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J317XVX - Story So Far

Well there I was, perusing eBay for stuff in relation to my local public transport website **shameless plug:** when I stumbled across a bus for sale that looked familiar. After looking at the number plate several times, I thought to myself “how cool would it be to own a bus that I used to drive for a living”? Next thing you know, I bought it! My first ever proper bus!!

I would say that in hindsight I did go about things the wrong way - organising storage has been a major issue so if you are reading this and are thinking of buying a bus, trust me, sort out your storage first!! Of course being as my bus was on eBay (time limited auction), and being as it was one I’d driven in service, I didn’t have much time to act - I wasn’t even considering buying a bus at all - but if you ever find yourself in a similar situation, think storage first & foremost. If you haven’t got storage, don’t bid!!

Anyway, with that warning out of the way, let’s crack on with telling you all about my first bus....

Now there was some work to be done, such as repairing damaged panels along the bottom of both sides, sourcing 11 seat frames to replace those cut in half by a previous owner, refitting the 27 seats and 5 poles removed by the previous owner, replacing a king pin (advisory issued at last MOT), sourcing a new windscreen (current one has a couple of chips), sourcing appropriate destination and number blinds, sourcing an authentic electronic ticket machine (to complete ‘the look’), sourcing the manufacturer and body makers badges....... and of course a full repaint back into its original County Bus & Coach Cream & Green livery.

If you’d like to see images of how things went, you should use the table below or click here for the images.

Here’s a table of what occurred:

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16th October 2010

J317XVX is acquired from a private owner in Weymouth, Dorset, and is driven to temporary storage in Harlow.

21st October 2010

Taken from Harlow to more permanent storage in the Brentwood area. Quick survey done on arrival to assess the removed interior - 11 seat frames found to be beyond repair, most of other interior  present though will require cleaning as much of it was kept outside and is damp damaged. Re-fitting should be fairly straight forward once the appropriate bolts and backing plates have been sourced.

27th October 2010

Images taken of the bus in ‘as acquired’ condition - see them by clicking here. New front Number plate now fitted.

31st October 2010

Donor vehicle found and seat frames removed to replace the damaged ones on DW317 - there are a few images added to the image page. Also now sourced are three number blinds for the side three track number blind box.

1st November 2010

Having realised that much of the original interior is so damp damaged its beyond economical repair, the donor  vehicle that supplied the seat frames has now also supplied a full set of interior - its a bit odd being stagecoach stuff, but it’ll do for now. The 3 side facing double seats at the front will retain the original seats for now.

5th November 2010

14 passenger seats now fully fitted, meaning she’s now officially a bus again!! Poles are now too long for some of the new seat frames, so they’ve been cut to size, and a new ignition system with a key has  now been sourced (previously anyone could start
her simply by turning the ignition switch!! Anti freeze also added to engine.

8th November 2010

Re-wiring [for bell push buttons] completed ready for the poles that were removed to go back in - some seating still needs to be bolted in (or in one case, have brackets made and welded to frame). Bolting  the seats in is weather dependent at the moment as it involves crawling underneath the bus....
The dash board has been removed to give it a respray so it’ll look a little fresher. Well that’s the idea any way!!
Side number blinds now fitted. Work is in progress on the gear selector with a view to swapping it for another which was removed from the bus that supplied the interior - the current selector is suspected  of being worn out the poor thing....
Winter is now starting to kick in  weather wise, so I’m expecting less time with bus from now on....

13th November 2010

Big news!!!........having decided I’m not too happy with the Stagecoach interior compromise, I thought I’d take a chance and send an email to bus company Midland Classic [as they appeared to be the owners of the only other survivor of the original batch of four] asking if by any chance they still had J315XVX and whether they might  consider letting me get my hands on the interior once it’s withdrawn from service.
The reply that came back wasn’t quite what I expected!! 315 had been out of service since November 2009 with a failed diff, and I was therefore welcome to remove the seat frames for DW317 - they even  threw in the red backs & cushions they’d used on 315 (sadly they had removed the original brown interior as it was worn out). So a 300  mile round trip to the Derbyshire/Staffordshire border has resulted in my acquiring the proper seat frames for DW317 and has allowed a small part of one of its sisters to live on.
Click here for the images.....
Also acquired this month, rather cheaply off eBay, is an authentic electronic ticket machine - its not wired up to work but it does look the part - another small purchase off eBay is a centre cap for the steering wheel.

20th January 2011

All seats acquired from 315 now fully fitted into 317.

5th March 2011

Lower panels on offside straightened out & vehicle washed - for the images, Click Here.

12th March 2011

Offside lower panels straightened as much as possible however damage was much more severe on this side.

10th April 2011

317 was taken to the Cobham  annual spring gathering (the traditional first bus rally of the season) which was held at the Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey (where Top Gear is filmed - thankfully Jeremy Clarkson & co were not about!!). This was of course the first time 317 had been out on a proper journey since I acquired her - despite the distance we covered, she performed perfectly and showed up no mechanical issues of concern whatsoever.

30th May 2011

New Gear selector fitted and some painting done on the front - more info can be found by Clicking Here.

July 2011

317 was put in for her MOT this month - initially she failed owing to the exhaust pipe being broken in half and the offside king pin being worn to excess. The exhaust was a relatively easy fix as it turned out (section of flexi pipe) but I had to engage a specialist to sort out the king pin - as it happens, I had both  sides done. The cost of that work has set me back a bit and will delay  her return to 1992 by at least a couple of months now.

On the plus side, she passed the re-test and is thus now MOT’d for the next 12 months.

15th September 2011

Front doors painted black (photographic proof that they were black originally was found at the North Weald bus rally - unfortunately the images were accidentally binned but I’m hoping to come across the same seller at the Showbus rally). Black around destination blind area re-done as the original job was poor quality.

Internally, the battery bay cover security has been improved (previously it would ‘flap’ as air flowed underneath when at speed. Vehicle height reminder now fitted in cab area.

24th & 25th September 2011

Repainting started!! Details here...

April 2012

Much work has been done over the winter period.

Initially upon returning from the Canvey bus rally it was found that 317 had an electrical fault in the starter circuit. The fault was eventually traced and  rectified but it ended up costing me two brand new batteries in the process. Another fault identified after the Canvey rally was a leaky gearbox. This has turned out to be very expensive as I had to engage a specialist to strip down the gearbox and replace some of the inner workings. This issue has caused 317 to miss out the Cobham  bus rally this year.

On a more positive note, the dodgy paint bleed that I had with the stripes has now been corrected and all of  the wheels have been fully refurbished. All three belts on the engine have also been replaced, along with a new water pump, and the antifreeze has been renewed.

As you can see, it doesn’t stop when the rally season ends!!

19th June 2012

DW317 passed her MOT with flying colours - no advisory notice issued!!

24th June 2012

DW317 operated on the Braintree station free link service for Colne Valley Railway.

25th July 2012

Rear number blind fitted - click here for the images



© Colin Thorne 2010 - 2017 (unless stated otherwise)

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