Friday, 28 November 2014

RIP 335

You may recall throughout this blog the amount of grief I've experienced with DAF P335ROO.

To name a few things:

Angle drive
Throttle cable failure
Compressor pipe failure, twice!
Footbrake Valve
Air dryer pack
Power Steering

It shut down the MOT station for 7 hours, broke down almost every time I took it out on the road and came back from North Weald bus rally on the back of a tow truck.

The final straw was a tank - a proper millitary one - reversing into it at my storage location damaging the nearside front corner, fibre glass panels inside and out plus both windscreens.

Well having decided that I can no longer trust the vehicle, a few enquiries were made regarding the price of scrap and the decision was taken to send it to one the bus graveyards at Barnsley. Wigley's of Barnsley came and took 335 today and that's the end of its story. RIP 335 - you certainly made a few memories for me!

Monday, 13 October 2014

The up's and downs of bus preservation

Show Bus

Showbus returned to Duxford in September and so I took advantage of the closeness to my storage location to take along both D302PEV and P337ROO.

The day itself went well with both vehicles receiving positive feedback. Having popped upstairs on 337 part way through the warm day to open the upper deck windows [to let some heat out] I noticed condensation on the rear offside window. This is right above the header tank for the engine cooling system and so as expected, it took about 2 litres of water when checked prior to departure.

Having driven 337 back home and parked her up, I became aware a few minutes later that she was leaking water from the back end. Further investigation showed water leaking from the header tank via a pressure release cap. And sure enough, the condensation was back on that upper deck window.

It was suggested that I may have overfilled it with coolant. I was always told to fill 'em to the maximum mark as a bus driver but it was explained that doing so leaves no room for expansion when the coolant heats up and so its better to fill it to just above the minimum mark. Once it cooled down I refilled it to just above the minimum mark as advised and took it out for a drive. Upon returning there was no loss of it would appear we solved the issue........


Canvey bus rally was yesterday and I went along with P337ROO as I planned to run in service.

Given the previous water issues, I ensured we left with the coolant just above the minimum mark and stopped off for diesel after about 40 minutes. A check at the back revealed no water leaking. Another check upon arrival at Canvey also revealed no water leak and no other obvious issues (ie, condensation or overheating).

I duly completed 4, or possibly 5 (I wasn't counting!) round trips on the museum to display shuttle before parking up. It was pleasing to carry healthy loads as it means I get to drive under full load conditions and it gives the vehicle a proper work out by doing the job it was built to do. Having built some trust in the motor I thoroughly enjoyed myself going round and round in circles.

Another check after the service runs revealed a very minor water leak via the pressure release cap - probably not even half a litre. I elected to not check the water level given the advice about not over filling it. I figured that I hadn't lost much and so with no condensation on that upper deck window and no other obvious signs of overheating we ought to be fine for the return journey.

Having given a private tour of the Island to some friends at the end of the event, we duly set off for the return journey............40 minutes in I started getting a low oil level alarm when stopping at traffic lights or roundabouts. I pulled into a layby to check it out and upon getting to back of the bus I was greeted with a significant amount of steam and some water coming of the header tank pressure release valve. 337 had overheated proper and it took a good 10 minutes to cool down enough to release the filler cap. A check of the oil showed it to be bang on the maximum mark!!

Just when I thought I'd turned a corner and found a reliable DAF after all the grief with 335........arrgghhhh!!!

Having learned a lesson when a fellow preservationist had problem at the Clacton rally, I now carry 20 litres of water on board so was instantly relieved to realise that once 337 cooled down we could soon have her topped up again and be on our way (assuming the engine hadn't been cooked). 20 litres later I had it just above the minimum mark on the header tank. Yep, that's not a typo - it had lost 20 litres - and it didn't loose all 20 when I stopped as the puddle underneath was nowhere near big enough. So when did it lose those 20 litres???!!

Anyway, thinking back to the day I drove it back from Sheffield, I had found it ran better at a maximum speed of 50mph. Up until this problem occuring I had been doing around 53/54mph for about 20 minutes. Having decided that driving slower may be a good idea I drove all the way back to the storage location (another 40 minutes) without going above 45mph. Upon parking up back at base I rechecked the back water leaks and the coolant still just above the minimum mark as it was after refilling at the roadside.


Because of the issues with 337 and the likelihood of no quick fix, I'll be taking the old faithful, D302PEV, to Transport fest instead of 337.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Bus & Coach Preservation magazine

Dart J317XVX was featured in Bus & Coach Preservation magazine's October 2014 edition. This came about through somebody else at my storage location already setting up an article for their vehicle with the magazine.

Initially though, the feature was going to be about Volvo D302PEV but upon finding out that P337ROO's repaint was imminent and spotting 317 in the shed, Nick Larkin (who'd come to do a photo shoot and interview) decided to switch the plan and hold back on the Volvo so that a full Harris feature could be done with two vehicles.

The Dart was duly posed in several locations in North Essex though the weather was unhelpful - bright sunlight made it difficult to get any decent shots of the cream coloured Dart. Its not often us Brits moan about too much sun! Although the bus was the subject of all the attention, I certainly feel I know what models go through now as they pose in various ways trying to satisfy their photographers needs!

With 337 now ready, the photoshoot and interview for 302 & 337 was completed a couple of days ago - somewhat rushed as Nick had been let down by another vehicle and had space to fill in the November 2014 issue. We posed the vehicles in a North Essex village which is normally as a quiet as a church mouse......and just as we started it became the busiest area in the UK.

Eventually though we got the shots Nick wanted and having seen a rough outline of the article, I look forward to the magazine hitting the shelves.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Going dotty

After being let down by three different graphics companies, I finally found one willing to take on the challenge of doing the dots for 337. Viscount International of Woodford, East London, came highly recommended by several other preservationists and they weren't wrong - theses guy's really are the bee's knee's.

It took several weeks to finally arrive at a design I was happy with (I was never truly happy with version carried by 335 and vowed to better replicate the Harris Bus fade on 337) - as you can see from the sneaky peak images below, I reckon we've nailed it this time.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Still busy!!

Updates for this post include 302 making Buses magazine, Colne Valley Railway and 337's repaint.......

302 in Buses

So yeah, after 335 made it into Buses magazine last year.........and me pondering whether 302 would achieve the same feat when it was finished..........I'm pleased to see that it did indeed make it into Buses magazine (August issue) on the strength of its visit to North Weald rally!

I'll have to come with something for next year now!!!

Colne Valley Railway Rally

Oh dear.

The first one I did in 2012 was relatively successful given the remote location; last year was so so with just 16 vehicles. In 2014 the event attracted just 10 vehicles.

It coincided with the much larger Alton rally, which although in Hampshire, certainly attracted many of the local vehicles that would have otherwise come to Colne Valley. As is becoming the theme with me, owners have got to support events or they won't happen in the future - no events = no point preserving buses!

Now I'm as guilty as others I suppose, because I was actually booked into Alton with 302. I have had a long term issue with 302's front suspension (piston leak) and I've been advised not do long journey's till its fixed. As I wasn't able to fix it in time, I decided to take advantage of Colne Valley's proximity to my storage location and take two vehicles.

As you'll see below, although 337 is now repainted (just awaiting vinyls), but I want to hold off on her relaunch onto the preservation scene (planned to be showbus in September). There's nothing to stop 302 doing a local trip and 317 is available with no planned events for the rest of the year (acting as spare to the others) so I decided to take those two - and with them being parked next to each other I blinded them both for route 383 reflecting the period where they ran in competition with each other.

337 repaint complete

As mentioned above, 337's repaint is now complete - just the vinyls to go:

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Busy Busy Busy!!

Well its all happening this month!

We've had two rallies - North Weald and the Bus & Coach Preservation magazine show - both of which were quite dire with only around 30 buses at each. 337's repaint has started and 317 has been in a photo shoot for an article in Bus & Coach Preservation magazine.

So yeah, sadly North Weald continues to suffer a poor reputation, and wasn't helped by certain persons at TfL taking advantage of the fact to stage a rival event in central London. Whilst I appreciate the apathy towards this event, I would plead with fellow preservationists to give North Weald a go in 2015; things are changing for the better. Or perhaps look at it this way: if less vehicles attend rallies, there'll be less and less rallies.........before you know it there won't be any point preserving a bus as there'll be nowhere to take it.

I did the Bus & Coach Preservation magazine show last year at Newbury, and you may remember from this blog that I was less than impressed and vowed not to bother again. What was that I said about supporting events?!! Well they moved it near to St Albans this year and so myself and a few fellow preservationists thought the move was a sensible one - close to an area full of preserved buses, it'll be a surefire winner right?

Nah. As I mentioned above, the event saw about 30 buses; what a shame given that it was organised by the national magazine that covers bus preservation. As I've said twice already, bus preservationists have got to support these events otherwise they will disappear off the rally calender and there'll nothing left to take buses to.

On a more positive note, Bus & Coach Preservation magazine approached our group and invited us to do some articles with them - for my part they were interested in Volvo D302PEV which I'd taken along.

Well they came to our storage facility a couple of days ago, and clocking the Dart they expressed an interest in doing an article on that too. Having spent a bit more time discussing my vehicles, and with the news that DAF 337 is about to be repainted, it was decided to drop the Volvo for now and just do the Dart instead. Volvo 302 and DAF 337 will be done together at a later date as part of a large article about Harris Bus. What with DAF 335 appearing in a Buses magazine article last year, I have to admit I quite proud to see all my buses getting their 15 minutes of fame!

We posed the Dart in several locations around a village in North Essex and so I'm now looking to seeing the finished article whenever it appears in the magazine.

Finally I've mentioned that DAF 337 is about to be repainted.......well it is currently fully sanded down and is just awaiting some of my free time to get the paint on. I'm intending to have the paint completed by the end of the month and the stickers done by mid August.........

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Clacton Rally

Today was the Clacton bus rally, held as ever in the car park at the Factory Outlet shopping centre.

The plan was to take DAF P337ROO but upon preparing her to go I noticed that the air wasn't unloading as it should when it reaches maximum pressure - and after dumping some air via the footbrake it was also failing to build air. Now I've been here before with sister 335, and I'm 99% certain the air dryer pack is at fault - I await professional advice but it did mean 337's attendance at the rally was canceled.

302 it was then!

Volvo D302PEV is booked to attend the next 4 events (North weald, Bus Coach Preservation magazine show, Alton and Showbus), mainly cos its just been repainted and I want to show it off at the bigger events, so I certainly wasn't planning to take her to Clacton as well, but hey ho.

The day itself went well with good weather and plenty of socialising with other preservationists. I went with other owners from Yeldham Transport Museum and so we arrived and departed in convoy - something that always generates a few funny looks from other road users and people on foot, but is none the less quite fun to be a part of. Not only that but it does provide instant help if there should be any mechanical you'll see in a minute.......

As always, 302 was put forward for service and did one return trip to the town centre (via the railway station). We came close to wishing 337 had made it but got everyone on with two seats to spare! I had Heart playing on the radio just as Harris Bus used to do when they operated it in service; I don't think the music on offer was to everyone's taste but I'm quite certain it was the only vehicle in service to offer such entertainment!

Being as I was part of a group, we shared the service work by driving each others vehicles, so I didn't actually drive on 302's trip (I drove part trips on D261FUL and KPJ264W) - doing this gave each of us the opportunity to be passengers on our own vehicles, which is something we rarely get do as only PCV licenced drivers can drive buses in passenger service with more than 8 passengers on board.

Here's 302 in Clacton town centre:

Now I mentioned mechanical issues earlier; thankfully it wasn't me but another owner in our group.....

We were positioning our vehicles to take a group photo when I noticed a rather large split in the side wall of a front tyre - the consensus was that cords were showing and it was therefore too dangerous to drive on. None of us were carrying spare wheels but thankfully a member of the rally organising group (our near neighbours at Colne Estuary Preservation Group) were able to lend us a spare wheel (a gesture which was very much appreciated). All we then had to do was jack the bus up..........but none of us had a jack......

 Having exhausted all options at the nearby depots of Headingham and First (both have no engineers on Sundays!!) the owner with the dodgy tyre had to make use of the breakdown cover to get a specialist in to actually swap the wheels over. Whilst most of us preserved bus owners do have full breakdown cover, it is usage limited in much the same way as the AA or RAC is with your cars, so we'll always try to fix something first if we can and only make use of the breakdown cover as a last resort.

It's safe to say we've learned a lesson today and we'll all now make sure we're carrying spares and tools - and if we're traveling as a group in convoy we should be well enough equipped to deal with pretty much anything that's thrown at us!!

Monday, 26 May 2014

335 Accident

 As mentioned in my last post, 335 was damaged in a slow speed collision at the place where she's stored - the incident occurred on Sunday 11th May and affected the nearside front corner & windscreen.

It was already off the road for 2014 pending a decision on its future - radiator still leaks plus the gearbox has a mind of its own and the diff whines. Having already sunk the best part of £4,000 into it trying to rectify one mechanical defect after another, I'd been pondering whether to carry on or use it for spares for 337 and then scrap it.

No decision had been made when the accident occurred - not my fault by the way.......335 was parked in her space at the time - so the person who did it has agreed to pay for it to be repaired. 

There's some images of the damage on the website HERE.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

YTM Open Day

Today it was the Yeldham Transport Museum open day - all 4 of my vehicles were in attendance, with P337ROO operating in passenger service.

On the whole it was an enjoyable day with glorious sunshine all day long.

As stated above, 337 was made available for passenger service and thus operated two trips; one to Halstead and the other to Braintree rail station. She performed faultlessly throughout despite the high temperatures - I finally have a reliable double decker!

Mind you, the original and constantly unreliable double decker, sister 335, has been involved in an incident at its storage location and will now be off the road long term as a result - more on that in my next update.

Back to the subject at hand........below is a picture of 337 at Braintree station - the "blind" does work and was showing "Braintree rail station X1" but of course a combination of bright sunlight and LED's flickering mean the camera didn't pick that up:

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Harlow & 302 repaint

Well its all happening at the moment!

Today was the Harlow running day; an event I was particularly looking forward to given Dart J317XVX's association with Harlow based County Bus & Coach Co.

Unfourtunately visitor attendance, and thus passenger numbers, were low but 317 appeared to be well received. We did a feeder service from Great Yeldham (route 320) via, Finchingfield, Great Bardfield, Great Dunmow, Takeley, Hatfield Heath, and Sheering...........we picked up errrrr nobody!

After a short break we did a round trip on route 809 to Churchgate Street via Old Harlow. This turned out to be our busiest trip with 10 passengers plus another two that we picked up in Old Harlow on the way back to the bus station. The 809 has some very tight turns and so I was glad I took the narrow Dart.

After another short break we did route 380 to Mark Hall North - again the narrow Dart came into its own what with the prolific car parking and the unwillingness of oncoming cars to give way. I expect that some roads don't have a Sunday bus service usually and so car drivers probably didn't expect us to be operating along their roads today. Passenger numbers on this trip were 5.

Following straight on from the 380 was a 389 trip to Potter Street. Compared to the other routes the 389 is relatively fast with no speed bumps or dodgy car parking to worry about. This was my favorite of the three routes! On the return journey we passed through the bus station and then onto Harlow Town station before returning back to the bus station. We took 4 passengers to Potter Street, lost one there to another service but gained an unsuspecting member of the public; we lost all 4 on passing through the bus station and thus carried fresh air to and from the town station.

We then did another trip on route 380 to Mark Hall North, initially departing the bus station with 5 passengers but lost one on the outward journey. Car parking and cars in the opposite direction forcing their way through were particularly bad on the return journey.

Finally we had the return feeder service, route 320, back to Yeldham. Now having brought nobody in, I expected nobody going back. Wrong!! A couple asked if I'd drop off on line of route........well yes, obviously thinks I ask where they're going to thinking they'd say somewhere like First Avenue or Old Harlow..........Dunmow came the reply! I don't know how they got to Harlow in the first place, but I duly obliged and they were our only two passengers.

Despite the low passenger numbers, I enjoyed the day and I look forward to it hopefully happening again next year. Below is an image at Mark Hall North on our second trip:

In other news, as per the title of this post, Volvo D302PEV has finally got its repaint completed. I'll let these two images do the talking:

Monday, 14 April 2014

"Cobham" and 337's MOT

It was the London Bus Museum's event yesterday, more famously known as "Cobham" and is held at the world famous Brooklands site in Surrey.

The entrance to the site was poorly signed and as such I got told off for the second year running for appearing at the wrong entrance...........please please please if the organisers see this can they take note that clearly signing the route in for visiting buses would be useful and appreciated by those of us not familiar with the Brooklands site!

The rally itself wasn't as good as previous years - the number of visiting buses were notably less that recent years - it is a shame but even I am considering giving it a miss next year.

In other news 337 was put in for her MOT today and I'm pleased to say she sailed through with no advisories. Thankfully the whole thing was completely uneventful and we didn't suffer any of the shenanigans that occurred at 335's MOT last year. Talking of 335, it's likely the MOT will be allowed to lapse as I'm considering replacing it with something else that'll hopefully compliment my current fleet and prove to be more reliable.........more news when I have it!!.......

Saturday, 5 April 2014

South East Bus Festival

Today was the first event of the 2014 season, the South East Bus Festival; a bus rally added on to the Heritage Transport show.

The event is held at The Kent Showground in Detling, near Maidstone and this year attracted around 125 buses and coaches - up from 95 last year.

I had originally planned to take the newest acquisition, 337, but due to issues with the DVLA I wasn't able to tax it in time so I took 302 instead.

Having offered to run in service, I was asked to operate two trips on the offsite shuttle bus linking with Arriva services towards Maidstone - the Kent Showground is on the A249 dual carriageway and so the shuttle service provides a safer option than crossing the road on foot.

On both runs we had around 9 passengers each way on each trip - here's an image of 302 waiting in the layby on the A249 for the Arriva bus to show up:

Thursday, 20 March 2014


The day has finally arrived and P337ROO was collected from TM Travel in Sheffield and driven back to her new home in Essex.

Having stopped periodically on the journey to make sure everything was ok, we were having a good run down the M1 motorway........then it was onto the A14 and at the first roundabout I saw a massive amount of white smoke or steam at the back as I stopped..........

Turned out to be coolant but the header tank was still full and so I can only assume it was a combination of being overfilled at the start of the journey and the long run at constant top speed. From this point on I never went above 50mph (top speed being 56mph) and this seemed to resolve the issue.

That is until we hit the A505 and stopped for a routine check..........I discovered a split water hose and a fairly steady stream of coolant running out onto the road. It took about 10 litres of water to refill the system. As the leak was minor, I elected to carry on (we were only about 20 minutes from "home").....

Several stops and refills later we successfully made it with the leak being only marginally worse than when originally discovered. Thankfully the guilty hose should be a relatively easy fix.

So there we are, my fourth bus is now safely tucked up in her new home in North Essex.

Monday, 17 February 2014

302's MOT

Volvo D302PEV was put in for her MOT today and I'm pleased to say she sailed through with no advisories issued.

I did wonder if I'd ever get her back together in time (ie, the MOT was due to be completed by 28th February) but of course it all came good in the end.

Next up for 302 is a repaint back into Harris Bus's original Cream and Blue scheme though I'm not too sure when that will happen as I'm currently still saving money to meet the full asking price for 337 and I'm mindful about taking a vehicle off the road during the rally season as I caught myself out last year by starting on 302's bodywork during the middle of last season.

With 335 off the road and the old faithful 317 having no issues, the current priority now is the purchase of 337.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Into 2014....

Two things to update on.....


The offside bodywork is now complete and all windows are now refitted (I managed source one from PSV Glass to replace the broken one).

Excuse the tight angle; things are often parked tight when I want to take an image!


Yes, that's a new number..............and yes that means I have a new vehicle!!!!!!

337 refers to P337ROO - sister to my P335ROO. 337 is in much better shape mechanically and so providing she successfully drives back from Sheffield ok (won't be collecting her till late March), I will be using 337 as acquired during the 2014 rally season.

As is evident throughout this blog, I've had no end of mechanical grief with 335 and it still has issues today with air trapped in the water system, a leaking radiator and a gearbox with a mind of its own that refuses to even think about changing gear whilst cold. 335 is currently sorned and that will remain the case for the foreseeable future.

Here is an image of 337 taken a couple of days ago when I went to view her and agree her purchase: