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Steam Wagons in the Service of the L.C.C.

12th December 1907
Page 2
Page 2, 12th December 1907 — Steam Wagons in the Service of the L.C.C.
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

Extensive Use of the Foden System.

Some eighteen months ago, in our issue of the 3rd May, loofa, we published a short article dealing with the work done by four petrol vehicles which are used by the London County Council in connection with its tramway system. More recently, the Council has purchased a fleet, of five, Foden, standard, 5-ton steam wagons, and, in order to ascertain the reasons for the adoption of steam-propelled vehicles, we sought an interview with the chief officer of the tramways, Mr. A. L. Coventry Fell. Through his courtesy, we are able to publish some interesting items in the conduct of the stores-distribution department, and of the work done by the vehicles employed. The change over to steam was decided upon : firstly, owing to the immense growth. of the tramway system during the past two years ; and., secondly, because of the greater carrying capacity of the wagons and the nature of the loads to be carried. In answer to our query, we were informed that the steam vehicles are found to be much more economical in use than the petrol vehicles, and the saving in the tire bill is such a considerable one as to be a distinct point in favour of the steel-shod, steam wagon.

As we noted above, five vehicles compose the fleet ot" steamers; four are constantly in active use, whilst the fifth is kept as a spare. Each week one of the vehicles in service replaces the spare wagon in the shed, which then enters upon -a month's work. The vehicle which has just come off the road remains in the shed for a week, until it is replaced* by a second of the working units, and each wagon thitei.'.. comes into the shed in rotation. It will be seen, therefore, j that each wagon has a monthly rest of one week. In addi_ tion to this, a Shed day is allotted to each wagon once a fortnight, for the purpose of washing out the boilers and making any small adjustments: During the week that each vehicle is in as the spare one, any more serious repairs that may be necessary can be carried out, although we understand that, up to the present, practically nothing has been required in this way.

On the 22nd February last, the highways Committee accepted the tender of Fodens, Limited, and advised the company of this acceptation on the 26th of the same mouth; it is interesting to note that the first wagon was delivered on the tst of March, the others following at intervals of a few weeks, all being delivered and on the road before the con, tract time had expired.

As the wagons have only been in use for a little over six months, it will be obvious that no complete records of costs have yet been drawn up, but monthly figures go to show very economical running. Three of the wagons are used constantly for the distribution of stores from the central stores of 'the Tramways Department, in the Old Kent Road, to the various depOts on the system : this entails journeys which make a considerable daily mileage. The fourth active wagon is used for the conveyance of sand, which is collected at Rye Lane, and is taken to Poplar, and to the depOt at the Kingsway subway; another lengthy journey with this load is from Rye. Lane to Stamford Hill. In the conveyance of the stores and sand, trailers, of coarse, are employed, and the Council possesses some eight of these auxiliary vehicles, which means that two are available for each wagon, one being used for loading up whilst the other is on the road. Roughly speaking, 15 tons of sand per day, on four days of each week, are distributed from Rye Lane to the other sides of London, making a monthly total for the wagon engaged on this work of some 240 tons. The three wagons used for the delivery of general stores have, of course, very varied loads to deal with, and few of them are of a light or bulky nature. Deliveries of oil in 40-gallon barrels, grease, and iron brake blocks, form some of the main items, 7 or S tons of the latter necessities being commonly dealt with. Motor parts, hearings and wheels are also carried, and, when the winter distribution of uniforms and -coats takes place, one or other of the lorries carries three or four tons of baskets of new uniforms to the big dee-61-s, and collects the old clothes which are lying there. Naturally, work of a more peculiar nature is sometimes found for the steamers, as, for instance, when it is desired to transfer any of the electric tramcars from the North side

to the South side of the river. The Council, having no rail connection, is forced. to load up each car on two of the wagons and transport it thus. This proceeding has been successfully carried out, on a number of oocasions, over the Tower Bridge. The steam wagons are used exclusively for the cartage of the material we have described and for general stores; they do not stand by for the purpose of removing brokendown .earts from the tramlines, this function being delegated to two petrol lorries which are kept for this purpose alone, and whose work we have already described.

The question of the adhesion of steel tires in case of greasy roads is one to which attention has been given, and one of the wagons has been fitted with a pair of sand boxes for the back wheels. The exrperiment, which is not yet concluded, gives promise of demonstrating that this particular arrangement will be of considerable use.

From figures kindly given to us, we find that the total mileage, to take one of the monthly examples, was, for July, 3,200 for the four working vehicles, giving an average of Soo miles each. The gross loads carried by the four wagons during that month amounted to some 690 tons, showing the very respectable average of over 172 tons per Wagon, per month.

An interesting point in the management of the vehicles is that the drivers have no further duty than to run their vehicles on the road, and to keep up a full head of steam while out. Having brought their wagons safely back to the depot at Camberwell, where they are kept, they are then free to leave, the wagons being taken in charge by the members of the night staff, who clean them, oil up the engine, and carry out the necessary lubrication. The fires are lighted by the night men, and the wagon is handed over to the driver in the morning with steam up, and ready to leave. We are sure that, in this way, much more efficient work can be obtained from a driver, and, certainly, the condition of the vehicles themselves must he considerably improved, whilst maintenance charges should be reduced by the timely attention given to the small matters which are often neglected by drivers who are anxious to betake themselves betimes to their homes.

We reproduce (on page 331) an interesting photograph, taken last Saturday at the Camberwell Tramway Depot of the London County Council of one of the Foden wagons startingout with a good load. The large amount of space available for goods will be noted.


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