COMPRESSED GAS FOR MOTORBUSES.
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How the Eastbourne Corporation is Converting Its Vehicles in Anticipation of the Forthcoming Petrol Prohibition Order.
THERE, isnot -the slightest doubt that the imposition of the Petrol Prohibition Order will adversely affect the motorbus services of the country, except in those districts where the alternative is not available or where it is imperative to maintain munition warke'rs' services. *. But, for the most part, the conversion to gas will be compulsory, and, as we have already mentioned, the introduction of the new Order may be confidently expected about May. Fortunately, the authorities have extended ample veiled 'earning of their intentions, and owners of passenger-carrying vehicles would be well advised to complete their conversions to gas with all promptitude.
One municipal authority which is responsible for the provision of passenger-carrying facilities within its area. has already embarked upon such a project. This is the County Borough of Eastbourne, which, upon more than one occasion during the era of the motorbus, has displayed commendable initiative and enter
.prise. The fathers of the town uperathe Sussex coast are fortunate to have a live, wideawake engineer controlling the destinies of the motorbus service.
Mr. Ellison, the engineer in question, was well away with his gas conversionproposal before the appearance of the last Board of Trade Order -concerning future petrol restrictions and gas permits. The gentlernen.of the Town Council are eqUally enterprising business men, and they are enthusiastically supporting their engineer in his new un&Crtaking. The project was'essayed.several Veks ago, but unavoidable delay has been incurred from the shortage of labour and materials as well as difficulty in securing the delivery of the indispensable compressor plant. So far as this seaside town is concerned, ample gas is
for meeting the requirements of the Corporation', so that there is little likelihood of the service suffering inconvenience from lack of fuel. The system favoured by the engineer is compression. In fact, in his opinion, it is the only solution to the problem as it confronts him. Me buses are double, deckers seating 41 passengers. It will be recalled that Mr. Ellison designed a special type of body to be fitted to the Leyland chassis, the feature of which is the increased accommodation mentioned due to the unusual disposition of the seating arrangements. At the moment, owing to the curtailment of other carry ing facilities, and the withdrawal of certain vehicles due to lack of petrol, the buses are being subjected to heavy overcrowding, especially during the hours of morning and evening pressure, when as many as 51 passengers comprise a full load. In these circumstances, the impracticability of the flexible container is obvious. Not a single seat can
be sacrificed ; indeed, it is not to be recommended from. the revenue point of view. Hence the restriction to the compression system.
Owing to the absence of all previous knowledge upon this subject, the Eastbourne authorities arc,really acting as pioneers, and have got to decide the virtues and demerits of •compression. For this reason both low and high-compression methods are to be subjected to the stern test of practical application.
While the engineer preserves an open mind upon the compression issue, merely being prepared to adopt that Which will enable the Corporation to carry on to advantage, he is more disposed towards the low-compression system, as being more suitably adapted to his requirements.
To this end, he is now engaged in fitting out a bus upon these lines. The containers comprise the metal cylinders used by railway companies for storing illuminating gas to light their passenger rolling stock. They measure 6 ft. in length by 24 ins, in diameter, and weigh 2 cwt. apiece. These will be charged with gas at 300 lb. per sq. in. pressure—approximately 20 atmospheres. To-assure himself that this pressure is not excessive, the engineer has subjected each cylinder to a water pressure of 400 lb. per sq. in., from which it emerged with complete success. If a cylinder be able to withstand a hydraulic pressure of 400 lb. per sq. in., it should be able to carry a gas pressure 25 per cent. less. In view of the bulk and dimensions of any type of low-compression container, the question of stowage of the cylinders upon the severely limited space available upon a. motorbus presents its peculiar difficulty. Of course, if the sacrifice of passenger-carrying acoornmodation be a subsidary issue, the question is facilitated, but Mr. Ellison is resolved to preserve this accommodation at all hazards. Accordingly, he has decided to carry the cylinders upon the driver's canopy, which at present represents wasted space upon the vehicle.
An approximate Idea of how the stowage of the 'containers is to be carried out is shown in the accompanying diagram. Four cylinders are to be nested in a special cradle, while the canopy to carry the extra weight thus imposed is supported on either side by a stanchion carried down and bolted to the chassis frame. The canopy itself is of ample construction to withstand the weight, as tests with ten men, representing approximately half-a-ton, have proved. The engineer anticipates, by resorting to a pressure of 20 atmospheres, of being able to stow the gas equivalent to 1 gallons of petrol in each cylinder; or 6 gallons for e whole battery of four containers. Thus it will he possible to drive the vehicle 30-36 miles upon a single
The engineer fuel carrying -charge which represents somewhat less than one half of a vehicle's average daily run.
Should the driver's canopy prove an impracticable nesting place for the battery of cylinders, low-cornptession will probably have to be abandoned, inasmuch as there is no other convenient space upon the bus to receive such bulky auxiliaries. On theAlther hand, owing to the smaller dimensions and bulk of -the bottles used for carrying gas under high-compression, these can be conveniently and unobtrusively stored in many places. The engineer is laying down a complete compressing installation to meet his requirements. A Reavell compressor is being fitted, driven by a 12 h.p. electric motor. No definite method concerning the system of recharging the exhausted cylinders has yet been decided. The accumulator or reservoir possesses many advantages in connection with low compression.
The motorbus engineer to the Eastbourne Corporation hopes to put the first gas-driven bus into service within the next few weeks. Everything is ready to commence operations directly the compressing plant is installed. The borough authorities are to be congratulated upon their pioneering enterprise and progress. From 400 to 21000 will have been laid out on experiments by the time the first vehicle takes the road, but' the money could scarcely be laid out to better advantage. If other towns were to display similar initiative and that now instead ef in the hazy future, it would be to the distinct benefit' of the community at large.