THE LATEST TYPES OF ALL-WEATHER COACH.
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The Body Now Being Designed to Suit the Hood. The Introduction of the Rear Saloon. Windows and Window Mechanism. The Problem of the Wheel-arch.
THE coach which has a side entrance to each row of seats is a pattern which is fast disappearing. Its place is being taken by the body which has one or two doors on the near side, a central gangway, adjustable glass windows and a sliding hood. Formerly, what was considered the best kind of bodywork for pleasure riding and sightseeing was mounted on the chassis and the weather protection, consisting of hood and curtains, was designed to snit the body. Now, the equipment 'for enclosing the coach is the dominating factor and the general design of the body is adapted to it. This has not entailed any loss of comfort or convenience, except the loss of some of the side doors, which were chiefly of value because by this means the maximum number of-seats could be provided on a given length of chassis. Many doorways, however, are impossible if .the mechanism of the hood is to work easily and quickly, because these desirable qualities demand marked simplicity of design owing to the fact that the average hood is large both in length and width.
The typical allweather coach has metal pillar tops and cant rails forming the window frames, and, since the windscreen is also framed in metal, the body has a light and elegant appearance in spite of its bulk. Many bodies are also made with full-length pillars of special aluminium alloys, so that comparatively little timber is required for the framework. The modern allweather coach is more of an engineering structure than many service buses, although one might naturally suppose the opposite to be true.
An important feature of the coach is its metal window frames, because the continuous top rail is utilized to provide a sliding channel for the sticks of the hood. As these frames are narrow, they form but a slight obstruction to the passenger's outlook ; consequently, even when they are made to fold down on to the waist rail, they are often left erected, because by so doing the hood can be instantly manipulated and, whatever
Another all-weather six-wheeler with saloon back and luggage space on the roof.
the condition of the weather, any window may be independently adjusted. The coach proprietor who thinks that the vehicle will look more attractive if the whole of the weather-protecting equipment can be concealed specifies collapsable window frames, but there are others who consider that a set of nickel-plated frames always in view have no adverse effect on revenue, especially when, after a few trips in changeable weather, they and the passengers have proved the advantage of an "ever ready" set of fittings.
From the practical standpoint there are often a couple of dozen fewer pivots or working centres in a fixed-frame body when compared with one having the collapsable variety, apart from the advantage that a permanent framework increases the strength and life of the bodywork.
Fixed Roof Portions.
If the coach be large, the manipulation of the hood may be facilitated by reducing the area which is covered by the folding mechanism. This is done by having a fixed roof over the front or rear part of the body, whilst in some Instances there is a vestibule at each end of the coach, and the collapsable cover is confined to a middle portion, representing from a half to two-thirds of the length of the body.
If the fixed roof be used in front it extends from the D63 top of the windscreen to the rearward pillar of the front entrance. This simplification of the construction is a great advantage when the chassis has forward control, because the necessity for a special half-width extension of the hood is avoided, and no special hinged frame is required to strain the hood forward on to the stop of a vee-shaped screen. By dividing the hood behind the doorway the joint is straight when viewed in the plan, and the roof section at this point is the same as that of the hoopsticks, so that the junction to be made between the fixed and moving parts is on the simplest possible lines, and there is no difficulty in making a good watertight joint.
The disadvantage of the front vestibule is that it tends to form an obstruction to the forward view of the passengers ; therefore, it should be made as short
as possible, and if covering an advanced driving seat the roof should follow the outline of the driver's cabin rather than be carried over to the near side in order to preserve a balanced effect.
Advantages of a Saloon Back.
The use of a fixed roof over the back of the body does not detract from the sightseeing value of the coach so long as it does not extend beyond the rear door. The roof may stop at the hind pillar or extend over the doorway. The extra roof space is an advantage if the rear enclosure is to be used for carrying luggage, and is fitted with a rail and ladder. The structure above the waistline can also be utilized to Include a handsome domed-back panel ant a large rear window. This window could be used for observation purposes by fitting reversible or movable seats at the rear. The large panels also form an effective dust The saloon back has been introduced chiefly to avoid the necessity of mising the hood from its -resting place on the elbow. to the cant-rail level, where it can be easily moved forward. As Mechanical devices have now been introduced for raising the hood, it remains to be seen whether the coach owner prefers tospend his money on a saloon back or winding, gear. s
When the back of the vehicle is enclosed it should be well ventilated at the top, because without any free air outlet the air currents are entrapped and are concentrated just under the roof and rush down the inside of the back panel, causing unpleasant draughts down the necks of the passengers. To obviate this there should be an air extractor in the roof and louvres or other forms of permanent ventilation above the top of the back light.
Mechanical Operation of the Hood.
It is a decided advantage if the hood can be raised or lowered mechanically, because it can be done easily by one man, and there should be no difficulty in arranging that equal pressure or support is provided on each side. But it is not quite clear that it is necessary for the horizontal movement of the hood to be mechanically controlled, because a set of well-mounted hoopsticks can be propelled by hand along the cant rail Without any fear of jamming, and as quickly as the operator cares to do it.
The windows may be balanced or arranged to wind. Both varieties are popular, but it is thought that at the present time preference is being shown for the balanced type for all kinds of public-service vehicles. The balanced window is mounted on a spring-loaded base and adjusted so that the reaction of the spring is sufficiently greater than the weight of the window to push it up gently when the locking mechanism is released. The window is, therefore, controlled by hand without any appreciable effort, whilst the lever necessary to lock it at the required height can be fitted very neatly on the garnish rail, or it can be attached to the pillar in the glass runs or even on the frame of the window itself.
The winding window has the advantage of positive action either up or down, but the handle must be fitted somewhere on the garnish rail. The majority of window mechanisms work satisfactorily over long periods of hard usage, but a yet greater measure of satisfaction would be obtained if the more important bearings could be easily lubricated. It is thought that the mechanism could be designed so that this aspect he kept prominently in view. It should be possible to provide, say, one or two small hinged metal flaps in the lining board, which would give instant access to the parts required without having to expose the whole mechanism.
If these lubricating points could be at the sides rather than in the middle, this would interfere to the least possible extent with any proposed scheme of seating arrangement.
The Wheel-arch Problem.
If the seats are all on the same level and the floor is built as close as may be to the top of the low-loading chassis, it is impossible to provide double seats facing forward on each side of a central gangway throughout, owing to the presence of the wheel-arches. Longitudinal seats are used in coaches, but the riding public hag been educated during the past few seasons to tolerate them only on service buses. If this kind of seat is to be provided, then the problem is solved by the simple expedient of reducing the seating capacity. A single seat may be placed by the wheel-arch either facing directly forward or at an angle, or a transverse seat long enough for three persons can be mounted between the wheel-arches. This seat, of course, prevents free access to the seats behind It by those passengers who use the front door, but this seating arrangement would only be adopted when the body has a second side entrance which is then available for those passengers using the rear seats.
The best way to solve the wheel-arch problem is to raise the floor sufficiently so that the amount of upward projection of the wheel-arch is negligible. If the floor is raised 10 ins. or 12 .ins., then luggage lockers can be formed right across under the floor.
The fashionable type of all-weather coach, with its low seats, has comparatively little depth of panel between the top of the wheel-arch and the elbow. In many instances this prevents the window which is close to the wheel-arch from dropping its full depth, and it has to be folded in half horizontally before lowering, so that it may be completely concealed. As it is usually preferred to restrict the number of this kind of window, the side pillars are set out so that the height of the wheel-arch only affects one window on each side and not two. But it is sometimes possible to increase the depth of -the window run by making what may be described as a " false " or double wheelarch.
The coach body is usually so much wider than the wheel track that the window runs are often operating in a vertical plane which, lies outside the wheel faces. It is possible, therefore, to make the wheel-arch lower on the outside than on the inside: that is, it has a crown of stepped formation. All that is necessary is that there should be ,sufficient clearance with the outside wheel-arch to allow the wheel to be drawn off the axle whenrequired.
The larger and inner wheel-arch is designed with the usual allowances for spring deflection and side roll of the vehicle. If the six-wheeled coach is to become popular it is important that the extra area of wheelarch should not interfere with an ideal seating arrangement or the ready operation of the windows.