Sunday, 7 June 2015

Planned and unplanned work!

It's been some time since our last post, but we have been busy working hard, honest!

Our bus has come a long way since the new year, work including:
  • Rebuilt drivers emergency window
  • Suspension overhauled
  • Coolant system overhauled and upgraded with safeguards
  • Brake warning system overhauled
  • Alternator upgrade
  • Upgraded headlights to halogen bulbs
  • Auxiliary lighting and independent hazard lights added
  • Complete rewire
  • Added hard wired jumpleads (to help other of course) 
  • Air system overhaul and compressor upgrade to handle inflating tires
  • Rearview and reversing cameras
  • Rear number plate panel replaced and LED lights fitted
  • Out-fitting of the interior started with the interior layout taped to the floor
  • Currently in the process of replacing rubber seals around the bus
  • Complete oil changes on all parts of the bus totaling over 70 Litres of 3 different Oils, and 11 Litres Hydraulic Fluid.
  • Started to sand bodywork ready for paint
  • 4meter Awning fitted to nearside
But the bus did throw up a few unexpected issues like the exhaust pipe falling of just as we arrived back home with it after a trip out.

And some planned work that was originally not planned, like rearranging layout of the window frames so the windows opened in places better suited to our interior layout.

This for team members Matt and James this was a huge undertaking and not least because they moved 6 windows around and related body trim in just 6 hours making sure everything was properly sealed from the weather.

But all this hard work has shown its fruit with the kind words the public have said when we attend events like halls green Traport Picnic on 6th June!

We look forward to attending more events in the coming weeks and meeting our lovely followers, but it does always feel great to get home with the bus after a long day out.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

A Chilly New Year

So as we come into 2015, we have been making steps closer to our adventure in time and preparation!

Her first outting of the year, yesterday, to give her a run after her Christmas sleep for 2 weeks. Also her first time outside since she had her new spotlights fitted, and well we are not regretting the upgrade. She certainly looks like she getting ready for her epic voyage, but why did we decide to fit them?

Even though our bus' 50 year old headlights have been updated to halogen bulbs previously and then updated again to the latest Xenon bulbs by us. Driving at night on main roads in the UK is fine, but the moment you step onto the country lanes its a whole other story! Add the chance or driving at night in foreign lands in the middle of nowhere we certainly want to make sure we can see everything in front of us and where the edge of theroad is!

Lighting up like a Christmas tree is preferable, and hopefully understandable, on the bright side all fitted with out a hole drilled in the bus!

Then this morning (4th Jan) the reliability of our bus was proven once again!

The early morning started white and frozen, so much so the doors to her shed were well and truly frozen shut. The pad lock was frozen, and once freed up using a key heated up with a lighter, I soon discovered the huge doors were frozen to the ground.

Eventually after some brute force we made our way in and low and behold she once again started on the first turn over despite the zero degree weather! Now ready for a day of maintainance and upgrades, a lot of work needed to be done with our first event to attend in March, we need to get a move on!

Monday, 22 September 2014

Dirty hands and the Imperial War Museum

September every year the Imperial War Museum at Duxford, plays host to the one day event, Showbus, the "World's" largest modern and old, bus and coach show! 

Which e even being so local to us, and with over 400 vehicles entred, we thought it would be a nice easy day out, to promote #London2Japan. Well so we thought!

The day before, I (Matt) popped up to the bus in the afternoon to give the bus a quick clean, set up the Japan or bust destination blind and set our new display board up!

Noticing it was 5pm already, I checked the fuel tank, and decided to pop the bus up the road, to the garage for quick drink of Diesel. 1.5miles there and back, 20mins and I'll be on my way home for tea I thought to myself as I started the bus up and pulled out of the yard. No sooner had I left the yard and the wheels touched the A1 Northbound, Vrummmmmm the engine revs violently as I try to pull away!

Crap I shout, knowing no one can hear me, I had lost all of my gears! A intermittent problem I thought I had previously fixed. You see Routemasters have a semi automatic gearbox, and the gear selector is electronic. I discovered the inside of ours was dirty and damaged, when I was investigating the issue a few weeks ago! Having repaired the gear selector and having a test run, I thought I had fixed the issue, clearly not! 

Now with no where to stop safely on this very busy main road, the only choice I had was to limp up the road to the garage as planned. Jumping forward 200meters at a time as the gears engaged for before dying again, I finally limped into the forecourt of the garage as my gears died again rolling to a stop.

Our day at Showbus is now looking unlikely! 

Knowing it wasn't the gear selector I flicked through my phone looking for the number of a mechanic I met at Routemaster 60 in Finsbury Park back in July. 1hour 30minutes later and armed with a few things to check, and a oil change (so glad I had all my tools and oil in the bus) on the air compressor for the gears, with a list of thing to listen for and things to try next time the gears die. I start her up talking to the bus,

"Come on old girl you can do this" I pull forward onto the A1 now southbound.

Vrummmmmm, as soon as I reach the point of no retreating back onto the forecourt my gears are gone. Staying calm I have to stick with it as now it's getting dark, I need to get her back to the yard where I have lights.

After a nerve racking return trip I feel relaxed pulling into the yard, knowing while struggling back I have discovered the reason for the lack of gears. 

On a Routemaster, the semi automatic gears are held in place using air pressure. The air tank where the pressure is held has a pressure release valve that approximately every minute, releases the excess pressure built up. This was sticking open and releasing all our air until their is nothing in the tank and loosing our gears before the valve closes again.

9pm and I am finally dragging myself out from under the bus having had the valve apart, and my god it was dirty and stiff. Having cleaned and put it back together, I was covered in dirt, oil grease and for extra measure sand from the yard floor! Unfortunately the test with engine running, showed once it got up to pressure it stuck opened, but what ever I did, it reduced the volume of air being release so we retained enough pressure to keep our gears till it closed again!

Now just to get home with out covering my car in oil, degrease myself and just to wait till the morning to see if we are able to do the 50mile run to Duxford!

Well as you can see, we made it, and what's more, we didn't lose our gears once! We had a great day, meeting people, seeing other buses and making lots of useful contacts! Our bus even saw her sister for the first time in decades, another rare RMF Routemaster.

If that wasn't enough, Beatrix our bus met her hero! A 1949 Leyland bus called "Hairy Pillock the 2nd" which spent 3 years driving around the world in the late 1960s. For a old girl she looks good!

So with the weekend over and not a problem on the drive home, on reflection it was a good weekend. As for the issues with the gears, as someone said to me, the problem as good on two accounts:
1) once it's fixed it won't break again for a long time!
2) if it does break again, we'll have the knowledge to know how to fix it on the road side!

Beginning to feel more relaxed when riding in the bus! 
Next job, remove the faulty valve and replace, O and get the bus home first!.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

The road to rm60

2 years after purchasing RMF2771, having had a lot of work done to bus, our attendance at the 60th anniversary of the Routemaster buses in Finsbury Park, London, all cames down to one thing; passing her MOT after 6 years off the road.

Booked for 3pm, Wednesday 10th July, we were cutting it fine only 2 days before RM60. 4pm I couldn't help but feel sick, waiting to find out if our bus passed. "Beewoop" a email pings up on my tablet from the garage. I felt a cool sensation drop through my body, nervously I open the email and read,

"After a sketchy start with some bad news from the test centre this morning"
My heart sinks at the thought of not being in London for the weekend, I read on
"all has sorted itself out and you'll be pleased to know that your Routemaster passed its' MoT this afternoon"

I could not ring the rest of the team quick enough!
"James, she passed!" I squeal down the phone!

Now the races is on to get everything we need not only to make the 150mile journey to collect the bus, but to also the return trip to Finsbury Park, on the following day.

Arriving in Stoke-on-Trent at 11am we pull into a industrial estate, to see our bus parked up awaiting us. Having collected a tax disk from the Post Office and got the bus ready for the road, with a expensive visit to the Petrol station, we were off.

Cruising at the almighty top speed of 35mph, we slowly but steadily made our way to toward London. Taking slightly longer then first expected we now had a race to get to Finsbury Park before the gates close at 8:30pm! But it wasn't to be, with extra stops to check on the bus, and getting stuck in queues, we were still 2 hours away at 6pm. Still time you say? With loading the bus all we needed for our stall at RM60 still to happen, the timing was just too tight.
Having parked for the night in Hertfordshire and a good night sleep after a long day of driving we loaded the bus for the last hope into London.

Even with the park pulling into view we were still putting finishing touches on the bus, bouncing about in the back I managed to place the vinyl fleet number on the plate square!

At last we were there, all parked up along side 135 other Routemasters! As with many things in life we couldn't relax yet. While our bus started to make new friends, we had a long weekend of promoting our project and talking about our bus to anyone that would listen, and of course running a stall to help our fundraising. 

Over the weekend a water leak developed and slowly grew. At first we thought along with various other Routemaster owners who had a look; that it was a leak due to a clip needing tightening more as the engine had only just been replaced with an AEC AV760. Taking the engine from a 9.6L up to a 12.4L, given our bus that little extra go, we will need on the road in the coming years.

It wasn't until Monday morning, having looked at the pipe at fault a little closer did we realise the problem was a bit bigger then first thought!

The leak was in fact a hole that was actually self sealing with grim! Washing it out showed the full extent of the hole. But don't worry, we have been able to apply a emergency fix until we can source the replacement part, and we will get then get this one repaired!

Sorry this is a short post but we here at #London2Japan are now busy preparing for the next events in a few weeks and working on the bus, so stay tuned for more soon!