Sometime around this date I ended up tightening the cable tension for the gear cable by removing the rear dust cover and releasing the cable manually. It appears that the cable was adjusted for a 7 speed. The cable was so loose that shifting from first to second only tightened the cable and did not change gears. After adjusting the cable tension and barrel adjuster as need the bike is a lot more efficient and delivers a smoother performance. Now I have access to all 8 gears.