The restoration of AEC Reliance CDK172L

 

      Project Dairy June to September 2014

Summer  2014         

Our second report for 2014 and plenty of progress has been made! It’s been a very busy summer of restoration for us - so much so that CDK is almost completed.

As mentioned in our last diary entry, much of May was spent fitting windows, a task we had long been looking forward to. We were assisted by one of Steve’s industry contacts to actually get the main picture windows in – a big thank-you to Mick Baker of Nationwide Coach and Bus Glazing for giving us a couple of hours of his valuable time – it is so much easier with a professional!

The sealing and fitting of the chrome locking strip was undertaken by ourselves, even I had a go at the locking strip with the special lacing tool much to Steve’s amusement! It really wasn’t as easy as he made it look and there certainly is a knack to it. We made sure plenty of black Bondo sealant was ‘injected’ around the outside to ensure a complete watertight finish. Once fitted, all the windows were given a wash off which revealed that many have suffered some war wounds over the years probably as a result of vandals while the vehicle had been parked up. Evident are a number of marks which look like the result of thrown stones or other objects and some nasty scratch marks but we will have to live with these – all adds to the vehicle’s history apparently. One thing I couldn’t live with though was the streaky appearance – close inspection showed vertical water marks down all windows probably caused by years of standing exposed to the elements. No matter how hard you scrubbed they just wouldn’t go away. Some internet research revealed this to be mineral etching and some car detailing forums suggested the use of a product called Glass Scrub applied with some Scotch Brite and plenty of elbow grease. Said product was duly purchased and we’ve managed to reduce the appearance to an acceptable level - after all they are over 40 years old.

With the windows in, the only apertures to be filled were the front and rear name glasses. These were duly delivered to a local sign writer in the Rosendale valley along with the tracing I had made of the originals on HVU in the museum at Boyle St. Within a week or so they were ready for collection and with pound notes in our pocket we drove over to David Plant signs in Waterfoot to pick them up.

Wow! The finished items are amazing and I had to close Steve’s mouth for him when he first saw them! Once fitted the coach really started to come to life as a Yelloway. Thankyou David for a very professional job.

The other identifying marks to turn CDK into a real Yelloway are, of course, the rising sun fleet logos and the rear garter belt motif. Thanks to the Manchester Museum of Transport we had original transfers but fitting them was a very nerve wracking experience as you only get one chance with these buggers. More Internet research identified the correct method of application so with shaking hands the boot doors were first to be tackled followed by the nearside logo and finally the offside.

After following the instructions carefully and being very patient removing all the tiny air bubbles it was a great relief (and delight) to have applied them without any cock-ups!

Following on from completing these tasks attention turned back to the rebuilding of the seats prior to them going away for trimming.

Many sessions were spent cutting out the crumbly mess and replacing with new foam – sometimes it felt like it was never going to end….. It did and by the end of September we have all our seats fitted but it has cost a small fortune and we must once again extend our thanks to our sponsor who contributed substantially to this financial outlay.

One authentic interior

As mentioned before the material is 100% original pattern and without it we really don’t think CDK would look quite right. Unfortunately we only had enough to complete 45 seats plus the driver’s seat so the seat spacing is slightly more generous than originally fitted (was 49). We still need to source the aluminium beading which runs down the edges to really finish them off but they look great.

The Internet is a wonderful tool and after much doubt we have managed to find suitable fog lamps to finish off the front light panel. Assistance from another of Steve’s work colleagues sorted out the wiring for them. New rear number plate lamps were also located – amazing what is still available.

A solution was devised for the entrance door problem which was preventing the door from closing due to the incorrect shape of the door pillar. Although the door now closes and locks some further fettling is still required. Much of this work was undertaken in a mammoth 2 week stint in late June when we both took our ‘holidays’ from work. With the coach now technically roadworthy Steve was keen to put it in for MOT in early August and actually booked a date at our local station. Before this could happen we needed to check the tyres were in a good enough condition to pass the test so yet another of Steve’s colleagues popped up to the workshop to inspect them. Luckily for us 4 were fine however, 2 had seen better days so needed replacing. Arrangements were made with Steve’s guv’nors at Intack depot to utilize their facilities and to coincide with their tyre fitter being available and the date was set for Friday 18th July. Before the big day arrived we ordered 2 part worn tyres with the intention of fitting these to the front and putting the 4 originals on the rear. The Lancashire United depot is only a mile or so from our workshop but to get there we have to traverse a rough farm track with much vegetation on it’s verges which would scratch our paintwork so a couple of hours of gardening was required removing overhanging branches and bushes. The morning of the big move – the first time CDK would have moved more than the few feet in and out of the shed – dawned with a clear blue sky and was set to be the hottest day of the year in East Lancashire. With Steve at the wheel I was tasked with walking down the lane in front of CDK with a pair of garden shears to remove any protruding foliage! Once we made tarmac we took the opportunity for a couple of snaps for the album before setting off to the depot, leaving a cloud of smoke in our wake as CDK cleared her pipes for the first time in 10 years – coincidentally almost 10 years to the day since she arrived in our care.

Once at the depot CDK was placed onto a pit with jacks and was soon up in the air with all wheels off ready for Javed to do his magic with the rubber things. Even the MD popped down for a quick look around and a chat. Once all the tyres had been fitted and the wheels torqued up, a run around the yard was undertaken to check all was well. Unfortunately it wasn’t. It soon became apparent that there was excessive play in the steering, something that would very likely cause an MOT failure, so back onto the pit she went for some investigation. First guess was the power steering was defective but once dismantled and reassembled this was ruled out. Luckily Peter was on hand and after much head scratching it was decided that there was something amiss with the steering box which would necessitate it’s removal for further investigation and probable repair. Before leaving Intack depot we took the opportunity of putting CDK on the brake tester (good readings obtained) and had a good check underneath, making use of the pit access to tighten up all those difficult to reach bolts. It had been a very hot and tiring day and as we headed back up the lane we both felt a tad dejected as there was no way we were going to make our booking at the MOT station. We put CDK to bed and then to top it all off discovered that the water header tank had developed a small leak once the system had warmed up. Time to call it a day!

The following weekend Steve got to work removing pipes, pedals and half the cab floor to enable the steering box and column to be removed and it didn’t take him long before he was calling on me to give him a hand to lift the whole unit out.

By Tuesday a specialist had been found who could repair AEC steering boxes and on Friday Steve was winging his way down to Staffordshire with the unit in the back of his trusty motor. Within a few days it was ready for collection – several components had indeed seized / worn causing the excessive play but the whole unit had been completely serviced and repaired ready for another 40 years of use.

They even repainted the whole thing too – quality British craftsman service again. Once back at the workshop a Saturday session saw it refitted and all the pedals and floor etc reinstated. Job done although another £400 lighter. 

We’ve had plenty of visitors over the summer and it has been great chatting to all who have shown an interest in what we are doing. Mr Whitworth surprised us one Saturday by bringing along Yelloway’s former chief mechanic – Mr Geoff Barlow. A splendid couple of hours were spent chatting about life in the engineering department all those years ago. We even persuaded him to pose for a picture to add to our album.

For once John did some work !!! Mr Geoff Barlow and John

We’d like to extend our thanks to all who have contributed this summer to getting CDK to this almost finished position whether that has been helping at the workshop or simply giving words of encouragement. In particular Paul Blackburn (owner of The Yelloway Museum) is to be thanked for ‘stealing’ our wheel nut rings and paying for them to be re-chromed.
Also Phil Platt (owner of WDK 562T) who located a driver’s partition screen & framework for us. Our intention now is to complete the few remaining jobs before the cold winter weather sets in and prepare for the MOT test in the spring ready for CDK to take to the road next year.

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