At last, new nut rings for ex-Southport PD2 FFY403

Finally, after many months of searching, I have been able to fit a pair of nut guard rings to Torquay’s sightseeing bus, Leyland PD2/3 FFY403.


The bus was delivered to English Riviera Sightseeing Tours in Torquay in 2013, minus her nut guard rings. These are normally fitted to the front wheels to cover the wheel nuts and were a standard fitting on most Leyland and AEC vehicles. But, sometime in the recent past, the PD2’s rings had been removed by a previous owner and not replaced.


I’ve always thought that, ever since seeing the bus parked outside Torquay railway station shortly after delivery in 2013, she looked ever so slightly ‘undressed’ without her rings. It bothered me every time I climbed into her cab too, and not just for aesthetic reasons. The ring on the offside provides a very useful stepping point for the driver as he climbs up into – or down from – the cab. I learned this the hard way several times when, in wet weather, my right foot slipped off the wheel as I tried to gain a secure foothold.

Eventually, after posting requests and emailing several friends in the heritage bus world (I even tried the Leyland Society), Dan Shears came up trumps. He runs the West of England Transport Collection at Winkleigh, Devon. His father Colin started the collection in the 1950s and always had a soft spot for Leylands. As a result, Dan has inherited a large number of Leyland vehicles along with sundry spare parts. He sent me a message one day to say that he’d found two rings and would I be interested as he already knew I was keen to acquire some. With this good news to hand, I approached the owner of the bus and happily received a favourable response. So a deal was done and a package duly arrived towards the end of the season. Like a cat with two tails, I offered up the rings to the wheels, which still had their mounting studs in place. A perfect fit!

I took them home and spent an hour or two with a wire brush to bring them back to life and the next morning fitted them to the bus before my next driving duty. I am very pleased with the result and am grateful to the owner of the bus for agreeing to buy them and of course to Dan Shears for finding them.

9 comments on “At last, new nut rings for ex-Southport PD2 FFY403

  1. davemoore1 says:

    A bus isn’t properly dressed without these!

  2. Alan Bond says:

    FFY 403 used to be at Cobham Bus Museum many years ago. As far as I recall it was the very first 8′ wide PD2

    • busmanjohn says:

      Yes, that’s the one. I’ve seen photographs of it at Cobham. Being a PD2/3, it is 8′ wide but I didn’t know it was the first one. It is also unusual in having a synchro ‘box from new.

      • Alan Bond says:

        Quite a lot of the earlier PD2s had the synchromesh box (only on 2nd, 3rd & top) but many were replaced by the later box with synchro only on 3rd & top. This was due to mainshaft fractures due to drivers dropping into 2nd too early which put indue stress on the innards of the gearbox. Most later PD2s and PD3s had the latter box from new. The only exceptions were one experimental demonstrator with fluid transmission and a batch of PD2/14s for Leeds similarly equipped. I know that all the London RTLs and RTWs had fluid transmission but they were not referred to as PD2 by Leyland and all the known paper work refers to them by their LT codes of 6RT (RTW class) and 7RT (RTL class). The reason for this was that the chassis frame and radiator were built to the same dimensions as the RTs and the wheelbase was also different from a standard PD2 to suit the RT body which fitted either RT or RTL chassis’. The exception being the Met Cam RTLs which were not interchangeable. with other than another Met Cam. All of the Leyland production ‘line numbers’ were also separate from the standard chassis.

      • busmanjohn says:

        The gearbox in this PD2 must be original then, and is still in excellent condition. Our tours demand a lot of stick work and, despite having synchro on 2,3 & 4, I tend to rev match as per a crash box. This probably extends the life of this valuable survivor!

      • Alan Bond says:

        Without doubt, double de-clutching will extend the life of the box but the later buses with synchromesh on 3rd and top were still pleasant to drive and very much better than a Bristol K or Lodekka. The top manual gearbox has to be the AEC one in the Regent III & V. This was derived from the Crossley box which was fitted to some Regent IIs (6821X) for Trent Motor Tractions. This has synchromesh on all four forward gears and is a delight to use. My own preference as far as the Leyland is concerned is for the pre-war TD & TS series. The sliding mesh gearbox on these has no constant mesh engagement at all but the 8.6 oil engine has a fairly light flywheel so gear changing is lightning fast and catches many by surprise. In that respect it is rather like the AEC D124 box which has constant mesh on third gear. With either petrol or oil engine, gear changing is pretty nippy and the gearbox is very durable. It had a long existence as it was in production from 1930 until the end of Regent III/Regal III production in 1954.

  3. Phil Clark says:

    You are lucky to find those, I am searching for some identical wheel nut guard rings for my 1950 Leyland Royal Tiger – if anyone has any can you e-mail me on Thank you, Phil

  4. Geoff says:

    when at Cobham we used 403 for driving instruction ready for our PSV test but cobham sold it a week before our test date!! had a day to get used to another manual box (G351). I can remember one Saturday one of our members took 403 to cobham filling station and removed the top windows on the station canopy

  5. Alan Bond says:

    Good to see nut guard rings back on those front wheels. The ones with the holes in are much later than the originals but better than nothing. I could never see the point of the holes anyway as you can’t remove the wheel without removing the nut guard. It does make it easier to check if the wheel nuts are tight but apart from that I can’t see the point of the holes.When FFY 403 was at Cobham it did at one time sport a pair of AEC type pressed steel guard rings but they got put on to an RT and were replaced by a pair of proper cast aluminium Leyland ones.

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