Strathtay Scottish inherited a mixed double-deck fleet on its formation in 1985. As well as older Fleetlines and Ailsas the newer fleet reflected the preferences of the company’s constituents with Leyland Olympians from Northern and MCW Metrobuses from Midland.
Strathtay’s deliveries of deckers before privatisation were inherited from orders placed by Midland and Northern leading to dual-sourcing and in 1986 and 1987 it received nine Olympians and eight Metrobuses.
SO19 was part of the second batch of three Olympians delivered to Dundee depot in April 1987, constructed at the same time as a Gardner-engined batch for Northern and a Leyland-engined pair for Lowland. It originally carried Strathtay’s blue and orange livery bus livery and its bus interior used unusual individual modular seats with very thin squabs and cushions specified by Strathtay for all its double-deckers at the time.
Renumbered 919 in 1992 the bus spent much of its time working at Dundee and Arbroath depots. Under Yorkshire Traction ownership in the 1990s Strathtay augmented investment in new vehicles with refurbishment of older buses and in 1997–1998 919 and its four remaining sisters (911/6/7/8) were reseated with coach seats identical to those in more recent Volvo Olympians — a great improvement on the originals. A repaint into Strathtay’s ‘go-faster’ coach livery transformed the external appearance of the bus.
As a semi-coach the bus was ideal for use on Strathtay’s longer interurban services and 919 was still in front-line service when Stagecoach took over in 2006. 919 became 14686 in the Stagecoach national numbering scheme. It ended its days on school work at Blairgowrie: often the fate of Strathtay’s elderly double-deckers. Withdrawal came in the spring of 2008, the result of a cascade after delivery of new MAN single deckers.
In 2003 the bus lost part of its roof in a collision with a filling station canopy in Arbroath. At the time Strathtay had several withdrawn MCW Metrobuses with Alexander R-type bodies and one of them (805) donated part of its roof to repair the Olympian.
The bus was collected for preservation from Stagecoach Strathtay’s Arbroath depot in October 2008 and passed its first MOT in preservation in May 2009. A number of bodywork spares were stripped from C116 BTS, an earlier Strathtay Olympian which had been sold to Bedlam Paintball, and this should enable the restoration of the upper deck front to original condition.
Restoration began in earnest in 2013 after the bus had spent several years off the road in outside storage. A new water rail gasket for the engine has been fitted along with a new thermostat, hopefully curing the bad coolant leak suffered by the bus since purchase. The bodywork has suffered from being stored outside for several years but in January 2014 the bus was moved back inside and this will enable work to progress more quickly.