NS in late London Transport condition
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Notes About This Vehicle

The NS-type was introduced in May 1923. At the time double-deck buses had no roofs, had solid rubber tyres and were restricted to a maximum speed of 12mph. Furthermore, drivers were exposed to the weather, the buses having no enclosed cab or windscreen.

The NS chassis had a significant development over previous buses in that the chassis frame was cranked downwards behind the front axle. This enabled a lower floor and platform step height to be achieved and gave a lower centre of gravity.

By the time of their final withdrawal in November 1937 much had changed with London bus design. The Metropolitan Police had permitted upper deck roofs, which the new chassis made possible, and an enclosed cab for the driver, with many earlier double and single-deck vehicles enjoying these as retro-fits as well as the new pneumatic tyres being fitted.

As with earlier vehicle types, we must not assess the concept of a standard design through modern day eyes. Though fleet numbers reached over 2400, body types varied notably and mechanical improvements occurred too. During this fertile period, the London General Omnibus Company (LGOC) also became part of the newly formed London Passenger Transport Board (LPTB) in 1933.

The LGOC-designed bodies were fitted to chassis and mechanical units from the Associated Equipment Company (AEC) at Walthamstow. This continued up to NS1605, after which LGOC built the chassis up to NS2296 at its Chiswick works still using parts from AEC.

As elsewhere in the country, bus companies gradually persuaded their local authorities to allow roofed double deckers, where re-designing eventually overcame the would-be top-heavy instability that had precluded them earlier. After the first unsuccessful trials, permission was later given for NSs to run with roofs in October 1925.

By no means did all later NS vehicles follow with roofs, some being built with them and some without. As mentioned above, body variants were several, including one for route 108 through the Blackwall Tunnel. This was narrower than the normal 
7ft 2ins width, had an enclosed platform and staircase, the first to do so in London, and a more rounded rear to cope with the bends; it also had a reduced height.
In 1928 the width restriction regulation was eased allowing 
7ft 6ins, which remained in place until 8ft RTWs were introduced in 1949, but at the time only in the suburbs. (Some 8ft wide trolleybuses ran in London from 1943 also in the suburbs.) Commencing with NS2297, AEC now at its new factory at Southall, produced a new chassis which for the first time accommodated the wider pneumatic tyres and permitted operation to the increased 20mph speed limit for these.

Supposedly the Police refused enclosed cabs to ensure the driver maintained concentration in bad weather. This rather draconian diktat was lifted in 1929 with a meagre surround fitted. These were not that successful but by 1931 a proper cab structure with opening screen and doorway, but no door, appeared and were subsequently retro fitted. One of the less obvious consequences of this is the wooden blanking disk on the front offside where the original lamp had been.

By the time the LPTB took over there were still many open toppers and solid-wheeled NSs running. The last to run in normal service was NS1974 on 30th November 1937. 

This drawing depicts NS1995 on route 29. The route had the class at Palmers Green garage (AD) until 6th October 1937, with a maximum allocation of 62 vehicles in 1934. They were replaced by STLs.

Notes About This Drawing

This drawing is based on London General Omnibus Company general arrangement drawing NS3522, with illegible date, though this is of an NS in an earlier form. Over two hundred photographs with measurements were taken of NS1995 at the London Transport Museum, in its state of largely as-withdrawn condition.

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 October 2022
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