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Another selection from Aldenham

A few more pictures from Aldenham Works on 9 October 1983. I`m hoping that Brian W can add some `commentary` to the pictures that follow.

The quantity of seat squabs and cushions awaiting attention was always considerable and whilst some were beyond economic repair, most lived to see another day - or another bus.

The label on the washing machine is left over from the open day a couple of weeks previously. A newly overhauled RM had a very distinctive smell which was probably a combination of many things - paint, adhesive, materials but dominated by the substance used to clean the seats. Called Trafford cleaner, has it vanished from the market due to the `nasties` in it much the same as happened with lead in paint? It had the colour of lager but was very heavily ammonia based and the dilution was one part to ten parts of water. A mistake never made twice was breathing in at the point of undoing the cap of the drums that this stuff came in! It did, however, get dirty seats clean again. I used it when restoring DMS 1 but with a bucket and a scrubbing brush instead of an industrial washing machine.

Wouldn`t every preservationist be happy to have a permanent fixed dual height gantry from which to do prep work on their bus.

The way in which LT buses were painted and `baked` was way more sophisticated than most other bus companies could aspire to. `Not to be mechanically washed for three weeks` stickers were often used on repainted buses outside London but LT paintwork was subjected to the full force of a bus wash from the first day back in service.

At the end of the overhaul process came a visit to the Licensing Garage - the only undercover part of the Works where buses moved under their own power hence exhaust extraction pipes connected to each bus as final checks were made to sign the bus off as fit to re-enter service.

Roughly five buses per day were out-shopped. By the 1980`s two or three would be Routemasters and the remainder made up of one each of various different classes. It was sad to see standards slip towards the end of Routemaster overhauls as evidenced here by the front nearside advert panel on RML 2441 as it heads a line up of buses awaiting dispersal to garages.

Re: Another selection from Aldenham

Thanks for the shots Neil! Nothing much to add, except every seat coming in from buses or garages was stripped of its mouldings seat fittings and blocks and put through the cleaner/beater. They were then inspected and marked up for repair. Cleaning was done to make stripping a less obnoxious affair. Having stripped a load of RT seats I can see why it as necessary !

Most cushions and squabs were at least recovered. Some were made completely new, boards, fillings. moquette everything, others used fillings/ boards from other seats.

It would be rare to find a good seat coming in at least on a red bus, the garages were too smart for that. In RM days it got silly where some buses came in full of vandalised seats or in some cases none at all (Peckham and New Cross were the chief culprits!)

I don't believe we did any moquette patching of small tears,as the garages did. If the moquette or rexine backing on a squab was damaged it was removed.
Seats that had no damage would be passed through to the finishing section where wooden blocks, wearing mouldings were re-applied to the cushions and reconditioned and painted seat fixing springs and recovered mouldings would be re-applied to the squabs. These generally went to garages. If the rexine backing on a squab was retained, it was painted if necessary.

Unofficially we replaced some seats on repaints as well, to keep input to the Trimmers up, I remember doing this on green RMLs the bus interiors had a really odd smell when they came out of the ovens, like a teenagers bedroom!
The smell on RTs was a mixture of rexine and floor paint, on RMs more moquette and rexine.

I see you managed to capture a trailer full of bonnets going through, these had exactly the same treatment as a bus.

Things had changed a bit by 1983, I'd been gone 5 years, but I believe that gantry off the side of the paint line was used by the Accident Shop painters to do hand painting of repaired buses.

After 1967 the rectification shop where repairs to brakes after testing and steering were undertaken moved from the rear of the Works to the Licensing Shop where due to the reduced throughput of overhauls there was room for it. Those who have seen the film "overhaul" will also note the buses were tested and rectified prior to painting and finishing, this also changed in 1967 and mechanical testing was done hen buses left the Finishing Line. The finished buses parked up on the Works Road are awaiting the Dtp Inspectors who came less frequently when output was halved in March 1967.

RE RML 2441 ( soon to be off to Chalk Farm, standards dropped from 1967 onwards when inter overhaul repaints came in and the GLC demanded cost savings which meant far less work done on buses.
The first overhauled buses that left Aldenham after the new Inspection standards looked awful with dents showing up much more when shiny, one bus had 10 or more dents on the O/S rear waist panel where the wash had hit it. The repaints coming in from garages looked better than some overhauled buses! It was so bad that Inspectors actually made dents worse with fists and boots to ensure the panels came off! Things relaxed a bit after a while and 2nd Inspection in the High bay took more panels off and more panel beating was done.
The only saving grace on that panel Neil is it will be covered by an advert

My bus number (if any): RTL 960, RMC 1458, RM 1585 and several RTs