The Austral Tourmaster refered to in other parts of this site is what we have purchased and already started stripping the stuff still remaining to remove. We purchased the vehicle from a charming lady in Bundaberg (thanks Wia) whose partner had unfortunately contracted a terminal illness. The vehicle had been sitting for 19 months, badly deteriorating, when purchased by us. It had had the seats and windows removed, as well as some of the inner skins. The air conditioning had also been removed. It was purchased by us for 3 reasons.

  • With the inner skins mostly off, the extent of frame rust was apparent.
  • The owner was realistic about what the vehicle was worth.
  • Mechanically it seemed fine, the engine was supposedly reco’d 5,000 K’s ago but there is no paperwork to substantiate.

We decided to float the vehicle the 400 K’s to our farm as Bill’s time is too valuable to be sitting beside the road with on old blown tyre. I am confident it would have been fine for the trip, but with the hassles of getting a permit etc, we took the easy option. West Moreton Towing did a great job, delivering on time as usual.

I have looked at quite a few coaches around the 25-30 years old, when the inspections just get too tedious for bus companies to continue with them, even though the rest of the coach can be in very good condition. EVERY ONE had AT LEAST SOME frame rust, but some owners seemed to have selective vision when it came to rust. If it wasn’t visible (or in one case if you could stand in front of it, covering it up) then it did not exist.

If you are purchasing a coach of this age you can bet you have some work to do to get it back to scratch. Once you get those skins off  all manner of things are revealed. Even with our buy where we could see most of the rust damage (typically under windows on the sides and around any roof mounted aircon) we have still been surprised at some of the work we have to do.

However it is simply a matter of doing a bit each day and finally you get to the end of the tunnel. Rust repairs on these things are not rocket science, you go back until you find good metal and chop and start from there. In some cases you will be able to improve on the original design quite easily, as certainly the Australs and most Dennings were overbuilt. Just think about water getting in and if it does, how it can dry out before forming rust. A prime example is the double skin on the rear part of the mudguard behind the tag, I reckon it was engineered to rust. Just leave a single skin in place and never have another problem.