THE SECOND-HAND QUESTION.
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Thousand-guinea Steamers and the Alternative Second-hand Machine. By "The Inspector."
IHAVE NEVER BEEN quite certain in my own mind as to whether, were I a manufacturer, I should prefer to see the small advertisement columns of the technical journals crowded -with offers of second-hand examples of machines that I had produced, or whether I should be more gratified if I sought in vain for any such announcement. The former case might, I suppose, be properly assumed to be at any rate direct evidence of large. output. On the other hand, it might also be suggestive of a somewhat lively desire to dispose of models for which the owners have, for some reason or another, no further use. Then again, the absence of the maker's name from the list of second-hand chassis and vehicles for sale might be either taken as evidence that there were few of the type in existence, or else, whilst there were many in service, that the owners knew better than to part with them. Indeed, it is difficult for anyone who is not particularly conversant with the ethics of secondhand dealings to draw any very satisfactory conclusion from the data. provided by the small "ads." columns, but nevertheless these same columns are a store-house of information as to types and suggested values.
The second-hand vehicle market must, I imagine, be in a very queer state at the present time. So far as cars are concerned, I believe it is a fact that there is quite a brisk demand for the better models of medium power, whilst as to those of lesser reputation, they aremore or less a. drug on the market. In consequence and in conformity with the general trend of Values for other things, prices are relatively high for certain classes of machines, and are relatively low for the remainder.
The conditions are not the same for commercial vehicles. For these the demand for types which are at all possible is, of course, a. very keen one. There is more work than can be, done by existing service v.hieles, whilst many a lorry is out of comnaission Oil account of the difficulty of securing replacements. For one reason or "another, there is very keen competition for anything at all practicable in the nature of a commercial vehicle proper which is on offer, for sale. Brand new vehicles are almost " plum out of sight," as the Yankees have it, and on the rare occasions when they are available the, prices aske,d in certain cases are reasonably comparable for extortion with those requested, shall I say, by the plausible proprietor of a swell restaurant for the attenuated items on his highly descriptive menu.
I heard one day last week of an ordinary standard three-ton steam wagon offered for sale at a thousand guineas, and I have an idea that it found a buyer fairly promptly. But, of course, new machines are, as I say, very few and far between. The ordinary user seeking additional assistance in these days of transport worries has, more often than not, to satisfy himself with a second-hand vehicle, and in his choice he must in these days be particularly careful. He if he be the astute business man such as the commercial-vehicle user generally is, will want to know quite exactly the cause for the disposal of the machine. He will want to satisfy himself even more closely than in peace time that the mechanism contains no inherent defects, and particularly will he require to be assured that, in the probable event of replacements becoming necessary, he will be able to secure spare parts. Buyers, too, are somewhat shy of types which in emergency the Government would be likely to commandeer.
If he be over-adventurous and but little circumspect, he may be tempted to make do with the Conversion of a touring-ear chassis, either new or secendhand, and there he begins to walk in, paths Surrounded by pitfalls. These are not days when one can afford to be too fussy, too insistent that one must have exactly what is required, but, on the other hand, difficulties of operation are now so considerable, the class of help has, in certain cases, so deteriorated that the purchase of a touring ear for industrial purposes requires greater circumspection than ever. I myself should certainly not attempt to buy either a first or a second-hand horse on the strength of my own knowledge of horse flesh, which is practically nil, and, except for its variation in overall and detail dimensions, I should be quite uncertain as to the class of service which it could be reasonably expected to undertake. I should, I ate sure, either consult a vet, of established reputation or I should call in the services of a friend upon whose judgment I could rely. I cannot too strongly insist upon similar precaution being taken by the purchaser of a second-hand vehicle, of whatever kind, unless he chances to have expert knowledge of such partly-used machinery. Similar guidance is equally necessary if it is proposed to convert any touring-ear chassis.
It is doubtful whether even the 'extraordinary circumstances of the times often warrant the risk of employed touring-car chassis for purposes for which admittedly they were not designed; their springs, axles and frames are too light, their gears too high, their brakes insufficient, and very often their cooling apparatus totally inadequate. Even in times when adequate repair and replacement facilities are available, such procedure is a lottery. In most cases nowadays, when the chances of proper maintenance are so meagre, acquisition of this kind becomes very often a sheer gamble. Only in the case of the lighty types of vans is the praatice one which can be condoned. With heavier loads in contemplation, even the powerful touring ear is an altogether inadequate proposition as a stop-gap. Better, if no alternatives offer, to employ two lighter machines, or alternatively to try one or more of the Ford adaptations which have the effect of turning that quick-change artiste of a car into a, one-tonner, and I am told, in many cases, with complete success.