Leyland Atlantean AN68D/1R
Northern Counties H43/32F body
Leyland O.680 11.1l 154bhp diesel engine
Leyland 5 speed automatic gearbox
GMT No 8763
GM Buses / First Manchester No 4763
Registered 21 June 1984
(Certificate Of Initial Fitness 19 June 1984)
(Date In Service 21 June 1984)
Withdrawn 07 January 2002
Current status: on the road
8763 was one of the last of a long line of Standard Atlanteans delivered to Greater Manchester PTE. The body design originated with SELNEC PTE in 1970 and Wigan coach builder Northern Counties. They became the PTE’s biggest supplier of bus bodies and were eventually bought by GMPTE in 1983. By the time 8763 was delivered over 1,200 Standard Atlanteans had been built. The very last vehicle of the batch numerically, 8765, is also preserved.
Delivered in Greater Manchester Transport’s orange, brown and white livery, 8763 has the later “light alloy” Standard body, was registered on 24 June 1984 and delivered directly to Wigan depot from Northern Counties just a couple of miles up the road. Buses allocated to other GMT depots were always delivered to Charles Street, Stockport – Wigan was the exception. On deregulation 8763 lost the Greater Manchester Transport “M-blem” logo and gained the GM Buses identity; retaining the original livery but with the addition of a stripe between the wheel arches and the local identity carried above the door, which is the livery represented today. The bus was later allocated to the South Wigan low cost depot-within-a-depot at Wigan.
During the 1990s ’63 lost the as-delivered “rationalised” 680 engine in favour of an older, and many say more durable, version of the 680. All buses in the 8xxx number series were renumbered in to the 4xxx series, and 8763 became 4763. Refurbishment was also carried out in the mid 1990s and a further reconditioned (non-rationalised) engine was fitted along with the replacement of worn seats with the newer standard “diced carrot” moquette. An accident at Wigan in 1999 saw ’63 withdrawn by Wigan depot. However a straight swap with a Bolton depot machine saw repairs carried out by Bolton depot which returned her to service and ’63 became a Bolton machine until withdrawal.
The end for the surviving Atlanteans with successor companies to GMT came on Monday 07 January 2002 when 4645, 4721, 4740 and 4763 worked from Bolton depot for the last time. ’63 had the honour of being the final Atlantean in service that morning. This seems fitting as ’63 was the last Atlantean delivered to Wigan and also, it is said, the last one to leave Northern Counties back in 1984 despite not being the last numerically.
’63 entered preservation following a short time stored with other redundant Atlanteans at the back of Bolton’s now demolished Crook Street depot. Restoration by the Trust took a long time due to competing priorities including establishing the Wigan Transport Trust itself. Restoration presented a number of challenges, not least due to the many knocks suffered over the years which included being reversed into a shed door (some damage still being evident on the offside bumper) and the accident which lead to her withdrawal; being turned left too early and being wrapped around the shed door as she left the bus wash. This made some repanelling work difficult and resulted in a lot of filler being used!
Mechanically a lot of work which was beyond our capability was required. This was completed by Phoenix Motors in Wigan. The engine was removed for repairs to the sub frame. The flywheel seal needed to be replaced and the engine required some work, including new head gaskets. Over subsequent years the power steering system, compressor, front brakes and radiator have all received attention or been replaced with reconditioned parts. The automatic control of the gearbox has been replaced, making her a semi-automatic. This was done because of reliability issues with the gearbox brain whilst in store prior to restoration. However, in hindsight, these faults were probably the result of persistent jump starting before a decent set of batteries were fitted.
Work planned for the future includes replacing rusted floor framing around the back of the lower deck and the restoration of the lower deck saloon heating.