The American Invasion (No. VII).
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A Reply to Mr. Younger's Article from Dennis Bros., 1915, Ltd.
Despite his claim to be in touch with the latest British and Continental developments, Mr. John Younger of Buffalo, N.Y., the writer of the article appearing in THE COMMERCIAL MOTOR issue of I2th August, would appear to be under the impression that the heavy motor-vehicle industry in this country is in the state in which he imagined it to be when he was here. He may have a certain familiarity with details and broad outlines through the medium of the technical Press, but he is obviously quite out of
touch with current practice here. The present American influx is due solely to the unfortunate conditions existing, and not to any inferred American superiority in construction, selling methods or value for money. The success of a discussion of subjects such as these depends, from the American point of view, upon the amount of information the American critic gets as a result of his remarks. With regard to " Service," many manufacturers in this country have run maintenance departments which have ensured to their clients the certainty of having their vehicles always ort the road and in proper condition, at a known and minimum expense. Data have been collected and used by manufac-hirers here, presumably more effectively than in America, seeing that the best commercial vehicles in this country are at least two years ahead of the best turned out in America to-day. " Service " as carried out by some American concerns must add largely to cost of production, and this is where America will be hit very hard in the future, as time will show.
Mr. Younger appears to be unacquainted with the fact that many concerns in this country employ fully qualified engineers as travelling inspectors, who send in regular reports on the behaviour and condition of vehicles in service.
The American engineer is not the only person who experiments in design and materials ; some of the most eminent chemists and metallurgists in the world are engaged in work for the automobile industry, both in Great Britain and on the Continent of Europe.
Progress in touring-ear design has made great strides in America when compared with American practice of a few years ago, but the man who wants the very best from the point of view of comfort and everything else, prefers to bay a British car. The adoption of worm drive by American " truck " makers has been due solely to the development of it in this country, and all the best American trucks, including those made by the firm represented by Mr. Younger, bought their worms and wheels from this country until very recently. Moreover, it would appear that the best worm gearing that is produced in America to-day for heavy vehicles is manufactured on machinery supplied from this country. In spite of the improvements in springing, speed and general reliability, the American " truck " has a lot of leeway to make up, and it will be just the same in five years time.
Mr. Younger does not mention the names of the English engineers of authority and experience" who agree that American trucks are at least equal to English in design, but his remarks can only be justified by a comparison of the English vehicle of some years ago with the American of to-day. The American manufacturer may be progressing in materials, too, but as in design he will have to progress a great deal more before he catches us up, as extremely rapid progress has been made in this country. If there are any things produced in this country which will "wipe the earth" with similar things pro
A26 duced in America, they are materials such as highclass cast and high-speed steels, special bronze, special high-tensile alloy steels and light steel castings.
The specification he gives is similar to that of steels which have been in use here for some years. A nickel steel containing no chromium has been in use here for a number of .years now, having the following physical characteristics :—
When heat treated the ultimate tensile strength is in the neighbourhood of 175,000 lb. per sq. in. Elastic limit, 160,000 lb. per sq. in. Elongation, 15 per cent. Contraction, 45 per cent. and other steels such as the following, nickel-chrome heat-treated, show :— Ultimate tensile strength, 270,000 lb. per sq. in. Elastic limit, 225,000 lb. per sq. in.
Elongation, 12-14 per cent.
Reduction of area, 38 per cent. Thousands of tons of this latter have been used by the automobile industry in this country during the last five years. In its annealed state, this steel can be machined at high speed, and is quite suitable for using on Potter-Johnson automatic machines. This latter fact is a sure indication of its being in proper condition for machining rapidly.
So long ago as 1905, steels were in use in this country, having the following characteristics:—
Ultimate tensile strength, 190,000 lb. per sq. in. Elastic limit, 175,000 lb. per sq. in. Reduction of area, 50 per cent. The fact that full and close attention is given to
laboratory work here is evidenced by the progress made in the production and treatment of materials, and manufacturers take full advantage of the readily available services of highly qualified chemists and testing houses.
With regard to production, it is interesting to record the remarks made by a prominent American automobile engineer when visiting this country about two years ago. Mr. Howard Coffin, addressing the Institution of Automobile Engineers, said :— "With her high-class labour, her great factories, her wonderful resources, her centuries of manufacturing experience and her world-wide market through her provinces and through her proximity to the Continent, it would take much to convince me that England were not potentially qualified to hold her own in manufacturing competition with any nation on earth."
Further remarks he made were :— "There is no more dangerous element in any in dustry than the purely theoretical engineer ; one always seeking the ideal to the utter exclusion of the very practical and very commercial present. Some of the greatest financial failures of our American motor industry can be charged directly to lack of the commercial sense (if the term pleases you) upon the part of the engineer."
One view of the reason for engineers leaving this
country for America, may be that competition here is very keen, and it is more or less a question of the survival of the fittest. Plenty of good engineers, however, go to America and often return again in due course, and many good American-born engineers come here and make good and stay. The results oh. tamed afford sufficient evidence that there are large numbers of very competent engineers in this country.
A great many people have attempted to wake up "John Bull" in the past and they are doing so now. They always learn something.—Yours faithfully, DENNIS BROS. (1913), LTD.