MAKING TAXICABS PAY.
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How the Biggest Taxicab Company in London Solve the Problem.
T0 THOSE WHO, like ourselves, have watched with interest the ups and downs of the taxicab trade since its infancy, a visit to the works of the British Motor Cab Co., Ltd., at-.Grosvenor Road and Brixton Road, is of considerable interest, as showing the latest developments in the trade, and the way in winch a business, which has come through some very trying times in the past, has been, and is being, organized to give a fair return on the money invested_
The British Motor Cab Co. is now under the joint 'management of Mr. Robert Twelvetreee, AT.S.E.; AM I. Alech.H., etc., and Me, H. MacFarlane] Davis, A.C.A., F.C.W.A. Mr. Twelvetrees has for some time been technical manager to the company, and much of the reorganization and the general efficiency which have been note3 recently in the work of theeeempany haer been due to his sound technieal knowledge and powers of organization. During the war the taxicab trade experienced great difficulties, as the works, which would otherwise have been devoted to the repair and renovation of calie, were taken over by the Government for other work, and as the cabs became unfit for service a large number of them was stowed away, and others dismantled to supply spare parts for those still in use. After the Armistice, however, the company began to rebuild the old two-cvlindered Reneults, whici formed the majer part of the fleet, and this work is still proceeding-, the output of rebuilt cats, apart from repaired vehicles, being something like 20 per weeTe.. In the present article we propose to deal with the work done at the Brixtorr works, the other works at Grosvenor Road are devoted to the manufacture of new parts and the reconditioning of a number of heavy articles released from
army duties. The Brixton works, for its programme of renovations, draws spares from Grosvenor Road. Very little machine work is undertaken on the
premises. About 1,400 cabs are being run from the Brixton works, and between 500 and 600 are garaged outside by the driver-owners, many of these being brought in for repair when necessary, as although the drivers are at' itherty to have the repairs to their cabs performed where they please, they have, in most instances, found it advisable-to
have the work carried out by specialists, as the.B.T.C, Co...are fully justified in calling themeelves.
The system at preeent.m operation forrunning -cabs is that of hire-purchase. A driver takes over a, rebuilt cab, and out of his earnings pays approximately 22 per week for the cab, and a small affionnt to the deposal account, which is opened in his favour, for the purchaee
of tyres and other sundries. In this way a driver is enabled to pay off the whole of the cost and become the owner of his cab, in a matter of just over two years. So successful has this system been that as many as 32 cabs are owned by a single driver. In cases where one _driver owns more than a single cab he sends the other cabs out; giving the drivers in his employ a percentage of the takings. It must not be thought, however, that a driver is going to make money for nothing. He must organize . his work on sound busies s lines, and, if this is done, we uederstand that a driver can make a very good living. Ihe British Motor Cab ,Co. prepare an estimate whenever a driver brings a cab in for repair or overhaul, The prices
for the various jobs arefixed, and thus the driver is certain of being treated fairly, and of knowing beforehand what
his repairs will cost. In order stiff 'further to safeguard his interests a new consulting and inspection department 'is being organized. If 'a driver finds fault with his vehicle he reports the mattes' to the chief of the inspection department. The latter either examines the vehicle himself or appoints a qualified man to do .K), and, after making out a report, hands it to the driver for the signature which will enable the repairs to be carried out, If the driver disagrees, and does not wish certain work to be dime, it is up to him to say so, but he will probably find it to his advantage to accept the advice of the inspection department, which is quite unbiassed. The report, when signed, goes through to the works manager's office, from which the repair order is issued.
It is of interest to note that the eomplete overhaul of a cab takes two weeks only, and small repairs are done with the utmost despatch, thus the time lest by a driver is reduced to the minimum, and, as a matter of fact, the deivere usually arrange fe-ir the overhaul of their crilee to coincide With then' annual holidays. After the work on the vehicle has been completed it is returned to the inspection department for, a therougie eriamination, and, if all be well, is then handed over to the driver. Should the work not have been carried out satisfactorily the vehicle is again reterned te the shops.
The work of rebuilding or renovating the cabs is carried out in a very thorough manner. Experience has hown which parts are liable to fail, and even if they do not apparently need replacement, this is Often done, as weakness may otherwise develep in a short time. For instance, taking the engine as an
example: the cylinders are rebored, fitted with new pistons and rings, -gudgeon pine, and .ditonerti teaain bearings. The pistons are.reti in on a. special machine, which takes three-pairs of cylinders at a time a smear of fine earborundum paste:is empoyed, and the cylinders well swamped with oil during the process. Each complete engine. is run in by a belt from:shafting,. and is then tested under itseown power. either a Walker fan dyne, mometer, or an electric dynamometer, leling employed for measuring the output.
The fitting and assembling shops cover a eurprisingamount of floor space, and, as showing the amount of work in hand, we may state that something like 50 tinsmiths are emeioyed on sheet-metal work, radiator repairs, etc. As the various units are rebuilt they are placed in the stores and :drawn out as required to build up the chassis. Chassis ere:Aloe proceeds on the one-way progressive principle, work on the frames being commenced at, one end, and the units being added, as the frames proceed up the shop. The complete chassis receives a thorough test, an:c1 is then sent to the Grosvenor Road works, in order to have the body fitted and rough painted. It is then returned to tho Brixton :works to be finished and passed by the police. A simple but; efficient system is em preyed for costing. In the case of repairs a job card is issued bearing the L.C.C. index number" of the cab, and to this number is charged the labour and material employed for the repair. Each cab has its own ale, in which is contained its complete history, and particulars of the variouS repairs which have been carried out, so that any queries can be settled as and when they arise.