Better Roads to London's Docks Wanted.
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THE PUBLIC meeting convened. by the London Chamber of Commerce for the purpose of calling attention to the inadequate nature of the roads leading to thedocks of the Metropolis has been .held none too soon. The difficulty under which the traffic by road to and from the •docks is compelled to labour arises, without a doubt, from the fact that very few Londoners indeed have ever seen the docks. They are away at the east-end and the congestion of the roads never comes under observation, except by dock habitues. Once this congestion is seen, the question instantly arises : Why is no effort .made to alter the State of affairs and to reduce the insufferable delays that are permitted. And, strangely enough, a very large proportion of the road traffic to and from the docks is caused to converge on the worst bottleneck in London—Aldgate-where on certain days of the week much of the Iroad space is taken up by a hay market, held there under an old Charter (a market Which, in these days of 'fewer horses, could easily he relegated to a less important spot) and, in recent years, a tramway terminus has been brought into the place close up to the City boundary. As Lord Knutsford has truly said, only a colony of lunatics would allow such a state of things to continue.
The docks Of London have been developed enor
• rriously in recent years, but the approaches have hardly been altered. These approaches are narrow, obstructed • by swing . bridges and railway levelcrossings, and traffic is held; up, every hour of the day, every day of the week, and every week of the year, for unconscionable periods. This circumstance has caused the introduction of certain very serious abuses--not mentioned at the meeting, but known to all who possess knowledge of road transport conditions in the docks area. The loss to the community -iniist be enormouS, for We have beeri'shown that it is often possible to get goods from a steamer in Southampton . delivered in London quicker than to get goods from the Royal Albert Docks. This is a very serious handicap to the commercial motor movement,
• and the way out is to construct suitable roads capable of meeting modern transport requirements. As a matter of fact, improvement in this direction is far. more necessary than the construction of roads, the only function of which for some time will be to enable drivers , of private motorcars to drive fast.
TV e have referred, to Southampton as providing more facilities in the way of access bet•Ween road and shipside, but LiverpoelaBriatol and almost every other port in the United Kingdom does this thing
better than London. -
What is to be Seen at the French Show.
THERE IS no doubt that the fine display of all types of commercial vehicle at the Grand Paleis is making a, deep impression on the minds of all who see it. Amongst certain of our designers there is a marked tendency to deprecate what is being
done on the other side of the Channel, but there can be no doubt that the French engineers seize upon new ideas with avidity and often do much of the spadework before we think of attempting to embody the features under test. We need give only frontwheel brakes as one example out of several. These can be obtained as standard on many of the French chassis, whereas our period of experimenting has hardly yet commenced—at least, so far as commercial vehicles are concerned—although the Commercial Vehicle Show at Olympia will, we believe, reveal activities in this direction.
Apart from detail, however, there are few startling innovations, as French design has, in the main, settled down after several years, during which many new and not always practicable designs were evolved. Many of the. vehicles closely resemble those exhibited last year, andthere are certain absentees which were conspicuous at the previous Salon. Finish appears to carry great weight, and many of the chassis which are claimed, to be absolutely standard are finished in what we in England would consider Show style, whilst the majority is remarkably free from the mass of oil pipes and other Irapiimenta which are to be found on many of our vehicles. Whether this concealment is likely to cause trouble through inaccessibility is a point which deserves consideration, but one which is not quite so important as was formerly the case, owing to the greater reliability of the modern vehicle. One striking feature of the Show is the great increase in the use of pneumatic tyres; solids are now fitted only to the heaviest vehicles, and c,oa,ches are invariably shod with large pneumatics, although • we saw 110 examples of the giant -tyre, which appears to have very little popularity in France. The cause of the change from solids is most probably the very bad road surfaces, which exist in many parts and which cause • intense hammer shocks to be imparted to chassis and body through these tyres. To this vibration is also due the close attention to springing, which is most noticeable.
Many New _British Light Vans.
w'E ARE glad to see that British commercial motor vehicle makers are paying due regard first to the real call from certain classes of manufacturers and traders for an efficient chassis,
suitable for a load of 1 ton or 25 cwt. ; and also to the fact that it is in the small-load category, and, again in the very big-load category that no competition is ti; be found from the surplus ex-war stock. It can be demonstrated to users that it is economical to use the 10-ton or 12-ton tractor lorry because of the high proportion of pay load to overhead and other operat ing charges, and it can also be shown that speediness and handiness make the light-load vehicle an economical propositioii as compared with the 4-tonner. After all, it is mainly a question of salesmanship, for the commercial motor vehicle is rich in merit and can compare favourably iv. many directions with other forms of transport.
Between now and the date on which the Commercial Motor Show closes its doors quite a. number of vehicles of light-load capacity will have made their bow to the public, and we have every confidence that it will be a buying public which will be drawn to the stands of the manufacturers thereof.
A New Smooth-Action Multi-cylinder Power Unit.
BECOMING of greater interest as the developments are observed, the new Michell engine is now calling for serious attention. There are many engineers who have carefully studied the• awashplate (because of the smoothness of action which could be given by this substitute for a crank on a crankshaft), and who had hitherto dismissed it from the region of prime movers because of the heavy load that must necessarily fall upon the lubricating film and of the difficulty so far experienced in keeping that film intact.
We cannot recall a, single successful effort in this direction prior to the introduction of the Michell pad, which has .worked wonders in the thrust bearings of marina propeller shafts. These have always constituted a very great problem and have required to be multiplied on a shaft so as to reduce the load on a given area,, involving weight, loss of space, and the very nicest adjustment so that each portion of the bearing should not fail to do its work. That a small hearing of the Michell type should be able to do the work of a considerably larger bearing of the ordinary type, just because the set of the pads assists in the, retention of the lubricating ,film, would almost be unbelievable were it not for the 'fact that, during' and since the war, the accuracy of the principles involved had been proved, and extensive practice has given ample support to theory. Many vessels in the Navy and in our merchant fleets have now been equipped with these thrust bearings, and some millions of tons of coal are said to have been saved in their propulsion. An engine has been built for the Air Ministry by one of our leading manufacturers, to the designs of the inventor of the bearing, and good results have been attained, because there are no unbalanced moving parts, and a multi-cylindered power unit (up to the number. of pistons that can be disposed upon the rim of the awash-plate and easily running up to 18 or even more if required) need occupy very little more space than an eight-cylindered •unit. The action is extremely smooth and a flywheel is unnecessary. We are able to give fuller details of this interesting engine in an article appearing in this issue, written after a careful and thorough inspection thereof under load on the test bench.