Saturday, 21 January 2017

Restoring the Last Metrorider

Metrorider undressed: replacement metalwork on 589 (all photos: Alan Hayward)
The recent post on the history of the Blackpool Metrorider, highlighted 589 as the only confirmed survivor. It has recently received some structural repairs as part of its ongoing restoration. It arrived in Blackpool on 2 November 1995 and entered service two days later. New in the original Handybus style of black with yellow skirt, it was the first to be repainted, uniquely gaining an all-over advert for Harvey's American Diner late in October 1997. It was painted out of this into a new yellow based livery with black skirt and roof level band. in September 1998. This was then adopted on the final batch of 14 Metroriders delivered that winter.

589 spent a number of periods at Squires Gate Depot between 1997 and 1999. Under the Metro era it was painted in the original mustard/grey/yellow pool livery in January 2002 and then into the black/yellow version in December 2005. It was stored in May 2004 but returned to use around November. Unusually it spent about six weeks on loan to Arriva in Darlington from late May to early July 2005 and after a period in store returned to use in September 2005. It was finally withdrawn in November 2007 and sold to Alan Hayward in August 2008. Alan rallied it as acquired initially but soon repainted it in its original livery. In October 2015 it was due its MOT and Alan takes up the story:

In October 2015, the buses mot was due, after looking underneath with John at Bradshaw Travel, we assumed it would fail on chassis rot, but as I am not an operator decided to take bus and see what's said. The test was done in Stagecoach's Preston garage and bus was indeed failed on chassis rot and a loose clip holding a fuel line.
589 stripped down at Bradshaw's depot 
On return to Bradshaw premises and after a bit of head scratching money wise,we decided to go ahead and investigate fully what was required work wise. Taking the side panels off revealed that the sub framework was completely rotten,the large air tank was hanging loose, the smaller purge tank was also getting bad,and the more we looked the list got longer. John has a good welder Geoff Holden from Longridge, his speciality is PCV and commercial repairs. Work started in November 2015,and basically the more of the bad metal that was removed revealed more horrors!

All of the subframe was replaced and all of the chassis aft of the gearbox. When stripping down for the chassis work,it was found that the rear brake pipes and hoses should be changed, just a matter of do it now while things are accessible than in the future, also changed were the rear shocks due to a stripped thread done before my ownership possibly.
Corroded framework being removed
Parts were replaced where necessary - old and new tanks 

Parts wise Involved a lot of detective work -  big air tank from Optare, purge tank and rear shocks from part line in Shipley,shocks were a cancelled order to Blackpool transport! And possibly the last set in the country, all brake pipes and hoses were sourced locally from Red Marsh Estate. The side panels over The rear wheels were also renewed as was the foam insulation behind them. After much painting and drowning it all in underseal, the bus was reassembled and an MOT test was booked at MB commercial in Skelmersdale for a class 5 test,the tester was very impressed by the work done, and since then it has been given a coat of waxoyl. This work should keep The bus right for a good number of years.

Many thanks to Alan for sharing his experiences - a rare insight into the work that goes on behind the scenes.
The finished job - awaiting a repaint