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CARRIAGES

blended, perfect in symmetry and adaptation — gave to the London season, more especially on Drawing-room days, and at other times in Hyde Park, an attractiveness unequalled in any other capital. After the death of the Prince Consort, the pageantry of that period very much declined and, except as an appendage of royalty, full-dress carriages have since been comparatively few, though there are hopes of a revival in this direction. Meanwhile, owing to the rapid development of railways and the wide extension of commerce, the demand for carriages greatly increased. The larger types gave place to others of a lighter build and more general utility, in which in some cases an infusion of American ideas made its appearance. In accordance with the universal rule of supply meeting the demand, Mr Stenson, an ironmaster of Northampton, was successful in producing a mild forging steel, which proved for some years, until the manufacture ceased, very conducive to the object of securing lightness with strength. In the early ’seventies the eminent mechanician, Sir Joseph Whitworth, in the course of his scientific studies in the perfecting of artillery, succeeded in manufacturing a steel of great purity, perfectly homogeneous and possessing marvellous tenacity and strength, known as “ fluid compressed steel.” Incidentally carriagebuilding was able to participate in the results of this discovery. Two firms well known to Sir Joseph were asked to test its merits as a material applicable to this industry. In this test much difficulty was experienced, the nature of the steel not being favourable to welding, of which so much is required in the making of coach ironwork; but after much perseverance by skilful hands this was at length accomplished, and for some years there existed not a little rivalry in the use of this material, more especially in the case of carriages on the C and under-spring principle, which for lightness, elegance, and luxurious riding left nothing to be desired. Many of these carriages may be referred to to-day as rare examples of constructive skill. Unfortunately, the original cost of the material, still more of the labour to be expended upon it, -and the difficulty of educating men into the art of working it, were effectual barriers to its general adoption. The idea, however, had taken hold, and attention was given by other firms to the manufacture of the steel now in general use, admitting of easier application, with approximate, if not equal, results. From C and under-spring carriages there arose another application of springs which was very prominently before the public during this period, by means of which it was professed that two drawbacks recognized in the C and under-spring carriages were obviated, which were caused by the perch or bar which passes under the body holding the front and hind parts in rigid connexion, and yet making use of a form of spring to which

the same terms may be applied. These objections are the weight of the perch, and the limitation which it causes to the facility of turning, which in narrow roads and crowded thoroughfares is an inconvenience. The objection to weight is, however, minimized by

the introduction of steel, and as the more advanced builders almost always construct the perch with & forked arch in front, allowing the wheels to pass under, the difficulty of a limited lock is in a great measure overcome (Fig. 1). It must be noted, however (and this cannot be too emphatically stated) that the so-called C springs above

referred to are not at all the same in action as the C spring proper ; they are but an elongation of the ordinary elliptic spring in the form of the letter C (Fig. 2), without adding anything to, but rather lessening their elasticity, and entirely ignoring the principle of suspension by leather braces over the C spring proper, by which alone the advantage of superior ease is to be obtained. Another improvement which stamps the period under review is the introduction of indiarubber for the tyres of wheels. To produce a carriage as nearly as possible free from noise and rattle has always been the aim of highclass coachmaking. A structure composed of wood, iron, and glass, with axle-trees, doors, windows, lamps, and other parts, in use upon the road in all weathers, must from time to time require some attention with this object. To meet this difficulty, the introduction of indiarubber has been received by carriage-users as a great boon. It was about the year 1852 that Mr Reading, who at that time was known as a builder of invalid carriages, conceived the idea of encircling wheels with that material, but his method only admitted of its use on vehicles travelling slowly over good roads. This was improved upon at a later date by Mr Uriah Scott, who, taking advantage of the tempering capacity of indiarubber by the chemical action of sulphur, produced an inner rim of such density as to hold bolts, by which it could be secured through the felloe, forming a base for the outer covering of soft pliable rubber. This system was attended with satisfactory results, and was in favour for some years with persons whose health needed such provision. Another method, originated by Mr Mulliner of Liverpool in the early ’seventies, was to screw on iron flanges to the outer and inner sides of the felloes, having a kind of lip to press into the indiarubber filling the intervening space; but the cost of this—£36 per set—rendered its adoption prohibitive. Meanwhile another invention by Mr Uriah Scott, afterwards improved upon by an American patentee, came into use; this was known as the “ rubber-cushioned axle,” cylindrical rings being introduced between the axle-box and hub of the wheel, thus insulating the body of the carriage from the concussion of the road. This, however, necessitated the cutting away of so much of the timber of the hub as to impair its durability, and had therefore, after a few years’ experience, to be abandoned in favour of an invention by a Parisian builder, who introduced indiarubber bearings between the spring and axle-tree. This was thoroughly practicable, and met with general acceptance, and it is still used in conjunction with iron and steel tyres. In 1890 the pneumatic tyre was first applied to road carriages, but not until 1893 were strenuous means taken in the hope of popularizing this invention. Its bulky appearance was a great draw-