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These ‘digital’ views taken on a primitive digital camera offer an additional record of the bus transformation. All that remain today are these low-resolution .gifs reproduced alongside captions from the original computerbus.com website of 1998...

Exterior transformation


“LEFT: Computer Bus is seen parked over the pit at Homefield Works.

Significant re-panelling will be necessary before the vehicle is repainted into the bright, colourful livery designed for Manx Telecom by Des Clague of the Creative Studio.

The shiny, new skirt panels are clearly visible in this view, Monday 20th April 1998...”

“LEFT: For added security and prior to the application of an all-over advertising livery, the offside windows of Computer Bus are being panelled over.

The new aluminium panels are being glued and riveted to the bodywork.

The fixed glass windows are retained behind the new panels...”

“LEFT: The offside rear quarter panel (originally seriously dented on bus 30) has been replaced by an undamaged panel from sister vehicle 33, the latter currently awaiting scrapping at Douglas Railway Station yard.

The yellow paintwork of bus 33 can be seen in this view taken on April 20th, 1998.”

“LEFT: Computer Bus was moved on Monday 11th May [1998] to the paintshop of Man Transport's Homefield works.

Now, the livery designed by Des Clague of the Creative Studio, Douglas, must be painstakingly applied by retired coach painter, Eric Quirk. The intricate design is shown below, and is based on ideas supplied by Manx Telecom and students of the Isle of Man College.”

“LEFT: Here the wheel arch panel has been removed and an attempt has been made to fill rust holes in body panels, as shown by the light gray filler in this view.”

“LEFT The attempt to repair the side panels has been abandoned and instead, replacements have been fitted. The yellow/gray panels are from sister bus 33 (MAN 33N) which has donated several parts to Computerbus, whilst the white panel is a new glass fibre replacement...”

“LEFT Here on the afternoon of Thursday June 11th, John Bashforth applying undercoat to Computerbus...

The effect a few coats of paint have on the finished vehicle are clear from the view below...”

“LEFT: Looking shiny and bright! The contrast between the (unpainted) of computerbus and the side are clearly seen in this view.

Soon, the whole of the offside will look just as smart and be ready for Eric Quirk (the signwriter) to finish Des Clague's colour scheme...”

“LEFT: Almost finished.

Masking tape needs to be removed and the stainless steel hub caps fitted, but this view (29/06/98) shows pretty much the final effect!”

“LEFT: A more general view taken 29/06/98, with the signwriting well near complete.

More 'circuit board' stripes still need to be added.”

“LEFT: Meanwhile, Manx Telecom's Freddie Faragher has been installing trunking to carry data cables and mains wiring around computerbus.

The trunking fitted beneath the benches can be seen in this view, Thursday June 11th 1998.”

ABOVE: low-resolution .gifs showing the original design supplied by The Creative Studio. The side view (not shown here) was transferred to photocopied acetate sheets, then projected on an overhead projector onto full size strips of wallpaper stuck to the paintshop wall. The image was then traced with charcoal, before the sheets were taped to the side of the bus for the image to be transferred. The outline was then painted in. Such was the technology of the day... Nowadays, the whole job would have been output direct from a computer to a vinyl cutter.

Preparation is all, and here air-powered mechanical disk sanders are being used to get the surface ready for painting.

Care has to be taken not to cut through the galvanised protective coat applied to the National’s steel-panels during manufacture. Where this has happened to similar vehicles in the past, rust quickly sets in.

(NOTE: Most bus bodies are panelled in aluminium or glass fibre. On account of its unique structure and manufacturing process, the Leyland National used pressed steel panels which worked well in practice - provided the original protective coatings remained undamaged)

One place where care had to be taken during mechanical sanding was around the windscreen.

Unfortunately successive repaints over many years had left much of the windscreen surround prone to rusting, something that had to be addressed on Bus 30 nearly 10 years after this picture was taken.

This shot shows Manx Telecom’s Freddie Faragher in the process of installing the computer cabling.

On the bench are tiny numbered labels, needed to identify the 50 or so ethernet sockets installed around the bus, each one wired back to a corresponding socket on the patch board located in a cupboard beneath the whiteboard

This view taken on Spetember 11th 1998 - the day of the official launch - shows Freddie putting the finishing touches to the patch cupboard and associated 24 port computer switch installed at that time.

The original Epson inkjet printer can be seen on a space later used exclusively by the compter bus laptop linked to the projector and Smartboard,