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Notes About This Vehicle

The conception and life of what was to become a large fleet of RTs commenced just before the Second World War. The initial generation of this vehicle type thus became known as ‘pre-war RTs’, though in truth the first of them didn’t enter service until the war had already started.
The engines, chassis and running units of the evolution of ‘post-war’ RTs that followed were built by AEC, with bodies from four different builders. The majority were from Park Royal Vehicles and Weymann, though wartime shortages caused others to be supplied by Saunders and Craven.
RTs conformed to the then standard legislation restricting them to 7ft 6ins width. The fleet reached 4825 in number, though this figure is misleading.
Legislation later permitted 8ft-wide buses outside central London. In order to get more new buses, London Transport turned to Leyland with the intention of buying 1000 RT type chassis and running units, 500 to receive 7ft 6ins bodies and 500 as 8ft. These were all to be numbered in one series as RT Wide, RTW1–500 and RT Leyland as RTL501–1000. Various factors caused things to turn out quite differently.
Though front route number roof boxes had been abandoned across the RT fleet, prototype RTL501 received one as a Park Royal body was available. It was unique in receiving one when new, in May 1948. Some RTLs did receive roof boxed bodies from the RT fleet when swapped at overhaul.
The decision was soon taken to number both Leyland vehicle types in their own series and RTLs 1–500 ensued, also with Park Royal bodies. With RTL 501 already existing, RTLs 551–1000 were built with Metro-Cammell bodies, 502–550, 1001–1306 and 1308–1600 with those from Park Royal, and latterly 1307 and 1601-1631 from Weymann.
As can be inferred from the above fleet numbers, 1131 RTLs were eventually built in addition to the 500 originally planned; the order for 500 RTWs remained.
The Leyland chassis necessitated a small re-shaping of the front mudguard body panel area. Even though the intention had always been that the RTLs would have bodies so similar to RTs as to be fully interchangeable at overhaul, this turned out to be unachieveable with the Metro-Cammell bodies. A recognisable feature of these was the thicker beading above the cream mid band as depicted here.
The unladen weights varied too, with the Park Royal buses coming in at 7 tons 15 cwt and the Metro-Cammells at a round 8 tons. The Metro-Cammell RTLs also had a slightly different configuration from RTs for the platform luggage area.
Following the prototype the first RTLs went into service in 1949 with the last one operating in November 1968.

Notes About This Drawing

The drawing is based on Chiswick Works general arrangement drawing ‘R.T.005 Z.1.’ dated 1949. This type of black & white sketch drawing, as implied by the name, is not intended to define detail but as a specification guide to builders.
All the fine detail has been interpreted from several black & white and colour photographs of sufficient quality that could be found. Owing to the age of the photographs, some fine detail has been gleaned from current preserved RTL554. None of the detail can be regarded as definitive.
It should be understood that all four elevations are seen here as one would see each part of the vehicle at a truly perpendicular angle. In real life this is of course impossible.
 
drawing copyright Douglas Rose June 2019
 
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