#52 - 1963 AEC Reliance / Denning(body #39)
In 2013, the Society embarked on their biggest restoration project yet, a 1963 AEC Reliance, that had been sitting in a paddock opposite Bass Strait for almost 20yrs. That's 20yrs of salt air, deteriorating completely the steel framework on this old bus (as the photos will show).
The Society had big ambitions. We had a qualified bus body builder within our ranks and looked like being able to achieve this massive feat. Unfortunately though, as the side panels were removed, even our "expert" believed the job to be too big for the Society, especially with lack of facilities.
This led to another 4yrs of negotiating and applying for community grants, until finally we were able to secure $50,000 from the Tasmanian Community Fund, to replace the framework of the bus.
That huge amount however, would only cover replacing the rusted framework. The Society members had to strip the bus and deliver to the professional bus body builders a bare skin bus, just exposed framework. We were fortunate Redline Coaches (Michael Larissey) was prepared to offer undercover storage for disassembly, but also storage of parts. After more than 12mths, the bus was delivered to Havnadip Bus Repairs for professional reconstruction of the rusted framework, a mammoth task that took even the professionals 3-4mths. Each side was done in sections, as the cross members had to line up with the original, as we were recycling all the ribbed side panels.
Delivered back to the Society, it was again up to members to reassemble the bus, like a big jigsaw puzzle. Yes, the (recycled) parts had been labeled, however we'd neglected to list what order they were disassembled, making the task a little more complex.
Another 6mths passed before new panels were acquired, courtesy of generous local business, who is an avid restorer himself and was keen to assist getting this old coach back on the road. 50yrs of lead based paint had to be strippped from the recycled panels, wheels sandblasted, new window rubber sourced, new flooring purchased (through $3,500 Glenorchy Community Grant) and another generous business supplying brand new vinyl. The esteem the Maxwell family is held in the community (particularly across the NW Coast), made requests for donations much easier.
However, it was still a long, slow process, meaning existing deadlines had to be extended before the dreaded Covid hit, halting all restoration work.
When work was able to recommence after another 6mths, another extension was sought, with the TCF being very accommodating due to the difficult circumstances. That extension was to be our last, which meant Society volunteers had to dig in to get the coach completed.
After reassembling the vehicle undercover, it moved premises to be painted, again stretching the friendships, as once the painting was completed that location required the room for their own vehicles. In between relocating the vehicle between premises, we had a major electrical failure, putting restoration back further, cutting the deadline even closer.
But in the end, some volunteers stepped up, dug in with additional hours and the end result is remarkable. Considering none of the volunteers who worked on the bus, had bus building expertise, their achievement is testament to the dedication and passion the Society has, for preserving our Tasmanian public transport history.
The highly anticipated launch attracted 50 invited guests including the family of Dennis & Jeanette Maxwell, who "unveiled" the bus to the awaiting public, amidst TV cameras, print media and radio, showcasing the Society's greatest achievement statewide.
Plans for this historic bus now, will be to showcase it around the state at numerous Truck & Car Shows the Society attend annually, in between being housed at our premises at Campbell Town. .
The photographic slideshow (consisting of 150 photos), demonstrates the process of the restoration, from when the vehicle was donated and the condition it was received, right through the disassembly, reconstruction and reassembly before completion of this amazing restoration project, with final photographs from the launch on Jan 14 2022, over 8yrs since taking delivery.
Chassis: AEC Reliance
Engine: Originally AEC 570
Repowered AEC 691
Cylinders: 6 in line
Output: Originally (570) 159bhp
Later repower (691) 206 bhp
Displacement: Originally 9.6lt (570)
Later repowered 11.3lt (691)
Transmission: Originally AEC 5spd constant mesh
Retro-fitted 12spd ZF constant mesh with splitter
Body: Denning (#39)
Features: Jet Air Conditioning
Air Bag Suspension
Sponsors: The Society thank the following organisations/businesses for their faith and donation of services/goods to make this project come to fruition. Without your support, the project would not have proceeded.
Tasmanian Community Fund, Redline Coaches, Hazell Bros Group, Thermal Insulation Contracting, Wyllie Tiles, Acclaim Kitchens, Daniel Biedka, Bselect Moonah, On Road-Off Road, Camel Towing, Warrigal Charters NSW, Strut Regas, Salter Marine, Spectrum Paints, Diesel Injection Services, AJT Mechanical, RJ Batteries, Havnadip Bus Repairs, Pearlcraft, Bus & Coach Society of Victoria, Mastercast, Signrite, numerous cash donations, Denny Mechanical and all of the dedicated members who worked on the project over the past 8 1/2yrs.