All our timeless buses are well-preserved stars from the bus history or renovated according to the specific historical evidence. The buses are not tuned in any way to make them look nicer, or more convenient than they were back in the day. Technical side is also kept as authentic as possible. All this results in certain limitations when it comes to everyday using.
All the vintage buses meet the safety requirements set for the safety of passengers and other’s participating in traffic, but it is important to keep in mind the basics of traffic culture. One should not think that buses used to be slow and had weak engines. They could go fast but a reasonable driver also considered road conditions, visibility, small mirrors and the fact that instead of air cushions the buses then had springs. The latter is good to keep in mind regarding passenger safety. If today the passengers can conveniently move around in a moving bus, to get a drink or go the restroom, then on a bus with springs, the passengers better stay put in their seats or hold tight in case they really need to get up.
Our historical buses are renovated according to the requirements set for renovation of historical vehicles. These requirements set conditions for vehicles participating in traffic based on the vehicle’s factory requirements and year of manufacture. All the engines emit exactly the amount of gas as they were supposed to and the emergency hammers and exits are marked precisely the way, and in the language, they were back when the bus was still young.
Following the historical truth closely has given us peace of mind and earned us even a pat on the back from bus historians, but it has also set limits to the use of the buses – when planning a trip with the TA 6-1, meant for rural areas, it is not wise to start stopping traffic on a busy highway; as well as there is no point in taking the intercity bus ZIS 127 to manoeuvre in the Old Town.
Renovating old buses is always exciting. Our most interesting project so far has been the ZIS 127. Since it is the only ZIS 127 left in the world, it was difficult to find any information on that type of bus. Many retired bus drivers and passengers were happy to share memories but these were not enough to make decisions with scientific weight. Luckily, we found archive materials in Russia that helped us with the two-stroke diesel engine and body construction. As one would think, many parts used in building this bus have been brought from the USA during World War II. We have not given any facelifts to the bus and even the dents are not accidental but can be explained by technical processes accompanying the construction of the bus.
Renovating the TA 6-1 with a wooden frame and the Volvo from the 30’s has also given lots to discover. Using wood in vehicle construction is rare today, but it gives an idea of production principles at the time when no bus could be used for long and it was time to start thinking about creating more modern and convenient conditions for the passengers. Wood and tin used in wet conditions lets us know that we are the last generation to see these buses in their original form and in the future they will constantly have to be renovated, as a result of which some things may be lost by accident.
Renovating the Ikarus buses has been very time consuming because the materials used in bus manufacturing at that time were not of the highest quality. The initial plastic details have transformed their molecular structure because of the UV radiation and in case of the Ikarus 255 we had to reproduce about 70% of the framework as an authentic copy because the forty-year-old metal had pretty much ceased to exist.
Renovating the production of German and Swedish bus manufacturers has been unbelievably easy. The Mercedes Benz O303, Setra S80 or Setra S6 are engineering masterpieces in essence so our renovators have had nearly no problems in restoring old details and components that were made of quality materials to begin with. The Swedish buses are especially known for their high-quality materials. These are expensive buses but they could be relied on in the past and can still be trusted in the future for taking longer journeys at vintage technology fairs. Renovating old buses comes with lots of responsibility. In case of a small car, finding faults is often simple. Every error a bus carrying tens of passengers might have must be safely repaired and many constructions have to be opened to find all possible errors. All this takes a lot of time, requires high-level technical engineering knowledge, and is all in all quite expensive.
We do not recommend anybody starting to repair a bus at home because pretty paint is not enough to take passengers safely from one point to the other. In case of vintage cars it is all about the looks; with buses and other heavy machinery, a shiny coat of paint is the last thing to trust.