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ONE of the first comments we made on our return from Germany was, "How quiet London seems!" Traffic in Leipzig is conducted in a pandemonium of noise in which the electric hooter is the dominant participant. We had to stand at the roadside and observe the habits of the vehicle driver there, for they all drove on the hooter. They hooted for everything in front of them or coming towards them, at every street corner and at all times when the road iu front of them was perfectly clear, and 95 per cent, of it was totally unnecessary—it was just a matter of habit, and bad habit at that. The ear of the pedestrian was assailed every two or three seconds by this irritating squawk, and when, as frequently happened, the horn was sounded a few feet away as the vehicle went by, the noise pierced the brain and produced quite a shock. Without exaggeration, it was purgatory to walk along the pavement. Yet the Leipzigans streamed along, examining the shop windows, and seemed to be attuned to ignore the row.
We had always given Brussels the position of second on the list for noisy traffic, but we are inclined to depose her and to give the place to Leipzig. First place can, of course, never be taken from Milan, Turin and Genoa, which are bracketed equal, for there, in 'addition to driving on the horn, the silencer is removed, so that the shrieks of the hooter mingle with the roar and rattle of the open exhaust.
By comparison, London is a silent city. Our-taxidriver taking us from Liverpool Street Station to the office sounded his born but once, and that on his approach to a notably dangerous cross-road.
IN his paper read before the Institution of Automobile nasgineers on March 6th, Dr. F. W. Lanchester dealt with the causes and the means for prevention of wheelwobble and shimmy, and, although these troubles are more acute in pleasure cars than in the usual commercial vehiele, we are beginning to hear complaints about their occurrence in fast coaches fitted with pneumatic tyres. The subject is, therefore, of interest to our readers, and we propose to dealt with it shortly.
The main object of the paper appeared to be the explanation of Dr. Lanchester's latest device for preventing both these dangerous troubles, which we will describe in due course, but, as with many such papers, the discussion was even more interesting and enlightening than the paper itself, several of the speakers raising important points which the Doctor did not mention.
One point which we have recently raised, and which may have an important bearing on the subject, was not mentioned, however, by any of the speakers. We believe that benefit must result from fitting the shackle to the front instead of the rear end of the front spring. It is not altogether surprising to us that trouble should exist in steering arrangements, as it would appear that there has been a good deal of " follow-my-leader " in the matter of the design of steering gear, and we suggest that under the new conditions of higher speeds and the use of large pneumatic tyres the design of all parts appertaining to the steering might be reconsidered and some real research work undertaken.
A NOTICEAI3LE feature in the design of many
German vehicles is the manner in which the front axle is carried back so that almost the whole of the engine projects in front of it. To British eyes the method detracts from the appearance, but it presents certain advantages, the chief of which are a short wheelbase, giving increased manoeuvrability and a reduction in the unsupported length of the frame. It may be that the design is really quite as harmonious as is the case with our vehicles, for, after all, it is custom, more than anything else, which' controls our ideas of beauty and, looked at from the testhetic point of view, there is little to choose between ugly mudguards projecting in front of the radiator and the partially concealing of these guards behind the bonnet. There is always a projection of the body to the rear ; why not, therefore, a projection at the front? The British method of obtaining large capacity on a short wheelbase is to use a more stubby vehicle, with the driver seated beside the engine, and although we are becoming accustomed to this, yet the half-cab must look an unbalanced and clumsy affair to those who view it for the first time.
THE Ministry of Transport compiles some informative
statistics about railway operation, the figures for each month being published about two months later. It has been interesting to watch the consistent fall in railway business and to wonder how much of the loss has been due to road competition. In December last the total number of passenger journeys was 1,800,590 fewer than in December, 1925, a decrease of 1.8 per cent., and receipts from passengers fell £144,195, or 2.9 per cent. The decrease was greater on the main lines than on the tube railways. Taking into account season tickets and parcels traffic, the reduction amounted to no less than £217,130. Yet train mileage increased by 4.4 per cent., showing that the railways have to do more work for less money.
The tonnage of freight conveyed in December was 27,149 328, a decrease, compared with December, 1925. of 1,180,600 tons, or 4.2 per cent: Yet the freight train mileage showed a decrease of but 1 per rant. again showing that the chief loss to the railways was the short-distance traffic.
SOME further interesting statisticsl (We confess to liking our statistics in very small doses !) At the beginning of the year the number. of registered motor vehicles in the world was 29,638,535, which was 2,111,297 more than at the beginning of 1927. The total production was 4,147,313 vehicles, showing that more than 2,000,000 vehicles . passed .away :into.the ewigkeit. Of the registered Motor vehicles 78 per cent., or 23,253,882, were in the United States. Making allowance for the motors which were not registered for the last three months of the year, the number in use in this country was 1,177,802 vehicles and 671,620 motorcycles. France has 960,909, Canada -939,479, Australia 464,225, and Germany 422,300 vehicles. At present there is a boom in Motorcycles in France.