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shows its capabilities
ONE of the most inexpensive chassis in its class, the new Commer Centurion, which-was fully described in our issue for March 24, affords an excellent example of what can be done by employing modern production methods in the way of marketing a popularsized vehicle, at a low figure, without cutting equipment or sacrificing those points which mean so much in performance, reliability and lasting qualities.
Briefly to recapitulate the main features of the chassis, its unladen weight, complete with body, is under 2i tons and it is, therefore, within the 30-m.p.h. class ; the engine capacity is just over three litres ; the radiator is of new design, the frame is one foot longer than that of the 2-ton chassis which the Centurion closely resembles, and is of the same section, but of steel of higher tensile strength; invertedcamber progressive springs form the rear suspension, and an item which gives the new model an air of distinction is the addition of polished aluminium hub covers to all four wheels.
In the minds of prospective purChasers, there is always an element of doubt concerning a new model, even when it is the product of a manufacturer of high standing. Such doubts, however,should be dispelled by our report of the Centurion's behaviour on the. road, and there need be no hesitation in coming to a decision in its favour so far as performance is concerned.
The chassis on which we conducted the test, on leaving the works, had covered, according to the speedometer, fewer than 100 miles. One would, therefore, be justified in anticipating the petrol consumption and acceleration figures of this model to be superior, in actual service, even to the excel
lent results which we have obtained.
We began our day's run, which totalled some 60 miles, by conducting a consumption test. For this we selected the main road from Luton to Bedford, which includes a number of moderately stiff hills, but is typical of the routes that might be traversed daily by a vehicle of this description in normal service.
Setting out from the Commer factory with exactly one gallon of petrol in the test tank, we reached a point 13.55 miles distant, at which the fuel was exhausted. Another gallon having been poured into the tank, we proceeded onwards, for about a mile, to the Wilstead cross roads, there turned and retraced our tracks, until the tank was again empty ; this time the distance , covered was 13.65 miles.
On the outward journey, just beyond the village of Clophill, a sharp ascent is approached by a long gradual rise, and for this reason it constitutes a trying. hill. Its lower slope reduced our speed to 20 m.p.h., and the final portion was negotiated in third gear at 18 m.p.h.
From the north—that is to say from the Bedford side of the high ground—the hill is considerably steeper, its gradient being about' 1 in 12. This we climbed on the return run, the ascent necessitating the use of third gear for just over 1 mile, and bringing our speed down to 15 m.p.h.
The hill known as Barton Cutting, leading to the long straight rain into Lufon, should present no difficulty to a first-class lorry in the 2i-ton class if it can be taken fast. The Centurion made light of it.
It was found; in the course of this test, that the distance recorder of the speedometer was reading 5 per cent. low ; the published figures are the corrected readings. No error was detected in the speed. indicator. Our cruising speed was about 30 m.p.h. and our average 28 m.p.h. At the end of the test the temperature of the cooling water stood at 155 degrees F.
The settings of the Solex selfstarting carburetter were as follow : —Main jet, 140; pilot jet, 52A; choke, 28.
For a hill-climbing test, Offiey hill—on the Hitchin-Luton road— which has a gradient of 1 in 8, was chosen. Those who are acquainted with the district will know that it is considered one of the severest mainroad climbs within a radius of many miles. From the foot, which is clearly defined, to the summit our average speed was 17 m.p.h., the minimum being 14 m.p.h. The gradient necessitated the use of second gear. Immediately after the climb the temperature of the cooling water was checked again and found to be 180 degrees F.
Having made a non-stop ascent, -. we verified that the machine was capable of making an easy get-away from a standstill on the steepest portion, and that either brake would hold the laden vehicle on the gradient. We expected no difficulty in these respects and our hopes were realized.
Ambitiously we attempted to change up from first to second gear on the bill but found that the step between the eniergency and second ratios was too great for this to be practicable, until the 1-in-8 gradient was passed.
Comparing the accelerating and braking figures with those contained in the analysis of the results of the road tests carried out by the staff of The Commercial Motor during the past year (published in our issue for May 5), we find them to be slightly abqve the average for the 2i-tonner class.
The flexibility of the machine is excellent, and from 10 m.p.h. in top gear it rapidly picks up speed, when the accelerator pedal is fully depressed, without labouring or giving signs of distress. A quick change of the gears is possible, no great skill being required to perform the operation noiselessly.
Attention should be drawn to the clutch, which is particularly sweet in action and light to operate—a point of considerable importance when much driving in thick traffic has to be done.
As for the braking, it is of interest that better results are afforded by the foot brake alone than when both
are applied simultaneously. This is obviously due to skidding of the rear wheels. If there is a criticism to be made it is that the brakes are a trifle fierce when too violently ap plied. The efficiency of the hand brake which acts on all four wheels, actuating the same shoes as the foot 1.1rake, merits a word of -praise.
The Steering and controllability of the new Centurion are excellent ; the six-cylindered engine runs smoothly and gives the impression of having ample power at all times, and the suspension enables rough road surfaces to be traversed at speed without discomfort.
An electric horn and suction wind
screen wiper are included in the equipment and the cab is comfortable and commodious; On all counts this addition to the Commer range should achieve popularity. It is in a useful class, is built and engined to make light work of transporting its recommended load, and should require the minimum of maintenance.