FRA1 AT Kirkcaldy
When, in the spring of 2008, we got permission to start working on FRA1 to try and get it into working order, it quickly became apparent that a lot needed done to it. Putting in some diesel, topping up the oil and water, and temporarily connecting a set of our own batteries was simple enough, and we had no trouble getting it started, but problems with the electrical connections to the EP valvle block on the gear selector system, and also the air lines between that and the gearbox itself took a fair number of visits during 2008 to sort out. Other minor work such as fitting replacement bulbs and getting the indicators to work was also needed, and on later visits we were even granted permission to take suitable minor spares off buses that we were told would never run again (but not off intact buses since they might be put back into service at any time, obviously).
Alas none of that is at all photogenic, even if I had had clean hands (which I usually didn't!), but I have sorted out a few pictures from one of our early visits on the 26th April 2008 which will adequately illustrate the location of FRA1 within Kirkcaldy Garage and the 'clutter' surrounding it, although I should add that in the second half of 2008 the garage was almost filled up with withdrawn and stored buses!
1. FRA1 looks more than a bit stranded
in this first picture, hemmed in as it is by stored buses and other vehicles, with
one of the Stagecoach East Scotland towing vehicles park in the shed that day for
2. A clser view show FRA1 a bit more
clearly, but doesn't make the clutter look any better. As can be seen here, the
re-paint of the early 1990s, supplemented by the varnishing we did at Cowdenbeath
in 1996, is holding up surprisingly well on the sides.
3. A close up view on the front now,
showing that it has retained it's Ailsa badge, and it's fleet no and allocation
through the 12 years or so since we last worked on it at Cowdenbeath. However also
visible is the tape we had to put on one of the front corners, where the fibreglass
front panel was badly cracked and needed a temporary repair of some sort.
4. A view from a slightly different angle,
which doesn't add much other than to emphasise how gloomy the shed is with the doors
closed and no artificial lighting at all.
5. I tried rotating the camera to see if
I could get the whole height of FRA1 in, and I succeeded! (If you can call this
image a success that is!)
6. I tried fiddling wiht the camera
settings and got a slightly better image at last! Oh well, i don't actually claim
photography as one of my hobbies!
7. Now for a couple of quick views in
the other direction, just to illustrate what Kirkcaldy garge was mainly used for
at this time. the first of these shows an assortment of withdrawn buses, with a
lorry carrying a garden shed as well.
8. Swinging round a bit shows more
stored buses, including an open-topper branded for the St Andrews tour.
As described above, we spent many visits working patiently through the many problems that we found with FRA1 until we had it (fingers firmly crossed), ready to travel along to Methil under it's own power. The only exceptions were whether the automatic gear change would work, which we couldn't test, the tyre pressures, which we would have to check on the day of the move over at the workshop building (where buses are prepared for their annual MOT test), and the adjustmkent of the parking brake, for which we needed more than a few feet of space in front of the bus in case we didn't get it right first time!
At this point I would like to thank on behalf of all of us the Stagecoach staff without whose help FRA1 would not have been prepared for the move, as the access to it we were granted, the advice we were given, and the permission to 'borrow' spares off withdrawn buses made a difficult job much easier than it might have been! Now all that was needed was to get a fair purchase price from Stagecoach East Scotland, get the Bus Club to sort out the purchase and associated paperwork so that the move could go ahead. However things coasted to a bit of a standstill in early 2009, bringing back memories of what happened with FRA1 more than a decade before...