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Defects in the Constitution of
. The Road Transport Board.
THE ANNOUNCEMENT of the President of the Board of Trade dealing with the appointmel4 of a Road Transport Board appears on another page of this issue, and now the hope is strong within us that no opportunity shall be thrown away for Making the new institution effective and really valuable in dealing with the transport crisis that confronts us. The aim that the Board must have clearly in mind is to put every available vehicle on the road and to utilize its services to the utmost extent.
• The Board must develop transport and not aim at restricting it.
Let it take the lesson from the waste—always wrong, but almost criminal in these days of shortage of foodstuffs—of the large consignment of fish from Scotland to Birmingham which, only last week, owing to transport delays, arrived in an unsound condition. and was condemned. The loss of the food and the waste of the labour that had been utilized to get it from the nets to its destination are subjects that had better not be enlarged upon in the present state of the public temper over whit the public regard as food supply mismanagement.
The constitution of the Road Transport Board is by no means the best that could have been devised. We have, all along, advocated that it should be under the direction of the Board of Trade, and this course has been followed, but we eon rider that the Board would be materially strengthened if men with experience Of motor transport and motor traffic problems were included.
As at present constituted, the Board is. far too departmental. The Post Office is not greatly concerned, as it owns not a single motor vehicle, and all its work is done by contract. We notice that the War Office is represented on the Board. But does this really presage a departure from military aloofness in regard to co-ordination of transport? For it is notorious that all branches of the Army seek to keep their own transport to themselves wherever possible. We, therefore, fear that no help will come from the War Office in meeting requirements for the transport of food and munitions and essential civilian purposes, unless the "concurrence of the War Cabinet" extends, in solid fact, to the point of definite directions being given to the Secretary of State for War that some M.T. wagons are to be used, in part, for civilian transport.
We are puzzled, teo, at the fact that the new Air Force is not to be represented on the Board, seeing that it now comprises the R.F.C. and the R.N.A.S., whose combined transport is already very considerable and is rapidly increasing.
With regard to the Divisional Road Transport Boards, of which there will be one on each of the fifteen divisional areas of the Food Commissioners (as we anticipated in our last issue), a strong effort must be made in each area to secure the right men to represent "local interests." These should be men who understand motor transport and appreciate its possibilities, and not mere -local bigwigs. Without a doubt, the Commercial Motor Users Associations should move in this matter without an instant's .. delay: •
Taxicabs and Hire Cars Under the "Order."
ON ANOTHER PAGE of this issue, a correspondent is permitted to give vent, somewhat., • to his feelings in the matter of the anomalies of the Motor Spirit Consolidation and Gas Restriction Order (to some of which attention had already been drawn by us as soon as the Order was issued) so far as the hire vehicle is concerned. He complains that the Order was actually in. force before information could be circulated, which is true, because it took effect' as from the morning of 10th January last, and the first intimation that the taxicab owner and hackney carnage proprietor received that such an Order had been issued was in THE COMMEHMAE Moron published on. the same morning. We were aware that it was in preparation a week before: it was dated 3rd January, but we were unable to obtain a cop—and that not by the -ordinary public channels—until late on the. 7th January. It is true that the main provisions with regard to the need for gas permits do not become onerous until the 9th February, but the• amendments of the Motor Spirit Orders came into force at once, and these include the restriction of the sphere"of action of the taxicab to a distance three miles beyond the boundary of the area in which it is licensed and. they seriously limit the scope of the hire car. The principle affecting distance under which a, cab is licensed to ply for hire is that the driVer is compelled, when required, to convey his fare to the limit of the area in which he is licensed to ply for hire. He was free to go beyond that area any distance if he and his fare agreed upon the charge for the hire. But the new Gas Restriction Order now stipulates that the vehicle may not be taken more than three miles beyond that area, which, whilst it will undoubtedly check a few abuses (the trip to Brighton being probably the only notable abuse), will create considerable hardship and inconvenience all over the country, whilst anomalies could be indicated by the hundred. It seems to us that this matter calls for re-consideration, , and we strongly -urge that course upon the authorities. As to the problems concerning what is or is not a " game or sport " and whether a sports meeting ceases to be"anathe,ma because it is run for charity, we think that common sense would rapidly answer any reasonable question. A passenger can certainly be taken to aclub or_ hotel (to deal with one of our correspondent's questions) in a taxi and there would be no onus on the driver to ask him why he was going there even if he were carrying a cue and a case of billiard balls and was thus advertising the probable purpose of the journey. Perhaps, the amount of petrol used in that way is too small for consideration, or there is nothing about the circumstance to cause the .hands and eyebrows of. the Pecksniffs to be elevated skywards. The use of petrol for journeys to sports meetings and race meetings, on the other hand, was too flaunting, and its, prohibition seemed not unreasonable when all the circtimstances concerning the need for conserving supplies are known.
Live and Dead Loads. .
WHATEVER ELSE MAY result from the suggestion that all idle touring cars should. be commandeered and converted for use as transport vehicles, it-is quite certain that a consideee able impetus will be given to. the-business of converting touring cars into vans with. al rated capacity of anything between 5 cwt. and. 2 tons. The cominlercial use of touring ,Car chassis is one which We have eonsistentlY deprecated. It is open to all kinds of objections and, in normal tim.es., 'has frequently been the cause Of needless reversion-to horse traction. The trouble is, in the main, that those who carry out the conversions do not realize the changed conditions under which the chassis will have to work. That we have mentioned two tens as a possible loading and that we are aware of many conversions for loads of that amount go to indicate the extent of the incapacity of some converters.
There is just one point, however, where even the experienced engineer, not, perhaps, particularly acquainted with motorcar construction, has been known to go astray. In ordinary engineering calculations, what are termed factors of Safety are applied when determining the scantlings of machinery. These factors naturally vary according to the circumstances, and the most important ,consideration is, of course, the nature of the load. Two principal classes of load are recognized, the live load and the dead. The former is one which. may be applied and removed at frequent intervals, either regular or irregular. Such a load would be the trains which traversed a bridge, people who entered a room, the impulsive load on an engine piston, etc. A dead load is one which is. constant, and which remains during the' life of the structure, such as the flooring and rails of a bridge, the. floor of a room, the weight of an engine on the framework which sustains it. A load may be. considered " dead " if it remains constant for prolonged periods, such as the furniture of a room, etc. It will -be clear, from a perusal of the foregoing; and bearing in mind the operation of road springs, that a de.)tor-vehicle chassis is never subjected to a dead load. The assumption that a commercial load, as compared with the passenger load of a, touring car, can be treated as a. dead load, has, however, Irequeetly been made, as is within our knowledge, and, acting upon. that assumption, a chassis designed to carry a normal load of, say, a 10 cwt. body and five people--total-17 cwt., or a ton at the outside, has been condemned to a load of 2 tons in commercial service.
The truth is that a chassis should only really be called upon to carry a cOmmercial load much less than its rated capacity as a, touring car, for the following -reason :'—The natural tendency of the passenger is to accommodate himself to the movement of the vehicle. He thus automatically relieves the chassis of some of the stress which it would otherwise have to bear as the result of road shock. -Irethis respect, further relief isafforded by the inter-positioning, between passenger and chassis, of resilient cushions. With the dead load of merchandise, neither the instinctive yielding to shock nor the intermediary effect of cushions eiists. Few there are but have noticed, on a badly-sprung or overloaded :commercial vehicle, the terrific thud with which the loaded chassis meets the spring-rebound checks when it has been jolted up under the stress of meeting the edge of a large pot-hole. Clearly, therefore, revision of the engineer's notions of the effect of live and dead loads is needed before he applies himself to the problem of converting a touring car to a van.
That so many converted cars have "stood up" so well as they undoubtedly have is' no refutation of our argument that conversions are generally inadvisable and carried out in haphazard and uncertain fashion, but is rather a tribute to the undoubted strength of many of our pre-war touring-car chassis. Whether or not it likewise indicates a waste of material in those same chassis is subject for another story.