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Home || Content || Section A || A10) SELNEC Preservation Society Rally Participation || Trans-Lancs 1999


Without doubt, the Trans Lancs Historic Vehicle Rally from the Museum of Transport to Heaton Park, is the largest local event in the Greater Manchester area, and one that most local preservation groups try to attend. It is certainly a very interesting day out with an excellent display and range of vehicles, particularly double and single deck buses.

The SELNEC Preservation Society has often taken part in this rally over a number of years since 1987, but we have never taken more than two buses on any one occasion; indeed we have never taken more than two buses to any rally we have ever attended since the Society was formed on 13th January 1987.

Initially we did not own more than a few vehicles, but in more recent years, although we have acquired and rectified more buses, the logistics of arranging such a large presence, together with drivers, fuel costs, etc. has always made such an exercise difficult.

However, we decided, very early on in 1999, that this was the year we would have a very large presence on a bus rally, for the very first time, and clearly, the ideal candidate would be the Trans Lancs Historic Vehicle Rally from the Museum of Transport to Heaton Park on Sunday, 5th September 1999.

Seven months of preparation
We therefore decided that we would take all the vehicles we had available or which we could possibly have ready at that time, which, if all our plans came together, depending whether rectification facilities went well would mean a maximum of five vehicles.

When we made this decision in February 1999, we knew at that stage we could definitely take three buses, 7206, 7185 and the Exhibus 1066. However, even with these three vehicles there would need to be work undertaken during the year to ensure their attendance. Consequently, plans were put into place to have 7206 fully serviced, then MOTed and some repainting and rectification work to improve its external appearance was undertaken. With regard to 7185, having just been restored and repainted in September 1998, not too much was required to be done to this bus. However it also received a full service and was re-MOTed during the year.

We had originally believed it might have a damaged hose as it sprang a water leak at Crich on Sunday, 29th August 1999, and this could be repaired or replaced. However, a more thorough examination on Saturday, 4th September 1999, revealed that the radiator was damaged beyond repair and that an entirely new grid would have to be organised for it.

Clearly, we would not be able to take out the radiator to be repaired, in time for the Rally, the following day, 5th September 1999, so by pouring in large amounts of Radweld, and leaving the cap loose to reduce the pressure, we felt 7185 might be able to take part in the Rally as long as we kept topping-up the water.

Exhibus 1066 also had work undertaken on it in respect of a full service at Whittaker's of Penwortham, involving replacing large parts of the exhaust system and then the chassis was steam cleaned and spray-painted at Preston Bus. It was re-MOTed and a fourth display unit was built onboard the vehicle, on the offside behind the staircase to add three additional display boards for photographs, taking the total from nine to twelve. This involved having to measure-up the area in question, purchase the wood, cut and shape it, fit it into place and then we had to erect the wooden structure on which the display boards were fitted.

The original three display areas, being the front offside, i.e. between the driver's cab and central staircase, front nearside between the entrance door and central entrance doors and the third area on the rear nearside between the centre doors and the rear wheel arches, had all been put into place when the bus was converted to its exhibition status by GMT in 1981. Consequently, in 1999, some 18 years later we were clearly not going to be able to obtain the same display boards, but a search up and down the country eventually led us to Topiscale in Poulton-le-Fylde, who were able to supply the nearest match of a photographic display board similar in size and structure to that used previously.

Because of the time it took to track these down, they only arrived on 31st August 1999, allowing just a few days for Ian Mitchell to fit backing-plates to them plus the appropriate fittings, to slot on to the structure on 1066, so that these could be displayed upright on the new display plinth on the rear offside of the bus to match the other nine already there.

Indeed, the photographs were not put into place until 12.45am on the morning of Sunday, 5th September 1999 with the final touches plus publicity information being completed on the morning of the Rally itself, 5th September 1999 at 8.00am.

With regard to the fourth intended vehicle, 6990, this had been brought up to GM Buses North condition for attendance at the Bolton 100 Event on 8th and 9th May 1999. However, as the bus is not yet 20 years of age, it is not on insurance that allows it to be taken out and about whenever we wish, as it is on our ''laid-up' policy. Hence, we had to seek special dispensation from the Insurers to allow us to transfer it to the fully comprehensive policy to take part in the event on 5th September 1999, which required planning, permission, insurance certificates and the need to secure a tax disc just for that one day, which was cashed in immediately afterwards.

In any event, having had 6990 parked outside at our Wigan facility, it was necessary for the bus to be cleaned-up both internally and externally in order to attend the Rally and Bolton Depot Roundels were secured for its appearance on the Trans Lancs Rally which we had not managed to secure when it attended the Bolton 100 Event in May 1999. Indeed, the final cleaning, preparation of the vehicle and addition of the Roundels was not resolved until the day before, Saturday, 4th September 1999.

The fifth attendant at the Rally was the one that had been the least certain as the year progressed, being the Dennis Domino 1751, and was only possible because it spent two weeks at Dennis Customer Services from Saturday, 14th August to Saturday, 28th August 1999, being fully rectified and serviced. Then it was MOTed on Friday, 3rd September 1999, and taxed on that day. We also needed to have dispensation for this vehicle to be transferred from our 'laid-up' policy to our 'on the road' policy from the insurance company for its attendance at the Rally on 5th September 1999.

All this, was achieved despite the fact that it broke down on its way to Dennis on 14th August 1999 and had to be towed to their premises.

So, all in all, between February and September 1999, frantic efforts were undertaken to ensure that 7206, 7185 and 1066 were fully serviced, MOTed, ready and available with the newly created display areas on 1066, 6990 had to be prepared and 1751 had to be in receipt of major rectification work with last minute attention to be present, but all the threads came together with all five vehicles being ready and available for the rally on 5th September 1999.

At the same time, we felt it would be appropriate with The SELNEC Preservation Society having such a large presence on this Rally, to heavily promote the society and therefore all five vehicles had appropriate leaflets on display, being Membership Forms, copies of articles on the Society, specific articles on the buses in question, lists of all our vehicles, etc. Thousands of these different leaflets were prepared and displayed on the five vehicles in question for members of the public and bus enthusiasts to be able to pick-up and read. This in itself, took time in planning, writing, printing and a considerable amount of photocopying.

Furthermore, in order that our presence should be promoted with five vehicles available we felt that a new corporate image was appropriate for our Trustees and Members. When we launched our Membership Scheme back in 1996, we had produced light grey polo shirts with The SELNEC Preservation Society symbol embroidered on the left-hand side breast area, being a 2½ inch symbol, but we felt that more substantial rugby-style shirts might be more appropriate, bearing in mind that the short- sleeved polo shirts were all very well and good in the summer, but many events were attended when the weather was not so pleasant.

A decision could not be taken as to whether we should wear black or gold, so a variation of short-sleeved black, long-sleeved black and long-sleeved gold rugby shirts were ordered in different sizes, to suit the various Trustees and Members, all displaying the new 4½ inch embroidered SELNEC Preservation Society symbol. The gold shirts have an orange symbol with black outlining and black lettering, whilst the black shirts have an orange symbol with white lettering and white outlining.

Consequently, all the Trustees and Members on the day, driving and attending, presented a corporate image in the new gold and black rugby shirts. Planning for the size of the embroidery, the size and colours of the shirts, all took time, and the final selection were not collected from the embroiders until Tuesday, 31st August 1999, with just days to go.

Finally, another aspect of planning that took place during the year was that since we had made so much effort to get five vehicles ready to take part in this Rally and we were to have a high profile, we should have a permanent record of such a large presence and in this regard we wrote to a number of companies with a view to making a professional video of this event.

This would include the preparations at Wigan and Leigh, the drive from these premises to the Museum of Transport and from there, on the Rally to Heaton Park, the display at Heaton Park and the return thereafter.

We were looking for a video that would be better than the average home video/wedding video, but obviously less expensive than a professional television production. We contacted a number of companies with our requirements, and received only three responses that really addressed the type of production we wanted. After obtaining quotes, it was decided that F57 Video Productions from Stalybridge was the best company, not only in terms of price, but in their understanding of the way this matter might be covered. However, again, in terms of last-minute finalisation, the meeting to appoint this Company and agree the format of the filming took place only on 26th August 1999.

The day itself - Sunday 5th September 1999
Two drivers and three members went to Wigan at 8.15am on the morning to check the oil, water, batteries, etc. on 6990 and 1751, fit the tax discs, check the spare wheels, and the fuel then drive the vehicles from Wigan to Leigh. One member of the video crew attended at Wigan to film these activities and travelled in one of the vehicles to Leigh.

At 8.30am three other drivers, and three members attended at Leigh to finalise work on the display on 1066, and then check over 7206, 7185 and 1066 in respect of oil, water, fuel, etc, and park them in the street to await the arrival of 6990 and 1751. The second member of the video crew attended Leigh to film these activities. Then all five vehicles set off together for the Museum of Transport. The two camera crew followed in a car.

It was difficult to keep the five vehicles together in the side streets in Leigh due to traffic lights, but once on the East Lancs Road, the five vehicles in convoy made a spectacular sight. 1066, the Exhibus headed the convoy followed by 7185, 7206 and Dennis Domino 1751 with 6990 bringing up the rear.

On two occasions on the East Lancs Road we were overtaken by the camera car. It then drove slowly in the near-side lane allowing the five buses to peel round the car so they could be filmed overtaking. The crew also took shots of the vehicles in convoy on the East Lancs Road from the rear and from the front, etc.

At one point, we managed to squeeze all five vehicles on to a lay-by on the East Lancs Road so that photographs might be taken of all five vehicles together, as shown in the centre pages of this News Letter, and a conference with the camera crew could be undertaken on how we were to film our arrival at the Museum of Transport.

The camera car then went ahead to position themselves at the Museum of Transport to film our arrival, which they did. All five vehicles were parked-up in line at the Museum, so that we might stay together when we left to go on the 30 minute Road Run to Heaton Park.

The water leak difficulties we had experienced the previous week on our visit to Crich on Sunday, 29th August 1999, had not been rectified on 7185. Consequently after arriving at the Museum of Transport, we had to fill-up large amounts of water in 7185 from plastic containers, kept on board, and we were helpfully allowed to fill these up at the Museum of Transport so that we could continually keep topping-up the radiator on 7185 in order to take part in this Rally, although, in essence, wherever it went, it left a trail of water behind it.

We had arrived at the Museum of Transport at approximately 9.55am so took the opportunity of having breakfast there in the canteen facility, and the time also allowed us to check-over the five vehicles to ascertain that everything was all right and to top up the water on 7185.

At 11.00am, the time had come for us to take part in the Road Run between the Museum and Heaton Park. However, 7185 did not start and initially we felt this might be because the water leaking from the radiator had shorted out the starter motor, but assisted by John Cherry from Aintree Coachlines who had entered ex-GMT Titan 4002 (ANE 2T) in the Rally, we determined that the problem was that a battery connector had become loose and was, therefore, not making a proper circuit and this was preventing 7185 from starting.

As soon as this was discovered and the appropriate cable tightened-up, 7185 started and we were able to proceed on our way. The Rally followed the usual route, heading down the A664 towards Rochdale, through Middleton and Castleton before taking the A58 towards Bury, then arriving at Heywood. We missed the left-hand turning at Jim Cooley's pub at Heywood and had to go through the centre of the town, turn at a roundabout and come back, with not only our five vehicles going wrong, but several other following also had to take the slight detour before getting back on the correct Rally route.

One of the video crew stayed on board the vehicles to film interior shots of this element of the Rally whilst the other member of the video crew went ahead to Heaton Park to film our arrival.

After the five buses had arrived at and entered Heaton Park, they were driving fairly slowly at 5mph through the Park to the display area when a little girl jumped out in front of 7206 and the driver had to make an emergency stop on the air brakes, thereby avoiding hitting the little girl. However, the sudden dead stop caused the video cameraman, who happened to be on board this vehicle at that time, to propel along the vehicle into the windscreens at the front of 7206, smashing both windscreens, pushing them outwards. Luckily he was not harmed, although he did sustain some bruising.

On arrival at the display area, even though one of our five vehicles was a single-decker, we were allowed to park all the vehicles together, as we had wished, as normally, double and single deckers are separated.

Once all the five vehicles were lined-up, we placed signs on them inviting the public to come on board to look around, especially the Exhibus with its new display area and twelve photographic boards and opened all the air doors. A rear view of all five is shown in the centre pages of this News Letter. We then tried to contact Auto Windscreens, to ascertain whether they could send out an engineer to replace the damaged flat windscreens on 7206, as the vehicle was clearly not safe to drive back in that condition.

Auto Windscreens were able to find an engineer who was sent along, and as is their normal practice, they measured up, then cut the glass to size on site into two brand new windscreens for 7206. It was fortunate this was the vehicle in question, as the windscreens on 1066, 1751 and 6990 might not have been such an easy option to replace, being curved.

Indeed, whilst the Auto Windscreens fitter was on site, measuring up the requirements, taking out the old glass and cutting the new glass to size, a large crowd developed under the impression that this was an organised display of glass replacement, not realising that it was actually a necessity caused by an unplanned incident.

At Heaton Park, there was a tremendous display of interesting vehicles from all areas of bus operation, being double and single deck vehicles as well as a display of cars and other vehicles. There was a large contingent of vehicles from First Group, with a number of their new single deck vehicles including a Bendibus.

Of particular interest to The SELNEC Preservation Society was the fact that MK Metro had sent along the only prototype GMT Olympian, 1451 (NJA 568W) and Stagecoach Ribble had sent along their 2147, ex GMT 3001 (ANA 1Y), Greater Manchester Transport's first production Olympian.

Also present on the day was 8151, the first 8000 Standard, being a Standard Atlantean delivered in January 1978, prior to 8001 being delivered in June 1978. 8151 normally resides at the Museum of Transport at St. Helens.

Also attending was 4002 (ANE 2T) from Aintree Coachlines, being the second of the 15 GMT Leyland Titans similar to GNF 15V (4015) owned by The SELNEC Preservation Society, although 4002 has a Gardner engine and 4015 has a Leyland engine. Also present was 8698 a light alloy Northern Counties bodied Leyland Atlantean.

Towards the end of the Rally when the sun was in the right position, a line-up was organised, starting with 8151 followed by 6990 so that these two vehicles, both in GM Buses North colours could be seen together, then next bus parked up was 1751 so the comparison of GM Buses North livery on 6990 and GM Buses South livery on 1751 could be observed, as shown on the photograph in centre of this News Letter.

Then the two SELNEC Standards were parked together, being 7206 SELNEC Central and 7185 SELNEC Northern, 7206 with dual door Northern Counties bodywork, and 7185 with single door Park Royal bodywork. Then the line up continued with Exhibus 1066, 1451, the prototype Olympian and 3001, the first production Olympian delivered to GMT and on the end, 8698 joined us for a marvellous display, of ex-SELNEC/GMT vehicles, depicting the development of standard bodywork.

At approximately 5.30pm it was time to leave with the five vehicles again in convoy, 1066, 7185, 7206, 1751 and 6990 which were videoed on their way back to Leigh, by F57 Video Productions together with the arrival of all five vehicles back at Leigh.

7185, 7206 and 1066 were parked at Leigh, whilst 6990 and 1751 were taken back to Wigan.

All in all, a very interesting day, the coming together of seven months of planning, with five vehicles on display, five drivers, a video being made, the new corporate rugby shirts, 12 display boards on 1066, leaflets available to the public, and generally the radiator problem on 7185 and the windscreen mishap with 7206, not really distracting from an excellent day out with the largest presence we have ever promoted.

As previously mentioned we hired a video company, F57 Video Productions, to cover our attendance and involvement in the Trans Lancs Historic Vehicle Rally on 5th September 1999. That video has now been produced and runs for 1 hours 28 minutes showing involvement during the day in question. It is split into seven stages as follows:

Stage 1 - Preparation of 1066, 7185 and 7206 at the Society's premises at Leigh plus 1751 and 6990 at Wigan.

Stage 2 - 1751 and 6990 arrive at Leigh from Wigan and all five vehicles drive in convoy to the Museum of Transport in Boyle Street, Manchester.

Stage 3 - All five vehicles arrive at the Museum of Transport and preparations for the Trans Lancs Rally are undertaken.

State 4 - The buses leave the Museum of Transport, follow the route of the Trans Lancs Rally, and arrive at Heaton Park where they go on display.

Stage 5 - The public view the exhibits including the photographic display on the Exhibus and the windscreen on 7206, damaged en route, being replaced.

Stage 6 - Ex-SELNEC/GMT vehicles line up at Heaton Park for photographs, then the five buses leave for home.

Stage 7 -1066, 7185 and 7206 arrive back at Leigh to be put back in store, and 1751 and 6990 continue on to Wigan.

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