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HAULIER and CARRIER An Estimate of the Saving Effected in the Operating Cost of a Vehicle, when the Owner Himself Cares for It
WAS trying in the previous article to deal with the problem that is so often raised with regard to the difference which is made in operating costs and in the fair charges. that may be made for the use • of the vehicle concerned. Many readers are under the impression that an Owner-driver who himself cares for his vehicle can make considerable reductions in his charges and still make adequate profits. I have never looked very favourably upon this idea, but beyond dealing with one aspect of it namely, the
• necessity of debiting the vehicle with the driver's wages, I have not gone thoroughly into the problem. I have progressed so far as to consider the following operations, the frequency with which they are necessary and their cost, assuming them to be carried Out for the owner and that he does not do them himself. In assessing these figures of costs I have taken a mean between what would have to be paidto the average garage proprietor, if he did the work, and what they would cost an owner who had several
vehicles and a small staff of mechanics to do the work for him : Greasing; adjustment of brakes; emptying and replenishment of the engine oil, as well as of the gearbox and crankcase lubricants ; decarbonizing; a minor overhaul, which, to all intents • and purposes, is an engine inspection, and a general overhaul. There are still one or two more items to he considered.
There is one which the self-respecting haulier will desire to have done fairly frequently, and that is the washing and polishing of his vehicle. The cost of this will, to some extent, turn upon the type of bodY with which the vehicle is equipped (I should perhaps repeat, that I am considering a 30-cwt. vehicle in the figures for cost, which I am taking as examples). A van body will of course, .cost more to wash than will a plain lorry or tipping wagon, but I :think if I take it that the cost is 3s. and that it has to be done every 200 miles I shall be striking a fair average.
Brake Refacing Inexpensive.
Then the brakes have, at fairly long intervals, to be refaced. The period which. may be allowed to elapse between one refacing and the next depends upon a good many factors, such as the quality of the brake facings that are used,-on the way in which the vehicle is driven, on the district in which the vehicle is used, whether it be hilly or fairly flat, and whether there be heavy traffic or very little. Within limits. I might take any reasonable figure for this job and be unafraid of anyone challenging it. I have, however, decided to be moderate and have assumed that the cost of refacing the brake is only 25s. and that there is no need for it to be carried out more often than once every 20,000 miles.
There is still that terrible item sundries." This lets to cover the supply of any small parts necessary to keep the vehicle running, as well as accessories of all kinds, and for general maintenance. It would cover such purchases as those of a new sparking plug, new bulbs for the electric lamps or even a complete rear lamp, the provision of a tin of metal polish and a duster and wash leather, so that the driver can, in between its regular washing and polishing, give his vehicle occasional attention. " Sundries" also include a new screenwiper blade, rubber tubing for that component—why everyone does not immediately use copper piping for vacuum-type screenwipers. I have never been able to understand; the price is hardly any more than that of rubber tubing and, once fitted., ii is everlasting—a grease nipple or two, lamp glasses, speedometer cable, bonnet clips, cylinder-head gaskets, the repair of a damaged wing and many other items. The length of the list is an indication of the importance of the main item, which is so often entirely overlooked.
It should be borne in mind that I am not considering only new vehicles, but rather those which have done a year's work or possibly more. Moreover, whilst it is not likely that all the foregoing items will be Wanted, there is always the chance that most of them will, in the course of a year's running, be needed. The question is, how much shall I set down for this item of maintenance? Experience has shown that it may, in a year's hard running, easily amount to as much as £10. I am going to assume that the actual cost averages 18 per 16,000 miles.
What Various Items Cost.
Now we have to see what the total is. and how the different items work out, when calculated on the basis of cost per mile. The following table shows not only the cost per mile, but how the individual items compare one with another
This is, to all intents and purposes, id. per mile; it will at least be sufficiently accurate if we assume that id. per mile be correct. Now, on comparing this figure with the item maintenance in The Commercial Motor Tables of Operating Costs, it will be found that that figure in the Tables is only 0.80d.—.4d. less than our total. The reason for that difference is easily explained. The Tables, as I have so often pointed out, are based on average costs.
It is clear, therefore, that if the owner-driver be able to save all the maintenance cost, his economy will amount to only 0.8d. per mile, so that on a quotation for a 50-mile run he could, in those circumstances, reduce his price by only 3s. 4d., or, on a week's running of, say, 350 miles, by El 3s. 4d.
A moment's consideration, however, will show that he cannot possibly save the whole cost of maintenance and in proof of that I need refer only to the item "sundries," of which not id. can be saved unless the vehicle be starved of necessary fittings and supplies. The owner can save on greasing, brake adjustment, replenishment of the crankcase, as well as on decarbonizing.
On the minor overhaul he will be put to a certain amount of expense, because there will be various supplies which he will, no doubt, have to purchase to make that overhaul complete. It may well be that he will save two-thirds of the cost, reducing that item from 0.24d. to 0.08d. per mile. He will, in proportion, save less on a general overhaul, but even there be may cut the cost in half, reducing it to 0.14d. per mile.
He will, himself, undoubtedly do the washing and polishing of his vehicle, and, so far as brake facing is concerned, will most likely be able to reduce the cost to 0.01d. per mile. The total of these is 0.35d., so that the saving effected cannot be more than 0.45d. per mile. That, on a 50-mile journey, is is.
and, on a 350-mile week, 13s. lid.
Really, of course, this saving will not be an actual economy, for it would certainly pay a haulier to have his overhauls properly executed by a reliable firm, the while he devotes himself to calling on his customers and soliciting further business. On the whole, therefore, I think we may fairly assume that the idea that considerable cuts in haulage rates are possible in the case of the owner-driver who looks after his' vehicle himself is erroneous. S.T.R.