Use of Heavy Fuels. _
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IN CONNECTION with the new scheme of taxation, a great deal has been said and written about the ease with which the petrol tax can be evaded. Benzoic, has, of course, been specifically exempted from taxation as a home-produced fuel, so that the use of benzole does not constitute evasion in the ordinary sense of the word. It would be out of place to enter here-into a discussion as to whether some preferential treatment of this kind is not required for the purpose of developing siTternative fuel supplies at home.
The point which more immediately concerns us is that the output of benzole is comparatively small, certainly not big enough to enable the use of it alone to make any gneat difference to the receipts obtainable from a fuel tax. Moreover, the amount of the tax could be adjusted to make good the loss from the exemption of benzole.
Clearly, then, what is meant by evasion is the use of heavier fuels of the same order:as petrol. For example, something in the nature of paraffin. For the present, while paraffin is much used in the engines of motor boats and farm tractors, it is used to a comparatively small extent in commercial vehicle engines. Such engines art, in many cases, quite well suited to run on a fuel, part of which is paraffin, the remainder being petrol, and this is. a possibility of economy Which is worth the consideration of the motor user.
The probability of getting successful results from experiments of this kind depends, in some riteasure, on the age of the vehicles used. In the older types the engines, and more particularly the carburett era, were designed to use petrol of good quality. Now, more or less inferior fuel is taken for granted by engine and carburetter makers. There are, moreover, many special devices that can be apPlied to make good running on paraffin, alone or in mixture, more certain. • , .
Generally speaking,. the difficulty of using paraffin is proportionate to the variation of load experienced by the engine. • If a vehicle is required to make straight runs between two points on a fairly level road that does not carry much traffic, some paraffin vaporizing device is worth trying from the first. If the work is variable, the speed and the load on the engine constantly changing, paraffin, even when assisted by some such device, is likely to be less satisfactory.
The prospective user may, therefore, be guided, to some extent, by the nature of the work contem plated, as to whether it is worth his while, in the first instance, to try to use a heavier and cheaper fuel than petrol. Benzole is, of course, not included here in this category and, if obtainable, will give even better mileage results and power than the very best petrol, only slight adjustments being necessary to ensure the best results.
Is There a Dearth of Skilled Repair Shop Labour ? Is There a Dearth of Skilled Repair Shop Labour ?
FAEQUENTLY, one hears complaints of the quality of workmanship put into repairs at the present time, not only from persons whose vehicles are repaired, but from the men who are responsible for carrying out such 'work.
Repair shop managers say it is difficult.to get good men. It appears that there are plenty of-mediocre mechanics, but few that are really skilled.
What is the reason?
The war undoubtedly has had much to do with it.
Just as there is a house shortage because, during the war, no houseswere being built, so there is a mechanic shortage because, during that period, there were few really skilled mechanics being made. The .apprenticeship system has been upset for five years or so, 'and it will take some time to get over the dislocation.
Boys who, in the ordinary course of events, would have been working at a trade and qualifying as skilled mechanics, were drawn into the dead-end occupations of munition repetition work, if net into the Army. The munition factory was a poor training ground for the future repair shop mechanic.
• l‘terition of training, however, opens up the questiton as to what percentage of repair shop labour is ever really properly trained.
, Repair work is an occupation into which a Irian is liable to drift, rather than one to which he graduates through a recognized apprenticeship. The most capable repair meehanics are usually those men who are trained fitters first and repair men afterwards. The trained fittershould be able to turn his hand to any class of work in which the principles of fitting are applied, and can quickly specialize .upon a certain class of work.
Quite a proportion of the repair shop labour in this country is not composed of such men. A considerable percentage" is of the class who have "picked up" and drifted into the job. So long as the work that such men do is good, there is nothing of which to complain, but, unfortunately, it seems as if in many cases it leaves much to be desired. THE EXPENDITURE of a vast sum of money by the London County Council upon what was described in the House of Commons as a chimerical proposal to carry its tramway lines through the central, and practically central, parts of London for the purpose of linking up the tramway termini, has received a severe check, and the deferring of the proposals may be a fatal blow to them, because more and more is it being realized —and openly asserted—that, in certain circumstances and conditions (we are not among those who condemn the system in every circumstance) the tramway system is out of date and now capable of being replaced by mechanically driven omnibus services, which offer greater flexibility and are subjected to only a few of the obstructions and other causes of delay that beset the tramways.
Owing, mainly, to a world shortage of fuel, the motor omnibus is costing nearly two shillings per mile to run. On published figures, the tramcar in London is less expensive, but the omnibus, suffering fewer disabilities, can cover a greater average mileage per houre its comparative freedom from delay means less time-loss to its passengers, and its presence on the road does not (as does that of the trains and their rails) drive other traffic on to the haunches of the road, causing undue wear. The omnibus service is so flexible that it can be diverted or extended to meet any traffic exigencies, whilst, on the great point which has been at issue, it. is the only possible public service vehicle for the streets of central London.
A careful study of the proposals to link up the termini has compelled us to come to the opinion that, at colossal cost, the extensions to the system would look pretty on paper but be of little value to the public. After all, there are, even in London, certain marked streams of traffic—mainly due to the provision of existing facilities, which, again, originated in the apparent course of those streams. Many of the Highway Committee's proposals provided for cross currents that, at present, do not exist, and this at a tremendous cost, greatly enhanced by present 'difficulties in the matter of labour and material.
In our opinion, the time has come for the London County Council to follow the lead set them by the provincial cities and towns, in the establishment of motor omnibus services to supplement the tramway system. The public services of London are, at present, inadequate. People cannot avoid travelling at the peak hours, and the requirements of those periods must be the basis for the provision of faeilities, with 'inducements to the -creation of paying traffic in the quieter periods. Hitherto people travelling in the peak hours of the day havebeen asked to suffer delay, discomfort, and indignity
beyond endurance, and the Council would render a greater service to London's travelling public-by the
provision of more rolling stock and of supplementary vehicles (to wit, motor omnibuses) at only a tithe of the cost of the proposed tramway extensions.
Anomalies of Standardization.
N MANY QUARTERS there is a positive craze for standardization in every direction. Cer tainly, standardization, if conducted by experts who are thoroughly proficient in the particular subject to which it is being applied, may have beneficial results, but it is open to grave doubt as to -whether standardization cannot be carried too far. In certain cases it seems to result in the multiplication and confusion of sizes.
The weakness lies in the fact'that, in practically every case, almost all the old sizes have to be retained, and the new standards, being usually entirely different, merely add to the existing confusion; also it takes a considerable time to persuade menu Ct facturers and users to adopt new standards or new methods of describing old articles. When once an idea becomes rooted in the mind, any new ideas are fae more likely to become supplementary to rather than to displace the old. As an example, we may take tyre sizes, of both pneumatics and solids. Several attempts have been made to standardize both tyres and rims, and the British Engineering Standards Association last month issued their latest list of rubber tyre sizes for British standard rims.
The newly introduced standard method of describing a pneumatic tyre follows earlier practice and therefore gives the nominal overall diameter and the nominal section of the tyre. In few, if in any instances, is the size of rim required rioted on the tyre. • Turning to solid tyree, in the metric sizes, we find that a tyre is described as of so many mm. nominal section for a rim of so many mm. diameter. This latter is certainly a simple way of deneting the size of the tyre, but when we turn to solid tyres in inch sizes, we find that each is described as a tyre of so many inches nominal overall diameter with a section. in inches.
It would seem that matters would have been simplified to a great extent by adopting the same method of description in the inch sizes as in the metric, that is to say, the nominal section of tyre for the diameter of the rim.
In compiling our chassis specifications, this matter of tyre sizes has caused us—and incidentally, the manufacturers or agents for the various-vehicles —more trouble and difficulty than any other of the particulars which we required. In Very few cases was the standardized method of describing the tyre sizes adhered to. .
As with tyres, so it is with other component parts of vehicles. Whatever standards are laid down, non standard sizes are bound to be required for 'many years, because of the large numbers of vehicles still on the road using non-standard sizes. The only method by which this could be obviated would be to cease manufacturing non-standards, which will, con' sequently, enforce the fitting of, in the case of tyres, wheels with standard rims, but this would hit the users very badly, as it would mean a completely new set of wheels for a vehicle perhaps hardly Forth this quite considerable outlay. .
A better arrangement would be to enfdrce standards after a period of so many years ; this would certainly turn the. attention of manufacturers to the necessity for eliminating non-standard sizes. In many cases it would seem unnecessary to produce new standards entirely different from the old sizes. • If certain of the old sizes were adopted and treated as standards, both makers .and users would be better acquainted with these and would not be so liable to look upon the various standard committees as being far too arbitrary in their rulings.
Roads and Motor Transport for New Settlements.
THE SUBJECT of the organization of migration and settlements within the 'Empire has recently been occupying the attention of the Royal Colonial Institute.
It is pointed out that, in encoueaging migration, particularly by demobilized officers and men, there are two main principles upon which it is necessary to act. The first is that the movement should be guided towards those parts of the Empire where, from the strategic point of view, population is most needed. The second is that the settlers should be placed in districts where, Under properly organized conditions, they can become successful producers of food and other necessities in the shortest possible 'time.
Subject to these general principles, the method of settling the land should be such as to create new groups. or communities rather than a number of isolated units. Only so can full economy be obtained, since the group system allows of the early development of co-operative buying and selling and of the establishment of expert official guidance and supervision. Moreover, wherever considerable communities are created, we have an early and sufficient justification for the establishment. of organized transport, which is recognized to he essential to the success of the movement.
. It is apparent that, in connection with any such scheme as that outlined above, motor-propelled machinery must take a imminent part. On the one hand, the encouragement of co-operative. buying and ,selling means the encouragement of the use of -the most modern machinery whereby the land can be _ made rapidly and fully productive. Each typical community wouldnaturally have its full equipment of tractors and other motor machines for work upon the land. In the great majority of cabes, the. pro-vision of organized transport would also mean the employment of commercial motor vehicles. The community would have to be a very large One before the volume of produce that it would desire to sell kveuid be sufficient to justify the establishment and operation of a, railway. Were_ a railway built the service upon it would have to be very infrequent. On the other hand, -with a. road in existence., the settler possessed of a light -ear would be able to get about his business far more promptly. Meanwhile, his produce would go and his supplies would come along the .same road in the lorries either provided by theGovernment of the district or else co-operativelyowned by the community itself,: assisted by borrowed capital, which would have to be made readily available by Government-action. Altogether, it is clear that, if the Governments of the Empire appreciate the real necessity for migration and settling, practically every,step taken in that direction will involve the construction of new roads and the employment of increased numbers of motor vehicles. In many of the settled districts, the fuel supply for the motor services and tractors. will, no doubt, be provided locally by earmarking a certain portion of the land for the growth of alcohol crops. We would suggest that the new Empire Motor Fuel, Committee of the Imperial .Motor Transport Council, --to which we have already referred, should maintain itself in dose touch with those membersOf the Colonial Institute whc are interested in this immensely important problem of creating increased land values within the Empire and providing, perhaps, the most useful possible employment for a considerable number of demobilized men.