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Difficulty of Standardizing Vehicle Types

14th January 1944
Page 25
Page 25, 14th January 1944 — Difficulty of Standardizing Vehicle Types
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

A Plea for Better Load Distribution and Proper Tyre Equipment on the Short-wheelbase Tipper Used for Sand and Gravel Haulage

By J. E. Cook

(T. E. Cook and Sons (Haulage Contractors).

I HAVE read with the greatest interest and enthusiasm

those valuable and far-reaching opinions of operators and manufacturers on what features the ideal commercial vehicle should possess and its capabilities uuder service conditions. I do hot intend this article to be in the form of a blue-print for the post-war goods vehicle, but rather as a footnote to those • already instructive statements which have appeared in The Commercial Motor " during the past' few weeks.

I read with profound interest the article contributed by Mr. Elston, because my concern is engaged in the transport of sand and gravel and like materials to Air Ministry sites, and, therefore, I am fully conscious of the exacting demands made upon road transport. It was with no less interest that I pondered over Mr. Palmer Phillips's comments on what had already been achieved in the sphere of co-operation between manufacturer and operator.

My thoughts are, in the main, .directed on the tipper, as that class of vehicle figuresvery prominently in our 'fleet of 16 'Bedfords and two Commers. If I may be allowed to indulge in outspoken terms. I venture to suggest that there never has been, and never will be, a vehicle prodded to satisfy the demands of each individual operator,. because, for the most part, road transport is, called upon to handle anything from a delicate specimen of furniture to an outsize piece of machinery. To have the exact vehicle. to cater for such a wide range of goods would inevitably result in a far larger number of different types than is already in existence.

The many contrasting views in the minds of operators, as to the serviceable life and initial cost of a machine do, to some extent, govern the efforts of the designer in producing a vehicle acceptable to all. For instance, it would be, folly to acquire and operate a £2,000 vehicle and, at the end of two years, consider the investment to have served its purpose, when a lorry costing £400 could be entrusted to carry out the same work, with only a Slight addition in the way of maintenance.

Would Extra Cost be Justified ?

Yes, Mr. Elston, I am wholeheartedly with you when you suggest that an extra £75 worth of sound engineering be einbodied in the less-costly chassis, but I am afraid that this view is not shared by the operators of this class of vehicle. It may well be argued that a £400 chassis could discharge its duties admirably for a period of two years which, in the minds of many operators, is' the recognized life for this class of chassis. That being so, the extra initial cost would appear to he superfluous and, indeed, unnecessary, and would, to my mind, present a vehicle claiming no unrivalled achievement in terms of durability, or as an attractive investment.

If I may refer to an earlier statement, the cost is, or should be, regulated by what the purchaser deems to be the most economical life, whether it be long or short. We must realize the enormous difficulties under which the manufacturer is labouring, striving to satisfy the yearnings and fancies of each individual customer and, unfortunately, accomplishing only a small measure of success. In my opinion it will not be until operators speak with one voice that we shall be given a vehicle approaching any standard of perfection.

Whilst appreciating the efforts of the designer in pro'ducing a highly favourable machine for its particular work --the short-wheelbase tipper—it does, to my mind, still . leave much to be desired. I do feel, and in no uncertain way, that there has been an appalling measure of neglect by the manufacturer to that all important question of tyre equipment of commercial vehicles. There are so many glaring examples of robust and sturdy chassis being denied the opportunity of proving their capabilities for . no other reason than lack of attention to this important feature. Such vehicles are unable to ivithstand even the makers' guaranteed pay-load, so there is no question of a margin of safety.

This is surely a matter which should be always, uppermost in the mind of the designer when selecting a yells balanced gear ratio, and by no means should corrections have to be carried out, as an afterthought, by the generoushearted operator, who is fully aware of the sacrifices involved, suCh as loss of that-much-needed power and the introduction of higher road speeds.

I am sure it will be appreciated that I plead for straight-forward engineering, coupled with a maximum of efficiency and durability and for the-elimination of frivolous fittings which aie no friends of the maintenance engineer. I have particularly in mind that ingenious hut, nevertheless, sometimes troublesome piece of -mechanism called the thermostat. We are told by the manufacturers that this additional piece of equipment is designed to produce a rapid warm-up of the engine. I am afraid it has been, in many cases, the cause of a too-prolonged and undesirable warm-up—in any case, the Petroleum Board has already solved this problem with some effect.

Outside Staffs and Fleet Owners I would like to single out a statement by Mr. Palmer Phillips, in which he referred to the valuable assistance of his concern's out-doOr engineers to the distributors and operators of his company's products. I am, to some extent, aware of the valuable services of these engineers, which is, however,. given only to appointed dealers. I see no reason why their activities could not be based on more generous lines, and at least. include an occasional visit to the fleet owners of their products who have gone to no small expense in providing well-equipped workshops and staff to undertake complete overhauls of their vehicles. I am sure that the time spent by these representatives would prove to be of the utmost value to the maintenance engineer. Everyday problems could be discussed, whilst there would be an opportunity to acquire the experience of these highly trained engineer.

With -all due respect to the splendid assistance and guidance of the distributors, their line of thought does not always coincide with that of their ciients and, after all, as Mr. Phillips said, the customer is always right.

In conclusion, and fully conscious of my inability ro offer any worthwhile suggestions, I turn my thoughts to those proud claims of achievement by Mr. Elston's fleet of Commer machines. Whilst having no desire to cause him to be enviods, or to disturb his vocal chords, I am sure he will be interested to hear of the splendid results obtained from one of our Bedford 5-tonners. This vehicle was purchased in 1939, at a cost of £320 (chassis and cab). It was not until the speedometer had registered 150,000 miles that the engine was removed for overhaul and, throughout this period, nothing more than an occasional " decarbonize " was necessary. On reconditioning the engine, the c'ylinder bores cleared easily at .030 in, oversize, whilst the crankshaft cleared at .020 in. undersize, and I would add that the 'chassis and its components have displayed the same high measure of efficiency.

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Organisations: Air Ministry, Petroleum Board

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