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Technical Trends and Possibilities

2nd February 1945
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Page 15, 2nd February 1945 — Technical Trends and Possibilities
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

THE field covered by road transport in' its many forms is of great interest; not only to those immediately engaged in it as operators, but to all who benefit by the services which it can render to the community as a whole, and to trade and industry in particular. Provided that it be not over-harassed by restrictive regulation as• regards both operation and design, its future ellbeing should be assured. This war has proved, and is proving, the extreme value of what we may term mobile mechanical transport, as distinct from transport confined to lines.

It-is not to be expected that, in future, vehicles other, than those engaged in agriculture mill-career . .gaily over the fields. Therefore, except for export to certain areas overseas, the bulk will be confined to the road. Consequently,' the possibilities in the way of design and speed will depend very largely upon the hoped-for improvements-in our highways and, particularly, the construction of motorways, as well as the development of secondary roads to render them more suitable for the requirements of the transport of goods and passengers.

Last week we published the suggestions of the makers and a large section of operators, concerning modifications in the Construction and Use Regulations. These included recommendations for wider vehicles and greaer carrying capacity, to. operate at more economic speeds. What reception they will be accorded by the M.O.W.T. remains to he seen, but a clue was given when a similar request regarding the width of buses was emphatically rejected by the Ministry.

Two Main Classes of Vehicle?

It may be that, eventually, there will be two maid classes of vehicle—those designed to operate almost, if not quite exclusively, on motorways, and others which will be permitted freedom of circulation on practically any thoroughfare. This , move may be forced upon us, although it is not a really satisfactory one, as it would involve feeder services and, in many cases, the consequent transhipment of goods and passengers at the, terminals of the motorways and at other important stops. The probable raising of the average speed of commercial transport on motorways would itself demand certain technical modifications, and the over-drive top would automatically come into its own, instead of being used merely to a limited extent as it is now.

Presumably, there will be few, if any, severe gradients, with consequent less call for constant changes of gear. It is rather interesting to conjecture whether this would have the effect of encouraging or discouraging automatic devices for altering the ratio, and/or such comparative novelties as hydraulic transmission.

, Mototways Wilt Force Changes Experienc,e on the German autobahnen was sufficient to indicate that the general wear and tear on transmission and brakes were greatly reduced, but the comparatively constant high speed of engines showed the need for designing these especially to meet -this requirement, laying emphasis upon lubrication and cooling. Suspension systems, also, might call for some change in the case of vehicles always running on a smooth surface, with no violent shocks such as those abrupt differences from the horizontal direction of travel, as maybe experienced when, say, a hump-back bridge is encountered or roughness of surface at level crossings.

As regards the type of engine, some are of the opinion that far greater use will be made of the power unit employing oil fuel. We must not, however, rule out the possibility of utilizing compressed or liquified gases, such as methane, which many consider to be one of the -important fuels of the future. Then there is the question of designing engines to employ petrol of higher octane rating, but this is hardly likely to apply to gny great extent to commercial units.

Then there are others who are placing great hopes upon a considerable electrification of transport, which is necessarily bound up, to a large degree, with the development of batteries of lighter weight for their capacity.

Sight must not be lost of the latest Russian. power-transmission scheme, which was dealt with by us a few months ago. This, of course, was concerned more with comparatively local transport. It comprised the use of underground or overhead cables carrying high-frequency current which could be picked up and transformed by the individual vehicles, without using ; any direct connection or contact. The estimated efficiency of this arrangement would probably not, at least for some time, exceed, say, 50 per .cent., but even that might not ovev-rule its other advantages, whilk the vehicles would riot be altogether bound to the cable routes, for they would have batteries which would permit them to run for reasonable distances to either side, these being recharged when a return was made to the vicinity of the cables.

Wireless Control of Fleets?

So far as the control of road transport goes, an interesting possibility is two-way radio. In November last, American operators made a strong bid for .the allocation to the haulage industry of short-wave radio bands. These, it was declared, would go a Icing way towards solving difficult problems of road transport, such as the rapid reporting of accidents and breakdowns, particularly during the night hours. It would also seem to be an excellent scheme for a transport manager at his base to be able to keep in touch with the drivers of vehicles actually on the road, and thus be in a position to direct them. This matter may not be of such great moment in this co.untry, where the distances are comparatively short, but the manner in which many Army vehicles are able to keep in touch with their controls shows that the possibilities of the scheme should not be ignored.

Tyre manufacturers are very much alive to the requirements which they may have to meet in the future, and, at this point, we would like to congratulate them on their achievements. Road. _transport could not have, progressed as it has nor could it look forward to great advances, without their great efforts and extensive research work.

To our mind, too little appreciation -is given to the tyre—that remarkable medium between vehicle and road. It may be said to be the most highly stressed of all components. It reduces shock,, transmits the drive, and experiences to the full theenormous forces which occur when a vehicle is heavily braked. In addition, it has to withstand and dissipate the considerable amount of heat generated both in these ways and in ordinary running; yet, often it receives far too little attention from the maintenance, aspect, being regarded as a drudge which is seldom praised but . frequently castigated.

Coming Improvements in Tyres Tyre makers have had _to overcome great difficulties in connection with the dearth of their basic material, natural rubber. However, improvements are being made, and will continue with the synthetic varieties, and it is quite possible that we . shall never return to the type constructed entirely of natural rubber, so far as its tread is concerned. The use of plastic materials, such as Nylon, for the casings may have far-reaching results, including bettef flexibility with less generation of heat or the ability to withstand higher temperatures, combined with much longer life.



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