EVL 549E - 1967 Leyland Panther
C Roe DP45F body
Lincoln Corporation No. 41
Restoration Progress, 2000 - 2002 - reported by Greg Sherlock
I first moved onto the Panther during the summer of 2000. It was started up and driven onto the inspection pit to examine the underside of the chassis. During its brief period 'out in the open' I looked around the vehicle inside, outside and underneath.
As documented in October 1999, there had been a start made on cleaning up the exterior. The most part of the roof and window surrounds towards the front of the vehicle had been washed and a coat of blue primer applied. This has not been completed, although hopefully (weather permitting) I should get the rest of the roof and windows primed during the summer of 2001.
The interior was rather dusty and grimy, as a number of items not belonging to the Panther had been stored in there. Items such as ex-Bristol RE coach seats and spare parts from the original Panther engine were eventually removed and placed in store away from the vehicle. The Panther's seat cushions and backs had been removed from the frames and kept on the luggage racks above the saloon windows, whilst the frames had been unbolted from the floor and stacked neatly on either side of the gangway. Other items that had been removed included the panel that normally conceals the passenger door operating gear, as well as the interior mirror.
The chassis of the Panther, whilst looking grimy, was in remarkably good condition, with no rot or rust in any of the chassis outriggers. The only suspect areas were on the offside of the vehicle, and these were the platform bearer beneath the passenger doors, and a 'dog-rail' that normally resided below the bottom panels between the wheels, which had been removed.
One set of the passenger doors had been removed, as there was some corrosion in some members above it. The bracket to which the door gear cover panel normally bolts to was corroded at one end above that door too, hence the removal of the cover. Additionally, the structural rail that runs the width of the destination box had also rotted away in that corner, and it was evident that some fairly comprehensive remedial work was required.
Later in 2000, the platform was removed to reveal the bearer, so that eventually it can be removed and a replacement offered up. Cyril Cooke, the Panther's owner, will remove this as and when time permits. It also granted the opportunity to clean up and prime that part of the chassis.
Further into the vehicle, the longitudinal bench behind the cab was the next task. The cushion and back were again removed and stored out of the way, while the metal areas behind them were rubbed down and primed. A corroded rail behind the seat back was removed and should be replaced once the main saloon work is completed.
The stacked seat frames were removed a side at a time and given a thorough clean. Years of dust and grime had to be removed, after which a good prime and top coat were applied. At the same time it was noted that the seats could not be refitted in any old order, and many attempts to get the right order were made before they could be temporarily refitted. The seats were repainted away from the vehicle so that any spillages could occur without harm. Removing one sides' worth of seats meant that that side of the interior could be given a thorough clean out, from the window reveals to the floor. The reveals had been repainted before I moved onto the Panther, but were now quite dusty and were given a good wash. Additionally, the floor brackets to which the seats were eventually bolted needed a good clean and repaint. Not to be forgotten were the battery boxes, of which there are four (two apiece on each side). All were repainted in the appropriate gloss black. The seat frames were refitted during the early months of 2001.
Early in 2001, it was discovered that the luggage pen panels were looking slightly suspect at their base, where they met the floor bearers. It was predicted that the bench panel on the opposite side was just as bad. The only way to be certain was to remove the floor between the luggage pen and bench.
This was confirmed, and the panels should be removed and replaced soon, once time permits. Now with a further section of floor removed, another opportunity was granted to clean off the chassis. With the top cleaned off and primed, I needed to get underneath and prime the more hard-to-reach areas. This was achieved one Saturday in February 2001 with the Panther on the pit once more.
In between the main tasks carried out above, a number of minor but important jobs have also been attended to. One niggle that was finally seen to was an ill-fitting engine access cover. The linoleum and floor rubbers were overhanging the void by 20mm or so, and so were cut back. As it was, the access hatch was liable to trip somebody up, but this risk has now been eliminated. At the same time, some worn-out floor rubbers in the same area were cut out and renewed, as they had detached from the floor and were curling upwards.
The interior of the destination box has been given a thorough clean out, removing years of accumulated flaked paint and dirt. The same was carried out to the door gear area. The destination box access door was given a repaint in white on its inside face, but the actual roof dome won't be touched until the structural members in the offside corner are repaired.
Although the exterior mirrors were refitted for its recent movement to the pit and back, they have since been removed for cleaning and repainting. Additionally, the internal mirror and fixing have been refitted.
These are the works as ongoing at 29 April 2001; any further updates will be passed on as and when.
At the end of April, the front nearside corner panel was removed, so as to make a final push at freeing the platform bearer from the chassis. This is so that it can be used as a pattern for the replacement. After the lighting connections had been disconnected, the panel was finally put to one side.
What a sight! The metal framework for the demister heat exchanger and radiator was all rusty, although in fairness it looked worse than it was. Worse was that the 'top hat section' that was supposed to be a corner pillar, simply wasn't there - it had disintegrated in rot! Additionally, the ducting for the demisters, leading from the manifold behind the heat exchanger to the vents was made from canvas with an internal wire coil. Some of the canvas was literally hanging off the wire in shreds, and some sections were completely missing! What I hope to do is lay my hands on some plastic ducting (there is some similar ducting evident on the Bristol RE, no. 73) and replace the whole lot, but this will be concurrent with the removal of the offside corner panel, which has a fairly large dent in it and will need replacing.
The metal framework will be rubbed down and primed, but fairly major surgery will be required to the door pillar in the nearside corner. Quite how the front windscreen has managed to stay put without dropping is beyond me! The pillar will probably be renewed along with the structural rail in the roof dome, above the windscreen, which has also rotted through.
Another update will follow as soon as more works are advanced.
Finally the platform bearer has now been freed from the bus, and will shortly be taken away for patterning and renewing. Once the replacement arrives and is offered up, work can start to progress more rapidly.
The exterior mirrors have been repainted and replaced. They will remain fixed to the bus for the present future while it is being moved around in the yard so much. The Panther has moved resting places again, this time it is backed up to the museum rear wall. This was accomplished following a much needed thorough clean of the external beading, which was becoming home to varieties of moss! The bodyside panels were badly rain-streaked, and these have also been cleaned off.
One or two little jobs inside the bus have also been completed. A surface clean of the switch panel and steering column dash has been undertaken, although a thorough scouring will take place shortly. More critically, two indicator light covers have been sourced and replaced - one for the air warning light on the steering column, and another for the oil warning light on the switch panel. The gear selector indicator panel (showing the gear positions, as well as a light indicating that an electric supply is going into the gear selector) has also been cleaned up.
Now that the front nearside and radiator panels have been set aside to allow for the removal of the platform bearer, the panel framework below the windscreen has been cleaned off and given a prime coat. Much of the demister ductwork has been removed, although an elbow joint and a large length of ductwork has been salvaged for when the time comes to find a match in plastic. Probably about 5 to 10 metres will suffice. The removal of this ductwork will also allow further cleaning of the metal framework around the demister elements to take place.
The steering column dash area containing the speedometer, air light and gear selector has benefited from a coat of silver paint. The switch panel to the driver's left has been similarly treated. Both items now look a lot cleaner and tidier.
The large luggage pen panel has now been removed. This will allow the rest of that part of the floor framework to be cleaned up, but will also give us a better idea of the works required to the panel, which has suffered from corrosion. This has occurred with moisture thrown up from the wheel reacting with the steel / aluminium combination. The original idea was to renew this panel completely, but so much of it is salvageable that the rotten section will be cut off and a new angle iron fitted up instead, this fixing directly to the floor framework. The panel beneath the longitudinal seat on the opposite side of the bus will be similarly treated once the first panel has been replaced. While the panels are removed, the floor framework will also benefit from another coat of primer, before a gloss coat is applied.
After this, we can start putting the bus back together again - since work started last year all we've done is take it to pieces!
Work continues on the repaint of the exposed chassis members around the luggage and cab area. So far treated to the final gloss coat have been the chassis, spring and coolant pipe tops, but work will now continue on the more hard-to-reach areas for the moment. The demister heater box beneath the windscreen is another area of activity at the time of writing. The passage of time has not done any favours to this equipment, as the heater elements are rusty with leakage and the rear fan and manifold box corroded. Luckily, an identical demister set has been sourced, and this will be thoroughly tested prior to receiving a couple of coats of paint, which will match the surrounding framework. It will be fitted in when work has finished around the doors area.
Over the summer months the painting of the exposed chassis framework around the platform and luggage pen was completed, allowing the floor between the luggage pen and the opposite seating bench to be replaced. The luggage pen and bench patterned aluminium panels have both received attention to eliminate the corrosion along the bottom. The floor will be completed when replacement linoleum and rubbers go down.
The platform area has also seen some attention over the summer. The single most important area of work was the replacement of the platform bearer underneath the doors. This has been fitted up with all fixing holes drilled out, along with the pivot holes for the doors. Recent work has also seen the bulkhead panel between the platform and the luggage pen replaced. Left bare, it will be repainted along with the rest of the cab area during the summer of 2002.
With the radiator panel and nearside panel removed from the bus, the opportunity has also been taken to give some attention to the demister heater box. This has been replaced with a new unit, which has been tested to make sure that it works correctly. However, during the removal of the old unit, one of the brackets, so badly rusted over the years, snapped off. A replacement bracket has been manufactured and fitted. More work in this area will include obtaining some demister ductwork to replace the original, which was hanging inn shreds in some places.
Unfortunately, time and weather this year have not permitted the passenger doors to be refitted to the bus, so in order to keep out the weather over the worst of the winter period, a temporary boarding has been manufactured and fitted into the doorway. Hopefully the doors will be back on next year.
Work currently ongoing includes the long-awaited overhaul of the throttle mechanism and the repainting of the side-facing bench panels behind the driver.
Winter 2001 - Spring 2002
Because No. 41 is stored out in the open, it's not always possible to work on her due to the vagaries of the weather, so little has been done between the end of 2001 and the spring of 2002. However, with the temperatures starting to climb, we can look forward to another season of restoration to get those "it'll wait until the summer" jobs out of the way.
The lower side panel beneath the driver's side window has been removed. This is primarily to give access to the throttle for removing, but it appears there is still more work ahead of us regarding the pillars. The offside pillar appears to be in two pieces - the lower looks like a replacement following accident damage during service with Lincoln City, while the upper part of the pillar has suffered a similar degree of rot as that on the nearside. Thus what we thought would be an ordinary pillar change now looks like a complete front-end structural rebuild.
The troublesome throttle cylinder was eventually removed from no. 41 during June, and was stripped down to examine its component parts. There was a little bit of hydraulic fluid left in the system, and this was allowed to drain away. Cyril has had a good look at the throttle, and he seems to think that a new seal for the sprung piston inside the cylinder is all that may be needed. It's too early to suggest a date when the throttle will be working again, but it looks as though there may be less work needed than was originally planned.
During July, a replacement front cylinder was sourced, fitted and plumbed up to the pipework to the rear cylinder and the reservoir in the cab, which was topped up to give a head. After much frantic pumping of the throttle pedal and bleeding of the rear cylinder, it was discovered that the rear cylinder wasn't working, either. And so back to square one - removing the errant rear cylinder (which looks like it's seized) and finding a new one.
Some further progress to report up until August 2002. The rear throttle cylinder that seems to be causing the trouble has now been removed from the engine and has been sent away to match up with a replacement. Hopefully we can get the Panther moving slightly faster than on tickover.
Cyril has been busy working in and around the luggage pen during the school holidays. The bulkhead that separates the platform area from the pen has had its two mouldings replaced and fitted. Some new aluminium sheets have been acquired and cut to shape to fit below the window, the previous panel was severely dented. The handrail that fits along the edge of the luggage pen and against the platform bulkhead has also been reinstated. Future thoughts within this area are to acquire some diamond-patterned aluminium sheets for the top panelling within the luggage pen, and some Brasso or similar to polish up the metalwork. Some small nuts and bolts - around a dozen in number - have been collected so that the handrails (there is a similar one on the opposite side of the bus) can be properly fastened to the panelling.
An exterior panel between the front wheel arch and the doorway has also been reinstated, following the completion of all works around this area. More importantly, two metal channel sections have been fabricated. These are for the structural pillars - one for each side - and will be offered up for fitting when the vehicle is brought into the workshop, once the throttle has been repaired.
There is some additional news hot off the press. The troublesome throttle has now been repaired and is working properly.
A match for the rear slave throttle cylinder was found and fitted, and the system bled to remove any airlocks. Once a good head of fluid had been poured into the reservoir, the system was closed and the accelerator pedal pumped - the rear throttle moved by itself for the first time in years.
Following this, Cyril and I just couldn't resist the temptation to try the throttle with the engine running. With the batteries wired up and the engine started, Cyril tried the pedal to build up the air pressure. Success! We took it in turns to move up and down the yard a couple of times, each dabbing the pedal to build up the air pressure again after losing it through the brake pedal.
With the throttle reinstated, Cyril and I can now concentrate on the bodywork elements. Cyril is continuing with the luggage pen, side bench seat and the structural pillars, while my next task is to carry on repairing the demister system, which requires a demister motor to be wired up and plenty of plastic ducting.
October 2002 - Owing to the amount of years this bus has spent standing out in the open, extensive reconstruction work is now being carried out at the front end. New steel pillars have been manufactured for the front nearside and offside corners. Two top horizontal rails above the windscreen need some attention, and this will involve the removal of the large one-piece screen.