Monday, 9 November 2015

Playing Catch Up: Part 4 (Paramours)

Remember this sorry tale of infidelity, in which my philandering with one of 270 KTA's sisters left me heartbroken at the roadside, longing for my true love? 

Well, as they say about promiscuous husbands who never learn, if he's done it once....

Truth is, in September, I took another bus to Kingsbridge Running Day. 270 KTA did attend too, but in the trusted care of Driver Farley (who's now getting a bit too good for my liking). Meanwhile, your scribe's attention was demanded by a slightly older but more petite paramour, who required the hands of an experienced man... 

672 COD - the pioneer Bristol SU, no less - has just undergone a major engine rebuild. With new big-end bearings, crankshaft and more, a period of careful 'running-in' is required; and who better to keep an ear on your big-end than a man who's spent years responding to funny noises made by SUs in their plaintive cries for help?

As it happens, this little SU got its naughtiness out of the way in good time for the big day (well, the day before) when some familiar fuel problems caused us to spend an afternoon flushing out the system round the back of a roadside farmyard. I suppose it's not an unknown venue for a first date...
The rest of the dalliance went very well; I think we both enjoyed it, though I must admit to a certain feeling of guilt afterwards. There are few temptations that would cause me to surrender 270 KTA's driving seat at Kingsbridge, but here was a time of great need. 

Besides, this was just a one off... 

The following day, I was back where I belong for the now traditional post-Kingsbridge run to Dartmouth, this year extended to the South Devon Railway at Buckfastleigh for a pasty lunch and a cream tea on the train. Remembering what I'd missed, I hogged 270 KTA for the whole escapade.

A stop at Totnes (scene of our near miss with a traffic warden, remember?) presented another temptation for your scribe,  whose childhood obsession with Totnes depot has haunted him into pseudo-adulthood. The possibility of trying to squeeze past the depot site in Ticklemore Street  (now flats) was not to be missed... 

So, after head gaskets, water pumps, luggage nets, seat frames, Penzance, transfers, Taunton, exhaust pipes, alternators, Teignmouth, misnavigations on the Royal Blue Run, Travelodges, two weddings, a fuel leak, Kingsbridge and Totnes... you're almost up to date.

Photo: Graham Richardson, Plymothian Transit
Before I declare "normal service resumed" on the blog, I should explain the first photo in Part 1 of our catch-up. Taken by Graham Richardson (author of the splendid Plymothian Transit blog), it shows our friend and his owner on a very important day in West Country bus history. In September, First Group sold its South Devon operations to Stagecoach, marking the end of several routes which have their roots (no pun, etc.) stretching back before the birth of Western National in the 1920s.  

Among them was the famous 93, Plymouth to Dartmouth via Kingsbridge, recently named one of Britain's most scenic and treasured bus routes by the Telegraph. With a long history of Bristol-built traction over the decades, it's to my great pride that 270 KTA was to be the last Bristol vehicle to work the 93, as part of the special free bus services organised to commemorate the change. 

"Where did you get this lovely old bus from?" asked one of the regular passengers.

I could think of no better way to explain than pointing her in the direction of this blog.