The Ideal Furniture removals Vehicle
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WE published, in our issue dated July 28, an article by Mr. Arthur R. Wilson, entitled "The Vehicle Needed by the Furniture-removals
Trade." This interested "Removals and Storage," the official journal of The National Association of Furniture Warehousemen and Removers, to the extent that it has reprinted the article in its October issue and included the illustrations.
In addition, it has published certain comments under the nom de plume of "Excelsior" which we consider are worthy of reproduction in "The Commercial Motor" as a follow-up of the original article. Printed under the same heading, it runs as follows:—
THE growth of the removal trade has been rapid. This is due to the ability of its leaders and their organizing power, as shown by tile N.A.F.W.R. t has outstripped the efforts of the commercial-vehicle manufacturer to keep pace with it, and has condemned it to makeshift with a vehicle of general, in place of specialized, utility.
It is, therefore, gratifying to read the article, "The Vehicle Needed by the. Furniture-removals Trade," in the issue of " The Commercial Motor " dated July 28, and it is hoped that this will still further stimulate the manufacturer to study the requirements of the remover to the benefit of all parties.
It must be stated, in fairness to the manufacturers, that several of them are already alive to the necessity of catering for this market, and the post-war period will undoubtedly see the furniture remover better served in this respect than in the past.
Like most questions that arise in the course of a lifetime, the problem is not a simple one, as the requirements of all the members of the removal trade are not uniform, and it is certain that even the trade itself would find difficulty in selecting one type of van which would be ideal for all its requirements. Hence the wisdom in the remark of the writer of the article referred to when he says that much of it is debatable.
Removal Businesses are of Several Types
There are several distinct types of removal business, and a whole crowd of others which remain outside these classifications. In some the haulage is heavy and long, some regular, and others irregular. A few are stereotyped, but the majority may best be described as " general practitioners."
It is quite hopeless to look for a vehicle which will suit all these special needs exactly; nor is there the need, because the types fall into two main classes—namely, the 20 m.p.h. and the 30 m.p.h.
The firms handling high capacity and weight over long distances will find plenty of suitable chassis on the market to-day, and they will have no difficulty in finding a brand that will be marketed by firms whose names are known throughout the world for long life and fine performance. It is the 30 m.p.h. vehicle where the need is felt for the co-operation of the chassis maker.
In the " between the wars " period the position was chaotic. Makers were torn between their desire to build enduring vehicles, regardless of weight and a wish to meet the specialized requirements of many different trades, none of which had crystallized its needs into a form universally accepted by all members of their Association, and to do fins within the severe limits set by the 50-cwt. maximum for 30 m.p.h.
Hopes that 30 m.p.h. Weight Limit will Stand
Fortunately this has been raised to three tons, and everyone hopes that the alteration will be permanent. At the lower figure vehicles had to be made and used with extreme care to preserve their advaatageous classification; but there was rlighter side to the picture, as many manufacturers undoubtedly rose to the occasion and did much to reduce chassis weight by the use of lighter and better materials. Chassis weight is dead loss to the carrier, and constant attention is necessary to ensure its reduction to the absolute minimum. Carriers should be grateful to the 50-cwt. regulation for concentrating attention on chassis weight and its reduction.
In the period which followed the past war, operators sought relief from the restricted loading space inherent in the lift van. Their cry was for more and more space. In an effort to meet this demand, the van builder spread the available weight margin over an everincreasing area, and the desired capacity was reached at the expense of durability. Now the limit has been raised to three tons, the requisite strength can be built in, and a reasonable pay-load of household furniture assured. For those in need of over 1,000 cubic ft. there are the heavier classes with an overall maximum length of 30 ft. No longer is capacity limited by outside influence; the operator can frame his policy to ensure his maximum efficiency, in the confident assurance that vans of the capacity selected will be forthcoming.
The policy which commends itself to the vi,riter could be described as the " daily maximum radius." The office
map is marked with a circle having the offices as the centre. This line marks the limit in which households can be delivered and the van return home in one day. It should be the aim of the operator constantly to enlarge the radius of this circle and thereby improve his competitive capacity.
A policy of this sort would emphasize the various qualities which are required in the light pantechnicon. It throws into high relief the fact that a van can be so big that it takes too-long to load, and places a proper value on the van of moderate capacity, say 1050 cubic ft. The van should be designed in chassis and body for easy loading, it should have the maximum legal road speed, and should be handy to ensure quick delivery. Easy loading can be assured by a low loading leyel and freedom from wheelboxes, ample capacity for the load proposed and moderate height.
Maximum road speed requires that the van shall be under three tons. unladen weight. It should have approximately 30 h.p., a moderate wheelbase, say 140 ins., with moderate overall height, not over 11 ft. 6 ins. In order to obtain a sound vehicle under three tons the chassis weight should not exceed 42 cwt.
For quick delivery it is essential that the van should succeed in drawing up to the maximum number of front doors. Big vans involve long carries, and no furniture remover needs to be told the benefits which can be .obtained by avoiding them, to say nothing of the damage sustained by big vans from tree branches.
Effects of Legislation and Regulation
Legislation and regulation affect the ideal furniture van. If the 60-mile radius remains, together with the 11/hour working day, we may find ourselves working up to a day radius of that distance.
With low-loading and freedom from wtheelboxei there is bound up the question of wheel sizes. All removers will remember the days of the 40 by 8s, when the loading level was 5 ft. from the ground. Then came the 32 by 6s, together with the reintroduction of wheelboxes, to make a great improvement. Since then we have commenced to travel in the wrong direction again, with the 34 by 7s. In the absence of the 26 by 7, which is the writer's ideal for the removal trade, the 24 by 7 will serve the " general practitioner" well. It will be guaranteed by the manufacturer, which is the criterion of its suitability, and will achieve a loading level of moderate height—that is, 3 ft., with that considerable boon, no wheelboxes.
Seating is another question on which members have agreed to differ. One
thing is clear, and that is the days when the packers travelled on the tailboard or in the rear of .a loaded van ought to be considered as ended. Postwar conditions will bring demands for greater consideration for amenities, and where the men have to travel and have no alternative means for accommodation, adequate provision for their comfort should be considered as an essential. All are agreed, however, 'that the full-forward-control chassis does not provide sufficient seating, whilst it is not generally realized that the amount of space taken up by the additional seats is less than 50 cubic ft.
The Ideal Type for a Small Fleet For long I have visualized the ideal fleet of up to five vans as being composed of low-loading vans of 1,050 cubic It, with a towing hook on each van. These would be used for setting and collecting light trailer vans for local work. In such a fleet any van could haul any trailer, and no van of 900 cubic ft. would be sent on a job with the injunction to.make the art of vanpacking take the place of a larger van. In fleets of varying capacity there is a tendency to estimate on the assumption that all the work will be done by the largest, whilst in practice it seems to work out that the majority is done by the smallest.
In order to obtain the maximum benefit from such a plant the operator would first have to comply with the regulations. These require a system of brake application on the trailer which can be operated from the towing vehicle. The vacuum-servo system meets this requirement. It is already in use on a large number of vehicles, and can be fixed easily and cheaply where required. It is important that the payload of the trailer should be the maximum, and a modern, light trailer chassis with a built-on body should be used. Its capacity can be 1,000 cubic ft. A parking brake, and independent lighting system which can be either paraffin oil lamps or a storage battery together with two plates,, one showing the letter " T " and the other the figures " 20," complete the equipment.
The use of the vans as towing vehicles should be restricted. They could cope with local van setting without detriment, but an extension into longer journeys would need discretion in the matter of loads and gradients to avoid undue wear and stoppages due to sharp inclines.
Too much attention has sometimes been paid in the past to the hoped-for economy of having a small van for delivering cases and odd lots. It is a fact that a small van makes small reductions in the main items which go to the make-up of the cost per mile, whilst the loss in carrying capacity often increases the hiring account by large amounts.
Tail-board loads are still regarded by some as necessary evils, whilst others seem to have solved the riddle of bow to avoid them. There are some firms that I could name whose vans are always decorously closed, and this inspires a respect for their organizing ability which would encourage me to pay their price and enjoy the luxury of efficiency. The abolition of tail-boards would reduce vehicle maintenance costs. To provide against the occasional weight on the tail-board a chassis maker would be forced out of the 30 m.p.h. class; and what better hall-mark could the Association have than a closed van, leaving the tail-board load to " distinguish " the casual (nonmember) furniture carrier?
Future of the Six
wheeler on Removals
It is of interest to learn that the roads in America to-day are filled with ' six-wheelers, and there seems a prospect that the increase in their numbers here will show an acceleration in the near future, but it seems improbable that they will ever figure largely in the fleet of the average remover, on account of the tendency to hand long-distance work to the specialist.
The article referred to was a challenge. It was an attempt by an able writer outside the industry to set out the type of vehicle most suited to its requirements. We look forward to the acceptance of the challenge and to the Association taking up the task of telling the manufacturer what it requires. After all, it will be time enough to criticize the manufacturer for being slow after he has been informed of the needs of the industry, but until this takes place the responsibility must lie at the door of the industry. So is progress achieved and one thing is assured, and that is that the future of the removal industry is bright, mirrored as it is in its achievements of the past.