FROM THE INSPECTOR'S NOTE BOOK.
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A Novelty in Loading and Unloading—The Cab Crisis in London.
4FTHE COMMERCIAL MOTOR," a few weeks ago, published illustrations and a short de
seription of what appears to be a very
clever substitute for the tip wagon. It was described as the " Wilkins Unloading Gear "—why particularly " unloading " I have not yet fathomed. So far as the description and the illustration lead me, it appears to have just as great a faculty for loading purposes as for unloading. It may-be recalled that the device consists of what is, to all intents and purposes, an ordinary ahop.-front shutter arranged horizontally on the floor of an ordinary fixed lorry body
and so contrived that it earl be pulled along endwise towards the tail board. For loading purposes the shutter is wound back on to the roller at the rear of the body, and when the portion of the shutter left exposed is filled, a turn of the handle pulls that section towards the front end of the vehicle, and so on until the whole load is taken aboard. If the device can be used for such a method of loading, and in spite of it official description I cannot see why this is not possible, it will enable a great amount of labour to be saved by avoiding the necessity of heaving a load, such as gravel or ballast, over the sides to the front of the ordinary type of coachwork. Unloading is, of course, a perfectly simple matter, the load is simply "
unwound, '1 and rolls out of the end of the body.
Now this appears to mothbe a very great advance • on the ordinary form of tip wagon, which, whatever the nature of the elevating gear embodied, is relatively clumsy in operation. Moreover, the erdinary tip body only "functions," to use a. hateful word of patentee origin, when it is 'desired to unload ; it offers no facility whatever for improved loading. The Wilkins gear would seem to yield advantages in both ways, and therefore it is likely, if it proves able to stand up in practice, and provided the slats of the metallic shutter do not wear out or become badly deformed owing to tough usage, to be adopted on a. large scale in the future.
I am given to understand that the gear is being used at present by the Government and that it is the invention of a clever young engineer officer. I can quite imagine", unless it have unforeseen defects, that it may supersede many of the more familiar types of tipping gears with which hauliers and others have had to be content hitherto. The ordinary screw-operated mechanism, however carefully the gear be contrived. is rather an elementary kind of arrangement.; I never liked the look of the long protruding screwed spindle up which the end of the body had to climb. When it conies to hydraulically operating a tip body of this description, the mechanism is necessarily somewhat more complicated, although the operation is a very easy one for the man in charge. Neither the screw nor the hydraulic type, however, as I say, is of the slightest bit of good at " untipping," if I may coin such a word.
Many readers of the "CM." will recall some quite elaborate tipping mechanisms which were on several occasions shown at the French Cori-menial Vehicle Shows. Combinations of inclined planes, togglelevers and screw gears were very ingeniously employed to effect the tipping of heavy loads with the minimum oE manual effort, but I imagine that their complexity prevented their general adoption. They, -at any rate,' found no favour in this country, where " tipping is a well-established operation. America has . adopted in connection with some of its heaviest automobile load-hauling Units various forms of hopper wagons with side, divisional, or end tipping devices which -consist mainly of inclined floors to the one or more load containers and shutters which, when re-. leased, discharge the load. None of these, however, has the intrinsic advantages which appear to be exclusive to the Wilkins gear. The device, as shown in the published paragraphs, appears to be so simple that one wonders " why on earth it hadn't been done before."
• Good-bye to the Company's Cab.
After a long period of calm and undisturbed pas, session the cab trade in the Metropolis has experi enced a very chequered career, dating from the time when the first motorcabs were put into service. The stoppage in the operations of the British Motor Cab. Co., Ltd., which concern claims to have been losing large sums of money for many months past on account of the increased cost of operation, marks the completion of another stage in the history of the motorcab, and I shall not be surprised if it does not prove to be the final nail in the coffin of the big raotorcab operating conceans. I have always thought that the old cab trade habit of owning your own cab, or, at any rate, of hiring it--not infrequently with a view to subsequent purchase and so acquiring a part interest, would prove in the end to be the most acceptable method of operation after motors had displaced the cab horse. The driver-owner has, for some while past, both in the Metropolis and in the Pro vinces, been the most stable element of the cab trade. He gets all he makes, he has no establishment charges to worry about, his depreciation is reduced to the lowest possible rata on account of the care which he lavishes on his own property, as compared with that which he can spare for the property of somebody else, he uses' his very best endeavours to. cultivate the
rig-ht class of traffic, to cut out waste mileage, and
generally to make the whole thing a profitable and lasting undertaking. It needs little discernment to see that the driver in the employ of a big company Cannot obtain conditions so favourable to himself.
It is regrettable that the British Motor Cab Co., the one remaining cab-owning concern in the Metropolis of any considerable size, has, at the time of writing, gone out of business. This company absorbed the interests of the General Motor Cab Co., the United Loirdon Motor Cab Co., and, I believe, others. The W. and G.s have been gone some while. London will, undoubtedly, miss the hundreds of cabs which the company has been operating, but the tubes and the buses will be able to stand the strain of the
The driver-owner doesnot want the is, a mile, and it is certain that the public does not. There is not the same justification 'for the higher initial fare in the Metropolis that there is in many provincial centres where cab riding has never been so general, and where the chance of a return pick up fare Is relatively small. I repeat that it is regrettable that a concern like the British MotorCab Co. should be fore.edginto a position Such as that in which it now finds itself, but .1 am not at all sure that the fillip which'it will give to the driver-owner in London will not in the end be beneficial to the user. In any ease, for the time being, we shall save quite a lot of petrol. Cabs have been using large .quantities for shopping and unessential journeys which it would be well to keep in• reserve for requirements of a more warlike nature. There's no likelihood of hardship to the drivers ; the demand for their services is at present an acute one. There are still hundreds of ownerdrivers at work and available.