Two-cylinder Engines—Bad Motor Agents—
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Protected Drivers—Concerning Overloading.
By Henry Sturmey.
In commenting upon my note which started the recent discussion in regard to two-cylindered or four-cvlindered cabs, the Editor went on to speak of two or four cylinders in regard to motor-delivery vehicles, and it might have been taken thereby to imply that I was advocating two cylinders for all kinds and capacities of motor vehicles. I do not thiak the Editor meant it that way—[He did not.—ED.I—but a casual reader might have taken it so, and I would now like to say that I 001 entirely in accord with the views expressed by Mr. Shrapnel] Smith upon this subject. Simplicity of parts is even more important in a commercial goods wagon than in a cab, but, as with the cab, there is, of course, a line to be drawn somewhere. The Editor puts this line down at a two-ton imposed load, and I am inclined to think he is right. Certainly, the argument of Messrs. Dennis in a later issue, that a 200wt. useful load is the limit of successful employment, is, I think, hardly borne out in practice, because there are, I believe, more two-cylinder vans for 25-iocwt. loads running to-day than any other size, and. more than this, they are amongst the most successful and satisfactory vehicles on the road. I admit that, when the loads much exceed 35-cwt., it becomes a matter for argument and deliberation, but a vehicle for heavy loads is, or ought to be, lower in the gearing, and, keeping the requirement -of simplicity and fewness of parts, coupled with efficiency and low cost of upkeep. in mind, I think the line may be very safely drawn at the two-ton vehicle. It is certainly a mistake to consider four cylinders on anything smaller than 25 or aocwt., although prospective users are constantly being told by pleasure-car agents and enthusiasts, that, even for such small loads as to to iscwt., they must not—they really cannot—have less than four cylinders!
The foregoing reference to the motor agent leads me to -remark that the commercial-vehicle manufacturer has a lot to put up with at the hands of the average motor agent, who is, more often than not, doing a very great deal of harm to this side of the industry, especially where the lighter class of commercial vehicles is in question. The trade in commercial vehicles is very different to that in pleasure cars. The conditions of business arc not the same. Instead of orders, Sc' to speak, dropping into his -mouth, the agent pushing commercial vehicles has to go -out and look for them, and not only look for them, but to " compel them to come in." This is hard work, and "harder work than Mr. Motor Agent is accustomed to.
As it is, what happens to-day is this manufacturer gets in touch with a tradesman, and possibly arranges a demonstration. This opens the eyes of the local agent to the fact that Messrs. A. and Co. are in the market for a motor vehicle, and, as he deals in motors, he looks them up. He knows nothing whatever about the commercial vehicle, as he has never studied the. question, but he has cars to sell, and he promptly runs down the car which has been demonstrating andendeavours to sell Messrs. A. and Co. a chassis of his own—a new pleasure-car chassis, sometimes without alteration—or else, if he finds the price question is troubling them, he offers a faked-up secondhand pleasure-car chassis, with a van body stuck on and three-parts worn out, at a " bargain " price. In either case, if he succeeds in cajoling the customer, that customer suffers, and the whole question of motor vehicles in that district as well.
The driver of a motor-delivery wagon cannot choose -his weather. He and his vehicle have to do their work, rain or shine, and the conditions of motoring, as regards the weather, are very different from those where horses are employed. The horse in a loaded goods wagon meanders along at 2! to 8 miles an hour; the motorvan does its 15. The more rapid passage through the aimakes things very much more uncomfortable for the driver in cold weather, and, when there i3 any rain on, the effect is to provide an equivalent to giving a much sharper angle to the falling drops, so that very much more protection is needed than where horsed wagons are employed. Yet, I have seen some very absurd arrangements put forward with the object of giving the driver protection. Thus, in one hooded van I saw recently, the driver sat entirely in front of the body of his vehicle, which was provided with a short hood or awning projecting about 15 inches forward. This device was, -I believe, copied from a horse wagon (I have seen several such so fitted), but the protection afforded would be totally inadequate, even with the vehicle stationary, whilst, when moving at all, it could not do much more than keep the driver's hat dry ! The box type of van, in which the driver sits inside, with the top of the van continued to the front of the footboard, seems one of the most practical arrangements we have. Something more in the nature of the front part of a Cape cart hood, with sides, would give better protection still, but I am afraid, to be practical in a vehicle where the driver has to be constantly jumping in and out, that this would interfere too much with the movements of the driver.
I saw a carrier's cart, once, with comfortable accommodation for about six people, so packed full of humanity that I counted heads. There were 16! How that poor horse struggled with the load, I do not know. This overloading with horsed vehicles seems to be pretty common, the only question in the owner's mind being, apparently, how much can be got in, instead of what weight is being loaded up. I am afraid that overloading is not by any mrans unknown in the commercial-vehicle world, and that many of the troubles which owners encounter can be traced to this cause, coupled with excessive driving when so overloaded. If an owner has, say, a 25cw1. wagon, and there is another sack or so of goods remaining when the 25cwt. has been got in, and there is room in the van to take them, they will be put up, and the driver, instead of driving more slowly, will just run his car as fast as she will go, and that, too, regardless as to whether the road is smooth or rough. The extra load, of course, will probably make no difference in the pace on the level_ Owners should, in their own interests, be very careful to see that much of this sort of thing is not done. The motor vehicle is designed and constructed and sprung to carry a certain maximum load, and that maximum load is the load which the manufacturers sell the car to deal with. Any overloading puts stresses upon the springs, tires and transmission and, indeed, on all parts of the car, which they were never calculated to stand up to and it is the owner's fault if things go wrong as the result. I was, for example, discussing commercial wagons with a user of very considerable experience, and was told calmly that the vans would be always overloaded to the extent of 5 to 6cwt., whilst, upon another occasion, a large user of horsed vehicles, who admitted his loads would be nearer 25cwt. than 20, could not be made to understand that it was a 25cwt. model he wanted, and not a 20.. T am afraid many motor buyers put too great a value on first cost, in deciding the capacity of their vehicles, and I am sure they would find it more economical in the end to buy a vehicle with rather, a larger load capacity than their maximum, than to select one of less capacity because of its lower first cost.