A history of RF486

Page last updated 25 March 2018


Well, two histories actually.  London Transport changed the identities of buses when they went for overhaul, so when one RF486 went in to Aldenham, another RF came out the same day bearing the same number.  Uniquely in the annuls of British motor history, each physical chassis took a different identity, including a different registration number.  Even more confusingly, the manufacturer's chassis number was moved from one chassis to another, so that the registration number and chassis number stayed married.  This meant that, in order to keep track of actual chassis movements, LT had to allocate their own Chassis Unit numbers which stayed with the chassis for its whole life. 


In a majority of cases with the RT family, the body and chassis were also swapped around, meaning that any particular bus would have a doubly complex history (and giving rise to a number of cases of dispute later on).  Only a minority of RFs experienced the permanent separation of body and chassis, and in the case of RF486 this never happened.


See here for more detail on all this.


The history of buses numbered RF486

The original RF486, MXX463, comprised chassis no. 9821LT847 (later given Chassis Unit no. 9544 by LT) which was delivered from AEC Southall to MCCW in Birmingham on 23 Oct 52, where it was married with body 8004.  The finished bus was delivered to Aldenham on 17 Feb 53.  On 23 Feb it was sent to Muswell Hill garage, as one of the 27 new buses delivered for their second RF route, the 212, but was not licensed until 1 March.


This was the start of a succession of homes before 486 settled (more or less) in the Kingston area:

Period Garage Routes operated
Feb to Jun 53 MH 212, 210, 251
Jul 53 A 213
Aug 53 to Sep 56 AV 237
Sep 56 to Nov 57 D 208, 208A

Overhaul 26 Nov 57, now Chassis Unit no. 9531 with body no. 7975

Nov 57 to Mar 59 WG 233
Mar 59 to Oct 61 NX 202

Overhaul 27 Oct 61, now Chassis Unit no. 9513 with body no. 7980.

The height of luxury - saloon heaters fitted.        


Arriving at Kingston in October 1961, by which time the entire single-deck fleet was RF, this was a month after the departure of RF500 (the bus that became RF486 later - see right).  The bus would have worked the 206 (briefly), 213, 215, 215A, 216, 218 and 219.


After four years, and with crew buses gradually being replaced by OMO conversions at Kingston, the bus was delicensed and stored at Kingston, Norbiton and Fulwell until departing for its third and final overhaul on 16 June 1966.


The bus that emerged a week later as RF486 (with the history shown in the right-hand column) was still surplus to requirements and was stored at Loughton and Walthamstow for a further two years before finding gainful employment back in the Kingston area at Norbiton on 3 Sep 1968.  By then, Norbiton was operating the 201, 215 and 264, joined a year later by the Sunday conversion of the 285.


The bus operated from Norbiton for four and a half years, operating its last public service on 19 Feb 73.  It then spent 9 months at Norbiton as a staff bus before being allocated to Chiswick for staff duties for the next 2½ years, for most if not all of that time being based at Reigate, transporting staff to Chiswick each day in an operation that dated back to the use of Reigate for bus overhauls during the war and before that to the removal of the old East Surrey engineering operations to Chiswick.


It is generally considered that buses selected for staff duties were drawn from the more reliable and rapid members of the fleet.  During its time as a Reigate to Chiswick staff bus, in common with the other red RFs stationed there (RFs 314 and 471), 486 was fitted with its additional fog light - for reasons that we have not yet been able to confirm.  It is believed that RF471's was removed when it was recertified for service at Kingston, but RF314 ran in service in this form.  RF486 is the sole survivor with the fitting dating from LT days.


After withdrawal in May 1976, the bus was recertified as one of the 25 for Kingston - but was the one that never returned to service.  It was allocated to Kingston in September 1977 as a trainer - although those at Kingston at the time are sure it never operated there.  After a year off the radar, RF486 made its final operational move to Loughton, where it was used for type-training (maybe) and for shuttling staff to the RTs kept at North Weald aerodrome for off-road training.  It was finally delicensed on 26 March 1979.  The bus was sold to an owner in Scotland, apparently one of the last RFs to leave LT ownership.


We were custodians of RF486 from 2004 to 2018.