This is my National 2 bus...

This is my bus... the National bus blog


Leyland National 2 WBW735X was new to the Atomic Energy Authority at Harwell in February 1982 where it was used for staff transport. In 1991 ownership transferred to Tappins of Didcot for use on a shuttle service from Reading to the Thames Valley Park. It last operated in service with Routemaster Buses Limited in June 2014 after a working life of 32 years and four months!


Unfortunately in its final years in service it was kept on the road by only doing the minimum amount of work necessary and so a number of long-standing issues have had to be addressed. In July 2015 the engine blew a head gasget caused by a faulty compressor pressurising the cooling system. After this was fixed we then found a number of air system components also required attention. The bus returned to the road once again in June 2016 but, as always, there's always something needing to be fixed!



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8 November 2017

An unplanned brake in our outings part 2

In order to fully assess the parts required to fix the rear brakes on the bus we had to access both sides. Unfortunately with long half-shafts to remove we could only work on one side at a time. So we put the hub and one wheel back on the nearside - see this post - and shifted the bus to work on the offside. In doing so we also found out that the offside spring brake chamber we fitted last year had failed.

In theory the offside should have been the easier of the two sides to work on as its brakes were still free. However as with most things that was not the case. Whilst the brake shoe pins were difficult to remove from the nearside, one proved impossible to shift on the offside and so eventually had to be cut out.

Here's the new brake chamber fitted, brake shoes removed and the chassis protected with two coats of Rustoleum.

And this is the chassis after silvering.

Hub and drum finally split apart (thanks to Craig, Reece and Kian).

Relined brake shoes fitted back in place. A lot of time was taken to make sure the fulcrum pins moved freely.

Thoroughly cleaned hub refitted with new hub seals.

Drum refitted with plenty of copper grease to try and make splitting them easier in the future.

Time to test things out. The hub and drum spin once the engine is started even though this bus isn't in gear.

Before we fit the wheels back in place we want to revisit the dreaded gearbox valve block which is leaking more than ever...

20 October 2017

Far flung flinger for fitting

When we were separating the nearside wheel hub from the brake drum the gloriously named oil flinger on the rear of the hub got somewhat squashed. Apparently its role is to stop any oil that may leak due to hub seal failure from reaching the brake shoes. Sadly our attempt to persuade the flinger to return to its original shape failed.

Thanks to Paul and George from Glasgow Vintage Vehicle Trust we now have a replacement to be fitted into place when we get back to working on that side.

17 September 2017

An unplanned brake in our outings

After a promising start to the 2017 rally season unfortunately we have had an awful lot to deal with over the past few months.

As mentioned in this post a routine check after using the bus found that the rear nearside wheels were locked tight when we tried to turn them by hand. All attempts to adjust the brakes to release the wheels made no difference. The bus could still be moved thanks to the powerful engine but the brakes were pretty much stuck in the on position. With proper access and assistance we had hoped things could have been fixed quite quickly but as ever theory and reality proved not to match.

However with huge thanks to Jim Patrickson, who generously gave up a lot of his time to help us, along with George & George, Reece and Kian we now have the nearside almost finished.

Although it was the top brake shoe which was stuck on we had great difficulties getting both of the shoes fixing pins removed.

The top shoe stuck away from the cam:

As you can see the top lining was right down to the rivets:

Trying to remove the shoe pins:

With good access we decided to protect the wheel arch in the same way we did to the offside a few months ago - see this post:

We also took some time out to clean up the wheel rims which we hadn't tackled before and protect the hub:

And here's the relined shoes fitted in place.

We've still got a lot more work to do to this side before it can all be finally fully built up again but we've just put the hub and one wheel on for now to allow us to move the bus and look at the other side.

12 August 2017

Tackling an air leak from the front doors

This is another of those jobs we have been meaning to do for quite some time. There's always been a small air leak from the front doors when they are open and this has been getting worse so a few months ago we decided to investigate further.

With helpful guidance from Chris at Transervex we tested both of the door rams and found they were working fine with no leaks. We did identify a couple of connectors that would need to be replaced as they had cracked. However it was the Wellman Peters spool valve that hissed air when the doors were open.

Equipment access flaps above the doors:

The door ram nearest the front of the bus:

The door ram towards the rear of the bus:

The spool valve:

So we needed to replace the spool valve and a couple of connectors. Moreover on tracing the pipes for the doors we found that the air in led to our mystery object we first asked about back in March 2015 - see this post.

On searching through the manual we found out that at some stage there was an oil bottle here which the air passed through and the oil helped lubricate the door parts. So that's another mystery solved.

Anyway, thanks to some more detective work, we located a compatible spool valve from Transport Door Solutions so armed with this, new connectors and loads of pipe we took the plunge to change things over and clean up the mess from the oil air which had been exhausted into this space for years.

First we changed the cracked connectors on the door rams. In doing this we found there were restrictor valves that fitted into the rams as well. This made sure the small screws for adjusting the air flow would work properly (we found this out when we forgot to put one of the restrictors back!).

Next up we made sure we labelled all of the pipes.

Finally it was time to take the plunge and swap over the spool valves, firstly using all the existing pipes.

Then we decided we'd replace most of the pipework as the new spool valve allowed separate feeds to each of the rams, the old spool valve only had one connector and there were t-pieces fitted in the pipes.

With some fine adjustment of the four air flow screws on the rams the doors now operated without leaks and, as a bonus, no longer moved so violently they threatened to cut any last minute passengers in half!


31 July 2017

Refurbishing the battery cradle

A couple of months ago the opportunity presented itself for us to give the battery cradle some much needed TLC. As it is underneath the driver and close to the front offside wheel it is very exposed plus there are the acidic battery fumes as well which all attack the paintwork.

This is how the battery cradle looked before we started out work:

With the batteries removed the cradle was rubbed down and given the customary two coats of red Rustoleum:

Then it was a case of everything going back to black with the batteries connected back up using new terminals and covers:

Oh, and yes, the bus did start afterwards!

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National bus items wanted


We are looking for good quality colour photographs of WBW735X as follows:


- in service with Atomic Energy Authority, Harwell.


Any information relating to the engine change to TL11 and where it may have come from.



National bus details


Model type:

Leyland National

(LN NL116AL11-1R)


Vehicle number:



Current engine:

TL11-B 245bhp at 2100 rev/min


Body style:

Mark 2, long, single door, no pod



B52F, 23 standing


Original owner:

Atomic Energy Authority



WBW735X (February 1982)

653GBU (1991 - 2010)


Key dates:

16 February 1982 - bought new by Atomic Energy Authority at Harwell near Didcot along with WBW736X for staff transport. Colour blue/grey.


18 June 1991 - Acquired by Tom Tappin Limited of Didcot. Colour becomes orange/black.

6 March 2007 - Ownership changed to Tappins Coaches Limited of Didcot. Gains a B-series TL11 245bhp 'Tiger' engine.


1 November 2010 - Acquired by Routemaster Buses Limited, Nantwich.

18 July 2011 - painted into two-tone green "London Country" livery.

June 2014 - withdrawn from service after 32 years, fours months and nine days on 24 June 2014.


1 August 2014 - enters preservation.

1 May 2015 - colour becomes blue/orange.

17 May 2015 - rallied for first time in Strathaty Scottish livery and wins Roland Williams 'Best Bus' award.



Selected external links


Angus Transport Group


Davy Engineering Ltd


Dundee Area Bus Forum


Engine Resource


Grayson Diesel Fuel Tanks


Leyland Bus Parts


RM Buses Limited


Robertson Signs


Sign Wave Designs


Skyline Aviation Bus pages





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