GCT 113's rear number blind - comprised of the traditional pair of rollers, mounted on spigots - was seized when I collected her from Stagecoach's Chesterfield depot almost a year ago. Despite a good soak overnight in WD40, the offending part wouldn't budge. Help was at hand, however, as I'd been put in contact with Indicators International. This Northern Ireland-based firm once mass-manufacured destination and number blind boxes, and while they had needed to diversify, following the onset of electronic equipment, were still able to supply bespoke parts.
The problem part was contained within the mechanical 'end gear', into which the winding shaft was fed. The handle that turns the blind was attached at the other end of the winding shaft. I had considered sending the actual end gear to Indicators International, though the person I spoke with said I wouldn't need to do so and gave me some dimensions to measure and report back, whereupon a new end gear was produced and mailed out.
Had I sent the original end gear across to Northern Ireland, the experts would have spotted that it doesn't sit horizontally behind the rear number window, since the angle at which the winding shaft intersects the end gear was not at 90 degrees. In fact, all Roe-bodied Fleetlines GCT purchased had rear number blinds that sit further forward at the top than they do at the bottom. Not being particularly technically minded, I hadn't spotted this nor thought to consider it a possibility.
Fortunately, the chap whose help I enlisted early on in my acquisition of GCT 113 was able to make the new end gear fit, though it wasn't perfectly parallel to the other side, so I had been concerned that there may be an obvious wobble to the blind once fitted.
The good news is that there is no wobble. The blind sits very taught in the 'box'. The problem is that either the end gear was installed the wrong way round or Indicators International didn't ask me which side of the blind the winding shaft would be attached to the end gear.
As you can see, the only way I can display route numbers the correct way up is for the blind to scroll the wrong side of the rollers. If I put the blind in upside down, it scrolls in front of the rollers, correctly. Removal, correction and reattachment of the end gear isn't impossible, though it does involve removing two panels and once reattached the new rivets will show up as having silver heads rather than the nice white heads they have since the bus's first paint job in December.
Therefore, black tape was needed. Rightly or wrongly, I made a firm commitment to myself early on in the preservation of this Grimsby stalwart, that I'd not 'make do' with such barbaric 'temporary' fixes such as black tape. Yet this was the only obvious solution to the problem in hand. Besides, my sign writer had left me some black vinyl so I ended up using very good quality material to mask out the wrong side of the roller blind as it wrapped itself round the rollers.
I masked the area out first and displayed the blind in a number of positions and then stepped back and tried to see the rollers, either above or below the number displayed. After repositioning the masking tape on a few occasions, I agreed optimum positions and today I went about sticking the vinyl to the inside of the number window.
The result is pretty decent, actually, I'm very pleased with it. Turning the handle inside the bus is easy enough, though the blind is a little closer than it should be, so positioning it correctly isn't always achieved first time round. But GCT 113 does have an operational rear number blind for the first time in many years. I do seem to recall that the rear number blind was operational the last time I drove her in service during Summer 2003. When it all went wrong after that, I have no idea.