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The Bulk Transport of Benzol or Petrol by Road in Motor Tank-wagon.

9th January 1913
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Page 1, 9th January 1913 — The Bulk Transport of Benzol or Petrol by Road in Motor Tank-wagon.
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

We have from time to time advocated the clearer definition of the law in regard to the conveyance of petrol in bulk by road. Our last considerable reference to this subject was that published in the issue for the 21st November, 1912. Elsewhere in the present issue, there will be found some particulars of a type of tank-wagon, with a maximum capacity of 1200 gallons, the design of which is now before the Home Office Committee on Petroleum.

We have reason to believe that a Home Office Order, or possibly a short Act, will soon remove the uncertainties which have affected carriers and others who desire to carry, or have been carrying, large quantities of petrol by motor vehicle, and this official action cannot fail to be welcome to many of our supporters. A representative of the Mechanical Transport Committee of the War Office, who gave evidence before the Home Office Committee on the day when the writer was called to give his evidence, made out an unanswerable ease for the sanction of the law to the proposals in question, and the commercial arguments were certainly not less conclusive than those which were stated_ on behalf of the military arm.

The fact that motor vehicles have so far been sparingly used by the great oil-importing companies has absolutely no bearing upon the ease for the conveyance of petrol in bulk by road in motor tankwagons. In the ease of burning oils, which have a flash point above 73 degrees Fahrenheit, local and other restrictions upon movements and storage are relatively moderate, and the consequence has been the. establishment of depots at short intervals apart and to an extent which enables horse-drawn Equipment to serve the area of custom of any such branch depot. In the case of petrol, however, there are so few large storage depots in the country, that the mileages which have to he accepted by anybody who undertakes road conveyance necessitate the use of mechanical power.

We strongly urge manufacturers and owners closely to watch for the publication—probably about March next—of the pending new Order. They may, until then, with advantage turn their attention to provision for output of veliclas of the kind in due course, because there must. be a demand for these tankwagons. Owners of big fleets of motor vehicles will be able to save an appreciable sum on their annual fuel bills, by telling off one or more chassis, properly equipped with an approved tank, for the replenishment and maintenance of local stocks. As we write, the proprietors of the wharves at Thames Haven are having a good road constructed, in order that delivery may be given that way, to all parties who prefer road e.onyeyance to the less-prompt and More-costly alternative of tank-barge and horse. We trust that no unnecessary restrictions in respect of speed or right of user will be imposed, because we consider that ample protection to the public can be afforded in the proper design and construction of the motor tank-wagon, either for benzol or petrol.

The Taxicab Strike.

Publicity has been given to a flood of inaccuracies during the past fortnignt, with regard to the taxicab situation in London. One-sided and uutrue statements have been the rule in what we may term the Labour Press. For example, in " The Daily Citizen " of the 2nd inst., we read : " The taxi proprietors desire to raise the price of petrol frem,8d. per gallon to Is. id. per gallon, and this means they will be able to make additional profit out of the drivers amounting to 213,000." 8ueh indifference to facts has produced its own condemnation.

The average hirer of a. taxicab is a man possessed of some means and some knowledge of .affairs. He has friends who are in the habit of paying Is. 7,d. a gallon, or thereabouts, for the petrol which they need for their private cars. He has read with amazement that taxi-cabbies have, until recently, been paying only ad. per gallon, and that they are now "on strike" because they are asked to pay is. Id. There can be no greater mistake on the part of the men than for them to imagine that the situation is one which creates sympathy for them on that score. True, their -protestations may add to the bad odour in which the petrol-importing houses are at the moment placed, but nobody is deluded into a belief in the assertion that the taxicab proprietors will make money out of petrol at is. Id. a gallon.

The published estimates of earnings are in themselves characterized by the usual omissions. " Tips " are variously stated to vary from 10d. a day to 3s. a day, in. the reports that have come under our notice, but it is the exception to find any reference whatever to the subject of " extras." The public memory, we know, is short, but not so that of the taxi-cabby. He knows full well that. he was confirmed in the possession of the " extras "—which he previously, in the majority of cases, pocketed—by the award of March last, and he is equally aware of the consternation with which that decision was received by the owners, who, none the less, honoured it. Now, when the men have stood possessed of the " extras " for nine months, and we have good reason for believing that the " extras " still average more than Is. ad. per day per cab, little or nothing is said about them, and misguided attempts are made to impose upon the public credulity. Tactics of that kind cannot bring success in their wake.

We were much struck by a paragraph in " The Evening News " of the 1st inst., in which the position of the taxi-cabby was stated to be the mere holding of " a licence to beg." In this case, too, the drivers who were interviewed put their earnings "on the clock " at one-fourth of 21s. per day-5s. 3d. Then followed the customary high estimate of deductions. which, of course, include living at a very fair rate. We have before pointed out that the taxicabby is the only workman who considers that he is entitled to deduct his daily living expenses, inclusive of at least two " square meals," before he reckons that, he has earned anything for himself.

We maintain the View that the taxi-cabby should pay the Is. Id. per gallon, and we do so chiefly in the light of the experience of owner-drivers. Many of these owner-co ivers in London can pay as mucti as Is. 4d. per gallon for their petrol, a-nd still make a good livelihood out of their work. Why should not the employee-driver do the same ? We can find no reason, and we believe there is none.

The taxicab trade, we repeat, is steadily moving into the hands of the owner-ariver. Those men are at present in the minority, but they will increase by reason of the fact that they alone are in a position to control the whole of the factors which go to make up the profit and loss account of a taxicab. The more economical running and maintenance which is achieved by the big companies is largely outweighed by their utter failure to obtain the revenue which the cabs actually earn. More and substantial " extras " than those which are authorized in the regulations of the Metropolitan Police undoubtedly find their way into the pockets, once or more per week, of London taxi-drivers. None of these reaches any coinpany. Whatever the end of the present strike may be, and we can see no immediate solution unless terms be forced upon the proprietors by Government intervention, the remedy which we have frequently advocated remains to be adopted—the alteration of the initial charge from 8d. to 10d. If that were to be agreed, we have no doubt that the proprietors would be able to give way a, little in regard to the price of petrol, and that plan of compromise may be nearer at hand than is generally imagined. The public will have to pay more before long. There is " nothing in it" for the owning companies, as matters are, or as they threaten to be.

Big Demands for Benzol.

Inquiries continue to reach us from all parts of the country for the names and addresses of suppliers of benzol for use in motor-vehicle engines. The price of Md. per gallon, in bulk at the works, which was mentioned in the course of our article of a. fortnight ago, appears to have aroused great interest amongst. some consumers who have been paying higher pnces. That price, which was quoted to us by a large Manchester firm, refers to " naked" benzol : it is necessary, as we did not fail to point out, to allow for packing and freight. Hence, it is unlikely that the average current price, carriage paid to destination, will be appreciably below Is., and we certainly made that sufficiently clear in our previous references. Benzol does one-fifth more work than petrol. The more general the inquiry for benzol supplies becomes, the more readily will colliery companies be prepared to acid recovery plants to their existing coking plants. ‘e are toid tnat the necessary capital outlay is very small in reference to the production of benzol, and that the only fear which deters colliery proprietors from making these additions is the belief mat the market may fail them a year or two hence. Whilst the matter is one of comparative indifference to gas companies, seeing that the production of benzol from the distillation of gas tar cannot exceed million gallons per annum for the whole of the United _Kingdom, a minimum further production of 10 million gallons per annum is in sight from the installation of recovery plants by owners of ovens of the non-recovery type which are now working in a wasteful manner. Demand is assured.

We trust that every reader of this journal will do his share of adding to the stimulus which the colliery proprietors evidently need, by sending inquiries for benzol. These can be addressed to the principal dealers, who are buyers of crude benzol which they proceed to re-distil or otherwise to purify, or to certain colliery undertakings direct. The dealers, of course, must in turn press the producers to increase their outputs. Elsewhere in this issue (page 408), we give a fairly-full list of benzol suppliers so far as

it is possible for us at the moment to suppliers, the

names. We shall add to this, from time to time.

There is one point in regard to the use of benzol in an ordinary petrol engine, additional to those which we mentioned when writing on the subject two weeks ago. In the experience of some users, it is desirable to run the engine for at least five minutes, after starting up in the morning, before putting it into gear with the vehicle, and giving it an appreciable load. In those cases where the total air supply is divided between hot and cold, b it is helpful to increase the proportion of hot air, ut the total supply of air usually does not need to be increased—for a. possible reason see under "One Hears."

It. is desirable to repeat the point that this fuel is reckoned to fall within the control of the Petroleum Acts, and therefore to be subject to the regulations as to storage which apply to petrol. The powers that are exercised under the Petroleum Acts are exceedingly wide • carbide of calcium, for example, is held to be an article to which that Act is "made to apply," and benzol more directly falls within its scope. Ns hindrances, however, are likely to occur through this inclusion.

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