and varnished.
Varnished hardwood slats and cork sheeting in typical RT style - the cork sheet awaits a coat of varnish whilst the platformm will have rexine applied when the upper deck is complete the avoid any damage.
The rotten destination box has now been rebuilt and the front area is now ready for the application of brown rexine, to the same style as that already applied to the sides.
After several false starts in commissioning replacemment steel window pans to the unique RTW style (they are different to standard RT pans), we have local firm Surface Design in Bispham making up a copy non-opening window pan in fibreglass. The first example should be delivered mid-week and once we are happy with this, and the critical relationship between window pan lip and interior window capping for the glazing rubber, we can then get Surface Design to use the original mould to fabricate the pans for the opening window units, and all the bespoke pans for the upper deck front and rears, under canopy and rear platform.

Friday, 13 July 2012

RTW335 update

The exterior bodywork on RTW335 is almost complete, apart from the steel window pans whilst both decks are progressing down the floor level with ceiling panels, cove panels, window cappings & lining panels all fitted. The window cappings and lining panels have been dry fitted - the cappings may need adjusting when the new window pans arrive, whilst the lining panels have allowed the seat frames to be test fitted.
On the upper deck, the centre timber boards are now fitted, dark stained as original and this deck requires only the cork flooring and some further leathercloth work to complete.
The original exterior window pans for RTW335 are now all at Bonville Panel Craft near Rochford for fabrication of replacements.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

May update

Apologies for the lack of photos but an update on RTW nonetheless.
Our most skilled coachbuilder, Jim, has been absent from the RTW for several weeks during May due to ill-health of his father in law, so progress has not been as much as expected. Jim has done significant work on the RTW and whilst it would be easy to allocate someone else to the project - it makes sense for him to see the project throuugh to conclusion.
Anyway, the upper deck is complete now down to lining panel level and the next job will be to refit the floor cork tiles and timber centre strip - all of which is in hand. Then Jim will start making his way down the stairs...

Saturday, 28 April 2012

RTW335 sees daylight again

It looks a little like a patchwork quilt I know, but today RTW335 saw daylight once again after residing in a corner of the workshop since work started on its restoration. The reason for the move is to relocate RTW335 to the newly designated workshop area where we can better focus on completing restoration work - indeed, it will be right in front of my office!
In recent weeks, we have been focusing on the interior, finalising the new roof dome and sorting through the preparation of a further multitude of individual parts for refitting to the vehicle. We are still resolving the issue with window pans which will really transform RTW335's appearance but now both this bus and MD60 will sit side-by-side in the finishing area. Wouldn't it be great to launch these two buses together in London?

Saturday, 24 March 2012

More visible progress

The last few weeks has seen some very rewarding tasks being achieved on RTW335 and this week has been no exception. The lower deck interior is looking more complete, the under canopy of the cab area is being reassembled whilst the mouldings on the exterior panels are also being refitted. There is still much to do, but step by step, RTW335 is coming back to life.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Focus on the front

The most recent week has seen work re-focus on the front end of RTW335. The front windscreen (still to be stripped and re-glazed) has been 'dry-fitted' in advance of other panelling being fabricated around it. Meanwhile, the under-canopy area has been rebuilt and the corroded steelwork that provides the aperture for the driver's side window to the half-cab.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Fabricating the front dome

It was some months since we did some head-scratching on what to do with RTW335's front dome. It was badly dented, but copying the domes of other surviving RTWs was not really a practical option - because of the difficulty of mouldings and also imperfections in the domes would get replicated. The answer - attempt to create a new dome from a fibreglass example salvaged from an RML. In this picture, Jim Howard starts the process and is encouraged by the fit! Note the London General fleetname on the dome!

Monday, 5 March 2012

More specialist panels prepared

Whilst work on the exterior of RTW335 has visibly progressed by the fitting of the simple flat sheet panels, further work has been progressing on the more complex panelling ready for refitting. Again, parts of the RTW jigsaw but currently "work in progress" and not particularly photogenic. Below are a selection of panels, all previously stripped of paint but now prepared and treated awaiting their turn for reassembly.

Platform bulkhead rebuilt

Another area of RTW335 that has required major structural attention is the area around the rear platform bulkhead and nearside rear wheelarch. Despite the main steel frame being in generally good condition, this area had suffered severe corrosion. The bulkhead has been rebuilt and the steel framing completely replaced with new stress panelling also fitted - as seen in the picture below.

February - Progress Report

After several weeks of plenty of activity but no 'visible' achievement on RTW335, the jigsaw puzzle of parts being worked on are now ready for assembly on the vehicle. Following further rewiring work, the ceiling and interior roof cove panels are being refitted on both decks. Working down the bus, this has allowed the refitting of the rexine covered green & cream window cappings to be refitted - allowing the interior to start to come alive once more with the character of the London RT class. Meanwhile, on the exterior only specialist panels await fitting before the lengthy process of refitting new panel mouldings commences. The original rear flasher unit and registration plate unit has been restored, lamp holders replaced and refitted - another feature that is helping to bring the jigsaw of RTW335 back to life. Meanwhile, a prototype for new window pans will soon be ready for inspection off-site.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Emergency exit - rebuilt

As reported in the last posting, the Emergency Exit framing was partly rotten and this has now been rebuilt by our specialist joinery contractors. It has now been returned to us and will allow the relevant parts to be refurbished and refitted.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Emergency - Exit!

Another example of one of the many restoration jobs that ends up being a time-consuming task. The Emergency exit framework was rebuilt last year before the rear dome was refitted but now it is time to tackle to exit door itself. The timber is partly rotten, a steel section is severely corroded and the whole door has had to be stripped for rebuilding. With the exception of the glazing, some of the component parts are visible in the picture below.

More pieces of the RTW jigsaw

Over the last month, more pieces of the RTW jigsaw have been progressed in preparation for a reassembly onslaught once some other significant BusWorks' projects are completed (including conversion of some Big Bus Olympian buses for export and a double deck Limo bus).

We have commissioned some cant-rail 'drip' moulding that was once such a feature of bus bodywork in the 40s/50s in particular at a cost of £2,758 - but as usual with these things, the minimum order is enough to do about 10 buses!

Other work has included the preparation of parts that we want to get sprayed in LT red before re-assembly, allowing some of those 'difficult' to get to areas to be treated with paint. This includes the engine bonnet and front panelling, some between deck corner panels, the cab door & battery box panel