The restoration of AEC Reliance CDK172L

Introduction to the Yelloway Project

The Yelloway Project - in the beginning....

A strange dream in April 2004 re-awoke an interest in Yelloway for us.

As children in the 1970's our family, like many others, didn't own a car so to get around we relied on public transport. Day to day local journeys were on the service buses of the Hyndburn, Blackburn or Rossendale Transport fleets but several times a year we would visit our grandparents in Suffolk and this would mean a 10 hour long distance trip by coach - not just any coach but one operated by the famous Rochdale based company of Yelloway. And so began a childhood fascination for us in transport, both railways and buses.

As the years rolled by, interest in Yelloway waned as first the family got a car (so the coach trips became fewer) and then college and employment changed our lives. Before we knew it Yelloway was no more and the memories would remain just that, memories. Then came that dream....

The actual detail of the dream has been lost in time but probably involved stumbling across a yard full of abandoned Yelloway vehicles and the crazy idea of jumping in one and driving off! A subsequent conversation between us made reference to this dream and before long one of us asked 'What if we could find a Yelloway - would you be up for attempting a restoration?' Surely we wouldn't be able to locate any surviving vehicles from the much missed Yelloway fleet - after all it was now 16 years after this once prominent company disappeared. More importantly, if there were any survivors would we be able to find one in a sound enough condition that we could purchase and restore it. The research began with, frankly, not much hope.

First port of call was the excellent Yelloway web site (created by Dave Haddock the then owner of the Yelloway mobile museum) which gave us some promise as there were at least some vehicles known to still be extant, although we found out that many had gone straight for scrap when the company, then owned by Carlton PSV, ceased operating in 1988.

A note was posted on the AEC Society notice board requesting information on the whereabouts of ex- YMS coaches and two replies were received one from the membership secretary (himself an ardent YMS fan) giving a list of possible survivors / last known owners and the other giving us a name and contact details of an owner of several ex YMS vehicles included on the list.

Result! our first fears had proved un-founded! It turned out that a Mr Roberts of Stockport had 3 coaches CDK 171L, HVU 243N and WDK 563T the latter certainly being the most desirable on the list. Contact was made but 563T was definitely not for sale, however to our surprise, he informed us that he had another ex YMS vehicle which did not appear on the list we had been given. This was CDK 172L, sister to CDK 171L, and was complete and a runner.

Before we realised it our pursuit of a restoration project had really gathered momentum. After being convinced of our genuine enthusiasm and ability to carry out a proper restoration (Stephen having worked in the bus industry for 20 years) an appointment was made for a viewing to take place. Mr Roberts did stress that 172L was also not for sale but would entertain our enquires as it was obvious we weren't time wasters.

So to the evening of May 16th 2004 and Stephen set off along with a mechanic colleague from work to a small yard near the Trafford Centre, Manchester where 172L was stored. It was a gloriously sunny evening and there sat between two trucks was CDK 172L with Mr Roberts in the driving seat. After the expected introductions and exchange of anecdotes 172L was started up and drawn forward and the serious business of the inspection began.

Stephen's specialist area is in coach building and repair thus necessitating the requirement to bring along a mechanic to inspect the coach's engine and running gear. 172L was in remarkably good condition for a vehicle over 31 years old and retained the majority of its original fittings including its split boot doors and even the Plaxton interior clock. It had six reasonable tyres, new exhaust, had allegedly had some attention to its steering, started 'on the button' and after a check underneath, was thankfully not dropping any oil. Fantastic! This was an opportunity too good to miss and so negotiations began.

 

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