Good Driving Directly Pr( tional to Driving Comfort
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By J. Pickles
Why Should the Commercial-vehicle Cab be Furnished on Such Spartan Lines, Says Our Contributor, When the Enhanced Driving Efficiency Resulting from the Improvements in Driving Comfort, that He Suggests, Will Pay the Extra Cost Entailed Several Times Over?
FEATURE • of pre-war car
design was the increasing scale
of luxury provided .for the occupants. Publicity was given tO each new model to show how superior it was to its immediate predecessor and its contemporaries in respect of comfort and convenience, both bodily ane mental, particularly for the driver. , More often than not, however, the owner -would spend but a part of his weekend at the wheel and perhaps only half an hour or so on week-days driving to and from 'his employment. Therefore, it seems strange that the commercial,vehicle delver, who lives perhapS a quarter of his life in his bus or lorry, must occupy a compartment furnished, mostfrequently, on unnecessarily Spartan lines.
Certain improvements in this direction: could possibly be made without material increase in first cot, but it is probable that any reasonable extra expenditure would pay foritself several times over as a result of enhanced driver efficiency. It Is 'almost inconceivable that a man can have affection for a vehicle that is a ,brute to handle, uncomfortable to occupy and nerveracking to operate, whilst dislike or one's • charge can hardly be compatible with the considerate treatment that is received by one more agreeable.
The instigation of a reform in this matter must , find its origin in the demand of the operator, because the
p manufacturer obviously has -to -try to satisfy his market. If 'operators and drivers persist in stressing their requirements, they may be sure that manufacturers will not be loath to comply with their demands.
Any consideration in an article of this nature mast, of course, be a generalization and some points will no doubt be raised which seen' obvious. but as they are not features of every chassis perhaps they are not so obvious as appears. First, and perhaps most important, if the need for accessible controlc whilst the wide variation in their positioning shows a greater confusion of thought than may be excused 6171 the grounds of purely engineering requirements.
The steering column should be well raked and so positioned as to be easy to control with minimum effort and fatigue. At the same time, it should be below the driver's field of vision when in motion.
Thedigear lever should be so located. that the hand 'falls readily to it, and it should move in a natural manner, i.e., forwards and backwards, not almost up and down as on some for
ward-control chassis, The travel of the lever knob should not be more than 10 ins, or possibly 12 ins, Au ideal hand brake, besides being powerful, should be easy to operate either when normally seated or when
hanging out of the cabwindow for reversing.
Large pedals should be used. Apart from other considerations, they inspire confidence and remove frdm the driver's mind any anxiety lest his foot will slip. The accelerator pedal is best when of the organ type and a careful design is necessary to minimize fatigue.
Pedals of adjustable length could in
many cases be provided without much extra cost, It is a real benefit to be able to alter the pedals to suit One's own particular dimensions. Where drivers have particular vehicles more or less permanently allocated to them, the benefit is obviously greatest. Unless adjustments are very easily effected, drivers are hardly likely to bother with them if taking over a machine only for a day or so. Lightness of -control is, of course, an ideal dictated by functional requirements, but there are several lessons to be learnt from the private car world in this respect.
Anatomical seating is a feature that has been greatly lauded in various quarters, and a number of manufacturers has undoubtedly made serious investigations into the matter. It is to their findings that the makers of commercial-vehicle drivers' seats should direct their attention, The principle involved is primarily the shaping of the seat and squab to give maximum support to the body in such manner that fatigue resulting from incorrect.sitting attitude is minimized. The name " body conformity," sometimes applied to such, seats, aptly describes the system. Without doubt more general adoption of seating of this nature would materially improve the driver's lot and effort should be directed to this matter.
The seat should also be arranged so that it may be adjusted backwards and forwards and an even greater improvement would be to make it universally adjustable after the Manner of a wellknown proprietary component. This, in combination with adjustable pedals, would afford a lay-out acceptable to the most fastidious driver.
Seat springing should be as soft as is compatible with other requirements; besides ensuring comfort at all times, this will provide insulation against the jarring which is inevitable when running light.
Good visibility is vital and care should 'be taken that the design permits this and that it is maintained. A large deep screen should be provided and corner pillars should be as thin as possible The rear-view mirror should be so arranged that a clear look-out to the back can he obtained without forward vision being impaired. • So that maximum visibility can be maintained 9n fog, the screen should be capable of being opened completely. Where possible, a draught of vqrrn air should be directed on to the screen to prevent misting. This presents no diffi • culty on forward-control vehicles where the radiator is almost immediately beneath the screen.
A useful accessory is a sun visor, universally jointed for preference; few things can be quite so distressing as to drive for many tours against bright sun. The universal swivel enables the screen to be interposed between the eyes and the glare no matter from what angle it comes.
On the facia board the instruments should be large and clear and so situated that they may he seen without an undse lowering of the eyes. Instruinent illumination should be carefully studied to ensure clarity without any reflected light on to • the screen and without providing an annoying distraction. Both these faults have been prevalent in the past. An admirable scheme incorporated in some cars includes a simple rheostat connected in the instrument-lamp, circuit and enabling the driveeto control the light intensity to his own taste. These devices are extremely elementary and
should be of trifling cost. Illumination of the speedometer with a red light when the maximum permitted speed is attained might be useful as a warning, although it may be argued that a driver, accustomed to his vehicle, needs no more information on this score than that which he already has orally.
One manufacturer incorporated on some models what was termed, rather extravagantly, a Cigar lighter. Whilst perhaps open to criticism on the grounds of being a gadget, it has the advantage of preventing momentary blindness caused by the sudden glare of a lighted match, which may prove disastrously dazzling to eyes accustomed to darkness.
Attention should be paid by cab builders to draught prevention, and all unnecestary apertures should be sealed, particular care being given to the aper
1 titres in the floor for the pedal levers. Ventilation is necessary, but should be arranged so that the air stream is diffused in such a manner as not to form a draught and is controllat/e.
Cab heating could be easily incorporated on many vehicles, particularly the forward-control type, by fitting a suitable aperture close to the radiator so !hit an ample supply of warm air is driven into the cab, but may be cut off
when required. Some drivers may point out that their cab is warm enough anyway, but this is obviously a . fault, for the degree of heat that is welcome in the winter will be an embarrassment at summer atmospheric temperatures. Special attention, therefore, should be paid to engine cowling, to prevent unnecessary heat from inconveniencing the driver, and to obviate the ingress of fumes into the driving compartment.
A direction indicator on the near side is more than useful. A simple cord. operated arm has proved highly satisfactory. Such a device should never • be omitted from the off side.
A cabby hole is indispensable, and long-distance drivers, who may use it for accommodating sandwiches, etc., will appreciate the locating of it where it keeps clean and cool, especially if it be within easy reach as well.
Whilst most operators may dismisS this feature as a completely unnecessary luxury, a sunshine roof was, we
believe, standardized at one time on a certain, popular vehicle.
Apart from its other attractions, it provided a useful aperture for the driver's head when manceuvring rear wards. •
It is probable that the long-distance _driver would be deeply grateful for even the most simple, form of bed—a provision which could easily be met by slightly enlarging the cab and installingia hammock. Something on these lines has already appeared in this country and, of course, the Americans have many lorries so equipped.