Thursday 17 May 2012

AEC on the Move at Last

Yesterday we told the first part of the story about the 1953 AEC Plaxton coach that needed to be moved from its resting place of 18 years. The batteries had been connected and the starter button pressed. Would it start - yes, it thundered into life with a deafening crackle. Anthony Hamer found that the accelerator had two settings, full on or off and faced a complicated challenge of shunting the vehicle backwards and forwards until it could be driven out of the door.
This was eventually accomplished and for the first time we could get a good look at this remarkable vehicle.
 No power steering and flatish tyres needed some human assistance to help swivel the wheels
 After many years she's out in the big wide world again
Eventually she was driven out of the building and we could see what needed to be done to get her fit for the 40 mile tow. Tyres were pumped up and various bits of bodywork we secured to ensure nothing would come astray on the journey south. The Cumbria Classic Coaches Bedford was connected with a rigid bar, a new trailer lighting board was fitted to the rear of the coach and wired up, giving lights and indicators and we were ready for the off.

 Ex army four wheel drive Bedford is a useful tool for vehicle towing. It is connected to the
AEC in readiness for the journey
The drive to the main road would be a good test as to whether everything was secure as the road is badly rutted. Our view from the security of the Land Rover escort vehicle detected some slight movement between the rear of the coach and the remaining bodywork, but everything stayed together and we reached the main road with no mishaps.
 Here we go, the Bedford and the AEC take to the road
The plan was to stop after a mile or so and check around the vehicle to see if all was well - however, after a few minutes the board containing the coach company name and the number plate worked loose and we made a stop to remove it and on we proceeded at a steady 25 mph.

 Steady progress through the centre of Penrith

 The scenery is getting more familiar now as we get closer to the Cumbria Classic Coaches depot in Ravenstonedale
We now know why the local lady in the Mercedes never reverses - she can't! After the hitting a wall at the first attempt she made various tries to proceed in a backwards direction and eventually ended up on the opposite side of the road, with just enough room for our convoy to proceed.
 A local lady who is renowned for never reversing her car, cost us 10 minutes at the final leg of the journey and as a result
we encountered the school coach. Not much of a problem, as Anthony tucked the Bedford close to the nearside to allow
the coach to squeeze by.
 So we approach Bowber Head, the only way to enter the premises with such a long combination of vehicles is to take a run over the fell on a steep slope. Would the Bedford get traction after all the rain?

 Yes, we've made it, the Bedford manages to retain traction up the steep grassy slope and the convoy approaches
Bowber Head on the level.
So the convoy arrives at the Bowber Head Bus Depot and the new vehicle is shunted into one of the bus bays. It's the end of an interesting 40 mile trip and the aim of the exercise has been achieved in around three hours.
The Bedford has a towing eye on the front of the vehicle so it used to manoeuvre the AEC into the spare bay next to the ex Bamber Bridge AEC Regent UTC 672. The Regal will donate its gearbox to the Regent and its fuel tank will be fitted to ex Florence Motors Regal JTB 749.
 A shot taken the following morning, showing the AEC in line with other CCC vehicles.
It is occupying the bay normally used by ex Crossville Lodekker 627 HFM

More pictures of the journey can be seen on the Cumbria Classic Coaches Blog.

David Gambles