ALL-WEATHER CI DEVELOPMENTS.
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Why Attention is Being Tit Features. A Brief Descrip. We Suggest as a Me
e Subject. Some Desirable e Successful Types. What Ltisfying the Majority.
THE EXCEPTIONALLY bad weather which we have experienced, s 0. far, this summer has again turned the attention of coach owners to the question of providing all-weather vehicles of a satisfactory type, which will enable the 'passengers to be carried in comparative comfort, even when it is cold and inclement. .
• The public, also, is beginning to show its preference for coaches which, whilst enabling the occupanti to enjoy. fresh air and an unobstructed view of the surrounding country when the weather is fine and warm, can he rendered weatherproof in the minimum of time. Owing to the fact that many journeys commence in fine weather and end in foul, it is Important that it should be possible rapidly to make the change on the road, and before the travellers are forced to finish their journey in wet garments.
, It is one of the curious traits of the human mind that we remember unpleasant events much longer than we do those which are the reverse. A coach enthusiast may easily have his ardour completely damped by experiencing considerable discomfort on a single occasion, and it is, therefore, essential that the possibility of creating such an impression should be eliminated. It may be remarked that it is quite easy to say this, hut it is not so easy to carry the matter to a satisfactory conclusion ; this, however, is hardly the fault of the body designers. Several types which present excellent features and would appear to be both useful and comfortable have already been developed, but the majority of them have not received due recognition, either from. coach owners or the public.
Before describing what. has already been done in the matter of all-weather protection it may be of interest to enumerate those partimilar features which 'art,: desirable and, in some eases, necessary. The ordinary coach is essentially a vehicle devised. to meet the needs of those who wish to combine sight-seeing with a healthy form of travelling. The objective is often Comparatively unimportant ; it is the scenery on the way which Matters. It it were merely a question of reaching the destination in the -q.nickest possible time, most travellers would journey. by train. Therefore,if coaching is to remain popular it is important that the vehicles should not be Made tem.
• e 1 os e I y to resemble • a closed carriage, and this is why the limousine type of coach, although it has a considerable vogue. amongst theatre-goers, dance parties, etc., is not altogether appreciated for country touring. In fine weather the open coach has proved very satisfactory—In fact, almost ideal, but it. rapidly loses its popularity if part of the journey has to be made through a rainstorm, particularly if the rain be carried by a cross-wind„ The ordinary type of coach hood certainly provides a small amount of protection, but by no means all that is required, and it is here that the enclosed coach has the advantage. Therefore, it would seem that the ideal type is one that can be, at will, either fully open or totally closed ; at the same time it must be free from rattle. and not .unduly heavy. Now; we will see what has been done towards rendering -this ideal possible.
The first efforts which were triadcf . resulted in the provision of vehicles with a permanent canopy and side curtains or windows which could he fittedswhen the necessity arose. 'This was in the early . days when coaches were not so quiet as: theyare now, and the type became unpopular . because the canopy acted as a sounding board for the various noises emanating from the chassis. Later, efforts were made to improve the protection afforded by the ordinary hood, by the addition of side curtains which filled the space between the sides of the hood and the elbow rails
of the body. Some of these are still being employed and apparently give satisfactory results. The nest axe those so arranged that portions can be opened with the doors, draughts and the entry of rain, etc:, being prevented by overlaps.
• To the man who drives his own coach such, curtains may open a way out of the difficulty, but when the vehicles have to be managed by hired drivers, whc may not always be employed on the same machines, there is a difficulty in the correct fitting of the numerous pieces comprising the curtains, with the
possibility of :important portions being lost or damaged ; also they are sometimes awkward to
store when not in use, and the celluloid is apt to be cracked. Such curtains are also not of any great service in cold weather, as, unless extremely carefully fitted, it is very difficult totally to exclude draughts.
Later, the idea was. developed of using detachable saloon tops. For convenience in fitting and remov ing these are usually divided in two, except for small
-vehicles, the windows above the doors being so arranged that they open and close with the doors,
the connection between each part being such that a certain amount of sliding movement can take place between them and thus allow for the two working on different fulcra.
The main objection to the saloon top is that it is rather more permanent than is desirable, for it can not be fitted or detached after the commencement of a journey, and it is not the sort of thing that can be carried about as an accessory, so that, in practice, it is used as a method TOT converting an open coach for summer use into a closed vehicle for winter service.
There is another point which must be cOnsidered in this connection, and that is the storage of such tops when they are not actually in service. This storage may last for over six months in any year, and as the tops are of necessity ;.ightly built it is of great importance that they should be stored. in such a manner•that they are not unduly stressed, otherwise warping may occur. Some of the recently developed all-weather vehicles can he used either as coaches or buses. This applies, in particular, to the Dodson Charabus, the Strachan and Brown coach with the roller-blind roof, and the more recent machine put into service by South Wales Commercial Motors, Ltd.
The Charabus is more or less an ordinary coach with the addition of a permanent cab and rear superstructure, in which is fitted an entrance door. The roofs of the front and rear compartments are joined hy a centre rail which shelters two rollers running the full length of the open portion. When the roof is closed, the sliding cant rails are held in position by three stays, and between the rails and the rollers are twill coverings. When it is desired to use the vehicle completely open, the twill coverings are wound up on the rollers and the cant rails housed under the centre rail. When necessary, additional protection is afforded by the provision of four detachable, mahogany-framed windows which are fitted at each side. With these in nosition the
• ehicle is completely enclosed.
if the vehicle be employed in doubtful weather, then the glass windows can be replaced by storm turtains, as these can more easily he disposed On the vehicle when not in gosition. From inquiries which we have made amongst users of this type it would appear to be eminently satisfactory, especial care having been taken to prevent objectionable rattling.
The Strachan and Brown type is also giving excellent results, and has proved particularly beneficial for long-distance touring work and ordinary bus service, in some respects it resembles the Charabus but, in this case, the twill of the roof is replaced by roller blinds formed of wood slats secured to waterproofed canvas.
At each side the roof is divided into several sections the number varying with the length required. Each section of roller-blind slides in suitable ahan
nels formed in cress-bearers, and it can be opened to any required degree. The rollers upon which the sections are carried are housed in a longitudinal casing carried along the centre of the roof. Great care has been taken in order to render this vehicle thoroughly waterproof, and each section of roof is provided, with-aspecial guttering which entirely prevents the ingress of water. The side windows are of the balanced type, and can be dropped right down into the body or regulated to any desired height. The third vehicle—that used by South Wales Commercial Motors, Ltd.—differs in the' arrangement of the opaning roof. This is made of waterproof twill secured to a number of hoopstieks resembling those used on the ordinary coach, except that they are very shallow and are provided at their ends with sockets which slide upon tubular steel rails fitted to the sides of the vehicle. When not required the movable portion of the roof is merely pushed from the front end towards the rear and is then housed under the 'permanent portion at that end.
This system is at present employed on vehicles used on bus service, but there is no reason why it should not be utilized on the touring coach. It would certainly appear to have the merits of simplicity and ease of operation. An all-weather coach of even more recent date is that built by Thomas Tilling, Ltd., to the order of the East Rent Road Car Co:, Ltd. In this vehicle the roof takes the form of a simple khaki duck cover held at it forward end by means of a broad bead and, when unrolled, retained in position by rustless steel springs, alternate springs being connected to the side pillars and to the cant rails. It is a very simple task to release these springs and to roll the covering back in order to open the body to the air.
Now that coach chassis are much quieter while running, a ret-urn has been made, in some instances, te the pernianent canopy, which is supplemented during inclement weather by windows whieh can either be removed or dropped into the body sides A. handsome vehicle in which the windows are detachable has been built by Thomas Tilling, Ltd., and is employed by Piekfords, Ltd., for touring work. In this instance the roof is of the clerestory type, which fa,ciliates ventilation when the windows are in position.
Several very successful efforts have been made to utilise the ordinary type of coach hood in conjunction with drop windows. One of the best of these is the type built by London Lorries, Ltd. In this vehicle the windows at each side are carried in a single framework, the whole of which can be let down into the body side, and thus, when the hood is down, the coach is completely. open. If required, it can be run with the side frames up, when they form dust and wind screens. Apart from this, each window can be -regulated separately as regards height, and proper ventilation can thus be ensured.
Another body closely akin to this is made by John Buckingham and Co., Ltd., whilst a third is that type produced by the Connaught Coach Works and Pahners, Ltd. This has a canvas roof and framed drop windows. The roof is supported on the usual sticks, and, to fold it, after unbuttoning the material from the windscreen, thefirst hoopstick catches are released from their pillars, the stick then being slid back against the succeeding one, to which it is secured by the same catches previously employed for the pillars. This process is repeated until the whole of the hood is slid back and secured to the permanent stick. The front head locks are then released and the outside stretcher joints struck, the pillars, cant rails and hood folding down into a parallel position, thus aovering'the top sides of the body and leaving the hood piled and locked at the back.
Several particularly interesting coaches have been developed on the Continent, and one. is the Berliet semi-enclosed coach, which finds its counterpart in the Commer Car and Lancia semi-limousine vehicle. In the Berliet the rear-portion is permanently enclosed and, when necessary, protection is afforded to passengers in the front seats by a hood.
In the Commer Car Coach.there is a similar enclosed rear portion, but in this case the, hood is of the single-throw cantilever type.
Having dealt with practically all the types now existing, we will consider the vehicle occupying the place of honour amongst our illustrations. This resembles, in scene respects, the Commer Car, Berliet and Lancia serni-limousine 'type, but it has the additional merit of providing really satisfactory allweather accommodation for those sitting in the front
,seats. This is obtained by the provision of wellarranged drop-balanced windows, the pillars foi which can be folded down when the windows have been dropped, so giving the occupants an unobstructed view.
Such a vehicle should prove ideal both for summer and winter work. It is not everyone who wishes to be in the open even in summer. The old and infirm, whilst enjoying motor coaching, may prefer to do so under cover, and they can be ensconced in the limousine portion whilst the younger and more ardent spirits may 'find pleasurable accommodation at the front, where, if bad weather be experienced, they can be made as comfortable as those at the rear.