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24th April 1919, Page 18
24th April 1919
Page 18
Page 19
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

A Light Van in Town : Contracting with an Agrimotot

IT MUST NOT be poncluded that there is no opportunity for the working of a light van as part of a haulage contractor's business, or even, in the case of a beginner with small capital, as a sole source of income. The notable increase which has taken place since the freeing of petrol from rigid control, in the use of such vehicles for express parcel services, particularly on the part of haulage contractors, hitherto more generally associated with large threeand five-ton vehicles, and also by large universal stores and general dealers, is sufficient evidence in support of :the general contention that the use of the light van is largely on the increase.

Such is the lamentable sterility of the English market for light vans of proved economy and reliability, and such is the popularity and ubiquity of the Ford that, at the moment, for loads of about the capacity of that vehicle, namely, 7 cwt. the terms light van and Ford van are practically interchangeable in the mind of the layman ; and even in those of our, who are not, of course, assumed to fall within that category. . Consequently, our remarks are particularly applicable to thtt make of van.

The capital outlay in the case of a light van is pretty clearly defined if we take the Ford as our example. The prime cost of a van. is 2260, and,, from this, there is a rebate of £15 if it can be shown that it is intended to use the vehicle wholly for commercial 'purposes. The net cost is,' therefore, £245, and if we assume that an additional " fiver " would be necessary to cover a few accessories and any special lettering on the bodywork, we arrive at 1250 as a round figure upon which to base our calculations.

Now, as to the business which may prbbably be obtained for this class of vehicle. There are a number of traders in every town whose deliveries are not sufficient to juetify them in purchasing a van solely for their own use. Many a one has a total of about 1.00 parcels to send out per week, and the maximum weight will approximate to 14 lb. per parcel, in the majority of cases. These deliveries must be spread over the whole week, through five or six flaws, in order to meet the convenience of customers. It will be easily understood that no small trader can confine himself to any particular day of the week upon which he will only consent to make deliveries.

We may assume the maximum load for a. van to be 8001b. As regards the Ford, this is rather over what is generally assumed to be a fair load for all-day running. But it may be agreed upon, however, as suitable for city and town work, such as, at present, we have in mind, in view of the generally fair condition of the roads, moderategradients and the fact that excessive speeds will rarely be attempted, owing to the incidence of traffic and other conditions, and also having in mind the fact that the 800 lb. will be superimposed for only a small fraction of the van's running, namely, just when it is loaded and prior to one or two out of the many deliveries having been made. The average weight of the parcels will probably be about 10 lb. each, this allowing a total of 80 for a load.

Assume that this necessitates, including collection, 80 calls, and reckon on a day of eight hours. The small shopkeeper is as a rule somewhat haphazard in his delivery arrangements. But rarely is it found that his deliveries and parcelling, arrangements are well organized. Probably a miminum of one hour. will have, therefore, to be allowed for as collecting time. The distance covered will seldom exceed 10 miles per run ; the period of time occupied, say half-an-hour, actual travelling. About three minutes will be the average time taken up by each call, that is to say, 240 minutes for a full load of 80 parcels: total 51 hours, leaving 21 hours in which a 1346 . shorter round may be run, perhaps half the distance, or with halfthe number of parcels taken on a full journey. This gives us approximately 120 parcels to be delivered per day.

What is the cost of this work, including in the estimate an allowance of £2 Per week as being fair wages for a driver of this type of van (this will, if the owner drives, return tohim), and 15 per cent. return on capital, allowing for contingencies, etc. Assurning five days a week, the mileage will be approximately 80; the running Cost of this type of van will be found in the table which we published in the second of this series of articles appearing in our issue of March 20th, under the heading of 7 cwt. van. It will be seen to be 3.73d; per mile, giving a total for the week of 318.4d., say, 26s. 6d. Standing charges will be 642d. or 53s.' 6d. For 'interest on capital,etc., 15, per cent: on 2250 is equal to 237 10s. per annum, or„ at 50 Weeks to the year,"15s. per week.

The total Cost, then, 'on this basie and not allowing, it should be noted, for any establishment charges, which should here be eidde-dise5s2 or £4 15s. per 'week. A day's load of parcels, at five days per week, will total to 600 parcels carried and delivered during the week. An ayerage.of 3d. per. parcel .(which is a very low price and, generally, can, even m keenest competition; *be exceeded) would bring in .'&7 10s.

There is, therefore, ample margin here. . •

• A little calculation .x611, at. once, show that the prospective contractor. should, endeavour, to get promises from .ten or a 'dozen tradesmen in his townfor contracts of from 50 to 60 parcels per week. He ehould

• carefully map out his routes, and work so that he can -, do a minimum of two rounds per day for each. This ought to be possible in most eases, if well thought out. His business Can then easily be augmented by judicious advertising and propaganda.

For example, a well-designed and attractive panel on each side of the van With .a notice to the effect that deliveries and collections • are made in the district twice. daily;' that orders would be accepted by the vaninan, and that charges were most moderate, would be sure to draw attention an enquiries; which would certainly also result in orders. For the work of carrye ing 'occasional parcel; such as this scheme might attract, a minimum of 4.1d. each could be charged, and in any busy district it is.possible—nay, more than probable—that additional vans would shortly be 'needed.

The Agrimotor for Contract Work.

The many enquiries which we have received, and the keen interest which is,. at present, being evinced in all matters connected with agriculture render it essential that we should 'include in this series some reference to the prospects of remunerative employment, when contracting for work on the land with an agricultural tractor and implements. It would appear, from a consideration of the general conditions which at present exist, that there is considerable opening for the development of this new line of business. Many fanners, as a result of the operations of the Food Production Department during "the last couple of years, have Come to rely largely. upon hired tractor help, in order to enable them to cope with the tillage work on the farm. There is a labour shortage which is undoubtedly being keenly felt, and in addition, the Food Production Department itself is closing dawn a number of its depots, and selling its tractors. A large number of farmers, while appreciating the Nalue of mechanical power on the farm and being desirous of continuing to have the benefit Of it in connection with their holdings, will, nevertheless, hesitate before purchasing their own outfits. Particularly will this be the case where the farm is so small as to make the continuous use of a tractor and its accessories problematical. The prospective contractor has, therefore, at one and the same time, opportunities opening for business and the chance to purchase a, suitable machine at a low figure.

The most serious aspect of this business is the legal one. A tractor may be considered legally to be either a locomotive or a heavy motorcar. Few tractors comply with the Use and Construction Order applioalale to heavy motorcars. Generally, they fail in respect of the lack of two efficient brakes, the lack of springs, and also as regards the construction and dimensions Of their wheels. They do not comply, either, in the majority of cases, with the Locomotive Acts, particularly in respect of wheel sizes, although, in some of them, the removal of the special spuds from the rear wheels, and of the guide rings from the front wheels will obviate this objection. -Apart from use for haulage, it would appear that the best plan would be to endeavour to meet the requirements of the Locomotive Acts, which when the locomotive is not used to haul another wagon, call for a width of wheel rim of one inch per ton weight of the tractor, the tyres to be smooth, or shod with plain diagonal strakes, so disposed that seven-eighths of the whole width of the wheel is in contact with the ground at any time. The minimum width of tyre must be 3 ins.

It is not open to the contractor, as it is to the farmer, to register his tractor as an agricultural locomotive on the payment of half-a-crown per annum. There is a special provision in the Act relating to agricultural locomotives which excludes such vehicles if they are used for hire purposes. The licence to use a locomotive in any county dlests ten guineas per annum, and there are additional fees for every other county into which the locomotive may be taken. If it is intended to go in for haulage as well as for purely tillage Operations, then we urge the adoption of a properly sprung tractor designed to come within the provisions of the Heavy Motor Car Acts. The cost of operating -tractors varies considerably with the type and power of the machine. We ean, therefore, only give approximate datato intending contractors for mechanical tillage, and it is certainly not possible, considering the present state of general knowledge concerning tractors to give tabulated data

in such a cut-and-dried form as we did in the case of commercial motors. The latter, as we have previously remarked, are based upon the average performances of the vehicles for which they were calculated for a period of from 10 to 12 years. In the following statement, which is entirely subject to fair weather conditions, the first cost has been estimated as being about 2300 for a second-hand tractor capable of pulling a three-furrow plough, and the plough itself, harrows and cultivator, with a few essential spares. Generally, it may be assumed that, at least, 200 working days per annum would be possible on actual field work. In favourable cases this might be exceeded and an average daily acreage of 5 acres or the equivalent has been assumed, that is to say, we have taken as the basis of our calculations 1,000 acres per annum ploughed, and for estimating time, and fuel consumption, etc., 3 acres of cultivat ing, harrowing, scuffling or harvesting may roughly be taken as equal to one acre of ploughing. On such a basis, interest on first cost per acre would amount to, say, 4d., depreciation 2s. 6d. repairs 6d., rent 3d., fuel 6s. 8d., oil and grease la, insurance 3d. Allow about £3 a week as the equivalent of the tractor driver's wages: this, of course; will return to the owner if he drives the machine himself. This is equivalent to 2s. 6d. an acre for wages. The cost of travelling to and fm from the owner's headquarters to the land upon which he is operating will vary in almost every instance. Sixpence may be taken as a fair figure to cover this. Allowing 20 per cent. on first cost as interest on outlay with allowance for con, tingencies, this is equivalent to is. an acre: total. 16s. 2d„ and so far it would appear that 17s. or 17s. 6d: an acre would be a remunerative charge. As a matter of fact, and unfortunately, however, this type of contracting depends so largely upon the weather conditions and other matters beyond the control of the owner and not directly chargeable to the tractor itself; that a charge very considerably in excess of this is found to be necessary if the business is to pay a reasonable profit. It may, therefore, be taken that for ploughing 20s. to 27s. 6d. an acre should be charged„ the actual sum varying somewhat in accordance with the conditions, class of soil, distance from head2 quarters, and so on ; and for the lighter operations of tilling, such as cultivating, etc., the charge should be from 12s. to 16s. per acre.


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