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CAPACITY or Tonnage?

8th July 1955, Page 54
8th July 1955
Page 54
Page 55
Page 54, 8th July 1955 — CAPACITY or Tonnage?
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

The Present Method of Licensing Furniture .Vans is Well Tried and .Should Not be Replaced by One Based on Interior Space

By Arthur R. Wilson, M.I.R.T.E.

AN important precedent for furniture removers has been created by the Transport Tribunal in deciding to allow Bell and Co. (Transport), Ltd., Edinburgh, an A licence for an additional vehicle not exceeding 850 cu. ft. in capacity (The Commercial Motor, May 27). There was no mention of the weight of the vehicle. Hitherto, removers' licences have been granted on the same basis as those of general hauliers and read "not exceeding X tons." There has been no mention of cubic capacity, which is restricted by the physical limits of the selected type of chassis and the unladen weight authorized.

The Tribunal's decision may seem logical, the more so as claims are being made that 2,000-cu.-ft. bodies can be built on four-wheeled chassis. This point, however. is debatable. The precedent could be construed as the start of a movement to segregate removers from general hauliers within the licensing framework, coupled with the intention of preventing ordinary lorries being used for removals without proper authorization. If this is so, the removal trade will have to watch the outcome carefully.

Removal vans seldom exceed 1,500 Cu. ft. and the average size is 1,200 cu. ft. There are numerous reasons for this self-imposed limitation. A capacity of 1,200 cu. ft. is a useful economic unit for long-distance removals. Much of the life of a removal van is spent on secondary roads with low bridges. Bigger vehicles could not be driven through narrow approaches to many houses, and it is not easy to drive a large outfit in cities where goods entrances to shops and warehouses are awkwardly situated.

It is difficult to state a rule, as the contents of houses vary within wide limits, but a 1,200-cu.-ft. van will DR

accommodate the furnishing and chattels of the average four-apartment house. The 850-cu.-ft. van is not of a useful size and any house with more than three rooms is usually quite outside its scope. To use two vans where one would suffice—especially on short-distance removals when most of the time is spent loading and unloading—would be uneconomical.

Probably an 850-cu.-ft. van is called for in one removal in every five. On the other hand, this type of vehicle can be put to many uses and it could be that the Tribunal reached their decision with that point in mind. In arriving at the arbitrary figure of 850 Cu. ft., the Tribunal, it might be inferred, intended that the grant was for local and not long-distance work. This would be the case so far as most removers are concerned.

Nevertheless, a van of 850 Cu. ft. can be adapted quite successfully to carry a useful payload of general goods for long-distance work. A body 17 ft long, 7 ft. wide and 7 ft. high Could be built on a suitable chassis and carry 7-8 tons with ease. . No furniture remover would employ such a vehicle, bat it could be used for removals as a sideline to long-distance haulage.

([it is the intention to license removers on the basis of cubic capacity instead of unladen weight. a formula of cubic feet per ton of unladen weight would seem to be necessary. By present standards, the unladen weight of an 850-cu.-ft. removal vehicle is about 2i tons,

1,200-cu.-ft. equals 3 tons and 1,500-cu.-ft., 4 tons.

There is, of course, a weight variation between different makes of chassis, and a certain amount of elasticity should be allow • ivr.,,,:`"" able in any set figure. A point to bear in mind is that should the 20 m.p.h. speed limit be abolished, a little more " beef " may be built into medium-weight chassis. A basis of 350 Cu. ft. plus or minus 5 per cent. per ton of unladen weight would appear to cover most of the vehicle range under present conditions. It should be emphasized that the ratio of 350 Cu. ft. per ton does not refer to the weight of a load of furniture.

There is an exception to every rule, and in this instance it is the lift van. As its name implies, it can be lifted by crane, loaded or empty, onto or from a platform lorry, and it is mainly used for shipping purposes. Of 600-cu.-ft. capacity, it can be cirried on any lorry with a platform at least 14 ft. long. A laden lift van can weigh up to 31 tons, and the smallest lorry capable of careying it would weigh about 24 tons unladen. Obviously the formula would not apply.

Who will assess the cubic capacity of a van? The registration book proves to the Licensing Authority that the unladen weight does not exceed that specified in the carrier's licence. Will the bodybuilder be able to certify the capacity, and will he be liable to censure if his measurements and computations are not quite accurate? Whatever the answers, there would seem to be a danger of an extension of bureaucracy.

With any rule, however carefully framed, there is always a rigidity which does not cover all practical needs. I think that a basis of cubic capacity is not suitable for licensing removal vehicles. I do not think that matters cannot be improved, but the basis of unladen weight has stood the test for more than 20 years without dissatisfaction. Bona fide removers are glad to use the lightest type of vehicle compatible with safety and • efficiency and have no interest in great weight capacity. If it is the intention of Licensing Authorities to license removers separately, this could be done by overprinting the existing A and B licences with the letter "R." Authorities already have all the required information.

Another precedent was created a few months ago when a company of furniture makers was granted a B licence to carry customers' own furniture up to a volume of 250 cu. ft. within a 25-mile radius. No doubt there were special circumstances in this case, but certain assumptions can be made. Presumably the makers were selling and delivering new furniture direct to the householder. At the same time they were removing the remainder of the householders' goods and chattels to another house for hire and reward.

The manufacturers made their profit from the making and sale of furniture. The removal, which could be free or merely at a nominal price, could have been a service offered as an inducement to sales of new furniture. If this were the case, the sale of a single piece of furniture might be the green light to engage in competition with established removers, who would be placed at a disadvantage in price quotation.

• Furniture wholesalers and retailers will not view with equanimity the manufacturer selling direct to the customer with strings attached. When trade is poor such traders may embark upon similar schemes to maintain business. Here again the question of assessment of cubic capacity arises. Whilst the log sheet should show if the mileage limit Oad been observed. there could be no check on loads that amounted to 250 cu. ft.


Locations: Edinburgh

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