FRD187 At Newcastle
Our first trip to inspect FRD187 was something of a busmans holiday, as we (the bus club members interested in FRD187) got the customary cheap hire of a Stagecoach Fife bus (in this case a minibus with coach seats) for the trip. The trip was long but enjoyable enough and We eventually got to the place FRD187 was stored, but I can't describe where that was at all as I don't know the Newcastle area that well. The building was an ugly concrete structure on a hillside and was (we were told) a former slaughterhouse!
Whatever it's former purpose, the building was now providing rented storage and FRD187 was stored by Tyne & Wear CND in a lower level with (obviously) a generous ceiling height suitable for a double-decker bus. And since I had brought camcorder along, I started filming as soon as I saw it...
1. My first sight of FRD187, captured
from camcorder footage (as are all of my mid-1990s pictures of it), shows it sitting
behind a study steel gate and truthfully looking a bit shabby.
2. Opening the gate didn't improve the
view much - the battered state of the nearside front wing shows that FRD187 has
had some 'adventures' since it was sold by Alexanders Fife a decade or so earlier.
3. Moving sideways shows that the offside
front wing is equally bad, and also that the drivers wing mirror on this side is missing!
It's almost overkill to add that the destination box has been plated over at some point,
although we obviously had to consider that as well when deciding whether to buy this bus
4. A captured view of the nearside of FRD187,
showing the damaged state of the nearside bodywork.
5. A close up of the fibreglass front of the
bus. Apart from a missing slat in the grille, this part of the bus was in good condition
with no obvious cracks or other damage, and the two badges proclaiming this to be a
6. Of course we did rather more than just look
at the outside, and here is a brief view of one of us inspecting inside one of the front
wheel arches. This picture, the last from our first inspection, shows up the major problem
I had while filming - it was too dark, and since the bus could not be started on that
visit I ended up with some camcorder footage so dark I can't capture usable pictures from it!
Having found out on the first trip that the bus was in reasonable structural condition, required a lot of bodywork repairs, was missing most of it's seats, and required an almost total repaint inside and out (everything but the inside of the cab), the obvious next step was a second trip to try and start it up, and then check it's mechanical condition. And so a week later, we went back!
7. Our second trip to see FRD187 was definitely
a bit more businesslike than the first one, as we went in my friend Alistairs transit van
and were thus able to take engine oil, water, diesel fuel, a set of batteries, and tools
with us which we would need if were going to try and start it. Since I was doing some of
the work, I couldn't film at the same time but we were quickly successful in getting it
started and as you can see here, FRD187 was soon moved out into daylight so that we
could get a better look at it.
8. A closer view of FRD187 with it's bonnet raised.
We left it sitting at tickover for some time to find out if it was going to spring any water
leaks and to see if the engine ran rough, but it's Gardiner 6LW engine showed no sign of
problems and the only drip was from the rariator overflow as the water expanded slightly
as it warmed up.
9. With FRD187 moved out came the chance to get
a good view of all of it, and here is a vsnap showing just that. I think I must have let
someone else use the camcorder, since the figure in the blue boiler suit appears to be me!
10. There was obviously a limit to the length of
time we would get to run the bus that day, and after running it for a while it was all too
soon time to back FRD187 back into storage. We had not been able to find anything wrong with
the engine, clutch or gearbox, the compressor worked fine, and the brakes seemed OK.
11. Reverse gear was definitely working, but the
process of reversing the FRD187 back into storage was a slow affair as the gate wasn't much
wider than the bus and there was no power steering!
12. Back in storage! But we were in agreement that
despite the damaged bodywork and other problems, FRD187 was more than good enough mechanical
order to make it an excellent preservation candidate.
After getting back to Fife we discussed it further and decided to go ahead with the purchase of FRD187 as soon as possible. And so we made a third trip to do so and try to bring FRD187 back with us to Fife. However, that is another story...