Petrol Comes Down at Last.
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pETROLEUM spirit is now consumed in such vast quantities that it ranks with coal, wheat, and . meat as a vital commodity, and every fluctuation in its price becomes a matter of deep concern to the whole of the community. .
We do not suggest that there is any relation between. the two events, but it is curious that, in Temple 'Press tpublications for September 19th and 20th, the question was asked—Why is the price of petrol so high, considering that the average cost of the fuel alongside wharf for the whole of the past eight months had been is. 4.2d. per gallon? Still mem curious is the fact that the announcement of the cut in prices, which followed, was issued to the daily Press just too late fox inclusion in last week's issues of Temple Press journals, and, moreover, was not communicated to the Editors of those journals until two days later.
The effect of the reduction of the retail price of No, 1 grade petrol to 2s. per gallon and of No. 3 grade to Is. 10d., per gallon will be far-reaching. And, in this connection, it must be remembered that the.inew scale of drivers' wages came into force. on Monday, whex ,the'reduction of is. per week in the case of men and 6d. in the case of youths took effect. Hauliers and contractors will be able, in consequence, to reduce their charges, and manufacturers, merchants, and distributors owning their own vehicles will secure a reduction in their working costs. The benefit, being passed on to consumers of goods, must materially reduce thecost of living and encourage trade, thus helping to reduce unemployment.
Passenger travel should benefit, although let it not be forgotten that the LeG.O.C., being the largest consumer of petrol in this country, has always been able to strike a hard bargain with the importers and to buy at a very fine price, so that there is less margin here for acut in costs than most people would imagine. However, it is now common property that a revision of fares on London buses is being considered, and will, no doubt, be put into operation shcaly—probably along those routes *which are most favoured by the opposition that has lately sprung up ! Owners of chars-h.--bancs will certainly feel a benefit, and one that will help them to tide over the lean months that are coming.
Taxicab proprietors would do well to secure the introduction of a new scale of fares. A revision is now overdue, and, without doubt, the cab industry would reap a benefit from an immediate increase of custom. We 'hear on every hand of people who
formerly had the cab habit, and who now use buses because the cab fares are too high, and the lengthened ranks of idle cabs support these expressions of opinion.
A New Petrol-electric Development.•OF EXTREME interest is the news, already given in The Commercial ;Motor and confirmed in this issue by a description of the chassis itself, that a new petrol-electric chassis has been designed and is now on the market. The type is one which has been growing in favour, even if slowly, for it is being steadily forced upon' users that, besides being easy of operation and control, the absence of a clutch and a . gearbox and the substitution therefor of a dynamo and motor (" electric" must be understood all through) make for economyof maintenance, whilst, despite the inevitable losses in the conversion of mechanical energy to electric energy and back again, it can be claimed for the petrol-electric that at least there is no greater expenditure of fuel.
For passenger vehicle work, the petrol-electric offers the merit of gentle and smooth acceleration, and this certainly appeals to the travelling public, whilst, when the reliability of the electric brake is more generally realized and, appreciated, this will, we are sure, often prove a determining factor in the choice of a motor coach upon which to tour in hilly country.
In the case ef the petrol-electric vehicle, of which the first description appears in this issue, when the control lever is put by the driver in the braking position, the direction of the current flowing through the motor is reversed, but temporarily the field is shortcircuited. The braking action is brought about by reopening the field through the medium of a resistance in parallel with it, and this has the effect of converting the motor into a dynamo, thereby providing a smooth working but extremely powerful brake that would hold the heaviest vehicle in hand on the steepest hill. Such a brake means a great saving in the brake mechanism acting on drums on the rear wheels, and their better condition in consequence is an additional safeguard. Again, the electric brake is one of the. surest possible and most practical forms of sprag, which, it is our contention, no vehicle—goods or passenger—operating in hilly country should be without.
Because of this reliability and also because of cheaper maintenance, we expect to hear of notable developments in the use of petrol-electric vehicles in the near future. .
Assembled or Made Under One Roof.
IX OUR issue of September 26th we published a letter from a correspondent on this subject. We do not think many engineers will agree with him when he says that a chassis assembled from components made by outside firms tends towards an all-round
improvement in the commercial vehicle. ,
We have on several occasions painted out that a device, used on one car with marked success, may prove a failure when fitted into a car with surroundings which do not exactly agree with that particular component. As an instance of what we mean, we have seen cases where a certain construction of back axle, which has proved successful when used in connection with an epicyclic gear, had proved a failure when fitted into a chassis where an ordinary clutch is used. Steering arms of a certain design will work well with a steering box which is slightly reversible, and, yet, will break when fitted to a box of the worm and segment type, which is practically irreversible.
That there is such 11. thing as harmony nf design most designers have recognized for a long time. In many cases, where a design has been got out in the first place using some component which can be 1418 bought, it has been found not to answer its purpose so well as one designed espepially for the general scheme and, in many cases, we see such a component replaced in time by one designed more in harmony with the whole.
We may agree that the assembling of parts made in large numbers by special firms may reduce the cost of a chassis, but we have yet to learn that, with the exeeption of unimportant parts, assembly will tend to efficiency. As regards efficiency, we feel sure few will say that our manufacturers are behind those of America. It may be necessary, for reasons of economy of production, to follow the direction indicated by our correspondent to some extent, but we cannot agree with him when he says it will tend towards a general improvement. There are many points in which a commercial vehicle is capable of improvement, but standardization of parts and the special manufacture of them would not tend to develop such improvements, but would rather tend towards retarding any alteration, even if • it were an improvement.
Developments in Mobile Publicity.
MOBILE PUBLICITY is now more or less minivenially recognized as being one of the most :effective methods of advertising which it is possible to adopt. Few people pass any given spot, except in the busiest areas, during the course of a day, in comparison with the number of people passed by a motor vehicle, which necessarily parades itself before the eyes of the public, including those of the housewife in the country and suburbs, and of the business man, or seeker after gaiety in the fashionable quarters. If the advertising matter of the style of the vehicle is effective, it is certain to attract attention.
As to the actual cash value of such advertising, this is quite irropossible to guess. Some users of motor vehicles make allowances for it when drawing up their costs, but, in the majority of such instances, the amounts thus allowed are probably very much underestimated. .
Now we must sound a note of warning. The laws in operation within a 6-mile radius of Charing Cross and 15-mile radius of Charing Cross respectively, in the first case altogether prohibit the use of advertising vehicles, and in the second case prohibit them when they cause obstruction Or annoyance. Thus any advertising done by motor vehicle is permitted only by the forbearance of the police, rather than through its legality.
The Law with Regard to Advertising by Motor Vehicle. The Law with Regard to Advertising by Motor Vehicle.
THE METROPOLITAN Streets Act, 1867, states that " No picture, print board, placard, or notice, except in such form and manner as may be approved of by the Commissioner of Police, shall, by way of advertisement, be carried or distributed in any street within the general limits of this Act by any person riding in any vehicle, or on horseback, or being on foot.' So far as publicity vehicles are concerned, the Commissioner of Police in the Metropolis, owing to the traffic conditions prevailing, is not prepared to approve any form of advertising by means of a vehicle, so that the responsibility for compliance with the provisions of the Act rests with the user. The police are not desirous of interfering with• vehicles actually working in the usual course of trade and, incidentally, carrying some advertising matter ; in fact, their attitude may be considered as that of a .benevolent neutrality, and action is only likely to be taken where publicity vehicles cause obstruction by the collecting of crowds of sightseers, or by perambulating the busy portions of London and its suburbs in such a manner as to render themselves unduly conspicuous and palpably running more for the sake of the adver tising matter they carry thati.for the legitimate con veyance of goods in the course' of trade.
Apart from this, there is the question of the actual safety or otherwise of any particular advertising vehicle. Fiir instance, if the body is so constructed that it obstructs the view of the driver., then acti4-in will probably be taken against its owner under the provisions of the Act dealing with it. Those of out readers who are particularly interested-in this subject—and these should include all users of commercial.motor vehicles—will find, in an article published elsewhere in this issue, interesting de.taiLs ,cif the regulating Acts, notes on the attitude the police, hints on how to avoid trouble with the authorities, and a Criticism oP various types of publicity v.ehicles from the point of view of publicity value and their. freedom, or otherwise, from police interference.