War and After-war Models.
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UNQUESTIONABLY, the war has taught. us a great deal about the design and construction of motor vehicles, as a result of which the afterwar types will assuredly represent big advances when compared with pre-war models. Particularly, -perhaps, our experience on an immense scale of the use of vehicles on execrable roads will benefit future users in the pmire overseas, and in many foreign countries. Much of what has been learnt has already been embodied in the machines that are now going out on active service, but there are certain reasons why even these should be distinctly inferior to what our mama factuaers will be able to produce when the war is over.
At the present moment there is an admitted shortage in many supplies of raw materials and components. This means that those munitions of war, the production of which is of the greatest possible urgency, get the pick of what is available. Rightly enough, manufacturers of aircraft engines obtain very favourable consideration of all their requirements. Meanwhile, other manufacturers, despite the acknowledged high importance of their products, may have to put up with something which they know is not equal to the best. If, for instance, as must somethnes happen, the supplies of some component, obtainable in this country, falls short of the del:amid, the only course appears to be for the Government to import what is believed to be the next best thing and to supply it to manufacturers in the requisite quantities. The manufacturer is then in,a rather peculiar position, inasmuch as he is bound to take what is given to him, even, though he sees in it evidences of faults or -comparative weaknesses which would cause him, under normal circumstances, to refuse to take delivery. For such reasons, it is not merely conceivable, but it is highly probable that, at the present moment, the British motor industry is embodying in its productions certain parts that fall short of the standard of quality which it would desire to set up for itself. If this is the case, then it follows automatically that, while what is now being turned out may be good, it does not represent its own manufacturers' ideas of the very best.
From the users' point of view, what this amounts to is that the Government vehicle, even if ultimately sold to the public without ever ha-ving see/I:service, would not represent the high-water mark of perfection and could never have the same value as the after-war model of the same manufacturer built of materials and components entirely of his own selection. This is 'one of the points which will have to be taken into account when the surplus supply of Government vehicles comes on to the market:
Prevention of Terminal Delays.
WE REFERRED in our last issue to the reception by the President of the Board of Trade of a deputation which asked for a thorough investigation of the proposals for the establishment of central goods clearing houses. This deputation was well received, and no attempt was made to ridicule the proposition with which it was concerned. We understand that Sir ,Albert Stanley pointed out that at the present moment there would be serious difficulties in the way of applying such a scheme to London on the necessary gigantic scale. The delay involved before it could be brought into operation would be so great thatait could not help to solve our immediate war-time difficulties. It was, however, dearly indicated that facilities would be freely given for the application of the scheme on a more modest scale at one of the many points at which traffic congestion is at present a very serious matter. . . "
We ourselves are interested in the thorough testing of the idea, primarily because of the great effect that it would have upon road traffic, reducing its bulk and changing its character by the general introduction of motors to replace much larger numbers of horsed vehicles. We feel very strongly that the test required is a completely practical one. A clearing house on the proposed lines should actually be established at . some point where a demand exists. Hit proves itself at that point, then the principles can be applied to London without the slightest hesitation.
Nearly every great d.evelopment springs from a modest beginning, and that is what must happen in this case. We quite realize that, if applied on a comparatively small scale, the system could not effect the economies which its advocates believe would be possible were it applied in London. It could, however, prove its absolutely practical value, and, even on a small scale, it ought to be able to show sufficient economy to justify the experiment. If the promoters wait for London to take the lead they may have to wait a very long time. They cannot expect everyone to share with them their complete confidence in success, and it is impossible to take even the slightest risk of making London wholly dependent on an establishment involving complicated machinery, the failure of which would hold up the whole traffic of the Metropolis, without first proving to every reasoning man that the method is perfectly right . We hope that a clearing house will be equipped at one of our ports, and we believe that the Government would now give every facility for the work to be put in hand without delay. This should be sufficient encouragement to those who feel that in this system we have the solution of the difficulties which at present make our transport system so expensive. Gas Equipment Manufacturers in Conference. As THE RESULT of interviews and correspond-. ence with the various parties concerned, a meeting of manufacturers of gas equipment was held in London yesterday in order to discuss the question of the relations of the makers of flexible gas containers with the owners of the Barton patent with a, view to eventual agreement and to a saving of time and outlay on a legal fight. This meeting has been called by ourselves, not because we think a. newspaper should be the prime mover in such matters, but because an unbiassed and impartial medium was required and because the association between the gas transport movement and LIE COMMERCIAL Moron is so close as to excuse and even to justify our action. We hope that it may be possible to indicate in an early issue the lines of an amicable settlement of the patents question and to announce the establishment of an association of gas equipment manufacturers prepared to act in unison in the protection and development of a new industry.
Oil. Wells in Great Britain ?
FOR SOME TIME past we have all been encouraged to expect great things from the deposits of oil believed to be situated within the British Isles. The very proper precautionary measures taken by the Government to ensure that such deposits should not merely be exploited by private individuals has no doubt led to the supposition that the existence of great wealth in the form of petroleums is taken for granted in official quarters. To those who are basing too many hopes on the development of British oil fields as a means of solving our difficulties, with regard to motor fuel, the views expressed by Mr. W. H. Dalton in 1a. paper read before the Institution of Petroleum Technologists will probably seem to be unduly pessimistic and perhaps flippant. In Mr. Dalton we are, however, dealing with a man who knows his subject and is not in the least likely to take up, -without good cause, an attitude which certainly cannot be regarded as an encouragement to employ oil experts on investigations in this country.
With the potentialities of distillation from oil shale, coal, peat and other allied solid bodies we are not at the moment dealing. From these sources much relief may come, but as regards any hopes we may have entertained of a duplication within these isles of the oil fields of Baku, of Pennsylvania, or of Mexico, we ..roust evidently adopt a very conservative and cautious attitude. It appears that some of the indications of oil that have at one time or another caused much excitement have merely been leakages from storage reservoirs. In other cases, all the facts go to show that we have simply tapped the trifling remnants of what once may have been considerable formations. The present existence of big oil deposits depends on two things—the possibility -of the oil having been formed in quantity at some period, and the possibility of the oil, after formation, having been stored under conditions which would make its continued existence feasible. .
'The trouble appears to be that, within the British Isles, with possibly one or two exceptions, there is no district to which both sets of conditions appear to apply. Where there are evidences of formation having taken place, there are circumstances which seem to indicate that storage on a big scale could not have occurred; where storage might have been reasonably possible, there is no evidence favouring the assurnp._ 022 tion that formation in large quantities ever happened. Doubtless a certain quantity of oil exists below this country, but the question is whether the quantities are sufficient to make the process of bringing the oil to the surface a reasonable commercial proposition. Unfortunately, all the facts collected and carefully considered by Mr. Dalton go to show that.this is not the case. We must not, therefore, be buoyed up with false hopes, but must set ourselves to develop our home supplies of benzole and shale oils, and to study the most efficient means of using alternative fuels, such as coal-gas' or relieving the general situation by developing in tlie Empire Overseas, if not at home, tho production and the use of alcohol.
The Effect of Surroundings on Output.
/ UR CONTRIBUTOR, "The Inspector," this week draws attention, in his customary dis cursive style, to the beneficial effect which has undoubtedly accrued owing to the general national tendency towards orderliness, discipline and more healthful and sane surroundings in factory, store and administration offices. The commercial-vehicle industry has, in the past, in certain cases, been carried on in establishments which Were thought, at the time, to be quite sufficiently attractive to secure the necessary manufacturing result. Most of these have secured, in war time, noteworthy additions to their plant and buildings, all of most modern conception. There is little doubt that the general tendency in future will be to improve the conditions of workers, and to provide them with accommodation and equipment in which they will be tempted to take more pride. In thatdirection undoubtedly lies great benefit to the industry as a whole, and, indeed, to any other industry which learns the same lesson.
Gas Traction Committee.
It is officially announced that Mr. Walter Long has made the following appointments to the Gas Traction Committee which the Government recently decided to establish :—Sir Boverton Redwood, Bart., Director of Technical Investigations, H.M. Petroleum Executive (Chairman); Major Aston McNeill Cooper-Key, 0.B., n.m. Chief Inspector of Explosives, Home Office; Sir Evan D. Jones, Bart., Petrol Controller, Board of Trade; Mr. II. H. Law, 0.I3., M.Inst.C.E., Chief Engineering Inspector, Local Government Board; Sir Arthur .Churchman, Director, Mineral Oil Production, Ministry of Munitions of War; Mr. Doig Gibb, Technical Adviser on Gasworks Products, Ministry of Munitions of War; Dr. Charles C. Carpenter, M.Inst.C.E., Ministry of Reconstruction; Mr. Edward S. Slarapnell-Smith, Chairman of Joint Committee of Mechanical Road Transport Associations, Economy Officer, H.M. Petroleum Executive; Mr. W. Worby Beaumont, M.Inst.C.E., M.Inst.Mech.E., Technical Adviser on Motor Vehicle Questions to Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, Hon. Consulting Engineer to Royal Automobile Club; Mr. James Gills, Chief Officer, London County Council Public Control Dept. ; Lt.-Col. R. K. Bagnall-Wild, RE., Member of Technical Committee of the Motor Industries, President of the Institution of Automobile Engineers; Mr. F. W. Goodenough, Chairman of Executive Committee of British Commercial Gas Association, Member of the National Gas Council ; Alderman William Kay, Chairman of Manchester Corporation Gas Committee, Member of National Gas Council ; Mr. George W. Watson, M.Inst.Mech.E., Inspecting Engineer to the Commercial Motor Users As.sociation (Incorporated). The terms of reference are :—.To consider and report upon t (1) The employment of gas in substitution for petrol and petroleum products as a source of power, especially in motor vehicles, and the manner in which such gas may be supplied, stared, carried, and used, with due regard to the safety of the public. (2) The action, if any, which ghould be taken by His Majesty's Government to encourage and safeguard the use of gas for this purpose. Mr. Shralmell-Smith has consented to act as Secretary for the time being, and until further notice all communications should be addressed to him at 8-, Northumberland Avenue, W. C. 2.