HIGH SPOTS OF TECHNI1 , DEVELOPMENT IN 1937
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THE past year has been a busy one for commercialmotor manufacturers. Whilst rearmament work has helped to fill many factories, general prosperity throughout the country has resulted in their running to full capacity. Many buyers, indeed, have selected certain vehicles solely because quick delivery of that make could be given, casting other considerations to the wind.
' Difficulties have been caused by the steel shortage and the year has been notable for an invasion of foreignbuilt machines, the makers of which have seen an attractive market in this country and have taken advantage of the position caused by a balance, as it were, of demand over supply.
Nevertheless, British manufacturers have not adopted the short-sighted policy of leaving alone that which appeared well enough for the needs of the moment. New models have been introduced and improvements have been announced with regularity throughout the year.
The culmination of the year's development work naturally came with the Show, and although Earls Cour; may not have housed so much that could be descriked as revolutionary, as, possibly, Olympia has accommodated at past Exhibitions, there were to be seen, in• that vast new hall, machines that constituted unmistakable manifestations of-genuine progress in respect of broad principles and in detail design.
To single out any one specific development as the outstanding milestone of the year is, frankly, impossible. Observers of the heavy traffic on our roads might name, as such, the increased number of twin-steering machines, both eight-wheeled and six-wheeled. These must obviously have replaced, to some extent, four-wheeled lorries with trailers, articulated outfits and rigid six-wheelers with rear bogies, but the popularity of this big group does not seem materially to have waned.
Several leading makers have included in their 1938 programmes models expressly designed for trailer haulage ; a number of powerful short-wheelbase chassis, built for use with semi-trailer and superimposed load, • has been introduced during the past 12 months (notably the Thornycroft Trusty tractive. unit announced in August) ; semi-trailer makers report brisk business, and rigid 9-10-ton and maximum-load six-wheelers with two axles at the rear; and, indeed, smaller machines of this type, have appeared as new models.
There certainly has been, however, marked progress in the twin-steering six-wheeler. Both the E.R.F. and Foden concerns have improved their earlier designs. In January, 1937, the Leyland company introduced its Beaver twin-steerer, and, for the Show, its Steer, and Gnu, the latter being the first passenger machine employing this principle, and being a departure from conventional practice in having the radiator beside, instead of in front of, the engine, to give greater body space.
Although this disposition of the axles involves certain weight-distribution problems, it represents a bid to enhance road safety and a dissatisfaction with the
imperfect. Viewed from the angle of sound engineering principles the new arrangement of the six wheels, con-. sidering only " rigids,': is better than the old.
Reverting, to the rigid eight, it must be recorded that.. the year has seen two additions in this field. An Albion was announced in-this paper on Jan-nary 1, 1937, and in October a Scammell made its appearance.
We mentioned, -earlier, that the rear-bogie-type rigid six wheeler Was dosing no ground In proof of this are the following newcomers ;--Introduced in January, the Atkinson 10-tonner ; in July, the A.E.C. Mammoth Minor of the same capacity; in October, the Albion 12-13-tonner, the Diamond-T 8-9-tanner, and the Tilling. Stevens Successor, passenger chassis.
Definitely in the revolutionary class, the last-named is indicative of the efforts being made to break away from hide-bound tradition. It exemplifies a trend towards "under-floor" engines, and possibly towards independent suspansion, although, apart from trailers and ambulances, there is little in the commercial-vehicle sphere to indicate a tendency in this direction. Even the Yeoman, the goods-carrying confrere of the Successor and generally similar in other respects, has orthodox rear suspension.
Before passing on from the subject of unconventional engine positions, /Mention must be made of a rear-engined horsebox, built to a special order by Universal Pow er Drives, Ltd., in which a Fordson V-8 unit was installed behind the rear axle. This was fully described in our issue dated June 4.
Almost in the same category is the International forwardcontrol model D300, in which the engine is under the driver's
(Left) Attention to seat and set with the many 1937 introduccushioned engine suspension c.haracterizes tions. This scheme is to one side. Although
plane of its cylinder axes sloping slightly
employed on the new the arrival of this Albion 12-13-tanner. machine was fore cast by The Cont not niaterialize in this mercial Motor last July, it did
country until the Show.
There are some Who will name 1937 " the battery •
electric year Certainly the ranks of the makers of this class of vehicle havesubstantially swollen during the 'past 12 months. On January 8, 1037, we announced the new Graisley 10-cwt. machine made by Messrs. Diamond Motors ; a fortnight later the Midland Electric, designed by Mr J. Parker Garner, appeared ; in October came the Sunbeam, the Scaninieff electric mechanical -horse, and two Tilling Stevens battery-electrics—one three -wheeled tractor and the other a four wheeler
In the mechanical-horse connection, a noteworthy event of the year was the introduction in October by Scammell Lorries, Ltd., of an oiler: This machine is powered by a Perkins engine, and its advent followed closely upon our announcement of a light six cylindered oil engine from the Perkins factory.
This unit Caused considerable stir then, and subsequently at Earls Court and the Royal Agricultural Hall, largely by reason of its power-to-weight ratio, which is markedly superior to a comparable petrol engine, and by its dimensions and actual weight, which are no greater. Of 4,73 litres capacity and weighing only 580 lb. it develops 85 b.h.p.
Although the compression-ignition unit has progressed during 1937, the petrol engine has also made headway, new Albion, Confiner and Thornycroft units having been announced.
While on this subject, it should be recorded that 1937 saw the return of the "four" to the Fordson range, a popular announcement having been made by the Ford company last September, that it was to be listed as an alternative to the V-8. In the same month the Fordson forward-control 3-tanner was introduced and a few weeks later the new 5-cwt. van.
Apropos of oil and petrol fuels, what has producer gas been doing? Abroad, it has frequently been in the news; in this country the H.S.G.
has steadily been establishing itself. Gas vehicles entered in the W.D. Welsh trials acquitted themselves well; a gas lorry, in the hands of an independent haulier, put up an exemplary performance ; and, .at the close of. the Year, a passenger machine commenced service for a Scottish. operator.
Perhaps, most significant of all, however, was our.. announcementin October that the Sentinel company had decided io produce chassis embodying the H.S.G. patents.
There still' remains the trolleybus position to be reviewed. It certainly made progress last year, and although 1937 saw the entry of no new makers into this field (the Daimler appeared towards the end of 1936), many technical improvements and deveIopMents in connection with trolleybns • operation were recorded in our pages.
Limitations of space forbid our even 'outlining the many and interesting other events in the manufacturing world that happened during the past year. We will therefore merely enumerate some of the introductions of new or improved models not already mentioned.
In February arrived a
• range of new Reos, com
prising 3, 4 and 5-ton
ners; in March, three new Garners of 30-cwt.,.
2-ton, and 3-ton. capacity; in April the Reo 15-cwt. van and the Cominer L/45 4-5-tanner; in May an improved Fordsoia: 2-tonner and 3-tonner and six-wheelers, and five Oldsrnobiles ranging from 1 ton to 5 tons in pay-load rating. Later in the same month came new Federal 3, 4 and 5-tonners; in June, two, new Latil Trauliers; in July, a big range of Internationals', two Austin vans and an 8-cwt. Commer, and in SepteMber, the improved James threewheeler, and the Opel 3-tonner.
October, the month preceding the Show, can claim the new Crossley 5-tonner; the Diamond-T 2-3-tanner: the Maudslay Marathon, Magna and Mogul; Hansa vehicles from a threewheeler to a ,maximum-load fourwheeler; the bodge 26-seater; the
Unipower tractor; the Thornycroft Beautyride; the Dennis
Ajax and Max models; the improved Cornmer Utility
vehicle; the AThion CX range of three 32-40-seaters and two 6-71-tanners, and the Jowett box-framed light van. ,
To sum up the position, operators to-day are better off than they were a year ago, in that they have at their disposal machines that are safer, lighter, of bigger capacity in relation to weight, and more economical and reliable than ever before.
We cannot close without also paying a tribute to the makers of major and minor components, who have contributed generously to the progress the past year has seen.