selbig2.gif (4185 bytes)


All content is copyright The SELNEC Preservation Society.


(5320_3.jpg)   (5320_1.jpg)   (5320_2.jpg)

Greater Manchester did not have a particularly large fleet of integral or semi-integral vehicles, taking just 15 Leyland Titans, 4001 to 4015, of which the SELNEC Preservation Society has the last, 4015 (GNF 15V) and 190 Metrobuses, 5001 to 5190, of which the SELNEC Preservation Society has the first, 5001 (GBU 1V).  In addition to the 190 conventional MCW bodied Metrobuses, Greater Manchester Transport uniquely ordered 30 Metrobus chassis to be bodied by Northern Counties with an adaptation of the Standard body previously fitted to Atlanteans, Fleetlines, Olympians and other chassis.  These 30 vehicles were 5201 to 5210, being engined by Cummins and 5301 to 5320 being Gardner engined vehicles.

For quite some time we had been in contact with originally GM Buses, then GM Buses North, and more recently, First Group � First Manchester, on the basis that not only is it a rare Northern Counties bodied Metrobus, but represents the last of the Metrobuses delivered originally to Greater Manchester.  Also, it depicts the Express livery of white roof, all over salmon with brown, red and orange stripes, with the interior being coach seated on both decks.  As well as this batch of 30 Northern Counties Metrobuses being delivered in this Express format, there are 39 Northern Counties bodied Leyland Olympians so treated, being 3239 to 3277.

Although most of the batch 5201 to 5210 have been withdrawn, with First Group reusing the Cummins engines, almost the whole of the batch 5301 to 5320 are still in service and likely to be so for some time.  Some of the batch have received the �barbie two� livery.  However, because 5320 had developed some cylinder head gasket problems and because of our desire to preserve the vehicle, First Manchester very kindly released it prematurely for preservation, and in this regard, we collected it from Oldham depot on Sunday 3rd March 2002.

Many of the coach seated Metrobus Olympians have lost these seats on the upper deck where they have been replaced by bus seats, mainly due to vandalism on the upper deck, but we are very pleased to report that 5320 has a full set of coach seats on both decks, which will make restoration easier, and we are very pleased to receive our very first coach seated vehicle.  5320 is in First Manchester�s red livery, which is how we intend to keep it for the next few years and rally it in this condition, before taking it back to its original Express liveried Greater Manchester condition.

Interestingly, although the 30 Northern Counties Metrobuses were ordered by Greater Manchester Transport, the remaining five of them, 5316 to 5320, were actually delivered after deregulation on 26th October 1986 with their first ownership, not by Greater Manchester Transport, but GM Buses Limited.  Consequently, 5320 represents one of the first five buses new to GM Buses Limited, having been delivered and first registered on 10th February 1987.  It has chassis number MB8628 and body number 3028, and could possibly be the newest double decker bus in preservation.

Rather curiously, it was actually delivered brand new and first registered by GM Buses Limited, two weeks after the formation of the SELNEC Preservation Society on 27th January 1987, and it seems quite eerie that we should secure for preservation, a vehicle delivered new into service, just after our Society had been formed, 15 years ago, and had just secured our first bus for preservation at that time, 7206 (VNB 177L).



5301 - 5320

(D320 LNB)


Northern Counties CH43/29F



MCW Metrobus DR102/51



10th February 1987



3rd March 2002



The last of 30 rare Metrobus chassis bodied by Northern Counties with their Standard body and one of 69 vehicles delivered in Express livery with coach seats. It is also Greater Manchester's last Metrobus.

5320 (D320 LNB) features as part of our plans to have a five vehicle line up at the Trans Lancs Historic Vehicle Rally from the Museum of Transport to Heaton Park on 1st September 2002.  We intend this to be open topper 7077, fully restored Bristol VR 408, fully restored MCW Metrobus 5001, 3001 in Stagecoach white/stripes and 5320. 

On the two previous occasions we have taken five vehicles to this rally on 5th September 1999 and 3rd September 2000 we have had a promotional vehicle on the front, two fully restored vehicles following and two vehicles at the rear in second or subsequent liveries.  Consequently this formation will be repeated this year for a third time.  We also hope to have a third video representation of our attendance at this event.  Hence plenty of work needs to be carried out as reported in the pages of this newsletter in restoring 7077 the open topper and support vehicle for the Society, 408 and 5001 to original condition.   Also as reported work needs to be carried out to ensure that 3001 and 5320 look presentable for the rally and the video and are mechanically reliable on the day.

First Manchester allowed 5320 to be prematurely taken out of service even though, except for 5316 which was scrapped due to structural problems, the remaining 18 (5301 to 5315 and 5317 to 5319) were to remain in service.  However, it was coming up for its MOT which was due on 16th March 2002 and it had a serious cylinder head gasket/engine problem which forced it out of service in January 2002.   Upon acquisition on 3rd March 2002 an appraisal of the work needed to tidy the vehicle up was undertaken. 

From an internal point of view we were very fortunate the vehicle came with a full set of coach seated frames, either in the original red herringbone colour or re-moquetted in First Manchester red.  Also as a result of First Manchester kindly undertaking to let us secure Metrobus parts on Saturday 6th April 2002 from Oldham as reported under Item 3 in this News Section, we secured the correct match of the individual coach seated cushions so that all red herringbone backs have red herringbone cushions and all First Manchester red backs have First Manchester red cushions. 

A clean up of the inside of the bus and the reallocation of cushions has meant that internally the vehicle is in a perfectly presentable condition to be taken out on rallies and for its attendance on the 1st September 2002 rally to Heaton Park.

The only actual original aspects missing from the seating is that the lower deck back seat should have headrests on it and the upper decks rear seats should have a head rest fixed to rear emergency exit window and this is missing.  However, these minor issues will not detract from the vehicle being fully seated and operational and spare parts have been secured for these items when it is restored to its original Express livered condition in the future.

From an external point of view we had to put front, side and rear number blinds in the bus and this has now been carried out and we are shortly to fit a destination and via blind.  The front panel of the vehicle was damaged and this we have managed to repair and we have taken off, cleaned up and repainted the front number plate. 

As with 3001 we removed all the advertisement vinyls from 5320 but, unfortunately, it seems in the past when these have been changed over a considerable amount of the First Manchester red paintwork has been removed and we have obtained a supply of this paint to touch up all these area to make the bus look more presentable.  Also some of the blue vinyl stripes have been damaged and we have secured a supply from Smart Graphics in Scotland who make it for First Manchester so that these can be applied to the vehicle.  It already has its fleet number 5320 in place so there is no need to add fleet numbers so once the repainting and touching up exercise has been completed and all the windows have been cleaned the vehicle should be presentable for the Heaton Park Rally.

Mechanically, however, it was taken to Walsh�s Engineering in Irlam, who are Gardner engine specialists, as they have assisted us in the past in rectifying engine faults on our Gardner engined Fleetlines.  It went there on Saturday 13th April 2002 for the cylinder head gasket to be replaced.  However, once they started to investigate the problems they established that one of the bolts had become embedded in the engine block which is requiring them now to consider removing the block from the bus and replacing it or rectifying it which may increase the costs of the rectification.  However, this is going to be necessary to ensure that the vehicle is mechanically sound.   Once the vehicle been returned from Walsh�s it will be serviced and MOT�d in order to be available to take part in the Heaton Park Rally.  

We reported on our acquisition of this vehicle and initial working in tidying it up in Newsletter Number 19 of May 2002 in that having collected it from First Manchester�s Oldham Depot on 3rd March 2002 we�d had some work carried out on it and at that stage it was still at Walsh�s in Irlam, having been taken there on 13th April 2002 as it not only needed the cylinder head gaskets replaced but the engine block needed work on it to remove one of the bolts which had become embedded in it.  

Thereafter we were contacted by Walsh�s to advise all work had been carried out and the bus was ready for collection which we intended to undertake on Wednesday 19th June 2002.  However, we had a disturbing phone call on Monday 17th June 2002 to report that there had been a break in at Walsh�s and radiators had been stolen out of four vehicles, one of which was 5320. 

Consequently, Walsh�s embarked on trying to obtain a replacement radiator first of all accidentally securing an Olympian radiator from First Manchester�s Wigan Depot before eventually being provided with the correct specification Metrobus radiator for this particular type of Gardner engined vehicle from First Manchester�s Oldham Depot.  This was then fitted and tested before we collected the vehicle from Walsh�s on Wednesday evening 26th June 2002 taking it to Richard Whittaker for further work to be carried out on it. 

At that time the vehicle then developed some problems in remaining in reverse gear which had not been an issue previously and was something that we asked Richard Whittaker to look at whilst the bus was at his premises.  The principal reason for it being taken there was to ensure that 5320 was fully serviced and checked over and for it to be taken to Blackburn to pass its MOT.  In fact on the first attempt on 2nd July 2002 it was not successful as there was excess oil leaking from the gearbox which was addressed and then the vehicle was taken back to the MOT station on 9th July 2002 and it passed its MOT.  At the same time some work was undertaken to improve (although not finding a cure) to the reverse gear box problem.  Whilst 5320 was at Whittakers we had asked that it be re-painted in about 25% of areas where paint had peeled off particularly where the mid-deck advertisements had been removed on the offside and nearside and other areas where paint had worn down over the years.  This was not a proper re-paint and no dents were removed but simply a tidying up exercise to make it look more presentable.  

Thereafter, it was collected on Sunday 14th July 2002 and used on its way back to Leigh to collect all the remaining seat backs from GLG Coachtrimmers that were being re-moquetted along with all the cushions for 5001.  Also a number of cushions that needed replacing for the upper and lower deck of 7077 were taken in for attention at the same time.

Once back at Leigh on 14th July 2002 the bus was cleaned down, had its blue vinyl replaced in areas where it had come away and a full set of destination and via blinds were fitted.  Inside the cab area was cleaned up and the front panel was re-painted.  

Thereafter on the working days that followed on 4th, 11th and 18th August 2002, as time would permit other odd activities took place with 5320; further touching up to its paintwork took place and we had secured the appropriate passion blue paint and were able to re-paint its wheels and then tyre wall black the tyres so that it looked presentable for its intended involvement in the Trans Lancs Historic Vehicle Rally on 1st September 2002.

Originally when we were putting together our rectification plans for 2003 and 2004 and particularly when we took the view we would like to have all the projects ongoing or to be commenced in that period of time concluded by 9th and 10th October 2004 to take part in the �Big Orange� Event we settled on five vehicles; Leyland National 105 (HNB 24N) upon which rectification work had been progressing for a number of years; 1751 (C751 YBA) Dennis Domino upon which rectification commenced in 2003; 7032 (VNB 132L) open top Atlantean upon which rectification commenced in 2004; 3001 (ANA 1Y) Leyland Olympian upon which rectification started late in 2003 and moved into 2004.

The fifth vehicle we chose to be concluded and to take part with its four other counterparts at the �Big Orange� Event as a new restoration was 5320 (D320 LNB) Greater Manchester�s last and Northern Counties bodied MCW Metrobus.  This vehicle was the final bus in a batch of 30 Northern Counties bodied MCW Metrobuses, being 5201 to 5210 with Cummins engines and 5301 to 5320 with Gardner engines.  They were all delivered in express coral livery with red, orange and brown stripes and coach seating.  There were also 39 Northern Counties bodied Leyland Olympians also delivered in the express livery with coach seats in the batch 3239 to 3277. 

We had intended to have the vehicle fully restored externally into its Express livery in order to take part in the �Big Orange� Event on 9th and 10th October 2004.  However, because the Museum of Transport had secured 5208 (C208 FVU), one of the Cummins example vehicles, and had it re-panelled in order that it too could be launched at this event in Express livery, we saw this as an unnecessary duplication and that our efforts would be best served devoting our resources to the other four preservation projects to ensure they were completed on time.  We therefore ceased work on 5320.  Unfortunately, however, despite all the re-panelling and rectification work that the Museum of Transport had undertaken on 5208 they uncovered far more extensive mechanical difficulties with the bus than they anticipated and in the end it was unable to take part in the �Big Orange� Event.  Although abandoning the external rectification of 5320 we had ensured that it was mechanically sound, serviced and MOT�d and fully operational to take part in the event where it was supposed to run in tandem with 5208, albeit in First Manchester red and blue colours with the two coach seated Metrobuses replicating some Express routes.  As it turned out in the end this duty was undertaken by 5320 alone looking a little forlorn in its rather dented First Manchester red and blue condition but in the events it took part in it was well attended.

As the Museum of Transport had not launched an Express livered vehicle as we thought they would and we had put ours on hold because of their intentions with 5208, we decided after the �Big Orange� Event had concluded we would continue with the rectification of 5320 and put the exterior of the bus back in its original 1987 G M Buses Express liveried condition and in this regard a number of activities took place.

We therefore took it to S & T Coach Painters in Blackburn on Tuesday evening, 2nd November 2004, so that almost all of its aluminium panels could be replaced and the few that were left remained in relatively decent condition could be filled and sanded.  We also asked for the two rear corner panels to be attended to, one to be rectified and the other to be replaced with a spare from our stores and that both rear light units be changed for the original specification B-Mac lights at the same time.  We also had S & T Coach Painters entirely refabricate the aluminium skin on the two piece bonnet lid.

Once all this work had been carried out it was moved on Tuesday evening, 25th January 2005, to Whittakers Coach Travel in Penwortham where we removed the few remaining seat backs and cushions that were still in First Manchester red diced carrot colours that we had not been able to replace on our seat swap at Oldham garage undertaken previously on Sunday 15th August 2004.

On 30th January 2005, one of our working days, these seat cushions and backs were taken to Gordon Morris at GLG Wigan Coachtrimmers along with a set of spare herringbone covered double seat units so that these could be stripped and the moquette used to re-cover the seat cushions and backs so that when re-fitted to 5320 the whole vehicle would be totally fitted out with herringbone seats, albeit it in �used� condition.

Whilst discussing these proposals with Gordon Morris we also had a double seat unit measured to establish precisely how much new moquette we would need to re-cover all the coach seated double units and other seating units on the bus for a potential internal rectification in 2006 once the external restoration to original Express condition has been concluded. 

Like many vehicles acquired over recent years there were a number of windows on the vehicle that had been etched during its time in service and therefore also on 30th January 2005 a series of replacement windows were taken to Whittakers Coach Travel and placed on the bus so they could be replaced.  Thereafter, the bus had all its engine, chassis and drive units steam cleaned and then repainted in protective anti-corrosive grey paint.  The window exchange and replacement exercise took place on Thursday 10th February 2005.  This involved in a new window being cut for the upper deck front offside and two new windows being cut for the upper deck rear windows on the nearside and offside.  On the offside the etched windows in bays four and five were replaced with replacement glass from our stores and on the nearside a replacement hopper was put in bay two to replace the plain glass window that had been fitted at some point in time and this unetched window was put in bay three to replace the plain glass windows that was in etched condition.  Thereafter, similar to the offside of the vehicle, etched hopper windows in bays four and five were replaced with spares from our stores.  In addition to this activity the rear upper deck emergency window was changed over with the spare we had in stock that has bonded onto it the headrest for the upper deck rear seats.

After this exercise had been concluded 5320 was then put through a series of aspects of rectification to its bodywork and, more appropriately, to its mechanics in order to progress its rectification.  Original fog lights and spot lights were fitted to the two front corner panels of the bus, it had a full engine service and the problem with the start and stop button in the cab was addressed.  Undercoating and top coating commenced to take the bus to its Express liveried condition. 

It look about three weeks for the vehicle to be completely prepared, undercoated and painted into its Express colours and on Tuesday 8th March 2005 we visited the premises of Whittakers Coach Travel in Penwortham and fitted all the Express vinyls, GM Buses vinyls, legal lettering and all other numbers and wording to the vehicle and thereafter collected it on Friday 18th March 2005, having brought 3001 up for some rectification work. The plan was to finalise the cleaning work on the bus the following day, Saturday 19th March 2005, so it could attend the Museum of Transport�s Spring Transport Festival Event on Sunday 20th March 2005 but unfortunately it was not ready.  The windows needed a considerable amount of attention to clean them inside and out and in particular work was required on the replacement upper deck rear emergency exit window.  It was also necessary for some of the paintwork to be snagged and new wing mirrors and windscreen wipers to be fitted along with white number blinds front, side and rear.  Consequently, although some work was carried out on Saturday 19th March 2005, the majority of the work was carried out on the scheduled working day that followed, Sunday 3rd April 2005, and particular difficulty also emerged in that the three Express vinyls appear to have been put on too soon after the bus had been painted and in an environment that was too cold and consequently these had to be removed as they had bubbled.  It proved almost impossible to remove the glue from the painted panels when we attempted to do so on the working day 24th April 2005.  However, we did have Chem-Dry visit on this day to give all the coach seat backs and cushions in both decks a thorough clean.

Thereafter on our MOT day on Friday 29th April 2005 we took 5320 to Penwortham for the glue laden panels to be sanded down and repainted.  It was returned to Leigh on the evening of Tuesday 3rdMay 2005 with three replacement Express vinyls with reflective red lettering being fitted on Friday evening, 6th May 2005, so the bus could be launched the following day as the first restored �Express� vehicle at the Museum of Transport�s Rear Engined Weekend Event on Saturday morning, 7th May 2005.

Back ] Up ] Next ]