Ailsa 388 is seen on St Sepulchure Gate, Doncaster, on its way back from the Sandtoft Gathering in July 1996
In the picture, the bus looks to be well advanced with its restoration, almost finished , but it was only painted in cream and brown undercoat. Over the previous 'closed season' (1995-1996), the bus had had some word carried out on the near side lower deck frames, and the centre doors had been reinstated. It was painted in the undercoat shown in the picture, as the year previous, it ran around in pink primer!
Ailsa 388 is owned by 'The 388 GRoup'. It was purchased from Black Prince Coaches, Morley, Leeds, in October 1994. The 388 Group was formed by in 1991, by enthusiasts that were based at the Sheffield Bus Museum, while some of the younger members were studying at Huddersfield University. Group members took the sales stall on a regular basis to vehicle rallies and events to raise funds to purchase 388.
It is often said that the easy part is buying the bus. A vehicle of its type and body combination was of course going to throw up its fair share of issues. It did not disappoint!
The restoration of 388 started immediately. Some bodywork was carried out over the first Winter period (1994.95), with some re-framing being done on the off side lower deck. To be fair, when the panels were removed there, there was not a lot left of the steel frame behind.
The bus also had a lot of mechanical issues - one being very poor performance on hills. This was addressed initially by fitting a reconditioned turbo, which did improve matters, but it was obvious that the engine was well past its best, so the the 388 Group decided to bite the bullet at have the engine re-built. New pistons and liners were fitted, with most of the work being completed by Group members. This greatly improved the performance of the bus.
For the 1995 rally season, the bus was rallied extensively, attending various events to continue to raise funds for the restoration. The bus was painted in pink primer, which I know was not everyone's preferred choice!
During the closed Winter of 1995/1996, more restoration work was carried out, which included the reinstatement of the centre doors. These had been removed when the vehicle was in service at Hampshire Bus. Replacement doors and associated parts were obtained from a Dublin Atlantean (Dublin had Vanhool McArdle bodies, but to a more angular design). At the same time some of the steel box section was replaced on the near side lower deck, together with some select repanelling.
If you travelled on 388 in it's last days at Black Prince, or during the 1995 season, you may recall that it, even for an Ailsa had to be one of the noisiest rear axles ever heard. In September 1995 the axle was stripped down to reveal the problem - drop set gears on the near side that had huge chunks missing from them. Fortunately the 388 Group were to acquire a spare axle from NAK414R, so this was fitted, providing a swift solution to the problem.
For the 1996 season the bus was rallied in cream and brown undercoat, as seen in the above picture. From a distance the bus looked good, and perhaps almost finished, but this of course was not the end of the restoration story. The bus was taken off the road at the end of October 1996, for the extensive restoration that was needed - at this time though, we did not know how long the restoration would take!............
The 388 Group members had the use of another Ailsa, in the shape of PSJ825R for the 1997 rally season onwards, which enabled 388 to stay off the road for work to continue. Below is a small selection of photos of the extensive work carried out on 388 to date.
Click on this link to see more restoration photos - https://flic.kr/s/aHsmMa54D9
If you wish to make a donation to help the restoration of 388, click on the 'Donate' button below. This will take you to the South Yorkshire Transport Trust's donation page - please mark your donation 'for LWB388P' in the message part. Thanks in advance.
More later! Keep visiting!