Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Struggle And Progress

When I began writing this blog nearly three years ago, one of the aims was to show you - and hopefully interest you in - the huge amount of work that goes into keeping a 50-year old vehicle alive.

I'm willing to bet that even the most hardened of readers will be surprised at just how much we've had to achieve in the last few weeks as part of 270 KTA's gearbox overhaul, to get us to our current position: we're almost ready to begin putting her back together.

Here are some photos to explain, shock and impress...

The cause of our initial problem was a broken spigot bearing - the bit which sits inside the flywheel and supports the rotation of the main shaft into the gearbox whenever the clutch is engaged.
 Above you see (left) the plate which holds the bearing seal (which, like the bearing had disintegrated) into place. After many hours of searching, it would appear that bearings of this size are no longer available; so, we must find a way of working what we have. We've had to modify the plate to house a bearing with a slightly larger outside diameter, to run further up the shaft, and what you see on the right is the result. A major result.
The Universal Joints I mentioned last week - the joints in the gear linkage which should swivel and allow it to bend - are also no longer available from the original manufacturer, and there are no equivalents listed against the old part number. Following extensive research from David Sheppard Senior, we're happy to reveal that 270 KTA will be rebuilt using genuine Janguar E-type steering joints, which are precisely the same size and spec, and are readily available!
And don't they look good in place? Here's one inside the newly sourced fork to replace the weird one which had been fitted at some point...

Please note that those who drive coaches with Jaguar joints also shop at Waitrose.
Then there's the gearbox turret - the bit where the movement of the gear linkage is translated into movement inside the gearbox that causes the gears to engage...
This had been drilled, bashed and otherwise bodged to within an inch of its life. Naturally, replacements are not plentiful, but thanks to Jonathan Pye and some excellent precision welding (yes, of aluminium!), we now have a turret whose difficult past brings no difficulty for the future.

Oil leakage had been a major problem because of damage to the front seal in the gearbox (which, it turns out, had been the wrong one). With a bit of transposing of part numbers, it turns out these are still available, via the Bearing Boys, who are to be recommended.

Even the cleaning up of parts for re-use has taken hours of work. The prop-shaft, gear linkage and other apparels have all been stripped, primed and given several coats of paint.

The gearbox has taken 8 litres of white spirit to clean, inside and out, and now looks like something you'd be pleased to find under a coach. If we have an oil leak in the future, we'll see it...

Finally - we now have two clutch plates in stock which, we hope, will do the job. These have taken weeks to track down, culminating in a trip to Essex for David Sheppard Senior armed with our pattern, and a return journey armed with three of the buggers. He is the Patron Saint of SU Owners.

Something else which needs replacing: this special cleaning device which has seen painstaking use over the past few weeks (gears have teeth too, you know).

Fortunately these are more readily available than most parts...

Alas, for those attending the Penzance Running Day on Sunday, 270 KTA will not be present for obvious reasons - this job was always going to be too big to complete in time, that much we knew. But there will be an SU in service - Colin Billington's Deltatours liveried 286 KTA, a coach with lots to answer for - and its mystery driver may look familiar...



  1. glad to see you have come out of this awful episode! never thought u would get it fixed due to age of bus and parts etc, but u cracked it! well done!

  2. Not quite there yet - but watch this space! Thanks for the encouragement.