FORDSON 5-cwt. VAN SETS UP NEW CLASS RECORDS
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Road Test No. 271
BEFORE becoming acquainted with the new Fordson 5-cwt. van, which is the subject of this road-test report, we were, frankly, incredulous of the claims made for it. We were convinced of their authenticity only when we had ourselves conducted tests and taken readings that corroborated them.
In respect of performance, the most noteworthy improvements effected in ,designing this new model, which was introduced last year at the Ford Show, relate to the power unit and to the braking system. Increased output and greater economy result in the case of the former, and quicker retardation in that of the latter.
Hence, the vehicle is equipped for more efficient and economical service than ever and is well qualified to hold its own under modern traffic conditions.
Its maker, however, has done more than to bring it up to date. In certain important respects the new Fordson is ahead of current practice, in so far as our experience goes, and it marks an advance and establishes new standards in its class. To reproduce delivery conditions, we first made a consumption test, .including three stops per mile. Accurate measurement of the petrol used was possible, because a small test tank had been provided, from which the carburetter was fed direct.
Having driven on a small quantity until this tank was emptied, we put in an exact quart and started the test, bringing the machine to rest by moderate braking every, third of a mile, irrespective of gradient, stbpping momentarily and accelerating up to 30 m.p.h. until the quart of fuel was f expended. Half-way through this trial we turned, in order to eliminate any influence of wind or gradient.
The distance covered was 9.15 miles, which represents a consumption rate of 36.6 m.p.g. Whilst this is probably the return that will be of most interest to operators, the " nonstop " figure is also important. For this, we used three quarts, stopping to replenish the tank twice, and covered 35.7 miles, returning 47.6 m.p.g.
This run was from North Mimins, on the Barnet By-pass, to a point just short of Hitchin and back, and included the ascents of the hill beside Welwyn Garden City, on the Great North 'Road, Welwyiri Hill and Digswell Hill, all of which were climbed in top gear.
Our ascent of the second-named deserves special mention, as the gradient here is relatively severe and there is no possibility of rushing it. The engine continued to plug away manfully, although the speed fell to below 15 m..p.h.
In this connection, our climb of Breickley Hill, near Edgware, may be described. We approached the final 1-in-8 section, which is 1-mile long, at 35 m.p.h., engaged second gear shortly afterwards, touched a minimum of 24 m.p.h., and completed the steep portion in 27 seconds. This is 2 seconds more than the time taken by this Fordson's decessor, and .the only record the new machine failed to break. That the time was not reduced is probably attributable to the gear ratio having been raised from 10.76 to 9.68 to 1.
First gear also is slightly higher than formerly, but the engine output has been raised as well (from 21.75 to 23.4 b.h.p.), and no difficulty was encountered in making a start from rest up the 1-in-6 gradient of Cocks Hill, between Elstree and Barnet. This gradient, in addition, served to demonstrate that the hand brake is adequate for parking and holding the vehicle on steep hills.
Incidentally, it is now operated by a " pistol-grip" control under the dashboard, the change giving the driver free access to his seat from the near side.
Compared with the foot brake, its retarding powers are low, but the efficiency of the former is of an unusually high order. Reference to an accompanying graph shows that our stopping distance, from 30 m.p.h., was under 30 ft. This is equivalent to approximately 100 per cent. efficiency.
In the past we have, from time to time, expressed the view• that too high an efficiency was unde,sirable• for certain reasons, but the manner in which the brakes of this Fordson function knocks the bottom out of any argument that brakes of high power are detrimental to goods and mechanism.
Although immensely powerful, they retard the machine with such rmoothness that no undesirable or dangerous consequence results from the rapid reduction of velocity.
On the score of safety, there is no ground for criticism (except, perhaps, from the point of view of a following vehicle). Given a good
value for the coefficient of friction between road and tyre-, no sliding occurs, whilst an experiment! inade on the crown of a dry, tarrnacadamed road showed that a *quick stop from 30 m.p.h., with both hands off the steering wheel, caused ng deviation from a straight course.
Almost as breath-taking as the braking is the acceleration. In spite of a strong headwind, 30-m.p.h. was attained in 10 seconds, whilst the mean time to reach 40 m.p.h. was only 25 seconds.
Exceptionally quick gear changes are permitted bY the synehroiciesh gearbox, and the 'power unit is extremely lively and capable Of high revs.
High engine efficiency, in this case, carries no undesirable qualities in its train, for vibration and noise are 'almost negligible quantities. This is, moreover, not the only way in which the driver's welfare has been considered. He is comfortably seated, and all controls are light to operate and conveniently placed. The steering is quick, yet reasonably steady and-positive. In short, the" Vehicle is easy and pleasant to handle. — Against these attractions one must weigh the absence of a cubby hole, which should be a sine qua non of the modern van of this type, the permanently shut windscreen and the undersize windows in the rear doors.
Another point, that was brought to our notice via the medium of our eardrums, might be due to the design of the suspension -system, but was more probably attributable to the zeal of the preparer of the van for test, who had inflated the tyres too hard. Whatever the cause, the ballast weights beat a double tattoo on the floor all day long.
We refrain from criticizing on this score, but mention the matter as an object lesson to operators—especially those carrying fragile goods—in the importance of attending to correct tyre pressures.
Before concluding, some of the chief improvements that have been effected to the vehicle may be enum.erated. The frame has been strengthened, and the suspension system, which, as in the past, incorporates two transverse springs, has been redesigned to give a longer spring base. Four-point mounting is now employed 'for the power unit.
Full _compensation is a feature of the Girling braking system, now standardized, bell cranks pivoted to swinging links being included in the transverse pull rods that operate the
shoe-expanding wedges. Shacklepin bushes requiring no lubricant and a new clutch-withdrawal bearing reduce the number of greasing points on the chassis.
General appearance has, been markedly enhanced and, in this connection, the new position of the power unit should be mentioned. It has been moved forwards 4f. ins., so that its front end is now in advance of the axle. This has enabled the loading space to be increased, whilst improving the weight distribution between the two axles.
This Fordson is offered at the extremely low price of 2112 complete. Moreover, it weighs less than 12 cwt. Its ratios of worth and performance to cost, and of capacity to weight are exceptionally high. The reasons for the popularity which it already enjoys, and which will undoubtedly grow still greater, are not far to seek.