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News - 2014
Some of the most recent events affecting us and our fleet:
(Click on photos for full size images)
Sunday, 7 December 2014: it is rare that we are able to announce the addition of a new vehicle to the Devon and Dorset Group fleet but Sunday, 7 December saw us welcoming another former Devon General 'classic' to the collection.
Out of the batch of 9 'Sea Dog' Leyland Atlanteans acquired by Devon General during 1961, 5 survive in preservation ... we already have 928GTA which is a long-term project. Of the other 4, 932 was the only one that was never converted to One-Man operation and, as such, is in the most original condition. After leaving Devon General's ownership in 1983 it passed to East Yorkshire where it remained for 6 years before becoming surplus to their requirements. In 1989 the bus was obtained by lifelong Devon General enthusiast and dedicated preservationist, Bob Follwell. The vehicle was taken to his home in Staffordshire and then underwent a comprehensive restoration to return it to 'as new' condition. Extensive work was undertaken and the result was a great tribute to the meticulous attention to detail and professionalism of Bob and others who assisted him in this lengthy task.
Bob owned the bus for the next 24 years but, tragically, passed-away unexpectedly this year. Happily, he had made provision for the buses in his will and we were therefore able to acquire this fine vehicle from its new owner who was very keen to see it pass to a good home.
The long journey from Staffordshire to Devon was completed on a cold, showery December day (hardly the weather for an open-top bus ride) but 932 performed flawlessly throughout and is now at its new home, tucked-away for the winter. It will make its Devon & Dorset Group debut in the summer of 2015 ... surely a trip to Torbay will be required!
Our photos show 932 during the collection journey and in service during a running day in, we believe, 2005 (photographer unknown).
Sunday, 27 July 2014: at long last we were able to fulfil a longstanding 'promised' day out with our good friend David Sheppard and his very well-presented Bristol SU, 270KTA. Both 420 (the SU's fleet number with Western National) and our own LHS, 88 (VOD88K) shared a stable at Newton Abbot depot during the mid 1970s and we decided some while back that it would be good to get them both together again and re-create some of the old DG routes for which they were designed. Inevitably, this involved some very narrow lanes in which the 7'6" wide vehicles came into their own.
We started with a trip from Newton Abbot to Maidencombe Cross on the former 117 service, then ran through to Teignmouth before re-creating the Teignmouth - Newton Abbot 116 service via Combeinteignhead. Haytor on the 23 followed with a diversion down to Ashburton before picking-up the old 11 service from Buckfastleigh to Newton Abbot. Our final run of the day was the 113 through to Huxnor Cross via Coffinswell ... where a wrong turn found us travelling along some impossibly narrow lanes that clearly never were on a bus route!
A great day out.
Saturday, 5 July 2014: the Devon General Omnibus Trust organised an event at Exeter Bus and Coach Station to celebrate its 50th anniversary. The B6 (P701BTA), the LHS (VOD88K) and the Olympian (A680KDV) attended.
The day was a great success with over 40 vehicles in attendance and large numbers of enthusiasts and the general public supporting it. All three buses ran in service and performed well! (photo courtesy of Stagecoach South West)
Saturday, 3 May 2014 - Monday, 5 May 2014: our regular pilgrimage to the Llandudno Festival of Transport, this time with Atlantean 913DTT and LHS VOD88K. Overcast but otherwise fine weather brought out the crowds and record numbers rode the free bus services on the Sunday in particular. The usual Conwy road run took place on the Saturday evening and it's pleasing to report that 913 fitted under the infamous arch which is marked with a height restriction of 12'0"!
The return journey was somewhat marred by a serious mechanical failure with 913 which subsequently had to be recovered to High Wycombe. Otherwise, a very enjoyable weekend.
Wednesday, 16 April 2014: one evening back in August 2010, having completed a successful run to Sandbanks in Atlantean, 913DTT with our friends from Transport for Yesteryear, pulling back into Top of Town Car Park, Dorchester, it was apparent that all was not well with the gearbox. Second Gear would not engage when selected which, on a 4-speed box such as this one, presents something of a problem. Subsequent diagnostics ruled-out the simpler problems such as an electrical fault, a split air line or a failure with the self-adjustor mechanism, leaving us to conclude that the 'band' for second gear had finally worn-out and would need replacing. This is a major task by anybody's standards: the engine has to come out; the gearbox is then separated; the gearbox is then dismantled and the band(s) replaced as necessary; the gearbox is then re-united with the engine and all is re-assembled.
913 had to wait its turn in the list of priorities and this has effectively seen it off the road (apart from a brief excursion to Torquay during May 2011 to attend the funeral of its former keeper, Keith Falconer) for nearly 4 years. During February, however, it made the journey to Ward Jones's workshop in High Wycombe for the gearbox replacement work to commence. This proceeded to plan with the inevitable collection of 'add-on' jobs that arise in these circumstances (replacement of a very worn Hardy-Spicer joint plus 2 x new tyres to name but two) and today it was time to return the bus to its base in Dorset.
It is pleasing to report that 913 drove very well on the 125 mile journey home (via Reading and Newbury, to avoid monotonous sections of the M4) and is now, once again, fully fit. It is planned that the vehicle will attend the Llandudno Festival of Transport in May, the Taunton Running Day in May and several other events during the year.
Tuesday, 1 April 2014: it's not often that the world of bus preservation receives a gift from the Chancellor of the Exchequer but last year's Autumn Statement confirmed that the date on which vehicles can be classified as 'Historic' for taxation purposes was to move from 1 January 1973 to 1 January 1974. He has since announced in the March 2014 Budget that this will herald the re-introduction of a 'rolling' period, albeit set at 40 years rather than the original 30. Anyway, great news for our Bristol VR, ATA563L, which was first registered during July 1973. The changes took effect from today so a trip to the Post Office saw the Taxation Class changed and its first 'free' tax disc issued. We need, however, to make the most of this piece of good fortune as our next vehicle in line will not see the benefit until 2018!
Updated 16 December 2014 E&OE. Nothing contained in this website constitutes a legal contract or guarantees availability.