The Old Bags On The Back.

With time steadily marching on Mrs McS informed me the other day that €œnothing is like it used to be€. Not wanting to appear too interested in her problems and knowing full well that any response will ultimately result in a documented list of what I have done, may have done, or not done at all I just had to ask the question €œwhat is the problem dear€? €œWe don’t go anywhere together anymore€ was the reply. Well correct me if I am wrong but I clearly recall going to the shopping mart for the basic essentials with her last week. And yes €“ this was the wrong answer. Evidently ‘together’ meant out on the bike with her in the sidecar taking in the rural settings with happy birds tweeting in the trees and fresh cow muck flicking up into ones visor (a bit like Wally Batty and Nora from Last of the Summer Wine and their countryside excursions). Ahh €“ how romantic ones past can appear compared to the droll existence that currently surrounds us, or so some would have us believe. Actually the only thing that stops us going anywhere together in ‘the chair’ is Mrs McS inflexibility restricting her ability in getting in and out of the sidecar due to her wooden leg. And of course the price of gas. With a meagre pension to support the bad habits of two old octagenerians (including gallons of linseed oil to keep the termites at bay from said wooden leg) luxuries like petrol for jaunts in the countryside are very few and far between.

So where is all this going you may ask?

It is all to do with the price of gas (petrol, benzine) and the supply. Availability for most of us is controlled by the price and what we can afford, and price is controlled by supply. However for wartime periods price was never really the issue, unless it was being purchased on the Black Market, and supply was the meagre amounts made available to registered owners of motor vehicles by ration tickets, with owners of vehicles for essential services being allocated more however this had to be tracked via log books.

So with petrol being regarded as liquid gold in New Zealand and England fuel rationing (along with food and clothing) lead to alternative fuel products being tried and one of the most comon was the gas bag. There is film footage from World War 2 up to the late 1940s of Ford 8s and even V8s with gas bags mounted on the roof, and some even with coal gas generators mounted in the boot to provide a fuel supply for the engine. What a lot of people don’t realise is that this was even in existence in WW1 and whilst going through some old magazines I spotted the following article that was written in 1939 investigating the viability of using gas bags that had an introduction in 1917. Real Barnstorming stuff!

Click on the above photograph to see the complete article (1.6M).

Not sure of the volatility of such devices however in the 1930s people were quite happy to ride inside gas filled balloons, or airships believing that they were safe, and even now as motorcyclists we are quite happy to ride around with a tank of explosive fuel between our legs, so nothing has really changed.

Petrol Ration Coupons Used By Hackney Vehicles (Taxis) for Public Hire.

Petrol rationing was introduced in 1940 and wasn’t relaxed until 1950. Just because the war had finished by 1946 world shortages for most essential supplies remained for many years after, and control of these was only through rationing. Click here for some interesting information on rationing in the 1940s.

And for those of you who are concerned I promise to take Mrs McS out into the countryside for a hearty jaunt in the sidecar soon, very soon (and not leave her there). Could even take a packed lunch and visit the Knobster!