Prepared on Notepad by Ian Smith,
This page created on 4th July 1998, updated 21st November 1998
The first production bus, RM8RM8 was actually the first built of the production buses (the numbers RM5, 6 and 7 being kept at first for the test rig buses), and was the only RM completed during 1958. But it was by no means the first into service, and indeed, it was not even accepted by LT until March 1961. (It finally entered service in March 1976!) It was built to appear at the 1958 Commercial Motor Show in September, where it excited little interest compared with the new generation of rear-engined buses. After that it became the new test bus: it seemed silly to try all modifications on a prototype when they could be tried out on a production vehicle.
ConstructionVisually it looked much the same as RML3, except for the redesigned bonnet and radiator. The new design was both modern and smart, and has stood the test of time well compared with many of its contemporary "tin-fronts".
The bus incorporated the air control system, with a deep inlet to a radiator above the cab and below the front display, and with small air scoops above the front windows that channelled fresh air into the upper saloon through vents at the front. Therefore the front upper windows were non-opening single panes.
The fuel tank was moved to the offside (ie different from the prototypes and the RTs).
RM8 at Showbus 98.
Mechanically the production Routemaster was an amalgam of features from the prototypes, plus lessons learned during their testing and service trials:
RM8 at Showbus, 1997
The test busRM8 appeared at the Commercial Motor Show, still owned by AEC/Park Royal, although in LT colours. It then disappeared to Chiswick and its environs, for use as a test bus. The Routemaster class did not have an easy entry into service, and there were a continual stream of problems, especially with brakes, hydraulic systems, automatic gearboxes, air suspension, cooling, heating.... RM8 acted as the engineering mobile test bed for the class for the next seventeen and a half years.
RM8 as test bed for a new design of front brake cooling vents
1976: into serviceRM8 finally went into service at Sidcup at the end of March 1976, operating on routes 21, 51, 161 and 228. Is there any other bus that STARTED its public service so long after being built? By this time it had acquired a later radiator grille, with a V-shaped badge in place of the bonnet bullseye. It became the showbus for the RM8 Group, staff at Sidcup garage, who began to exhibit it.
RM8 was painted into the 1933 London Transport style of livery
for the 50th anniversary of LT,
but was returned to standard red in February 1984.
1985 - : PreservationThe RM8 Group bought the bus in 1985, after just 9 years of service, and have restored it as far as possible to its original condition, including red livery with cream lining, and the original style of bonnet emblem and radiator grille.
RM8 manoevres past RF13 on the way out from Showbus, Duxford, September 1998.
9/58: Commercial Motor Show, Earls Court 10/58: Chiswick for test programme 3/76: SP for service on 21, 51, 161, 228 3/83: SP repaint into LT 50 1933 colours 2/84: SP repaint to standard red livery 1985: SP sold to RM8 group for preservation 9/97: at Showbus 97: active preservation. 9/98: at Showbus 98 9/97: at Showbus 99 4/00: at East Grinstead Running Day
Photographic ReferencesFor a key to the references see the bibliography.
RM_1 p42 1958 at Commercial Motor Show. BM3RM p76 non-standard front, brake vent trials. RM_1 p61 revised front & grilles, (406 GH). RM_2 p20 3/76 SP on 21 to Sidcup Garage, V-badge. CB8 p36 2/78 SP on 229 to Farnborough, St Mary Cray. RM_2 p79 3/83 SP on 21 to Sidcup Garage, 1933 livery, bonnet emblem.
Ian's Bus Stop. RM Contents slave rigs RM8 RMs