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Thursday, 24 December 2009

The story of RTW335 - a tale for Christmas


My Christmas Eve story is about RTW335 which had been known about in France for many years. Peter Hendy had kept the contact open and since I inherited his office when he left First I got the call when the owner was ready to dispose of it. I can recall my Secretary saying “This is a call you will want to take!”

Nick Agnew, John Self and I had an enjoyable visit in 2003 and arranged to return it home. It was in the hands of a French company which provided action vehicles for film and TV work so was parked amongst American police cars and yellow school buses.

The bus had been completed gutted inside – no seats, a big hole in the floor, and the ravages of years outside. Even its Leyland 0.600 engine was not a London Transport one.

However it drove perfectly well apart from a small fuel starvation problem – the sort that affects vehicles which have been laid up for a long time. It is amazing that it can spring back into life so many years after it left the maintenance regime of London Transport.

After crossing the English Channel we drove it to the premises of Imperial Bus Company, accompanied by their RT786. The journey had numerous breaks as the specially rigged fuel arrangements were replenished.

The original plan was for Imperial to restore it but when they found themselves unable to proceed we arranged instead for it to go to the Ensignbus collection to join a splendid array of vehicles and a queue of rescued ones awaiting attention.

The process was quicker than planned as it was despatched to The BusWorks in Blackpool this month for restoration. Already stripping has commenced and shows that the structure remains very sound. It is planned for our RTW467 to join it both for some quite unconnected work and to act as a template for some of the material which has to be fabricated.

It has its own blog which is http://rtw335.blogspot.com/.

There is a video on YouTube of part of the return journey home. It’s at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBpQkcGzMek and the photo above shows her as we found her in France.

And finally - a reminder. Follow me on Twitter and I'll let you know every time I update this blog. Happy Christmas everyone and thanks for tuning in.
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