A Record Trip by a Lacre Van.
If you've noticed an error in this article please click here to report it so we can fix it.
Officially observed for the "Commercial Motor" by " Veeaitch."
During the past three or lour years, manufacturers of pleasure vehicles-have made a feature of securing what are known as non-stop or continuous runs, so as to prove to the buying public the capability of their particular car with respect to reliability under all condi:ions of road travelling. But until the drive which is described herewith, which was Laken on Thursday last, we do not believe there is any record of a commercial vehicle having been subjected to a continuous running test under load, and covering such districts as would be met with under ordinary working conditions. We have searched for a performance which could in any way compare with that under review, but cannot recall a single one which in any way approaches it, either for the remarkable running of the engine, or the net weight carried during the whole of the drive.
The Lucre Motor Co., Ltd., of 1-5, Poland Street, Oxford Street, W., had occasion to send one of their medium-weight delivery vans to Swansea for the purpose of demonstrating to enquirers in that neighbourhood the capability of their particular vehicle. As the distance was a long one and would take in all sorts and conditions of road surface and gradients, it was thought a convenient opportunity to secure a test under impartial observation, and, if possible, obtain one hall mark of reliability, a continuous run from the engine during the whole period of the trial. All the desired aims were, we are glad to say, fully attained, and both engine, propelling mechanism, vehicle, and the smart driver of the same, came out of the trial with flying colours. An auspicious start was made from the company's headquarters in Poland Street on Thursday last at to a.m., or to be more exact six minutes past ten. The weight was carefully taken of the van with fuel and water tank empty, and
also when loaded up. The to.-al ndt. weight of goods, driver, and passenger was locwt. 3qrs. 71b., and witn odd things taken it might be called e7cwt. The tare weight was x ton 3cwt. 141b., and the total gross weight i ton igewt. 3qrs. 21 lb., or ()my 71b. short of two tons. Considering what was done, we certainly think this was a wonderful weight to be propelled over the distance it covered in the good time that we shall record at the end of these notes.
Prior to the start sufficient petrol and lubricating oil was taken on board to save stoppage at any point; these necessary adjuncts for the vehicle's running, and food for the driver and observer (the writer of this article), were supposed to be sufficient to last the journey. As events proved, the engine did all right, but the two poor mortals were in a somewhat starved condition upon arrival at Swansea. The petrol tank was flied up, and was proved to hold nearly six gallons. The water tank was carefully gauged, and the driver giving word ;hat all was in order, the car was run round to the weighing-machine of the Pall Mall Lighting Company, and certified by their v..eig-hman.
The sun was shining brilliantly, and there appeared every prospect of a glorious day, and this was not belied until 2.30 the next morning, when the rain came down in torrents svhils; we were endeavouring to fog out our route in the salubrious neighbourhood of the South Wales mining villages. The wind was keen, and was blowing dead in our faces as we went north-westward. To clear the river Severn we had to go as far northward as Gloucester to get across the bridge there; then on to Ross, down the valley of the Wye to Usk, via Newport to Cardiff, and following the coast line to our destination at Swansea.
To Uxbridge good time was made, considering the diffi
cult:Rs of negotiating the horsed traffic and the delightful trolley trams up to this point, but notwithstanding these drawbacks, reference to the watch showed we had covered 10 miles in ihr. Limin. The driver was somewhat disappointed at what he considered the poor showing up to that point, as he had been reckoning that we should average 16 miles an hour from end to end of the journey. As events showed at the finish, this average was reduced to as near as possible 12 miles an hour for the 18 hours' running, but this reduction in average running compared with what the van can really do was in no way the fault of the engine or vehicle in any respect, but due only to running up and down the fearsome hills in darkness in the Wye Valley. The run front Uxbridge to High Wycombe, a distance of 16 miles, was covered exactly in 58 minutes, and when Keen (the driver) learnt the time his spirits considerably imprmed, and his statements as to what the van could do were thereby confirmed. Beyond High Wycombe the far-famed Dashwood IN! commences. Time was taken here from the milestone just at the foot of the hill to the next milestone. This included climbing 352 yards of a gradient to I in 10.9, and taking into account the weight of the machine, the weight of goods, and passengers, must be considered a very meritorious performance. The time occupied for the one mile was min. 2isec. exactly, or as near as possible eight miles an hour. After reaching the top of Dashwood, and for the run onwards into Oxford, the driver thought the vehicle was not performing so well as it ought. To the observer everything appeared to be going excellently well, but Keen, who was watching every point of the engine's running as a doctor would the condition of a patient in critical circuit). -stances, thought differently; it was taken for granted some small thing might be out of adjustment. To Oxford, 5341: miles from the start, it took us 2hr. 22min. to cover 23 unites. It was, therefore, decided to pull up the floor board 4.-and investigate. This was done, and inspection showed that the connecting wire to the throttle from the lever beneath the steering wheel had slightly stretched, thus preventing the throttle being open to its full extent A piece of string lnotuxl on the wire and brought up by the side of the steering column to the wheel and attached thereto soon altered matters. This was the only adjustment made throughout the whole of the run, and for ordinary purposes of everyday running would not have been necessary. After the string was utilised the running improved wonderfully, as from Oxford to Gloucester, a distance of 50 miles, was covered in 3hr. 2omin. This distance included the 20 miles collar-work 'from Witney to the top of the Cotswold Hills. Gloucester was reached via Cheltenham, and we entered the town exactly on the stroke of b p.m., io3; miles from the start. It will be seen that the last 50 miles averaged 73 miles an hour, and included a road stop (not an engine stop) of some five or six minutes to pay ad. at a toll gate just outside Oxford. This particular toll gate afforded the only opportunity during the day of obtaining a photograph. It came somewhat as a .surprise to have to pay a toll on a main road so close to London—bridge tolls one can understand, but our impression had always been that except one or two spots in Scotland, road tolls had been entirely abolished in England. Ross, 16i miles from Gloucester, was reached in a little over an lour, and here it was necessary to light the lamps. Those who had arranged the drive had quite overlooked the fact -that from Ross onwards the roads were an unknown quantity both to the driver and observer. The vehicle was only provided with a pair of ordinary paraffin lamps and, as was proved at the finish, our hitherto good average of running was spoilt by the inky blackness we had to pierce from here to the end of the drive, and the caution which had to be used in descending the long and, in some parts, dangerous -slopes down the Wye Valley. Had we used a pair of good acetylene lamps much faster time could have been made 'during the night, with benefit to the running time and the driver's constitution. However, the best had to be made of . the means at command, consequently we had many shocks -to our nerves in rounding SOMe of the bends down the steep gradients of the bills between Ross and Newport. Close to Usk, as we approached a couple of lights, we heard shouts, -and easing up (but not entirely stopping), a stranded motorist in a touring car begged us to send him help from that town. This we were glad to do by getting off the van whilst it was moving, and leaving instructions at a garage in the 'town, and then mounting again whilst the van was still in -motion Newport, T56 miles from the start, was timed at
10.23, and Cardiff, ; if miles distant, exactly an hour later. Up to this point it had been fairly plain sailing, but now our troubles with regard to the route commenced in dead earnest. It was 23 minutes past xi when we left Cardiff, and from there until reaching Aberavon (where it was impossible to get off the right route, even if we had tried), it was one continual dismount from the van on the part of the observer, and dragging and tearing up and down banks to get a view of the signposts when they could be found. Unfortunately for us, these were few and far between, with the result that, after we had got through a place called Cowbridge, we went right off the right road towards the sea. More by hick than good judgment, after travelling some six or seven miles out of our way, we happened upon a milestone, which showed eight miles to Bridgend from somewhere, and we hailed the appearance of this mark of civilisation with the greatest joy, as we had looked like trailing about the narrow lanes we had struck till daylight appeared. At Bridgend enquiries were made of a passing policeman, who, whether malidously or from ignorance, kindly misdirected us. Following his instructions carefully, we climbed up out of the town and the road continuing to climb up and up, it was thought advisable to ease up at the next milestone we came across. This was done, and we found we were making for a place called Maesteg right up amongst the Welsh Hills, and off our route. Considerable difficulty was experienced in turning the van in the narrow road, but we got back to Bridgend, and, mentally heaping blessing upon the head of the constable, we struck the right road without any more assistance. We
again made a wrong turn some miles beyond Bridgend, but found this out before we had gone a mile, and then we had no more route troubles. Now commenced a veritable nightmare of running along the deserted tram-railed streets of all the straggling mining towns and villages which commence at Port Talbot, and run almost in a continuous line for the next 15 miles to Swansea. It was with feelings of the utmost relief that on descending a hill beyond Neath, we at last saw the lights of Swansea lining up the hill on the other side of the estuary-. We ran down a liLle hill, across a very narrow bridge and, covering some more tram-lined streets, eventually arrived at our destination, and there stopped the engine after getting into the garage. The distance, according to the accepted road books and maps, is 213-k miles. To this must be added at the least eight, and perhaps TO miles, for detours from the main road. The total time taken was 18 hours less four minutes, and during the whole of this period the engine was never stopped for a moment. Petrol was filled into the tank while running, and so also the oil.
It is a record upon which the Lacre Motor Car Co., Ltd., can well pride themselves. It was made without any preliminary ostentation or blowing of trumpets, and is all the more creditable as the van was not specially prepared for the occasion. The arrangements, in fact, were of the most hurried description, as it had been intended previously to rail the van down, because it was thought a driver could not be spared from other work. We are, however, glad to have participated in the drive, and tender our congratulations to all concerned in the turning out of a magnificent example of purely British work, and not least of all to the Albion Motor Car Co., Ltd., of Glasgow, the makers of the chassis.