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France Getting Ahead with the Gas

25th March 1924, Page 1
25th March 1924
Page 1
Page 2
Page 1, 25th March 1924 — France Getting Ahead with the Gas
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

Producer. .

EXCEPT for Col. D. J. Smith and J. I. Thornycroft and Co., Ltd., few people have made continued and effective efforts to produce a gasproducer system, by means of -which gaseous fuel could be extracted from solid materials immediately before consumption in the cylinders of an internal-combustion engine used to propel a motor vehicle. And we should hardly be speaking unjustly, if we said that the number of people in this country willing to encourage such a development by ordering and using such appliances scarcely exceeds the number of manufacturers.

The reasons for this apparent absence of enterprise are, firstly, the convenience attaching to the use of liquid fuel, provided the price of that fuel remains at a reasonable IeVel, secondly, the fear that the management of a gas-prodncer system may be beyond the capacity of thetype of man who can be put in charge of a petrol ._vehicle, and, thirdly, the need with gas-producer plants to use a coal which is almost free from. bitumen and tarry matter.

In France, the gas producer shows healthy signs of development, and it would seem as if the' engineers of that country, and also the users for whom.. they 'cater, are getting ahead of us in this matter. One reason for this is the fact that the charcoalproducing industry is very strong in France, where considerable quantities of the fuel are consumed, and where, in consequence, there is to be found, in the forestal regions, ample talent for the making of it. In this country very little charcoal is consumed, and there are few people who know how to make it economically. . • The great immediate objection to allowing France to get ahead of -us in gas-producer development is that the overseas demand for vehicles which will run on solid fuels -will be encouraged and absorbed by our French neighbours. A second objection, and one which -applies specifically to our own latk of enterprise, is the fact that there_ is bound to be trouble, sooner or later, over the questions of the supply of petrol to this country and of the price we shall be asked to pay for it.' If the projected exPort duty on liquid fuel is imposed by the United States Government, the pinch wilt be severely felt on this .side of the Atlantic. Now, therefore, is the time to encourage the production of power plant that shall render us, to an extent, independent of liquid fuels, and not later, when the pinch has come. THOSE WHO have followed motor vehicle developments from the early years will remember many devices brought out from time to time with the aim of automatically operating the gear lever and clutch pedal. Most of these mechanisms involved the use of compressed air or electricity, with consequent co,uplications and risk of failure. The latest gearchanging system, described on another page, differs in that it is simple, compact and mechanical.

It is interesting to notice that the inventor has been working on this problem for eleven years, and has certainly brought his device to a, fine pitch of perfection. We ourselves saw the apparatus in its very early stages, and can appreciate the efforts that have been made since the war to simplify it and secure reliability or operatipn. It should be of the greatest utility for vehiclel which are engaged on service necessitating frequent gear changing. The case of the motorbus at once comes to mind, and it will be interestiug to see whether the automatic gear change, infinitely variable gear, or the present manual system will be in general use in, say, five years' time. It is,perhaps, worth pointing out that a mechanical servo-motor of the type used in this gear-changing system has considerable possibilities in other directions where pneumatic or hydraulic methods are at present in use. The inventor has already experimented with power-operated steering, and it appears to us that his device might very well prove capable of application to winches, tipping 'gears and the like,

The Hire Caravan as a Business Proposition.

WE HAVE, in the columns of this journal, dealt with the development of the caravan—the motor-driven vehicle equipped to enable the owner and his family or friends to travel and to live in it, thus being independent of hotels—but as The Commercial Motor is not concerned with the private use or operation of motor vehicles, we have only dealt with the commercial aspects of the movement. Thus, we have described those vehicles which are used commercially—those wherein the owner lives, travels and conducts his trade or business—a notable recent case being the employment of such a conveyance for the manufacture and vending of pills. . In other pages of this issue we deal with another commercial aspect of the subject—the employment of a caravan on private hire work. None but the wealthy and those who are not economically minded would dream of owning a motor caravan, which could only be used by them for a few weeks of the year. Life cm a caravan, with its severe limitations, would, we should say, pall after a week of it, and there would come inward clarnou rings for a. change of food, for the brighter and more interesting surroundings of the hotel, for the play and the opera, and, last but not least, for an opportunity to spread oneself out and to revel in more expansive washing arrangements. Hence, we would say that for three weeks of the year would be as much as an owner would have use for such a vehicle. He could lend it to we will say, two groups of friends, thus increasing the use to about eight weeks in the year, leaving 44 weeks of idleness. The nearest analogy to a motor caravan is the houseboat, but even with boating, motor boating, swimming and motor drives, all adding to the pleasure of life thereon, the incentive to hire is greater than to own.

Thus, the construction of a caravan specially intended to be hired out seems to be a sensible course to adopt and, as the vehicle which we describe is well equipped with sleeping accommodation for four people and with facilities for cooking and serving meals, we should not be surprised to learn that the owner is able to book up the use of it for virtually

the whole of the season. . al8 We urge upon the owner of such a vehicle the need for the devotion of one or two days, after it returns from a hire, to cleaning and overhaul, the mechanism receiving sufficiently thorough inspection and every necessary adjustment and replacement being effected. A motor caravan is certain to be taken into the most interesting country and more into the wilds even, because of the independence of the party in the matter of sleeping accommodation, and as the most interesting country is amongst the hills and amid Foe dales and the moors, reliable machinery and sound brakes are more than usually essential. Hence the need for a complete inspection after each period of use. •

Encouraging Fuel Economy.

WE HAVE on several occasions emphasized the importance of doing everything possible to encourage drivers to exercise economy in fuel to the best of their ability. We have advocated the institution of some incentive to such efforts in the way of a small bonus on the quantity of fuel thus saved, and we were glad to note that recently the secretary of the Commercial Motor Users Association put this suggestion forward as one of the factors in obtaining increased efficiency in the working of

motor vehicles.

We do not by any means suggest that drivers are any more wasteful than the average employee, but they certainly have in their hands the promotion of better results in this particular respect. 1 It is quite possible that a vehicle running with an untuned carburetter, or one that is leaking, may materially increase the running costs. If a vehicle is kept busily engaged it is a temptation to let it run so long as it can before reporting a matter of this description to the maintenance engineer, but, if the driver knows that in so doing he is taking money out of his own pocket, he is far more likely to have the matter attended to imniediatery.

In order to avoid invidious comparisons, it is advisable to put all money so earned into a common fund, and to promote friendly rivalry between the drivers themselves.

Unfair Methods in Bus •Competition.

S THE result of a recent case which came before the Courts, an injunction was granted against the owners of an independent bus running upon the streets of London. The grounds of the action were that the vehicle was made and named closely to resemble the v,ehicles run by the London traffic "combine," and, apart from the legal aspect, we consider that the " combine " was certainly justified in taking up the attitude it did. Competition is all very well when conducted on fair lines, and we have never done anything to discourage the owner of the properly run independent bus, but, although imitation is sometimes looked upon as the sincerest form of flattery, in this case it amounted to an unfair means of obtaining passengers who might have thought, in boarding such a vehicle, that they were giving their custom to the older-established concern. Many members of the public are perfectly willing to assist those enterprising enough to compete with such a remarkable organization as that of the London General Omnibus Co., but in their own interests they should not alienate the public sympathy, which will certainly happen if they adopt such tactics.

We also regret to observe that in certain instances these independent buses are being rtiq to and fro on much curtailed routes, so that to complete a journey of any considerable length the passengers have to descend and wait for a " combine " vehicle. We consider that if an independent bus adopts the same route number as that used on a "combine " vehicle it should give the same service, and not merely run on the best-paying portion of it.

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