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The Motor Drivers News.

2nd April 1908, Page 59
2nd April 1908
Page 59
Page 59, 2nd April 1908 — The Motor Drivers News.
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

A Change from Steam to Petrol.

" M. H." (Cardigan) sends the following letter :—" In your issue of 3oth January, M.M.,' of Bristol, writes for information as to the best way to get a change from driving a steam lorry to a petrol vehicle, and again, in your issue of 5th March, T.D.' asks for enlightenment upon the same subject. In the same issue, L.R.M.,' of Edinburgh,.sends his views as a driver for three years of a petrol vehicle, and, previously, of a steam wagon. I hope these few remarks which I am about to make will prove of use to those who wish to make this change.

" In the first place, I do not for one moment think that either an owner of a self-propelled vehicle, or a manager, would take on a man, as L.R.M.' was taken on, at the present time, firstly, because there are a large number of practical men ready to take on the driving of either steam or other self-propelled vehicles and, secondly, because of the very serious amount of damage that might be done before an unskilled man could hope to make a good showing at his work.

"Let me give you my experience about the matter under discussion. I was working for one of the large motorbus companies, and, as I thought I should like a change, after considering the matter, I applied to the head of my department. I was informed that, if I wished to make a change, I should have to come down to the position of a cleaner, at a cleaner's wage, so as to get a thorough grasp of the subject. As I was a young man, and unmarried, I pocketed my pride and took the cleaner's job, and, at the end of three months, by dint of hard work and application, I was on the road as a driver with an advance upon my original wages. I, there_ fore, strongly advise both M.N.' and 'T.D.' to try and obtain a position either as an assistant to a driver of a petrol lorry, or to get a berth in a firm which draws its drivers from the cleaner's rank. Neither of your correspondents may be as fortunate as I was, as regards the quickness of advancement, because, at the dine of which I am writing, there was a fairly big demand for petrol drivers, but, in any case, they will acquire a practical experience of the ins and outs of petrol vehicles, without which no man can ever become a good driver. L.R.M.' states that, to change gear is not always a noiseless operation, and that remark proves what I have previously stated, viz., that a lot of damage can be done to the transmission by an inexperienced driver when he changes gear. Gear-changing can, and ought to be, an absolutely noiseless proceeding, from the time the vehicle leaves the garage in the morning until it returns at night, if the man who does it is capable and knows his business, and has a practical knowledge of the construction of a motor vehicle. I may here state that the car that I am at present driving has been running since November, too6, and, also, that the average running mounts up to the respectable average of 360 miles per week. The gear-box is just as it came from its makers, and nothing has been renewed or repaired. I have just completed to,000 miles and have had one mechanical failure, and this is, I think, another proof which will bear me out in my previous statements. " ' L.R.M.' also says that he always feels safer on a steamer than on a petrol car, on account of the ease with which the reverse can be used in emergencies. He has, perhaps, to learn that a petrol engine can be used in the same way, not, of course, by reversing, but by employing the motor as a brake. I will give an illustration of its application. A year ago I was driving along a road made from white limestone, similar to those found in certain parts of Somersetshire; these road surfaces become very greasy in wet weather, and rubber tires seem to have a natural tendency to skid upon them. I had to descend a very steep hill after a shower of rain, one morning, and, not knowing that the road was slippery, I applied the brakes when about a third of the way down the descent. The whole vehicle came round sideways, and I should have smashed in the back of it, if I had not instantly released the brake and switched off the electric current from the engine so as to use the engine as a brake. I always took care afterwards to " switch off" and get into my second speed when travelling down hills in wet weather."

Steam v. Petrol Vehicles.

" T.P." (Macclesfield) writes :—" I see many letters in TIIE COMMERCIAL MOTOR from drivers of both steam and oetrol vehicles, and I am afraid that the driver of a steam wagon plumps for steamers because he does not know how to handle a petrol-driven vehicle, and vice-versd. It is no good laying down the law, and saying, such-and-such a vehicle is no good, because perhaps you don't know how to drive it properly. "Those of your readers who know Macclesfield and its surroundings will admit that there are some nasty little hills and turnings to he found in the neighbourhood. About four years ago, I was driving a horse-drawn van for my employer, and one day he told me that he had almost made up his mind to buy a motor to deliver the packages. He said that I should have to drive the thing, and I did not like the idea at all. Well, the day arrived for me to have my first lesson, and I went to Liverpool to the agents for this purpose. I never spent such a half-hour in my life; I could make nothing of the different pedals and handles and, at the end of the lesson, I was very depressed indeed. But I stuck to it and now can drive as well as anyone in the district. But, I do not say that because I can now drive a petrol vehicle, that a steam vehicle is no good, because I should think that small-minded. No, if a man can only drive a petrol vehicle, it does not follow that steam wagons are bad.

An Uncommon Accident.

" H.P." (Cockermouth) writes :—" I had a rather uncommon accident a few weeks ago with an old steam wagon which I drive. I was proceeding along the road in fine style, about fourteen miles from home, with a full load of eighteen barrels of beer on board. I may say that the load was a heavy one, because any of your readers who know the West Cumberland roads and hills will probably also know that a load for one horse is only three barrels. As I say, I was going along in fine style, when, all at once, the engine stopped, and I got down on to the road to have a look for the cause. I removed the inspection cover, and found to my dismay that the h.p., crosshead pin had broken, and had jammed itself in the guide bar, which had also broken. Nor was this all; the connecting rod and piston rod were both badly bent. As it was impossible to get at the engine with the load on the platform, my mate tried to find a dray on which to tranship the load, but without success. Being in a narrow country road, my mate and myself took off part of the load and then we managed to tip the platform sufficiently to get at the damaged parts. We took out all the broken portions, with the exception of the valve spindle and the piston with its rod. I then thought that I could manage to get the lorry into a lane near by, under its own steam, but, when I started it up, the engine pulled so much better than I thought it would, that I took it slowly to our destination, about two miles further on, and delivered the load. We, of course, remained where we delivered the load for the night, so as to have plenty of time to make the return journey, which we did using only the one cylinder.


Locations: Liverpool, Bristol, Edinburgh

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