SPEED AND EFFICIENCY US-BODY OVERHAULING.
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Interchangeability a Factor of Vital Units. A Natural Sequence in
cc. Spare Bodies as Replacement erations. Arrangements for Body gency Work.
TT will no doubt be remembered by many of our _treaders that some months ago we published an article dealing in detail with the overhauling of TillingStevens bus chassis as carried out by Thomas Tilling, ,Ltd., the well-known road transport contractors, who, run a large fleet of buses of this type in London and Its environs. In that article we were not able to deal with the overhauling of the bodies, as this branch of the work is kept quite apart from that concerning the chassis, and is actually conducted at a different works, but it is carried out in the same efficient manner which characterizes the work on the chassis, and it may, therefore, be of interest to give an account of the procedure followed.
The overhaul of a bus is, in some measure, controlled by the regulations issued from the Public Carriage Department of New Scotland Yard; this, by reason of the fact that a vehicle is licensed to operate for 12 months only, and after that period must be resubmitted for inspection, and test by the police and passed by them before authority is given for a further period of running.
Economically to handle the bodies used on a large fleet of buses, the most careful organization is necessary, and interchangeability of parts is one of the prime factors affecting output. Therefore, the bodies on the Tilling's fleet have been designed with that end in view. It has been found necessary to treat the body as one of the units forming a complete motor vehicle, and, as such, it will interchange with any other body on the same type of chassis. How necessary this is will readily be understood when it realized that a chassis overhaul can be done in two and a half days, whereas that of the body cannot, on the average, be completed in a similar period of time, as long as eight days being necessary in some cases, although, where bodies arrive in an unusually good state of preservation, this time eau be reduced.
To overcome the difficulty, spare bodies are utilized as replacement units in the same way as: is done with a "float" of engines, gearboxes and axles in the case of a chassis. In the overhauling of a fleet of some 350 vehicles it has been found necessary to keep a float of .
six bodies, and, in view of the fact that the whole of the fleet must be passed through the works each year, it is necessary to handle approximately eight bodies per week.
The process of repair is developed in a natural sequence of operations which avoids delays, and such repairs are carried out in co-operation with the chassis repair department.
We will assume that a week's work is commencing on the Monday; in accordance with a pre-arranged schedule the bus due for overhaul is delivered complete to the coach works at Old Road, Lee, London, S.E.13, arriving there at 8 a.m. The vehicle is at once placed on a marked-off floor space, such space being allocated to avoid the need for considerable manceuvring, and so arranged that when the body is finished the chassis to which it is allotted can be driven right under it without interfering with any of the other bodies in the shop. This position is retained until the vehicle is completed.
Once in position, the special men immediately set to work to remove the body; the schedule time for this being approximately half an hour. It includes discon
necting the electric lighting main and removing the 4 holding-down bolts, after which the front end of the
body is jacked up, the rear portion fulcrums on a trestle, and the chassis is driven away immediately to the repair Shop. The body is then stripped of all loose :fittings, such as interior trimming, ventilators, polished woodwork, seat aprons, etc., whilst the electrical section removes all the lamps,their fittings and equipment, which go to the chassis works for separate overhaul.
At this stage the body is ready for repair, but it is first examined by a responsible official, who agrees to any special repair necessary other than the general overhaul.
The overhaul consists first of seeing that all loose panels are secure, faulty mouldings renewed, and any other loose fittings properly screwed up. Very special attention is given to the windows, as if these be noisy they are a trouble and expense, and a vehicle may be stopped by the police for nothing but this reason. Therefore, they are thoroughly tested, removed where necessary, and refitted with new rubber packing.
At this stage the smiths are required to make good loose and damaged hand rails, stair rails, steps, etc., the last-named being a particularly heavy item of maintenance, as the brackets, etc., are very prone to be damaged either by accident or when backing into position.
The body repair men usually work in pairs, one taking out the panels, windows, etc., and the other the seats, rails and slats.
All the work enumerated is usually well forward at the end of the second day, but before it is actually completed the first preparations for painting are commenced, beginning at the top of the vehicle by the removal of all forms of advertising matter and thoroughly washing off and cleaning down the body paint.
Painting and Lettering by Transfers.
Everything is now ready for the second section of the painting work, which is somewhat controlled by the general condition of the body, but after preparing all renewed woodwork, etc., it is usually found most economical entirely to reglaze the whole of the body, particular attention being given to the condition of the centre white panel, which bears the name of tile company in gold letters, and is considered in the. light of an advertisement. Occasionally this panel is in a sufficiently good condition to avoid the need for reglazing, In which case it is carefully rubbed down before being varnished. Where repainting of this panel is resorted to, the name is renewed by means of transfers. These are covered with gold-size and allowed to dry for, one hour before being put into position. Another method adopted sometimes is to varnish them over-night and transfer them in the early morning.
Apart from this the body is decorated and lined, and while this work is proceeding a special painting section is busy with the top seats, the re:enamelling of the interior.roof and the revarnishing of the interior Seats and fittings.
Everything is now ready for the replacement of the electrical fittings.
The exterior is also ready for two coats of special quick-drying varnish.
In the interval the trimming has received attention, particularly as regards cleaning. The latter is effected by a vacuum plant made by the British Vacuum Cleaner and Engineering Co., Ltd., Parsons Green Lane, London, S.W.6. A nozzle is run all over each cushion; this sucks out the dirt even from the stuffing, after which the cushions go to the trimmers for any repairs or restuffing that may he required. The roof-seat aprons are thoroughly overhauled, cleaned and replaced.
At this juncture the final inside and outside coats of floor paint are given, also the stair-treads are finishpainted.
Replacing Bodies on Chassis.
The body, now being in a finished condition, is ready to receive the chassis, which, it should be noted, is delivered to the works completely painted with wings. lifeguards, accumulator boxes, tanks, etc., all fitted and equipped, a special staff of men being available at the engineering department for the purpose of spraypainting and equipping the chassis before it is sent to the coach works. A considerable saving of time is effected by this means. This will be readily realized when it is pointed out that, in accordance with the schedule, the chassis are delivered to the coach works not later than 12.30 p.m. each day, and the complete vehicles, equipped and tested, must be ready for the road by 8 o'clock the following morning, so that very little margin for errors is permitted. Particular attention has to be given to the testing and connecting up of the electric lighting plant.
• Having been finished, the vehicle is Presented to the Public Carriage Department of the police for inspection and relicensing, and, to avoid unnecessary delays in this connection, the company maintain on R34 their staff a special licensing superintendent, who has had much experience of the work, and must himself
pass every vehicle before it is submitted. '
Assuming that the police inspection is satisfactory, the car is licensed and is at once available for work.
The foregoing details cover the overhaul of a body in reasonably good. condition, but where broken panels, damaged steps and seats and faulty staircases are found, these need more than overhauling, and to handle this work speedily spare panels are always available, filled up and ready for the final colour ; also spare staircases, steps and slats are kept in stock and are strictly interchangeable."
For the correct operation of the system of overhaul it is found necessary to allocate a finishing date for each body immediately this arrives at the works. This date is agreed upon by those responsible for the inspection, and it is painted on a board placed in a prominent position on the vehicle so that those working on the body are aware of the time available for carrying out the work. Incidentally, the board used for the purpose also carries a number by which the body is known, as, once it leaves the chassis, its identity would otherwise be lost.
Somewhat apart from the actual overhauling, but still a matter of the greatest importance, is that which concerns body maintenance during the year. Repairs of this Class are carried out by a qualified staff of night men stationed at the respective garages, who examine all the vehicles for unusual and emergency body repairs, which are carried out and completed in time for the buses to work next day.
Body Maintenance and Emergency Repairs.
There is also in operation a scheme of shed-day body overhaul, which is worked to an agreed schedule. During these overhauls the body receives a thorough clean down, and any small repairs and adjustments are made as required.
Another important point of body maintenance is the work necessitated by accidents. Such repairs are difficult to cater for, and are controlled to a remarkable extent by the weather, for on foggy and greasy days it is natural that more accidents should occur, and attention to this class of work is given immediately so that the time wasted by the vehicle can be reduced to the minimum.
Route destination-board renewal is a further very important item, and is an operation which needs very close attention. It is an expensive matter and is somewhat complicated by the many varieties of board fitted to a regular service vehicle. Such renewals are handled separately from body overhaul. A standard agreed route schedule is available, a stock of printed bills is kept, and these are pasted on to the boards and varnished. The complete number of boards is supplied direct to the garage's which allocate them to the vehicles on routes.
The life of these paper bills in London is approximately three months. It will be readily seen that renewals are a complicated anti an expensive proposition, and need very careful and systematic handling to avoid errors.
The main portion of these details was demonstrated to us in sequence at the Lee works of the company, but in addition to this work the very extensive fleet of commercial vehicles used for private hire necessitates the constant overhauling of the bodywork, and this is handled in a manner cjosely resembling that described for the buses, but at the works of the company at Wren Road, Camberwell. There is also a wellequipped factory at Lewisham, which is retained solely,. for any class of coachbuilding, and new bodies are turned out from these works at the rate of approximately six per week.
In addition, there is a well-equipped coach factory at Hove, where the body maintenance of the fleet of Brighton buses is carried out, and both new and repair'coachwork are handled at this depot with the same standardized methods.