The restoration of AEC Reliance CDK172L

Project Dairy November 2009

 November 2009          The winter months always slow down our project somewhat, short daylight hours and cold temperatures are not conducive to rapid progress! Recently it has been rare for us both to be up at the shed at the same time, for various reasons, but independently we have both been plodding on with various tasks.

The rear axle and diff, once away from underneath the bus, has been thoroughly rubbed down, degreased, primed and top coated and is now ready to be reinstalled. The newly exposed rear chassis framework has also undergone the same treatment. Steve has continued to be busy refurbishing the brake and hub components.

 

Richard trimming Formica panels

Following it's recovery from NNC in Taunton the Formica panelling has been fettled up for the variety of locations it was needed. First up, the best lengths were reserved for the offside interior walls. It appears that a change in construction occurred between CDK and NNC rolling off the Plaxton production line - CDKs original interior panelling was made up of coated hardboard (in the birds-eye maple pattern) whereas NNC was sheet Formica. Therefore, the recovered Formica required backing with hardboard before it could be fitted into place, so a quick trip to the local B&Q was undertaken where some 8 x 4 sheets were cut to shape with one of their wall mounted saw thingies - handy that, as an 8 x 4 sheet won't fit in a people carrier! Once bonded together and trimmed to size the 'new' interior walls were installed and the Bakelite capping rails screwed down. After 4 years of seeing black stress panels it is most pleasing to see the interior walls now complete in correct pattern original materials -something we both feared would never happen.

One item which has been regularly shunted around the workshop over the years has been the offside emergency exit door - other than the removal of the glass and window rubber, this item has not been touched in terms of it's renovation. While I was attending to the interior, Steve bit the bullet and made a start on dismantling it, first removing the lock mechanism and then what was left of the interior panelling. Finally the exterior aluminium skin was detached to reveal the framework which is going to need some attention from the welder! Using the old panels as patterns, the remainder of the recovered formica has been used to make up new items to replace the badly damaged originals. Although having to piece these together (as we didn't have a large enough sheet to do the job in one go) the finished panels will do the job nicely and are a massive improvement over the battered original. Over the winter Steve will repair the damaged areas of the framework and then show how skilfully he is by cutting and folding the complicated shape to form the new exterior skin - I'll make sure I'm out of the way when he does that one!

front entrance door

showing the water damage

A similar exercise has been carried out on the front entrance door. One of the first tasks Steve undertook was to repair and re-skin this door (December 2004) and we have now got around to replacing the interior panels. The original hardboard lower panel was very water damaged at the bottom and at some point had been 'dug' quite badly in the middle. Luckily, following a chance conversation with another bus owner on site a year or two ago, we were offered a 6 x 3 sheet of the elusive birds-eye maple formica. It was a half shade darker than that in CDK but was close enough, so we gratefully snapped it up ! It only turns out that some of Blackburn Transport's fleet had this very pattern interior in the 60's - how ironic! A big thank you to Steve H for the donation. This sheet has allowed us to replace the whole of the interior skin for the door creating a uniform colour and should look perfect once re-installed.

Into December and with increasingly short days due to temperature and light, I've returned my attention to putting the interior back together. During the rewiring process the sky-light areas had to be disassembled to trace wires - this involved removing all the aluminium edging strips and shaped channel sections which cover the wiring runs. Most of these showed signs of years of wear and tear and have taken quite a while to restore to their original shinny condition. The plastic surrounds to the apertures are extremely dirty and have proved to be quite difficult to get clean due to the textured surface. Working on these has been quite a challenge for a 6 foot 5 chap resulting in aching shoulders and neck at the end of the day!

We have also had a good sort out recently and collected together all the bits and bobs which need to be or will be refitted to CDK when it is finally repainted such as indicator units, trim, locks etc. Many of these items have been sat in boxes in various locations over the last few years so it has been a good exercise to gather them all into one place.

As 2009 comes to a close it has been interesting to look back on what has been our most productive year so far - we really have achieved quite a lot over the last 12 months considering we only get chance to indulge over 1 or 2 days at the weekend.

Thanks to all those who have taken the time to pass comment and give words of encouragement - hopefully 2010 will see us much closer to the day when we can proudly take CDK out on the road.

January/March 2010         Home Page

 

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