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Society of Motor Omnibus Engineers.

3rd January 1907, Page 21
3rd January 1907
Page 21
Page 22
Page 23
Page 21, 3rd January 1907 — Society of Motor Omnibus Engineers.
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

Conclusion of Discussion on and Reply to Mr. Campbell-Swinton' s Paper.

(Continued from page 364.)

Mr. GEORGE BARBER (The Anglo-American Oil Company) said he was afraid it was rather unfair at this, his first attendance at the Society's meetings, to call upon him to say something, but in the first place, so far as the London County Council was concerned, he thought they would agree with him that municipal trading should be doomed. (Applause.) He regarded it as a curse that was creeping all over England. It applied not only in London, but in places like Manchester. In dealing with the motor-omnibus troubles, the chief point that had been raised there that night had been in regard to economical working. The only point he could deal with was that of fuel, and on that he could say very little, because the fuel question was practically in the air." They could not speak of the future prospects of petrol with any amount of certainty, or with the same amount of certainty that they could speak of coal. He thought


in making a carburetter which would be more economical. They would have a certain light petrol. Now, the petrol that came from the ground, taking it as a whole, he supposed, would average somewhere about 0.740 specific gravity. There were heavier patrols which could be used with greater economy, and not only petrol, but oil. Their attention would have to be turned to a heavier grade of petrol, which would lead to more economy in its working, and give them, probably, the same results.

Mr. DOUGLAS MacirENziF. said they had had an extremely interesting paper and discussion. First of all, he thought they owed a great debt of gratitude to Mr. Campbell-Swinton for placing before them that useful manner of comparing the value of different methods of transport by comparing the number of passengers carried per £1 of capital. He thought that even a fairer way would be to take the relation of the number of penny fares to passengers carried, because that would enable them to gauge the distance the various passengers travelled. All the passengers, for instance, on the Twopenny Tube, had to pay twopence, whereas a large number—the majority, in fact—of the passengers on motor omnibuses paid a penny, and a comparison of penny fares per £1 of capital would still result in showing the enormous advantage of motor omnibuses as economical transport vehicles.

An extremely interesting point in the discussion of the paper was with regard to the droppings on the road. He purposely used the word "droppings," and did not confine himself to oil droppings. (Laughter.) He understood there were some towns in foreign countries—he wished there were some in England— where the municipal authorities had power to make regulations with regard to


and they insisted that the other sources of power that were used for transport should carry at the tail end a pail for collecting these droppings. (Much laughter.) The result was that they had more sanitary streets, and, though the horse might object to it, he soon get accustomed to it, and when they saw a horse travelling regularly in this manner it did not strike one as so curious as at the first blush. (Renewed laughter.) The agitation that was being carried on in London was simply because it happened to be it lever to use against the motor omnibus, and that agitation had been extremely unfair. The motor omnibus had been attacked because they said it dropped oil on the streets, and at certain places it had become, to a certain extent, a nuisance. Why? Because the horses also stopped there, and were not able to get a sufficient grip of the road and to start with the usual facility. it was the practice of the local authorities, when repaving roads, to arrange that each of the starting places that the horse omnibuses regularly used should be paved with a particularly irregular and rough surface to enable the horses to get that grip which would enable them to start the cumbersome horse-drawn omnibus. And, of course, if a considerable deposit of motor oil had taken place at that very spot, they had some difficulty in starting. But was the motor omnibus the only vehicle which dropped oil? Notice the tramway cars, and they would find considerable deposits of oil. Take the London County Council, particularly when they were trying their last new tramcars : they over-lubricated them to a somewhat greater extent than was the practice with regard to motor omnibuses When the electric trams first started run ning to Victoria the state of the roadway where they reversed, close to Victoria Station, was far worse than any of the many stopping places of the motor omnibuses.

Again, with regard to noise. Nobody seemed to raise the extremely important point of the noise made by the tramcars. Where they heard it raised, it was, generally, followed by the remark that it was due to the detective track in a particular place. But the noise of the motor omnibus was, generally, due to the defective track, and. the motor-omnibus companies had no control over that track, whereas the tramway companies had. Even where the track was a good one, the noise was by no means small, and it was considerably more than that made by any motor omnibus. On the London United Tramways track, fronarShepherd's Bush to New Bridge and to Hanwell, the track was in a very bad condition. The hammering of the wheels could be heard over each joint, and they could hear the noise over a matter of half-a-mile. lie had the misfortune to live about a quarter of a mile front one of these tracks, and they could hear the cars go by over and above the other traffic. The people who lived at Balham told him that there, where the London County Council track was by no means of a light section, the noise was just as bad. Not only did they hear them hammering over the joints, but they heard the continuous roar of small wheels running on the steel track accentuated by the. grinding against the side of the channel rails, and by the grinding of the two connection pieces on the plough by which they collect and return their current from the live rail in the conduit. No steps seemed to be taken by the police to stop thesetramcars that were unduly noisy, and the public did not seem to agitate against the noisy tramcars as compared with the motor omnibus. It might be that the public had become


that they did not notice it. (Laughter and hear, hear.). Fathers of families had told him thaf after they had had a number of children they did not notice the noise of crying babies. (Laughter.) He coda not speak from experience on that matter, but, at all events, they did not find the complaints in the Press about the noise made by train.. cars that they did about the motor omnibuses. Yet. there was no doubt that to any dispassionate observer, the noise made by the tramcar was considerably greater. There was one point also to which he was glad Mr. Campbell-. Swinton had drawn attention, and that was the pitch of the noise. Now, there were some noises that were particularly tryirig on account of their pitch, and, though a particular omnibus. might be one of the most silent buses in London, it did annoy some people because of the high note it gave off at top speed. But that was nothing to the shriek of the trolley wheel on the. overhead tramway system. (Ilear, hear.) Mr. Shrapnel' Smith had made very opportune allusion to the. objection made by the tramway authorities to other vehicles using their tracks. At one time, he had a large fleet of motor wagons running through London, and one of their main tracks. was up Brixton Hill. It used to be the practice of the tramcars to bump into his vehicles from behind, and then send him in a claim for damages by collision. (Laughter.) He thought that was particularly unfair. (Hear, hear.) Mr. Beaumont, he thought it was, said that a portion of the noise of certain motor omnibuses was due to inherent defects in the design. In the early days, before organisation had reached the high pitch it had at present, and before engineers had had sufficient _experience to ascertain how to replace the wearing parts, there was a great deal of noise that could have been prevented. He thought he was perfectly justified in saying that that was not the case now. Many of the original troubles had disappeared, and they had disappeared because the motor-omnibus engineer had now the time, the opportunity, and the organisation to look after the vehicles properly. In the early days there was, naturally, a lack of experience.

One word on the question of fuel, which had been alluded to by several gentlemen. Ile would like to point out that there was a Committee of the Motor Union, of which he had the honour to be a member, that was now considering the fuel question. Some of the evidence that had been presented to that committee had been published, and could be read in the reports. As soon as that committee had completed their duties, they would no doubt issue a report, and he was sure they would find.

that some extremely valuable information had been brought to light by the labours of that committee. One of the most interesting points had already been mentioned, and that was that they were using petrol of too light a specific gravity. They could use petrol of a higher specific gravity with greater economy than with that used at the present time, but they must have a slight re-arrangement of their carburetters in order to burn it properly. Of course, their carburetters being constructed to deal with a lighter specific gravity were unable to vaporise the higher specific gravity of petrol with the same economy. They must alter their carburetters, and, if they would only make that alteration, a vast field would be open to them—supplies that were now wasting could be used for fuel, and even oils would be rendered available. They would then find that the price would no longee be regulated by the fact that we only used the ligher petrol, but it would have to come down. They had open to them large supplies of petrol that came from other oil fields, but which, at present, did not conform to their standard of boiling range. He thought, also, that the committee would bring to light the fact that there were other sources from which supplies could be drawn for use in mechanical propulsion.

Mr. VEITGII WILSON (Price's Patent Candle Company) remarked that he can there more or less as a solitary individual —particularly as his friend, Mr. Newton, was not there to support him—representing one of the minor industries. Ile hardly thought that anything he could say would be of interest, because lubrication was altogether a minor thing. He was rather glad, of course, to hear gentlemen saying they were using a greater quantity, and somewhat sorry to hear that efforts were to be made to overcome that extended use. (Laughter.) There was a great deal of uncertainty and a good deal to be learned yet viiith regard to the quality of the lubricating oil required. The method of its use was objectionable, he admitted, and, in one sense, he was glad to see it, but at the same time he was pleased to see that at present greater economy was being used. That, he believed, would lead to greater satisfaction on the part of the public, and also to the shareholders in the various motor-omnibus companies themselves. He could not express the pleasure with which he had listened to Mr. Campbell-Swinton's paper.

Mr. A. GREY (the General Petroleum Company) said they had :reard that night certain remarks with regard to the price of fuel, and also as to what they were likely to experience in the future. He would preface his remarks by saying that the solving of the problem rested with the motor engineers them. selves. The company he represented had used its best efforts to place before the different motor-omnibus companies, in London arid the country, A NEW AND PROPER KIND OF SPIRIT.

He. regretted to say, however, that they had met, in a number of instances, with a chilling reception, They found very great difficulty in getting the companies to try it, and, when they did try it, almost in every instance, they had satisfactory results, but still the question was shelved to a large extent. He thought he was correct in saying that a large number of gentlemen who tried that spirit, and said when he called upon them that it gave them satisfaction, still, when it came to a question of changing from the light to the heavy spirit, they found it very difficult to induce them to make the change. (A voice : You do not give enough inducement.) As Mr. Douglas Mackenzie had said, it was only a matter of slight alteration to the carburetter. Now, he asked them, why did they not try it? They saw that the price of petrol was getting very high, but the solving of the question rested with themselves. If every one of them forced the importers to bring the light-quality spirit here, it followed, of necessity, that the price would continue to be very high. He thought he might mention, without a breach of confidence, that the LONDON GENERAL €20NIBITS COMPANY was using a 0.760 specific gravity spirit with great satisfaction. He, therefore, appealed to every gentleman present who was interested in regard to cheapness, and lowering the expenditure in running motor omnibuses, to try this spirit. Apart from the question of price and economy, he believed they could save 25 per cent. in the quantity, by using it, yet it was with the utmost difficulty that they could get the trade generally to try this spirit. They had offered concessions in price, but not with a very great amount of success. It wa.s hound to come, of course, but for the present, on the question of price, there was no company which dealt in motor spirit which wished to put up the prices against motor-omnibus companies. They recognised that such a course would only bring competition, which they did not want. They wanted, in every sense of the word, to keep the price low to motor-omnibus companies. They, on their part, wanted every motor-omnibus engineer to help them, and, not only for their own sakes, but for the sake of the whole industry, to try a heavier gravity spirit. It was quite as volatile as the ordinary spirit, and he believed he could say that it gave quite as much satisfaction. Only that day he heard that a large country emnibus 'company ran at an average of 53 miles per gallon. Now, that was a high average, and he thought that even Mr. Frost Smith would admit that. Under these circumstances, on the question of price, it should be to everyone's interest to go into this spirit and try it properly.

The Chairman then called upon Mr. Campbell-Swinton to reply on the discussion.

Mr. Campbell.-Swinton's Reply.

Mr. CAMPBELL-SWINTON said the discussion had ranged over such a large number of points that if he were to attempt to reply to them, he would be there for a very lung time. How ever, with regard to the question of spirit, he thought it must be patent to everybody that, in the future, they would have to use a heavier spirit, because the quantity of light spirit available was not sufficient. The price, of course, was regulated by the supply on the one hand, and by the demand on the other, and it would be necessary to adapt their carburetters and alter ma. chinery so that they could use the heavier spirit. Of course, with regard to what the last speaker had mentioned, it was pi obably easy to see what had happened in the case of some operating companies : they happened to be situated with large contracts for spirit of the lighter variety, and, naturally, they did not see their way to• alter them without some advantage. akar, hear, and laughter.)

Mr. Shrapnell Smith had asked for some further particulars with regard to the motor omnibuses that were run by the Bath Tramways, He was sorry he had not brought any figures with him that night, but he could give them a few. The Bath Tramways system, of which he happened to be a director, was a fairly extensive system. They had about 40 tramway cars, and, be thought, in additiom 12 motor omnibuses, Now these omnibuses ran from the end of the tramway system right out into the country, for 20 miles in some cases, and they, undoubtedly, were very satisfactory. They acted AS feeders to the tramways. They did not expect them of themselves to make any very large amount of profit, provided they could run them without loss. They made an extra profit out of the tramways, and the omnibuses ran very economically. He did not think any motor omnibus companies in London could run their omnibuses at the price per car mile that these Bath cmibuses were run, He was speaking from memory, but he thought he was right in saying that the cost, including petrol, tires, and all outgoings, but exclusive of any specific sum for depreciation, was, apart from maintenance and general administration—which, of course, would have to be spread over the tramcars as well—of running these omnibuses worked out to about 8d. per mile. And it ought to be Temembered that it was a very hilly district. They ran these omnibuses up and down hills where the gradients were one in nine. They also ran a regular service up and down one hill, which was so steep that the Board of Trade would not allow tramways upon it. (Hear, hear.) Of course, the great difference between the omnibuses run by the Bath Tramways and the systems they had in London was that in the country they were not always perpetually starting and stopping. Sometimes they ran for miles without stopping. It was not a " pick-up " traffic at all. It was a traffic between small towns. if anyone hailed the car, of course, they would stop ; but, as a rule, there were no people to hail the cars, and that made a great deal of difference ia the upkeep, and also in the petrol consumption. On the other hand, the roads in the country were not so good as the town roads, from the point of view of the tires. There was a great deal more wear in that respect in the country as compared with the towns. Another speaker had mentioned the large and thorny subject of municipal trading generally. He merely wished to say, on this subject, that four or five years ago there was a Joint Committee of the House of Lords and the House of Commons upon

municipal trading generally. He appeared as a witness before that committee. And merely as an illustration, at that time, of what might result from municipal trading, he put it to them as a hypothetical question that some day there might be motor omnibuses on the streets that would compete with the owners of tramways, and then the owners of the tramways would have it in their power to stop the motor omnibuses. He did not think, when he said that six years ago, that such a thing would arise so soon, but, as they saw by the proceedings at Manchester, and in the London County Council, the grave defect of giving powers to bodies which ought to be merely regulators of affairs, and not the owners of businesses, was now apparent. Local authorities ought to be the parties to see that other people performed their duties properly, but as soon as local authorities became interested parties, and engaged in business themselves, they could not expect them to adopt judicial methods. One speaker had alluded to the wear of the roads by motor omnibuses. Now, so far as London was concerned, the greater number of the bus routes were paved with either wood or asphalt, and, when the Highways Committee of the London County Council, in. its previous report, talked about the roads which were paved with granite setts being worn by rubber tires of motor omnibuses, the members were talking nonsense. (Hear, hear.) Could they imagine that granite setts or steel rails could he to any appreciable extent within hundreds of years, worn by rubber tires? The thing was perfectly ridiculous. The report went on to say that the man-holes, which made a sort of noise when ona went over them in a motorcar, and also the insulators, which, it must be assumed, were underneath, were "gravely affected" by the "pounding of motor onmi• buses." (Laughter.) Well, if tramway engineers were so incompetent that they could not get over that, heaven help the tramways. (Laughter, and hear, hear.) Surely it ought to be within the wit and the powers of the engineers to the London County Council to devise something which would withstand the effect of the "pounding" of the motor omnibuses of which they professed to complain.

Again, the Highways Committee said that the routes run by motor omnibuses should be approved by some authority. At the same time, of course, the Loudon County Council said it should be the authority. (Laughter.) Could they imagine anything more monstrous? Of course, what the L.C.C. wanted was quite simple and obvious : it wanted to keep the motor omnibuses from running over the tramway routes, or in any way that would compete with the tramways. (hear, hear.) There was a reason why the London County Council was not the authority to license vehicles in London. In every other town the municipality looked after the police, and the police of London were not under the London County Council. II would be perfectly logical, if they put the police under the London County Council, that it should be the licensing authority for vehicles, but he did not think that even the present Government would be at all likely to put the police under the London County Council. They would be too afraid ot their own skins.

The subject of grease on the roads hau been mentioned by Bassom, who said it was a nuisance. He agreed, but he said that the local authority should sweep it up. (Hear, hear.) They swept up the horse refuse on the roads ; why should they sweep one up and not the other?

Again, the Highways Committee of the London County Council, iii its report, gave a list of accidents, and it put down temporary breakdowns to motor omnibuses at 770. (Laughter.) He thought, however, it was only fair to say that there was a footnote iii italics which said : "These figures are apparently incomplete." (Renewed laughter.) He supposed they thought there must be more—(more laughter)—but he believed there were something like 480 tramcars in the South of London, and, to h's knowledge, the whole of those tramcars had been repeatedly stopped ; hence, as against 770, there must have been thousands of temporary breakdowns on, the part of the London County Council tramcars. (Laughter, and hear, hear.) As to the speed of motor omnibuses. Mr. Beaumont had made some remarks. That gentleman seemed to be in doubt as to why motor omnibuses went so fast. Well, that was a question on which he (the speaker) gave evidence before the Select Committee on cabs and omnibuses, and his theory was

that it was due to the sporting instincts of the drivers. They wanted to pass one another. He thought it was simply that. Lie knew it was not the wish of the officials and the directors of motor omnibus companies, because they were most anxious that, instead of racing one another, the drivers should stop to

take up passengers. The directors wanted fares; they did not want racing. (Hear, hear.) He might remark that, in con, nection with Scotland Yard, and Sir Alexander Bruce—who, by the way, had written regretting his inability to be present— he had impressed upon Sir Alexander their great desire that drivers should be summoned if they drove too fast, because it was the only way they could be kept in order and prevented from racing. As he said before, they did not want racing, they wanted fares, and their only remedy for racing was to dismiss the drivers, and then they were promptly taken over by some other motor omnibus company. He asked Mr. Bassom to take a note of that. As Mr. Beaumont had said, he could not board the omnibuses owing to the high speed at which they ran.

He thought he had said all he had to say that night, except on two more points. One was that in this report of the Highways Committee of the London County Council, the old fallacy was trotted out that the tramcars regulated the traffic, and that motor omnibuses obstructed it. Now, he happened to be engineer to three tramway companies and a director of another, so that he was much more interested in tramways than in motor omnibuses, but it was nonsense to say that motor omnibuses caused greater obstruction on the roads than tramcars. Anybody who had paid any attention to the matter, and who had driven in the streets of London—he had driven a motorcar a great deal in London—and anyone who drove along the tram routes or the bus routes, could note at once that the tramcar, with its fixed route, was a far greater obstruction to the general traffic than a vehicle which could give and take with the other traffic. (Hear, hear.) Of course, he knew that the tramway engineers went to the Houses of Parliament, and brought forth that fallacy, but they knew there was a saying about expert witnesses. (Laughter.) He would not repeat it, because he happened to be one himself. (Renewed laughter.)

The other thing he wished to refer to was with regard to taxation. The Highways Committee of the London County Council suggested that motor omnibuses paid nothing towards the upkeep of the roads, that the tramways did, and that it was very unfair. Now, he was quite ready to admit that there was something in that, provided they taxed all vehicles, and the vehicles which should be taxed most were those which wore the road most, and those were the horsed vehicles. He would begin by taxing horsed vehicles, and all vehicles with iron tires drawn by horses that went scraping along the roads. (Hear, hear.) Then they might put some tax on the motor omnibuses, provided they applied the tax towards improving the roads. If they could have smooth roads, they might afford to pay something, but, obviously, taxation ought not to be levied an motor omnibuses simply because they were something new, and because they interfered with the London County Council tramways. That taxation should be based in some way on the amount of damage done, and the amount of damage done was much larger in the case of iron-shod horses and iron-wheeled carts than with any vehicle with rubber tires. (Cheers.)

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