AEC Regal IV - UMP 227

UMP227 is a 1949 AEC Regal IV prototype with PRV B40F body that spent some time with London Transport and is now preserved at the London Bus Museum at Cobham (see also Vehicle Interiors).  It is undergoing restoration of its bodywork/interior by a small group of volunteers under the joint project leadership of Gerry Job and Chris Wheble.  Peter Smith is kindly reporting on progress and this can be found below.

Here is UMP277 "just built" pictured outside PRV's offices in Abbey Road.  This monochrome hand-coloured photograph was probably to be used for a brochure (Image courtesy Ian McLellan-Smith).

The original interior.

November 2009: Much of the external panel-work had already been restored when the vehicle came to Cobham and the team has been concentrating on the interior. Re-wiring has been carried out at ceiling level for the saloon lights, bell pushes and the destination blind boxes. The ceiling is now completely repaired and repainted, with ventilation grilles fitted; the luggage racks are complete, with "Rexine'd"™ lining panels beneath. The saloon lighting units are ready for installation, but the glass “jelly-mould” style shades are missing, so any information regarding exact design (or even better, an actual shade) would be welcome. All the droplight window units (LT style rack and pinion operated) have been serviced and are being re-fitted. Below the windows, the side panels (which are structural) have been "Rexine'd"™ brown in-situ and the seat rails have been painted.

Some further remedial work is needed externally at the front-nearside corner to correct deformation to the front panelling due a collision which occurred before the vehicle was purchased for restoration and details of the entrance steps are still being sought, before the folding doors can be fitted. The main areas of the body interior still to be tackled are the floor, the passenger seating and the driver’s compartment and bulkhead. [Update from Peter Smith]

November 2010:  During the past year considerable progress has been made on the interior bodywork restoration having completed everything above seat-rail level to final finishes.  All the droplight window units have been re-fitted, the window rubbers restored and the "Rexine'd"™ window “shrouds” and their associated polished jointing strips or “bracelets” have been fitted. The driver’s compartment floor and the controls are being restored and re-fitted; the driver’s seat mounting is ready for installation and the seat unit upholstery has been expertly restored by a museum member. Work on re-building the various cable ducts and fairways around the cab area is nearing completion, which will permit further progress on the electrical wiring. The saloon lighting fittings have had new diffusers made, as the possibility of finding any of the exact style to fit the bases seemed unlikely. Working from an interior photograph showing the fittings in close-up and possessing the original bases, a wooden pattern of the diffuser was made and a new set has been manufactured from vacuum formed polycarbonate; the saloon lights are now installed and working.

Remedial panel-beating work has been completed on the exterior front-nearside corner; the whole of the front panel is being prepared and primed and the headlamp units installed prior to re-fitting of the horizontal scalloped beadings between the headlamps, which give the vehicle its “smile”.  Externally, all the guttering has been re-fitted and most of the “decorative” beadings around the waist rail and the cant rail have been riveted back on. The characteristic “lean back” windscreen framework is almost ready for installation, together with the front window glazing. The rear emergency door, which was badly corroded, is currently being re-clad in readiness for fitting. Construction of the entrance steps is nearing completion (there are no drawings and the steps were largely non-existent when the coach arrived at Cobham). The two-leaf folding doors have been fitted with new sealing rubbers, generally overhauled and re-painted on the inside and are awaiting the completion of the step construction and the testing of the pneumatic door engine before being finally installed. [Update from Peter Smith]

UMP227 pictured in March 2011 (by Peter Smith); there remains plenty of work to do but restoration is suspended until the museum's move to Brooklands is complete.

Peter Smith comments further: As you may know, Cobham Bus Museum is planning to move during the summer of 2011 to new purpose-built premises within the Brooklands Museum site. This means that restoration work on UMP 227 is likely to be suspended for several months whilst preparations are made for moving the museum's enormous stock of items, accumulated over many years.  I will provide images, but at present the vehicle is not in a suitable location to take external pictures and internally it is still quite full of restored parts for future installation. I hope to be able to provide some photos in spring 2011 as we will have to clear up for the move.

[Latest update from Peter Smith - March 2013]
Since my last report in March 2011, we moved the vehicle to our new premises within the Brooklands Museum near Weybridge resuming our restoration work in November 2011. 

Externally, new wheel arches have been fitted to replace the existing (most of which were corroded beyond repair), and the wheels have been repainted and fitted with new tyres.  The rear tailboard door has been remade and fitted so that the spare wheel is now correctly stored in its proper place under the floor at the rear.  Major repairs to the rear emergency door are now complete and it is hung ready for painting. The passenger doors have been overhauled and commissioned using compressed air controlled by push button switches in the cab area. The two semaphore trafficators have been overhauled and refitted.  Correct style Lucas headlamps and housings have been assembled and will be fitted after external painting. The glazing is complete and the vehicle is being prepared for coach painting that is scheduled for later this month.

Internally, the saloon floor has been repaired and resurfaced with new timber.  All the access traps have been repaired or re-made and fitted with new budget locks and pull-ring handles.  The whole saloon floor has been covered in brown heavy duty linoleum (similar to the original), including the curved coving up to the seat rail (see pictures below). The driving cab area partitioning is now complete, together with handrails and front modesty screen forward of the nearside seats (see picture below). The vehicle came to us with only five original seat frames as most were probably removed when UMP 227 was used by AEC as an experimental test vehicle. Seat frames of the correct style were obtained and have been restored and repainted.  New chrome plated handrails, modified to have prototypical spheres attached as grab handles for passengers, have been fitted.  Also, new squabs and cushions have been made and upholstered in the museum workshop and seat fitting is currently in hand (all now fitted - 28th March 2013).

We plan to have UMP 227 ready for operation at the bus museum’s public event in late June 2013.

[Latest update from Peter Smith - September 2013]
At last I can announce that the restoration of UMP227 is complete and the vehicle will be officially "launched" at the London Bus Museum "Transportfest 2013" event on 20th October at our Brooklands museum site.

Since my last report to you, the necessary electrical and mechanical work has been completed and the vehicle has been satisfactorily road tested. Many time-consuming jobs have been completed over the last few months, including fitting new tyres, making and installing new "lifeguard rails" and mud flaps. The external coach painting is complete and the appropriate lettering has been applied both inside and out. The bus now has destination blinds for the routes it worked when on loan to London Transport.  It is anticipated that UMP227 will be moved into the Cobham Hall display area at the LBM later in October, after the official launch ceremony. 

Unfortunately publication of any pictures is embargoed until after the launch event in October, so I can't supply any of the completed vehicle yet. 
(We look forward to images appearing here as soon as possible after the launch. Ed.)

[Latest update from Peter Smith - 21st October  2013]

And here they are as promised, Peter has forwarded three pictures of UMP227 taken by him at the official press launch on Tuesday 15th October 2013. You'll note the offside view happens to show the trafficator operating (as if proof that it works was needed, I wouldn't have doubted it. Ed.). The vehicle was unveiled to the public yesterday at Brooklands museum, but the poor weather precluded Peter from obtaining any better pictures.

What a pleasure it is to see this rare over-sixty-year-old survivor brought back to its original condition.  Congratulations to all involved in this lengthy and arduous renovation project. Ed.

(In 1915, "Rexine" was a trademark belonging to the British Leather-cloth Manufacturing Co Ltd (later Rexine Ltd) of Hyde, near Manchester (now a division of ICI).  A strong, cellulose nitrate (or polyvinylchloride) coated cloth, usually in the form of imitation leather, was used widely in upholstery and other hard-wearing applications.  It remains available today! Ed.)

Can anyone help with more details of the interior?  Are there any photographs of the original?  If you can help, please contact the restoration team at the London Bus Museum

Stop by again for further updates!