National chassis go international
If you've noticed an error in this article please click here to report it so we can fix it.
A NEW BUS chassis based on components from the Leyland National bus is now being produced in Britain.
The first 27 chassis have been completed and are being shipped to the continent for completion by bodybuilders. Two have gone to Holland to be completed by Den Oudsten and then for trial service with Netherlands Railways. The other 25 are being shipped to Belgium for completion by Jonckheere and will then go into service with the state transport fleet SNCV for inter-city work.
The new chassis, codenamed B21 by Leyland, is not intended at the moment for use in this country. The mechanical components are the same as the standard National with the exception of the gearbox. This is the popular continental Voith D851 with integral hydraulic retarder. Steering and brake components are the same as is the Leyland 510 engine.
The majority of the corn ponents for the B21 are produced in the Leyland National factory at Workington but some strengthening work is being carried out by Bristol Commericial Vehicles Ltd at Bristol.
Both the bodybuilders mentioned are used to completing semi-integral vehicles, but the bodies will look nothing like the standard National. Jonckheere are using their standard inter-city bus design. The Leyland chassis is said to be "just. about self-supporting" and can be driven without a body — and is indeed seen by many as a competitor to the Volvo B59 bus chassis.
This move by Leyland is designed to widen the export potential of the National and thus to exploit spare capacity at the Workington plant.
Dutch and Belgian bus operators are reluctant to import complete vehicles as this would be a major blow to their own bodybuilding industries. But limited trials with standard Leyland Nationals are said to have been successful.
Just over a year ago 25 Nationals went into service with Netherlands Railway for evaluation. The two locally bodies buses will join this fleet on their completion next month.
The 25 Jonckheere bodied Nationals are due for comple tion next February — but Leyland hope that one will be complete to show in the Brus sels Motor Show in January.
They will be the first Nationals for SNCV but Leyland have high hopes for this market. SNCV buys about 250 buses every year but likes to split this order between different manufacturers.