THE SELNEC PRESERVATION SOCIETY
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THE TRACKING DOWN OF REMAINING ATLANTEANS AND ACQUISITION OF 3832 (END 832D)
This story really begins in the autumn of 1989, when, at that stage, it was generally felt that none of these ex-Manchester rear-engined vehicles were in existence. Consequently concerned that none of them might ever be preserved, we at The SELNEC Preservation Society launched an appeal in the Historical Commercial News in August 1989, and in response received only one reply being that 3832 (END 832D) had been spotted at a Fruit Farm in Perthshire, where it was used to transport fruit pickers. It therefore seemed at that time, that 3832 was the only remaining ex-Manchester Corporation (Non Mancunian) rear-engined vehicle.
We made contact with the Fruit Farmer concerned, and three members of the Society went to view the vehicle on 26th November 1989, but the Farmer was not keen to release 3832 unless we exchanged a vehicle for it, as he clearly needed it with his other three double deck vehicles to carry out fruit picking duties, so we therefore set about the task of acquiring an exchange vehicle.
In the meantime, in 1991, a private preservationist set about a very ambitious project, to bring back one of the 10 original 'Red Dragons", 3629, from Australia, where it had been discovered, as three of them had been sold for further service in 1971. Although with these efforts a Manchester rear-engined double deck bus had now been preserved, The SELNEC Preservation Society still felt it would be a very useful project to purchase for preservation, 3832, from the Fruit Farmer in Scotland, as it is one of the very last batch of Manchester rear-engined buses, and of the later design with the Fibreglass Front and Red interior. As a consequence, with 3629, these two buses would form 'book-ends' of all the Manchester rear-engined double deck buses built, with one from the first batch and one from the last batch. However, they are both Leyland Atlanteans, as unfortunately, except for six, rumoured to be in Palm Springs, United States of America, no Daimler Fleetline was known at that time to have survived.
The farmer bought 3832 on 13th July 1979 from a Dealer, and used it, with other vehicles, to transport fruit pickers around his various farms during the summer months, and as a consequence had an on-going requirement for this bus. By 1995 he had four buses in operation - two Scottish buses, 3832, and rather co-incidentally, his fourth vehicle is another ex-SELNEC/GMT vehicle, being EX 6 (PNF 946J) one of the six prototypes, of which EX1 (owned by The SELNEC Preservation Society) was the first example.
Eventually, after acquiring 7066 (VNB 166L) (an ex-SELNEC/GMT Standard) as an exchange vehicle and then releasing it when the farmer changed his mind and wanted to sell 3832 for cash, a further visit to the farm took place on 28th July 1993. At this time the farmer then changed his mind again and re-affirmed his requirement for an exchange vehicle, and after some time a further exchange vehicle was purchased, this time ex-Merseybus Atlantean 1340 (DKC 340L). Over the weekend of 24th - 25th June 1995, 1340 was exchanged with 3832 and at the same time certain standard parts from our stock of spares were exchanged with EX6 (PNF 946J) to release original parts to assist with our rectification of EX1. On the way back to Manchester 3832 developed an engine fault and seized on the motorway. It was stored at Strathclyde Buses in Glasgow until 11th January 1996, when it was towed back to Blackburn Borough Transport, who repaired the engine, and it was eventually driven back to our storage premises in Leigh on 17th November 1996.
We finally managed to move 3832 to our storage premises in Leigh on 17th November 1996 some 16 months after we set out from the Fruit Farm in Perthshire, on 24/25th June 1996, following its break-down, engine seizure and repair, meant that it had taken 7½ years to obtain this bus from our first contact with the Fruit Farmer in 1989.
With the vehicle mobile so that we could move it in and out of our premises at Leigh, and finally with it under our control, we could embark upon assessing the work needed to be carried out on the vehicle.
It was clearly evident the work would fall into four categories.
1. Repair and rectification to the body and chassis structure.
2. Replacement of a number of fixtures and fittings.
3. Work on electrics, mechanics, steering and brakes.
4. Cleaning, sanding, re-panelling and painting.
The first task was to carry out a full assessment of what would need to be done so that plans could be put into place to draw-up a programme of activity as follows:
1. Repair and Rectification to the Body and Chassis Structure
Although the bus looks particularly ropy from the photographs, in its external appearance, this is because of the fact that it has not been painted since 1976, and consequently, there is orange and red paint showing as well as a good deal of aluminium.
In reality, a good many of the panels have not been damaged or dented and are perfectly satisfactory to be sanded down and re-painted. Analysis of the panels which are damaged or dented and need replacing indicate that we need to repair all the panels below the lower deck windows, some 20 in all, along with two drainpipe channels towards the front; one on the offside above the driver's window and the other on the near-side above the entrance door, and the panels on the rear, between the upper deck and the lower deck windows.
b) Body Structure
Removal of over 20 panels, some windows and interior melamine has revealed a considerable amount of corrosion of the body structure, necessitating the replacement of main upright pillars, fittings that secure the upper deck floor to the body, (brackets on the intermediate roof sticks) and all the internal stress panels need replacing. In addition, it will also be necessary to replace the chassis skirt rail under the rear off side emergency exit, recreate the near side ventilation system and deal with the corrosion behind the lower fibreglass front panel.
c) Fibreglass Fittings
All four fibreglass roof vents are missing, but they are of the same design as those that were missing from EX1, and we already had Sutrak UK Ltd produce a mould and four new roof vents for EX1. Having contacted them, we have asked them use the same mould to provide the Roof Vents for 3832.
The four wheel arches on the vehicle are also made of fibreglass, and two of these being the front near-side and rear offside, are damaged. At first, we considered replacing all four from wheel arches taken from a scrap 1963 Atlantean, 874 ATA (ex Devon Central) but discovered that they were a slightly different, narrower design. We therefore propose to repair the damaged wheel arches and replace them.
The third area of fibreglass replacements are the two front corner panels between the lower fibreglass front and the aluminium side panels, which are severely damaged and will clearly have to be manufactured and replaced.
The fourth area of fibreglass is the lower fibreglass front which has been damaged and is to be filled and repaired where necessary, although the bonnet, pods and valance are in quite good condition, they will need some rectification work carried out on them.
There are a total of five windows missing - two from the upper deck near-side, one from the upper deck offside and both the upper deck and lower deck rear windows. Two of the missing windows need 'D' shaped opening devices and many of the other windows, whilst still intact, have seals that need replacing.
We contacted C & J Windows Ltd, from the West Midlands in this respect, because they very kindly re-created for us the original upper deck rear-opening windows on EX1, and they visited the premises at Leigh on 16th March 1997, to measure up our requirements for the missing five windows, seals, and also a number of missing clips and fittings from the other windows that remain in place.
Whilst they are researching a method of manufacturing these missing items, we have also obtained from the scrap 1963 Leyland Atlantean, a number of windows that will fit, so from both these sources, we hope to restore all the windows in 3832.
An examination of the chassis has indicated that one or two of the outriggers need replacing and there are some other rusted areas. We are currently making arrangements to have these parts repaired or replaced.
f) Upper Deck Floor
Most of the upper deck flooring structure has been damaged, allowing gaps to appear through to the lower deck ceiling, due to the deterioration of the body structure, which will necessitate putting in a complete new floor. Furthermore, there is deck tread missing from parts of the staircase and the lower deck.
Some of the red melamine used on the back of the seats and on the side panelling of the bus has become damaged, and we are in contact with both Formica Ltd and Perstorp Warerite to ascertain whether the original red melamine can be obtained.
Furthermore, some of the white melamine used on the corner panels between the tops of the windows and the ceiling, and the ceiling itself, are damaged, and we are also endeavouring to resource replacement panels from the same two organisations.
2. Replacement of a number of Fixtures and Fittings
A thorough examination of the vehicle has indicated a number of parts we need to obtain, either new or second-hand, from suppliers who still hold them, or from scrap vehicles that would clearly be beyond repair because of their particular design or structure, as follows:
a) Upper Deck Seat Coveting
Most of the upper deck seats have cushions that have perished and many of the seat backs are in need of repair. The colour scheme was originally red hide and black trim, and we have decided to try to replace this in PVC rather than hide because of the cost implications.
We were fortunate to be helped with the PVC Covering for EX1 through Trimproof in Ireland, and we have contacted them with a view to discover whether they can match the red/black covering, and provide a supply of material.
b) Lower Deck Seat Moquette
The seat cushions on the lower deck are also in very poor condition, as are the seat backs, and clearly, will need to be re-covered in the appropriate moquette.
It is felt that the red/black/white design was a standard 'off the shelf' pattern. and may not be as difficult to track down as some of the SELNEC moquette with which we have experienced difficulty in the past. Hence, we have been in contact with Holdsworths of Shaw Lodge Mills, Halifax, who provided us with moquette for EX1, and have sent them samples with a view to hopefully obtaining the correct red/black line lower deck moquette.
Once this material has been acquired, we shall need to address the subject of having all the seats and seat backs re-covered.
c) Air Doors
Glass in the air doors is missing, the rubbers have perished, and the brushes are missing, hence, rather than attempt to repair them, we have been in contact with organisations who supply these items, specifying the measurements, to find out whether we can obtain new replacement doors, rather than try to repair the existing doors on the vehicle.
d) Interior and Exterior Lighting
Virtually all the lights in the interior of the bus have received some damage, or corrosion. Being a 1966 vehicle, it was fitted with, what were at the time, quite advanced florescent tubes, as opposed to filament bulbs, but during the time 3832 spent on the Fruit Farm in Scotland, all the bulbs were smashed and many of the fittings have been pulled out of their sockets or become corroded.
Consequently, they are to be removed and either replaced, or repaired. Fortunately, we have been provided with some new complete units from BMAC in Hyde, and also have obtained equivalent interior lights from scrap ex-GMT Standards, by kind assistance from G M Buses North Ltd off 8282, as these types of light bulbs were still being used in the late 1970's and early 1980's.
Whereas the headlights on the vehicle are intact, we have obtained some side lights and side indicators from the Museum of Transport in Manchester. As for all the various lights on the rear, being stop lights, brake lights, indicators and reversing lights, we have been most fortunate to obtain all these from BMAC Ltd in Hyde, despite the fact that this type of lighting unit has not been used on Atlanteans for many years.
Consequently, when we come to repair the lower fibreglass front, electrics, and bonnet of the vehicle, we shall have a ready source of appropriate light fittings and glass inserts.
e) Other Parts
Other items have been identified for replacement, where we are writing to various suppliers or using our own stocks of spare parts.
driver's seat seat frames
steering wheel rear view mirror
wing mirrors tax disc holder
windscreen wipers fire extinguisher
front, side and rear number winding gear switch panel
destination and via blind winding gear batteries
interior bars and grab rails front & rear licence plates
3. Electrics, Mechanics, Steering and Brakes.
On previous examination by Blackburn Transport, they indicated that the following was necessary for the vehicle to pass a Class 5 MOT:
N/S tail light inoperative
N/S brake light inoperative
emergency engine stop inoperative
air warning buzzer inoperative
steering idler bushes worn
front drag link bail joint and drag link bail joint to steering idler badly worn
excessive oil in front air reservoirs
front and rear pins and bushes badly worn on both front road springs
O/S/R brake linings work to excess.
rear pins and bushes badly worn on O/S/R road spring
handbrake efficiency poor on O/S and N/S
In addition, it appears that the looms, wiring and electrics are in need of up-grading and re-wiring as necessary.
4. Cleaning, Sanding, Re-panelling and Painting
We embarked upon cleaning the inside as the first activity, and to gain access to the interior of the vehicle, all the seats in the upper and lower decks had to be removed.
This proved to be difficult as many of them had rusted in place, and the two on the lower deck, above the rear wheel arches, took some considerable efforts to remove, without damaging the seat frames. When we had taken all the seats out of the vehicle, we were then able to assess precisely the needs in terms of structural repair, and also start the cleaning work. Many weekends have been devoted to cleaning the graffiti, dirt, dust and 30 years worth of grime from the white/red melamine on both decks.
It is also the case that the painted surfaces inside the vehicle, in particular, two upper deck roof domes, have had their many, many coats of paint removed with patience, and application upon application of paint stripper.
All the interior lights have been removed, pending their rectification and replacement. Damaged white and red melamine panels have been removed from the interior of the vehicle, and the wood nailed up over some of the missing windows has been taken out.
Unfortunately our rectification activities have stalled, in as much as we cannot progress the usual aspects of interior cleaning, renovation and exterior reconstruction until the root problem, the rotted framework, has been replaced. Consequently, we are seeking professional assistance in this regard, and in particular the replacement of the main upright pillars and intermediate roof sticks and all the internal stress panels, as well as the chassis skirt rail on the rear nearside of the emergency exit.
Once we have undertaken to have this structural damage repaired we can commence on the more cosmetic aspects of its rectification. Consequently, the progress with this vehicle has been on hold for a while whilst we try to raise funds and secure quotations to have the structural work undertaken.
|3801 - 3860|
|Metro Cammell H43/32F|
|Leyland Atlantean PDR1/2|
|1st August, 1966|
|25th June, 1995|
|Only two rear-engined (non-Mancunian) Atlanteans are preserved - one from the first batch and 3832 from the last batch.|