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NDR 509J RESTORATION PROJECT 2013-2022

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AUGUST 2013

This is how Dave Jenkins found 9 and then have it transported to Plymouth Colebrook, our base at that time 

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2013-2014

So first things first. We have never done anything like this before, never owned anything more than a runabout car!! But with a good knowledge of D.I.Y and some industrial fabrication, metal working skills. We started to learn on the hoof really.

Investigating what original features might still be hiding. Luckily for us all the unique Formica interior decor was still in place and protected under at least 4 layers of paint that had been applied by different owners.  Testing out various paint strippers, the best was basic cheap off the shelf but needed by the gallon.

 Covering stripper with polythene sheets helped keep the chemical formula in and working on the paint rather than just escaping into the atmosphere, a common mistake we found out. (thankyou Youtube)

Months of scrapping and rubbing with wire wool exposed the mushroom and vermillion Formica colour scheme. With invaluable help from a set of photos taken by Gareth Ruby back in 1986 of the interiors of this batch whilst withdrawn in Milehouse we started to piece together how the decor would take shape.

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Paint removal carried on through 2014, but a bit positivity was needed to see progress was being made. So we set about restoring the cab area in original Panama beige. It was also decided that we would put 9 back to "as delivered condition".  As the PDR2s had been built as the first buses to be one man operated, a major advancement in P.S.V development in the 1960s, with the centre doors and other experimental features like self service ticket machines.

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With more confidence on tackling different restoration tasks. There was a soft spot in the floor near the centre doors. So we took up the floor, each old screw long since been in a condition to be removed had to be circular bore drilled. As we have no lifts to gain access to the chassis, this also enables us to clean, repair any corrosion and paint the chassis for protection. The chassis was in remarkable condition with onlty some outriggers being corroded for welding and a support bracket being broken around the old inspection hatch. This is why the floor was soft in that spot 

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2015-2016

 saw 9 make its first public viewing at our group's rally running day at the George Park and ride. It was towed up to the site for display. In the meantime, the metal plates which had blanked off the upper deck front windows had been removed to help get the original shape of distinctive bodywork and roof dome peak back.

With the bad weather forecast plywood was fitted to try and protect it as best as possible.

Having started to learn how to repair fibreglass, the window frame was strengthened and dome repaired. It had been in an accident, hence the metal plate instead of windows. Having got it back to what we thought was a really good finish ready for when National windscreens came to fit new glass. They found that the whole section had been knocked to the nearside by 2cm and so had to hand cut o/s and n/s windows to fit the different angles of the upright pillars.

 We found bad corrosion on the rear wheel arches and the surrounding frames. We cut out all the rear arches and welded in new frames.   

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2017

Work continued on various projects. One nice little feature uncovered which matched our benchmark pictures, was the electrical connector block in the lower deck ceiling. This was for the two Autofare overhead light units, and power still came from cab controls. The switch still has the original plastic label on it for Autofare machine and lamps even though they wouldn't of been used since 1975 .  Two lights were obtained and wired in. 

 With P.C.B.S commercial mechanic moving into our Colebrook base, we could carry out more work. Of great use was their powered lifts to get to the undersides of the chassis which we could reach through the floor. At the end of the year we had to vacate the Colebrook depot site as it was going to be redeveloped.

We found a new site at the old council parks department in central park.  

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2018

 With continuing problems with engine and fuel injection hampering our progress. We arranged to have it taken to Plymstock commercials, lee mill for an overhaul and other mechanical problems they might find. So the story stopped for several months while they fitted it in around their commercial jobs.

 But on its return in  Feb 2019, it made it out on the roads of Plymouth for the 1st time in 33 years on a tour of some old routes. 

 Also worked out was how to wire the interior lights. 100s of metres of cable later, we had lower and upper deck lighting in place. 

 Continuing rain ingress on the upper deck, we decided that the window rubbers needed to be replaced. We had learnt to do rubber replacement on the lower decks but at about 1 window a day!! So we called in National windscreens to complete top deck and the front windscreen in 1 day. To get the front window hoppers, to complete the proper look of the front of 9. We had the clever idea to get aluminium laser cut inti the shape of the old hoppers. They were glued into place, while standing on the top deck of "Frankie" which happened to be in the yard at the right time.

 Also started was the seats. We had had cushions and some seat backs recovered for us beforehand, so we could now fit them to seat frames.

 As no original seats remained we had to adapt and adjust the frames we had collected from various outlets such as Winkleigh. The classic finger plates for the isle side of the seats we designed and had formed at an engineering plant in Cornwall, as the near impossible U-shape bend only being able to be done by machine.

  Then 2020 happened. But with enforced time at home and glorious weather I was able to finish adjusting and painting all the seats for lower and upper decks. As we couldn't contact anyone else for help for upholstery, a staple gun was purchased and I worked out how cover the seat backs. This one of my favourite achievements during this restoration.

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2020

 So when we came out of lockdown and we could back to the work again and complete the seats that had been made. The rear upper deck bulkhead that had looked a complete mess was stripped out and new Formica cut into place and seat back recovered. The floors also had a coat of brown floor paint to bring everything together in a more tidy look. Treadmaster will be laid at some point in the future, probably when 158 top deck is repaired at the same time. 

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2021

Saw 9 booked in to Car to Coach refinishers, with Grant having just painted 201 for his self and looking amazing. We had to have 9 looking the same standard, so a no holes barred rebody and best quality paint to be used.

 This would be a lengthy process at best of times, but would have to fit in around gaps in their work schedule due to amount of work involved. The first stage was to remove the panels which we hadn't replaced, so the paint would have a good surface to be applied to. The rear engine side bustles were remoulded from scratch as the originals were too damaged to be of any use, this was an amazing job. Many hours were spent strengthening and smoothing the centre bustle. I made up a design to have an accurate bumper pattern laser cut into kit and which i could weld up on site to fit perfectly with new engine covers.

 Disaster occurred in the summer. When moving 9 into workshop, the pulley on the fan unit fractured destroying the fan, driving shaft and the gear housing that ran it off the engine.

 An s.o.s appeal brought forward a fan unit quickly and a new shaft was purchased. The gear unit took awhile longer. But after trying other Leyland gear units which to big, one of the size we needed appeared on Ebay, Phew!! we were lucky with that. Once we fitted everything, it was back over to Grant to carry on the brilliant work.

  

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