Prepared on Notepad by Ian Smith.

This page created on 30th June 1998, updated 20th February 2015.

RM2 in primer

The private prototype, RM2

1955: The grey lady

RM2 was very much the younger twin of RM1. Although built very soon after RM1 (March 1955), RM2 went straight to trials, with none of the publicity that surrounded RM1. Not the glitter of Olympia, not even a top-coat. RM2 was sent out into the cold world clad only in grey primer. No posters procaimed that this was London's bus of the future. There was not even a service number or a registration plate. With only trade plates to proclaim that anyone at all loved her, RM2 was banished to testing grounds, at Northolt airport (performance tests), Nuneaton (strain testing), Titsey Hill (hill-climbing), Nuneaton again (fuel consumption and acceleration tests) and a final gruelling period at Chobham (endurance tests).

It had been planned to place RM2 into service in December 1955, ahead of RM1, on route 3 from Chalk Farm, but after the trials were completed in July it became apparent that RM2's small engine was not a success. The AV470 was only 7.7 litre, like the underpowered 9T9. Some opinion maintained that under London conditions a small engine worked hard would be more economical than a large engine working well within its limits. They were wrong. RM2, and the following RMs, would have a 9.6 litre engine. So during the autumn of 1955 RM2 was rebuilt at the front to take the larger engine. The fully automatic gearbox and the power steering were retained. A radiator in front required the same lumpy front end treatment as was given to RM1.
During the rebuild the heating and ventilation system was installed, so the opening front windows upstairs were replaced. The display blind arrangements were also revised in the same way as on RM1. An oddity, especially as the Country Area normally did not use offside route numbers, was that the small offside number box had "ROUTE" written above it.

RM2 in green

1956-7: The green machine

The delay had changed ideas about service trials too. RM2 was painted in green for service trials in the Country Area. Test runs of the refurbished bus started in about September 1956, but it was May 1957 before RM2 was ready for genuine service, alongside RTs at Reigate on the 406 between Kingston and Reigate.
There were problems. RM2 devoured a gearbox within four days, and there were persistent transmission and braking problems. The Country Trial ended in August 1957, and RM2 returned to Chiswick .

RM2 in red

1957-9: Service in the City

RM2 reappeared in red at the end of August, and went to Turnham Green (V), for use on the 91. Turnham Green was conveniently placed for Chiswick to keep an eye on the wild child. With a few days driver training completed, RM2 started service on the 91 on 18th September 1957.
Two weeks later it was back at Chiswick, with RM1, for changes.
It re-emerged at the start of December 57, and worked on the 91 (and 27) until the middle of February 58.

This time the changes were major. Air suspension replaced the rear coils. A compressor was fitted. The hydraulically-operated gearbox was replaced by an electro-pneumatic one. As RM production was scheduled to start shortly, tests on these were urgent.
RM2 re-emerged in July 58, and continued in test service on the 91 for over a year. In November 1959, with RM production established, its prototype testing role was over. It was taken out of passenger service and returned to Chiswick.

RM2, later

1960-1972: Training duties

RM2 at Chiswick
RM2 at Chiswick, June 1983. Photo, used with permission, by Adrian J. Stuart-Robson.
RM2 was transferred to the training fleet, and went first to Clay Hall.
In 1964, along with RM1, RM2 was given a repaint and received a new radiator and front wing assembly. Whether this was the original form, with central red band and bullseye above, or chromium band plus bullseye, or the 1964 style with an AEC badge I don't know, but by the time it was retired from the training fleet in 1972 it had an AEC badge radiator with a bullseye bonnet! In all its 17 years of service between 1955 and 1972 it did not have a formal overhaul.

1973-1986: Experimental

RM2, Shillibeer From February 1973 RM2 belonged to London Transport's experimental department at Chiswick, who used it for trying out ideas. It was fitted with a platform door in 1974.

1976: RM2 was used as a guinea-pig for the Silver Jubilee paint scheme. In May it was painted overall silver with a red band, and a red bullseye between the decks. This having been successful on RM2, RM442 was treated similarly for display to potential sponsors, before a fleet of 25 was so treated. RM2 did NOT appear publicly in this guise.

1978: the 150th anniversary of the start of public omnibus services in London was to be celebrated by a fleet of RMs painted in Shillibeer's original livery of dark green with red and cream lining. Again RM2 was the trial bus, but this time the finish was good enough for RM2 to be the bus displayed to potential sponsors. Unlike the final Shillibeer liveried buses, RM2 even had its fleet number picked out in red-shaded gold serif lettering. But they didn't let RM2 play with the public when the anniversary actually occurred in 1979.

1986 - : Preservation

In August 1986 London Transport retired RM2 properly. Restored in red livery, RM2 joined RM1 as a historical vehicle in the care of the London Transport Museum. In 1988 it was loaned to the Oxford Bus Museum.

RM2 front o/s RM2 front n/s RM2 front o/s RM2 rear n/s

RM2 made an appearance at the 1999 Cobham Open Day. It seems to be going a little bald on top
- a common enough complaint amongst forty year olds! Photos by Ian Smith.

2014: Restoration

The London Transport Museum eventually restored RM2 to its early service condition, with a rebuilt front and Country Area livery. It appeared for The Year of the Bus Cavalcade in 2014, and it was also at the RM60 event at Finsbury Park in July 2014.


RM2 restored to early Country Area condition, at RM60 in Finsbury Park


 3/55:     road-testing and trials at Northolt, MIRA and Chobham

 7/55:     Chiswick: replace engine, rebuild chassis, improve displays, add heating.
 9/56:     licensed, SLT 57
 9/56:     test running in Green livery
 3/57: RG  service on 406 (Reigate-Kingston)
 8/57:     Chiswick, repaint to red.
 8/57: V   driver/technician training (Turnham Green).
 9/57: V   service on 91 and 27(Sun).
10/57:     Chiswick: add air suspension.
           Change gearbox from hydraulic to electro-pneumatic.
 7/58: V   further service on 91 and 27.
11/59: CL  trainer (Clay Hall)
   64:     repaint, standard front and wings.
       SF  trainer (Stamford Hill)
 5/65: SF  into store
 5/65: L   change store (Loughton)
 8/65: GM  transfer, trainer (Victoria)
 1966: GM  trainer
       J   trainer (Holloway)
 9/70: J   trainer
 9/71: HT  transfer, trainer (Holloway)
 4/72: HT  withdrawn into store from training duties.
 9/72: FY  change store (Finchley)
 2/73: CS  to Chiswick Experimental Shop
 5/76:     painted in Silver Jubilee livery
 1/78:     painted in Shillibeer livery, displayed to sponsors.
 6/79: CS  repainted red
 5/83: CS  from experimental shop to special duties
   86:     donated to LT Museum.
   88:     loaned to  Oxford Museum of Transport
 4/99:     at Cobham Museum Open Day, Brooklands.
 1/03:     start of restoration to early "green" condition by LT Museum
 3/14:     fitted with early style radiator
 6/14:     at Year of the Bus Cavalcade, London
 7/14:     at RM60, Finsbury Park
 9/14:     at Ongar for "End of the Tube"
 9/14:     at Earl's Court for RM1's 60th birthday
 1/15:     on London New Year's Day Parade
 6/15:     active on Hertford Running Day (310)

Photographic References

For a key to the references see the bibliography
1955: Testing times: primer grey, flat radiator, Staines
RM_1 p29     1955  at Staines for Chobham tests, front & rear views, (295 LB)
LBM32 p31    6/55  at Staines for Chobham tests, front & rear views, (295 LB)
RM_1 p23     6/55  at Staines Garage
BM3RM p16    1955  at Staines
Buses505p31  1955  at Staines
LBM137 p37         at Staines LT with RM1
RM_1 p29  11/55  at Chiswick for fitting of bigger engine
1957: Country days: green with cream band, heater grilles, service radiator
RM_1 p30      interiors, upper (fwd) and lower (back)
RM_1 p28   RG showing 406 to Redhill, Epsom, RM ads, publicity photo
RM_1 p31   RG on 406 to Kingston, real ads, in service
RM_1 p04   RG on 406 to Kingston
ALoLBWp105 RG on 406 to Kingston
BM3RM p16  RG on 406 to Redhill, Tattenham Corner
H57 p81    RG on 406 to Redhill
H57 p82    RG on 406A to Tadworth, Tadworth Stn
H57 p135   RG on 406A to Tadworth, rear view
BPRM p27   RG on 406 to Kingston
LBP&P p42  RG on 406 to Kingston, Kingston
LBiC p133  RG on 406 to Redhill, Kingston
1958-59:  Red again, Turnham Green (V)
RM_1 p31   V on 91 to Wandsworth Bridge, Chiswick High Rd, RM ads, in service
BM3RM p19  V on 91 to Turnham Green
H59 p67    V on 91 to Hounslow West Stn, Hammersmith, rear view
H59 p137   V on 27 to Teddington Stn
1959-1972: trainer, various garages
LTBG p68   */66  GM trainer, in garage
LBM145 p13 9/70  J  trainer
1972-83: special projects
RM_2 p68   1972  at Chiswick: radiator has AEC badge AND bullseye!
RM_2 p75   1978  at Chiswick: repainted to Shillibeer livery
BPRM p44   1978  Shillibeer livery demonstrator:  in Syon Park
BM3RM p96        in Shillibeer livery
1983- : preservation
LB63 p80   1983  at Chiswick					
BM3RM p20  1983  at Cobham, showing 91 to London Airport Central
RM_2 p69   198*	 at Covent Garden, showing 91 to Turnham Green
Bus710p62  3/14  fitted with early style radiator: green undercoat
TLB611 p0  6/15  used on 310 to Waltham Cross on Hertford Running Day 

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