Monday 17 November 2014

Oakwood Update

Former London United VA103 (W139EON) has entered service with Oakwood Travel on route 22. This 2000 built double decker was acquired via Ripley, dealer in March (David Umpleby)
Oakwood Travel has placed its Volvo B7TL double decker into service on route 22. Its second ex Stagecoach Alexander bodied Dart has also entered service (617). The open top Metrobuses have been withdrawn for the winter, joining two of the three Olympians (325 and 701) in store.

The Red Rocket Manchester express restarts with a single return trip weekends only from 22/23 November to 27/28 December leaving Blackpool Coach Station at 1030 and Manchester Chorlton Street at 1630.

Oakwood Fleet List November 2014
69F69SYEMCW MetrobusMCWPleasure Beach advertChina Motor Bus ML81 11/88
139W139EONVolvo B7TLAlexanderRed/GreyLondon United 3/00
143T143AUADennis DartAlexanderNew Catch 22Armchair, Hounslow 5/99
145T145AUADennis DartAlexanderRedArmchair, Hounslow 5/99
162V162MVXDennis DartPlaxtonRedStagecoach East London 12/99
163V163MVXDennis DartPlaxtonNew Catch 22Stagecoach East London 12/99
269P269PSXVolvo OlympianAlexanderPleasure Beach advertLothian Buses 269
325N325NHGVolvo OlympianAlexanderGazette advertDublin Bus RA272
326F326UJNMCW MetrobusMCWPleasure Beach advertChina Motor Bus ML77 10/88
356R356LERDennis DartAlexanderNew Catch 22Stagecoach new 10/97
512X512UATDennis DartPlaxtonNew Catch 22London United DP512 11/2000
533X533UATDennis DartPlaxtonRed/GreyLondon United DP513 11/2000
601W601CWXVolvo B6BLEWrightNew Catch 22Harrogate & District 6/2000
611W611CWXVolvo B6BLEWrightHarrogateHarrogate & District 6/2000
617X617JCSDennis DartAlexanderNew Catch 22Stagecoach 2/01
652Y652NLODennis DartPlaxtonRedMetroline, London DLD182 6/2001
701XAU701YLeyland OlympianECWPleasure Beach advertTrent 3/83
898R898XVMVolvo B10MAlexanderRedStagecoach Manchester
MAL41BD52LNUMercedes CitaroMercedesRedGo Ahead London
MAL53BL52ODKMercedes CitaroMercedesRedGo Ahead London
RM1583583CLTAEC RoutemasterPark RoyalRedLondon Transport 
RML887202UXJAEC RoutemasterPark RoyalRedLondon Transport 
69, 325, 326, 611, 701, MAL41 all currently stored

Sunday 9 November 2014

Volvo Olympians at 20

Two contrasting products of Northern Counties - Volvo Olympian 374 of 1994 passes 136 - a 1993 body on a 1971 Atlantean chassis inherited from Fylde
The 1990s was a famine for new double deck buses. Between the 1989 Leyland Olympians and 2002 Dennis Tridents, just one batch of six new Volvo Olympians arrived in 1994. Volvo had taken over Leyland Bus in 1988 and its Olympian chassis was relaunched under the Volvo mark in 1993 and unusually for Volvo still featured the Cummins L10 engine.

374-379 arrived in November 1994, the first non Leyland double deckers since the Guy Arabs of the 1930s. They were also the first, and only, Northern Counties bodied buses bought by Blackpool - perhaps slightly influenced by Fylde's preference - Blackpool having purchased its neighbour earlier in 1994. They were also the only buses delivered in the 1994 "green stripe" livery. 
The interior of 379 - individual moulded seats were fitted, initially in a grey moquette but some were later retrimmed in "black magic" as just visible here on 379. The rear few rows of seats upstairs were replaced by conventional bus seats - with the originals used on Balloon tram 719! 

The sextet allowed Atlanteans 322-327 to be cascaded to Fylde to displace some of its older examples. The Volvos entered service on route 6 (Mereside to Grange Park) on 14 November alongside Atlanteans but soon suffered vandalism, so were quickly moved onto the 22/22A (Cleveleys-Lytham) alonsgide Optare Deltas. Evening and Sunday work included the 14/14A (Fleetwood to St. Annes). 
The Palatine 2 bodywork suited the Line 11 livery well - here 376 crosses Station Road in Lytham at the start of another long run to Cleveleys
The 22/22A ceased with the Metro network in April 2001, so the Volvos moved onto the new Line 14 (Fleetwood to St. Annes). Form here they were displaced onto Line 11 (Cleveleys to Lytham) by the 2002 Tridents. 374 was the first to be repainted out of its by now faded original scheme into the 11's turquoise and yellow scheme entering service on 23 January 2002 - the rest followed during the year (375/6 March, 377 April, 378/9 August). New Tridents would be the scourge of the Volvos. The 2004 batch for Line 11 saw 375 deposed to the pool fleet in June with a part repaint in black. 374/6/7/9 followed suit in 2005 while the 2006 Tridents saw 378 join the pool fleet - the six strong batch were matching once more. This lasted until November 2007 when 379 was returned to Line 11 livery.
Even in pool livery, the Volvos were regulars on Line 11 - this is 374 on Commonside, Ansdell

During the Roberts era a solitary batch of Volvo B7RLEs in 2010 was the sole intake of new buses, investment was spread over second hand double deckers to rid the fleet of its remaining step entrance buses - primarily Leyland Olympians - save for the Volvos. 374-379 were increasingly consigned to school services. July 2011 saw 379 repainted out of Line 11 colours into the new fleet livery, followed by 375-378 in October. All five were then fitted with seat belts to work school baths contracts - 374 retained pool livery and still regularly ran on local services. It was repainted to match its sisters in October 2012. Occasionally the belted examples escaped onto local service work - mainly in the school holidays - but 374 kept the flag flying. 
378 in its current livery - which seems to suit the vehicles well. It is working a swimming baths contract from Stanley School
379 selected itself as the first for withdrawal in May 2014 with an electrical fault. Its belted seats were transferred to 374 to maintain fleet strength. It seems likely the Volvos will survive until the end of 2016 when the all buses will need to meet the standards set out in the Disability Discrimination Act. Next year's new buses should replace Optare Excels so further investment will be needed to finally eradicate the Volvos. Hopefully, as Blackpool Transport's last step entrance buses, one will find a place in preservation.

Saturday 8 November 2014

Blackpool Atlantean 362 restored

A resplendent 362 poses on Mereside turning circle on completion of its restoration. It carries the green and cream scheme it received in 1991 and not seen since 1999 (Gary Conn)
Blackpool Atlantean 362 has joined the ranks of active preserved buses following successful MOT pass. Owned by Martin Gurr and Gary Conn whose collection includes Delta 133, PD3 501, Swift 554 362 has been restored under contract by Blackpool Transport (body work and repaint) and Preston Bus (mechanical).

362 was the last of the 62 bus seated Atlanteans arriving in August 1983, having been registered on the first of the month as A362HHG. With eight sisters it replaced the last of the 1965 PD3s and some Swifts. Like the other bus seated Atlanteans in started its life in the off-white livery with green roof, top deck window surrounds, stripe above the lower deck windows and thick band on the lower deck.

362's life was nearly cut short at just three years old when a fire destroyed sisters 310, 335 and 342 on 1 October 1986. It suffered minor damage but had it not been moved in time could well have been destroyed. It is believed this saw the modification of the destination displays from recessed to rubber mounted. February 1987 saw a repaint in original livery - one of the last so treated. 362 then carried two allover adverts - for Mackeson Stout from April 1989 to 1990 when it was replaced by one for Bonanza Family Restaurants which lasted until April 1991. On both, the front retained fleet livery to the new design introduced in 1987 of cream with green roof, window surrounds and skirt. This was applied in full at the April 1991 repaint. A second repaint in this scheme (but with black windows surrounds) took place in September 1994 - again shortly before a new livery was designed. This (green skirt and roof band, black window surrounds on a cream base) was applied at 362's April 1996 and September 1999 repaints.
A brand new 362 outside the depot with the mayor's car - note the two piece doors (rather than usual four piece ones as on 301-354 and the recessed destination glass as featured on 351-364)

Blackpool's early Atlanteans had been withdrawn progressively from 1989 to 1994 leaving 41 still in service. The purchase of Fylde saw much older vehicles join the fleet, so the standard Atlanteans had an extended life. Squadron withdrawals took place from 2002 to 2009. 
Atlanteans were still in regular service in 2001, here 362 works service 20 to Marton Mere on 25 May 2001

By 2006 the fleet was down to penny numbers and the remaining bus seated examples were withdrawn in July 2006. It was decided to reinstate four examples to run alongside coach seated 363/4 on a farewell event over the weekend of 28/29 October. 362 was duly reinstated and ran service 20 on both days:

Saturday: 0900, 1900 and 2000 Marton Mere to Town Centre , 1000, 1130, 1300, 1430, 1600 and 1730 Marton Mere to Zoo and 1045, 1215, 1345, 1515, 1645 and 1815 Zoo to Marton Mere plus 1930 Town Centre to Marton Mere

Sunday 1030, 1200, 1330, 1500, and 1630 Marton Mere to Zoo, returning at 1115, 1245, 1415, 1545 and 1715 and finishing with the 1800 Marton Mere to Zoo - finishing its 23 year service life at 1827 at the Illuminations period temporary stop at Albert Road.
Farewell event - 362 at Marton Mere on 28 October 

Farewell event - 362 at Zoo on 28 October 

While 363, 364 and three other examples had a stay of execution, 362 passed into preservation with the Lancastrian Transport Trust. It featured on one event prior to stripping for restoration that didn't proceed. A collection review saw it pass to Martin and Gary in 2013 and the bus soon moved to Rigby Road for restoration - work which was completed in October with a new MOT after mechanical attention by Preston Bus.
362 meets PD3 501 again. This pair only worked together for two years prior to 501's disposal in 1985. (Gary Conn)

Sunday 2 November 2014

Go to work on a Merc

After four years of famine, Blackpool Transport has placed an order for 10 new single deckers for delivery in March 2015. Following the recent trial of BP14FJZ, BTS have chosen the Mercedes Benz Citaro. These will be Blackpool's first Euro 6 buses and the first to feature E-leather seating and free wifi. It is not known if they will be allocated to a particular service.