Post-restoration duty for Bristol L KFM893

After about 14 months of restoration work on Crosville KG131, it fell to me to have the honour of taking it out on its first revenue-earning job. The 1950-built bus was waiting for me in the sunshine when I arrived and looked as if it had just emerged from the Finishing Shop at Eastern Coach Works. A five-figure sum has been apparently spent on the very thorough restoration, with lots of wooden framing and most of the aluminium panels being replaced.

KFM893-first-duty-1

In some ways it was a shame that more than half of the wedding duty would take place in darkness but, as it turned out, that gave me the chance to indulge in some night-time photography.

I had arrived with plenty of time in hand, just in case of unforseen delays due to the vehicle being fresh from the restoration workshop but the only thing missing was the little key to open up the tachometer head. The Workshop Manager soon found one for me and I was able to complete my walkaround checks. On starting the 5-cylinder Gardner 5LW diesel engine, there were clouds of blue smoke – typical behaviour while these engines are cold – but this soon cleared by the time I had left Weston.

KFM893 was numbered KG131 in the original Crosville fleet, but was later changed to SLG131 which is borne out by a small metal plaque which is still carried above the rear entrance door. It is fitted with slightly more plush seating than a standard bus and carries a Tilling dual-purpose livery. This being KG131’s first duty since restoration, I was feeling quite apprehensive as I drove out of the depot. It would be terrible if I dented or scratched it on its first trip!

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