Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Inspect The Unexpected

Sandwiched between my census questionnaire and 270 KTA's insurance renewal form - both shredded to hamster bedding as they passed through the letterbox at Sheppard HQ this morning - came something rather more welcome...

The sender, a good friend, writes:

"In the possibly mistaken belief that these might interest you - copies of the actual tickets issued to me on 270 KTA on the two occasions I rode it...!"
No mistake there.

What a delight. The tickets were both issued around Newton Abbot in 1974, during 270 KTA's rather significant period as a Devon General town bus. It was then unique as the only coach-bodied SU to have strayed into the 'red' fleet (following absorption of DG into Western National in 1971); so the tickets are particularly special.


And, 37 years later, there's much to be gleaned from them. Although the Devon General name had been retained as a much-loved brand on the sides of the buses, by now it was the parent company whose name was appearing on the tickets. And, of course, the ubiquitous Setright ticket machine (of which I have several, auditioning to take up full-time office in 270 KTA's cab) still reigned supreme in 1974...

And, please note on the eve of the budget, the child fare at the time was a very reasonable 5p between Twickenham Road and Newton Abbot bus station!

These days, the childhood rider is the owner of several former Devon General buses himself, and in August he's planning to recreate a journey over some of the Newton Abbot routes.

My current target is to have 270 KTA ready for the road in June, in time for the annual Royal Blue run (about which, more details coming soon); so if we can, we'll join the party in August to recreate 270 KTA's days on the 117.

Have your tickets ready...

Monday, 14 March 2011

Wheely Good Times

Great to hear the blog is being enjoyed by so many I met at this weekend's meeting of NARTM, the National Association of Road Transport Museums.

"We're due an update, aren't we?", asked one; "have you ground to a halt?"...

The answer to those questions is 'yes' and 'no' respectively, but the recent radio silence has been in aid of a good cause: I've been building a bus museum.


Colin Billington's Devon base - 270 KTA's home - was to be the venue for the NARTM spring conference, and I've been helping to organise his vast collection of all things Western/Southern National into what has become, to my mind, the most impressive road transport museum of all.


Over the weeks, we've unpacked hundreds of boxes full of records, blinds, manuals, bus stops, ticket machines, uniforms and... you name it. There were number plates too, amongst which were four from 270 KTA's brothers and sisters...

Despite distractions from Partridge the cat, magic boxes of unexpected goodies and Mel Williams' finger (which I nearly removed three times whilst constructing racking), we managed to get most things done in time for the conference. It was a great weekend, with trips out to picturesque South Pool on Colin's Bristol H...


... to Ron Greet's base in Broadhempston, WHOTT's archive and Milehouse Depot in Plymouth, and the West of England Transport Collection at Winkleigh on the RELH...


... and to the pub, on the LWL.


Magic.

I also had a chance to show off 270 KTA to the NARTM members, at least one of whom was more interested in the many ice cream tubs I've been using to store parts from the disassembled front brakes. How much can one man eat?

Alongside, work has continued apace on 270 KTA. Underside painting has now been completed ready for me to start reassembling the brakes, all parts of which have now been checked, cleaned and treated to some copperslip. The brake drums and hubs are about to receive a coat of Tilling Green in the next week or so.

Avid readers of the 'Wanted' columns will spot I've placed several adverts in the bus/truck press for some correct-style wheels, which are proving hard to find. By chance I've located one inside a derelict bus depot in North Devon, which must have come from an SU in the 60s/70s; it's currently covered in pigeon poo having been used as a hosereel for decades, and awaiting imminent demolition unless the council let me at it first...

Given the illustrious readership which presented itself at the weekend, can we find six more to complete the job?...


Let me know if you have any down the back of the sofa.