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Just to set everyones mind at ease KD 184 will be restored without doubt. The only question is when, and this depends on when we can allocate covered storage to her for working on her. We estimate up to nine months.
We will have our first double decker maintenance bay ready in the next two weeks but immediate priority is anything that needs minimal work first and then we work our way down to the bigger jobs.
My best guess is that she just might be a winter project as our immedate priority is to maintain our 20+ strong Ulsterbus fleet in 100% condition.These were handed over in super condition and that is the way we will keep them but it does take hard work and the lack of activity requires a more intense maintenance schedule than if they were working every day. That is the reason we like visitors to come and take vehicles for a run. It keeps them active. The driving school also is a means of keeping them active.
To give an example of the problems we run into, 1143 two days ago would not start for God or man. Yet we knew she was perfect. All it took was a tap of the hammer on the solenoid which simply had stuck in the no start position because she had sat there for a month. Tigers are particularly prone to sitting problems.
The easiest of all are the 680's which seem to start at the drop of a hat even if they have sat for years. The Gardner is not far behind and the only problem on that is the stop unit which sometimes can be very slow to release if she has been sitting.
Our IT Manager, Lukasz, is working on a programme whereby we can make sure that every vehicle gets started on a regular interval and gets a regular run. Quite honestly with so many vehicles one simply loses track of each one and when they last started and when they last ran.
Another peculiar problem is that while if you have only one of a type, it is easier to remember the individual characteristics of each, but where you have identical multiples then it literally becomes impossible to tell one from the other. Ulsterbus Leopards 319, 326, 337 and 338 are absolutely identical as are Tigers 2620, 2624, 2629 not to mention Tigers 340, 385, 1122 and 1143 to name a few. It is equally difficult to differentiate between Gardner Tigers and TL 11 Tigers and it is only when you drive one you notice the difference and how slow the Gardner is. A Gardner does about 45 max and a TL11 65. But that goes out the door when you come to 2609 which is a high speed Gardner and goes like a TL11.... and so it goes. But then to show that the exception proves the rule 598 is a totally different Tiger and there is no way you could confuse her in anyway with any of the others.
Our top priority is to keep our recovery equipment operating perfectly and right now we have major work on both our tow trucks which includes full overhaul and a repaint of our motorway lift vehicle.
We are most grateful for readers support but simply do not understand the comments of people who have never been near us and simply have no idea of how much work goes into running a 300 vehicle museum, yet pass derogatory comments. Ireland is the land of begrudgers.
If it was not for people like Stephen Payne, Stephen Lynch, John Quirke, James O'Donovan and the myriad of other people and particularly Francis Dempsey who did miracles in sourcing vehicles and helped build the collection to what it is, all of whom devote their time and energy in to making vehicles work, we would have nothing.
Of course we are all mad but it is a wonderful form of madness just like my other madness of trying to restore steam in Ecuador but one gets a great sense of pride in having any vehicle, be it bus or steam engine back and running. That was why after restoring KC 129 it broke our hearts to have her stolen and crashed and it had to be someone very close who knew exactly what they were doing. It will take about €5,000 minimum to rebuild her but it will be done and this is a priority.
I hope this gives some insight into our work and when you criticise consider the size of the project we have undertaken. No other bus garage in Ireland has a fleet the size we do but we are proud of it and if we do not get things done this week, there is always next week. The alternative is everything scrapped. In my view our solution is better. I hope people in one hundred years time appreciate our efforts!
glad to hear 184 a definite restoration hopefully followed by d 711
Maybe now these so called 'Armchair Preservationists' will believe we are at least trying to achieve something and convince them to get involved.
With limited manpower, we can only achieve so much. Getting 184 running is fine but it is a long way off from full restoration. If we were to commit all our resources to this one bus, then there is no resources working on anything else or getting covered accomadation built. What we need now is others willing to come in and help out, this way resources can be split between tasks.