Arranging the second repaint of GCT 113, where its incorrect orange paint would be rubbed down to create a 'key' onto which two new coats of the correct shade of orange paint could be applied, was considerably more difficult than when I originally booked the bus in before Christmas in an arrangement brokered by Howard my paint rep contact. The paint shop in Immingham was quieter over Christmas than now, and of course this second paint job would be a 'freebie' as a favour to the paint rep over the orange paint mix up.
However, after becoming that awkward phone caller, contacting the company weekly to ask for a date, one was finally given for mid-March when I would drive GCT 113 a second time to Immingham. However, a paint shop south of Grimsby, in Horncastle, and with whom my paint rep does business, said they would undertake my 'scotch and repaint', too. More on this later.
As you may recall, GCT 113 was accidentally painted into the prototype orange and white livery that GCT was initially going to use. Named 'Grimsby Cleethorpes Transport Orange 1987', the towns' councillors decided to go for a bespoke orange in the end that matched the shade used on their printed material and fleet name stickers. This would become known as 'Grimsby Cleethorpes Transport Orange 1990', despite it being applied to the fleet from 1987. Regrettably, Howard, my paint rep, got the two mixed up and I didn't spot what was about to happen as in Howard I'd befriended the actual paint rep who supplied GCT with Mason's paints in the 1987s. He was quite literally the perfect contact.
On Monday 9 April I drove GCT 113 south of Grimsby to Horncastle. I'd chosen to use this paint shop over the Immingham based one for reasons that will become clear. The previous month saw the bus head for its MOT and with the cold weather that befell the UK at the time, the bus was quite dirty, with dried-on mid, dirt and road salt. I know I didn't have to but before I left for Horncastle I gave the bus a wash down in order to record what the bus looked like before this prototype livery was lost forever.
Upon arrival at the Horncastle paint shop I noted down the mileage of GCT 113 using the odometer on the dashboard. A second odometer has been retrospectively fitted to the inside of the rear offside wheel, to aid the Stagecoach tyre fitter with the life expectancy of the bus's tyres. The two odometers show completely different values, but they measure mileage identically. I always note both readings before I drive GCT 113 anywhere and again when I get back and both record the same distance covered.
While I don't want to get unduly negative or unnecessarily controversial on what is essentially a feel-good preservation website, as a statement of fact I feel I need to report that while GCT 113 was at the paint shop in Immingham during December, an additional 72 miles was added to its dashboard and offside rear wheel odometers before I collected her nine days later. In pen in my Mileage Notebook I recorded the closing mileage when I handed the bus over to the painters. Upon collection this value had unquestionably increased by 72.
It was put to me that there is a lot of static created during a repaint and that this could be to blame. But there's a difference between a little bit of static making the speedo needle spring from one side of the gauge to the other and 72 actual miles added to the odometer behind.
En route to the paint shop on 12 December, I called at a fuel station to fill up GCT 113 and consequently I have a date, time and location-stamped photo of the bus's odometer reading on my iPhone literally minutes before CCTV footage by a well-known chemical factory opposite the paint shop recorded my arrival. Feeling that I was being fobbed off with a story about excessive static moving the mileage on, I contacted said chemical factory who, due to the heightened security threat the UK is facing, have a number of CCTV cameras that point away from their premises - one of which looked directly onto the Immingham paint shop.
The chemical factory's security department downloaded their footage and I saw the bus being taken from the Immingham paint shop without my consent. It was dark, but the night vision CCTV cameras can clearly make out the bus and the number of people heading out for an illegal 'jolly'. I contacted Humberside Police, who were concerned that this crime had taken place, but were honest enough to say that unless the CCTV footage was detailed enough to show who was driving the bus, they'd not be able to secure a conviction.
A salient lesson here is to ensure everyone knows you're noting down mileage before you hand your preserved bus over to a third party for work to be undertaken.
The miscreants did at least fill the bus up with fuel - foolishly putting in more than they used - as when I filled the bus up with diesel again en route to the Horncastle paint shop, GCT 113's static 9.1mpg had jumped to 15.9mpg. Explain that one if you will! While I can prove beyond doubt that GCT 113 was taken for an unauthorised jolly around North Lincolnshire as I have copies of the CCTV footage stored to my hard drive, I can not prove who was driving. Therefore the only way I feel I can have any kind of justice over these people is to let anyone know who is planning on having their commercial vehicle painted in North and North East Lincolnshire the name of this outfit (assuming they're still trading as these kinds of people are the sort to fold overnight).
Returning to positive vibes, upon collection from a paint shop in Horncastle today (1 May), GCT 113 looked resplendent in the now correct shade of orange, which had been determined by recreating history and basing the shade on an original GCT stylised fleet name sticker. The bus has been sprayed throughout in 2-pack, offering a great finish. The white and black are shades mixed by Mason's paints, whereas the orange is a PPG product.
Back undercover, GCT 113 certainly does look like her old self once again. My sign writer has been booked to apply the stripe beneath the lower saloon windows during the next three weeks. This has been measured up already. Legal lettering and other associated small vinyl will be added soon by a friend with a vinyl cutter. I'm confident I have all that is needed and the font that was used at the time.
This means that GCT 113's first rally in her new, former GCT livery, will be on Sunday 20 May, attending Fenland BusFest based at Whittlesey. If the vinyl stripe cannot be added in time, the bus will also unwittingly recreate history again as more often than not GCT outshopped its buses before the stripe was added. GCT hand painted their stripes onto the sides of their buses using a stencil and with this being a time consuming job, vehicles were sent out in service and generally had their stripes added on later.
I had hoped to have the bus looking 'right' on 21 December, though for reasons that you've now learned, from the wrong paint to a bunch of ne'er do wells driving the bus 72 miles without my permission, I've ended up missing out on a rally and being delayed overall by over four months.