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405
CARRIAGE

by leather braces over the C spring proper, by which alone the advantage of superior ease is to be obtained.

EB1911 Carriage - Fig. 2.jpg

Fig. 2.

Another improvement which stamps the period under review is the introduction of indiarubber for the tires of wheels. To produce a carriage as nearly as possible free from noise and rattle has always been the aim of high-class 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 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 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 tires. In 1890 the pneumatic tire was first applied to road carriages. Its bulky appearance is a great drawback, contrasting strongly with the qualities which distinguish a graceful equipage; and in spite of its practical advantages it never became popular in England or America. In Paris and its neighbourhood and many parts of France, pneumatic tires are to be seen in frequent use both on public and private conveyances. In another form the indiarubber tire has become of almost universal application. Owing to an ingenious invention of Mr Carment, what appeared to be an insuperable difficulty in rolling a grooved tire was overcome (fig. 3). This so simplified the application as to bring the cost within practicable limits. The grooved tire is now made in several sections, in some of which the inward projection for securing the rubber is dispensed with, this being kept in position by wires running through the whole length, and electrically welded at the point of contact. Whatever be the method chosen for securing the tire, the best tires, both for durability and ease, are those in which the rubber provided is most resilient in its nature.

EB1911 Carriage - Fig. 3.jpg

Fig. 3.

For the lifting and lowering of the hoods of victorias and other such carriages, and the opening and closing of landaus, there are now many automatic contrivances, of which the simplest are the most to be preferred. The quarter-light or five-glass landau is a carriage which has been greatly improved. The complicated adjustments of pillars, windows and roof have been replaced by one simple parallel movement. The first public exhibition of a finished carriage on this principle was by an English firm at the Paris Exhibition of 1876 (fig. 4).

In the matter of style certain types of carriages have passed through marked changes. Extreme lightness was at one time considered by many the one desideratum both as to appearance and actual weight, in providing which ease of movement and comfortable seating of the occupants became secondary considerations—though to these extremes builders of repute were always opposed. Still, when at the International Exhibition of Paris 1889, it was seen that the Parisian builders had suddenly gone in the opposite direction, the world of fashion in carriages was taken by surprise. From being built upon easy, flowing, graceful lines, it was seen, with some revulsion of feeling, that these were to be displaced by the deep, full-bodied victoria, brougham and landau. Only by slow degrees did this characteristic find acceptance with English connoisseurs, and then only in a modified form, though eventually in a greater or less degree it is now the prevailing style.

EB1911 Carriage - Fig. 4.jpg

Fig. 4.

While the better types of English carriages are still pre-eminent in their constructive qualities, and represent the well-known characteristics of individual firms, some emulation may be excited by the elegant taste and careful workmanship which French builders display in points of finish, both internally and externally. Of the various types of carriages now in vogue, the victoria, in its many varieties of form, is the most popular, accompanied, as of necessity, by the double victoria, sociable, brougham, landaulet and landau. Four-in-hand coaches for private use, as well as the “road” coaches, are built on a smaller scale than formerly; 6 ft. 8 in. may now be taken as the standard height of the roof from the ground. Owing to the encouragement given by the Four-in-hand and Coaching Clubs, the ascendancy of this style of driving is still preserved to Great Britain; and in association with it the char-à-banc, mail phaeton, wagonette, and four-wheel dog-cart retain their popularity. Of two-wheeled vehicles the polo-cart and ralli-cart are most in favour, to which may be added the governess-car, which is found convenient for many purposes not implied by its name. For a few years an effort was made, but with very indifferent success, to bring into fashion the tandem-cart, which may again be considered almost obsolete in England.

America has long held a prominent position in connexion with the carriage industry. In all the chief cities manufactories on a colossal scale are to be found, producing thousands of vehicles annually and equipped with the most perfect labour-saving machinery; and as vehicles of any particular pattern—many of small value—are required, not singly, but in large numbers, much economy is exercised in their manufacture. It is remarkable that, as a contrast to the popular buggy, wagon and rockaway of the United States, which are to be found in infinite variety, carriage establishments of the wealthy are not considered complete unless furnished with some of a European character, selected from the