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Standardized Agrimotors.

8th March 1917, Page 1
8th March 1917
Page 1
Page 2
Page 1, 8th March 1917 — Standardized Agrimotors.
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

. We published a month ago (issue of the 8th ult.) a short leading article in which we commented upon the fact that "rapid production promised in the near future to find a place in this country in the agrimotor industry." Our announcement of last week, as a matter of important news of national interest, concerning the approval by. the War Council of the establishment of a huge factory at Cork, by Mr. Henry Ford, for the production of motor tractors, was the first public evidence of one of the programmes which we had in mind a month ago. At that date, another programme, although nothing public has been intimated concerning it until last week, was that of possible .combination between British motor manufacturers, to the end that there shall be rapid production on standardized lines in existing. British factories.

The problem of bringing under the plough and cultivator land which has not been broken for 10 or more years has become more pressing than ever before, although it ranks second in importance to the provision of labour and mechanical aids for land which has never lapsed from its arable classification, It is known that one million and a quarter acres of ploughing and cultivating are done annually in this country by the 400 steam-cultivation sets which are in existence. It is also estimated that each motor tractor will on the average plough about 350 acres per annum. It is, therefore, before the same ploughing and cultivating can be effected by means of motor tractor' necessary that upwards of 4000 of them should be put on the land, and maintained there in good working order. These ratios indicate big figures.

How can the British industry, in its present state of absorption on war production for th'e air services and mechanical-transport services of the Navy and Army, hope to place itself in any way. alongside the colossal scheme for Cork, which scheme now has received Government sanction? Huge output is foreshadowed, due to the embarkation of ,American capital, resources and materials in the Cork scheme, and the necessity for rapid production will apparently lead to the laying down of so much Want that the output capacity will be, possibly, expressed as motor tractors, 30,000 annually. For how long will this output capacity be confined to the production of motor tractors? That is an interesting problem for the industry as a whole. The scale is very large indeed, if it be realized—as is not unlikelyi having regard to Mr. Ford's " push-And-go " reputation. • Will British 'makers combine? That appears to us • to be the only solution,' if big output on standardized lines is to' be obtained. Ford is ready.. -We, are not, in Britain. His plant and resources will Jail into. line, even as a C.F. Ry. gang will outbuild any permanentway men from Britain. Is it not an idle pretence to suggest that any combination of British maritifac:. turers are in a position to avail themselves of the' invitatiownow extended to them by the Government? We say, it is. We hope, nevertheless, that no time will be lost in taking whatever action is possible.

Concrete Roads.

We drew attention recently (issue of the 8th ult.) to interesting developments in the United 'Kingdom as regards the laying down of concrete roads. Reinforced concrete, for road-construction purposes, promises to follow 'closely in the wake of the sue, cesses which have been achieved in the use of reinforced concrete in building construction. That sac; cess has recently been accentuated, we may remark; by the wonderful fashion in which ferro-concreto buildings withstood the 'effects Of the great munitions explosion in the East of London. That devastating Concussion, and its consequential hir waves, did not level the ferro-conorete buildings which came under the shock, the while brick and stone structures either totally collapsed or were forced away from their girders—or even from their sites. There is evidently sufficient • elasticity in ferro-concrete buildings to allow of their giving slightly under the extreme Conditions which were experienced. Rapidity of construction is claimed as one of the advantages in favour of the extension of roads in reinforced concrete, but it is evident, if we' may judge from the contents Of a recent paper,. entitled "Causes Of Cracks in Concrete Roads," presented by Mr. A. T: Goldbeck, Engineer of Teets to the Office of Publie Roads and Rural Engineering, in the United States Department of Agriculture, that certain preeantioni must be observed if good results are to be obtained: Mr. Geldbeck particularly refers to the avoidance of undue frictional resistance between the concrete' an the sub-base that is adopted_ He has found the smallest disturbance at the .points of contact, due to expansion and contraction under changes 'of temperature, to occur with loam, gravel, and broken stone,. the limit-ring for the gravel and stone being i-in. in internal diameter. 'We are not eoncerned: to examine the contents of his paper at length, seeing that they appeal more directly to road makers than road users." Furthermore,' the paper is reproduced jai extenso in our 'contemporary The Surveyor" of the 23rd 'ult.We may none the less cord the view Of this expert; that a, road in 'rein; forced concrete can be economically made and maintained, so as to resist the many forces to Which it is subjected, and which forces tend to crush, bend;

warp, crack, or shear it.

One point Of importance is directly emphasized throughout Mr. Goldbeck's paper,' and that is the inability of concrete. to Stand up well to bending And other tensile stresses without special. provision: Many faults are often' laid at the door of wood-paving and other surfacings in 'the Metropolis, and to a, lesser extent in provincial cities, whichafa,ults are in fact attributable' tcathe failure of the Sub-soil below, the concrete." If the sub:base-giveS way,leaving an area or 'slab of Oonerete incompletely Supported, even eight-inches or more of that material may crick: thus letting the surface down. It'is probably due to the effects of such imperfect conSolidation oUthe snla4 base, and not to the weight or frequeacY of traffic, that one occasionally notices ridiculous assertions, c19 as by Mr. Wake,lana, of Middlesex, to the effect that motorbus traffic will damage even 12 ins. of concrete under wood-paving, whereas it has been demonstrated beyond dispute that, on a well-made subbase of uniform levelling and homogeneous within impracticable limits, 6 ins, of concrete is ample to withstand very freqtent and high-speed motorbus traffics The outstanding proof of this is the ai-year record of Castelnau, Barnes, forming the highway be. tweet]. the south extremity of Hammersmith Bridge and Ranelagh, a distance of some 1000 yds.

If we are to Lave concrete roads in the future, in part because of the rapidity with which they can be laid, we cordially agree with Mr. Goldbeck when he. concludes his paper with the following warnings:— "It must be emphasized that a, great effort should • be exerted to protect the concretesduring its initial stages of hardening. Do nottemix it any wetter than necessary to obtain smooth yet economical construction. Protect it from sudden decrease in temperature, and keep it wet for at least two weeks, in order to prevent undue shrinkage while the concrete is green. Much attention should be given to sub-base, for, as has been pointed out the friction at the base causes tran-sireese cracks. This friction may be greatly reduced by proper care in the preparation of the *subbase, and in this way the cracks may be widely distributed, if not entirely eliminated. In addition, provide proper drainage to keep the sub-base as dry as possible, so that the effect of frost and the settlement due to moisture may be eliminated."

The Agent Invited to the Rescue of the Farmer.

Fusther confirmation of the fact that it is " 1917 : • the agent's year " has arisen since we wrote a week ago on the subject of the agrimotor push. The neces sity for expert supervision has not only been ad mitted, but prompt official action has been taken. A distinct improvement has been effected upon our sug gestion that motor-haulage and other members of the C.M.U.A. should be called upon for auxiliary help. The leading motor agents of the country are now en rolled, under the capable direction of Mr P. D. L. Perry, who is Director of the. Machineryand Implement Section of the Food Production Branch of the Board of Agriculture—address 72, Victoria Street, Westminster, S. W. The new, organization is already in being. It may be regarded as a "forty days and forty nights" ex periment. There is not more time than that for all the newcomers to this vital branch to make their • debuts, but we can testify from contact with them to the sincerity and thoroughness of their methods. It was our privilege, on Thursday .1st, to partici

pate in the proceedings at which the .county agents were present for instruction. Nearly two hours were occupied by Mr. Perry's-address. and anawers• to interrogatories. The scheme there and then became lin fast accompli. It is now being carried out. We deal

With it in detail on page 24._ •

There is one metering controller or agent. who is offidially styled the expert mechanical organiz,er, for each area which. has its own War Agricultural Committee. The county is, accordingly, the usual divis;on, but. there are a few exceptions. Wales and Monmouthshire, for example, are grouped together ; Lin

colnshire and Sussex have more than one division each:The names which we publish elsewhere will in most eases be recognized as those of members of the motor industry who have every claim to the appoint ment. All must agree that it is a solendid start, for the list has yet to be Completed. These county con trbllers are now responsible for the discovery of a sub-agent in each and every district into which an agrimotor is sent.

We are glad to know that sub-agents will be chosen —or aceeuted on their offering to co-operate--by the ._ (220

respective county organizer with strict regard to fitness.. Occupation as a motor trader is not necessarily a qualification. If the best man in any sub-area is a haulage contractor, a commercial-Motor user, a private-car owner, an agricultural-implement dealer, or a blacksmith, his services will be welcomed, and he Will get the job. His duty will be to act as " god4ather " to each agrirnotor that is sent into his neighbourhood. His remuneration will be : (1) 2s., per acre ploughed for general responsibility and supervision ; (2)' 4da or 5d. per mile for the legitimate use of any motorcar in the work ; (3) the-usual rates of payment for any repairs ; (4) the customary trade profit on the fuel, lighting and consumable stores generally. It will be one of his responsibilities to find and transport dtivegs for each of the three shifts-12 midnight to 8 a.m., 8.a.m. to 4 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 12 midnight. He is to be encouraged in the work by having reserved to him, against 'military or munitions demands, one mechanic per agrimotor. Not a few of our readers will, we anticipate, be agreeable to offer to drive either their own cars as conveyance's for others to. and from the points of working, or themselves to drive the agrimotor, one or more nights a week. There is no time to be lost. Let them at once make their offers, by telegram or letter, to the apprdpriate organizer—see list on page 21. If in doubt as to area, wire to Mr. A. 'Noel Mobbs, 216, Great Portland Street, W. As to the productivity of the scheme, from the standpoint of definite additions to this year's wheat crop, we must—contrary to our usual wont—be pegsimistic. Whatever is the increase of the yield at home of spring wheat it will be so much to the good, but nothing can render that yield more than a very small fraction of what must be imported from overseas. Every bushel none the less counts at a time like the present, and 2000 agrimotors, 'between now and the middle or end of April, may do enough ploughing between them to help bring 600,000 acres into 'bearing. If they in fact prove—as is not unlikely—to achieve a result but half so large, it might represent an average of 20 bushels per acre, or a total of 750,000 quarters—say, 168,000 tons of wheat. Let us hope for the best. There will lee many difficulties, both foreseen and unforeseen. The aesured, lessons for all are worth the sta,ke, be the ultimate extra yield for 1917 what it may. The farmers who are thus to be aided have it in their power to accelerate or hinder new production. We have no reason to forecast hostility from any of them, for hundreds have On order agrimotors of which they cannot yet obtain delivery. We appeal to our farming readers to pay due heed to the ignorance of the new drivers and labour to the niceties of tillage. Speeding the plough by motor draught cannot make good those deficiencies, any more than lighting the ploughs for night work can overcome them, in the absence of constant, keen and sympathetic help from the farmers themselves. Success—such as it may be—or failure is still in the hands of the men who have worked on the land for years. They can make or Mar that for the extension of which mechanical aid is sent —production. Delving and sowing are not correctly learnt in a few weeks by anybody. Who but a farmer, for instance, is to judge on this job the expediency qua yield of drawing a three-furrow plough behind an agrimotor, or of deciding to drop to two furrows and at the same time, to add a, ring presser behind the plough in order to " pack " the furrows to best advantage? That single illustration must suffice: it serves to make our meaning clear. The mechanical expert must not fall into the error of thinking that nothing matters except getting over the land. The farmer, also, is a big factor.

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