Hino RN8J

By: Allen Matzel

Hino’s new RN8J bus chassis could help the manufacturer claw back some share of markets it once dominated.

Hino RN8J
Hino’s new RN8J (with air suspension fitted in the factory) will appeal to fans of the RG197.

Hino once dominated the school bus/charter market. Times changed. And now Hino wants them to change again - in an effort to claw back some of that lost ground it has brought out the new RN8J chassis. If you were a fan of the RG197 the RN8J, with factory-fitted air suspension, will be right up your alley.

ABC took the RN8J for a drive following the recent BusVic Maintenance and Bus Expo in Melbourne.

We left Hino's Laverton facility and travelled along the Western ring road and the Deer Park bypass to the Western Highway to Ballan. On the climb up the Pentland Hills the RN8J performed quite respectably and coming back down the engine brake worked very well and sounded even better (just like the old Jake brake). On our way back down the Pentlands we pulled into Bacchus Marsh for a photo shoot before heading back to Laverton.

The RN8J is a driver-friendly bus with a comfortable driving position, light and easy steering and, once the gearbox has warmed up, the gears are easy to select.

Hino's factory air-suspension gives a good, smooth ride that would be equal to any of the current European chassis.

The RN8J cruises at 100km/h at 2,200rpm and there was no road wind noise Express body had no wind noise (okay, there was a little wind noise when I opened the window to listen to the engine brake burble). The factory air suspension is terrific.

The bus has 57 high-back cloth-covered seats (no seatbelts), side bins and air-conditioning from Coachair.

Hino's driver's area layout has not changed much since the old RG197 - it is functional and well set out. The steering column is adjustable for telescopic and tilt and is fitted with two stalks.

The left stalk controls the engine brake, wiper/washer and hazard, and the right stalk operates the indicators and headlights/high beam.

One thing I do like on the Express body is that the demister runs the full length of the windscreen and there is an outlet for the driver's window (something lacking on some bodies).

There are four easy steps up - 440mm, 215mm, 175mm and 190mm - into the RN8J to the driver's floor, then there's a step of 210mm to the saloon. The saloon has a gentle ramp from the ninth row to a step of 140mm to the rear seat.

Main chassis dimensions are 2,200mm front over hang, 6,000mm wheelbase, 3,225mm rear overhang, 905mm front frame height and a turning circle kerb-to-kerb of 18,800mm.

The RN8J is powered by a 7.684-litre Hino JO8E TB turbocharged, intercooled six-cylinder EGR engine. It develops 193kW (263hp) at 1,500rpm and producing a commendable 794Nm at 1,500rpm.

The engine is coupled to a ZF 6S1000BD six-speed mechanical manual gearbox with synchromesh from first to sixth. Gear ratios on the ZF are: first 7.716, second 4.423, third 2.854, fourth 1.915, fifth 1.301, and sixth 1.000 and reverse 7.098. A ZF auto is also available (ABC will test one of these soon). The clutch is a CS380 dry single-plate with damper springs and hydraulic control with air-booster.

Brakes are a full-air dual-circuit 'S' cam type with air drier, ABS and auto brake shoe adjuster. The front axle is a 6,000kg-rated MF58 series 'I' beam fitted with two airbags and double-acting shock absorbers and stabiliser. The rear axle is a 10,000kg-rated SH16 full-floating, single-reduction single speed hypoid unit with a diff ratio of 4.300:1. The four airbags are mounted under the chassis rails with double-acting shock absorbers and stabiliser.

There is a leaf-spring version available and cruise control and kneeling suspension is currently under development.

Tyres are 10-stud disc rims 8.25x22.5-offset 165mm with 11R22.5-16PR tyres.

The chassis is fitted with a standard 24-volt negative earth system with a brushless alternator with built-in rectifier and voltage regulator with a capacity of 90A (110A for air-con option).

The 250-litre fuel tank should give the operator ample fuel for any kind of work. This is one of the nicest Hinos I have driven. For all those operators who loved the RG197 I am sure you will feel the same about the RN8J. This bus should be a good, reliable workhorse for school runs and charter. It is top machine for someone looking for a good, well-priced workhorse, that is also easy to work on.

Many thanks to Hino's Bus Products Manager Kevin Fielding for giving ABC access to this well-presented machine.

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