Other Makers' Tires.
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. The practice has been growing up during the last few months, on the part of competing makers of -tires for motor vehicles, to circulate to the Motor Press a statement to the effect that such a percentage of all vehicles at a particular exhibition were fitted with one make of tire, compared with only such and such a percentage divided between so many other makes. .The fallacy of such a statement his in the fact that the manufacturer who conducts his own count is tvtreful to reckon in a large number of makes of tires of which only a few pairs are to be 'seen. It therefore comes about that any one of the three or four really large makers is able to claim an apparently enormous preponderance of that company's tires over the other makes, whereas something approaching parity is found to exist if one omits ten or a dozen of the smaller manufacturers from the records... Although every manufacturer is at liberty to adopt this form of advertisement, we venture to point out that it can carry next to no weight with men of average business judgment, whilst the interested parties should remember that members of the motor industry are gifted with more than the usual share of acumen in such matters. Let it he admitted that several large makers of tires enjoy a considerable share of the trade which is distributed by the numerous owners of commercial motors, but do not let us see any more of these statements which are found to prove exactly nothing on analysis. It is idle to pretend that statistics (sic) of this class will affect any but thoughtless individuals., though a few orders may have been secured to the company which first lighted upon this plan of campaign. Any small business value which it possessed originallv. has now disapneared, and we hope to see the cessation of such inconclusive reports ; they will not suffice toinduce further business nowadays.
Evil Effects of Tramrails.
With the rapid extensions and multiplication of tramway lines in and around London and other big cities, the surfaces of the streets and highways of each become more and more like some gigantic spider's web set out to catch the unwary motorist, the unfortunate motorbus and motorcab driver, and the sleepy individual in charge of the market gardener's cart, in its deadly grip. So compietelv is this the case sometimes, that, should a wheel get alongside the inner edge of the rail, it is a matter of very great difficulty to get clear again without colliding with, and sustaining damage from, some other vehicle—most probably one of the tramcars using that particular line. If it were possible to construct a road surface which would never sink below the level .of, and would wear at the same rate as, the rails, -the conditions would not then. he quite so dangerous, although the disagreeable fact of the trams' being confined to a rigid track would still remain. It is, of course, impossible to -construct such a road, b-ut, evert if it could .be brought into existence, the presence of rails would still be dangerous to vehicles with narrow tires. The middle rail, or conduit, where adopted, is the greatest offender in this respect, as :tires as large as i -inch in diameter may became wedged so tightly in the opening that any attempt to get clear without first stopping the vehicle -Would be sure to result in the severance of the tires from the rims, and, possibly, damage. to machine and even passengers.
The presence of tramrails always necessitates much greater cautionin driving, and care must b-e taken to avoid crossing the track at a small angle. It is often impossible to avoid such an, occurrence, especially in narrow streets. 'Brentford High Street, for example, is a particularly nervetrying one, even in the beStof weather, but, when the road is greasy, combined with the presence of two .sets. of rails in a roadway barely wide enough for two vehicles to pass each other, the ordeal' is such that none would return_ that way from sheer hive of the road or its conditions. The frequency with which tires and even wheels are wrenched off vehicles by projecting tramrails is sufficient_ indication of the dangers which the presence of the rails involve for vehicles other than the. tramcars. Not only. is it the tires which suffer from -contact with the tramrails, but transmission gear and frames are also seriously affected. Who has not •se-en a heavy motor lorry with one steel-shod rear wheel on the road surface and the other on a trantrail, the wheel on the tramrail spinning merrily at twice its normal rate, putting undue work on the differential gear, and who has not experienced the excessively bad results of rail shocks and the consequent•stresses?
Our illustration of -a back-axle breakage serves to point the moral,' for makers -of heavy wagons -have reached the admissible ,limits in weight let complaints First, then claims, be lodged wherever a tramway company or authority allows the setts to wear so badly that the rails project sufficiently to be .a danger. We commend the provision of .a " plan of campaign " to the notice of the Commercial Motor Users' Association. Tramway undertakings -are generally financed by powerful companies, or have the rates behind them, and it is by no means an attractive proposition to the owner of a damaged motor vehicle that he should undertake the prosecution of .a claim without assistance. Ail tramrarls are laid under statutory obligations as to their maintenance in :1 ur and proper condition, and it will be obviously impossible, haying regard to the gross neglect of such obligations which may be noted in many parts of the country, for commercial motor users to continue to abide by their present losses without taking some action. Where undue wear of the setts adjoining the tramrails has been caused by the use of local stone of a soft character, his id of hard granite, there is little diflicully in the way of bringing the proprietors. of the offending tramway undertaking to lx;o1,:, but it i!4 not Si) easy to put the Law into I/Waal' where the track has been allowed to fall into a state of disrepair from more obscure causes. The whole matter is to occupy the attention of the Executive Committee of the above-named Association at its May meeting-, and we are hopeful that useful results will attend the deliberations on this subject.
It will be gathered iron] another page of this issue that some American experiments upon the enriching of alcohol vapour by the addition of acetylene gas promise to yield valuable results. The problem of using alcohol as a fuel for high-speed motors of the internal-combustion type is certainly presented in a new light, when it comes to be considered in conjunction with the simple expedient of passitig the moisture-laden vapour over commercial carbide of calcium, because the :,Inhydrotts gaseous mixture so obtained is capable of much more rapid combustion than is the vapour from go per cent, alcohol without such dehydration and admixture. It is exceedingly doubtful whether the 1154! nlcuiruI Wi II become practicable in lhe United Ring-don+, owing In) tlm cosi of production and to excise difficulties, but line of the chief physical objections, Ili:it of slow burningand consequent foul exhaust, appears to be largelv remedied, if not obviated, by the interesting experiments to which we Itay-4.to direct attet-ition. We shall look for further developments of this combination upon lines that will prove to advance thc use of alcohol in high-speed engines.
The Pirating of Patented Mechanisms.
We hear much of the music-pirate who copies all the latest musical imoductiunc and oilers them for sale at prices much below the authorised and legitimate copies, and without making any payment to the composer in return fur the use of his production, but we never hear the name of" Pirate " applied to motor mannfaetuters and others who take a direcf. advantage of inventors by using their productions without making glrly return to the patentee. There is no denying the fact that this sort of thing is continually going on in otherwise respectable concerns, and we have often heard hardheaded engineers say that it is useless to patent anything unless one is sufficiently wealthy to pre.ss one's claims in the Law Courts, in order to maintain the privileges which '13v Royal Letters Patent" is generally supposed to secure to the owner of the invention. There arc many pieces of meeh:toisn: iii general use which have been thus pirated, and the inventors robbed of the reward which was their due. The non who are the greatest sufferers by this system of wholesale confiscation of patented mechanisms 11W the more intelligent litters and mechanics who, be thrift, or with the assistance of friends, obtain the money necessary to" protect " their inventions in the vain hope that thev will eventually reap a rich harvest in the way of royalties. If the invention is one which is likely to prove useful, it is sure to be taken advantage of by more than one maker who is in a position to pay the struggling inventor the royalty which is his due, but rarely does so if he can avoid it by bluffing the unfortunate owner of the patent, who, not haying any money behind him, considers it wiser. to let the matter .go, rather than to have anything to do with " The Law " which he does not undet-stand. Perhaps he is wise in taking such a course, and letting tire. manufacturers continue or their piratical career, but such a state of things is likely to stifle invention and dis courage the inventor from further efforts. Our patent-office methods have been, undoubtedly, to blame for this state of things, as patents were often granted for articles which had no more claim to originality than the paper on which the claims were made : and, although recent alterations in the methods of the patent office may improve conditions for the future, the result, so far, is a general disregard for all patents by many men, who say there is no patent which cannot be upset by any engineer worth the money spent on his technical education. Be this correct or otherwise, it is a most regrettable state of things, and, until the granting of a patent implies that the invention is absolutely original in the true sense of the word, we tan see no remedy for the unfortunate man who seeks to protect the product of his brain by means of Lt patent only n> discover that the publication of his ;specification is art invitation to manufacttwers to copy or to " improve " the invention.
The R.A.C. Commercial Motor Trials.
The fall of this year is to witness the first serious trials ol commercial motors since the Liverpool Trials of 1901. An interval of more than six years has witnessed marvellous strides in. the development of the utility vehicle, and the touring programme which has been adopted will probably receive more than ten times the competitive support that was experienced on the occasion of the third trials of the Liverpool Self-Propelled Traffic Association. Many interesting, features of the trials will call for notice in our pages hereafter, but we may state at the outset that a repreiertative entry from marmfact.urers (.4 all types is assured. Tnie triak will not be conducted on the lines which comenende.d themselves to the Commercial Motor Users' Assoeiation, hut thin' will, none the less, have an advantageous effect upon the industry as tt whole. Wide publicity is bound to attend the scheme of the competition, which includes fleeting exhibitions at important industrial centres, whilst there is no doubt that the tests to be imposed will prove severe enough to eliminate any palpably faulty systems or vehiclesWhilst we should have preferred the adoption of a rigorous service condition test, rather than a clemon.straLion tour of an advertising character, we do not fail to recognise that sound arguments exist in support of a trial upon the hfiended lines. When the conditions are issued, which there is every reason to expect will be the ease before our next issue goes to press, although a further. short delay is not beyond the ratig-e of possibility', we shall have occasion to refer tu the competition at greater length. It is satisfactory to know that this 1,000-mile trial will be open to all representative types of vans, lorries and tractors, whilst not a few of the chassis designed for 3-tort loads should prove themselves to be eminently suitable for motorbus work. There is no question that several manufacturers who have been conducting extensive private tests will avail themselves of this opportunity to enter the lists for public favour.
There may be a tendency, in some quarters, to criticise the shortness of the period between the publication of the regulations and the date of the tests, this being less than five months, but we do not attach any serious importance to that fact. Longer notice is desirable from some points of view, but the circumstances are altogether different to-day from those which obtained six or eight years ago'.