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 used 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!
More later! Keep visiting!