Chariots of War I Have Driven.
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No. 4.—THE PEERLESS.
Driving a Peerless Lorry on the Western Front.
By One of Our "Despatches" Contributors.
I felt like the man who picks up a genuine bargain in the secondhand motor-vehicle market when took over "Ten-to-Eleven," a Peer less lorry that I could see at a glance could not have had so much service, either commercial or mill, tary, as most of the war chariots I had so far driven. Having, almost from my first days in France, served with a small M.T. detachment to which a, new lorry, or anything approaching that category, in an extreme rarity, the receipt of this Peerless seemed an unexpected stroke of good fortune, as, indeed, it proved before she became a
casualty many months later. .
Quite a number of . Yankee " trucks," practically unknown in Europe before the war, has made good on war service. After experi-! once of a few different makes and comparisons in conversation with drivers and artificers, I have formed the opinion that the best British-built lorries are., • on the whole, better for all purposes than the best Yankees, yet these best Yankees have qualities which have made them very popular in the Western war area, and many are the drivers who swear by them-this in spite of the fact that nearly all embrace features which had been, or were in process of being„ discarded by British lorry-makers., refer to wood wheels, chain fint4 drive, honeycomb radiators Or radiators with soldered seams and casings, and other minor details.
One of U.S.A.'s Best Lorries.
The Peerless is one of the finest examples of TJ.S.A.'s best trucks, and is held in high esteem by many M.T. men sometimes by whole companies of them where the Peerless lorries ,predominate. Often when a lorry is ditched or bogged, and ineffectual efforts have been made to extricate her, one hears the remark, "Wish we had a good old Peerless here, we'd soon have this — — out," which remark partly reveals the reason for the success and popularity of American lorries on war service, i.e., their ample engine power' combined with low gearing. These two factors make the Peerless a first-rate hillclimber and a top-gear lorry. One can slow down, with or without a load, when negotiating traffic or corners, and the engine will pick up and get away on top gear in a most pleasing way. This makes the lorry easy to drive by reducing the occasions on which it is necessary to change.gear to a minimum. Wear and tear on clutch and transmission are also avoided. The big, powerful engine will always be the popular one with lorry drivers, and although its fuel efficiency may not be high, there is economy in other directions, including, perhaps, in wear and 'tear of the engine itself.
Getting in Trim.
For several days my mate and I put in all the very limited time we 'were off the road making minor adjustments, tighlening or replacing missing bolts, nuts and washers, and generally rectifying the effects of early neglect, besides making ourselves quite familiar with every part of our Peerless. Steering joints whose lubrication had for a long time previously been inadequate were carefully overhauled, with a noticeable improvement in the feeI of the steering, which had at first been rather heavy. I have noticed that the steering on British lorries is generally lighter and easier for the, driver than that on American lorries, but once we had got all these joints properly lubricated and the steering true, the Peerless was more than ever a pleasure to handle.
Carrying Capacity of " Ten. to.Eleven."
A plato on the chassis frame proclaimed " Ten-to-Eleven " (the name was derived from her official number) a four-tonner. This, presumably, was the net load capacity after allowing for a body and accessories of average weight, and
may have been calculated at 2000 lb. to the ton, as seems to be customary. among Yankee makers. Actually we never found this Peerless jib at any weight. It is generally known that circumstances sometimes warrant an overload on lotries in use by the R.E., which branch of the Service was using "Ten-to-Eleven" during the time I kne* her. On occasions she was called upon to carry a weight far in excess of her W.D. rating of three tons, but . neither motor, spring, frame, axles nor transmission indicated by their behaviour any overload. 'Most lorries will carry a certain amount of overload, but the extra weight noticeably affects the running as a rule. Not so with regard to Ten-to-Eleven."
Grease Cup Always Tight.
Lubrication of joints, shackle bolts, clutch thrust, radius rods, etc., was amply provided for by many screw-down greasers of a special type which I have not seen on any but Yankee lorries. The grease cup screwed tightly into the shank of the lubricator, the grease being then forced from the cup through the shank by means of a plunger with T-handle projecting through the top of the cup. With this type of greaser the cup is always tight, and, therefore, is not easily lost through vibration, although the losses of complete greasers are frequent as usual. Do manufacturers realize wlittt great numbers of screw-down greasers are lost in this way, and how the
chassis which are making or upholding their manufacturing reputations suffer in consequence ? When may we expect something more durable than screw-down greasers ?
Satisfactory engine Lubrication.
Engine lubrication never gave any trouble, being satisfactory with every grade of oil used. To be successful, the engine lubrication system of a war chariot must be capable of using any reasonable lubricant. This point cannot be too strongly insisted upon. Many lorries at present in use, even British subsidiary types, demand special brands of engine oil which are not always av&ilable. On our Peerless a mechanically driven plunger pump raised the oil to a sight feed In view of the driver and adjustable
ny him. Thence it was fed by gravity to the crankcase, where a constant level was maintained and the engine lubricated by the ancient splash system which has not yet been improved upon for all-round simplicity and reliability. Level cocks were provided for both front and rear halves of the base, also a hand pump for forcing filtered oil direct to the base in ease the levels had not been maintained owing to wrong adjustment of the sight-feed valve. Testing the oil level took only a few moments, as both cocks were opened by moving one lever. Oil consumption was very moderate, and I do not remember oiling up a sparking plug.
The " Expression " Tap.
In all important respects our Peerless was beautifully made and finished, but one or two minor points could, perhaps, have been improved. The petrol feed pipe was a light brass one, and twice it chafed through where clipped to the steering box. Most English makers seem to have finally adopted steel petrol pipes. Without doubt this part needs to be substantial and durable for war service. The priming cocks on the cylinders had a taper thread, and in course of,time one of them broke off just before the lorry was to start on a trip. The R.E. sergeant sought me and remarked : "1 want another lorry tootsweet.' Sam's broken an expression tap." Not a bad name for a priming cock really, when one considers how they are sometimes used in "tuning up" an engine.
Eighteen Miles per Hour.
" Ten-to-Eleven " had a speedometer and mileage indicator when we got her, and until the spur pinions at the front wheel end of the drive wore out this accessory made driving unusually interesting.
Although equipped with governors, the speed indicator could be made to register 18 m.p.h. on a good stretch of road. This is fast enough for any lorry, and far too fast for A .P.M.s and M.P.s. I believe the engine governor had been altered before this Peerless reached us. I have said that " Ten-to-Eleven " was geared low, yet when she was going at the rate of Is m.p.h. it did not involve racing the engine to an uncomfortable degree.
The Alignment Difficulty.
The only real fault I had to find with her was a tendency for the starting dogs to swing out of alignment when she was left standing on very uneven ground. As one is compelled to use ground that is by no means level very frequently on war service, this fault of " Ten-toEleven " was a source of some trouble. On occasions she had to be pushed on to a more level patch to bring the dogs in line, so that the engine could be started. Some times, by opening priming cocks and putting in first speed, she could be moved by one-man power at the starting handle. This was when the mal-alignment was too bad for rapid swinging, but not too bad for the engine to be turned slowly. Matters were improved by removing the round-nosed pill and spring from the starting handle. The absence of these parts did not have any adverse effect, but permitted the two starting dogs to engage fully. The alignment difficulty is a feature of many lorries whose engines are three-point suspended-a noted English make is one of them --and the proper remedy would appear to be the attachment of the starting handle bearing bracket to the engine crankcase, so that relative movement of the starting dogs due to frame twist is entirely prevented. When the coil and battery ignition was in working order, the motor would start with a sharp pull up at the starting crank, and the question of alignment did not arise. But this part of the ignition could not be relied upon. The starting handle folded and tucked away under the frame thereby reducing the over-all length of the lorry. Protection from accidental damage in collision was also assured by this arrangement.
Improved Bonnet Attachment.
The bonnet of the Peerless is supported at the front end by a light steel arch attached to the main frame and independent of the radiator, Which method is an improvement on the more usual one of carrying the bonnet on a rigid dashboard and a spring-mounted radiator, parts capable of considerable independent movement which results in wetr of both bonnet and radiator. The independent movement of radiator and 'bonnet on our Peerless caused no wear. It was surprisingly great, indicating that the main chassis frame was not so rigid as its massive appearance sug• gested.
"Ten to Eleven" Loses Her Radiator.
The radiator gave no trouble, due to wear and tear, but on an occasion when " Ten-to-Eleven" was in the workshops her radiator was appropriated for another lorry, which was thereby enabled to resume work immediately. Poor " Ten-toEleven " was then provided with a radiator which had been patched up after knocking down a substantial brick pillar, 'against which it hail been accidentally driven. This patched radiator developed leaks soon after, and new ones not being available at the time, " Ten-toEleven' became a casualty, and was evacuated to a Base repair shop, to our great regret, as we had become very fond of her.