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Repairs Adviser Clarifies Spares Position

1st May 1942, Page 24
1st May 1942
Page 24
Page 24, 1st May 1942 — Repairs Adviser Clarifies Spares Position
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

UITE definitely no buses must be immobilized next winter, and we shall take such measures as are necessary to bring that about." stated Mr. E.G. Smith, Repairs Adviser to the Ministry of War Transport, in a speech at Leeds last week. Addressing a meeting, of motor-vehicle operators and repairers, he indicated the steps which the Government is taking to deal with war-tirne maintenance problems, so as to keep the, wheels of essential road transport turning both on the goods and passenger sides, and he appealed for co-operation in two main respects— dilution of labour so as to release skilled engineers to meet constantly growing needs in the Forces arid other phases of war work, and maximum use of reconditioning processes, so as to minimize the demand for spare parts.

With reference to the tyre-control scheme, he admitted that, in some cases, mistakes had been made in the selection of authorized dealers, and stated that, whilst the list was not being recast, certain revisions were being made.

Major F. S. Eastwood, North-eastern Transport Commissioner, who presided over an attehdance numbering about 700, also mentioned the dilution of skified enginering labour employed on transport maintenance.

Need for Diluting Labour

• Mr. Smith said that the Government was completely alive to the vital importance of road transport to our national effort, and everything it could do to maintain essential services, consistent with the limitation of supplies, would he done. Through the Essential Works (General Provisions) Order, a considerable measure of protection had been given to the repairing trade's skilled labour—but that privilege imposed upon it the responsibility of diluting that labour to the utmost possible extent with semi-skilled or

unskilled workers. .

The problem of spare-parts shortage was largely a problem of skilled labour supply. The terrific:demand for spares, which became more and more insistent as old vehicles were kept in service, was illustrated by a comparison of steel consumption for spare parts manufac.ture in this country. In one 12-months' period since the _outbreak of war the consumption was 8,000 tons, but in the succeeding six months it was 24,000 tons—or, on an annual basis, six times as much.

These were not days for keeping spares on shelves, and the certificate-ofneed system of authorization of supply was designed to ensure that spares in short supply, but still available, would be concentrated on vehicles which were immobilized or about to be immobilized. Unfortunately, there had been a certain amount of abuse of this system by people who had used certificates of need for the purchase of spares which they had kept on shelves, and it had, therefore, been necessary in most cases to restrict such authorizations to vehicles already immobilized.

Explaining the furthee system of spares supply through spares-shortage certificates, whereby if any urgently needed part is not otherwise obtainable its manufacture is ordered by the Ministry of War Transport, Mr. Smith urged p.s.v. operators with large fleets to use this system rather than to rely on getting supplies through their good relations with the manufacturers.

It must be remembered that in order to make those parts it would be necessary to switch machinery from the manufacture of munitions. Therefore, before utilizing the spares-shortage certificate system, operators should explore every possible avenue whereby their needs might be met locally, either by the supply of a new part or by-reconditioning.

Reconditioning Recommended

During the next six or nine months we have, said Mr. Smith, got " to live on our fat " in the matter of spare parts, and the reconditioning of used parts had got to loom more largely in the repairing industry. Under the stress of war-time circumstances the technique of such reconditioning had advanced enormously, but many competent engineers might still not know of the latest developments. For this reason, full information about reconditioning processes, such as welding, metal spraying, electrical deposition., etc., was being supplied to all the Ministry of War Transport's regional certifying officers, whom motor engineers were invited to consult on reconditioning questions. Lectures on reconditioning, 'which had already proved most successfutin London, were also being .arranged for the provinces.

Furthermore, the Ministry was making a survey, of all the specialist repairers throughout the country, and _this information was being collated on a regional basis so as to enable each regional certifying officer to give advice as to where various specialist recondi.tioning facilities were available.

The reason for the impending control of supplies, of pistons and liners, said Mr. Smith, was a feeling in Government quarters that an artificial shortage had been caused by a considerable amount of over-ordering and over-stocking, and the authorities did not want to ask for more to be made if there were already sufficient for present needs. In fact, the stocks which had been disclosed in the course of the organization of the control had enabled the authorities to meet an enormous number of spares-shortage certificates for the supply of pistons and liners:

• Turning to the control of tyre supplies, Mr. Smith said the reduction of the number of tyre sellers from

29,000 to 1,200 had caused much financial hardship, but rubber supplies had so diminished that, nationally, we could not afford to have more tyre stockists than were just sufficient to ensure distribution. A great deal had been said about the selection of those authorized_ to sell tyres on this restricted basis, and there was no doubt at all that certain mistakes were made in the appointments.

The Ministry of Supply was primarily responsible for the scheme, but he had assisted in the formulation of the list of authorized dealers and was prepared to take his share of responsibility. They had had to rely on local information, and if that had not been as wise as it might have been the matter was being rectified and satisfactory appointments made, so that tyres would be distributed in an efficient manner. If operators used every tyre to the best advantage, by such measures as frequent checking of wheel alignment to prevent excessive wear, care in inflation, and handing in of tyres for retreading before they had been run to destruction, Mr. Smith thought that we could pull through on the rubber we had got, even if the war went on for a year or two.

P.S.V. Maintenance Engineer Speaking particularly to p.s.v. operators concerning the, appointment, by the Ministry of War Transport, of an engineer who will travel the country in dealing with p.s.v. maintenance, and the provision of regional officers to do similar work, Mr. Smith said: " I daresay the cumulative effect of these appointments will be that we shall learn a lot more about your difficulties. Quite definitely, your troubles must be overcome before next winter, when every bus has got to be on the road in an efficient condition for work in its own district, or to be sent e elsewhere if the need be more urgent."

Many of the points which members of the audience raised after Mr. Smith's speech had reference to the tyre-control scheme.

Suggesting that road hauliers should be permitted to keep in stock a tyre of each of the sizes which they used, so as to avoid transport delays, Mr. J. A. M. 13right, of Selby, a member of the National Council of A.R.O.. stated that within the past day or two he had had to wait 36 hours for 'h tyre.

Mr. Smith said the scheme did not specifically provide that if an operator had any tyres in reserve he was debarred from getting a new one. If the rubber-stocks position did not get worse, he anticipated it would be possible to allow operators to carry tyre reserves on a " hand to mouth " basis, but if the situation declined operators might not be allowed to stock any tyres at all,

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