540 OTO 540M
Chassis: - Leyland Atlantean AN68/1R 7302378
Body: - East Lancs 2501 H47/30D
Delivered in December 1973 to Nottingham City Transport as part of a batch of 46 similar vehicles, 540 is fitted with an East Lancs Double Deck body, seating a total of 77 passengers, 47 upstairs and 30 in the lower deck. It is the very first Leyland Atlantean for Nottingham City Transport. %40 and a few others from the batch were the last vehicles in the fleet to carry the old style gold company fleet names.
It is built to what is known as the “Nottingham Standard” design, which gave Nottingham’s buses a distinctive look for many years. Features included an angled destination making it easier to see, higher internal ceilings, curved upper deck front windows and windscreens, a large front bumper to reduce accident damage, and a standardisation of parts between different vehicles for ease of maintenance.
540 entered service on December 10th 1973 from Trent Bridge garage, where it spent most of its working life predominantly on West Bridgford routes.
The vehicle was repainted into the dual green band livery in 1979 retaining gold fleet numbers and then again in 1982 and 1986.
It was withdrawn from service in May 1998 and stored in Trent Buses depot on Manvers Street, followed by a period at Bulwell depot. On September 1st 1998 it was relicensed and put back into service at Trent Bridge Depot prior to its final withdrawal and acquisition by Confidence of Oadby in February 1989. becoming fleet number 20. For nearly twelve years the vehicle was to operate on school contracts and private hire work around the Leicester area.
It was purchased by the then Notts and Derby Heritage Transport Group, the forerunner of NHVC in December 2000. The bus was stored until May 2004 when restoration to original condition was started, the bus being completely repanelled and repainted into original Nottingham City Transport livery in August 2005.
Relevance to Collection
540 was the first of the AN68 type Atlanteans acquired by Nottingham City Transport. The AN68 was an updated version of the Atlantean, which dealt with a number of issues from earlier versions. Nottingham bought over 230 of these chassis until it went out of production in 1984.
Restoration work commences
Following the completion of our extensive conversion of the sales / display unit 728 GAU 728L it was decided to commence working on 540 in May 2004. Firstly all the outer panels and glazing sheets were removed. This unearthed a mine field of broken framework structures and corroded internal panels.
Thus weeks of work were undertaken, replacing all corroded parts with new. At times we questioned the sanity of the project as`more bad than good existed !
Framework refurbished and replaced ready for re-paneling
As work progressed it became apparent that the majority of the panels needed replacing once the framework had been treated. some 50% of the actual lower saloon framing was also replaced.
Once the front end and both sides had been panelled the decision was made to self etch and then undercoat all the window pans allowing new window rubber to be fitted.
All road wheels were then removed, brake actuators replaced and wheelarches reskinned and painted. Mud flaps were then fitted to the rear arches.
In line with re-paneling the rear end we decided (after hours of sanding down !) to replace the bonnet with one from our spare stock. The corner units were removed and refitted with their original style frankman lights as shown in the image.
Then it was time for a new exhaust system, two replacement air tanks, a refurbished starter motor and new batteries !
Nearing completion & undercoated.
By the time mid August arrived 540 was nearing completion and ready to be prepared for MOT. New glazing rubber had been fitted throughout the front upper deck framework completely rebuilt and the front intermediate entrance step replaced.
On the 8th of September it left the shed and headed for test - sailing through with no problems at all.
The wheels were also cleaned off using a needle gun and treated with a rust corrosion inhibitor.
How long can it take to paint a bus !
The reality is you wait until August then despite endless false promises the bus still isnt done but instead has gained a lovely mist effect over its entire bodywork. After various attempts at speeding them up and the issuing of a date for removal of the bus 'painted or not' we finally received a phone call to say it was in the paint booth.
Much to our suprise the finished job was superb !
Interior refurbishment begins
Seat cushions and backs were removed ready for despatch to the upholsterers and all areas of the interior repainted where required.
Following the success of winning best of class at two rallies in early 2007 we decided to finish the vehicle off externally by having the original style fleetnames reproduced in Vinyl and applied to the vehicle.