The structure of the Gay Hostess is based on a modified service bus shell, the differences under the skin being the ramped lower deck floor and aluminium roof framework. The structure of the body is a mix of steel top- hat vertical frames riveted to aluminium top-hat below the lower deck windows, with 16swg aluminium stress panels sandwiched between it all. The structure is assembled in a jig off the vehicle, each side then being rivetted to the chassis outriggers. This provides a semi-integral structure.
This direct contact of steel and aluminium presents severe problems of inter-metal corrosion, with the lower exposed couple of feet of structure prone to severe corrosion. No25 has all the signs of this corrosion, with the aluminium stress panels non-existent in places.
It was Ribble's normal practice to overhaul their fleet at 7 years of age. It would appear this was not the case with 25, and possibly the other Hostesses. The repaint records for this vehicle, at 7 years of age, only show a depot single coat repaint, not a full overhaul. The only overhaul recorded for 25 was completed in Nov 1963, this seems very early in its life, and research is being made into why this was the case.
Because RVPT have owned no25 for some time, the Trust has taken the opportunity to obtain suitably accurate structural components to ensure a sympathetic, not just cosmetic restoration is carried out. This will use original MCW structures, both used, (from vehicles dismantled for this project) and some new sections that came from the Ribble stores, to replace the rotted original parts as required. This foresight and planning has provided a good pool of suitable components, which will allow a unique opportunity to reconstruct the framework sympathetically.
The process could be compared to the renovation of a listed building which avoids using new bricks, etc. However, like all vehicle reconstruction, there will be areas of weakness common to the type, where suitable used parts are not available. In this case, RVPT will have to fabricate replacement parts to original specification.