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THE SELNEC PRESERVATION SOCIETY

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7032 (VNB 132L)

(7032_1.jpg)

Although several vehicles originally delivered to Greater Manchester Transport have subsequently been sold to other operators and been converted to open top Greater Manchester themselves only converted three vehicles to open top layout, all as a result of low bridge accidents.

The first was Park Royal bodied Leyland Atlantean 7032 (VNB 132L) which was tastefully adapted leaving the front windows on the upper deck in place along with the first bay windows on the offside and nearside and then sloping down to the bodywork by shaping the second bay windows on the offside and nearside to a triangular design.
Open Top conversion also requires attention to staircase lighting ad drainage holes which have to be put in the upper deck to allow the rain to drain away. All of the seat backs and cushions if not already so fitted out have to be in PVC to make them waterproof.

7032 was painted in what was then the Greater Manchester livery of white, orange and brown., but with slightly different application because on the service buses the white was on the roof, which was clearly absent from 7032, hence the white started below the upper deck windows followed by the orange and brown applications further down the vehicle making it look somewhat distinct from the other vehicles in the fleet.

Some time shortly thereafter a second Park Royal bodied Leyland Atlantean 7077 (WBN 955L) suffered a low bridge accident and was converted using precisely the same design as had been used for 7032 and it too was put in the special white, orange and brown livery.

7032 had been based at Stockport depot and therefore was the South half of Greater Manchester's open topper while 7077 had been based at Bolton depot and was the open topper used in the Northern part of the Greater Manchester area. 7032 had come from the Central division batch, 7001 to 7071, and 7077 from the Northern Division batch 7072 to 7109. At some point thereafter 7032 had a slightly different application of the white, orange and brown paintwork at the back end, in that rather than having a brown bonnet, the orange and brown was split across the bonnet making it look, from the back end, different to all service buses in the fleet.

When deregulation came on 26th October 1986 all non-automatic Leyland Atlanteans were left with the PTE for disposal, Greater Manchester Buses just taking the automatic vehicles commencing at 7560, with two notable exceptions, being the two open toppers 7032 and 7077. They were joined in 1987 by Northern Counties open top conversion 8172 which had also had a low bridge accident although its conversion did not look quite as well designed as the two Park Royal examples.

8172 was then painted in a Greater Manchester Buses special open top livery of a white background, using red, orange and brown stripes similar to the three stripes used on the Express coach seated Olympians and Metrobuses. The livery was then applied to 7032 and 7077 making all three look similar. However, of these three 7032 was the only vehicle to receive a second version of this livery with more conventional lines and a less angled application of the colours.

Thereafter with the split of Greater Manchester Buses South and North on 1st April 1994, 7032 remained with the South company and received a version of the then GM Buses South livery of orange with a whortleberry narrow skirt panel.

We have been tracking the history of the bus and the liveries it has carried from when it was new in 1972.  It first of all carried SELNEC sunglow orange and mancunian white and thereafter Greater Manchester Transport metropolitan orange and white.  After being de-roofed and converted to an open topper it carried an adapted version of the white, orange and brown livery and after the formation of GM Buses it was painted in the striped livery along with 7077 and 8172.  Only it then received the livery it now carries which was similar to that carried by 7154 (VNB 154L) that had been the study bus that was moved into the training fleet of grey, orange and whortleberry in a similar layout except that the central orange band was narrower on 7154, the grey band on the skirt deeper with the whortleberry narrower.  It had also had light grey as opposed to whortleberry wheels and had whortleberry around the windscreen surrounds.

7077 remained in the North company and had applied to it the GM Buses North livery of orange, light grey and whortleberry, somewhat similar in the style to that used by the service vehicles, as did 8172.  The life of 8172 was somewhat short lived because after a few years it was apparently stolen and taken under an ever lower bridge and became damaged beyond economic repair.  However, the two Park Royals remained operational in the South and North of Greater Manchester, 7077 sometimes being used in normal passenger service in the summer months. 

Both vehicles passed with GM (South) and GM (North) to Stagecoach and First Bus, respectively. 

Then on 8th March 1997, 7032 was sold to Eastbourne Buses and painted in the blue and cream livery and used in the summer months on seafront tours.  Seven years later it had its front destination display altered and was painted in a silvery/lilac livery with various seaside depictions.  Its lower deck had been re-trimmed in the herringbone express type moquette before leaving Greater Manchester Buses South Limited and Stagecoach during its life with Eastbourne a new set of vinyl seats were put in the upper deck, albeit in dark blue PVC.

Upon 7032 being moved into the fleet of GM Buses South Limited it received an almost all over orange livery and it was thought this was the last livery it carried before being sold to Eastbourne on 8th March 1997.  However, there were rumours that it had existed in Stagecoach white striped livery but we had no proof of this and it did not seem as if this was the case from sanding the vehicle down for a re-paint.  However, one of our members has produced a photograph of it taken on the 1st November 1986 at Dawbank clearly sharing 7032 in white striped Stagecoach livery, being the same livery used in the fleet but with the stripes simply starting immediately below where the upper deck windows would have been.

With regard to 7077, it received a fourth livery of First Manchester rail red with blue relief and on 28th May 1999 it famously brought Manchester United back into the city after they won the European Cup and the Treble that year.  This was the last time that one of the Greater Manchester open toppers had taken part in celebrations for Manchester United but it certainly was not the first as both 7077 and 7032 had been used on a number of occasions by Manchester United over the years in celebrating a number of victories, principally FA Cup triumphs and indeed the SELNEC Preservation Society has some video footage of 7032 bringing Manchester United back to the Town Hall in Albert Square, Manchester, having won the FA Cup in 1983 and we hope to undertake some research to identify how many times both 7032 and 7077 have been used for this purpose.

7077 has been an ambassador for the SELNEC Preservation Society (along with Exhibus 7232 (VNB 203L) and provides an interesting historic and original livery appreciated by a number of the members of the SELNEC Preservation Society.  However, one or two of our more purist members were a little disappointed that 7077 was not returned to one of the unique open top liveries and therefore a commitment was made by the Society Trustees to attempt to secure its sister vehicle 7032 from Eastbourne Buses.  If that was successful it would be returned to a true original Greater Manchester open top livery and hence in spring/early summer of 2002 negotiations took place with Eastbourne Buses who felt that the vehicle might be available for disposal in September 2002 after the summer season had ended.  As it happens a decision was taken at that time that the bus would be retained for a further year and so contact was made again with Eastbourne Buses in September 2003. 

At first it was not certain whether the vehicle was to be disposed of or whether it would be retained for another further year, but finally an announcement was made on Friday 21st November 2003 that the vehicle was available for preservation by the SELNEC Preservation Society.  We then entered into two weeks of organisation in order to put everything into effect to collect the vehicle.  Not only did we have to pay for the bus itself, but the tyres on it were owned by Michelin and were relatively new and hence prohibitively expensive but Eastbourne Buses were able to secure us six good condition yet more affordable tyres for the bus and fitted them to it.  It was also the case that 7032 was the last Leyland Atlantean to operate for Eastbourne Buses and they very kindly agreed to give us all their spare mechanical parts which were loaded onto the bus.  We were then sent the V5 and MOT Certificate, which is Class VI and does not expire until 5thApril 2004, in order that we could re-tax the vehicle as an historic classification prior to visiting Eastbourne, not just to bring it back as we could have used our trade plates for that, but to allow it to participate in the Christmas Cracker Event as a late surprise entry this year. 

Arrangements were put in place for five members to drive down to Eastbourne on Friday 5th December 2003, stay over locally in a hotel and visit, as we did on Saturday morning 6th December 2003, Eastbourne Buses depot on Birch Road.  Here 7032 was parked up in its silver colours, loaded with Atlantean parts and ready to go.  Very kindly, Steve Barnett and his team at Eastbourne Buses had already had the vehicle checked over for oil and water and not only that, the vehicle had been filled with fuel.  We took the mandatory photographs of our collection of the bus and then set off on our way back out of Eastbourne towards the M25 and thence on to Manchester. 

The vehicle had obviously been governed down somewhat in its time with Eastbourne in that its maximum speed was 40 mph.  Having arrived at Eastbourne Buses at 10.30 am. we did not actually finally get 7032 back to Leigh until 10.00 pm. but we had undertaken one or two fuel stops and stopped just outside Uttoxeter for dinner.  In fact we were somewhat concerned that on returning to the bus it would not start, but a lose wire on the starter motor was all that was necessary to be rectified to get the bus on the road again.  Unlike 7077 the vehicle sounds mechanically in very good condition and does not have the engine problems experienced with 7077 which will eventually necessitate the latter having to have an engine replacement.   

7032

BATCH:

7001 - 7071 (Type i)

(VNB 132L)

BODY:

Park Royal O43/32F

 

CHASSIS:

Leyland Atlantean AN68/1R

 

FIRST REGISTERED:

14th October 1972

 

PURCHASED:

1st December 2003

 

DETAILS:

This is one of the ‘Central Division’ batch of Standard Atlanteans bodied by Park Royal and one of three Standards subsequently converted to open top (7032, 7077 and 8172). Like 7077, which is also owned by The SELNEC Preservation Society, it has been involved in celebrating wins for Manchester United. It was returned from Eastbourne on 6th December 2003.

Our acquisition of 7032 also completes an interesting trio of vehicles in that the first batch of production Leyland Atlantean Standards delivered from Park Royal in 1972 and 1973 were split into three batches of the 145 vehicles built.  We already had one vehicle from the second batch, 7077, delivered to the Northern Division from the batch 7072 to 7109 and we have had for many years now an example, albeit with its roof in place, from the third batch delivered to the Southern Division 7143 from the batch 7110 to 7145.  Our acquisition of 7032 completes the trio in allowing us to have a example of the first batch delivered to the Central Division being 7001 to 7071 although we do have 7070 in our collection but as a vehicle purchased for spare parts. 

Having retrieved this vehicle from Eastbourne Buses Limited on 6th December 2003, 6˝ years after being sold to them on 8th March 1997 by Stagecoach Manchester, the very day after this it attended its inaugural rally under our  ownership in the Greater Manchester area at the Christmas Cracker Event at the Museum of Transport on Sunday 7th December 2003 when it took part in the festivities occurring at that time. 

Thereafter it was parked up at our premises at Leigh and in order that it can take part at the forthcoming “Big Orange” Event on Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th October 2004 its rectification has to be fast-tracked to bring it online so it can hopefully join Leyland National 105 (HNB 24N), Dennis Domino 1751 (C751 YBA), Leyland Olympian 3001 (ANA 1Y), which are all at various stages of rectification and hopefully even 5320 (D320 LNB) which we hope to at least have rectified externally by the key weekend.  Consequently, arrangements were made for one of our younger members, Lea Worrall, in between leaving school and starting work to attend our premises in Leigh on a selected number of days during the working weeks so that progress could be made with the vehicle without detracting from the work that needs to take place on 105, 1751 and 3001 on our scheduled working days.  Not that much needs to be done to the bus because we are returning it to an open top liveried condition, rather than original new SELNEC Central status as at 1972.   Some work was necessary on its silver/lilac livery operated in latter days by Eastbourne Buses Limited in it had a number of the town’s locations depicted on it.  Some of these had to be rubbed down and a very hot 500 watt searchlight, was used to heat up the vinyls on the paintwork before removing them with a screwdriver from areas all over the bus.

This work commenced on Monday 5th January 2004 and continued over the odd days that Lea Worrell was able to attend Leigh.  Over the following weeks attention was paid to the inside of the vehicle in removing non-standard fittings from the cab, replacing warning buzzer bulbs, removing all internal vinyls and non-Greater Manchester materials, cleaning and, finally, repainting the floor on the lower deck, staircase, parcel shelves, etc.  A full examination was also undertaken on the vehicle to identify which panels needed to be replaced and these were marked up.   There were four panels and a new skirt on the offside, seven panels and a new skirt on the nearside, and one panel on the rear.  There was also some filling and sanding to undertake in two or three places and one panel needed pulling out and re-fixing to the body.

In addition, the destination display had been changed whilst at Eastbourne Buses Limited and a spare properly moulded three position Park Royal front destination unit was loaded onto the bus to exchange for the new unit when the re-panelling took place by S & T Coach Painters Limited in Blackburn.  This in fact was the spare item given to us during 2002 by North Birmingham Busways who had kindly removed it from their training vehicle 7953 (BNC 953T).  All that needed to be done was for the three destination glasses to have the paint and vinyls on them removed.  In addition, the two front lower deck corner panels had been damaged whilst at Eastbourne Buses and spares were dug out and these too were loaded on the vehicle.  On Saturday morning, 31st January 2004, it was driven by member, Colin McKay, from our premises in Leigh to S & T Coach Painters in Blackburn to undertake the re-panelling work, filling and sanding and swapping over the front destination panel and two lower deck front corner panels, including the headlights and spotlights, retaining the ones from the bus and relocating them in the spares.  Also the nearside route number glass had been panelled over and this was to be reinstated.

In order for Eastbourne Buses Limited to have fitted the new front destination display they had to alter the fixtures and fittings behind it in order to take different rollers for their narrow destination display. Consequently it was necessary for our member Ian Mitchell to visit our premises in East Manchester on Friday 6th February 2004 to remove from our spare Park Royal bodied Leyland Atlantean 7070 (VNB 170L) all the appropriate destination body fixtures and fittings from the bus and visit S & T Coach Painters in Blackburn to fit them to 7032 whilst the Eastbourne destination panel was out and before the original replacement from 7953 was refitted.  Once the work had been carried out by S & T Coach Painters the bus was moved from them to Whittakers Coach Travel in Penwortham on 21st February 2004 so that it could be painted in the unique open top livery only carried by this bus of seagull grey, Greater Manchester Buses orange and whortleberry.

After the paintwork had been undertaken 7032 was returned to Leigh on Wednesday 10th March 2004 but because of a temporary vehicle space problem in order to make room for it, 5320 (D320 LNB) had to be moved to East Manchester temporarily.  We did organise a special one off working day on Friday 9th April 2004 specifically to attend to 7032 to progress its rectification on this day.  All the original winding gears and rollers were put back to its front destination area which was now able to be fitted in place using the body parts fitted previously from 7070.  All that will subsequently be required to be fitted will be route numbers and blinds.  Damage to the nearside pod hinge and nearside light reflectors was repaired, replacement new wing mirrors and windscreen wipers were added as was a new original front licence plate.  We had made all the appropriate external vinyls and transfers depicting the GM Buses orange livery on this vehicle, which also has Stockport roundells and these were all fixed to the bus whilst work was undertaken on the inside to remove all final non-Greater Manchester fittings and the whole interior was given a second clean removing some of the dust from the sanding down that was necessary as a prelude to repainting.  Thereafter work continued on the vehicle once the working days had moved back to Leigh from Wigan, on Sunday 25th April 2004, when the cab area was repainted and the original driver’s seat fitted and missing beading was fitted to the front offside lower corner panel and the beading on the offside corner panel moved to level it up. 

Thereafter on Friday evening, 30th April 2004 the vehicle was taken to Whittakers Coach Travel in Penwortham in order that the electrics could be checked out, including all warning buzzers, the damaged relay on the nearside tail and rear lights and headlight circuit could be repaired and the cracked headlight replaced.  Whilst there a new entrance door air handle was to be fitted and the missing ancillary air gauge replaced in the cab.  The accelerator will be tightened and the accelerator linkage under the bonnet altered increasing clearance to make the bus drive faster from a maximum speed of 38 mph up to 48 mph.  A plate will be put on the valance to straighten up the bonnet when closed and the bonnet itself and valance will be lined up better so that the seagull grey line is truer at the centre than previously painted.  The vehicle will be serviced in terms of its engine, steering, electrics and brakes with all fluids and filters being replaced.  It was then steam cleaned on the chassis, engine and drive units in protective grey paint. It was then taken to Martins of Middlewich and passed its Class V MOT on 8th May 2004. 

7032 was collected and returned to Leigh on Sunday 16th May 2004, upon delivery to Whittakers of Leyland National 105 (HNB 24N).  Thereafter on working days some final snagging work and outstanding tidying up took place, the floor being painted on the lower deck and stairs, seat frames touched up, the cab area tidied up and all round the windscreen and air doors repainted in matt black.  Some missing internal transfers were put in place and the Greater Manchester winding gear finalised with white route number blinds, destination blind and via blinds being fitted. The final touch was the addition to the back of the vehicle of its Leyland and Atlantean badges. 7032 was launched at the Big Orange event on 9th and 10th October 2004. 


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