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27th December 1917
Page 17
Page 19
Page 17, 27th December 1917 — ELECTRICS IN MUNICIPAL SERVICE.
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

An Interesting Report Dealing With the ,New Phase in Urban Mechanical Transport.

pROBABLY THE MOST interesting feature of contemporary municipal enterprise is the extent to which electric traction is being adopted. We hilly realize that Hobson's choice is mainly responsible for such a state of affairs, but at the same time it must not be attributed entirely to our civic and municipal authorities experiencing extreme difficulty in procuring petrol and steam vehicles, owing to prior military claims. The national situationhas induced greater attention to be devoted to the electric from the municipal ,point of view, and it must be conceded that this typeof prime mover possesses many attractive retommendations from the civic point of view. The foremost towns and cities of these islands have installed refuse destructors, and the process of incineration is exploited to furnish power for generating electricity. Thus such centres are able 'to derive their power on the spot at a nominal rate, instead of incurring further expenditure upon other fuels such as

petrol, coal or coke. . ,

Recommendations for the Service.

It must also be remembered that the electric vehicle possesses certain other salient characteristics which render it peculiarly suitable for many phases of municipal working, such as the house-to-house collection of refuse—probably the most vital operation of all--involving stoppages of fluctuating duration at intervals of a-fewl yards, with intermittent continuous but relatively short journeys to the tip or destructor. The selection of the system of mechanical transport —that is, the method giving the best all-round-efficient. and economic service—from the municipal point of view is difficult, to determine. It is beset with problems which do not arise hi straight private haulage operations. From the municipal point of view the question becomes fundamentally resolved into, " Is it cheaper and more economic than the horse?"

At the same time there is considerable conflict of. opinion concerning working costs and general allround efficiency. Definite data have been somewhat difficult to procure. But considerable and, valuable , light is shed, upon this subject in the voluminous repert which has b.een prepared by Mr. 1,1.' Shaw, M.Inst.C.E., engineer and surveyor to the h Ilford Urban District Council, for the guidance of the members of his Works Committee in determining the issue as to whether they should supplant the horse by mechanical vehicles. In order to present the subject succinctly' yetteomprehensively, the engineer approached his contemporaries of 19 cities, towns and district councils, as well as two private firms, for statistics bearing upon the issue. While among the first-named steam and petrol held general sway, four referred to electric. It must be pointed out, however, that, while the selection of towns for inquiry were representative, they'were far from being complete, inasmuch as those approached sufficed for the purpose. Consequently they may be described as being typical. At the time, moreover, the electric had .scareelY begun to make itself felt as a significant factor in the mechanical handling of. urban duties.

Nevertheless, the results narrated are distinctly illuminating, and serve to emphasize why the electric is making headway in this field. Mr. Shaw points out that the electric "naturally recominends itself to those responsible for electricity departments, partly because they are specially conversant with its principles, but particularly because, intelligently applied, it can be utilized to equal the load at the power station, and beComes a profitable consumer. Again, in connection with such work as the removal ofrefuse, the electric vehicle has strong points. Thug, for instance, in Paris a large fleet of heavy electric lorries is employed for raise removal, the power required for charging the batteries being obtained from the deIstruction of the refuse itself, and consequently in a sense available without charge of 'fuel.'

This report is valuable from its impartial narration of the advantages and disadvantages of the various systems under review. Thus, with regard to the electric, Mr. Shaw relates that "the ontsta,nding features are :—The mechanism is simple : only one man is required to drive ; quietness in running ; reduced fire risks ; suitable for short distances, as the constant stopping and starting of the vehicle causes no wastage of power or straining of mechanical parts ; for certain service, where the stopping distances are comparatively short and frequent, electric vehicles are found to be cheaper to operate ; easy wear on tyres and vehicle; use of our electricity ; speed slower," and concludes :—" In considering this type, the least size of battery to obtain efficiency because of weight is an important point, and if battery is run down through oversight, damage might be done to cells, and vehicle might also be left stranded."

What the Towns Say.

So far as electric traction is concerned only four centres, as already stated, are mentioned in the report, namely, Blackpool, Edinburgh, Leyton, Sheffield. The reports on the working of the vehicles in these four places as given by the engineers to the respective councils are interesting. Thus Blackpool reports :— With4regard to the actual saving effected by the vehicle, (a 31-ton (4.V. electric with Ironclad battery), it will be difficult to ascertain until we have the figures of a full season's working. What it has accomplished has convinced me that. it will prove a great saving, as the work it can perform during an ordinary day of nine hours is really marvellous. It has already displaced six horse-drawn watering vans, whilst in connection with the watering of our promenade it has released four men for other work, which is, of course, equal to saving four wages for this class alone. Taking an average day of nine hours, the vehicle waters 48 miles of streets, using 24 loads or 18,000 gallons-of salt water. The ampere is of 7.5 per mile ; whilst the current used in charging at 5 ampere hours per unit is approximately 70 units.

" The tank has the advantage of being cylindrical in shape, and having a capacity of 750 gallons. The usefulness of the vehicle is not limited to the watering of streets, as it has already accomplished good B45

work-in connection with the cleansing of sewers. The vehicle is also used for the wa,shingliof streets in Conjunction with our inotof sweeping machine, which follows along after the electric, both machines travelling at the same speed. Half the usual quantity of water is used, and the work is done better."

In so far as Edinburgh is concerned the city engineer remarks:—" This city has an electric lorry which is used for general purposes. The net carry-. mg capacity is 30 cwt., and is of the Edison Accumulators, Ltd., manufacture. The wheels are wooden with rubber tyres, and the working ccist is as follows: —Electricity per mile, .95 units ; lubrication per mile, 005d. ; maintenance, .52d. Per mile ; interest and sinking fund, 5.2d. per mile ; insurance, .36d. per mile." The figures relative to Leyton represent an estunate upon those presented by the Engineer to his (Leyton) Committee. A period of four years is taken (three actual and one estimated), the weekly cost of dust collection—average 20,557 tons—being set. down at 266 4s, 3d. By electric motorvans the Leyton engineer estimated the weekly cost,. including ca,p2ta1, maintenance, and other items with a 10 years' loan to be 260 17s. 4d., and with a four years' purchase cost at 280 6s. 6d. per week. "The saving in 10 yeare with a 10 years' loan would he 22780, and with a four years' purchase cost he estimated a loss for the four Years of 22936, and for the following slic years a saving of 26645 or a net saving over the, ten years of 23709."

But undoubtedly the naost,illuminating results are forth-corning from Sheffield. Here the' ton of collection of refuse by day by a 2-ton electric over a 22 weeks'test was 5s. 0.8d. ; horse work on the same district for one month cost 7s. 0.4d. per ton. Night work over 21 weeks' test gave 2s. 3.4d. per ton as CQI11pared with 3s. 3.2d. per ton by horse. A second 2-tonner worked by day on refuse collecting over a period of six weeks came out at 4s. 0.1d. per ton, while horse effort in the same district for one month worked out at 3s. 8.6d. per ton. A night work test over six weeks gave is. 10.3d. per ton for the electric as compared with 2s. 6.2d. per ton for a horse. The Sheffield engineer's report goes on to say that horse labour holds the advantage where the total mileage per Journey does not exceed three, but that beyond this distance the electric is decidedly advantageous. On day work with electric alone used the position differs somewhat, as the vehicle costs cannot berdivided over the two shifts. With day and night shifts by the same machines it is a distinct success.


People: Shaw
Locations: Sheffield, Edinburgh, Paris

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