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Without the Loss of Vehicle Use
ONLY owners of large fleets of goods vehicles,
and bus operators really appreciate the importance of maintenance. Most users hardly know the real meaning of the term, which is, unfortunately, to their disadvantage. Proof of this state of affairs is afforded in letters of inquiry regarding the item so enumerated in The Commercial Motor Tables of Operating Costs. The small owner almost invariably claims that his maintenance costs are less than those quoted therein, but the large operator never does so.
A comparison between the methods of large and small operators and of their attitude towards this particular matter is informative.
Differences in Methods.
The former provide for regular attention, at periodic intervals, to all parts of the body and chassis. The periods vary according to the estimated needs of the item involved, but the provision for maintenance is absolutely comprehensive. Furthermore, at the end of a much longer era of service the vehicle is entirely dismantled and rebuilt practically as new.
The average goods-vehicle operator with only one or two machines is apt, using his own words, "to let well alone." In other words, he waits until the vehicle itself or the part concerned demands attention, before he bestows it, and frequently the demand becomes emphatic before it is heard. It is in the minds of these owners that economy is achieved in this way, but that is a serious error.
Little Interference With Use.
A properly organized scheme of maintenance can be carried out in such a manner as hardly to interfere with the regular use of the vehicle from one year's end to another, until the time for a really serious overhaul occurs. Maintenance of the haphazard "wait until it needs it" kind almost invariably involves a delay, often at an inconvenient time. Moreover, these "hold-ups," however insignificant each may be, can, in a year, amount to a considerable period of lack of use. It is there that the real loss ensues.
A commercial motor is an asset to its owner. Its value cannot, perhaps, be accurately determined, but it is a fair assumption that it is at least 25 per cent, more than the vehicle's actual operating cost. On that basis, to take an examine, a 4tonner, covering about 20,000 miles per annum, is worth to its owner £1,000 per year, or Is. per mile. The average cost of a proper scheme of maintenance in connection with a vehicle of this size is 1.2d. per mile, or i100 per annum.
The one-vehicle owner who attempts to save on this sum by what I choose to call neglect may, on the average, cut that cost by £20. In doing so the delays and loss of use arising from being forced to carry out sundry adjustments at inconvenient times may easily total two weeks in a year, which is, at the minimum estimate of the value of a 4-tonner, equivalent to a loss of £40.
A Common Fault.
There is, of course, no excuse for neglect, but even where there is no neglect, the average small Operator is inclined to postpone so long as possible the bigger operations of maintenance, which, in their way, are quite as essential as the smaller ones, and he views with dread the time when the vehicle will have to be laid up for a week or so for a thorough overhaul.
Manufacturers are beginning to appreciate the importance of this matter. The scheme that has been put into force by Morris Commercial Cars, Ltd., Soho, Birmingham, which was fully described in The Commercial Motor on January 26th, is an indication of this. It seems, however, that the average owner's requirements would be best served by a scheme which enabled him to have an overhaul carried out piecemeal in such a manner as no to interfere with his use of the vehicle. There is a maintenance scheme which has been forund to be most useful in connec tion with the operation of comparatively small fleets of vehicles, all of the same type. It seems to me that with the co-operation of manufacturers, or, better still, manufacturers' local agents, a similar arrangement might with advantage be applied to the vehicles of a number of agreeable owners in a district.
It is described as a unit overhaul plan and it necessitates the maintenance in store of one or more interchangeable units of the cLassis type conceroed. To each unit is accorded a definite mileage between overhauls. A magneto or starter might, for example, be given 4,000 miles, an engine 20,000 miles and so on the periods being determined in accordance with experience.
Every unit and vehicle is numbered. A record is kept of every machine on the road and of the index numbers of the units Which it embodies. Every vehicle is ex pected to be presented for minor attentions and adjustments at regu lar intervals, measured acbording to mileage covered and not in terms of time. The overhaul periods for the units are in multiples of that time.
Attention at the Proper Time.
In that way, it is ensured that the vehicle is in the service station whenever the time arrives fer overhauling any one of its units. If, for example, the minimum period be 2,000 miles, the overhaul mileage period for any unit must be 2,000, 4,000, 6,000 and so on.
The records already mentioned embody references to the mileages of all units, including the dates when they were last overhauled, so that the occasion when the next overhaul must be carried out is also known.
The Unit Overhaul:
When a unit is due for overhaul, it is removed-while the vehicle is in the service station and is replaNd by another from stock, the appropriate corrections to the records being made, and the unit overhaul carried out while the vehicle is on the road.
In that way the need for placing the machine in dock for a complete end-to-end overhaul is avoided. The motor is consistently maintained in good condition throughout its life and, barring accidents, does not need to lose a day's work unless it has to be repainted.