Trolley Wire Revival.
If you've noticed an error in this article please click here to report it so we can fix it.
THERE IS great need for watchfulness concerning the possibilities arising from the transfer, should it take place, to the Ministry of Ways and Communications of the supply of electricity and the contemplated electrification of a large proportion of the railway system of the country. As Col.. Crompton pointed out, when speaking in London last week, electric power provides possibilities of effecting certain economies in road transport if it can be distributed broadcast throughout the country, as must become quite feasible should the railways use it for propulsion. From the railways the supply of power would extend to towns and villages and could be laid on to the main roads with no more difficulty than is now experienced in the erection of telegraph and telephone wires. • .
. Visualizing a, long way ahead, one could imagine the provision of overhead trolley wires along all main roads and along important secondary roads, set at a. standard height which should suit various types of vehicles, which, by means of a-trolley arm, would be enabled to draw electric power through a meter carried on the vehicle, the power to bo paid for in a suitable and agreed manner. The system could not suit the requirements of everybody, because the trolley wires could not be run in every road and street, but for vehicles that would not need to move ' off the more important highways it should admit of certain economies on long runs. On short runs we do not, in present circumstances, think that there is scope for electric traction as compared with sell-propulsion. In order to bridge the gaps, say, to the highway from farms or other loading positions to which it would not Vay to carry the trolley wire installation, tractors would haul the electric vehicles to and fro. There are mechanical difficulties, not the least being the obstruction of the stationary vehicle, but they are not such as to appear insurmountable should the need arise for ,tackling them. .
If such a scheme should become possible (obviously it will take some years to accomplish), the motor vehicle industry must be prepared to cater for the requirements of ttie users by being in close touch with the developments of electric-power transmi.Saion.
It Takes Time to Produce New Models.
WHILST WE HAVE consistently expressed our opinion that it is essentially in the best interests of the industry that, at least, the broad outlines of manufacturers' new-model policy should be indicated with as little delay an possible.
we have always been fully alive to the fact that the time which must elapse before a neW model is thoroughly fit for factory production is always a matter of some months—and very often of many months.
This is, of course, the case to a greater or less extent, be the new production a sewing machine, aa motor-bicycle, a machine tool, or a motor lorry. We • are writing now of entirely fresh designs, and not of 30-ewt, chassis reappearing with extra leaves in their rear springs as the next season's new 2-tonner. • It is often argued that premature announcement of plans which will ultimately supersede current practice is harmful to immediate business, but this is only true to any material extent, as a rule, if current practice is bad practice—and then the sooner it ceases and is supersecred the better for everyone concerned —user and maker alike.
Fashion enters into our own industry only to an almost negligible extent. The touring-car user is largely guided as to his new purehase by. his acquisitive desire to own " the latest thing, you know."
We are prompted to write briefly as to the question of this "new model," because it has come to our notice, from various quarters, that a few would-be purchasers, insistent that design must have stood still during the war, express themselves as determined to wait for the designer's version of the lessons of war service to be embodied in the next range of models Of any. particular make. And these same buyers are clamorous at what they consider is the unconscionable time taken by designer and works alike to furnish the model that shall supersede the one which, as a rule, has done duty to date from a pre-war period.
'such a purchaser, who can, surely, have no actual knowledge of the toilsome nature of design (and still more Of re-design and remodelling) and but little appreciation of the present continuous labour and material troubles—and particularly labour—must be reminded .that, from the time a new model is brab discussed imtil the time the experimental or testing department has said good-bye to it and passed it along, with jigs and tools complete, to the works production department, many months must necessarily elapse,. if the machine is to be a proved success; before it is laid down in quantities.
Most manufacturers know the trouble of the man who grumbles because he has to wait before he can see the new model, let alone own one., To what ex-, tent the industry calls for new models at the present time is a matter for other discussion. There are war-. revealed weaknesses to be eliminated, but there, at present, exist quite a number of British-built wartime designs that appear to call for no great measure of modification—but that is another story.
THE COMMERCIAL MOTOR Recognition of the Industry's War Work.
WHEN ONE LOOKS through the long list of honours that have been bestowed in recognition of services rendered in the production of war material, it becomes evident that, up to the present, no signal distinction has been conferred on any representative of that important group of manufacturers from whom the Army has drawn almost the whole of its mechanical transport. Admittedly, a few honours have gone to motor manufacturers, but these have not been on account of the supply of motor vehicles. Thus, the K.B.E. has been bestowed on the head of one firm which in normal times is engaged in motor manufacture but which throughout the war was entirely occupied on the production of munitions of quite a distinct character. Then again, the C.B.E. has been given to one or two other well-known men in the motor industry, but it is noteworthy that the firms with which they are connected were, at the time, primarily engaged upon the manufacture of aeroengines.
Those who have supplied tens of thousands of motor lorries and many thousand lighter motor vehicles to the Government were, of course, not faced with quite the same problem of converting their works to adapt them to entirely new purposes. At the same time, many of them and, one might say the commercial vehicle industry as a whole, did not shirk the taking of risks in the national interest. 'Factories have been immensely enlarged in order to meet the growing demand for mechanical transport. The problem of keeping works fully occupied after the war has thus been • enormously complicated.
Furthermore, it is universally recognized that the products of the motor industry supplied for the service of the armies in the field have rendered an excellent account of themselves, even though their work has been less spectacular than that of the aeroplane or of the Tank.
We imagine that the Government would willingly admit the principle that the industry which supplied our mechanical transport is deserving of some definite recognition on that account. Presumably the difficulty is that an honour bestowed upon an individual is apt to give the impression that the services of the individual or of his firm have been regarded as of much greater value than the services of others
• who have been equally energetic. In such a case it seems to us that the right course is notto refrain from granting any honour at all, but rather to leave it to the industry itself to select the man whp
so to speak, be honoured on its behalf. There should be no great difficulty in adopting this suggestion. All the manufacturers of mechanical transport vehicles have, for years past, been closely in touch with one another by means of their Association, formed shortly after the war started. If the advice of this Association were sought, the result would' be that the distinction granted would rightfully go to the man, whoever he may be, who. in the opinion of the industry itself, has contributed most towards the success of the industry's war effort. It would be for the manufacturers to decide whether the value of the contribution should be measured by the output of vehicles or by the energy put into the organization of the industry's business with the Government during the war and its preparations for a successful return to peace conditions.