28. January 2009

A special transport

Skjoldenæsholm Tram Museum has around 35 museum buses, of which around 14 are registered. In terms of age the buses stem from the period 1913 to 1993, and it is becoming more and more difficult to get hold of spare parts for these elderly vehicles.

Recently, the museum has acquired a Leyland bus built by DAB in Silkeborg in 1977, which ran as Randers City Bus no.103. It was then bought by the pop-rock dance band Counters, and after that by a private individual in Silkeborg. The bus body is in rather poor condition, but the motor was replaced in the middle of the 1990s and runs very well. Otherwise, most of the bus is only fit for scrapping.

The bus was advertised as being in driveable condition, so the museum staff decided it would be most appropriate to drive the bus to the Tramway Museum in Central Sealand to remove the motor, gearbox and any spare parts that could be used in our collection of old Leyland buses.

A team of five museum volunteers thus left their normal work and set off on 23 January 2009 to the village of Them near Silkeborg to collect the Leyland "bus wreck". The staff members took a large amount of tools, oil and lubrication, large bus batteries, powerful and extra long jump leads, lots of radiator water, various strips, attachment gear and a great deal more in the museum's low-floor bus Fjordbus 7433, and set off for the ferry terminal in Kalundborg to catch the 3.00 pm Mols Linien ferry.

They arrived in Aarhus on time, despite strong winds and high seas, and headed for Them, where they were to get the Leyland bus ready for the journey. The weather, however, had become very dark and was practically a snowstorm! On arrival it quickly become clear that there were problems with the bus's generator and thereby with its lights, so we had to drive with two large bus batteries (1,000 A) in the central aisle, and hefty jump leads going through the driver's window and down into the bus's battery case. In this way we had power, but for how long? The bus also "drank" radiator water fast and lost pneumatic power quickly due to leaky pipes, etc. The silencer had partly fallen off, so we took it off completely and placed it in the bus, which meant that the exhaust pumped out freely for the rest of the journey. By 8:50 pm we had tested the lights and brakes and fitted a number plate. We then left Them to catch the day's last ferry sailing from Aarhus. It must have sounded pretty 'good' between the houses as we drove through urban areas with a more than 10-litre motor running on full blast with no silencer!

On the way we had to keep filling the radiator with water - about a litre per kilometre! The weather was now extremely bad, with snow, sleet, rain and constant, freezing cold wind. We had to save as much power as possible, because the gears needed power while running, as did the windscreen wipers and defroster. We kept the lights as low as possible in front and behind, as we really had to save power.

Both buses reached Aarhus ferry terminal in time, but it was a cold trip for the driver and helper in the Leyland bus! The ferry left at 11.00 pm, and we were able to enjoy a big hamburger steak, some warmth and a little rest in the drivers' section before starting the next stage of the journey.

We arrived on time in Kalundborg. By saving as much electricity as possible on the way to Aarhus, the bus could easily start on Maren Mols, and could relatively quickly build up brake pressure, without which we would not be going anywhere. The plan succeeded, and we reached Skjoldenæsholm at 3:30 am.

By taking the Mols Linien ferry, we saved around 300 km for our "workshop bus" and 125 km for the "bus wreck", which we did not dare to drive across the Great Belt bridge, as we couldn't risk a breakdown in the middle of the bridge! It was dark and cold on the country roads between Them and Aarhus - just as well it wasn't too far to the ferry!

Our thanks to Mols Linien for their great help during this transport!