Breakdown Tender: Railways c1977
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Notes About This Vehicle
by IAN DYCKHOFF

From November 1939 various suffix letter codes were used on service vehicles to identify their genus. Those carrying a ‘J’ suffix signified conversion from an AEC Regent (ST, STL, or later, RT type buses).
As depicted in this drawing, 832J was one of six similar ‘auxiliary breakdown tenders’ that had purpose-built box-van type bodies with integral crew accommodation, fitted to a petrol-engined STL bus chassis. The rear part of the body was equipped with a workbench and carried tools and equipment for the repair and recovery of failed and accident damaged buses. A substantial towing facility was provided at the rear of the chassis. The bodies were coachbuilt by John Chalmers & Son Ltd., Redhill, Surrey and were delivered between September 1949 and September 1950.
The Rolling Stock Engineer (Road Services), the department responsible for the maintenance and provision of buses to the Operating Manager’s Department, had operated 832J since its conversion from an STL in 1950.
In 1956 the Chief Mechanical Engineer (Railways) had a need to replace an older Albion breakdown van (130A) and 832J was selected as a suitable replacement. The interior of the box-van body was modified to accept the equipment needed for its new role and the exterior was re-painted into the livery used at that time for railway breakdown vehicles. Thus, when 832J was re-painted red and cream, it became the only one of the six vehicles ever to carry a livery other than plain red.
832J was based at Neasden depot and at that time it worked alongside two other AEC Regents, which had been built as lorries from new, not converted from buses. Unlike 832J, these were still petrol-powered and remained so until sold in 1964. At some time by 1964, it was decided that 832J should be used to carry miscellaneous and specialized equipment, not required for everyday run-of-the-mill jobs. In this role, it probably did less mileage than previously, a sample mileage return for a six-month period in 1973, shows just 56 miles travelled.
By 1965, its appearance had deteriorated sufficiently for the operating department to request an interior and exterior re-paint. This was to be in the plain red livery carried by the new fleet of Leyland PD3 and Thames Trader breakdown vehicles that had been delivered the previous year. This re-paint was, somewhat surprisingly, carried out at Northfleet (NF) country area bus garage and so returned to plain red livery, but it was subtly different to that when it was new in 1950; among other small details, most obviously there was now no black waist band.
Over the next twelve years its outward appearance altered very little, the main differences being in connection with changes to Motor Vehicle Lighting Regulations and also the advent of the Goods Vehicle (Plating & Testing) Regulations. There was also a change of name for the operating department. Nevertheless, 832J retained its semaphore trafficator arms and rear wheel ‘dustbin lid’ covers and remained in service at Neasden depot until de-licensed at Chiswick Works on 1st July 1977, where it remained until sold for preservation the following year.
Two other auxiliary breakdown tenders were transferred from the Rolling Stock Engineer (Road Services) for shorter periods. 833J, having moved around several bus garages and had periods in store, was used by the Signal Engineer at Lillie Bridge depot from 1st January 1960 until withdrawn for sale on 1st July 1966. 738J was also allocated to the same role on four separate occasions to cover for maintenance of other vehicles, each time only for a few weeks. Although working for an Underground department, both vehicles retained their all-over red livery.
One other of these vehicles lasted in service a little longer. 830J, which started at Riverside in 1950, moved to Cricklewood in 1956 and remained there until withdrawn and transferred to the London Transport Museum collection on 5th November 1980. Two others, 738 and 739J, also still remain in preservation.

Notes About This Drawing

This drawing has been created from extensive measurements of the vehicle in its current state of preservation in October 2017. All the fine detail has been interpreted from nearly 300 general and close-up detail colour photographs taken around the same time and a few black & white images of it when still in service.
To make it road legal a few features such as rear lights and indicators are now in place on the lorry. The drawing however omits these and attempts to show it as closely as possible to how it looked when withdrawn in 1977. None of the detail portrayed can be regarded as definitive of that period.
Around the time of its 1956 re-paint, possibly before (and still to the present day) the front nearside mudguard was damaged with its leading edge missing. It has been depicted here as it should have looked, pre damage or if it had been repaired, but otherwise as withdrawn in 1977.
It should be understood that all four elevations are seen here as one would see each part of the vehicle at a truly perpendicular angle, as are architectural building elevation drawings. In real life this is of course impossible.
 
© vehicle history copyright Ian Dyckhoff – March 2018
© drawing and associated Notes copyright Douglas Rose – March 2018
 
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