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Approaching Railroads.-In approaching a railroad crossing, especially if there is an incline or grade, the gear shift lever should be dropped back into second speed and the approach made carefully, first to determine whether to make the crossing or not, and, second, to be in a position to accelerate your car suddenly with very little chance of stalling the motor. Many accidents have happened because inexperienced drivers have become confused and stalled their motors. On noting the approach of the train, they have thrown on their power, or let in their clutch suddenly, with the result that the motor is stalled on the track and it is then too late to move out of danger. Better Stop, Look and Listen as the warning sign advises.
Changing Gears.-More accidents result from unwillingness to change gears than from almost any other cause. Most American drivers use their first and second speeds only in starting their car. They allow the car to drift along and thus get into a tight place in traffic or too close to street cars, and because of misjudging the speed of the approaching vehicle, or their selfish desire to crowd out another car, collisions or other accidents frequently result. It is a simple operation to change from third to second speed. It increases your power and affords the possibility of a great deal quicker acceleration as well. The second speed is incorporated for a purpose. It is seldom that we are in such a hurry that we cannot spare a moment to afford absolute safety.
Accidents Not Due to Losing Control of Car.–Accidents are not due to the driver losing control of the car in many instances, but are more likely due to his losing control of himself. One is not an expert driver until he intuitively performs the operations which control the car just as naturally as he walks or reaches out for an object.
When the Car Skids.-Although the driver feels helpless at first, a little experience will soon give him confidence. Most skids can be corrected by the manipulation of the steering and brakes. An expert driver can keep his car straight under almost any conditions, but it is impossible to explain just how he does it. Usually the rear end skids first, and in the right-hand direction, this being caused by the crown of the road. Under such conditions, the skidding action will be aggravated if the brakes are applied, and the car may be ditched or continue to skid until it hits the curb. The correct action in an emergency of this kind is to close the throttle to shut off the power; but not entirely so, or it will have the same effect as putting on the brakes. If the car seems to right itself, the power may be applied gradually, and it will be advisable to steer for the center of the road again. However, if the car continues to skid sideways, steer for the center of the road, applying the power gently. This will aggravate the skid for the moment, but will leave you with the front wheels in the center of the road and the car pointing at an angle. By so doing you can mount to the crown of the road again and the momentum of the car will take the rear wheels out of the ditch on the right-hand side. It is customary to advise turning the front wheels in the direction that the car is skidding in order to correct the action, but this can hardly be said to be true in all cases, as the amount of room on the skidding side is somewhat limited, and for this reason the explanation given above will better apply to such a condition.
When turning a corner on asphalt pavements which are slippery, it frequently occurs that the front wheels skid. In a case of this kind, immediate action is necessary. It will usually be found that by applying the brakes suddenly for a moment so as to lock the wheels, the rear end of the car will skid in the direction in which the car is to be turned. This will help the action of the front wheels, and the releasing of the brakes and the touch of the accelerator will bring the car around the corner without any over-travel of the front end. By applying the brakes in this way, it is possible to turn the front wheels in the direction opposite to that which the car is to be turned for a moment while the rear end is skidding. When the brakes are released, it is plain to see that the front wheels will have no tendency to skid farther, as they will be pointing in the direction in which the car is to be turned and the rear end will be in line with it, due to the skid. Needless to say, this manipulation requires a little more expertness than the correction of an ordinary skid on a straight road.
In Crossing Street Car Tracks and Climbing Out of Ruts.Skidding can be prevented and accidents avoided, also the life of your tires lengthened, if you will learn how to turn your car out of street car tracks and ruts. Make a sharp turn of your front wheel. Do not allow the wheel to climb along the edge of the rut and finally jump off suddenly, and do not attempt to climb out of those conditions at high speed.
Turning Corners at High Speed.—Driving a car around a sharp corner at twenty-five miles an hour does more damage to the tires than does fifteen or twenty-five miles of straight road work. This is an economical reason why one should drive around corners cautiously and slowly. The other reasons are obvious.
Using the Motor as a Brake.-The engine is a natural brake whenever the throttle is closed. Prove this for yourself in the following way. At a speed of twenty miles an hour, close the throttle and retard the spark, at a certain mark by the roadside, telegraph pole, for example. Don't throw out the clutch or the motor will have no braking effect. Now note how far you have traveled from the pole by the time your speedometer registers five miles. Then over the same road and at the same speed (20 m. p. h.) pass the pole again, but this time throw out the clutch. You will coast much farther this time before you drop down to five miles. Note the difference between this last mark and the first. This distance is proportional to the work done by the motor as a brake. By the same token the wear on your brakes will be lessened in this proportion if you let the motor help. In short, never throw your clutch out until you have dropped down to the lowest speed at which the car will run, say two or four miles an hour. If the grade is long and steep, use the foot and emergency brakes alternately. This equalizes the wear on them.
A Car's Service Depends Upon the Driver.-Much of the satisfaction that an automobile gives depends upon the driver. If he neglects his automobile, if he does not lubricate it, or if he tinkers with it too much, he is bound to receive unsatisfac. tory service. No machine can be absolutely automatic. All things must wear in time. The best preventive of wear, and the most certain thing for increasing the life of an automobile, is proper lubrication.
Familiarize yourself thoroughly with all the lubricating points of your car. The oiling chart, Fig. 25, will show you where the important ones are located on most cars. Make the lubrication of your car as regular as is the eating of your meals. If you do this, you will not have any complaint to make of your car becoming noisy or of bearings wearing out. If you don't do it, you will not get the satisfaction from your car that you have expected.
Coasting Mountain Roads.—Whenever you approach a long and steep grade it is best to put down the gear speed lever into first speed and allow the car to drift down on the motor. This is better than using the brakes. It gives you absolute control of the car at all times.
Know Your Car.-Your satisfaction will be greatly increased if you will learn the details of your automobile. Learn to make the simple adjustments. Do not depend upon some one else to do that which is so simply done and which you can get such satisfaction in doing. There are no inaccessible parts that should interfere with ready adjustments. Familiarize yourself with every detail of the car as it is explained in this book and you will have greater confidence in venturing over any road at any distance from a repair station.
The Cost of Speed.—The law is just as immutable in that it collects as great cost for speed in a motor car as it does of any machine or of man. If you run fast, if you work hard, you require more food to sustain you. If you drive your car at a fast speed all the time, it requires more fuel—more gasoline and more oil. If you work fast and hard, you wear out more quickly, and so does an automobile. Tires, for instance, last twice as long on a car that is driven at fifteen miles an hour as they do upon cars that are driven at thirty miles an hour. Remember that the service your car gives you is as much dependent upon the manner in which you operate it as is your own health dependent upon the manner in which you care for it.
Use of Headlights.—Do not use the electric headlights turned to the "bright” position when approaching or passing a car or other vehicle on a narrow road, unless you are traveling in the same direction. The light confuses them and may result in a serious accident. Never use a “spot light” except when necessary for reading signs, etc.
To Keep Water from Clinging to Windshield.—If you are in a climate where snow and sleet are a common feature of the weather, for any lengthy period, you can keep the windshield clean by wiping it over with a solution of water, glycerine and salt. The proportions are:
1 oz. water
1 dram salt Pour this on a piece of gauze and wipe the glass with all the strokes down. This will prevent raindrops or water in any form clinging to the glass.
Carry a Complete Tool Equipment.-By all means have the necessary tools at hand to meet an emergency; even though you do not need them yourself, there is a certain amount of satisfaction in knowing that you are equipped to help a fellow motorist who is less careful in this respect. In changing a tire, a jack, pump, wrench, pliers, and sometimes a hammer, are necessities. If you do not have them with you, it may necessitate running many miles on the rim, ruining a good casing, damaging the rim, and perhaps loosening up the spokes in the wheel. Carry the tools in the tool roll supplied with the car, and wrap the jack and other tire tools in clean rags to prevent them rattling. A little oil should be rubbed on them occasionally to prevent rusting. It will often save soiling your gloves through handling dirty tools. If you are carrying spare tubes, keep them away from any grease and oil, which will injure the rubber. Do not pack them with the jack and other tools that are liable to chafe or cut them. Put them in bags, properly deflated and folded and covered with talc to prevent chafing. Tools for repairing mechanism and tires are described in Chapter IV.