The 500 Group - for Teesside Bus Enthusiasts
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Stars of showbus - 1998
Dennis Loline 99 and Daimler Fleetline L544 stand proudly in front of the American Pavillion at Showbus, Duxford in 1998.
The Dennis had just been judged "Best preserved Dennis" following a four year restoration by members of 'The 500 Group'.
The trip to Duxford was it's first on a public road for 21 years
Our Daimler Fleetline JDC544L
|When the 500 Group was first started, we used to hire a vehicle for our trips to local bus Rallies. It was usually the open top Leyland PD3 that was owned by Cleveland Transit, Fleet Number 500
This is why the Group took the name
"The 500 Group"
We buy our first bus
By the spring of 1989, it was decided that the Group should try and preserve one of the 500 class of Daimler Fleetline that had been the purchased by Teesside Municipal Transport between 1971 and 1973, which were all withdrawn by 1988.
An offer was made for one of the last survivors, JDC544L, Fleet No. L544 with T.M.T., and subsequently Cleveland Transit.
These vehicles were unique to Teesside, seventy-six were built and L544 was the last working survivor.
The chassis was a Daimler Fleetline; 'CRL6' model fitted with a Leyland 680 engine and it carried a Northern Counties built, low height, twin door body. The body was of a style more reminiscent of the nineteen-sixties rather than that of a bus built in nineteen seventy-three as L544 had been.
The bus was subsequently purchased by the Group and repainted by Cleveland Transit, in the magnificent, but short lived, Turquoise and Cream livery used by T.M.T. when the bus was new.
In the twenty four years since the bus was preserved, it has been used for journeys to, and displays at, dozens of Rallies throughout the North of England and Scotland. It has been almost trouble free and has now covered 1,125,000 miles since it was new
At long last we have been able to get the bus re-classified as an historic vehicle for taxation purposes. We needed to prove that the chassis was manufactured before December 1972, and with the help of the British Commercial Museum Archives we have been able to obtain a copy of the original Daimler delivery note dated October 1972.
This has now been accepted by the D.V.L.C and and the bus is now officially an historic vehicle.
Our Dennis Loline JDC 599
|Following our acquisition and successful running of our Fleetline, the Group became very well known in the vintage bus fraternity.
In 1991, we were offered and accepted the gift of a very famous ex Middlesbrough bus, Dennis Loline JDC 599, which had been for many years, No. 99 in the Middlesbrough Corporation fleet.
This gift was conditional on our restoring the vehicle, a task that the previous owners had been unsuccessful with.
The hulk had been kept outside, in the Derby area for many years, following an abortive restoration, and was now stored.
The bus was towed to Stockton on Tees and brought to the Cleveland Transit Ltd. depot in Church Road.
After further assessment of its condition, a facility was obtained at I.C.I. Wilton works where a complete re-build and restoration was commenced in 1994. Members of the 500 Group undertook the work and quickly learned the necessary skills of bodybuilding, electrical and mechanical engineering to complete the task to an extremely high standard.
The 'working party' consisted of four members who devoted all their spare time to the project and were ably assisted, and guided by a former Transit employee, who devoted his leave-time from his job abroad, whenever he could. Various other members devoted time to welding, painting and upholstery renovation as required.
The body panels were stripped off the frame. The chassis was completely de-scaled and thoroughly repainted. The seats and interior fittings were removed and renovated, all the mechanical components were re-conditioned or replaced, new flooring was fabricated and the rear platform replaced with new alloy and tread material.
New wings had to be fabricated, in fiberglass, set up by eye, without a mould, a new cab floor and seat pan fitted, and the bus was re-wired, the jobs seemed endless.
Finally in the spring of 1998, the rebuilding was almost complete. The engine was started for the first time in 15 years and the vehicle road tested around the Wilton Site.
The major task of repainting both the interior and the exterior was then tackled. Finally in July 1998 the bus returned under its own power to Cleveland Transit Ltd's. Stockton Depot.
Another two months saw the exterior fully repainted and lined in the Middlesbrough style and an M.O.T. was obtained at the first try.
The restoration was complete; it had taken over 4000 unpaid man-hours but the bus was ready to be exhibited at Showbus, forty years after it was first exhibited at the London Motor Show in 1958.
Our Leyland PD2 - JVN40E
Jvn 40E in Cleveland Transit Livery.
The Tees-side Railless Traction Board was set up in 1919 to operate a trolley bus system in the East Middlesbrough area. Middlesbrough Corporation and the Eston Urban District Council jointly owned it
At first the undertaking only operated trolley buses on the North Ormesby to South Bank route with an extension to Normanby
From 1926, motorbuses were obtained and the route was extended to Eston. Whilst the main operation used electric traction, the motorbus fleet was slowly expanded, particularly with works services to the many steel and chemical works in the area. In 1929 the 'T'route was started, from Eston to the center of Middlesbrough.
For most of the time up to 1968, when local government re-organisation brought the County Borough of Teesside into being, the preferred motor buses were Leyland and the bodies were constructed by the Leeds based Charles Roe Ltd.
The final batch of these buses was purchased in 1967 and JVN40E was one of this batch. It was in fact delivered in advance of the amalgamation, in an experimental livery of turquoise with the simple script of Teesside Transport.
It was first registered in May 1967 and was one of the last buses to be supplied with the open rear platform to any operator in the North East.
It is a Leyland PD2 and has a Leyland 0-680 engine with a four speed manual gearbox, the body, which is of an H33/28R configuration and was built by Chas. Roe in Leeds.
It operated from South Bank Depot for many years and eventually passed to Cleveland Transit in the 1974 re-organisation as fleet no. H240.
The bus survived in service until 1980 when it was withdrawn but passed on to the Cleveland County Arts and Recreation Department for use as Playbus.
Following budget cuts, it was disposed of and spent time at the North East Bus Preservation Society at Wardley on Tyneside. During this period it was loaned to the Northern Group as a driver trainer and painted in their driver training bus livery.
In 1995, the 500 Group decided to purchase the vehicle with a view to its eventual restoration. Constraints of time and money have delayed the start of this restoration and the vehicle is stored at Stockton.
Our Bristol VRT RDC106R
10th September 2005.
The Group have now obtained Bristol VRT RDC106R, which was No. H106 in the Cleveland Transit fleet.
This bus, of a type which was unique to Cleveland Transit, was new in 1977 and served with them until being disposed of in 1989.
Bristol VR models were normally only available to National Bus Company owned undertakings and were usually fitted with Eastern Coachworks bodies.
During a shortage of Leyland Fleetline chassis in the late seventies, Transit were able to obtain fifteen Bristols and these were fitted with Northern Counties bodies of a style that was unique to Cleveland Transit
The buses gave good service for twelve years, several of them being repainted in the new livery following de-regulation in the late eighties
On withdrawal from Teesside service, several of the batch saw further service with Welsh operator Jones of Llanfaethlu on Anglesey including H106.
RDC106R was withdrawn from schools and local services around Holyhead in 2004.
After an inspection, we recently arranged the purchase of this important vehicle and the bus was recovered for us from Holyhead, by Turners of Sedgefield, on Sunday 8th May 2005
We are currently refurbishing the bus and preserving it in the livery of Cleveland Transit in the 'exact fare' era.
The vehicle is currently at the site of a large Teesside transport contractor who have kindly offered the Group storage and the limited use of workshop facilities. Working parties, from among the membership, are now hard at work on the vehicle and it is hoped to complete the work of restoration to a high standard.
Work is now progressing well, all the seats have been removed for renovation or replaced from other ex Transit vehicles, obtained from Barnsley breakers yards. We have completed most of the panel work but the total task will be a longer exercise than we first thought.
(Above right)Secretary, Chris Hall with RDC106R at the restoration site in Billingham
Some of the work on Bristol RDC106R
|10th October 2005
Illustrated above are some of the horrors that we have found but work is now continuing apace and new metal is being fitted.
(Above)Corrosion on the body work is quite severe in places, after twenty nine years of hard work
Tackling the corrosion
|(above)New side strakes have had to be fitted to the body sides, here the work is in progress|
Refitting the windows
We have now removed al the lower and between deck panels on the nearside and obtained new window rubbers,
In this view Peter T is refitting the window pans.
The nearside side steelwork is complete
|J and P worked hard on the steelwork fabricating new panel supports and fitting them
Here they tackle the skirt panel supports
Its now looking better
|The outer paneling is now in place, now we have to start on the actual chassis and rectify all the corrosion problems that forty years have produced whilst we can get to it easily before we refit the skirts
J finishes off and P tackles the rear corner
More problems at the rear
|M.D. has now taken the rear corner panels off and the corrosion looks bad, it is fairly easily rectified however
Corrosion has been caused by water entering the engine air intake on the upper deck
Progress at year end 2006
|27th December 2006.
This is progress so far on Bristol RDC106R
Today we have a contractor welding the new steelwork which we have prepared for the rear end of the bus. The company K Flavell and Sons of Stockton have made a nice job of the welding, all that needs doing now is to clean off the surplus weld and paint the joints. We will then be ready to fabricate and fit the new ventilation chimneys that feed air into the engine bay from the vents on the upper deck
more progress April 2007
|The rear end paneling is now being fitted. we are making progress around the rear end. The inner melamine is also ready to be put in place The engine water filler cap is to go in next.|
The rear window is now in
|5th May 2007.
Today we refitted the rear window to the lower deck, the bus is now rain-proof again.
The engine bay rain gutter needs fixing next.
We start removing the front end
|The front panel removed exposing the damage from a previous accident|
The radiator removed - the bare necessity
|After the radiator was removed we were able to examine the whole structure
Much of the steelwork inserted following an earlier accident was removed
We are now rebuilding the front end
|24th December 2007
new steel work has been fabricated and will soon be fitted to remake the front lower
The upper deck interior is progressing well
|WE are making good progress refitting the top deck, the guard rails are now on and the ceiling is complete|
Front end renewal May 08
|Corner panel support steel is fitted|
progress with the interior May 08
|Work on the front stairway is now almost finished|
Work on the roof 2008
|The rooflight was refitted with new rubber seals|
Front end renewal May 08
|Corner panel support steel is fitted|
Panels are repaired
|Corner panels have been repaired with fibreglass and are now being fitted|
A nice job only to be finished
|Final fitting is now being done on the o/s front|
"More matter for a May morn"
|As Hamlet said "More matter for a May morn" or as Oliver Hardy said "what a fine mess here"
The rear floor has now been taken up between the wheel arches and the sub floor is in a poor state - hopefully recoverable though !
The top deck is looking good
|3rd June 2008
The upper deck is now almost ready for seat refitting, the floor has to be properly cleaned first, JG takes a break whilst PT makes a good brush hand !
The chassis needs serious work
|The chassis stiffening plates are well corroded and we need to cut them out and replace with new metal. |
We have cut out the old corroded metal
|Using an air chisel we have cut out all the corroded metal back to the original chassis frames|
The chassis frame is clean now
|4th October 2008
"All" that needs to be done is to make a template for the job and a local contractor will cut new plates for us which can be welded in
Meanwhile the cab needs renovating
| The dash was completely removed and all the wrotten metal of the switch panel replaced replaced |
The new main frame bracers have now been fitted and welded in place thus strengthening up the main frame in a satisfactory manner
Fuel tanks have been removed
The team have now removed the offside floor to enable us to remove and get better access to the fuel tanks and battery boxes.
We have had to remove them to that we can rebuild the offside body lower main rail.
When that is in place and married to the cross members, forward of the rear axle, we will have to take our and remake the between-tanks cross member which needs renewing
Major chassis work continues
The chassis plates are completed
welding in place
|They were eventually welded into place|
Next we start on the platform
|We have cut the entry step away completely to renew the steelwork|
welding the body side frames
|The side frames which are part of the body can now be welded into place|
The entrance is nearly finished
We have now finished rebuilding the entrance step and the doors are about to be refitted
Refitting the doors
The step is now complete and the doors and frames refitted, new pieces have been made and fitted by G & P and the doors now make the bus weatherproof again
The road wheels require renovating
|Another task which needs doing is to renovate the road wheels, chipping off layers of paint that have accumulated over forty yers and priming ready for refitting and eventual final painting|
The rear lower floot frame is now ready for fitting
The frame has been fabricated off site by J & P and transported back to the site.
It has now been primed and prepared for final fitting
Two rear wheels finished
Striping and priming of the one pair of wheels is now completed - only four more to do !
The lower deck rear "passage" is worked on
All the steelwork on the chassis over the rear passage is now complete, it needs the floor fitting after the foot stools are fitted to the forward section
We are now about ready to fit the wheel boxes
An important job now is to marry the renewed foot stools steel work to the chassis mounting points and the body side stress panels, this includes the important and difficult job of fitting an especially fabricated joining channel to both major parts
A trial fit of the wheelbox
By November 2010 we are ready for the trial fit
Foot stools are welded
|Early in 2011 we started refitting the lower saloon|
Wheel boxes are fastened securely to the side panels
|A special pop rivet machine was loaned to the Group to enable this job to be completed|
A start was made on the rear brakes
|A major task is the renewal of the braking system
Here the drums have been removed together with the shoes and complete hubs
Hubs are reconditioned
|Here the hubs are being degreased prior to being completely striped |
New rear mud protectors are manufactured
|Mick d fits new beading to finish off the mud protector
It goes behind the rear wheel assembly to protect the chasis
The foot stools are now covered in new timber
|New ply wood timber is now in place on the footstools|
They need the floor covering material applying
|New material was obtained from a coachbuilder enabling us to restore the floor area|
The material was glued in place
|The floor is looking much better now|
Started up at last after seven long years
12th December 2012
At long last we are in a positon to restart the bus which was done succesfully three weeks ago.
We are now doing some mechanical work on the engine auxiluries.
The major problem still to be overcome is the checking and re-installaton of electical components
We need the services of a good volunteer with relevant bus electrical experience to join our team to work on site for up to three hours per week
- the joy of the personal satisfaction of doing a good job, as part of a friendly and keen small team, all giving back something to the community to enjoy from their transport heritage
- If this is you please e.mail us on
The lower deck flooring is now virtually complete
The flooring timber is now all in place and the new cork covering glued down, we hope to get the lower deck seats in before the cold weather makes working nderneath uncomfortable.
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