bird's eye view
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by the Hawk
• Tall story
Seldom a morning passes without us hearing on the radio of traffic congestion caused by broken-down vehicles, or accidents involving heavy commercial vehicles. Normally these accidents occur at places where we can escape by a diversion.
One regular trouble spot where escape is impossible is the Blackwall Tunnel in East London. I learn that there has been £10,000 worth of damage in recent months to the northbound tunnel caused by overheight vehicles or through lane switching. This is to say nothing of the damage done to the nerves of those who are caught inescapably in the tunnel. Vehicles over 13ft 4in. are prohibited and vehicles over 9ft 5in. are confined to the left-hand lane. It does nothing for the reputation of the haulage industry when a driver ignores the instructions so that hundreds of commuting rn otorists are jammed in the tunnel and slowly asphyxiated by the fumes from the vehicles in front.
• Haunted house
Up at Capitol House headquarters of RTITB—as if you didn't know—there's a word which by now must be haunting the residents. The word is levy. Hauliers moan about it, some pay it, others ignore it. The Board lives by it, eats it, drinks it and sleeps it. In edition 17 of the RT1TB publication Transport Training there are signs that the four letter word is winning the war of nerves. In answering some constructive criticism by W. 0. Campbell-Adamson, the CBI directorgeneral, the Board states: The RTITB believes that some of these criticisms cannot be levied at this Board." Of course the Board is doing its "level" best.
• Highwayman's end
After 50 years producing bonneted general haulage tractive units Scammell Lorries have announced that production of the present version of the Highwayman is to cease.
The first bonneted tractive unit was intro duced in 1920—powered by a 75 hp fourcylinder petrol engine, it was capable of handling up to 10-ton payloads. Over the intervening years it has been produced in numerous versions with payload capabilities of up to 100 tons. Chain-drives were still available after the Second World War despite the fact that an epicvelic rear axle and six speed constant mesh gearbox had been introduced in 1935.
When Scammell first offered the Gardner 6LW engine as an alternative to its own 7-litre petrol engine, the cost of diesel fuel was only 44 a gallon. Makes you wonder why Gardner paid so much attention to making its engines so economical.
• Demountable bodies
It had to come! In these days of demountable bodies, containers, and so on, sooner or later I knew the demountable bus would arrive. Most of the rush-hour traffic congestion is caused by employees going to and from their work. And after all the use of demountable personnel carriers by all types of employers is now quite feasible at very little extra cost. Or so one exhibitor—Steels (SMB) Ltd, Totton, Hants.—at the coming Commercial Motor Show believes.
He is exhibiting a personnel body mounted on a British Leyland truck chassis. The entrance to the body is placed behind the rear axle. If the idea. caught on much space in city centres required for car parks would be relieved, traffic congestion would be eased and the employees' cars would be put to better use by their wives or families. And once the personnel arrived at work, off would come the body, and the vehicle would become a conventional truck, or could carry freight containers, and be usefully employed.
Sounds familiar? In the early days of carrying passengers by motor vehicle, they were very often vehicles which could be turned into goods lorries when not required for bus work. The wheel, to put it colloquially, has turned full circle.
• Vehicle branding Two vehicles belonging to Adams Bristow (Kingston) Ltd, of Kingston-upon-Thames, were branded last week in a ceremony at London's Guildhall which goes back some 300 years. Superintendent W. E. Gray, a Guildhall official, gravely applied the branding iron to a wooden chassis mounting block. The superintendent needed little practice—he has performed the ritual for the past 39 years!
Although the branding of 40-60 vehicles was a three-day job in the Thirties, A. E. Adams, senior, is the only surviving member of the group of firms once entitled to a City of London certificate as Licensed Carmen. The annually renewed certificate (price per vehicle) nominally entitles Mr Adai or his agent to "Stand and ply for hire w carts and cars I sic I within the City London and Liberties thereon".
The ancient right is, of course, tm honoured in the breach than the observar today. At one time there were a number accepted "car-rooms" in the City precine equivalent to modern taxi-ranks, from whi carts could be hired. But the City loves ancient traditions and the Carmen's Co pany, particularly, would regret the passi of a once-useful tradition. Much of the 4 ritual has gone in any case; the branding ir is now heated by a portable Calor g appliance in the porch of Guildhall!