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Oilers Save Cardiff

13th December 1935
Page 48
Page 49
Page 48, 13th December 1935 — Oilers Save Cardiff
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

Keywords :

)ublic £14,000 a Year LL over the country the operation of oil-engined

buses is, despite heavy taxation, having a marked influence on the fortunes of companies and municipalities.. In some cases, the employment of oilers has 'enabled a loss on the year's trading to be averted and, possibly, fares to be lowered. The experience of Cardiff Corporation strikingly exemplifies the truth of these statements, for the use of oil-engined buses saves some £14,000 a year for the ratepayers.

Mr. William Forbes, M.Inst.T., general manager and engineer of the municipal transport department, explained to a representative of The Commercial Motor the corporation's policy in connection with passenger transport. " The object is," he said, " not to earn maximum profits, but to open up new services ahead of building development, to assist in the relief of overcrowding in housing, and to provide frequent facilities throughout the borough at a minimum cost to the public."

South Wales is still suffering from the effects of acute industrial depression and the population cannot afford to pay high fares. Indeed, almost 80 per cent. of Cardiff's municipal transport services are unrernunerative. The depressed conditions, compelled a close investigation into the merits of the oil-engined bus, and the results have been entirely satisfactory. Had not economies been effected, the undertaking might have become a charge an the rates.

60 Oilers in Three Years.

In about three years the corporation has built up a fleet of 60 oilers out of a total of 106 buses, this development having been effected by purchasing new vehicles of this type and converting existing petrol-engined machines. All buses are purchased out of revenue. Provided that the Government places no additional impost on the oiler, the corporation will, in future, buy only this type of machine, and such is Mr. Forbes's faith in its efficiency and economy, that he is replacing petrol engines less than three years old by compression-ignition units.

Although the newer pattern of vehicle represents not more than about 60 per cent, of the total fleet strength, the oilers are almost sufficient to meet normal transport needs. They cover 75 per cent, of the total annual mileage (some 4,500,000) of the whole municipal bus fleet. Some of them cover 60,000-70,000 miles a year and work or 16-18 hours a day. The petrol-engined buses are used virtually as " spares " for peak services.

The compression-ignition units installed in the munic;pal .liiises are Of A.E.C., Crossley, Dorman, Gardner and n30 Leyland makes, of which 50 have six ovlinders and 10 four cylinders.

It might reasonably be expected that the four-cylindered" units would, in all respects, be more economical than the " sixes," but in Cardiff Corporation's experience, this is not the case. It is true that the six-cylindered engines consume fuel at the average rate of 10.24 m.p.g., the cost on this account being 1.08d. per mile, whereas the comparable figures for the four-cylindered units are 11.26 m.p.g. and 0.97d. In connection with lubricating-oil consumption, however, the reverse applies. The larger units use a gallon of oil per 562 miles, whilst the fourcylindereci engines travel only 269 m.p.g.

In comparison, the six-cyliuderal petrol engines run an average of 5.83 m.p.g. of fuel at a cost of 2,07d. per mile, the returns in •respeot of the four-cylinder petrol buses being 6.29 m.p.g. and 1.91d. respectively. The average consumption of lubricating oil is more favourable to the six-cylinder oiler than to the corresponding petrol vehicle, but in this matter the four-cylinder petrol bus shows itself to be greatly superior to the oiler. The larger petrol unit averages 444 m.p.g. of lubricant and the " four " 536 m.p.g.

The combined cost per mile of fuel and lubricant for the six-cylinder oiler is 1.15d. per mile, whilst the corresponding figure for the petrol bus is 2.15d. The four-cylindered oil and petrol units return figures of 1.1d. and 1.97d. per mile respectively.

Details of maintenance costs of six and four-cylinder oilen.ined vehicles are not strictly comparable, but, nevertheless, make interesting reading. The reason is that, in the case of conversions, some six-cylindered units were installed in comparatively new chassis, on which the main.tenance costs were low, whereas amongst the chassis in which "fours " were mounted, were models eight years• old.

A six-cylinder oiler costs 0.65d. per mile for maintenance, whilst the charge for a four-cylinder model is 1.04d. iln view of the statement frequently made to the effect that oilers are more expensive to maintain than are petrol vehicles, it is interesting to nate that Cardiff's experience in this connection is to the contrary. The inainitenance cost of a six-cylinder petrol bus is 0.69d. per mile, the figure for a four-cylinder machine being 1.14d.

On therscore of cost of fuel, lubricant and maintenance combined, therefore, a net saving by the use of a sixcylinder oiler, compared with a six-cylinder petrol bus, is 1.041. per mile, the economy in the case of a four-cylinder vehicle being slightly lower at 0.97d. per mile. Against these economies have, of coarse, to be set higher first cost and interest charges.

The high standard of efficiency in maintenance undoubtedly contributes largely to the favourable results obtained from the operation of oil-engined buses. Mr.

Forbes sets great store by first-class service equipment, and the municipal bus depot at Sloper Road reflects his wisdom in this connection.

He, incidentally, expressed to our representative great disappointment at the exclusion of garage equipment from the recent Commercial Motor Show, for, in his view, it has hitherto comprised one of the most important sections.

Although the bus fleet of the undertaking is now covering 2,000m0 more miles per annum than was the case seven years ago, when Mr. Forbes became general manager, the maintenance staff has decreased—solely by the use of the most modern garage equipment.

The corporation's experience is that the oil engine is quite as reliable as the petrol unit and that, as well as being more adaptable to systematic maintenance, the former type is more easily kept in trim than is the latter. A dock overhaul of the fuel-supply system of each oilcrigined vehicle is carried out monthly, when the injectors, filter, etc., receive attention; the whole injection pump is overhauled every three mouths.

At the end of 30,000-35,000 miles, each bus, whether of the oil or petrol type, undergoes a heavy dock overhaul; the body receives attention, the cylinder block is removed, and the bearings, valves, gearbox, clutch, transmis.sion line, etc., are examined. We are informed that the petrol engines are not dismantled quite so often as are the compression-ignition units, because sludge does not collect so readily, During a tour of the depot, we observed, mounted on an Eve engine stand, an A.E.C. compression-ignition power unit which_ had coMpleted 100,000 miles in 21 months. Lead-bronze bearings were being fitted in place of the white-metal components, whilst new cylinder sleeves and Specialloid pistons with double scraper rings in the skirts were being installed.

Apart from the maintenance of oil engines, the service and overhaul facilities in general are excellent and merit attention. Whether or not drivers report defects on their daily sheets, brakes, steering gears and emergency doors are checked nightly, whilst each week every, vehicle is run on to a Bendix brake tester.

How Brakes are Tested.

The rollers of the appliance arc recessed into the floor on each side of a pit, so that a vehicle can easily take up its position and a mechanic is able to work in comfort beneath it. There are three switches in the pit, one of which operates a red light mounted on the wall in front of the vehicle undergoing test. While the light is showing, the driver is not allowed to move the bus. Another switch operates a sign reading, " hand brake," indicating that the driver is required to test the efficiency of the hand brake; a similar sign is provided for the foot brake.

Amongst the other equipment is a G.E. brake refacer, to which a bag is fitted to collect the facing dust. There are also a Black and Decker valve truer, a Vidal electric drill and a C.A.V.-Bosch fuel-pump tester.

The gratifying results that are being obtained at Cardiff and in other parts of the country by the operation of oil-engined buses should not encourage the Chancellor of the Exchequer still further to increase the taxation on this type of vehicle. Oilers are operated largely by municipal authorities and any economy which they may be able to effect is passed on to the ratepayers. This statement is also true of many companies; any additional. taxation impoSed upon the operator will be a tax upon the public..


People: William Forbes
Locations: Cardiff

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