At present, as is attempted to be shown in this work, it is only proposed to use the steam road engine for replacing and supplementing animal traction in war time. But it is not to be supposed that the army will hold in readiness such a quantity of engines over and above what can be used in peace time as will be required in war; just as it only employs in peace time a fraction of the number of horses required for traction purposes in war time. It will be the same with the street locomotive and the benzine automobila Their utilisation in war therefore depends on their being in general use in a country in peace time, as it is then easy for the military authorities, on the outbreak of war, to obtain all the engines necessary for meeting the most exacting of transport requirements.
The road locomotive has hitherto been used for the following purposes, viz.:—
1. For transport of heavy loads on country roads.
2. As self-propelling locomobile for steam ploughing and thrashing, etc. [More than thirty years ago, I remember aa a boy seeing one of Messrs. Fowler’s traction engines driving the machinery of a water flour mill, in dry seasons, when there was not enough water to keep the mill wheel going regularly. Only the other day, as I was reading the proofs of this book, I saw one of their engines, as cool as a cucumber, hauling three enormous wagons, with 80 or 40 tons of stone, up the steep, narrow, and crooked street near the New Inn at Pembridge, in Herefordshire—one of the oldest and quaintest little towns in England. The stone was in lamps the size of a horse’s head, and was for mending the roads. The traction engine deposits a load of these rocks at regular intervals along the road, and they are then broken into bits about the size of a hen’s egg by Annum being who sit on their coats on the heap and break the lumps with a hammer; they wear spectacles, and are often philosophers. But how curious for the steam engine and the stone age to meet in this way! —Translator.]
3. As steam road rollers.
4. As power engines for various purposes in the colonies.
Naturally engines constructed specially for steam ploughing and road rolling do not make such good road locomotives as engines specially constructed for road traction do. But just as the horse taken from farm work is not exactly the ideal animal for military traction, so in the case of war it will perforce be necessary in some cases to make use of engines not primarily intended for traction purposes, and adapt them to it as far as possible.
1. Use of traction engines for transport on roads
The road traction engine is nowadays in very general use in England. Eight thousand of them were in use in Great Britain in 1894 for the transport of heavy loads on roads [Journal of the Royal United Service 1894, No. 198. Paper by Colonel Templer, 'Steam Transport on Roads.’ (As noted in the Introduction, the authorities were formerly the stumbling* block in the way of extended use of road engines in this country, but now that the roads have passed under the control of the county councils this restriction is removed, for the first thing a newly elected county council does is to buy a steam roller or traction engine. —Translator)]. The weight of the loads which are turned out by the great iron and steel works (heavy guns and armour plates, etc.), is often so great that the railways are unable to deal with it In such cases the only means of transport on land is on roads by means of traction engines—any damage done to roads or bridges being made good. In Germany the help of the traction engine is also called in in such cases.
The transport of minerals from mines to the railways and works is often effected by means of traction engines. The field railway requires to be officially authorised in such cases, and this entails also getting consent from the commune or parish or district through which the road runs on which the line is to be laid. In many cases it would be necessary to make costly land purchases.
[A striking example of the value of the field railway is afforded by the great engineering undertaking now in progress for bringing water from the Welsh hills to Birmingham, the hundreds of thousands of enormous iron pipes being carried to their places on a light narrow gauge field railway,—Translator.]
The road traction engine is also employed in England for purposes which would seem to have no sort of connection with war; for instance, in transport of circuses to country fairs, etc. And yet this particular use of it is of interest in judging of the value of the road engine for military purposes, because it gives a practical and valuable illustration of its many-sided utility. The traction engine draws the merry-go-round, taken to pieces and packed in wagons, from town to town, assists in putting up the staging, drives the machinery of the merry-go-round, and at night provides the electric light The engine is thus in constant employment, and proves that it can bear such uninterrupted demands on its services without injury.
2. Its use in drawing the steam plough
The road locomotive has almost entirely superseded horse power for transport of stationary engines for ploughing, etc., in England and elsewhere, after a long campaign between the advocates of the horse-drawn Howard engine and the self driven Fowler engine. [Cyth, Wanderbuch eines Ingenieurs, 1 and 2 vol. Appendix, ‘History of the Development of the Steam Plough’]
For a long time past a system of ploughing introduced by Fowler, in which two road and winding locomotives are used, has also been most successful In this case both engines are provided with horizontal, and in some cases vertical, winding drums, and draw the plough forwards and backwards across fields up to four hundred yards in width. This system made hired ploughing possible in England and elsewhere, and proved specially useful for work on cotton and sugar plantations in tropical countries. In Southern Germany, where the land is divided up in such a way as to give but few opportunities for their profitable use on large connected estates, the costly double ploughing engines have as yet found but little employment On the other hand, in Northern Germany there are already more than 500 Fowler steam ploughing machines on the double engine system in use—that is, over 1000 plough locomotives. Recently the same firm has met the demand for a steam plough suited for smaller and less expensive requirements, by reverting to the single steam road locomotive for the purpose. There is thus a prospect of more extended use of the steam plough in South Germany, where the agricultural community are coming to see that successful farming depends on utilising every possible means of improving the productive power of the soil Not only does the steam plough do away with the tramping under hoof of the soil prepared for sowing, but the way in which the steam ploughshare turns up the earth, exposes a larger surface of it to the action of the air and thus increases the amount of chemical change of the soil so necessary for healthy plant growth. The capital outlay required for steam ploughs being beyond the means of most farmers, will doubtless encourage capitalists in South Germany to invest in steam ploughs in order to hire them out to farmers, as is already done on a large scale in North Germany.
3. The steam road roller
The introduction of mechanical traction is intimately connected with the question of road-making. Already at the beginning of the nineteenth century the road locomotive promised to supply the means of traffic on country roads, and was only prevented from doing so by the bad state of the roads. Then the railway secured the traffic by means of mechanical traction on rails. It became evident later that the country roads had not loBt their importance through the railways. On the contrary, they were found, with the increased traffic, to be indispensable as means of access to the railways. Now, when the importance of the country road is universally acknowledged, improvement in its condition is also demanded. Much has been done in this direction, but much more remains to be done before it will be equal to the requirements of the improved means of communication and traffic offered by the various mechanical motors of the day;—in other words, the road has not kept pace with the roadster—at least, not with the mechanical one.
It is due to the cycle, which has become such an indispensable and universal means of transport, that demands are made, not only for improved and extended railway and canal communication, but also for better roads. This call for improved roads and streets is in its infancy; presently the owners of automobile vehicles will join forces with the cyclists, and finally it will dawn on the owners of carriages and other vehicles built for animal traction that good roads are good for their interests also, and that a rational method of road-making and maintaining must be introduced, one less trying to their carriages and cattle than the primitive arrangements of former times.
In this connection there iB not so much occasion for the laying down of new roads as in the improvement of existing ones, by making easier gradients, and where possible making detours round, instead of going straight over mountains as in the old obstinate way [If there was nothing else left to judge them by, the character of the Romans for obstinacy and firmness of purpose would be evident from the remains of their roads, going as they do straight from point to point, over hill and dale and river, as though the road was made before the country it traverses was formed. —Translator]. Then wooden bridges should be replaced by solid stone or iron ones.
Of prime importance is the proper treatment of the roads, so as to maintain them in good condition. The old system of * mending’ roads by covering the whole surface with broken stones to be ground down in time by the traffic is nearly obsolete, except in uncivilised districts.
At present there are two systems of road maintenance in use—the 'Flick' and the 'Deck' systems.
The Flick (=Patch) system consists in patching up the bad places in autumn and spring. The Deck (=Cover) system consists in spreading broken stone over the whole surface of the road as formerly, but with this important difference, viz. that instead of leaving it to be pressed into the bed of the road by the ordinary traffic, it is done by rolling.
For a long time this was attempted exclusively with horse rollers, but latterly recourse is usually had to the steam roller. Its advantages are considerable. Its pace can be regulated, and easily made twice that of the horse roller, which can only accomplish from 2 to 3 kilometres in an hour (say 2000 to 3000 yards). Interference with traffic is less. Whereas with the horse roller long stretches of road must be done at one time so as to avoid the expense of interruptions and utilise the hired horse power more economically, with the steam roller short stretches of 100 yards can be done, and are quickly ready for traffic again [Freiherr v. Rothenhan, Die Entwickelung der Lundstraszen].
Moreover, the steam roller works not only better, but cheaper [Franz Schnmandl, Die Mangel unserer Straszan und die Beseitigung derselben, p, 20]. Since the road steam roller is widely used in peace time, its importance for use for mechanical traction in war time consists in the fact that by changing the rollers for wheels, it can be converted into a road locomotive.
But in war time the steam roller will also be required, for repairing roads after the army has used it for marching. In view of the importance of country roads in the forwarding of supplies, it will be the duty of the staff intrusted with the forwarding of supplies to see that the roads are kept in good condition in this way.
4. Another sphere of utility for the road locomotive
exists in the colonies, which is indirectly to the advantage of the army, inasmuch as the greater the demand is, the more manufactories of them there will be, and the greater the number of engines which will be at the disposal of the army in war time. So long as official restraints handicapped their use, traction engines could make but little headway in England, and for a time the only market for them was in the colonies. In India and Australia before the introduction of railways the traction engine had to supply their place, and later to connect outlying districts with them. The traction engine is used to a considerable extent in Australia in wool transport Fig. 35 shows, for example, an 8 horse-power Fowler compound traction engine which does a regular traffic in transporting about 8 tons of wool from Cowal Lake to Forbes, the nearest port on the Lachlan River. The day’s journey across the open country, with no regular road, is 40 miles (60 kilometres). The same engine is employed at times in pumping water, ploughing, sowing, and for driving 16 Wolseley sheep-shearing machines.
Adventures of a traction engine in German South Africa
Pending the establishment of a railway, an attempt has been made to get over the transport difficulty in German South Africa by employing a traction engine obtained from England. The traffic with oxen was so difficult across the 60 miles of coast desert, in which the poor animals often got nothing to eat for a week, that they perished by hundreds, the whole way between Walfischbay and Swakopmund being white with their bones, and those which got through were mere skeletons, which required two months to get strength again.
The traction engine, from the time of its arrival at Walfischbay, where it was landed, until it reached Swakopmund, went through a series of adventures, which show under what peculiar conditions this method of transport has to be carried on there.
Although the want of rain caused absence of that softness of the ground which is a hindrance in other colonies, working the engine through sand offered extraordinary although not insuperable difficulties. For ground of this nature the engine is provided with spuds, which are fixed to the driving wheels, and grip into the ground. The almost insuperable difficulty is the quantity of coal and water required in such arduous work, and the difficulty of getting it in the desert The chief question of course is, Does it pay to use a traction engine under such conditions in the colonies? lieutenant Troost, the owner of the engine, says it does, as with an outlay of 1640 marks for three journeys in a month there was an income of 1800 marks, or a 6% profit on the capital employed; but that this was only a theoretical estimate, the actual result being more favourable [Kolonialblatt, January 15, 1899].
Under what conditions the traction engine can be employed in the other German colonies remains to be seen. Its proper place is as the forerunner of the railway, and when the materials for that are to hand, the traction engine does not wait the fate of being pushed on one side as useless, but rather does all kinds of useful work as a stationary engine, or works on the line as a locomotive after the necessary change of wheels.
In the French Soudan two automobile freight wagons have been at work this year, to keep up traffic connection during the eight rainless months of the year, between St. Louis and Kayes. The cars are built to carry 1200 to 1500 kg. (21 to 27 cwt), and so far are said to have answered; and if the attempt succeeds, similar wagons are to be employed in traffic between Tamatave and Tananarivo in Madagascar. In this case the automobiles are intended to facilitate the formation of a railway, and then to be used for connecting the railway stations with the interior of the country. Between Makatsara and Tananarivo a service with automobiles is also projected, for which a special road is being constructed [Journal des Sciences Militaires, August 1899].
In November 1899 the English military authorities sent out 15 traction engines, mostly of Messrs. Fowler’s make, for use in the South African campaign. A special Traction Engine Corps has been formed under Major Templer (referred to in Section VIII of this work), who has organised in peace time a special road locomotive service. Major Templer has also taken out a couple of 20 horse-power (nominal) Fowler steam ploughing engines, with deep-trenching ploughs. These ploughs, built on the same lines as those used in vine culture, and worked with a 400 metre cable, throw up a furrow 80 centimetres deep and 60 wide, which, with the earth taken out of the furrow, makes a pretty high breastwork. It is proposed to construct entrenchments on the lines of communication in this way.