Pneumatic Tyres for Heavy Loads.
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DEVELOPMENTS in the employment of the pneumatic principle in tyres for heavy motors for commercial work would seem to have been extremely slow in this country. As a matter of fact, more has been done than has been made public, and very considerable experiments have been conducted, but it must be admitted that, in this application of the pneumatic principle, advances in America have been greater than with us. France has been pushing ahead, too, and it is probably true to say that, but for the war, European manufacturers would in no wise be behind their American competitors in the matter.
The experience gained in the States would seem to point to the fact that the 6-in. tyre is the proper equipment cn the rear wheels of a one-tonner ; 7-in.
• for a li-tonner, and 8-in, for a two-tanner. Up to this point, there iS practically no doubt. What is contemplated in the matter of tyre sizes for the higher capacity vehicles is a, 9-in. on 3 and 3i-tonners and lo-in. on 5-tonners. It is also becoming clearer that, on vehicles of one ton and upwards, it is not desirable to have as large a diameter tyre on the front wheels as on the rear, and this fact introduces an apparent complication, which does net, nowadays, arise on private ears, where equal tyre diameters and wheel sizes facilitate tyre and wheel changes, and save the need for carrying a double set of spares.
The question of weight saving takes a different form front that which had been expected. it had been thought that weight could be saved all round. The unsprung weight, however, will not be materially diminished, but throughout the sprung portions of the chassis, through the reduction of shock and vibration, weight can be saved. A large amount of weight may be able to be taken out of the wheels, but so far, this is conjectural—the ability of the wire wheel adequately to meet the needs of pleasure car work gives promise of greater possibilities in the construction of wheels for commercial vehicle work than have ever previously been foreshadowed.
At the same time, there is much to be done in the matter of spring suspension, as Mr. G. J. Shave told us in the interview with him which appeared in our last issue. There is encouragement and, at the same time, discouragement in the *fact that vehicle springs of 1920 differ scarcely at all from these in use early in the previous century: The possibilities Of hydraulic suspension have been probed—nothing...more--but ror, other sound scheme of absorbing road shocks has been suggested, even after a quarter of a century of in creasing speed in road travel.
We hope, in an early issue, to deal more fully with the question of pneumatic tyre developments for commercial vehicles and to show that the subject has certainly been considerably elucidated in the past year or two.
Export Trade. Protection and the Rate of Exchange. Export Trade. Protection and the Rate of Exchange.
THE PRESIDENT of the Board of Trade is evidently talking sound sense when he calls upon British manufacturers in industries generally, and the motor industry in particular, to cultivate their export trade, even though the process may involve some sacrifice of more profitable and easy business at the moment. He is equally right when he points out that, by increasing our exports, we may succeed in levelling up the rate of exchange -and so in bringing down the price of food and other essential commodities.
All this is very elementary, but it is rather curious to compare the attitude now taken with that which was adopted by the President when, some few months ago, he received a deputation of commercial vehicle manufacturers who asked for some temporary safeguard against unlimited foreign competition, in the form of a protvetive duty or of limitation of imports for the next year or so.
The deputation, as we remarked at the time, was told that the depreciation of our currency as compared with that of America provided a ready-made protective duty, calculated to fill the temporary needs of the industry completely. The manufacturers were assured that the rate of exchange was equivalent to an import duty of about 30 per cent. They were given to understand, therefore, that the depreciation of British currency was, for them, an undoubted blessing for which they should be duly, thankful. .
Now, when people are told that their protection against dangerous competition is afforded by a certain state of affairs, they are in effect. advised to make that state of affairs as permanent as possible. The speech to the deputation in question was, therefore, tantamount to an invitation to the motor industry so to do its business as in noway to help to level up the rate of exchange.
Now the industry is told, quite correctly, that, if it develops its export trade, it will help to increase the value of the sovereign. Thus we see that, in effect, the advice given by the President to the deputation was to abstain from the development of export trade.
This shows how extremely hollow were the arguments which were then put forward nominally for the benefit of the deputation, but in reality chiefly for the benefit of the Press representatives present. Generally speaking, the President's reception of the manufacturers' representatives was applauded in the lay Press, but he and his supporters are now convicted, out of his own mouth, of having discouraged the very policy which is absolutely necessary, if the industry is to have a prosperous future and if the price of commodities, essential to the public as a whole, is to be reduced.
The Scottish Show.
THE SHOW OF MOTORS which opened at the Kelvin Hall, Glasgow, on Friday last, and will close on Saturday next, whilst not, by any means, meeting the needs of the situation in regard to commercial vehicle shows., is the most important, as regards the section particularly devoted to that class of vehicle, which has taken place since 1914, when the North-of England commercial vehicle show was held at Manchester.
Since that time there have been several exhibitions, but they have all been of a restricted nature, i and, n some cases, for particular classes of commercial vehicles: for instance, at the Royal Show held at Cardiff bare chassis were barred, whilst, at the more recent Roads and Transport Congress and Exhibition, only those types of vehicles which particularly apply to municipal work were given space.
No such restrictions apply to the Glasgow Show, and, therefore, the user, or potential user, in the North is more likely to find the type of vehicle which will suit his particular requirements. It is interesting to note that out of approximately 40 makes of vehicles showing, 11 are of American origin, one is Italian, and two are of French manufacture. This means that practically one-third of the makes present are foreign—a fact which emphasizes the importance of building vehicles to compete against foreign importations.
Several interesting new vehicles are to be seen. These include the six-cylindered Halley ; the Caledon with its four-cylindered single sleeve valve enginethe 30 cwt. Austin; the Beardmore taxicab ; the Straker-Squire " A" type chassis with ,its engine half-contained in the cab, and the Watson 34-4itonner with its remarkable rear transmission unit construction. In fact, the Show is quite as representative as any which have previously taken place, except, however, as regards steam and electric vehicles, which are e conspicuous by their .abeence. Tyres and accessories also are shown to a moderately representative extent, but the obvious limitations of the exhibition only e to demonstrate the need for an early show exclusively devoted to the commercial vehicle and absolutely comprehensive_ of a vast and important industry. The incentive to progress created by the announcementof such an impending show would not be the least of the advantages, whilst now is the time to drive home to many potential users of motor transport the lessons which have become available as a result of the wonderful accomplishments of the power vehicle during hostilities.
Profiteering and Delayed Deliveries.
WITHOUT SUGGESTING that the conduct of our commercial vehicle manufacturing industry is so perfect as to be above criticism, we feel that it is only fair to point out that some of the criticisms most commonly made are so conflicting in character as to make it evident, upon consideration, that they cannot all be soundly based upon fact.
Thus, the motor manufacturer is fairly freely
020 accused of profiteering and also of being so casual and negligent as to lead to quite unnecessary delay in the delivery of his vehicies. Now, if we may assume that a profiteer is a person who will certainly grab at any considerable profit, more or less regardless of all moral considerations, it surely stands to reason that the profiteer will certainly use every endeavour to accelerate his output at a time when demand is in excess of supply, and it is, therefore, probable that exceptionally high prices may be obtained.
in fact, the profiteer would, in all probability, sacrifice quality to quantity in his desire to make the most of a favourable market. He would turn out stuff somehow, even though that stuff were inferior.
Money being his main object in life, he would take good care not to lose it by reason of any slackness or any extreme caution. He would be less concerned with the subsequent performance of his vehicles than with the immediate sale of them. Thus, if we find output surprisingly delayed, we must certainly agree that the fact is inconsistent with any accusation of profiteering levelled against some manufacturers ; or alternatively, that, if the manufacturers are profiteers at heart, the delay is due to causes campletely outside their control and every bit as unwelcome to them and to their clients. We may make one or other criticism, but we cannot fairly make both.
At the present moment, delays in delivery are, of course, mainly due to the moulders' strike, the terrible effects of which have not yet been fully appreciated by the general public. Many people imagine that, directly the strike terminates, its effects will end with it. This is, of course, quite incorrect. Many works have been shut down, many others are practically idle. The termination of the strike will not mean the immediate existence of the enormous quantities of castings necessary to fill the tremendous demand that has gradually accumulated since the supply ceased. It will take many months to make up arrears, and, long after the general public has forgotten that the moulders' strike ever occurred, there will be plenty of people blaming the motor manufacturer for delays directly attributable to this lamentable conflict.
Improved Loading and Unloading
P TO THE PRESENT time there has been little tangible evidence since the war of brand new designs on the part of manufacturers of commercial motor vehicles. Here and there we have learned of new models—an occasional steamer, a more or less modified type of petrol chassis, and one or two electric vehicles. The public has hardly been allowed to know what is at the back of the minds of the manufacturers with regard to their anticipations of improvements when once the present run of wartime and pre-war type models comes to an end. The demand for machines that correspond very closely with those which did such excellent service on war work of one kind and another, supplemented by slightly revised versions of models that were current before August, 1914, has been so unexpectedly great that there has indeed been little,. if any, inducement for chief engineers and managing directors to venture into the always somewhat speculative realms of brand new designs. As is natural, we ourselves have, for months past, been confidentially made aware of the intentiong of not a few of our leading manufacturers with regard to their future plans, and, -of course, we have realized the genuine reluctance to disclose, or, at any rate, to be the first to disclose, their plans and to indicate their lines of thought. Generally speaking, we may permit ourselves to say that with regard to improvements in chassis designs itself, very little that is spectacular will in the end be found to have been embodied. The new method of production—or at any rate, of
intended production, we had better write—has turned the thoughts of designers towards the problem of standardizing their various models, and of re-dimensioninc, their chassis parts to facilitate so-called mass produelon. It is probably. not too late to enter a plea that a greater proportion of the thought that is to be expended in 'producing new designs shall be allocated towards that, other all-iniportant part of a motor vehicle, the body.
Coachwork is entirely a separate trade, and the chassis designer, generally, is not the best man on coachwork design. There is ample room for improve ment in this direction. Coachwork design is still very largely limited by convention, and there is ample room for ingenuity with regard to the improveinents of loading and unloading devices. Spasmodic efforts are made by individuals to provide specially hinged sides or door-ways, and most of us recall recent attempts to provide mechanicady-operated noloaders. It will take a very good gamine to better that of the so-called Lancashire flat. It is remarkable to us that the principle of removable flat platforms has not been adopted. more generally than in the Lancashire trade. It is cheap and does not require elaborate and extensive trailers. More thought should be given to the improvement of coachwork. That improvement is possible, is evidenced by the development of the single and double-deck bus, two very good examples illustrating how designs can be forced along on good lines providing the necessity is urgent. The London doubledeck bus, for instance, is an example of remarkable evolution. The latest example is very fine evidence indeed of the lightest and strongest construction for the maximum capacity and minimum, wear and tear. The single-deckers that are now being produced by some of our principal manufacturers are as far advanced in respect of comparison with early models. Scotland Yard and licensing authorities, to say nothing of the keen public-service competition involved in these two cases, have ali ea.dy left very little to be desired. This could not truthfully be written of our more ordinary goods-carrying machines, particularly with regard to their capacity for quick and easy loading and unloading. 'Whilst manufacturers are considering—and they are considering—the new models • which will take the place, in due course, of the _present current designs, they should certainly not neglect an attempt to throw over cenvention in the matter of coachwork construction. One recalls vividly, as an analogy, how. the designers and con structors of railway ea.rriages for many years stuck rigidly to the outlines of the road coach.