Nearing completion, Leyland Atlantean 176 (AVK 176V) is our current group project.

Follow the journey of 176.

Livery and Era

When 176 became part of the Tyneside Heritage Vehicles' group collection, it was decided that the vehicle would be restored to it's post-1986 early deregulation condition when the the ownership of 176 passed from the TWPTE to Busways Travel Services. Being based at Newcastle's Byker depot, the vehicle was repainted into a cadmium yellow base with maroon skirt and central bands, and the City Busways fleet names applied - City Busways being the inital subsidary of Busways for it's Byker depot cross-city services. There are very few photographs of 176 operating out during its time as a City Busways bus, but here is a selection of some other AVK vehicles from the same batch.

AVK169 in City Busways livery, Newcastle Blackett Street. Copyright of Ned Basher.

The City Busways name on the side of a Byker based Leyland Atlantean, post-deregulation in the late eightees.

AVK150V in City Busways livery, Newcastle Westgate Road. An aquired negative with copyright, Mick Burn.

The Starting Point

The condition of 176 when it became a group vehicle is shown in this photograph.

The previous owner was in the process of restoring the bus into the 'Busways Fare Saver' livery. The livery was based around the Newcastle Busways colours and advertised the company’s travel cards at the time. The livery was originally wore by sister Atlantean AVK153V and Olympian C628LFT which have since been scrapped.

With the plan to restore 176 into it's early post-deregulation City Busways state, the bus panels and fibreglass areas would need to be sanded back as much as they can to provide an adaquate surface for new paint to be applied.

As well as painting, various bodywork repairs and adjustments were noted to be done in order to restore the vehicle to the correct era.

Restoration Check List

176 was previously being restored into 'Busways Faresaver' livery. This is how the vehicle looked when it became part of the THV group-owned collection.

One of the most rewarding aspects of bus restoration is about restoring vehicle to an exact point in time. With our sights set on restoring 176 to an early post-deregulation 'City Busways' state of around 1986-88, our group have trailed archives of photographs, questioned people who worked at Busways at the time, asked friends and other contacts to achieve the goal we want. Below is a list of the main restoration points for 176, some of which had been done under its previous owenership.

  • Converted back to fully automatic (Weardale had converted it to semi automatic)

  • New exhaust system (with original tail pip)

  • New brake chambers

  • New head gaskets

  • Radiator refurbished

  • Injectors re-calibrated

  • New panels where needed
  • Refurbish the current fibreglass engine 'pods'
  • Front and rear bulkhead, plus packpower steam cleaned and preparation
  • Repaint (spray) into City Busways livery
  • New vinyls and decals
  • Period Busways adverts around the front destination (Bonanza Fares, Busways Always) and the rear lower-deck window (Busways MOT and 'Let me out')
  • Period correct Almex ticket machine fitted to complement a tidied up interior (still very original)

Bodywork Preparation

As part of the bodywork preparation, the vehicle was sanded down and damaged panels to replace once the bus arrives at the paintshop were highlighted. Original panel access doors were also remade and restored on site. Areas of the fibreglass which are also requiring attention were also highlighted and taken care of.

We knew that the best possible paintjob was only achievable if the bodywork preparation was done the best of our abilities. As well as sanding down panels with an air sander, the straps between the panels were also removed from the bus and sanded down, removing all traces of past repaints. This involved drilling out the old rivets from the panel straps before rivetting them back on the bus. Where panels were to be replaced, rivetts were used more sparcely on straps.

As seen in the photographs, the sanded down white panels were the panels not to be replaced. Overall, the bodywork was in good shape thanks to a repanel when it operated for Weardale.

Bulkhead and Engine Repaint

We also turned out attention to the either end bulkheads and the engine. The engine seen a replacement fuel pump fitted, new fuel filters, replacement compressor head, replacement headgaskets, radiator refurbishment, replaced injectors, new oil filter, new air filter, fresh oils, fresh coolant, fan jack shaft, brand new engine bay wiring harness, brand new micro switches, refurbished engine bay start button, radiator cowling rubbers, brand new fan belts, brand new alternator belts and throttle dip valve (to name a few). As can be seen, the engine has also been sprayed grey with Volvo dark grey chassis paint, (quite fitting really, seeing as Volvo would later go on to buy Leyland). 

As shown in the photographs, important and noticeable detail was retained. Yellow paint was used on the engine belt pullies and radiator fan, plus injector pipes, brass fittings and bolts were cleaned up. 

To make the engine even more smarter, the Leyland lettering on the compressor, engine oil filler and rear engine start were also treated to more detailed attention. To protect the paint we applied a layer of clear-coat.

Destination Blind Refurbishment

The front destination blind in 176, which is made up of a main destination roller blind, a via point roller blind and a route number rollerblind (3x separate) has seen much wear over the years. Although refurbished by Busways mid-life, the mechanism though its constant use has become problematic and not as loose as it once was.

It was decided to replace the blind box's mechanism with components from another box. This involved deconstructing both blinds and cleaning up individual elements with general cleaning spray, and then applying grease to the turning points and gears of the mechanism.

The box itself was sanded down with our compressor air sander, cleaned with pre-clean, painted with primer base coast and then painted matt black. The inside of the box was then clear-coated to protect it against rust and water damage from condensation.

We have plans to renew the roller blinds in the number section of the blinds.

Chassis Clean and Paint

April was a busy one at Felling, where we prepared and repainted the underside of Atlantean 176 AVK176V. Underneath was quickly painted a few years ago to tidy it up, but this week saw us finish clearing debris and surface rust, before priming and spray painting with added paint hardener. We also carried out a couple of welding and electrical repairs along the way. 

Final Bodyshop Stage

In June 2021, 176 was moved to Go North East's Saltmeadows in Gateshead for the final stages of bodywork preparation before its repaint.

As well as replacing a number of body panels, Michael Langwell and his team reinstated the original style of herzim moulding on both sides and front, repaired the front dome, reskinned of the lower deck emergency door and remade the rear bumper. 

In addition, a new exhaust tailpipe was made fitted in the original position out the back rather than out to the side.


September 2021 was the month that the lids came off the paint tubs. Masking-off of the vehicle was carried out by Michael Langwell and his team who began the repaint progress. The process started with a white undercoat then the cadmium yellow and maroon strips, followed by more detailed aspects adding more detail to the application.

Repaint Complete - return to Felling

On Friday 22nd October, the repaint process was complete and we went to collect 176. The Atlantean was ready and awaiting collection alongside the depot looking the part in the early morning sun. We cannot thank Micky and the Saltmeadows bodyshop and repaint team for their work on 176 - we're very pleased with the end result.

Vinyl and Logo Application

On the very same day that 176 returned home to Felling, Friday 22nd October, we had lined up the Visualize North East to visit and apply the vinyls and logos to the bus. We have worked closely with Visualize over the past year in creating and perfecting our graphics. Chris and Nicola had previously worked for Busways/Stagecoach at their Sunderland Wheatsheaf site when the all graphics were done in house before they began to outsource them - so they were the right people for the job. As you can see from the photos, we have also temporarily fitted 111/EJR111W's marron blinds to complete its look.


Find out more about Visualize NE:

Show Ready

On 27th April 2022, 176 successfully passed its MOT - although MOT exempt, we still put our group-vehicles through the process for peace of mind.

Now show ready, we now turn our attention to the interior as we go along. Recently, the bus has had it's fuel tanks replaced, angle drive oil seals replaced as well as an original set of wheel rims and 6 new hankook tyres fitted. We're looking forward to the season ahead and hope to see everyone at the up and coming bus/coach events this summer

Restoration Photos