WHAT THE FUTU. ILL BRING FORTH.
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MANY interesting developments in the design of the motorbus body inay be confidently expected dining the next few years, because this branch of coaehbuilding is no longer confined to a few specialists, but is now engaging the attention of a large number of firms in all parts of the country.
Up till 1914, any reference to a bus usually meant a London double-decker, but since the war the use of the single-decker especially has spread rapidly in the provinces, and there are now more buses in use outside , the Metropolitan area than, ply for hire within its bounds.
• A brief discussion of passible future improvements in bus bodies naturally resolves itself into these two, categories : the Landon double-decker and the provincial single-decker.
Most of us are POW familiar with the N.S.-type of " General," with 'its" forward control and the body mounted so low that the head of the seated driver is 'above the roof, and one mounts directly on the platform without any need for a step. The low loading line is a feature which will gradually become universal for all public-service vehicles. It is good design, because it ensures greater safety, and it is the only means whereby a top saloon can be built without undue overall height.
The Entrance-way and the Seating of the London Bus.
. Although the height of the chassis has been reduced, the diameter of the wheela remains much as before ; consequently the wheel arch is very deep and makes it difficult for comfortabIe seats to be arranged in its proximity. If the wheels cannot be made smaller without injuring the road surface, then we may expect to see suspension Systems adopted whereby the necessary amount of resilience is obtained with less vertical play, probably by the use of a, combination of helical and semi-elliptical springs. The top of the wheel arch can then be dropped and, instead of using a thick cushion, the spring mattress maker will evolve one of half the thickness without reducing the comfort, so that the average adult may not suffer the indignity of haying to dangle his legs. Have we reached finality regarding the design of entrance way to the London bus? The designer may have many ideas, but finds that Scotland Yard regulations impose many limits which, for the time being, prevent anything of a revolutionary character being introduced. If one could imagine the Bank of England, the Stock Exchange and every activity of Meet Street shifted to some delightful suburban retreat, and London business done in two shifts overlapping about three or four hours, then the congestion of our main thoroughfares might be halved and spread over the Metropolis more evenly, so that the Commissioner of Police might relent and let us have a front side entrance to the London bus The modern bus has a mach wider platform than its predecessors, and it is criticised because one cannot jump off whilst the vehicle is in motion, as with the older patterns. Is it worth while pushing back the staircase and narrowing the treads so that we may once more perform the athletic feats of yesterday 7 No! It is hoped that the bus, in a few years' time, will, owing to improvements made in traffic regulations, have a much higher average speed, greater acceleration and stopping powers, and we, shall not want to jump off any more than we should think of doing so ii we were travelling on a railway train.
Higher Speed and More Comfort Can be Cbtained.
Improved traffic regulations may also give us not only a higher speed, but to the London bus builder that extra four inches of width which is available for the designer of the bus plying in the provinces. With 7 ft. 4 ins. or 7 ft. 5 ins., instead of 7 ft. 2 ins., the central gangway inside can be made just that few inches wider which will mean so much extra comfort. Improvements to the iaside seats can only be matters of detail, but, in the future, more comfort will ba, given by a stricter attention to knee and leg room. Bus proprietors of both the single and double-deck type have a tendency to look upon riding comfort as inseparably bound up with thickness of cushion. But the thicker the cushion the lower must be the seatboard, consequently the back of it is apt to catch the shins of the passenger seated behind. Here, again, tha thin cushion is indicated, and there
is no reason why the back edge of the seat should not be bevelled off so that it gives a little more freedoni for the slope of one's legs.
If we could get the 7-ft. 2-ins, regulation repealed, it would at once open up the possibility of drop windows, but, as these require an inch a side extra thickness, this will mean that the gangway is again reduced to the old width. Still, we may have lines of buses 8 ft. wide, running on private motor ways, in less than 10 years, and without any increase in wheel track, for it must be remembered that railway • coaches are often 9 ft. wide and only have •a track of 4 ft. s ins.
The use of the closed-in top deck is already making headway in the provinces, and may be expected to appear in the near future on the London streets. It is suggested, in order to keep the weight of the top structure down to a minimum, that glass should he used sparingly. The top saloon should be fitted with well-canted side, so as not to foul lamp-posts • and trees when standing by the kerb, and be fitted with Celastoid windows operated with a winding device. Normally, all windows would be down and only raised when the weather was cold or wet.
The-Line of Development of the Single-decker.
Future. developments of the single-decker will be the adoption of a low loading line, as with thedoubledecker. It may be that we shall see some new designs in engines, so that, with a front entrance and forward control, the bonnet will be less in the way. The single-decker for the larger towns will be a higher. capacity vehicle, probably running on six or even eight wheels, and on approved routes the passenger trailer may be adopted. Windows, ventilators and doors will be under the control of the driver or conductor and, no doubt, will be operated electrically or by compressed air. Regarding details of construction, it is hoped that the cost of building will be sensibly reduced, since it will be possible to buy standard cross sections, comprising side pillars, cross bearers and roof members, which will then be spaced out as required, to make any size of body, by means of longitudinals procurable in various lengths, whilst garden seats complete will be available ready to fix into the body.
In a few years' time, it may be a simple matter for a stranger to the district to know whence the bus has come and whither it is going, for an enterprising spirit, tiring of finding a new name tb emblazon on nations and giving other useful information. Instead the side panels, will use it for dieplaying the desti of " Royal Tiger " or the ." White Swan," he will read, in black letters on a yellow ground, a full description of the points touched on, en route.
As a final and not unimportant detail, we shall-be able to buy books of bus tickets as easily as stamps, so that the one-man-operated bus would become a simpler problem, for the driver will only have to sell tickets occasionally, apart from his duties of punching those presented by the incoming passenger.
The Coach Body of To-morrow.
WHEN the coach body has a side entrance to each row of seats, it is not a comfortable one to get into and out of—not because the doors are narrow, but owing to the cross gangways being so restricted. They are not really gangways at all, but represent rather a minimum allowance of knee-room between the seats. The difficulty of access is again increased, since the body is so wide, leaving but little room for the projection of the steps without exceeding the legal limit imposed. . It is predicted that, within a season or two, the provision of many doors to a vehicle which sets down its passengers at comparatively long intervals will be a comparative rarity. When one considers that a bus stopping every .few minutes has seldom more than two entrances, whilst most have only one entrance, it is surprising that the present pattern of coach has remained in use so long.
The central gangway type is now rapidly growing in favour and is the pattern which will ultimately prevail. Instead of four, five, or six doors, each about 18 ins. wide, one wide door, not less than 2 ft. 2 ins. wide, will he hung either opposite the end of the driving seat or between this seat and the hind wheel, with perhaps another door, a little narrower, on the near side for emergency purposes.
The central gangway body is the body -of the future, because its construction lends itself more readily to economical production than the old-fashioned variety. We may look forward to channel or angle steel crosssections being standardized, embracing a pair of near and off-side pillars, with its :corresponding cross-bar, provided with tapped holes or lugs for the attachment of panels, floorboards, seat-boards, and seatlegs. The 'seats themselves would be made in one or two leading patterns ready to place in the body, made up, say, as a plain seat or as a double armchair seat.
Having only one entrance to consider, the comfort of entrance and exit! can be studied to the utmost by the use of a broad step, the excess portion of which beyond the legal limit hinging up automatically with the opening and shutting of the, door or else being under the control of the • driver.The coach chassis of-tomorrow will be more or less the same as is used for bus work, with a lowloading line—a factor which will make double platform steps unnecessary, whatever the size of the vehicle.
The chief defect of the coach body is the design of the protection afforded against bad wea. ther. The hood made up of bent bows and covered with twill was never intended for use on a body both very long and of extreme width. It reaches its limit of real effectiveness I5n the 14-16
seater, coach. Beyond this one can only admire the ingenuity of the special hoods :provided. but to attempt to span 7 ft. with no centre bearing, or to dispose of the...whole or part of the hood at the end of the body, is not a sound mechanical proposition, and never can be, because the dimensions are against it.
The development of the larger type of coach body will consist of a struggle for supreniacy between the all-weather body proper and a compesite one embracing the best features of the Cape-cart-hooded or open body and a saloon rear portion, which is equivalent to prophesying that the large coach body will gradually disappear.
With the all-weather body, here, again, one has still to contend with a wide span of hood, although side protection approaches the ideal, especially when it . consists of mechanically-Operated windows and folding pillar tops, or guides for them. With.the front half of the body having a hood only, with curtains opening with the doors, this is easily manipulated, because its bulk is reduced to reasonable proportions, whilst the rear saloon can have drop windows and sliding roof and all the paraphernalia for wireless reception—and even for television I Perhaps the Most sensational event, we may hope for i.s the sweeping away of the complications of weather protection devices and the 'reversion to the permanent roof canopy. The coach-riding public is, ,at present, prejudiced 'against this form of construction, yet the private motorist is 'gradually being weaned froth the touring car and accepting more readily the advantages of-the saloon body, so that, in due course, the coach passenger may be convinced that a roof over his head does not, after all, rob him of every atom of enjoyment. The coa,chbuild.er would 44.f, welcome such a revolution in thought, for, in his innermost soul, he has no zeal enthusiasm for sliding, folding and hinging gadgets, but simply obeys the public mandate. Imagine the graceful lines possible for a coach with a moderately-domed roof canopy and back panel, the former shielding the passengers from ram or sun and the latter making the most effective of dust screens! side protection would consist of mechanically-operated window S and hinged guides, as now fitted to the all-weather body. It may be that the first bodies of this type would have cloud effects painted on the underside and cleverly arranged mirrors to compensate for the loss of sky and land.
seape, with stars and moon provided at night by means of electrical devices?
Will the luggage problem be solved in the near future? It will certainly never be passible to design the body so that it will accommodate bven the hand luggage of all the passengers, but we must look forward to legislation which will allow the use of a trailer to carry this part of the burden, and to carry as well the spare tyres or wheels, unless the tyre of the day simply cannot puncture. Of course, the use of semi-saloon or canopied bodies opens up the possibility of using the roof for luggage, and there is no reason why it shbuld be considered unsafe in this position, so long as the weight carried does not represent more than that of the passengers on the roof of a double-decker.
Another reason why a fixed roof type of coach is likely to become popular is that it will provide means for fixing up a screen behind the driving seat for the exhibition of a film during the homeward journey. This will have to be done in order to give as much entertainment as will then be provided on most of the railways.