Sunday, 13 October 2019

The Canvey Curse

Today was Canvey rally day - one of my favourite events as I get to operate my vehicles in service on the link shuttle between the museum and the display site.

Weapon of choice was Volvo B10M Plaxton Premiere coach W649FUM.

Just like last year, the coach was well received and carried healthy loads on several trips. Just like last year, it ran like a dream all day long.

And then, just like last year, we encountered a problem right at the end of the day.

This time one of the fuel injector pipes has sprung a leak; quite a big one too - it's like the pipe has split rather than gotten a pin hole in it.

I'm startring to think this motor dosen't like Canvey Island!!

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Familiar Face Returns!

317 during a break on the journey "back home"
Two years ago I reduced my fleet in order to try and bring my finances under control and as a result my first ever bus (that I owned), Dennis Dart J317XVX, was sold to a new owner in the North West.

Well fast forward to September this year and word reached me that the owner had put the vehicle up for sale on eBay.

Notwithstanding the fact that it was the first vehicle to get me in the bus preservation game, the Wright Handybus bodywork is relatively rare in preservation terms, so I couldn't stand by and watch some non bus preservationist get their hands on it and butcher it again for a failed non PCV "project" (I originally acquired it from someone who had chopped up the original interior in order to create a mobile IT suite).

With a price agreed, today was collection day.

Although some electrical issues seem to have crept in since I last owned the vehicle, it duly completed the 240 mile journey back to Essex without fuss.

First job, electrical issues aside, is to sand down the orange paint job and get it back into the Cream & Green County Bus livery.

Thursday, 1 August 2019

New Fleet Addition

Dennis Dart P327HVX has joined my coach, under my ownership.

I decided some time ago that there are things the coach cannot do as well as a bus and so should the right motor come along........

The Dart is of particular interest to me as I drove it when it was new at County Bus. It lives in the same location as the coach and so I had been aware for some time that the owner was looking to sell it. I had been resisting as money is still tight for me at present and I had my own Essex Bus Rally (a week ago now) to finance as a priority over buying any buses.

However the day has arrived. I could resist no longer and so with a price agreed the deal was done.

I'm not sure when it'll be back on the road, but I know I will enjoy having a "proper" bus again!

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Hastings 2019

It was my first time at Hastings Bus Rally, and their first time at a new venue.

Frankly, I hope they don't use the site again as it just wasn't suitable for a bus rally.

For starters one had to squeeze between two bollards to enter the roadway off the main drag, then it was an immediate and tight left turn to access the display area. The display area itself wasn't wide enough to accomodate buses on both sides but the marshalls persisted with parking vehicles opposite each other regardless - as a result it took me 8 shunts to get my coach into position.

I left my coach in the display area whilst I went for an explore and when I returned I found Ensign's Enviro parked at an angle to the coach such that it was blocking access to the rear emergency exit door on the coach. Given that I'd blocked the front entrance door of the coach with a piece of wood to prevent unauthorised access, the plan was to access the vehicle via the emergency door which I can lock with a key. But of course with the Enviro parked as it was, I had no access to my vehicle.

I would stress that this was in no way the fault of the Ensign driver. He'd simply parked his vehicle under the guidance of the marshalls and they were trying to make the vehicle fit in the only [unsuitable] space available.

Vehicles struggled to manovoure around the extremely tight display area with several shunts often required to get into or out of display positions.

W649FUM on display

This image shows the blocked rear emergency exit door
And the end of the day was just as bad with a now tight right turn to get through the tight bollards.

Whoever looked at this site and thought is was just wasn't I'm afraid.

Saturday, 6 April 2019

Detling 2019

On display at the 2019 South East Bus Festival
Today was the first rally of the 2019 season, the South East Bus Festival at Detling in Kent. It was a 150 mile round trip from the storage barn in North Essex and 649 soaked up the miles effortlessly. So much so that despite departing some time after the other vehicles from the same barn at the end of the event, we arrived back "home" first!

The weather forcast for the day was cloudy but dry. In reality there was a freezing cold breeze and it rained on and off all day with rolling mist towards the end. The weather certainly didn't ruin the event - indeed no vehicles got stuck on the damp grass - but mother nature could have done better!
Copyright Dylan Thomas - awaiting the Arriva bus connection

At the event we did three round trips on the external shuttle service that links up with Arriva's local services passing on the nearby A249 dual carraigeway. Each of the trips carried a decent load and again 649 took it all in its stride.

Hopefully I'm not tempting fate when I say it seems to have setled down nicely after the issues that plagued the 2018 season.

So all in all, a cold and damp day. But enjoyable all the same.

Thursday, 28 March 2019

2019 Season Begins

Here it is being washed
So Winter appears to be over and the first big rallly of the season - the South East Bus Festival at Detling in Kent - is just over a week away....

Seems like a good time to visit the storage location and wake up my preserved Hedingham coach in order to get it prepared for the season ahead.

First things first, it was given a wash. Not only has it gained a layer of dust over the past few months, but it rained on the day it was last out on the road; a private trip for friends and family only to Rochester in early December hence the yellow signs which were required due to special parking restrictions. It had gotten a bit dirty from that rainly day.

All systems were given a check and all appears to be healthy. Happy days. I'm hoping the 2019 season will be much more enjoyable - and indeed busier - than 2018 proved to be.

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Ensign Running Day 2018

Having driven the last two Ensign running days, its now become a regular thing for me to offer my services to Ensign Bus for their annual December running day - they support my bus rally in the summer (shameless plug: and so I return the favour by supporting their running day.

Best thing about it is getting allocated a vehicle from Ensign's own heritage fleet. Last year it was an RMA; this year it was the last ever DMS built - THX646S.

I'd never driven a DMS before but they're pretty similar to an Atlantean, right?

I have to say it was an absolute pleasure of a vehicle to drive and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole day. Especially as the cab heater worked perfectly.

Here it is at Tilbury Ferry: