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Motorvan Traffic and Tramrails.

6th June 1912, Page 1
6th June 1912
Page 1
Page 2
Page 1, 6th June 1912 — Motorvan Traffic and Tramrails.
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

The Hon. Arthur Stanley, M.P., Chairman of the RAG., in the course of his speech at the opening proceedings at The Motor Museum, a short report of which function will be found elsewhere in this issue, made incidental reference to the wonderful progress that has been recorded in all branches of motoring during the past ten years. On the previous Monday, while speaking at the C.M.U.A. Parade luncheon, Mr. Stanley, as reported by us a week ago, referred to the vexed question of damage to tramway tracks by other ordinary wheeled traffic. He quoted a case in Lancashire, which arose in the year 1902, when the earliest road-carrying companies were conveying goods and materials in various parts of Lancashire by motor lorries, and particularly along the highway between Liverpool and St. Helens.

People who are to-day inclined to attach much importance to allegations in regard to damage to tramway tracks by motorvans, too often forget that the damage is more frequently to be ascribed to faulty track construction, or to the use of soft and inferior stone setts, than to any exceptional or extraordinary user on the part of the owners of heavy motors. The grievance is more on the side of the owners of motor vehicles than of the tramcar promoters. Hundreds, if not thousands, of instances of culpable neglect to maintain the tracks in accordance with statutory obligations can undoubtedly be adduced, and the wonder is that owners of vehicles at large, both self-propelled and horse-drawn, appear to regard to daily breakages and wrenchings of wheels and tires with apparent resignation. So bad is the condition of certain rails and tracks in and around the Metropolis, that owners of rubber-tired vehicles, to say nothing of the makers of the tires who give guarantees in respect of them, are finding the matter to be one of close interest to them. It is perhaps, the solitary uncertainty which remains to be removed, and it can only be removed by concerted action to enforce proper maintenance by those who profess to undertake it.

Settled Running Costs.

Motorbus and motor-van running costs are rapidly becoming settled. We do not infer the absence of variation between sister vehicles, but we do find the limits of variation, taken over a year, to be small. Not many years ago, tire bills fluctuated enormously, mechanical repairs were often unassessable, and the effects of mediocre driving had a very serious place in the annual reckoning. Again, lost journeys contributed their adverse consequences in the balancesheet of performance (earnings) set against outgo.

The last three years have brought about improvements under all heads. There are fewer uncertainties for the owner ; often, none beyond the insurable risks. Breakdowns are the exception ; running to schedule time is the rule. Thus does each succeeding yeer render possible the achievement of higher and higher divisors, with the happy result that costs per vehiclemile make closer and closer approach to ultimate standards. We do not essay to put limits upon these evident downward tendencies, but we cannot see that scope exists for reductions to take place at anything like the rates that have been seen during the years 1909-1911. A case in point is the London motorbus.

ot less than 5d. a vehicle-mile is the reduction in cost. per mile since the black ending of 1908. There is obviously, with that cost at or below 7d., no possibility for another 5d. to disappear. We should say that the new administration will be able, before long, to get rid of a further id., and to hold the proud record of running double-deck motorbuses throughout Greater London at a total cost, with administration included, of 61 per bus-mile. The new situations that are created by the above settlements of costs, the parallels of which are known to have occurred in motorvan circles, are amongst the most interesting of contemporary home happenings. They provide guarantees for early developments in agriculture and commerce, and for the due use of this country's exceptional network of trunk and subsidiary roads. Capital for engagement in new road-transport undertakings should be the more easily attracted

Open-plate Springs for Motorvans.

The use of spiral springs, in conjunction with leaf springs, as a means of reducing shock and vibration in private cars, has not yet extended far into the commercial-motor branch of the industry. We are aware, however, that the claims of such fittings are under consideration, and we think that the present time is opportune for something more to be writtenanent the claims of the open-plate spring. All owners of heavy motor vehicles, and the driverspossibly more so than the owners, are aware that the ordinary plate spring, provided it be suitably proportioned to furnish the requisite degree of easy suspension for the vehicle when loaded, is too stiff when the vehicle is light. The necessary variationbetween maximum and minimum imposed load, we may incidentally remark, is the rock upon which most spring-wheel inventors split. The object of the open plate spring is to secure uniform flexibility in spite of load variation. In a typical 12-plate spring, a gap is left between the third and fourth plates, and again between theseventh and eighth plates. The plates are tempered according to the actual stresses, and are tested fully to specification and load. In service, the resulting benefits are found to be very considerable. Each section of the spring conies into bearing as required, the open spaces closing up as the load increases, or in relation to road impacts. From experience, we can state that a vehicle so fitted, when travelling without a load, runs as easily as if it were fully loaded, and that the springs of this type automatically adapt themselves to the demands which are placed upon them. An important factor, from the commercial standpoint, is the absence of extra cost. It might reasonably be supposed that there would be some trouble in practice from lodgment of mud and grit between the separated plates, but we must confess that we have been unable to find any proof of

existence of such trouble, whilst the manufacturers of the springs of this pattern, which in our opinion deserve to be more widely specified than they are at the moment, assure us that they have neither experienced trouble of the kind themselves nor have heard of any definite reports from purchasers who have fitted them. We may recall that our own severe test of the behaviour of these open-plate springs was in connection with a. recent trial over bad Lancashire roads with a Pagefield two-tonner.

Motor Wagons Break the London Dock Strike.

At the time of going to press, what, at one time, looked like becoming another impudent attempt to withhold London's bread and cheese, in order to further trades-union interests, has practically come to naught. The great London dock strike of May, 1912, has proved but a poor affair, as events have turned out. Threats of national and international consequential action by the federated transport workers' interests were little more than bluff from the beginning. As we wrote last week, however, there was, a few days ago, imminent danger of the situation, so far as London's food at least was concerned, rapidly becoming critical. Those classes of dockside workers, who are classified as transport employees, came out on strike and attempted to force a deadlock on the real transport workers—the carters and carriers.

Had it not been for the commercial-motor vehicle, so entangled are the interests of the stevedore and the runner, the van-driver and the lighterman, no consignments could have left the East-London docks during the past fortnight. The history of the nullifying of the blockage of May, 1912, is yet another convincing contribution to the score of the industrial vehicle.

The horse as a strike-breaker in these sporadic transport disputes has proved to be a complete failure. Last year, we recorded numbers of instances in which the mob was, with little difficulty, able to turn aside terrified van-horses, and if need be to cut their traces. Similar onslaughts upon mechanical vehicles were in

effective, excepting in cases where the injunction to 'eave 'alf a brick at the driver" was put into execution. During the present dispute, the authorities, no doubt weary of these constant bickerings, with unexampled promptitude, guaranteed hauliers, carters and others, upon application being made, immunity from interference.

Food and fuel, in effect, said the Home Secretary, shall continue to be brought from the docks by authorized agents. Large bodies of police were soon drafted to Poplar and its vicinity, and the earliest attempts to defy the strikers to do their worst oonsisted of the escorting by sufficient police of horsed vehicles out of the dock-gates. It was soon realized that this method would, to be effective, entail innumerable conflicts between the police guards and the mob. Resort was, therefore, soon had to mechanicallypropelled vehicles.

We tell elsewhere of the successful results of this prompt programme. In the few instances in which strikers tried conclusions with the steam wagons or the petrol lorries, the striking, we learn, was not monopolized by the out-of-work labourers. Policeescorted, to ensure freedom from assault for the plucky drivers, long transport columns of steam and petrol wagons have for days past uninterruptedly left the docks with meat and other necessaries. The efficacy of the much-boasted blockade was shown not to exist. Not only did fleets of machines prove their capacity for uninterrupted service, but individual lorries were soon despatched by owners of proprietary articles to release required stores. We reproduce on pages 283-5 a number of photographs which illustrate thie point. The pictures were secured at some risk by our own staff photographers. .The strike, for all practical purposes, was broken directly the first convoy of motor wagons left for Smithfield. The union's position was thenceforth ineffective and lacking in direction and support. The motor wagon broke the London dock strike of May, 1912. Thus, once again, has the self-contained selfpropelled vehicle proved its value for independent action.


Organisations: RAG
People: Stanley
Locations: Liverpool, St. Helens, London

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