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Wednesday, 16 December 2009

How I learned about engineering.......

The time just streaks by and it's nearly a week since I wrote last.

Tonight I've had dinner with Phil Swallow, owner of RM5, and he has been telling me more about the extraordinary lengths the Arriva team and many others went to, to deliver this superb restoration. As a starting point he had in his possession a radiator badge - he just wanted a bus to put it on!

There is a much longer story but I have promised to feature it in the Routemaster Magazine, which is the journal of the RMOOA. You'll be able to read it there.

I have a couple of clips up on YouTube which you might like to see. Back in the summer we were pleased to support the commemorative run of the longest Royal Blue service from Penzance to Aberdeen - both First locations! You can see the cavalcade of old coaches leaving Muller Road Bristol on

And then in August we unveiled our splendid Greyhound coach by Tower Bridge in London and you can see this on

Visitors to this site tell me they like good old stories from the past so here is one I am guilty of - so learn the lesson of confusing facts with opinion:

Back 1979 we brought back Vintage Bus route 100 using ST922 and D142 from Covent Garden to Oxford Circus. During the lunch break the crew would park at Cornwall Road Waterloo (now the Red Arrow garage).

One lunchtime I went over for one reason or another and as I approached ST922 from behind I found a snapped fan belt. An alarm went off in my head and I opened the bonnet and yes - the fan belt was missing from the ST.

Clever me - I had saved this 1930 petrol engine from certain disaster. Called up the towing lorry, I lost the afternoon's service, and ST922 was safely returned to Nunhead Garage.

Now it was time to call our Principal Engineer Tim Nicholson who had masterminded the restoration of all our vehicles and let him thank me for my amazing performance. I can hear him now....

He roared down the phone "Leon - STs don't have fan belts - the fan is simply mounted on the front of the engine! There's is nothing for it to drive!!"

Yes - I had picked up a broken fan belt - from a Leyland National I know now - and coupled with the lack of one obviously on ST922 had put two and two together......and made five.

The lesson is - can you distinguish between the facts that you have, and what your mind has interpreted from them??

And yes I cost us an unnecessary tow home AND an afternoon's service!

Photo of ST922 at Victoria Garage - the bus on which I passed my manual PSV test and the one I unnecessarily towed home!


1 comment:

  1. Learning things the hard way means you tend not to forget.
    The video of departures from Muller Road jogged some happy memories. As a child in the late 50s and early 60s I would visit my grandparents in Cheltenham. A treat, especially on a summer saturday, was to be taken to the Coach Station to see the "two thirtys". Following the ringing of a bell up to 200 coaches would depart en masse to different parts of the country.
    A little later I had a summer job in the chart room and so could see each week being put together, giving a fascinating insight to a well organised and effective operation.