Leyland National Maximum Speed

cl19

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I’m sure this has been posted a million times before but forgive me, I can’t find a straight answer! Can anyone advise the maximum speed of a leyland National? Appreciate there may be differences between the Mk1 and Mk2. Thanks
 
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carlberry

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I’m sure this has been posted a million times before but forgive me, I can’t find a straight answer! Can anyone advise the maximum speed of a leyland National? Appreciate there may be differences between the Mk1 and Mk2. Thanks
It's the length of a piece of string!
Are you assuming it's original engine and original setup? The mk1 National was available as a dual purpose version which would have had a different setup to allow higher speeds and there was one coach version built which, I suspect, had a different setup. By the time the local engineers started touching them some of them will have had their setup changed (usually to reduce power however!)
The mk2 had several original engine options and by the time you've taken into account the ones that had replacement engine types, the greenway rebuilds etc there could be any number of answers.
They did appear to have the ability to corner at about the same speed that they could travel in a stright line however!
 

PG

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As @carlberry has said there are so many variables which make it impossible to give you a definitive answer.

I can recall driving several Mk1 Nationals (all phase 2's; both A and B series) which though bus seated could easily top 52mph with a good few able to hit 60mph.

I've also experienced driving a Gardner engined late model Mk2 with semi-coach seating which had a top speed of 38mph. Pretty much guaranteed late running when allocated to anything bar a local town service!

They did appear to have the ability to corner at about the same speed that they could travel in a stright line however!
Then every so often out of the blue they could lose grip on the front axle which made for a couple of brown trouser moments as you crossed onto the opposite carriageway!
 

cl19

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Thanks for the response and apologies for such a vague question, I guessed that might be the case!! Some useful info there though. I used to travel on National 2’s as part of my commute and always thought they sounded great - really throaty! Never worked out whether it was a 0680 or TL11 engine though
 
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We had a number of Mk1 and 2s when I started driving, all of them would do close to an indicated 60mph but the speedo was notoriously vague.

Mk1s used to lean over terribly if you cornered at any sort of speed, wasn't keen on them. Mk2s were great for racing cars at traffic lights.
 

GusB

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Thanks for the response and apologies for such a vague question, I guessed that might be the case!! Some useful info there though. I used to travel on National 2’s as part of my commute and always thought they sounded great - really throaty! Never worked out whether it was a 0680 or TL11 engine though
As far as I recall, prototype Mk2s had O680s, but most production versions would have had either the naturally-aspirated L11 or the turbocharged TL11. The Gardner 6HLXB was offered as an option towards the end of National production, and I believe there were a few fitted with the 6LXCT turbocharged version.

If you know the registration numbers of the buses you used to travel on, you can look it up on buslistsontheweb.co.uk - you can tell which engine was originally fitted from the "chassis" designation. E.g:

NL106L11/1R

NL - National
106 - length (in this case 10.6m - the other main length was 11.6m)
L11 - engine type (self-explanatory)
1R - in the National the "1" denotes single door, I believe. The R denotes right-hand drive.

A Gardner engined example would be NL116HLXB/1R
 

TheGrandWazoo

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As far as I recall, prototype Mk2s had O680s, but most production versions would have had either the naturally-aspirated L11 or the turbocharged TL11. The Gardner 6HLXB was offered as an option towards the end of National production, and I believe there were a few fitted with the 6LXCT turbocharged version.

If you know the registration numbers of the buses you used to travel on, you can look it up on buslistsontheweb.co.uk - you can tell which engine was originally fitted from the "chassis" designation. E.g:

NL106L11/1R

NL - National
106 - length (in this case 10.6m - the other main length was 11.6m)
L11 - engine type (self-explanatory)
1R - in the National the "1" denotes single door, I believe. The R denotes right-hand drive.

A Gardner engined example would be NL116HLXB/1R
United Auto received a batch of turbo charged Gardner Nationals with the 6LXCT engine. Apart from having close ratio gearboxes (suited to urban routes) and having limiters, they were very impressive. They did 52 mph flat out but they climbed uphill at much the same speed!
 

philthetube

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at the other end of the spectrum Burnley and Pendle bought a couple second hand from Tyne and Wear which could only manage 38 and the engine was screaming at that, they were murder if you got one on Burnley Keighley.
 

Romsey

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On the early mark 1's I thought the speed limit was when the drivers sense of self preservation kicked in. ( Thinking of the comment up thread about how badly they rolled. Yes - about 25mph on some country roads with reverse camber and crumbling tarmac....)
 

spuddie

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I remember once when we had some new Leyland Lynxes and had a weekend of rail replacement work, I was a bit dismayed about missing out on a Lynx and being given one of the B series Nationals....until I over took them all on the A1, must have been doing around 65mph!
 

Eyersey468

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On the early mark 1's I thought the speed limit was when the drivers sense of self preservation kicked in. ( Thinking of the comment up thread about how badly they rolled. Yes - about 25mph on some country roads with reverse camber and crumbling tarmac....)
Didn't the Mk1s have a habit of skidding across the road in wet weather too? I seem to remember Southern Vectis's examples were involved in several accidents in those circumstances with at least one fatality
 

TheGrandWazoo

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Didn't the Mk1s have a habit of skidding across the road in wet weather too? I seem to remember Southern Vectis's examples were involved in several accidents in those circumstances with at least one fatality
The early Mk1s were particularly prone to keeling over, and the 10.3m examples were particularly skittish. Think from 1974/5, the design was fitted with anti-roll stabilisers.
 

A0wen

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I recall a couple of drivers reckoning 60mph wasn't a problem and possibly even 70mph with a fair wind on a Mk1.

The skittish handling only affected the early ones - Leyland sorted out some of those issues with the fitting of anti-roll bars and also moving the batteries from the back to the front so as to increase the weight over the front wheels. I don't think there's any evidence Nationals were involved in accidents disproportionately against other types of bus. If anything the National's structure was much stronger and drivers came out of some crashes alive which might not have been the case with other types.
 

A0wen

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I remember once when we had some new Leyland Lynxes and had a weekend of rail replacement work, I was a bit dismayed about missing out on a Lynx and being given one of the B series Nationals....until I over took them all on the A1, must have been doing around 65mph!
More impressive with a 'B' Series as they had de-rated engines to extend their life. But they may also have been a tad lighted as a result of the more basic spec reducing weight.
 

A0wen

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It's the length of a piece of string!
Are you assuming it's original engine and original setup? The mk1 National was available as a dual purpose version which would have had a different setup to allow higher speeds and there was one coach version built which, I suspect, had a different setup. By the time the local engineers started touching them some of them will have had their setup changed (usually to reduce power however!)
The mk2 had several original engine options and by the time you've taken into account the ones that had replacement engine types, the greenway rebuilds etc there could be any number of answers.
They did appear to have the ability to corner at about the same speed that they could travel in a stright line however!
I don't think that's correct (the bit I've put in bold) - my understanding is the only difference between a DP National and bus was the interior fittings i.e. high back seats and luggage racks. I thought mechanically they were identical ?
 

TheGrandWazoo

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I don't think that's correct (the bit I've put in bold) - my understanding is the only difference between a DP National and bus was the interior fittings i.e. high back seats and luggage racks. I thought mechanically they were identical ?
Bit of an odd one. Having a look on BLOTW....

London Country's 1974 Green Line Nationals had the designation LN 10351/1R/SC - the SC being for Suburban Coach.
Crosville had DP examples in 1974 as a standard LN 1151/1R/0405 yet 1975 examples did have LN 11351/1R/SC
Another 1974 long DP for Hants & Dorset was LN 11351/1R/SC.

Meanwhile, a Southern Vectis bus was LN 1051/1R/0501 and a 1975 Northern National was a LN 11351/1R.

Even more bizarre were Western Welsh/National Welsh who had batches of DP Nationals in 1975 as LN 11351/1R/SC and 1977 LN 11351A/1R .

Were the Crosville/WW ones incorrectly listed without the SC? Or if the SC didn't relate to the interior, was it something mechanical like a high speed axle?
 

CBlue

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One of a batch of Mk2 Nationals new to Bristol was fitted with a TL11 / ZF auto combination as a testbed. 70mph was apparently achievable with some ease....

The PEX...W batch of Mk2 nationals for Eastern Counties also had high speed back axles and were capable of 60mph or so.
 

carlberry

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I don't think that's correct (the bit I've put in bold) - my understanding is the only difference between a DP National and bus was the interior fittings i.e. high back seats and luggage racks. I thought mechanically they were identical ?
I've always assumed the DP Nationals had a different setup (rear axle is the usual mod as TGW said), however if a standard National can reach 60 then it's possible they were all the same.
 

TheGrandWazoo

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I've always assumed the DP Nationals had a different setup (rear axle is the usual mod as TGW said), however if a standard National can reach 60 then it's possible they were all the same.
Whether it could reach 60 and whether it should do so are two different things. A standard diff might not have had the life of a high speed.

That said, I can't recall axle problems being an issue with Nationals? Main issues would be engines, as we know, and gearboxes though driver abuse and coasting rather than much else - waits for someone to post link of NBC driver awareness film ;)
 

carlberry

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Whether it could reach 60 and whether it should do so are two different things. A standard diff might not have had the life of a high speed.

That said, I can't recall axle problems being an issue with Nationals? Main issues would be engines, as we know, and gearboxes though driver abuse and coasting rather than much else - waits for someone to post link of NBC driver awareness film ;)
I do hope you're not suggesting that some drivers might have abused vehicles in some way!

One of the problems with the National, of course, was that some thought was applied to how to make it more pleasant to drive which meant a generation of drivers used to fighting the worst effects of manual gear boxes, heavy steering, cramped cabs and slow acceleration suddenly had something that they could fling around like a car, and quite a few of them did until the engineering department caught up with what they were doing!
 
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I don't see why a driver would coast in neutral?

Were some of them semi auto, I can only remember full auto?

I was no saint but some drivers seemed to delight at treating their vehicles badly.
 

TheGrandWazoo

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I don't see why a driver would coast in neutral?

Were some of them semi auto, I can only remember full auto?

I was no saint but some drivers seemed to delight at treating their vehicles badly.
Going back to your United Auto days..... The vast majority were 30** and 31** Nationals that were fully auto but 37** were semis; the semis were all ones diverted from other NBC firms so assume that those firms specified semis as a matter of course.

IIRC, most of the early Nationals were semi autos. I remember a story told by a driver who was changing down from 5th to 4th but the gate didn't slide across as it should have done, and instead went from 5th to 2nd o_O

Nice video here with 1:10 to 1:55 showing the semi auto
but also the various acoustics of a childhood in the 1980s!
 
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PG

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I've always assumed the DP Nationals had a different setup (rear axle is the usual mod as TGW said), however if a standard National can reach 60 then it's possible they were all the same.
I've definitely had an ordinary bus seated National cruising happily at 60 on the flat.
I don't see why a driver would coast in neutral?

Were some of them semi auto, I can only remember full auto?

I was no saint but some drivers seemed to delight at treating their vehicles badly.
I remember a colleague who told me (not in a National) that coasting downhill in neutral would defeat the rev limiter/engine governor so you could go faster! IIRC it was on MAN 18.220's - give me a National any day over those gastly things with a near horizontal steering wheel and huge wide dash with all the switches looking the same in a completely random order.

All the National's I've driven have been semi auto with the Pneumocyclic gearbox. I think the full auto was a later (possibly Mk2) option.
 

delt1c

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I remember reading in the early 80's that LT's Nationals allocated to Loughton garage had a modification to the gearbox to hold the lower gears
 

GusB

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I don't see why a driver would coast in neutral?

Were some of them semi auto, I can only remember full auto?

I was no saint but some drivers seemed to delight at treating their vehicles badly.
I have seen some hellish abuse of semi-auto boxes over the years, and not just on Nationals. The most common issue was drivers changing up without lifting their foot off the accelerator and not pausing in between gears as per the instruction manual that @PG has kindly posted above. I don't recall anyone coasting in neutral, but it must have been a fairly common issue as it was highlighted in the NBC training film mentioned above.

The National 2s we had were certainly semi-automatic, and I'm sure I recall reading that semi-auto was an option, with the full auto being standard on the Mk2. There was also a choice of close-ratio or wide-ratio gearboxes, which may account for some of the differences in performance.
 

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