OPINIONS and QUERIES
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HOW HAULAGE RATES ARE AFFECTED BY HEAVY LOADS ON LIGHT VEHICLES.
[46281 I have read with. mucri interest your leading article, "The Prevention of Overloading," in the August 30 issue of The Commercial Motor. I may say that I have on several occasions criticized the present system, and I thought you would be interested to know what I consider would be a simple cure.
In the first place, I would mention that overloading of vehicles has been indirectly encouraged by the regulations which were brought into being by the authorities, under which any machine on four wheels may operate so long as its total weight does not exceed 12 tons. This means, virtually speaking, that a vehicle with an unladen weight of, say, 2 tons 10 cwt., can carry 9-10 tons and be within the law, so long as the back-axle weight does not exceed 8 tons and the front axle weight 4 tons. The same position arises with six-wheelers.
With the introduction of the very heavy taxation and restrictions haulage contractors as a whole went off the more-expensive type of machine, which had been designed to carry weights from 7 to 10 tons with perfect safety, and switched over to cheap machines, with • which they often carry excessive weights for which they were never designed and, therefore, create what I consider is a menace.
I give you as an example one of the cases which has come to my personal knowledge. A haulier purchased a Leyland six-wheeled Hippo, costing nearly £1,700, before the restrictions came into force. This machine was capable of carrying a load of 12 tons. After the introduction of . the new road-traffic regulations and impositions a competitor purchased some cheap fourwheeled machines and had six-wheeled attachments fitted to them at a total cost of under £400. These machines are loaded in many instances with 7 to 9 tons, although never designed for it, and the brakes are in anything but a reliable condition owing to this excessive overloading which, as you will readily appreciate, overstresses the chassis frames considerably and in some cases has been known to put the brake-operating gear out of order. These machines are constructed to meet the requirements of the law, which prescribes that an articulated vehicle on six wheels can operate with a total weight of 19 tons.
Now the result of the above case was that the friend who owned the expensive six-wheeled machine, on which he was loading 12 tons, was cut out by his competitor, who could afford to buy four of the cheaper machines with six-wheeled attachments at the price our
friend had paid for his one machine, and with these four machines could carry three times as much weight; as a consequence, the competitor cut the haulage rate, and our friend one day found himself without any work from the firm for whom he had been carrying for many years.
This is the sort of condition which is grossly unfair, and it would, in my humble opinion, be a simple matter for the authorities to bring out some regulation limiting the carrying capacity of certain classes of machines; in other words, a 2i-ton machine not to be allowed to carry MOM than 21 tons, and so forth in the case of fourwheelers, and in the case of six-wheelers corresponding weights, according to the types of vehicle and the weight given by the manufacturers.
I appreciate, of course, that manufacturers are making machines to carry certain weights and then allowing an overload margin, which usually ranges from 25 per cent. to 33* per cent., which is quite reasonable. Now if this overloading margin were limited to a definite percentage in all cases, and the manufacturer's maximum loading capacity was accepted by the authorities as the maximum weight allowable, a solution of the problem would be in sight. This would mean dividing four-wheeled and six-wheeled machines into several classes, but this should not be a difficult matter.
I hope you will forgive me for taking up so much of your valuable space, but I felt I should be doing some good by expressing my views on the subject, and I feel sure you will appreciate that it is only by this sort of criticism and discussion that something is achieved.
G. W. DURN, Secretary.
Sheffield 3. For Hobley's Transport.
[Many operators have strong views on this matter, and we would welcome other opinions which /night help towards a solution of this difficult problem.—En.] A " SMOKE " PROSECUTION IN CONNECTION WITH AN OIL-ENGINED VEHICLE.
[46301 The London Passenger Transport -Board and one of its drivers were recently summoned at the Mansion House for "unlawfully using a public-service vehicle which emitted smoke that could have been prevented by the taking of reasonable precautions." I believe that this is the first case of the kind, i.e., a prosecution for smoke from an oil-engined vehicle.
There are over 850 oil buses of the L.P.T.B. now running, and there are several more belonging to other companies in the London area, bringing the total in London to 1,000. It is agreed generally that the London police are very strict indeed about such offences, and, indeed, they are said to be the strictest in the world. This being so, if we take into consideration the many millions of miles which have been run in London by oilengined buses during the last three or four years (it is probably a figure of well over 60,000,000 miles), under all the wicked atmospheric conditions that prevail in our country in the course of 12 months, also the fact that the burning of oil fuel in an internal-combustion engine is not so easy as burning petrol, in so far as the exhaust is concerned, those of us who are real oil enthusiasts (and some pioneers) have every reason to be well satisfied with the fact that only one prosecution has taken place after this long period and huge mileage run.
I am glad in a way that it has happened, because it draws attention to the fact that these engines are practically free from exhaust troubles which could be the cause of complaint.
The actual cause of the smoke in this particular case is most likely to have been something very trivial, perhaps a faulty sprayer, and one that could easily be remedied. It was just a bit of bad luck that it happened right in the view of a police officer who was particularly observant or who had nothing else on at the moment.
It is of no importance and no vehicle owner need worry about it, particularly as the case was dismissed. W. H. GODDARD,
WHY IS THERE A SPEED LIMIT ON LIGHT VANS?
[46311 For some months I have been a regular reader of your very helpful paper, and I have recently noticed several letters suggesting the raising of the speed limit for vehicles in the 20 m.p.h. class. To my mind this problem is answered in last week's issue of The Commercial Motor by the new Commer 4-5-tonner.
What I am at a loss to understand is the speed limit
on light commercial vehicles. We run two vehicles in our business, a Dodge 15-cwt. van capable of 75 m.p.h:, and a Chevrolet 30-cwt. lorry. In April I was summoned for exceeding the speed limit with the Dodge van at Brornsgrove. At the time I was doing 40 m.p.h. This was at 8.30 a.m, and on an open road.
I asked the officers if I was as safe as they were in
their saloon car, and the answer they gave me was : "We know all that, but it is the law." I was fined 40s. for exceeding the limit and 10s. for not carrying a record book. This leaves one with a bad impression of what can happen in a "free country." My query is: When are we to have a strong representation in Parliament which will pass some reasonable motor laws?
OPERATING LIGHT OILERS IN A COUNTRY DISTRICT.
146321 Kindly forward to me The Commercial Motor Tables of Operating Costs.
Could you let me know the cost of running 3-ton oil lorries? I used to buy oil at 54d. per gallon; with the new tax I have to pay 1s. Old. for it. The lorries are doing 20 m.p.g. to 25 m.p.g. They are in the 30 m.p.h. category. Would it pay me to run them at 6d. to 8d. per mile for 100 miles to 160 miles per day?
You can consider everything as being in my favour as regards costs. I live in a country district where expenses are quite low.
Thanking you for your many past favours,
Hereford. D. SIIARPLES, [With oil at Is. Oid. per gallon your running costs will be 2.90d. per mile, and your standing charges £5 per week. The tables of operating costs are being revised and a copy will be sent to you as soon as possible.—En.j . B42
RESERVE VEHICLES TO BE HELD BY DEALERS.
 In view of the difficulty that applicants for haulage licences have experienced in obtaining permission to hire vehicles, without drivers, under Sec. 2 (6) (b) of the Road and Rail Traffic Act, 1933, would it not be advisable on the part of the dealers catering for this type of operator themselves to seek haulage licences? They would then be able to reserve vehicles necessary to replace those of their customers that happen to be under repair.
I know that some dealers have had regard to this precaution, but many, perhaps, do not appreciate the service that they can give to their customers in this
respect. E. H. B. PALMER,
London, S. W. I. Transport Consultant.
THE PROBLEM OF THE CONTAINER OR LIFT VAN AND ITS TAXATION.
146341 We are considering the purchase of several platform lorries for the transport by day of raw materials and cased goods between the docks and our factories in Liverpool and London; we will also use the same vehicles at night for the transport of cooked meats, etc., under refrigeration conditions, from our Liverpool factory to our various depots about the country.
For the latter purpose we will use small insulated containers (four per lorry). These containers will be loaded in our factory before being slung on the lorries. The lorries will arrive, say, at London, the containers lifted off, and the same vehicles used as platform lorries during the day time on ordinary haulage work.
These vehicles will be under 24-tons unladen weight, excluding the weight of the containers, so that they may be driven at 30 m.p.h., also by men who do not require a heavy-vehicle driving licence. We should like to be quite certain how we stand for the purposes of licensing.
Would the temporary carrying of these containers have the effect of altering the licensing classification of the vehicle while the vehicle was being driven with such containers?
If this were the case, it would prevent us from driving the vehicle at 30 m.p.h., would render the licence paid on it insufficient, and would probably mean that a specially licensed driver would have to drive the vehicle. Our feeling is that the containers, being temporary " fixture§ " and easily removable, would not render the
vehicle liable to greater taxation than the "under 21-ton rate," particularly in view of the fact that the usage of the vehicle without the containers would be in excess of the usage. when carrying the containers.
We are also considering taxing one of these "under the 24-ton vehicles" so that it may occasionally draw a
trailer;in this case, of course, we would be limited to a speed of 20 m.p.h. Would the driver of such a vehicle when drawing a trailer require a heavy-vehicle driving licence, and would be require this licence when driving this " over-taxed " vehicle without-the trailer?
We understand that a driver's mate will be necessary, and shall be glad to know if there be any age minimum for such an attendant.
We should very much appreciate your carefully considered opinion on these points, in order to assist us to decide our policy. HAMS. . Liverpool.
EIt is difficult to express a definite opinion upon the taxa
tion of vehicles carrying lift-van bodies, for the law on . this point is not clear and so much appears to depend
upon circumstances. Section 26 of the Rc&ael Traffic Act,
1930, states that the unladen weight of any vehicle shall be taken to be the weight of the vehicle inclusive of the
body and all parts (the heavier being taken where .alternative bodies or parts are. used) which are necessary to, or ordinarily used with, the vehicle when working on the road, but exclusive of the weight of water, fuel or accumulators used for the purpose of the supply of power for the propulsion of the vehicle and all loose tools and loose equipment. Much seems to depend upon the words " or ordinarily used with the vehicle when working on the road." It is difficult to construe this phrase, for it might perhaps he held that the container, if used for, say, only one hour each day, was " ordinarily used." On the other hand, it might equally well be argued that the four small insulated containers which you propose to use with each vehicle are, in fact, merely a development of the domestic refrigerator, which could legitimately be classed as part of the load, Or as packing cases for the load. We tend to the opinion that it might be safe for you to class these small containers as part of the load, hut we express this view with reserve, for we understand that some years ago the Divisional Court, on appeal, ruled that a lift-van body should be included as part of the vehicle. At the same time it was made clear that a different body of justices might take the opposite view, We are of the opinion that the driver of a vehicle weighing under 2i-tons unladen would, when it was drawing a trailer, require a heavy-goods-vehicle licence, but not when the vehicle was being used without the trailer. A driver's mate would be necessary when a trailer was drawn, but the regulations do not specify any minimum age for such an attendant.—En.] OUR FIGURES SHOCK A PARCELS CARRIER.
 I was rather interested in your reply to an inquirer on page 877 in your issue dated. August 9. I am at present running a Croft van on a parcels service, which. I extended from a few odd jobs while working for my father, who is by trade a greengrocer. I would be very pleased if you will point out where I have gone wrong regarding rates, as I charge one firm 2s. per hour "all in," as often I am over an hour or so getting loaded, and my other clients 2s. 6d. per hour, as they do not keep me waiting.
The firm I charge 2s. per hour asked me to quote for a 12-months' contract. I quoted 1.0s. per week, which I thought was a reasonable figure for a brand-new Croft van, driver in uniform, advertisements painted on van and other usual requirements, and they laughed at me and told me that they are getting a 5O'-cwt. van for £0 per week, which figure I have been able to verify.
This particular firm is a subsidiary of a combine and they hire a 30-cwt. furniture van for 30s. per day. This work is light and large-bodied vans are required in preference to weight. The figures you gave rather shocked me, as I thought I was earning £3 per week profit, instead it seems that I am not providing for something which is necessary. Will you be hind enough to give me details regarding the general rule as to how contracts are made?
am taking delivery of a new Croft van in a few weeks, with a body to my design, and I think you will agree that a 10-cwt. van is large enough for parcel carrying. When the van is delivered I will send you a photograph.
Wishing all success to the best weekly The Commercial Motor. E.L. .London, S. E .1.
[I give you the following figures from which you may judge as to the possibilities of profit in the contract you are considering. Your standing charges (which you can easily check over for yourself), are, per week: licence 2s., insurance 5s., garage, say, 75., interest on first cost Is., wages (minimum for London drivers) E2 14s., total £3 9s. Your establishment charges, including provision, for driver and sundry other expenses, including contingencies (supply of another vehicle in case the contract vehicle is disabled), 10s. per week. Total : £3 19s,. Od. You make no statement as to the probable weekly mileage. I assume 300 as being likely. The vehicle you have in mind will cost you id. per mile for petrol and oil, and at least another id. per mile for tyres and maintenance. Then there is depreciation, a further id. per mile. The total is 1,d. per mile, which is El its, 3d. per week. Add that to the standing charges and you have a minimum total cost of £5 10s. 3d. per week. Anyone who is hiring out a 50-cwt, vehicle for 26 per week is doing it for something other than profit. I am sending a form of contract which is largely used in the trade.—S.T.R.]