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Notes About This Vehicle

London’s famous Routemaster was first shown in its prototype form as RM1 at the Earls Court Motor Show in 1954. After extensive testing, along with three further prototypes, the first production Routemasters entered passenger service in 1959.
The production run of standard RMs were identical externally up to fleet number RM253. From RM254 and upwards, all new vehicles were equipped with quarter-drop front upper deck windows, as seen in this drawing.
One of the principle forces that drove the design of the Routemaster was saving weight, hence the aluminium alloy body.
Having previously been painted, Underground rolling stock by the early 1950s had been experimentally and successfully unpainted and the decision was taken to try the same with buses. However, the trains had a harder aluminium alloy with a brushed surface, producing a matte finish.
One of the benefits of an unpainted bus would be a saving of about 3cwt (about 150kgs), which is how much weight the external finish adds.
RM664 was the bus chosen to be tested in service in this form (the only one as it happened). The panelling was left in its manufactured state, but not being the harder brushed aluminium alloy used on trains, it had a more reflective surface, giving a different appearance to them. No paint or lacquer was applied, though some other non-aluminium external parts were painted silver to match.
The bus was licensed for service in July 1961 and allocated initially to Highgate garage (code ‘HT’) and to eleven different garages in total during its time in passenger service, moving around London until early 1965.
The trial didn't go particularly well, with the bus becoming visibly more grubby than the standard red vehicles, probably because the finish was not the same as the successful Underground trains. Repairs to damaged panels exacerbated its disappointing appearance. Following these trials on RM664 (also commonly called ‘The Silver Lady’) it was painted red and returned to service, indistinguishable from the rest of the fleet.
The on-going overhaul processes of the RM fleet routinely caused sub-frame and body pairings to part company. A bus is now preserved, returned to its silver outward appearance in the guise of RM577; this vehicle carries the original body of RM664 but with different running units.

Notes About This Drawing

The drawing is based on a Chiswick Works general arrangement drawing from 1963 ‘RM001.Z.1’, revised a few times to 1964. This type of black & white sketch drawing, as implied by the name, is not intended to define detail but as a specification guide to builders.
All the fine detail has been interpreted from several black & white and colour photographs of sufficient quality that could be found and attempts to show the vehicle as closely as possible to how it looked when it was in service in this livery. None of the detail can be regarded as definitive.
It should be understood that all four elevations are seen here as one would see each part of the vehicle at a truly perpendicular angle. In real life this is of course impossible.
drawing copyright Douglas Rose March 2018
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