PASSENGER TRAVEL NEWS.
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The Latest Doings and Developments in the Bus and Coach World BETTER PROTECTION FOR COACH PASSENGERS.
The Majority of Coaches is Still Fitted with the Old Type of Hood, Although Better Types, such as that Described are on the Market. '
IN SPITE of the rapid. strides which haye been made during the past few years in coach design and the additional comfort afforded by improved 'seating, better springing and, in many cases, the use of pneumatic tyres, there are many vehicles in which the matter of weather protection has apparently received but little consideration—at least, so far as the actual coach owners are concerned,
The majority of open coaches is still fitted with, the old cumbersome type of hood, which not only. throws excessive weight on the back of the body and often protrudes for a considerable distance to the rear, but it is a difficult matter to raise it quickly in case of sudden showers. In fact, laden coaches are often seen returning home with the passengers sheltered by umbrellas, or not at all, because of the work and time necessary to get the hood into position.
That this should still be the case is rather surprising, for there are several good designs of hood on the market
opinion, is the patent side-folding hood invented by Mr. H. E. Austin, and. until now, exclusively employed by Karrier Motors, Ltd.
This hood is a complete break-away from orthodox design, which is refreshing, as so many so-called inventions are merely slight improvements on something which existed before.
Visitors to the Commercial Vehicle Exhibition at Olympia in 1923 will no doubt remember the Earlier coach which was there shown fitted with this hood. The full advantages of the device are obtained if it be used on a new body designed for its accommodation. It can, however, be fitted to any type of open coach, The Austin hood works from side to side instead of in the usual manner, and thus does away with the struts generally required, the material being supported by two sets of steel tubular members which are mounted in the backs of two of the rows of seats, usually the driver's seat and the last seat but one, the pivots and the spring mechanism of each set being concealed in a casing. The upper arms of the two sets are connected by three runners, to which the material is secured.
When folded down, the runners and material are hidden under the off-side elbow rail, which folds back to allow their entry. The tubular members themselves are concealed behind the aforementioned casings.
Considerable ingenuity has been displayed in so arranging the pivoted members that, when up, they hold the hood in the proper position, and, when down, meet together in the compartment at the side of the body. The method of obtaining this can best be seen by referring to the sketch which we reproduce. The powerful compression springs, one of which is attached to the moving pivot of each near-side rod, assist 'greatly in the operation of raising the hood; as a matter of fact, it requires little more than a touch to bring it into position, and this without praying an inconvenionce to the seated passengers, which cannot be said for many. other types.
Raising the hood takes lets than two minutes, one motion only being required, whilst approximately four minutes are required for lowering it, the extra time being due to the need for folding and stowing away the hood material.
Turn-buttons are used at the front for securing the hood to the windscreen, and a curtain is fixed at the rear, the operations required being included in
the time necessary for raising. Actually bead cover is afforded in under half a minute. Side curtains can be fitted if necessary.
The patents are held entirely by Mr. U.H. Austin, of Ricordo, Ashton Road, Moordown, Bournemouth, Hants, and manufacturers and others who may be interested in the device can obtain further particulars from him. In the case of the tramcar its owners are called upon by law to maintain the road between the tracks and for 18 ins. on each side of them, whereas the contribution towards road upkeep of those authorities who run trolley-buses is by way of taxation under the Motor Car Acts. The point does not-perhaps possess a great deal of weight in the case of large towns, where the roads are all under the control of the same authority, but in boroughs, where the malu roads are cared for by the county authorities, there is a considerable difference between the annual charges for road maintenance when the thoroughfares are used by tramcars and by trolley-buses.
We think we are correct in saying that in only one instance, so far, has the trolley-bus superseded the tramcar en