Restoration of an AEC 1954 Regent vintage bus

Custom Brakes and Hydraulics are proud to have been involved in the restoration of an AEC 1954 Regent vintage bus. As you can well believe finding a full set of brake shoes for a 1954 bus can be somewhat challenging. Luckily for the Transport Museum Custom Brakes and Hydraulics were on hand to meet the challenge.

From their custom workshop based in Sheffield, CBH offer a full in-house Brake, Clutch, Bonding and Riveting, Relining and machining service.

The AEC Regent is a post war now vintage bus originally designed with the help of London Transport, the prototype started service in 1937. The later ‘RT’ body did not appear until 1939, with approximately 150 entering service before the war stopped production. 7000 family buses were built, the last leaving the production line in 1954. 2000 of the 7000 manufactured boasted the Leyland engine.

With Air Brakes and air operation for the pre-select gearbox this bus could be described in the day as ‘futuristic’ with its 9.6 litre engine developing a staggering 115 bhp at 1800 rpm.

In 1959 modifications or upgrades were made available to the RT classic – the fitting of saloon heaters and flashing direction indicators. The ‘Green Line’ RT’s were the first in the fleet to receive saloon heaters.

In common with almost all London RTs, the body and chassis were separated at overhauls at Aldenham Works, and the body currently carried was not the original one for this chassis – bodies and chassis took slightly different amounts of time to overhaul. It is also probable that this chassis has not always carried its current registration number and fleet number. London Transport had special permission from the (then) Ministry of Transport to swap vehicle identities to avoid paying part months’ road tax on vehicles that were off the road for overhauls – the theory was that the ‘old’ and ‘new’ versions of ‘the same vehicle’ should not be on the road at the same time (and this only went wrong a very few times!). A number of bus identities were considered to be a permanent ‘works float’.

In 1965, RT 4494 became a ‘bus’ rather than a coach, new RMC and RCL class Routemaster coaches (which, unlike the ‘coach’ RTs were different from the ‘bus’ version, with more comfortable seating, luggage racks and platform doors) replacing RTs on route 723 – RT 4494’s conversion consisted of painting the waistband cream and allowing advertisements to be carried.

Passing in 1970 to London Country Bus Services, who took over the country bus network from London Transport, RT 4494’s last service days were at Leatherhead Garage (Surrey) prior to withdrawal in 1972.

RT buses (some dating from 1948) served London Country until 1978 and London Transport (central buses) until 1979 – not bad for a vehicle designed 40 years earlier! Many London RTs saw service outside the Capital, as demand for buses in London fell in the late 1950s leading to early withdrawal and sales. A few reached Lincolnshire, operators included Hornsby’s at Scunthorpe, and Barton in the south west of the County.

Scott Hepworth the Managing Director of Custom Brakes and Hydraulics commented ‘That it has been a great project to be involved with restoring part of our British Heritage and always a pleasure to work with The South Yorkshire Transport Museum, a passionate team of skilled engineers.’

For more information on Custom Brakes and Hydraulics Brake Relining service, call 0114 276 7971 or email.


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