A Salford Corporation double-decker bus, which first saw service during World War II and was still in use for driver training in the 1970's, has been painstakingly restored with a little help from HMG Paints. Number 235, a 1939 AEC Regent Mk 1, is a living exhibit at Manchester's Museum of Transport, one of the largest collections of vintage buses and coaches in the UK, which has been fully refurbished over a decade and now repainted at the workshops of local bus operator, Stagecoach Manchester.
The bus was hand painted by professional refinishers using HMG's C71 and SAH 300 coach enamels, in the original livery of rich red and ivory, and embellished with ornate transfers and the city's coat of arms. Indeed, the Mayor of Salford and ex-bus company employees from the 1930's were delighted with the authenticity and quality of finish. Completed in time to commemorate the centenary of Salford Corporation, it will feature at the museum's 'Christmas Cracker' event on 6th and 7th December, which will include festive stalls and free local bus rides for visitors.
The Museum of Transport in Boyle Street, off Queen's Road, which houses over 80 vehicles dating from 1890 to 1980 and attracts over 12,000 people annually, is only minutes away from HMG's Collyhurst works and the paint manufacturer often helps out with free and discounted product, in order to preserve the nation's transport heritage. HMG is a major supplier of finishing and refinishing systems to the bus and coach industry, produces one of the most comprehensive selections of transport coatings and primers, and is renowned for its colour matching service, so is ideally equipped to assist with this type of high quality restoration exercise.
Powered by a 8.8 litre engine, No 235 was built by Park Royal and has just 48 seats, which is fewer than a modern single-decker. Delivered in 1939, it was called into service a year later, when a wartime shortage of spares forced Salford Corporation to bring its brand new buses into commission. After a tough service life, it was converted to a driver training vehicle, complete with two steering wheels, in 1948 and continued in this role until 1971, serving some 20 years longer than similar buses.
Having been subsequently painted in Salford's later green and cream livery, No 235 reverted to its original red/ivory colours in 1975, although it was only in the last ten years that a full restoration project has been undertaken by the museum. This has involved part repanelling of the bodywork, new seats and floors, and fitting replacement handrails, as well as a complete engine overhaul, so professional refinishing to bring the bus back to its original specification was the obvious final touch.
Alan Gaskell is a Director of the Museum of Transport, as well as a full-time Schedules Manager for Stagecoach Manchester, and he enlisted the help of his employers in the refinishing phase of the project, who donated their services free-of-charge. In a genuine example of a 'busman's holiday', Alan has also been actively involved in the restoration work, as a break from his normal role of scheduling bus timetables and staff duty rosters.
HMG brushing paints were supplied for the job, since these are the traditional materials that Stagecoach uses and because of the extra depth of colour obtainable through hand finishing. C71 Machinery Enamel and SAH 300 Polyurethane Enamel were specified, the slow solvent nature of these products making them ideal for this application, as a prolonged 'wet edge' time enables larger areas to be brushed.
HMG's C71 is a synthetic alkyd enamel, with outstanding film hardness and durability, which is widely used for heavy duty vehicle finishing and repair work, affording good resistance to oil and traffic grime. SAH 300 is a high gloss, tough polyurethane alkyd, again with excellent brushing properties, which has excellent abrasion and chemical resistance. HMG also provided a synthetic enamel primer, which was applied as an undercoat after degreasing and fine sanding the metal substrate.
HMG's shade matching to original paint samples was excellent, according to the museum, and the quality of finish achieved by Stagecoach was high, having worked intermittently on the project over several weeks. The 1940's livery was finished with white, gold, black and blue lining, vinyls and lettering. The external and interior refit is now complete and No 235 moved back to base under its own power, although unfortunately a damaged sump and leaking oil mean the museum is still seeking replacement parts from other preservation groups.
Nevertheless, the pristine Salford bus is now on display and can be seen every Wednesday, weekends and public holidays (admission charges - Adults £3, Children/Concessions £1.75, Under 5's Free).
Further enquiries to:
Telephone 0161 205 7631