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3rd September 1937
Page 30
Page 31
Page 30, 3rd September 1937 — WANTED
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

Standardized Bus Bodies and Chassis

If Operators, Manufacturers and Bodybuilders Could Agree on General Standards for all Types of Chassis and Body, the Operator Would, a Contributor Emphasizes, be Offered

Lower • priced Rolling Stock, Easier, Cheaper Maintenance, Quicker Delivery from Makers

THE passenger-carrying industry has now reached a state of stability, although it be a somewhat reluctant and unnatural stability, and what was a headlong and almost chaotic development has been replaced by a steady progress. Logically, therefore, the time has come to investigate the possibilities of extend

that state of stability to the industry's rolling stock, or, in other words, to see to what degree greater efficiency might be attained by the standardization of design.

Standardization of rolling stock as between the different makes is an attractive subject to investigate, because it can be effected to any degree (between 1 per cent. and 100 per cent.) that appeals to the three parties concerned—the operator, the chassis manufacturer, and the bodybuilder.

Operators are the Kernel..

Any move in the direction of standardization—and unknown to the rank and file, there have been several--would have as its kernel the operators, because they would eventually be called in to approve any decisions reached by either or both the other parties.

It would be necessary to tackle chassis separately and first, and when main dimensions of these had been settled the standardization of bodies would be a natural sequel. Standards would have to be based on at least three types--the bonneted singledecker, the forward-control singledecker, and the. forward-control double-decker.

Let us examine the undoubted advantages that would accrue to all parties concerned if they would only agree to accept standardized products.

At the present time every manufacturer of, for example, single-deck bus chassis is offering a product B34

which, aithongh intended for precisely the same work, differs materially from its competitors, particularly in such important dimensions as (1) dash to. centre -line of rear axle; (2) extreme front to rear of rear dash-plate; (3) rear of dash to end of frame ; and (4) wheelbase. Consequently, operators are prohibited from changing a body from one chossis to another, but if these, and certain other dimensions, could be fixed (and it should not be difficult), what a boon it would be.

B.E.F. Enterprise.

Actually, at the moment, one big group of operators, the British Electrical Federation, has a standard body—on paper—but it invariably has to be altered in one respect or another before it is suitable for any given chassis.

Incidentally, it is noticeable when analysing chassis dimensions that concerns which make bodies as well as chassis appear to have given more attention to the question and made a better attempt to fall into line with operators' requirements, than has the manufacturer of only chassis ; designers of the latter havii been known to make quite elementary blunders. _ Prices Would Fall.

There is, too, the question of cost. Undoubtedly, both chassis and 'body prices would fall if only standard bodies and chassis were being produced. At present, if a company asks for a non-standard feature on a -chassis, or on a Manufacturer's standard body, it expects to pay more. If it had previously agreed with the manufacturer what he should produce, there would be no need to specify non-standard requirements.

The bodybuilder would be in a position to manufacture stock parts, and even complete bodies, in advance, selling at cheaper prices to the operator becanse: they would have been manufactured in bulk and in a smooth, instead of a fluctuating, production flow.

The operator, buying cheaper, would also stand a better chalice of getting his new vehicles delivered to time because of the building of body parts in advance.

An attractive outlook is offered to the engineer, in that he would be able to maintain his bodies on the scientific line of chassis maintenance. He would. be able. to obtain—in a hurry—shaped panels and framework components already machined, eliminating the need for expensive machinery at the overhaul depot.

Interchangeability the Outcome.

Very few operators would to-day dream of having gearwheels cut specially to deal with a gearbox overhaul—the gearwheels are turned out with great accuracy by mass'--production naethods at a tithe of the cost of individually made parts—yet that is -virtnally the stage that body -Maintenance is in at the moment A standardized body and chassis for every purpose would mean interchangeability, not only of.bodies, but os-: body parts. •

There is yet another advantage of standardization that is sometimes overlooked. Manufacturers are perfecting design through the past experience of operators of standard chassis ; body design, lacking this advantage, is suffering.

If a big operator uses 40 different types of body he finds different faults with each, but a fault on one body is• no help to him in analysing a fault on another body. Body design can only be satisfactorily built up by experience on standard bodies, and standardization would prevent the waste of designing effort which is so noticeable at the moment.

What is suggested, then, is a standard body that can be dropped on to any chassis of that class. To achieve this, certain major chassis dimensions would have to be standardized, and as many as possible of such minor features as the radius of the front wings, the maximum sweepup of the chassis frame at the front. the sweep-up over the rear axle, and the dimensions of the front and rear dash plates.

Objections Overruled.

Any progress at all in the direction of body standardization would, it is submitted, be an improvement. It should at least be possible to get as far as, a standardized hull structure and some essential fittings which can only be produced at economic rates in large quantities.

No doubt the general grounds of the objectors will be "standardization means stultification." Standardization means nothing of the sort; and the standards controlled by the British Standards Institution, the Institution of Automobile Engineers, and the Society of Motor Manufac

turers and Traders have had no such effect. All these existing standards are under constant revision, and machinery exists to alter them when it is desired to effect a technical improvement.

If an electric-lamp manufacturer devised a new type of filament, new efficiency figures and dimensions would be incorporated in a new or revised standard after the question had been considered by a committee.

There is a parallel in the appeal to the Ministry of Transport for a modification in the regulations governing vehicle weights and dimensions ; not so long ago a concession in the weight limits of double-deckers was announced.

These Ministry regulations may, in fact, be regarded in part as a step towards standardization, and it is believed that a similar general framework erected by the whole industry would. not hamper the designer, but rather help him by limiting hi. range of choice. Within those limits he would have complete freedom to develop those parts which it is the particular function of the manufacturer to develop.

Suppose now that operator, chassis

manufacturer, and bodybuilder succeeded in agreeing on a measure of standardization, and .a manufacturer produced a chassis with a novel and advantageous engine position. First he would patent it, and it would be a special product outside the scope of the standard, a perfectly acceptable proposition. When the patents eventually expired, and if all interested parties considered the chassis a generally acceptable .types new standards would be provided to cover it.

Dictatorial Methods Unacceptable. It cannot be over-emphasized that, in the first place, there would have to be no attempt at dictatorial Star Chamber methods in fixing standards. As some operators prefer frontentrance machines, whilst others insist on the rear-entrance variety, there would be a standard for each type.

Itis believed that if all parties would co-operate with the object of fixing standards where they are really necessary, and refusing to fix any that would be a hindrance, it would be to the greatest ultimate benefit of the whole industry.

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