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About 83C

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    Farting in France's general direction

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    Here and there.
  • Interests
    Shite, generally.


  • Country
    United Kingdom

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  1. Slightly belated as I stopped by to visit someone, but we’re home!
  2. The next bit has arrived: A pain au chocolat has been consumed. Two cups of tea so far as well.
  3. You can still do this, go up the stairs at the North/West end of the station (the ‘b’ end) and it takes you into a footbridge completely devoid of retail spaces. The next set of stairs/escalators go to the main platform link bridge (runs right across the platforms with no interruptions and has a smattering of food outlets), then the stairs at the East/South end of the station (the ‘a’ end) take you up into the New Street Zone of the Crystal Maze.
  4. I have achieved (a relative term at best!) Birmingham New Street. Behold the stupidity that is trying to force a transport hub into being a shopping ‘experience’: Clean, yes. An utter pain in the arse to navigate thanks to multiple gatelines and a system seemingly deliberately designed to force you to go past retail outlets? Also yes. I know there are ways to go directly from one platform to another, but supplies were also required.
  5. I suspect because it’s an electronic brain trying to select what it thinks is best out of a 12-speed manual gearbox, and most of the time getting it hopelessly wrong. As @Zelandeth says, the pauses between gearchanges are painfully slow. On flat ground gear progression will be something like 2nd-3rd-5th-7th-10th-12th, and each time it lets go of a gear you’re painfully aware of the amount of time it’s taking to select the next one, so you tend to keep right hoof welded to the floor in an attempt to keep the rate of acceleration going. They’re better at steaming along at 62mph on the motorway where the gearbox doesn’t get involved, they’ll get up to 7-8mpg. Country roads just flummox the thing so badly that the fuel economy goes straight down the toilet.
  6. Oh god... iShit. Not Volvo's finest hour by any stretch, worse even than some Voith 'boxes that I've driven. I drove a couple of ex-COMS B12B's with iShit gearboxes, you can tell instantly that they are designed for motorway work and fuck all else. Devon country lanes really aren't the best place for them, the gearbox brain gets hopelessly confused on country roads. Up, down, up, up a bit more, down 3, up 2, down 1, up 2.... all on a bit of road that I'd have just stuck a Spanish gearbox in 3rd or 4th and left it alone. By the time the Mid Devon ones arrived they'd also had the manual control buttons removed, so all that could be done was stick it in 'D' and hope for the best. I ran out of gears once on the way up to Okehampton camp, on a hairpin bend going steep uphill I had to slow for a car and the brain couldn't shift quickly enough to catch up with what I wanted, the combination of hill, bend and brake then throttle totally confused it, causing me to come to a dead stop because it was trying to give me 5th for a 1st gear situation. Hand brake on, reselect 'D', try again. The fuel economy was also utterly horrific - on hilly roads they could sustain 2 GPM for significant lengths of time even lightly loaded - they were averaging 5mpg overall. I've got a pic somewhere of one driving up a gentle hill completely unladen, the dash is showing it returning 2.5mpg at 20mph in 7th. In short, they were fucking awful. A far cry from the worlds best ever coach chassis, the B10M in either six-speed manual or ZF auto formats.
  7. I liked the increased horsepower of my 311 but preferred the floor-mounted gearshift on the 208 - much more direct and user friendly.
  8. I'd actually like a Subaru Sumo, the 4wd version. Rare these days though.
  9. RK by any chance? I may be partly responsible for that by sending him occasional links to Rascals that come up for sale. To be fair I think it’s a better option than the Piaggio Ape that he also wants....
  10. Mmmm Beavers. We had the odd couple of them in Cornwall during Western Greyhound's reign. Well, I say odd couple, more like 70-odd of them. A few off the top of my head: 500 - S100 PAF. The Jesus bus, just kept getting resurrected. It'd get withdrawn due to being the oldest Vario in the fleet, spend 3 months being raped of parts before they decided they were short of a bus and put it all back together with new(ish) parts and a fresh test. Drove well because of this. Survived at least 3 attempts on its life if I remember correctly. 522 - V22 WGL. Just an all round good little bus. Was the shorter 27-seater making it easily recognisable in a fleet that standardised on the 33-seat variant. 530 - S30 ARJ. Had weird gearing. The rest had gearboxes/diffs that were a good compromise between hill-climbing and fast A-roads, this had a wide ratio box and a high speed diff. Made it gutless and 5th virtually useless. Sometime towards the end of my time there 530 was withdrawn and the drivetrain transplanted into another Vario, making it just as shite. 540 - T400 CBC. The 2nd 540, this machine was originally sent from Anglian Bus after the fire as a loaner. It was an appalling piece of junk that they were more than happy to be shot of. After a fucktonne of work to get it on the road, it promptly shat its gearbox on the way from Tregony to Truro one morning. A replacement was fitted from the spares vehicle that came with it (the only other auto Vario in the fleet), which lasted all of 4 weeks before expiring again. It became a parts donor not long after that. 560 - WK02 BUS. A proper turd of a machine. Noisy, cold, notchy 3rd/4th gears, drivers seat was fucked, rattled, noisy... Just one of those 'oh for fucks sakes....' vehicles. Very rarely did I ever get off the depot in the morning with it without finding a fault that required attention. See also 561 - WK51 BUS. 577 - WK04 HSD. The polar opposite of 560. Just one of those machines that was 'right' and rarely went wrong. 599 - YN53 VBO. The silver bullet. Many of the later Varios were DP spec with a boot and DP seats as well as narrow doors and roof carpet. 599 was very plush for a Beaver, even having the fake walnut stickers on the dash and floor carpet. Went well and was very well looked after due to it being the private hire machine until the final 2 years when everything got run into the ground. Overall though the Vario proved itself a hardy and capable workhorse - nowhere else have I seen buses worked as hard and for as long as WG did with their Varios. Route timings were always tight, the buses were out 18+hrs a day (most Varios got refuelled at least twice a day, with passengers on board) doing 60mph blats to Plymouth, slogs up and down hilly routes over Bodmin moor or Clay Country, mostly fully laden and driven by thrash merchants (which you had to be to keep to time) or stop start around Newquay or Truro. Maintenance could have been better (especially post the 2013 fire), and yet despite it all the Varios would keep soldiering on, even when they were bodily falling apart. More than one had some very 'interesting' rivers of seam sealer applied over the bulkheads to mask the bulkhead cracking that they were all suffering with to some degree, you could tell the worst ones by how much the windscreen moved about whilst on the move. The replacements in the form of Solos and Dart MPDs simply couldn't sustain the pace and regularly went pop in fairly terminal ways, whereas a Vario went wrong far less often and more often than not would at least get you home or somewhere safe before dying. Several times the clutch slave cylinder would fail and I just carried on to the end of the run without the clutch until a replacement bus was available. The breakdown wagon (an old Mercedes 815) got sent out once to a Vario with a blown turbo, I took the replacement bus and came back with the wrecker. Except the wrecker was fairly knackered so as we were on the bar I dropped the Vario into gear and pushed the wrecker up the hill off the Wadebridge viaduct to the racecourse roundabout. They even went well through flood water: The water was around 'VI' on the way back from St Ives to Newquay near Gwithian, I wasn't about to give up on the homeward trip! I do have a lot more photos somewhere, I really need to find them. Now that WGL have been dead and buried for nearly 5 years I think they're fairly safe to publish.... I've got it in my head that this was possibly one of the 55x-numbered buses, I was wondering why there was such a draught up my left leg until I found the hole. I'd like a Vario even now to potter about in, preferably a DP-spec machine with a manual box to convert to a camper.
  11. 6.4 to 60. If im right do I win the car??
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