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10th May 1921, Page 29
10th May 1921
Page 29
Page 29, 10th May 1921 — OPINIONS FROM OTHERS.
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

The Editor invites correspondence on all subjects conuected with the use of commercial motors. Letters should be on one side of the vapor only and typewritten by preference. The right of abbreviation is reserved, and no responsibility for views expressed is accepted.

Steamer versus Petrol Wagon.


[1848] Sir,—I am pleased to note the letter of a "Disgusted Petrol Driver" in your issue of the 26th ult., discounting the ridiculous statements which have been made in regard to Sentinel steam wagons.

I presume the petrol lorry to which your correapendent refers was that mentioned in your journal some few weeks ago as having competed with a Sentinel wagon over a journey of 200 miles.

As the Sentinel Co. in their advertisements invite all and sundry to ,ask as many questions as they wish, I would like to take this opportunity to ask, through the medium of your columns, three questions, viz. :— (1) Is it a fact that the petrol wagon referred to was a very old machine?

(2) Hadit been recently overhauled and tuned up in the same way as the Sentinel wagon had been?

(3) Was it a British-built vehicle or one of American manufacturel—Yours faithfully, London. ' " FAIRPLAY."

The Tractor Trial Report.

The Editor, THE COMMERCIAL MOTOR. [1844] Sir,—As one of those who have always held that it is a mistake to attempt to organize a national trial of agricultural motors with the idea of giving prizes or medals to conspicuous machines, I submit that the recently published report of the trials held neateLincoln last autumn. is a clear proof that I. and those who agree with me, am in the right.. I do not remember ever to have seen a document of this kind that has been more obviously bolstered up and made. to look important by the inclusion of comparatively irrelevant matter, simply because there was really little or nothing illuminating that the judges felt at liberty to say.

Certain big trials in the past have been on the non-competitive basiS. This may not be completely satisfying, but I believe that it is best. Let those who are prepared to pay 7s. etle for a publication of the Royal Agricultural Society, which I should personally value at about. twopence, refer to page 7, where they will see no less than 13 qualities detailed as being among the points to which the judgea had to give special attention. Be it noted that these are some of the points and not all, and let us glance briefly at one or two of them.First we have (a) weight of machines, and (b) weight per inch width of wheel and diameter of Wheel. I presume that the greater the weight the less favourably would the judges look upon the machine, but I suggest that there are certain circumstances in. which weight is no disadvantage at all, the quality of the. land being sueh that the compression duo to weight may be positively beneficial.

The 13 points do not include suitability for road haulage. There are farmers who want machines suitable for this purpose, and in such machines fairly high weight is not merely advisable but absolutely essential. The regulations provided for trials on the road, but suppose that, say, the perfect machine, if it existed, would receive 100 marks for the aggregate of its ideal qualities, hew many of those marks would go to road haulage? Some farmers would regard the importance of haulage on the road as negligible. Others would look upon it as being very considerable. Equipment for road haulage involves increase in price. Price is one of the 13 it,ame. Does ,a tractor get sufficient extra marks for the efficiency

of its brakes on the road to balance the increased ' cost of those brakes? There are a hundred and one questions of this kind that could be asked. The report does not answer one of them.

Apparently the judges were so convinced as to which were the tractors which ought to receive awards that they were able to make these results, public almost before the trials were over. Nevertheless, they find it necessary to go to _great length to emphasize the difficulties of judging. One gathers that it would not be unfair to state that no two tractors were really tested under identically equal conditions. Some appear to have had very hard luck in the nature of the ground allocated to them. All this dissertation about the difficulty of judging can, ' so far as I,. can see, have no purpose unless it provides a kind of apology for making no attempt to summarize and criticise the individual performances of all the entrants. If such a summary and.critician were impossible, I should have thought it would have been still more impossible to pick out the best in each class, especially when the best, from the point of view of one farmer, is not the best from the point of view of another.

I suppose the judges knew why they gave the awards as they did. If so, they might surely, at least, have stated what were the particularly good qualities of the prizewinners. AS it is, the report merely reads as if itswere to say: " If yqu want a machine capable of ploughing so many furrows of such and such dimensions, then So-and-So's tractor is the best." There is no attempt to say why it is the best, or for what jobs other than ploughing it is preeminently suitable. Ithas been. 'stuck on a pedestal by the Royal Agricultural Society, and there is the beginning and the end of the matter.

About half the report consists of technical descriptions or the machines. These are absolutely bald and devoid of any indication whatever as to whether ' the features described should be regarded by the farmer as good, bad, or indifferent. What percentage of farmers, for instance, cares to know that " the (dutch is of the multiple-disc type, having 19 steel discs running in oil; the plates are kept in engagement by aix coil springs ' I If the farmer were told e "The clutch is very smooth in action and is of the kind that should continue to give good service without adjustments or other .attention," or if he had been told: " The, clutch is very fierce and will probably need frequent aftention if it is to be kept in workable condition," be would have a ;piece of information of some use to him. As it is, I cannot imagine the farmer who is not .a trained engineer making any use of these descriptions at all.

I quite understand that the judges might have got into hot water if they had been too critical or gone too much into detail as to the exact performance of

• machines tested under unequal conditions of land and gradient. I suppose it must have been decided that there should be no criticism, but I would point out that the, granting of medals is the strongest piece of comparative critipism imaginable. It is, in fast,

• criticism without supporting argument.

I believe the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders was opposed to the granting of medals and prizes all along. If SO, they were right, and. I sincerely hope that the result will satisfy theni that, on any future occasion, they ought to stick to their guns and have nothing whatever to do with any trials organized on the basis of principles with which

they cordially disagree. BEMBRIDGE. London.

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