COMPONENTS DEMANDED JVERS4E°
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L. J. Cotton, M.I.R.T.E. A Tour of Three Famous Factories in Scandinavia and Holland Discloses that British components are Selected in Preference to All Others SPECIALIST-DESIGNED components, which offer the benefits of world-wide spare-part and technical services, are employed by many makers of commercial vehicles. Their use has distinct economic advantages, as well as others.
It would not pay the average manufacturer to install an expensive press for the manufacture of a few thousand chassis frames, and the cost of retooling, after a change in design, would be completely uneconomic. At the opposite end of the scale, the fuel-injection pump, although relatively small in size, is essentially a specialized unit requiring expensive machine tools for its construction.
Fuel-injection equipment is still in its infancy, and large staffs of research engineers are constantly probing its technicalities, in an endeavour to find perfection. How could any individual chassis rnanu facturer hope to compete with the specialist fuel-pump maker, who, by reason of a huge output, can afford to employ many non-productive technicians?
It is upon the basis of specialization that British components are being introduced in many vehicles of foreign manufacture. This is apparent at many of the Continental commercial vehicle exhibitions, where, in addition to representative displays of British models, there are to be seen in European and Scandinavian vehicles, components of British manufacture or made under licence to designs originating in this country.
I made a rapid survey of three factories in Holland and Sweden, where manufacturers of commercial chassis use British components in preference to all others available in the European and American markets.
Willem Van Twist, of Dordrecht, an established distributor of vehicles in Holland, soon learned that British oil engines were foremost in the world, and that there was a ready market for passenger chassis of the A.E.C. class, and for the Seddon light goods model. These he initially imported in completely knockeddown form and, because local labour was employed in their assembly, was given a liberal import licence by the Dutch Government.
In practice, the Government allocated a quota of sterling for the import of commercial vehicles. Complete chassis were charged at 100 per cent. of their value in this quota, whereas if brought into the country knocked down, the distributor was permitted to import approximately five times as many. The currency allotment has now been changed, principally to benefit internal production. and all units and assemblies imported into Holland are costed on full value for quota purposes.
The demand for units and parts for the assembly of D.A.F.. Krom
bout and foreign-designed vehicles is far in excess of capital allocated by the Dutch Government for the import of parts, but it is gratifying to see that the greatest proportion of components used in any model produced in Holland originates from this country.
The Van Twist organization has been re-formed to build certain parts for the A.E.C. and Seddon chassis within the workshops, but the main assemblies are still purchased from this country. Mr. Van Twist acquired additional premises for the manufacture of vehicles, the overhaul of engines and for converting existing chassis to oil-engine operation, but they have rapidly outgrown his needs, and a new factory with a floor area of 4,000 sq. yds. is at present being constructed for the manufacture of new chassis.
Seddon-Van-Twist is a familiar signature seen on the radiators of commercial vehicles in Holland, and from under the bonnet comes the familiar hum of the Perkins oil engine. Parts for the manufacture of these vehicles are supplied direct from the Seddon factory. The British-made parts include the Moss five-speed gearbox, Hardy Spicer propeller shafts, and an Eaton two-speed rear axle.
The two-speed axle is a necessity for a vehicle of this class in Holland, because of the long distances between towns, where the high ratio can be used to advantage, and to deal with high gross loads. It is not unusual to see several of these vehicles in convoy, each with a trailer and operating with a total payload of 10 tons or more.
Mostly the main roads between towns are level and have fairly good surfaces, but there are many stretches where the granite setts test the suitability of the frame, steering and axles for high-speed operation. The minor roads from the autostrade into the towns are generally in poor condition. Dutch operators find no defects in the Rubery-Owen frame, Kirkstall front axle and Marles double-roller steering supplied by Van Twist.
A medium-class vehicle with a gross train weight of 15-17 tons makes a heavy demand on the clutch, but the Borg and Beck unit fitted is claimed by manufacturers in Holland and Sweden to be the best
of its type on the market. Highefficiency brakes are essential because operating speeds are relatively high, and rapid deceleration is often required when travelling in a fast traffic stream. This is taken care of in the Seddon-Van-Twist by a Clayton Dewandre servo unit, used in conjunction with a Lockheed
hydraulic master cylinder and Girling two-leading-shoe units at the wheels.
The Perkins engine, with C.A.V. injection equipment. is a popular unit in Holland and, in addition to its use in new vehicles, a constant flow of petrol-engined vehicles for conversion to oil operation passes through one of the Van Twist workshops. At the time of my visit to Dordrecht. there were Chevrolet, Studebaker. Volvo, Minerva. Deutz, F.W.B. and ex-military Fordson lorries being equipped with Perkins P.6 units, and others awaiting conversion included an Austin, Guy Vixen and a Bedford 5-tonner.
This side of the business is kept extremely active despite strong opposition from the German and other European markets. In addition to road vehicles, there is also a large demand for Perkins engines to be installed in agriculture tractors. Mr. Van Twist estimated that 250 Perkins engines might fulfil his immediate requirements, if only they were available.
The A.E.C. vehicles, mostly passenger models, are assembled from components designed and manufactured at Southall. So far the greater demand has been for the Regal Mark III single-decker with Clayton Dewandre or Westinghouse compressed-air braking equipment. Batteries, wheels, tyres and sheetmetal components are obtained locally, the floor plates, wings, etc., being made in the Van Twist tinsmith department. C.A.V. fuelinjection equipment is supplied with the A.E.C. engines imported into Holland.
Efficient service is given after sales and an exchange plan for reconditioned components is operated by the Van Twist organization, so that operators are never handicapped by a vehicle being off the road for any length of time awaiting replacement parts. The organization caters for the complete overhaul of power units, together with a full fuel-pump overhaul. The Perkins engine is reconditioned on a " perpetual" basis, as it is termed in Holland. By this system new cylinder liners and other components are fitted to maintain the standard dimensions of an ex-factory unit, Most Dutch operators believe that the oil fuel supplied in the country is of a high sulphur content and of poorer quality than is available elsewhere. Therefore, they pay close attention to fuel-pump calibration and injector maintenance.
The popular equipment for fuelpump calibration is the Hartridge