Behind the Scenes, maintaining our exhibits

Trustee Jim Methven gives an insight into the work involved in keeping the SVBM fleet on the road... Despite the high number of buses at Lathalmond only a small proportion of these vehicles are owned by the Museum. The four that will be most familiar to most of you will be the St Helens AEC RT (BDJ67), the A1 Service Daimler CVG6LX-30 (RAG 578), the Guy Victory China Motor Bus (ESF 647W) and the Seddon Pennine Alexander T type coach (DSD 936V). Two more recent single deck additions to the fleet are the 1934 Lawson’s Ford BB (SN6524) and the 1932 Alexander’s Albion Valkyrie . These two are a bit older than the others but do run on Internal Service duties on our event days.

Above: Jim Methven gets to grips with adjustments to the Hong Kong Guy.

Half of these buses still require to be MOT tested each year and the older ones are still checked regularly for roadworthiness. In line with commercial practice all the vehicles are safety checked at 10 week intervals by an in house mechanic qualified for that purpose. We are also lucky enough to have a welder and coachbuilder on site for all the more serious repairs that crop up from time to time. Maintaining the buses is a constant job changing tyres, batteries, changing the oils, filters, hydraulic fluids and keeping them fuelled up for service. Then there is the replacement of broken and worn out parts such as leaf springs and starter motors. Each safety check highlights items in need of attention and of course the more recent vehicles have to be taken away for MOT testing. The buses are also washed and cleaned out when necessary.

Above: The extensive workshop at Lathalmond is equiped to lift double deckers to allow access underneath.

 All together the small maintenance team are kept busy ensuring good service from every vehicle and so far they have been able to keep them going with good support from the Museum Committee who finance the considerable expense in supplying the aforesaid items. Spares for the older buses are becoming very difficult to source and the search for these takes up more time each year. The reward for this labour is the sight of the vehicles out on public days filled with passengers enjoying the transport, hopefully without breakdown. Lastly we are working on another A1 Service bus, a Daimler Fleetline (NCS 16P) which we hope to add to the service fleet. This museum bus has been in mothballs for many years and needs a bit of work before being rolled out.

Above: The A1 Daimler Fleetline is currently being restored to working order.