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30th August 1917
Page 4
Page 4, 30th August 1917 — ODD MOMENTS
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

With Men, Matters and Movements

Who Told Them ?

IREAD in the " Pall Mali . Gazette ". that " although precise details are Still lacking, it. is mow said" (mark you, it is only said) "that the Government are aware of the existence. of oil-deposits in this country, whence the oilcan be obtained in liquid form by boring." It cannot be -much more than a year since an expert who had studied the EngliSh petroliferous districts very thoroUghlyaacommunicated the detailed results of his investigations to the -Institution of Petroleum Technologists. . Oensequently, the .question arises, how on. earth the Government has got to know about the existence of oil so quickly. Some rumour emanating from the Petroleum Technologists must have percolated, or even "gushed," through official channels at a surprising speed. Of course, nothing is yet known inhigh quarters about the precise details, but one of these:days some enterprising official will happen upon the very illuminating record to which I have referred, and then the cat will be out of the bag, and official 'circles will not only have a sort of notion that there is. sortie oil somewhere, but will really know Where to go and look for it. We are, indeed, getting on !

Agricultural Motor Trials. , cCERTAIN. , ERTAIN RECENT EVENTS seem to suggest a little work for the new Agricultural Motor • . Committee of the S.M.M. and T. This committee has already signified its intention of starting a " hustle " in the interests of importers. .It might beW.n by discouraging the said importers from flying at One another's throats, and by bringing. agricultural motors under the same rules as those which have effectually prevented members of the Society from • Carrying out and advertising unofficial trials of cars and commercial vehicles. In the hands of an expert almost any agricultural motor can be made to do the ino.,t delightful acrobatic tricks and perform marvellous _feats of tillage in trials of short duration. Such trials do not reveal whether the life of the tractor is likely to be ten years or three weeks, and, if smartly handled, most of the more glaring defects of any machine can be safely concealed, or, at any rate, prevented from appearing in the tabulated results of the test. These remark's are not intended to reflect on any particular machine, but Merely to serve as a warning to farmers to look at trials rather as one looks at the testimonialsof an applicant for a ' job ; that is to say, not so much with an eye to what • is included as with an eye to what is left out.

Queer Combinations.

. NOTICED recently in the financial column of a daily paper a remark to the effect that motor shares were strong in view of rumours of combination. This statement was promptly followed by quotations apparently indicating the direct results of this rumour. Among the first firms to be named were Darraaq, Straker-Squire, Rolls-Royce, and Dennis. I have yet to learn that the possibilities of amalgamation. of these four are sufficiently promising to justify any noticeable movement of the market! It requires, in fact, a lively imagination to visualize e•Fa3 combinations of firms which have little or nothing in • common. If anything really comes of the efforts which we all know are being made, I should expect to see the first indMations taking the form of a grouping up of a certain number of firms engaged solely in some one particular branch of the industry. If we .start with the one-model policy as a:basis, it is quite possible to understand how, say, five firms might get together and manufacturebetween their' 4. range of five models. .However, it is as yet early to indulge in any predictions whatever.

. Alcohol as Fuel. .

MUCH AS I SHOULD like to sympathise with any scheme for ameliorating conditions in the "Distressful Country," I cannot share the optimism, shown by Mr. Tweedy in his book on "-Industrial Aleohol," aaaregarde, the possibilities •of _ereating a cheap and large supply of that fuel by enenraging the growing of potatoes in Ireland. The whole thing comes, back to a question of price. -Used in a petrol engine, alcohol is not as good _a fuel as petrol, and, consequently, if it is to compete successfully, it must be available at a much lower coat. I can find nothing in Mr. Tweedy's arguments to justify the hope that we shall, for many years to come, get home-grown alcohol at a cost of less than about is, a gallon for the raw material alone. We have to add the cost of distillation, denaturing, and distribution, and probably that of mixing with some prOportion of benzoic or something else. It seems tome : that, unless things turn out to he much worse than the optimists expect in the petrol market after the war, fuel-alcohol from home-gro7n crops has very little chance as a motor fuel, Moreover, I personally. think that when alcohol comes into use it will be found that we can import it from our tropical •colonies to sell at afigure which will hopelessly under-cut anything that we can produce from crops at home.

The Jack "De Luxe. IP IT IS ALWAYS just as well to look carefully into any proposal designed with a view to improving the privately-owned motorcar, for the purpose of considering hag far it might be useful on a commercial vehicle. A new proposition that is certainly interesting in its way is the fitting of a jack to form, part of the permanent mechanism of the vehicle, and so arranged as to make it possible to lift the car bodily in the Course of a few seconds by means of its-own engine power, or rather more slowly by hand. In its most refined form, this idea would probably prove too expensive to interest anyone but the owner of a high-class private car, but it does not seem irepos Bible to devise a simple hand-operated model, which might be of great eonvenieece on a pneumatie-tyred van intended for express delivery work. Many users have fought shy ef pneumatic-tyred vehicles, becliuse of the possibilities of trouble and delay upon the road, but a jack of this kind, used in connection with detachable wheels, would, to all intents and purposes, do away with this possibility, and would thus increase the punctuality of service that could be given by , those, commercial vehicles in the operation of which the saving of time is the moat important factor.


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