New Ideas for
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" COACHBUILDERS have turned out some fine special bodies for us laundrymen," said one proprietor to another.
"Yes," said Mr. Keen, his companion, " taking the laundry trade as a whole, we can claim that we have as large a proportion of stylish vehicles as any other business."
'By the way," said the first speaker, Mr. Smithson, "I am having a light van for a new collecting station I am opening, and I am wondering what kind of body I can have, which will be distinctive and give me good publicity, without being freakish. I have thought of introducing a small showcase on each side of the body, but as the capacity will be only about 100 cubic ft. I don't want the cases to take up much room."
" Why not," suggested Keen, "have a shallow showcase built outside the normal width of the body about as much as the projection of the wings. Confine the display to a dress shirt and have the back of the case covered in black or dark blue velvet, so that there is plenty of contrast."
"What about access to the showcase?" queried Smithson.
"Have a hinged door in front, which can have a metal frame," replied the other laundryman.
"Would you have any special display on the panels, apart from the writing?" asked Smithson.
"Well," replied Keen, "if the showcase can be arranged approxi838 mately in the centre of the van, you could •have something symbolical, such as an electric iron, or you could have some wavy bands of colour, not forgetting a white band, so as to suggest the colour of the water of which we hdve a good supply. I have adopted this idea on my side-loading forward-control model. Come and have a look at it; the van is in the loading bay now."
A Smart Streamlined Design.
The two men crossed the yard and inspected the van in question. It was a modern streamlined design with a domed roof and top back panel. The wheelbase was only 10 ft., yet the body was over 9 ft. long on the floor of the loading portion and there was a 3-ft. opening on each side, midway between the back of the driver's seat partition and the wheel-arch enclosure, and protected by a roller shutter. The wavy bands of colour
were set out along the panel skirting below the floor level, and, as the rear wheels were' paddleboxed, the bands were the full length of the van from the front wings to the rounded back corner of the body.
"What do you think of it?" asked Kenn.
" I certainly like the bands of colour," replied the other laundryman, "but they would not be so impressive on my small van, as I shall have the sides of the cab recessed from the body. I notice that you have 'a midway shelf. Do you find it an advantage?"
"Yes, especially if it is definitely above the middle, so that, with 5 ft. 9 ins, headroom, there is at least 3 ft. under the shelf. Also you will notice that the shelf is only about half the length of the body. There is then full access at the rear.
" A couple of battens are placed across the back of the shelf and are suf ficient to prevent parcels from falling on the floor. The front bulkhead is, of course, a fixture, as I did not think access from the front was necessary with a couple of large side openings."
" Access to the shelf from the front is an advantage if your driver is working single-handed," ventured Smithson.
Keen signified his assent. "In that case I should have a half-depth partition, again keeping the shelf in the upper half of the van and well above the top of the backs of the seats."
"But you could get at only the parcels on the shelf from the front," observed Smithson. " What about those on the floor under the shelf?'
"Why not a door or drop side below the shelf?" suggested: Keen. " If you have the drop side, you then have a small platform, which is handy for the driver, because it provides a little extra floor space if the right parcel does not come to hand the first time."
" Yes, that seems a good idea," said Smithson. "Unloading from the side is often a time-saver with many house-to-house calls close together."
" Well," said Keen, "to develop the idea still further you could have your van built like a double-platform lorry, with roller shutters all round and a slatted shelf either restricted to that the outer edge of the steps did not project beyond the wheel caps. You could have built-up wheel-arches in the main floor area, or the floor could be level with the tops of the wheel-arches. In this instance, they would he in the platform step area."
Merits of Open and Fixed Backs.. "As there is full access on each side, would you have a fixed back to the body?" was the next query.
" No, I don't think so. The open back is always handy at the loading bay, or for unloading in confined spacis and narrow thoroughfares. Also a full-length shelf should be made up in sections, so that any portion can be removed when the load consists chiefly of large hampers. The back entrance will then again be use ful."
" Do you think that a step is necessary at the back? " asked Smithson.
"Yes,' replied Keen, "I prefer the step to be inside the van, sunk between the side members of the chassis, or, better still, the, full width of the body, in which case it is built in the rear overhang.
"We were talking a moment ago," continued Keen, "of the driver working single-handed. If you don't care for the half-depth partition, a sliding door in the partition is then the solution. This next van has one."
The two men stepped into the vehicle in question.
"This door works smoothly. I've a sliding door in one of my vans, hut it doesn't work like this."
"Ball-race runners," was the explanation.
As they left the van, Smithson said: "What is that under the seat?"
"Just a drawer for tools," replied Keen. "When the cab door is open,