Call our Sales Team on 0208 912 2120

Military Subvention Vehicles.

9th January 1913
Page 4
Page 5
Page 4, 9th January 1913 — Military Subvention Vehicles.
Noticed an error?
If you've noticed an error in this article please click here to report it so we can fix it.

Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

By an Engineer Contributor.

Why are Letters Not Answered?

Your leading article of last week, on the subject of " Military Subvention Trials," interested me very much, because, although I have made every effort, as a designer and manufacturer who is not only anxious and prepared to build vehicles to the subvention specification, but who also has the necessary experience and equipment to do so, I have so far failed to obtain from the Secretary of the Mechanical Transport Committee any authentic information relating either to the specifications and drawings, or any direct information concerning them. I can hardly think that my letters have miscarried in the post.

Can it be to the best interests of the country that the important subject of mechanical transport for the Army should be left entirely in the hands of a favoured few ? There is something radically wrong with a department which, without adequate trials of all existing models, or the submission of competitive designs, decides upon a type of vehicle which, while admittedly not the best from the military point of view, is likely tZ) prove an inefficient type of machine in commercial service, except in special circumstances, such as Colonial use.

Cui Bono?

I quite agree with you when you say that the War Department may get the 1000 vehicles which it re

quires, probably by the end of 1914, but it is questionable whether anyone, including the War Department, is going to benefit by their sale or usage : on the one hand, the manufacturers have been put to great expense in the production of the type, and if they wish to sell them they must do so at a price not greatly in excess of that demanded for three-tormers of normal and reasonable design ; whilst, on the other hand, the miserly capitation grant, and annual subsidy, doled out in driblets by a Treasury which has no conscience when it comes to extorting money from unfortunate taxpayers, is by no means sufficient to compensate for the lack of commercial efficiency of the subsidized machines, and the probability of owners being deprived of them temporarily or permanently at an inconvenient time. In my opinion, the only people who have any cause to rejoice over the scheme are the purveyors of tires and petrol.

Useful and Harmful Standardization Methods.

You have, properly, drawn your readers' atention to most of these points on previous occasions, but there is one matter which I do not think you have driven home sufficiently hard, and that is the broad question of standardization, and the origin of the War Department scheme. I think you may fairly lay claim to having set the " ball rolling " by your article

on the a2nd September, 1910, to which you referred in last week's issue. Tlie suggestions which you then advanced were based upon common sense, and were made with a full knowledge of their being practicable from the points of view of design and manufacture ; those propositions did not put a damper upon any designer's inventive faculty, yet they would have insured a real measure of interchangeability of all parts which are likely to wear out, get broken, or be lost upon the road. Perhaps you will here permit me to quote that part of your 1910 article which, in my opinion, laid out the lines which should have, been followed:—

An Extract, dated 1910, from the " C.M."

" Under war conditions, three-quarters of the existing State-owned mechanical transport would be a delusion and a handicap to any commander : each two or three units would need their own load of spares ; no important parts are interchangeable throughout any division of wagons or tractors. What would be thought if this state of affairs held sway in the artillery? What if a gun-carriage or an ammunition wagon had to be abandoned because some little failure must involve long delay while a part was made and fitted on the march ? What if it were the exception for any of the gun mountings and breech fittings to be standardized? Yet, in the growing arm of mechanical transport, at least so far, the necessities of the case have been sacrificed to shortsighted considerations which are wrongly supposed to reflect great financial acumen somewhere " Although it Would not be in the interests of trade that one type of engine, clutch, gearbox, final drive, etc., should be adopted for all internal-combustionengined machines, the individuality of the designer would not be smothered by the standardization of many detail parts. In the case of vehicles which are propelled by internal-combustion engines, the following are a few of the parts which might well be made to a standard specification, and, if so designed, they would be interchangeable for all makes of vehicles of the internal-combustion-engined class: starting handle and spring ; valves, valve springs, cotters, caps. etc.; cam rollers and tappets ; clutch (diameter of plates and number of keyways if of disc type, and diameter and angle of faces if of cone type): shape, size and disposition of the pedals; shape and size of radiator and bonnet ; working positions of changespeed and brake levers ; style and position of sprag, and means for indicating to the driver whether or 110 it is in working position ; knuckle joints for steering gear, also knuckle joints for brake gear ; brake shoes and drums ; pitch, type and ratio of chains and chain wheels ; diameters and widths of wheels and tires ; sizes of bearing springs and spring shackles; sizes of strap bolts for springs ; hub caps ; floating bushes for road wheels; type and position of drawbar; height of carburetter jet and size of screw thread in base of same ; petrol and water strainers ; petroltank tilling caps ; and bolts (one diameter only should be used, in. only as many lengths as are absolutely necessary). It might be possible to standardize the diameter of the engine cylinders, and, if this were done, one size only would be needed, respectively, for the big-end bushes, gudgeon pins and bushes, and piston rings."

Chaos Still Rules.

Now, what lines have the Committee followed? They have practically ordered manufacturers to fit a live back axle, and have almost specified a particular design, yet not one part, except the wheel bushes, of any one maker's axle will be capable of interchange with similar parts of any other maker's axle, neither are the axles bodily interchangeable as units. The same thing applies to gearboxes, clutches, engines, steering gear, and other important details ; in fact, very few things indeed on the subvention vehicles will be capable of interchange, and consequently the chaotic condition of transport, of which you complained in 1910, still exists, and will continue to exist even when the War Department has got its 1000 vehicles, unless, of course, it is the Department's intention to buy or subsidize only the vehicles produced in one maker's factory, a circumstance which, whilst it may afford unqualified satisfaction to any one firm so favoured, would be grossly unjust to all other manufacturers.

If the requirements of the Army cannot be met by motor vehicles which may reasonably be used in commercial service, why cannot the Mechanical Transport Committee come into the open and say so? Captain Bagnall-Wild has suggested a scheme for a State-owned transport service for civil business, the vehicles to be used being designed and built especially for military service ; it follows, of course, that such vehicles could not be worked at a high state of commercial efficiency, but the financial loss in which such a scheme would involve the Government could be accounted as an insurance for the provision of an adequate fleet of military vehicles available in the event of war and national emergency, and I maintain that it would be money well spent.

comments powered by Disqus