Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Ensign running day

For a lot of preserved owners the rally season finishes in September or October. Not mine!

Having acquired Leyland Olympian H105GEV with a class 6 MOT (that's what you need to operate for hire & reward), I offered myself and the vehicle to Ensign Bus for their heritage running day on Saturday 3rd December. As the running day is operated commercially, collecting fares, only class 6 vehicles can be used.

Subject to a satisfactory safety inspection, check of my licence and agreement on how the vehicle would be correctly insured etc, Ensign Bus agreed to the Olympian's inclusion in their event.

We were allocated to the X81 Grays to Shenfield route - we were unable to work either of the other two routes (X21 Upminster to Ongar & X55 Upminster to Gravesend) because of the London Low Emission Zone, and also a low bridge on the X21 means its a single deck only route.

Ensign had the Olympian stored at their depot from the Tuesday prior to the running day to allow time for the safety inspection to be completed, so it was only a short dead trip on running day morning to take up service at Lakeside on our first trip to Shenfield. We then duly completed 3 round trips.

Because the running day uses only class 6 vehicles, it is a properly registered bus service that observes all bus stops on line of route and thus offers local journey's and one off connections for one day only. It was certainly different stopping when people put their hands out or ring the bell..........and collecting fares - the last time I did that was 16 years ago! We sold £17.10 worth of local fares, so it goes to show that we didn't just have enthusiasts on board.

Here we are at Lakeside before entering service on our first trip to Shenfield:

Friday, 14 October 2016

W437CWX moves on

Having come to the conclusion that I'm getting nowhere fast with Olympian W437CWX, and given that its storage location at Yeldham is about to be redeveloped into a housing estate, I've decided that the best thing for the vehicle is to find a new preservationist owner.

To get a base value for the vehicle I got a quote from a scrap yard and then advertised the vehicle within select preservation circles. Only one serious person stepped forward and the vehicle is now destined to make its way North to Yorkshire to hopefully be restored to its former glory. The buyer wishes to remain anonymous so that's as much as I can say at the moment.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Theydon Bois & Canvey

Having gotten my new Olympian (H105GEV) painted in time, I was invited to take it to the transport sale held at Theydon Bois village hall.

The arrangement is that a small number of buses are displayed in the car park and they offer free rides around the local area as an added attraction alongside the transport sale.

H105GEV completed two trips, the first to Waltham Abbey and the second a loop via Debden and Abridge.

The image on the right shows H105GEV on display in the car park at Theydon Bois Village hall.

The day after the Theydon Bois event was Canvey bus rally. This is one of my favourite events as I get to run in service as much as I like. As the Olympian was now ready to rally this was the chosen weapon and as such I thought it would be nice to have my Dart (J317XVX) there too as they're a matching pair. I had a second driver available so all was looking good.....

Unfourtunately the Dart had other ideas and developed an alternator fault which has to led to the alternator being removed for repair. Whilst unbolting the alternator I noticed that the header tank has a slight split in it and so this also needs to be replaced.

As the Dart was unavailable I offered my second driver the oppourtunity to take DAF P337ROO instead which was accepted. Both buses completed a number of trips - possibly 5 each but we lost count! I gather the DAF carried healthy loads on all trips - I had the Olympian and this proved particularly popular with full loads on trips operated, though the last journey was a tad lighter owing to an open topper coming out to play.

Here's the Olympian on the shuttle service at the bus museum and both vehicles on display at the rally (yes, the parking was that tight unfourtunately).

Sunday, 4 September 2016


As a follow up to the Londoner Live event at West Ham garage, I was asked if it would be possible to film some bits & pieces with DAF P337ROO to be used as part of the DVD covering the event.

I was happy to oblige, and here's a sneaky shot of the action unfolding......

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

West Mersea & 105

In a bit of a last minute arrangement with an adjacent local preservation group, I got myself involved in helping to provide the free bus service associated with the Mersea Island Lions Transport Show.

Initially I took Dennis Dart J317XVX but it became apparent that not only was a double decker required, the other group (who were in overall charge of the free bus service operation) had also planned on me taking a double decker. Luckily the new storage location isn't too far away so a swap of vehicles with DAF P337ROO soon had the issue resolved.

In the image above P337ROO can be seen at West Mersa, MICA centre, along with a supporting open topper.


Ah! My fleet has a new addition!

Former GHA coaches Leyland Olympian 1810VT........better known as H105GEV, new to County Bus & Coach Co LTD at Grays garage.

I had been watching this vehicle along with two sisters for around three years. GHA went into administration in July and the administrators decided to sell off some of the owned vehicles via an auction; I was thus lucky enough to put in a winning bid.

Here she is having just arrived at her new home back in Essex:

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Basildon & West Ham

Playing catch up again!....

Sunday 26th June 2016 was the date of my own first ever bus rally, held at Barleylands Farm Park near Basildon.

Unfourtunately mother nature did its utmost to try and destroy the event with so much rainfall in the weeks prior to the big day that the rally field was rendered unusable. Although not ideal, I did at least have a smaller hardstanding area available as back up plan and this was utilised in order to save the rally from cancelation.

Despite having to resort to using smaller area, and thus being forced to alienate the sales stalls, feedback was so positive that I've decided to have another go in 2017.

Moving on to West Ham........the bus garage rather than the football team....

The Londoner Live show took place at West Ham bus garage on Saturday 23rd July. The basic concept was to assemble buses of various types, old & new, in order to show how London's buses have changed over the years. Initially I was invited to take my Dart J317XVX to represent the use of the type for the 90's fashion of running improved frequencies with smaller vehicles.......and of course the involvement of non red bus companies through the tendering process.

Following further discussion with the event organiser, it was also agreed that DAF P337ROO would be added to the line up representing Harris Buses doomed time in tendered London. Granted 337 isn't in the same condition as new (ie, no centre exit doors, electronic destination blind and Thurrock link branding) but the event organiser agreed that the base Green & Blue Harris Bus livery was enough justification for inclusion.

Here's 317 & 337 on display at West Ham bus garage:

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Clacton 2016

I often say that Canvey is my favourite rally but actually, I think its Clacton.....

I arrived at the Factory Outlet rally site at about 10am...........and the next time I paid real close attention to the time, it was just about 5pm! I only just managed to photograph all the buses and just about had time to chat to fellow preserved owners that I know (plus a bit of last minute pinning people down ahead of my own rally at Basildon). I have no idea where the day went!

Well I do a little bit - I offered myself and DAF P337ROO for service and we were allocated a duty with four trips spread evenly throughout the day - 2 trips on the town centre 114 service, a 119 journey via Weeley & Thorpe le Soken and then another trip on the 114.

Things didn't quite go to plan in more ways than one though. Firstly there was a diversion on the 114 route due to a road closure; I was a little concerned as I don't know Clacton all that well - I even warned my passengers that we may get lost - but I needn't have worried as the diversionary route was quite simple and was actually well signposted as it was a planned closure/diversion.

Then on route 119 there was road works at Thorpe le Soken which cost about 6 minutes in queueing time.......of course there wasn't a workman in sight. I normally stick to the 114 route as that's all I know but I thought I'd be bold this year and go for the 119 as it looked simple enough when I looked at a it turned out its quite a fast route (ie, some of the roads have high speed limits) so it gave an oppourtunity to stretch 337's legs and show off her 56mph capability.

I had expected the final 114 trip to be a routine affair as I'd already done the diversionary route twice but the bus service controller asked me to switch to the 112 Seafront Circular to cover a gap.........errrrmmmm.......I didn't have a clue where this route ran but luckily a former Harris Bus driver that know's Clacton well was on board, so I offered him the oppourtunity to have a drive and thus I now know where the 112 goes. I think I'm gonna enjoy next year even more now that I know a few routes!

Here's 337 at Clacton's Pier Avenue on the first 114 journey - the electronic blind was displaying the Factory Outlet destination but my camera failed to pick it up:

Friday, 15 April 2016

W437CWX & rally season update

The engineers have refitted Olympian W437CWX's fuel pump, injection pipes, fuel filters and other parts that were brand new batteries.......and initially had no joy in getting her to run & tickover.

As I had a spare fuel fuel pump that was tried and we ended up with the same result. Suspecting an electrical issue a second engine ECU was tried and that appears to have resolved the issue. The engine is now running and sounds really good. On the negative side of things she has two fuel leaks, and an exhaust leak.

And the bad news dosen't stop there......

As she was being moved into the workshop to be lifted up for a chassis inspection there was a massive bang under the front. Turns out the road spring (like a leaf spring) has snapped.

In addition to the snapped spring, she's leaking fuel from a pipe that runs from the main fuel tank to the secondary fuel tank. Both front brakes are "metal to metal" and thus need replacing; same for the rear brakes. One of the rear brake chambers is shot and one of the rear levelling valves has also snapped.

The chassis itself requires welding in a number of places and then whole thing needs to be cleaned and undersealed.

And thats just the chassis and mechanics! Once all that is sorted I'll move on to the body; all of the windows will need to come out - on both decks! So as you can see, it'll be some time before she gets back on the road.

Turning to the 2016 rally season.....

Given my finacial commitments with regard to the Olympian, my own bus rally in June (**shameless plug**, increased storage costs and life in general, I have decided to severely cull my rally attendances for this season only. Each rally attendance requires a fair amount of diesel as buses generally do very little mileage to the gallon and I can't manage the longer distance events as things currently stand.

So for the rest of the season I will only do the Essex events (Clacton, Basildon and Canvey).

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

South East Bus Festival

It was the first event of the 2016 rally season a few days ago - the South East Bus Festival at the Kent county showground in Detling, near Maidstone.

This was the third attempt at getting DAF P337ROO there (2014 missed due to problems getting her taxed and 2015 missed due to power steering failure en route at Chelmsford).

I'm pleased to say we made it this time.

We were booked to operate the on site circular service from 10.20 to 11.50 which we duly completed without fuss. In fact it turned out we were one of only two double deckers on the service at those times and so we were kept dead opposite the other decker in order to keep the flow of passengers steady amongst the other single deckers in operation.

We then parked up on display for the remainder of the day, where 337 attracted many complimentary remarks about how good she looked and generated some discussions about Harris Bus in general with interested visitors. There was many talking points surrounding the advert she currently carries for my new bus rally:

Winter News

Whilst the bus rally season goes quiet during the winter months, that dosen't mean a quiet life for preserved bus owners!

December 2015 saw Volvo D302PEV and Dart J317XVX put in for their MOT's - both passed with no advisories.

My storage location (Yeldham Transport Collection) is in the process of losing it's home as the owner is selling the industrial estate it occupies for housing. Having been offered an alternative undercover location in North Essex, three of the fleet (Volvo D302PEV, Dart J317XVX and DAF P337ROO) were moved to their new home at the end of January. Olympian W437CWX is still awaiting completion of work to get the engine running (turns out there's more missing than just the fuel pump) and so remains at Great Yeldham for the time being.

In mid February I got a surprise phone call from the company that has Volvo's D301PEV and D304PEV - the same company that had the batch of four Harris Bus Volvo's after Harris Bus had finished with them. I had visited this company 2 years ago and made an offer for both the vehicles then but sadly I couldn't match the expectations of the company and that was that.

Fast forward to 2016 and we were able to agree a price but the stumbling block this time was that I couldn't raise the money quickly enough. To cut a long story short, I was able to retrive a full set of original 30 years old interior, a luggage pen and a ticket machine "shelf" from 304 ............. a few days later I was sent this image of 301 (304 had already seen the same fate):

March saw preparations being made for the new rally season with DAF P337ROO getting a wash and a new nearside advert fitted ............