Wigan Corporation No 4

Leyland Titan PD2/20
Massey Bros H32/26RD body
Leyland O.600 9.8l 125bhp diesel engine
Leyland 4 speed manual gearbox
Delivered October 1957
Wigan Corporation No 4
Withdrawn Wigan Corporation December 1970
Stevenson’s October 1970 to July 1978
Stevenson’s Uttoxeter No 1

Delivered in October 1957, No 4 is a Leyland PD2/20 with Massey bodywork. She followed the styling of the batch of Titans delivered the year before in having the radiator behind a full width bonnet, otherwise known as a ‘tin front’. The body was by Massey and is of the highbridge style. Wigan had only started buying highbridge vehicles at the start of the 1950s as, by that time, many collieries had shut and the railway lines with low bridges that served them had been removed.

No 4 was fitted with electrically operated rear platform doors with the door control being sited in the driver’s cab. Platform doors on double deck buses were a relatively new toy for Wigan crews as until that time the service double deckers had been simple open platform designs. In fact, double deck buses with open platforms were still being delivered new to the Corporation a year after No 4 entered service.

In service
The luxury of platform doors and saloon heaters were specified for use on the 320 service to Liverpool, which was operated jointly with Ribble and St Helens Corporation. For a time LUT were also involved. The ‘luxury’ PDs were also used on Wigan Corporation’s own 15 service to Bolton.

As well as the forays to Liverpool and Bolton the ‘luxury’ PDs were also used on stage carriage services within Wigan. One consequence of the platform doors though, particularly away from the 15 and 320 routes, was the tendency for drivers to forget they had to open them at stops. This often resulted in the driver being politely reminded to open the doors by the captive passengers in the saloon!

Wigan No 4 was withdrawn in September 1970 and sold on to a dealer, Telfilms Transport in Preston. She was sold on in October of that year to J Stevenson of Uttoxeter, where she was painted in yellow and black and became their No 16. In May 1978 she was renumbered to 16A. This was short lived though as she was withdrawn in July of that year.

Into preservation
In March 1979 No 4 passed into preservation, being bought by a member of the North Western Omnibus Preservation Society. In the early 1980s she was brought back to Wigan following another change of ownership and stored for a time at Phoenix motors. No 4 then passed to another Wigan preservationist and was housed in various locations around the borough.During this time a lot of work had been done on No 4. The chassis had been blasted and painted. Work was done to parts of the body. A whole set of exterior panels had been made and work had been done on the seat frames. However 4 has never been on the road whilst in preservation

Into the Wigan Transport Trust
Offered for sale again and appearing to be a complete restoration job, albeit in kit form, members of the WTT acquired No 4 in 2003. Preliminary work on No 4 began at the end of 2004. A start was made on assessing what parts of 4 came with her and what was required. A full set of seat frames was stacked up on the top deck. Most of the missing windows were safely stored beneath the stairs. Other items such as the platform doors, their control panel and motor, the radiator, the tin front and blind gear were also discovered inside.

Early work identified was replacement of the wood which the outer panels are screwed to and work around the back platform. The interior upper deck ceiling panels had been replaced in the mid 1990s but a prolonged spell of outside storage had undone this good work. In addition to this the floor was found to be rotten in places and had to be replaced.

No 4 has always been a runner and the engine is in good condition, however the clutch has been replaced since arriving at the WTT. The radiator has also been refurbished.

Work on No 4 was halted for a couple of years as efforts were directed towards some “quick win” restorations which, as usual, proved to be anything but. Now that these other projects and issues have reached their conclusion work will now be restarted on the restoration. The first step is the saloon wiring, including the door motor. Unfortunately as a result of the issues alluded to here we no longer seem to have a door motor to attach the wiring to.

Restoration updates – you wait thirty years for a bus…December 2010
The autumn has seen a stock take of the bits from No 4 dotted around various parts of the shed. Without the benefit of wiring diagrams or much in the way of experience, the remains of the wiring were inspected and traced back to their respective switches and fuses. With the benefit of advice from other preservationists, reference to Wigan No 35 – another Massey product which is just five years younger, some internet research and a few educated guesses the saloon electrical system has been mapped out and rebuilt. The door wiring has been installed but not connected and will be the last part of the system to be connected. The biggest headache was the remains of the wiring loom and the confusing array of wires in the bundle. However when you realise how the cleaner’s switch works and that most of the wiring is related to the bell pushes and strips it all starts to look very simple. Eventually. After a lot of swearing.

During this time some work was also done on tracing the chassis electrics. We thought a start had been made on the brake lights but closer examination revealed that the lighting units are incorrect, the offside attached one is installed upside down and nothing has been connected back to the cab. And despite the exterior body panel being fitted a hole hasn’t even been cut to accept the unit for the nearside.

On a more positive note the last few days of the year saw a full test of the lower deck lights, including the cleaner’s light switch (which illuminates two lamps on each deck without the need to switch them on from the cab.) This was also the first time any batteries had been connected for about five years. No 4 has been converted from using four six volt batteries to two twelves. The conversion meant there was a need to change the colour coding on the battery cables but this was never done and explains why a pair of 12v batteries exploded on connection a few years ago. Several hundred amps instantaneously boiling up two large plastic containers of sulphuric acid results in a very loud bang. This time a lot of tracing and retracing of connections was done and just to make sure an old set of batteries was connected first, on the dubious assumption that weak batteries won’t go off with as much of a bang. And that the new ones we had lined up wouldn’t be instantly destroyed in a one hundred-odd quid blue flash. Fortunately it worked and the first sign of life was a very weak glow from the cab light, followed by a similar result from the saloon lights. The purpose of this was to test the connections rather than light up West Lancashire and you’d be amazed at how enjoyable a barely perceptible glimmer from a string of 20w bulbs is. A full power test will take place next month.

Overall, progress is slow at them moment but we are still picking up from where other restorers had left off. With the lighting wiring being proved most of the interior panels the wires sit behind can be refitted and the interior built back up.

January to March 2011
The promising start faltered in January with the arrival of the snow, a couple of early bus rallies and other commitments. With the fan belts having been replaced a few months earlier a start was made on the radiator, which had been reconditioned a few years ago. However, a quick look at the plumbing showed that the cab and saloon heater would have to be plumbed back in if the radiator was to be filled and the engine started. However half the fittings for the cab pipework (a obsolete type called a “Springo,” consisting of a spring and an O ring, surprisingly) were missing and a local plumber offered to make up some new pipes which we could then attach using the future proofed method of hoses and jubilee clips.

With the pipes away for attention efforts turned to the exterior lights. The indicators were figured out after a glaringly obvious testing problem was sussed out which allowed the wires to be traced back to the electrical board properly (for information, indicator wires retro-fitted to a Massey bodied PD2/20 are yellow with a red line, assuming your bus was wired by the same bloke that did ours, and possibly only on the same afternoon.) However, once again the job has stopped… The need has arisen to prepare for the summer rally season and there has been a need to shunt virtually all the other vehicles in the shed. This is to accommodate one new arrival, put a couple of vehicles in more suitable places for eventual restoration, make access to the storage buses easier so that the shed can be kept tidy and one final refinement which makes parking the running vehicles a little easier after a day out on the road. In theory. Unfortunately No 4 is now surrounded by items awaiting disposal or removal.

April to July 2011
More electrical progress. Following the shunt two really confusing readings from the multimeter were resolved. One was a short caused by some strange insulating material which seemed to contain tin foil in the material’s “sandwich” which had subsequently disintegrated and connected the fog light switch to the body of the bus. Another was a faulty pull-switch for the side and tail lights which didn’t connect when pulled. This latter one has been replaced with a white plastic rocker switch from the dash panel of a Manchester Standard Atlantean. This is only a temporary measure, the repercussions of showing the bus off at a rally like this do not bear thinking about.

However, the flasher unit for the indicators is a modern type (at least we think it’s a flasher unit, it’s German and says “warnblinkgeber,” which could mean anything…) and the layout of the wires leading to where it should be suggest that something similar may have been fitted before. In any case the authentic CAV flasher unit and the available wires do not seem to agree with each other, so it must have been the modern-ish unit that was fitted. The wiring doesn’t support anything else. If you are affected by this or any of the other non authentic equipment issues in this restoration there’s probably a helpline.

One final fault has been traced in the last week and that is to do with the brake light switch. It is mounted on the chassis by the brake servo and connected to the brake rod by a spring. It can be activated for test purposes by crawling underneath and pulling at the spring end by hand but not, it seems, by brake rod and spring. It has probably suffered from the chassis sand blasting and subsequent spray painting and may need replacing. But it is a major milestone in the restoration as it is the final circuit to be traced after a blinding flash of inspiration walking home from the pub (and half remembered the day after) settled the wiring of the destination equipment lighting circuit.

And after that…
Unfortunately there has been little progress since summer 2011. We are currently looking for the door motor and a number of other electrical items. Once the electrics are proven the work on repanelling the interior can start. Other jobs around the shed have taken up most of our time, not least keeping the runners running. And then playing with them. For which read rallying them, obviously. Further updated will be shown on the blog.