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The Use of Unsuitable Vehicles.

2nd April 1908, Page 56
2nd April 1908
Page 56
Page 57
Page 56, 2nd April 1908 — The Use of Unsuitable Vehicles.
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

By Henry Sturmey.

I have before now in these columns referred at soine length to the folly of motor dealers and manufacturers who put pleasure-car chassis, or vehicles built up largely of pleasurecar parts, in the hands of customers for use as commercial vehicles, and further experience, since encountered, leads me once mare to emphasise this fact. At first sig-ht it may seem that, provided you get the required power at the wheels, which calculation shows is required to shift the load at the required speed, it makes little difference whether the engine, gearing, and other parts have been designed for either pleasure-car or commercial-vehicle purposes. If the parts are strong enough, for instance, to transmit, say, 3oh.p., it might seem that they should be able to transmit that power, quite apart from the nature of the load, so that their employment promiscuously in either the pleasure-car or the commercial-car chassis would seem a feasible proposal, and, from the paint of view of the manufacturer, certainly a desirable one. It must, however, be remembered that the load does make a difference. The load is the resistance, and, with a greater resistance to the power applied, greater stresses will come on all the intermediate parts transmitting that power. It must be further considered that, in the one case, we have a "live," and hence comparatively elastic load, as well as a lighter one, and, in the other case, a " dead " and much heavier load. Again, it should be remembered that, in the pleasure ear, pneumatic tires are universally used, whereas, to make a commercial vehicle a commercial proposition, it is necessary to use solids. It will be readily perceived that light elastic loads on pneumatic tires and heavy inelastic loads on solid tires are entirely different matters, so far as the question of road vibration is concerned. Of course, it may be said, in the former case, the speed may be two or three, or even more times than it will be in the second ease, and that road vibration will be proportionate to the speed. This is true only to a partial degree, and the net result is that the parts put in a commercial-vehicle chassis are subject to a much heavier amount of vibration and much more severe shaking generally, than they would be if installed in a pleasure car, with the result that parts designed for and installed in the latter, and which, in practice, answer perfectly well, are found to be of too light a character to stand the heavier work of the commercial vehicle, although only the same horse-po-.ver may be transmitted through them, The consequent result is that dissatisfaction is bound to ensue, and this more especially in a rough country, and it must be further noted that the commercial vehicle will often, and indeed generally, be found working, at least on a portion of its route, over roads of a much rougher character than the pleasure car, the owner of which considers his comfort and selects his roads accordingly. This fact largely accounts for the failure of vehicles supplied by many firms previously idea. tified with pleasure-car construction, and a case which illustrates this point recently came before my notice. I happen to have a relative at the Antipodes, who is connected with railway work, and I recently suggested to him that motor traction might be worth the consideration of his company for work in the handling of goods in connection with the railway. A short time since, I received his reply. He says : "Some time ago my commissioner purchased a motor delivery van. Unfortunately, however, in working, this car was found to be too expensive, costing per van mile, including interest and say to per cent, for depreciation " (which my readers will recognise is a small allowance under this head) " 91d. per mile. This car was discarded some time ago, as it was found that it was altogether too lightly-built for Australian roads, and was finally sold at a loss. I feel sure my commissioner would not be disposed to purchase a motor delivery van again, until such time as they could be proved capable of running on Australian roads." My correspondent further adds :—" Several firms in the various states have, from time to time, purchased motor delivery vans, but, after the initial purchase, do not seem to have extended the innovation, and it should not be overlooked that the roads in Australia are a good deal inferior to those which, I under, stand, generally obtain in England. The Victoria and New South Wales Government purchased motor omnibuses for use in Melbourne and Sydney respectively, but, in each case,

after a somewhat lengthy trial, their use was discontinued." Now, reading this letter, without inside knowledge, one would perhaps conclude that the unfortunate experience alluded to above was due entirely to the exceptional nature ot Australian roads, but I knew something about the chassis of the vehicle particularly referred to, and, by a curious coincidence, a few days after the receipt of this letter, I happened to meet a man who had been in the employ of the firm (since defunct) which had been responsible for the construction of this particular vehicle, and, in the course of conversation, I mentioned the matter, when, with a laugh he said, " know that vehicle. It ought never to have gone out," and, in further conversation, I elicited the fact that practically all the parts of the chassis (with the exception of the frame, wheels, and springs) were simply adapted bodily from the high-powered, pleasure cars at that time being manufactured by the firm. The reason for the failure was thus perfectly plain to see, but its effect upon influential users in Australia, as may be gathered by the rest of my correspondent's communication, quoted above, has evidently been disastrous, and has put back the clock, in the way of commercial vehicle use over there, for some years.

The above relates to vehicles of the heavy order, and it is just the same with those of the lighter type, and, as I have before mentioned, the fitting of a van body on a light, pleasure-car chassis, even if the pneumatic tires are retained, is not likely to prove successful. First trials will no doubt be quite satisfactory, but ultimately the expense of upkeep will outweigh the advantages of the vehicle, and that this is so, I recently received further proof in a letter from one of our great dailies. As is well known, several of the London daily newspapers have, for some time now, been utilising light vans for the rapid delivery of their papers, and I was given to understand that the experiment was entirely satisfactory, but the letter referred to appears to indicate otherwise, and as I believe, in the case of the journal in question, the experiment has been made with box bodies fitted on voiturette chassis, the explanation of the failure is obvious. The letter I refer to is from the manager, who, referring to the figures I published recently in this paper, giving comparative estimates of the cost of working with horsed vans and motor vehicles respectively, says :—" I regret that our experience of motors compared with horsed vans for newspaper work has been quite the opposite of the gentleman who supplied you with his comparative figures." And in a further letter he Says :—" We have no use for motors now and do not intend going further with them." Thus again damage has been done to the movement, because it is quite certain that the gentleman in question will not keep his views to himself, but will relate his sad experience to others, without, of course, the qualifying explanation that he had tried the expertinent with unsuitable cars.

And now to another illustration. In one of my former articles, speaking particularly of the cab and commercial traveller's vehicle, I said that here, too, the ordinary car chassis was unsuitable, although it might appear at first sizi-t that the work to be done in the two cases wax praAically identical. As I explained then, whilst the difference in this class of work is not so great as where dead loads are to be carried, there is a difference of quite a sufficient character to call for special construction and design, and that this is so, is proved by the following experience of a friend of mine. He is the manager of a large commercial house in the City, employing over a score of travellers, and, three or four years ago, he formed the idea that his work would be done by these travellers more efficiently by motors than by the usual means of conveyance. At the time he formulated this scheme, I was interested in the sale of a light American car. He was taken with the general idea of the car and wished to try the experiment with one. I told him, however, that it was not sufficiently substantial in build for the work he had in view and would not undertake the order. Later, when building cars in this country to the same model, I gave him a similar reply, as I knew that the work required of it was of a more severe nature than the car was designed to deal with, and he commenced to try the experiment with a Wolseley car, which, at that period, was considered the most reliable

small car on the market, and was designed and built to run on solid tires. He found that experiment entirely satisfactory, that is to say, the work of his representative was done so advantageously by means of the motor that he decided to extend the scheme and put more members of his staff upon wheels, and with that object—the manufacture of the Wolseley model having been discontinued by the makers—he placed orders with other firms and for other models, installing three more machines, I saw him three months after he had done this, and he told me he was entirely satisfied with the experiment, which was a great suocess. Some six months after that, that is to say, about six months ago, he was beginning to have his doubts on the matter, and when I saw him one day this month, he told me that, whilst still satisfied that his scheme of operations was right, when he could get a car which would do the work satisfactorily, he was, for the present, entirely " off " motors, as the only one of the four cars he had, which was standing up, with reasonable satisfaction, to its work, was the original Wolseley with which he commenced and he had stopped all his cars as a consequence. " And now," he said, " I question very much if either of my travellers would consent to be sent out on one, in view of their interest in business done." Here, once more, is another proof of the correctness of the views I have put forward in these pages, and here again is another firm disgusted by the use of unsuitable vehicles. Had my friend found the cars he tried all that he required of them, he would have installed a fleet of at least 30 vehicles, but whilst he is now carrying out some quiet experiments on his own on another car, he has had a lesson which will last him some time, and, until he is absolutely satisfied that a car exists which will do his work in the way in which he wants it to be done, he reverts to the old order of things. From the above, I think, it is clearly shown that, irrespective of whether the load to be carried is 5 cwt. or tons, or whether it is required to do cab work, or carry travellers, with or without samples, cars for commercial work must be designed from " A " to " " for the work they have to do, and the adaptation of pleasurecar details to commercial vehicles is inevitably bound to result in failure. Let us hope that the experiences above related may prove useful to those who have yet to come into the field of commercial work.


People: Henry Sturmey

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