Preserved K-Type K502
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Notes About This Vehicle

The K-type was the next important step in design after the B-type — London’s first ‘standard’ bus. That said, it is important to appreciate that the concept of ‘standard’ today is very different from what was meant, or even implied, one hundred years ago.

Severely delayed by the First World War, the first K-type (possibly two of them) went into service in August 1919. A pause followed until May 1920, when the main fleet started to arrive.

Mounted on AEC chassis, the first 200 had bodies built by the London General Omnibus Company (LGOC) themselves; subsequent bodies were sourced from Short Brothers, Brush, Strachan, and a further batch from the LGOC.

The K-types varied in design and decoration and indeed many of the double-deck K-types were later converted to single deck — and even those were not the same, with different seating capacities and some with a different wheelbase.

The new bus built on the success of its forerunner with many improvements. Most importantly the driver now sat alongside the engine instead of behind it, allowing a longer passenger-carrying body to incorporate more seats, and for the first time, owing to the wider body, passengers downstairs could sit facing forwards. The introduction of rear wheel arches also allowed the body to be nearer the ground.

Despite the next evolution higher capacity S-type appearing in late 1920 and then the NS-type in 1925, K-types were still arriving new until 1924. In 1925 new K-type single deckers made an appearance, as well as those converted from double-deckers as noted above.

By 1925 many earlier double-deckers also received new bodies. The original design had flat sides though the later new bodies had their lower panels curved inwards when seen from the front and rear, as in this drawing. The original livery had the lower side panels in brown but these gave way to an all red colour scheme, also as depicted here.

K-types were mostly withdrawn by early 1931, except for ten retained until 1932 for route 90 which crossed the weight-restricted Chertsey bridge.

K502 when new had a body made by Short Brothers. In private preservation since 1968, when it was rescued from having been used for staff accommodation on a farm, its restoration is the result of painstaking research.

Notes About This Drawing

This drawing is based on numerous photographs taken of K502, and extensive measurements of K424 in the London Transport Museum collection at Acton. Both vehicles are of course in restored condition and no doubt the results of much agonizing when re-creating their detail. That said, these vehicles were built individually and so varied in minutiae.

Further reference has been made to contemporary 1920s black & white photographs of a few other K-types found in the London Transport Museum’s collection. I have tended to use the measurements of K424 as a starting point, with my photographs of K502, and incorporate whatever I can interpret clearly from the 1920s images. None of the detail here can be regarded as definitive.

It should be understood that all four elevations are seen here as one would see all parts of the vehicle at a truly perpendicular angle. In real life this is of course impossible.

 
drawing copyright Douglas Rose February 2020
 
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