Violating a Princess!

SquirrellCook

Full Member
So a new build starts, time will tell how foolish we are being. We have discussed down sizing or even a new build on a chassis bulkhead. In a fit of madness we purchased this old tart, that will be renamed Betty. I hope it doesn't get to many other names. I will post progress as the mood takes me.

Mark
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SquirrellCook

Full Member
Whilst toying with the idea of another project we kind of favoured the look of the Mk1 Plaxton Cheetah. The idea was to buy a clean late model. Looking around they were some distance away. There was no way we wanted to commit if it would be impractical for conversion. We found this thing locally, though it had been repainted. I hate anyone who would do this but we did. We went to look at it with no intention of buying it. I turned down the opportunity to test drive it or even remove it from the workshop to see it in daylight. I didn't want to mess them around to much as we did not want it. After explaining that we did not want it as a coach and did not require a PSV test the price dropped a good amount. So discussions were had as to would we commit £20k - £40k on a better one. Then in a fit of madness we decided the one we looked at. Arrangements were made to recover it and of we set with a pocket full of cash. Pennies were handed over and it was ours. The question was asked "now we've paid you what's really wrong with it?" Even after much bullying he insisted it was good to use as a coach!

Driving it out of the workshop I discovered it had no clutch until the very end of the travel. I could see it had some new pedal parts and realised it had been put together wrong. Easy fix. It started raining on the trip back. Touched the heater controls and the knobs fell to the floor! Wipers worked but not correctly and would not park. It was hard to hold the steering wheel over 40mph Whilst accelerating there was a lot of air noise. Also cold air entering the cab from strange places. OMG it's a heap of shi*.

It was not in a condition to take to it's first MOT, so the weekend was spent stripping the seats out and making a fake motorhome conversion. Shock horror, when it was taken to it's next test it passed it's MOT as a Motorhome with just a few advisories.

So back to the subject of Base Vehicles. A coach has a lot of stuff you will not want. It can take a while to remove and dispose off. Just because it was able to pass an MOT or PSV does not mean it's safe to use! I often wondered with Chassis Bulkhead builds of new Coaches and Busses how they joined the Bulkhead to the new Body. From the few I have seen the answer is poorly! I expect coach built motorhomes are worse. The Engine compartment was not properly sealed from the passenger side. This was Plaxtons work as we have the drawings to prove it. Hardboard and lumps of foam were used. I hate to think what would happen if it had an engine fire. Many "Repairs" had been done by trained coach mechanics. The nightmare now is undoing their work and bringing it back to a safe acceptable condition. Most of the strength in the Plaxton Body appears to have been at the back. Sadly it needed to go. The front end will need reinforcements and missing structure replaced. As well as finding a safe solution to seal the cab.

Please enjoy the pictures ;)

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wildebus

Full Member
Interesting stuff. Will be watching with interest.
I really like the appearance of the old girl (maybe not the paint scheme, although don't even mind that too much, but the general shape is just great and appeals to me for some reason).
 

trevskoda

Full Member
Looks good,biggest problem will be the single glass windows losing heat and condensation,keep us up to date with picys,best of luck with build.
 

Greggbear67

Full Member
Watching with interest. Just doing a bus conversion myself, fancied a Merc but out of my price range so I ended up with a 5.5tonne Iveco instead. I too now have a shed full of bus related detritus! Good luck with the build.👍😛
 
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SquirrellCook

Full Member
Interesting stuff. Will be watching with interest.
I really like the appearance of the old girl (maybe not the paint scheme, although don't even mind that too much, but the general shape is just great and appeals to me for some reason).
The paint has changed to white with a red skirt, I expect we'll keep as we don't like doing body work.
 

SquirrellCook

Full Member
Looks good,biggest problem will be the single glass windows losing heat and condensation,keep us up to date with picys,best of luck with build.
We never had a condensation problem with our current "Murky" Having had a LWB 608D panel van we have experienced condensation! "Betty" as it's now known had a huge ventilation system in the luggage racks, must have been around a 100kg per side. Unfortunately not filtered, horrible!
As the air vents at the front have been altered we like to make some kind of slim/light ducting to demist the windows whilst traveling. The heating will be blown air with an Eberspaecher. Even the 2kw one in Murky works well. Four of the rear windows will be removed and panelled in. The others will be removed and refitted as there are signs of the mastic failing.
 

wildebus

Full Member
I have had 3 camper conversions with single-glazed windows all the way around and never had the "rivers of rain" issue.
Sure, there is some damp on some windows occasionally but it is minimal.
As an example, these are the side windows in the morning after sleeping overnight doing some 'driveway surfing' (and NO drying taken place)
IMG_20190220_093838 by David, on Flickr

Similar with heat - just put the heater on! the inside of a camper is such a small space the fuel cost and time needed to bring up to a warm temp is not a lot at all.
 

wildebus

Full Member
So a new build starts, time will tell how foolish we are being. We have discussed down sizing or even a new build on a chassis bulkhead. In a fit of madness we purchased this old tart, that will be renamed Betty. I hope it doesn't get to many other names. I will post progress as the mood takes me.

MarkView attachment 1396
What GVW is it? and how Long is it?
After reading your post and seeing the coach, I started looking on eBay (dangerous for me!!) for similar vehicles and wondering what I would have to do to be able to drive it?
I think that if seats were removed so it had no more than 16 fitted AND it was no more than 8M long, you can drive it with a D1 license even if over 7.5t (the upto 7.5T limit is for the C1 category and not D1. D1 just specifies maximum seating and maximum length, not maximum weight).

But once converted, it would need to be downplated to 7.5t (I would think the high current GVW would be to cover weight of 27 odd passengers so dropping would not be a big worry).
 

SquirrellCook

Full Member
What GVW is it? and how Long is it?
After reading your post and seeing the coach, I started looking on eBay (dangerous for me!!) for similar vehicles and wondering what I would have to do to be able to drive it?
I think that if seats were removed so it had no more than 16 fitted AND it was no more than 8M long, you can drive it with a D1 license even if over 7.5t (the upto 7.5T limit is for the C1 category and not D1. D1 just specifies maximum seating and maximum length, not maximum weight).

But once converted, it would need to be downplated to 7.5t (I would think the high current GVW would be to cover weight of 27 odd passengers so dropping would not be a big worry).
It's a little over 8 metres and being built on a O814 chassis/bulkhead it would be 7.5 tons as a HGV or PHGV. Were hoping to get to around 5 tons unladen. So ok on an old licence. The main thing is getting rid of the seats and the rails if it has them. I've had a few goes at getting the seating number reduced, but found it too much trouble. I think the licence change prompted the demise of this size vehicle. I think the new midi coaches are now built on 10 tons chassis.
So you can see now the most important thing was to get a motorhome MOT on it. Even though the first conversion was fake to an extent you would not believe, it was enough to meet the criteria. There was no way we would drive it around like that as it would be asking for trouble. I would go into details, but there are questionable parts to doing this type of conversion. After 30 years of doing this I have never been challenged to that extent. The only problem we ever had was the first visit to Switzerland. Customs insisted it was a 28 seater coach, as we have never sorted out the paintwork we still have it taxed as a coach. A short walk to the vehicle resulted in the customs officers fighting their smiles. A weeks pass was given for just a few Swiss Franks. We present this document each time now and have not since been challenged. One thing I did many years ago was to get HGV loads defined. If your motorhome can carry a cubic metre load it needs to be reclassified as HGV. There are many out there that this applies to! At the time I did this a HGV test was easier to pass than a car MOT.
 
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wildebus

Full Member
Ref your last statement on load space, I think - thankfully - you are out of date there :)

I am surprised you cannot just send the V5C back to DVLA with the new seat count required and a photo of the new layout with the required seats (presumably under 17)?
Getting an HGV test on a PSV - or a Motorhome for that matter - will be tricky as there is no HGV plate for them to log against. I've been stuck in that loop myself.
 

SquirrellCook

Full Member
Ref your last statement on load space, I think - thankfully - you are out of date there :)

I am surprised you cannot just send the V5C back to DVLA with the new seat count required and a photo of the new layout with the required seats (presumably under 17)?
Getting an HGV test on a PSV - or a Motorhome for that matter - will be tricky as there is no HGV plate for them to log against. I've been stuck in that loop myself.
That's why "Murky" has a wet room in the back. It was the work around to avoid being classed as a Goods Vehicle. No rules on how big your shower can be. As with most of this stuff, your fine until challenged. With the seating, if you reduce to 16 seats I think the 8 metre restriction kicks in too. Fun and games.
 

SquirrellCook

Full Member
Still digging away to expose "Betty's" horrors. We knew Plaxton had cut away Cab structure with no attempt to marry ends or reinforce edges.
Washing under the front nearside wheel arch resulted in rivers running across the internal floor, so we knew work had to be done in that area.
Finally exposing the steel floor of the Cab we found the proof of the poor workmanship. I can only guess the original build had been sealed with spray on mastic. Subsequent Entrance Step repairs must have removed this.
As most of the problems found in the engine bay have been resolved. Leaking water hoses replaced. Turbo charge pipe leaks solved. Wipers and lights working again. The next big job there was to fit the M12 Eberspaecher.
To mount the Eberspaecher access was required to the other side of the bulkhead panel.
Many glass fibre mouldings, trim and plumping had to be removed to be able to see the other side of the bulkhead.
So it was decided the next area to concentrate on was the wheel arch and floor around it.
What a pleasant surprise to see so much steel, normally years of windscreen leaks destroy the floor.
This area might be an easier fix. sssshhhhh.
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Millie Master

Full Member
I have only just seen your exciting/frightening project and boy oh boy, rather you than me!

I can well recall when I was in my early 20's once going around the Moseley bus coachbuilding works which is approx. 50 years ago where I commented to the bloke who was showing me around about the utterly botched way certain aspects of the build were and his response which was "oh it's all out of sight".

As an aside when it comes to the windows, if you aren't going to keep all of the very extensive glass area, do you have plans to remove the glass and bond on some metal sheeting which of course you will then be able to insulate, and as for any of the remaining windows, I have made up double glazed units in former years where I have bonded a spacing strip of rigid box section plastic onto the existing glass using clear Stixall and then when fully cured and on a dry very low humidity day, I have then bonded on either a matching piece of glass or clear polycarbonate sheet and they have performed just as well as commercially manufactured double glazing.

Good luck with your build

Phil
 

SquirrellCook

Full Member
I can well recall when I was in my early 20's once going around the Moseley bus coachbuilding works which is approx. 50 years ago where I commented to the bloke who was showing me around about the utterly botched way certain aspects of the build were and his response which was "oh it's all out of sight".
You were as good at making friends as me lol.
 
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SquirrellCook

Full Member
I have made up double glazed units in former years where I have bonded a spacing strip of rigid box section plastic onto the existing glass using clear Stixall and then when fully cured and on a dry very low humidity day, I have then bonded on either a matching piece of glass or clear polycarbonate sheet and they have performed just as well as commercially manufactured double glazing.
Yes I intend to bond aluminium panels to the body to replace the windows, the hard bit will be a colour match so they look like windows. I want to try to avoid changing the overall look.

Tempting idea to double glass the existing windows, we have vacuum pumps and argon at work so could probably fill them.
 

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