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That the substitution of mechanical power for horse traction must speedily take place, is demonstrated by the conditions existing in large cities, and by the economic necessity of reducing to a minimum every expense that is incidental to the conduct of commercial enterprises.
A series of careful tests made in England by a traffic association with a crude form of motor truck, (reported by U. S. Consul Marshal Halstead) shows the cost of power traction to be 3 half-pence, three cents, per ton mile, while the cost of horse traction per ton mile varies from 9d to 1s, or from 18 to 24 cents of our money.
The following facts are held to be self evident:
That no substitute for horses can properly meet existing conditions unless it can practically and constantly disregard inequalities of road surface and inclines, at least to the same extent that horse teams can.
That any substitute for horse traction to be adequate, must, owing to increasing congestion in streets, wharves, docks, etc., be capable of such control and easy manipulation that it can utilize the smallest possible space in which to turn, and may when fully loaded, go with equal facility either forward, backward, or in a circle.
That the propelling power employed must be of the simplest and most reliable kind, not subject to disorders or disarrangements of detail.
That only the most rudimentary general knowledge and skill in the operator shall be needed to successfully operate any truck, either large or small.
That the machinery constituting the motive department of trucks must be light, strong, economical in construction, absolutely interchangeable in similar parts, and be of the highest efficiency in out-put of energy for the fuel consumed.
That the truck itself must possess the highest attainable flexibility, in order that it may submit without injury to all sorts of twists, windings and shocks incident to traffic over uneven roads, broken pavements, or to sudden stops.
That in order to be available under all conditions, a truck must be capable of turning around in a circle the radius of which is no greater than the length of the truck itself.
That it must be indifferent to the severest cold of winter or the greatest heat of summer, and must carry its load readily over the smoothest ice and sleet, or the roughest pavement.
That each truck must be provided with an efficient means of condensing all of its own steam, so that it may not have to carry a heavy water tank, nor yet be dependent upon outside sources for necessary supplies.
That the steering be effected by means that call for little physical force, and for no unusual taxing of the nerves.
To the solution of the questions involved in the above statements, Mr. C. C. Hill, president and mechanical engineer of this company, has devoted a large part of his time during the past seven years, and has made exhaustive experiments with different kinds of motors, the result being that he has selected steam as the power best adapted to give the desired results, and has consequently directed his efforts to the development of a steam motive plant equally adaptable to the heaviest or the lightest duties.
It was apparent from the start that no engine had been designed that was capable of meeting all the requirements, because it is a vital and fundamental principle in the power traction of freight on ordinary American roads, that all the wheels in contact with the road should be drivers, and should be so connected as to harmoniously act in advancing the load. It follows, of course, that when all the supporting wheels are drivers, neither special roadways, special tires nor special weather is necessary to favor the work of hauling the load, either up or down any hill where the wheels would not skid were they all locked, or on any road firm enough to avoid miring. A horse when exerting his utmost muscular effort, often develops for a few seconds an amount of energy equal to twelve, or more, normal horse power. This shows the need of an engine having a wide range of power, in order that it may cope with accidental conditions. The compound engine is the only machine that will operate efficiently on a normal output, and yet have cylinder capacity enough to give the increased power required for sudden calls, without using extra speed- reducing gears.