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Triple decker bus

Alexander Age 8

Tamworth, UK

This idea has been made real

Newcastle, North East UK, UK

Chris, Aka Dabble Dabble, is an artist living in the North-East of England with a healthy obsession with science, tinkering, and engineering. He says 'Mostly I just love making things, all sorts of things, but primarily I'm a participatory artist with a background in animation and a personal practice in printmaking and ceramics'.

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Christopher Folwell has been working on making this idea real.
Triple Decker Bus Build
Posted by Christopher Folwell

There's a delicate balance between wonderful and realistic when building a little invention, if you go too far one way or the other then it can turn out unrecognisable, or worse - boring! 
For the triple decker bus I wanted to lean into the wonderful by taking that wacky exaggerated height from Alex's design, and ground it in reality with lots of little details from real busses.

I knew the trickiest bit from the start would be the windows, a reflective surface seemed the most sensible idea, it makes them instantly recognisable without having to go to all the detail of building an interior. I wanted to inlay them flush with the rest of the bus or I knew they would look a bit clumpy and would be prone to breaking off, so that dictated the rest of the build. MDF was perfect for the main shell, it's a really versatile material for this sort of work; it can be finished nicely with a lick of paint, and it can be carved very easily with a nice sharp chisel to recess all the window panes.

While the windows dictated the materials, the actual bus components determined the size. I had to buy model wheels, and lights so I would have to fit the bus to these, and made a set of plans by scaling up Alex's design and tracing it onto card then cut all my MDF to size and glued it together. Next I cut all of the windows from mirrored plastic sheet, basing the shapes on photos of real double decker busses. Next I cut the recesses for each window using a very sharp carving tool and the actual windows as templates.

After all the recesses were cut but not fitted I started to prepare it for painting, I had to sand a radius on each edge to make it look a bit more like a real bus, and sand the whole thing all over to get a nice smooth paint job. I sealed the MDF to stop it soaking up all the paint, then primed it in grey to give it a flat base coat, then gave it 2 coats of a lovely bright glossy red paint.

After that I just had to fit the windows and all the extra bits and bobs - lights, a grill made from aluminium mesh, some number plates (L1TTL3 1NV3NT0R), a destination, and a nice big advertisement. Most of these were simple print outs stuck onto very thin plastic sheet with a very wide sellotape.

I really pleased with how it came out, and I hope Alex liked seeing his design come to life!
It turned out to be quite a challenging build, the MDF kept splitting so there was lots of superglue and repairs that were thankfully covered up by that swanky red paint job!