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Steam Wagons Freed for Australia.

22nd January 1914
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Page 1, 22nd January 1914 — Steam Wagons Freed for Australia.
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

It is six months ago (issue of the 19th June last) since we announced our intention to instruct " our correspondent in Sydney to see what can be done over. there " with regard to the unfair incidence of the 2mpo rt duty on steam wagons which are entered at any Australian port. We explained at length, in the course of the leading article to which we refer, the handicap that had to be endured by British manufacturers of steam wagons, who were required to pay a duty of 20 per cent. ad, whilst petrol-driven chassis were being admitted free of duty. We then took steps to obtain redress.

When we found that it was difficult to arouse either interest or sympathy in London, we transferred our activities to Sydney, and worked through our resident correspondent there. He has been able to influence various important people to the desired end. We have from timeto time indicated in our columns that this matter was progressing, and it now affords us very great pleasure to announce the receipt of a cable reading " Steamers' duty abolished." A full report of the circumstances which have led up to this result, and which we have reason to believe included personal interviews with the Premier of the Australian Commonwealth, will be given by us, about six or seven weeks hence, on receipt of man advices.

The above anomaly is now removed, thanks to our efforts. We shall no doubt, in the future, see the results reflected in more steam-wagon business.

The North of England (Manchester) First Show Number.

Our issue of next week will be the first number concerned directly with the forthcoming Show at the City Hall, Manchester. It will be enlarged in size, :old will introduce the Exhibition and its contents to

the, immediate notice of y new readers in the counties of Lancashire, Yorkshire, Cheshire and Derbyshire. We have pleasure in publishing elsewhere (third page of issue) the official list of vehicle, accessory, supply, tire, wheel and other exhibitors who will support the Show, It will be observed that the lists of names are representative, but we ourselves detect the fact that there are some absentees.

Owners of fleets or of individual commercial motors, for whom Manchester is a convenient centre, will be wise, we feel well satisfied., if they decide, as we strongly recommend them to do, to arrange their engagements between the 30th inst. and the 7th prox. in such a manner that they can without fail spend a few hours at the Show. Whilst the display is to be held in a provincial city, and whilst the principal stands are more particularly in the hands of a hardworking group of Manchester agents, the leading manufacturer g■ have uniformly made a practice in past years of being frequently in attendance themselves, and we have no reason to doubt that the majority of them will adhereto their custom an far as 1914 is concerned. The Show, in effect, is a national one, and is organized by the S.M.M.T.

Metal Track-troughs for Use with Motor Fire-engines.

The Lanark County Fire Brigade was the first brigade in this country to test and use metal tracktroughs to -ensure the efficiency of its motor fireengines in the matter of passage over stretches of soft ground, or as a preventive of sinking-in when the vehicles have to rest on such a surface for long spells of pumping. These metal track-troughs are of simple construction, and we referred to them at some length so far back as our issue of the 2Sth March, 191.2. They are constructed and supplied by a firm in Blantyre, Scotland, but we do not suggest that there is necessarily a-ny patentable feature. As a matter of convenience of supply, however, we repeat the information as part of " In Public Service " this week, in respect of the parties who have furnished the Lanarkshire brigade with its requirements under this head, as we believe that the information may prove to be a real convenience to many of the firemasters and chief

officers who are amongst our supporters. It is as well, in matters of this kind, to make one's purchases from a quarter in which experience has been acquired.

The construction of a metal track-trough is essentially simple, and its several functions are obvious. A wrought-iron plate of suitable thickness is bent into the shape of a trough with out-turned flanges, and the trough-ways so formed, which ara usually only some 5 ft. each in length and not tooheavy to be handled conveniently and quickly, are placed under the driving wheels or all four wheels of the engine, as occasion may suggest or necessity dictate. The flanges in most circumstances prevent the trough from sinking under the level of the adjoining turf, meadow, soft earth, or other yielding ground upon which the engine has to move or werk, and the design in practice has proved to secure. many advantages in comparison with the. use of baulks of timber or flat plates. We believe that Capt. Despard, of the Lanark County brigade, who was responsible in part for the idea., will he happy to answer questions as to the uses which he has been able to make of these accessories. His latest opinion is quoted with the other germane matter.

The foregoing reminder is prompted by reports which have of late come to our notice in regard to temporary delays or stoppages of motor fire-engines on soft ground. A recent account of the kind came from Ossett. in Yorkshire, near which place the local motor fire-engine was incontinently brought to rest a few yards from reach of water, near the scene or the fire. The engine, unfortunately, was at the time carrying as passengers the mayor and two members of the corporation, and was answering its first call. We are satisfied that there will be numerous repetitions of sinking-in troubles, with any make of fire-engine, in the absence of provision in advance to combat. circumstances which are likely to be experienced when such an engine has to leave metalled roads in wet. weather.

One safeguard is that of the metal track-trough ; another, of course, is the carrying of a suitable lifting jack. The cost of a set of four track-troughs, which

are arranged to fit into one another as a nest, is £5 Else whilst 30s. is charged for a single length.

It is not unlikely that some owners of heavy commercial lorries will be interested to take note of the foregoing method of overcoming a trouble which may occasionally affect the working of their vehicles. Delays and other troubles, which are the inevital4le consequences of a heavy vehicle's sinking into a loose or soft ground-crust, are happily low in proportion nowadays, and altogether exceptional, in ordinary commercial work, whatever may be the case, or the risk, in fire-brigade activities in country areas. Whilst, therefore, the primary object of the metal track-trough is to prevent a fire-engine from settling down into soft ground, its employment may be expedient in other branches of service, either at home or Overseas:

Motorcab Owners and Motorbus Competition.

The motorcab proprietors of Sheffield have petitioned the Sheffield City Council against the clause in the Corporation's Bill under which powers are being sought to promote the running of municipallyOwned motorbuses outside the city, and in particular to Derbyshire pleasure resorts. We. observe that the following grounds are given for the opposition by these hackney-carriage owners : that they themselves meet any public demand ; that it is not the function of the municipality to cater for pleasure excursions ; that the proposed extension would tend tcodirninith the profits of motorcab owners, and that without an adequate revenue for pleasure trips it would be impossible to maintain a service of motorcahs for the town traffic, as the latter in itself is not remunerative ; that the extension is not legitimate or necessary or a linking-up needed to compfete the system ; that it is an unnecessary encroachment on the field of private enterprise ; and that the present powers of the Corporation are quite sufficient.

We cannot agree with the views of our motorcab friends, because the motorbus, whether it be owned by an individual, a firm, a company, sr a local authority, does and must cater for members ef the community who cannot afford, either singly or by combination, to bear the cost of hiring a motorcab. Opposition of this kind is purely selfish, and this does not appear to be inany way undisclosed. The arguments provide yet another instance of begging the question.

1,\rc hope that the Sheffield Corporation will not be deterred in its application for extended motorbus powers, but we also hope that it will give every consideration to the effects as they may be hereafter shown upon the average receipts of motorcab proprietors in the cutlery city. We certainly see no reason to withhold additional facilities from a great working population, although there may be reasons, later on, to revise the existing schedules of various

charges for the hire of the motorcabs. We, however, do not believe that facts will prove to justify any change on these grounds, because the motorcab will not be deprived of its characteristic advantage over any stage carriage—that of privacy.

Provincial Representation on the C.M.U.A. General Committee.

The several branches of the C.M.U.A. which are in existence have official representation, according to the nominations that are made by their own committees, upon the General Committee of the C.M.U.A. It thus comes about that the North and East Lancs. C.M.U.A., the West. Riding C.M.U.A. and the Manchester, Liverpool and Counties C.M.U.A. are already so represented. We should like to see more interest taken by individual provincial owners in the general polities of commercial motoring, and some evidences amongst them of a willingness to volunteer for service on the committee of this national body. Too many owners are inclined merely to pay their one guinea, per an a1.6 num, and to do no work for the general cause, but this is not as it should be. Is it quite fair to leave the work so much to others ?

The writer desires to make an appeal, as one of the officers of the C.M.U.A., for individual offers to be communicated, either to him or to the secretary, from owners who have the inclination to bear a share of the work that is carried on by the body in the country that has proved itself capable of establishing and maintaining an organization of the kind. There have been several attempts, in past years, to promote and conduct organizations in opposition to the C.M.U.A., but all of these came to nothing. That was because they were not backed by the right people, and now the C.M.U.A. has a membership roll which is well on the way towards its completion of the second thousand. It is an -honour, therefore, to be afforded the opportunity to become identified with the committee work of this Incorporated Association. An important point is this :. any such provincial owners should be able and agreeable to arrange to attend committee meetings in London once a month if possible, and certainly not less frequently than once in two months, at their own expense.

Any communications by way of inquiry on the subject will, of 'course, be treated by the Writer in strict confidence. There should be not a few likely men in the membership at the present time, and we hope that an excess of modesty will not prevent some of them from coming forward. It goes almost without saying, too., that there must also be a number of desirable and suitable future committeemen outside the ranks of the existing membership. information or suggestions will, we know, be welcomed.

Running on Snow.

Owners of steel-tired vehicles in certain parts of the country are now passing through that period of anxiety which is inseparable from the use in winter time of that type. Snow is the enemy of the steeltired wheel, in that there can be no certainty of operation when it is about or falling.

it is a fortunate circumstance, that the days on which snow falls average fewer than eight each year in most parts of England, except where the highways rise to altitudes of some moment. The owner who is satisfied to see his wagon idle on such days does mit trouble to inquire about winter wheels, but there are manyreaders of THE COMMERCIAL MOTOR who find it mere economical to provide the necessary alternatives.

The purchase of spare wheels, for winter use, is looked upon as a virtual necessity by numerous owners nowadays, and we are pleased to find that their experiences furnish general confirmation of our own expressed views. A spare set of wheels should be purchased, and it is generally sufficient to have these shod with rubber tires of thin section and low price, heea,use they are wanted merely for the purpose of ensuring adhesion during a few weeks, or at most months, and it does not in these circumstances pay to go in For the more-expensive sizes and qualities.

Road Waves and Points.

No reader of this journal can follow the correspondence which is proceeding in its columns on the subject of "What Waves the Roads ?" without advantage to himself. The widespread official and public, interest in matters concerning improved roads and a proper understanding of problems which are associated with road construction and maintenance is of itself an asset of no small importance to owners of commercial motors, and certainly very much more so to every manufacturer who has capital at stake on a large scale. It is a guarantee for the future. Discussions on the problem of road waves are both diverting and significant ; there are, as may be noted, considerable indications of basic disagreement between experts. This subject has yet to be probed further, before there is likely to be common acceptance of views concerning its root causes; and most assuredly further still before there can be anything in the nature of unity in respect of the necessary cure.

This week's communications to our "Opinions from Others ". on the subj.ect open with one from the pen of Mr. H. Percy Boulnois, M.Inst.C.E., at one time city engineer of Liverpool, and until lately chief assistant engineer to the LocalGovernment 'Board. The borough engineer of Fulbam, Mr. Bizancis Wood, M.Inst.C.E., contributes a valuable letter of considerable length, and the county surveyor of Surrey, Mr. A. Dryland, M.Inst.C.E., gives terse expression to his views.

We also publish a note on the subject which has been contributed, and this will he found, separately, at the foot of page 458. This criticism comes from a gentleman who is in close professional touch with road surveyors up and down the country. but who for his own reasons does not wish to be drawn into the controversy beyond the advancement of the views and opinions which he has gathered. We have the necessary personal knowledge of this gentleman to accept his contribution, and to make use of it, whihst naturally regretting that he does not give us permission to use his name-. It will be observed, none the less, that he quotes the views of, amongst others, :dr. L. Purnell ilooley, M.Inst.C.E., the county surveyor of Notting

horn, Whilst we publish the note in the terms which it reached us, we do not associate ourselves with the phraseology that is employed. The definite views which are attributed to Mr. Purnell Hooley deserve, of course, the closest attention.

It is quite clear that our own comments (issue of the 8th inst.) upon Colonel Crompton's harmonic-percussive theory are receiving a noteworthy measure of endorsement. It is further made evident that spring re-action is regarded by some close observers as worthy of further study. It has been pointed out to us, for example, in conversation, that a parallel may be established between the results that are obtained when a weight is dropped upon a spring balance, in so far as the pointer will indicate a blow greatly in excess of the actual weight employed. It is sought from this to argue by analogy in respect of the intensity of the blow due to spring re-action on a loaded axle when travelling over a bumpy re ad. This analogy, of course, is probably not outside Colonel Clic.impton's own record of factors which have to be regarded, but we cannot see that such spring action tends to confirm his contentions with respect to rhythmical beating or the production of waves of equal length. We ourselves feel satisfied that the fong et oripo of the whole trouble is the old-fashioned and heavy road roller.