Your correspondent E. Marshall, writing on the demerits of RFC X-ley Tenders, has a few facts wrong, i.e. the transmission brake was definitely intended to be used as a “service-brake” and providing it was used with discretion was a very good retarder for its day. It could and did much damage to the rear-axle, when used roughly. The handbrake was used for “Parking” or “Emergency Only”, because of the rapid wear, entailing frequent and delicate adjustment; whereas the wear was quickly taken-up with one screw, on the foot-brake.
As regards the clutch being “fierce”, again it depended upon the driver. It had to be engaged gently, to take-up the play and wear of the rear wheel splines prior to turning on the power, otherwise there was an unearthly “clonk”; the axle did not withstand many such “clonks” before the weakest point gave up, which was usually the half-shaft.
I have counted eleven vehicles with broken axles all within the space of one mile, but that was under sub-normal conditions, when drivers forgot all the nice methods of driving in the 6-mile dash for home-garage from Baghdad to Hinaidi, when the rains came in February. The “Motor road” was closed at the first sign of rain, only the “camel-track” being left open, which in a very short time was feet deep in glutinous mud.
With a total of 60 years’ driving experience (36 in RAF), and having driven these tenders hundreds of thousands of miles both over the deserts and in many countries since RFC days, I say it was a very good vehicle.
May I add that the RAF Leyland was also fitted with a footbrake behind the gearbox, which was used as a “service-brake”. It also had a cone clutch and heavy solid-tyred rear wheels. I have never known one to break its rear-axle, under similar or worse conditions, because of the double-reduction in the axle, 2 to 1. The clutch functioned under water and mud using chains on the wheels. Thanks for a marvellous magazine; I have read it since it was first introduced. [Congratulations; so have I. – Ed.]
Bridgewater W. E. PARSONS