THE conveniences of having a motor car to use are seriously lessened if the car has to be housed in a public garage, or in a hired lock-up garage some distance away. And the oftener the car is needed, the more is the handicap felt.
From the financial point of view alone it is worth while spending a sum of £1000 to £1500 on erecting a garage on ones own premises, as the interest lost on the capital sum will be saved two or three times over in out-of-pocket expenses. Moreover, a garage may add to the value of premises more than its own cost, and in these days, when so large a percentage of people are car-owners, render a house much more saleable.
Apart from pecuniary considerations, a garage enables the car owner to carry out many little repairs and adjustments; and to do other jobs, such as oiling and cleaning, from which he is barred in a public garage.
The wealthy person, with plenty of room and money at his disposal, will call in an expert or good local builder, state his requirements, and leave the design and erection to him. We are concerned here with the needs of the person of moderate or small means, requiring a garage for one car.
Where this has to be cut down to a minimum, the choice may he between a ready-made portable garage, built in sections, and quickly erected, and a wood-framed structure built locally and covered with asbestos, corrugated iron, or wood, and lined inside, to increase its warmth in winter and coolness in summer, with matchboarding. As a protection against weather, either may prove quite satisfactory. And either qualifies as a tenants fixture if not attached permanently to the ground.
In urban districts, however, the bylaws may frown on such garages, and insist that one ranking as a temporary erection shall, if framed in wood, have the woodwork protected against fire inside and out, or at least inside, by asbestes sheets. The prospective garago owner should therefore acquaint himself with the conditions imposed by local authorities before coming to a definite decision.
The brick-walled garage is undoubtedly the most expensive form. But when erected such a garage is the most satisfactory, as regards both appearance and exclusion of undue heat and cold. It is necessarily a fixture, and as such adds a little to the rateable value of the premises on which it stands.
This will to a certain extent be controlled by circumstances. A completely detached garage usually has a gable roof. A cheaper alternative is a flat roof sloping from the front to the rear, where, owing to the absence (usually) of doors, less height is needed. A flat roof enables straight beams to be substituted for more costly trusses. But if a covering of slates or tiles is desired, it is ruled out by the insufficiency of a slope which would be steep enough for corrugated iron or asbestes roofing.
In some cases the garage may be erected, with some saving of expense, agamst the house, with roof sloping away from the latter or fore and aft. Only two walls will be needed, and in winter it will benefit from the warmth of the house wall; and, if on the south side of it, by protection from cold winds.
Where there is ample building space available, and the garage is to be a permanent structure, it should be at least 17 feet long and 9 feet wide inside. This will give room for passing freely all round a good-sized car when the doors are shut, even if the car has not been quite correctly centred.
An extra 4 feet of length or 2 feet of width will enable a work bench – a very desirable fitting – to be placed at the inner end or on one side respectively. There will then also be plenty of room for shelves, cupboards, heating apparatus, and other conveniences.
Bearing in mind that the cost of a garage does not increase proportionately to size, the owner of a small car would be well advised to allow in advance for the possible possession of a larger car in the future. The cost of enlarging a garage is much greater than the extra cost of making it in the first instance ampler than present needs demand.
By far the best flooring material for a garage is concrete, faced with carefully floated cement mortar. It is easily cleaned and is, or should be, very durable, and contains no crevices in which dropped screws, etc., can hide themselves. The concrete should have under it a layer of well-rammed brickbats and stones, and be at least 4 inches thick.
To shed any water which may leak from the car, or blow in through open doors in wet weather, it should have a very gentle fall, of, say, 2 inches in 15 feet, towards the door end.
Should the approach slope down towards the garage, an intercepting gutter should be formed in the concrete just outside the door.
Though many garages continue to be fitted with folding doors of the ordinary type, sliding shutters moved either vertically or horizontally across the entrance, are becoming increasing popular. The reason for this is partly that opening and closing them causes no obstruction outside the garage. Where folding doors are used, they cannot be opened when the car is close to them, a fact which at times and in some positions may prove very inconvenient.
The roller-blind type of shutter has steel or wooden slats running in grooves in the framework. The slats overlap in a manner which prevents rain getting through. The jointed horizontal shutter running on rollers and rails, has the advantage over the roller-blind type of staying definitely in any position, intermediate between full open and closed.
The entrance to the garage should, if possible, be wide enough to make very accurate steering unnecessary, and to make it easy to get past a car partly in the garage. A width of 8 feet is recommended for large cars and one of 7 feet for cars of medium size.
Corrugated iron, if used, should not be bare on the inside, as in certain conditions of weather moisture will condense on it and drip.
It should be laid on matchboarding, which will prevent this sweating and check the entry or escape of heat. Or, as an alternative, the boarding may be on the inside of the rafters or purlins, and the intervening space be packed with slag-wool, which is an excellent non-conductor of heat.
A third course is to use boards directly under the roofing, and to cover the rafters inside with asbestes sheets, which, besides insulating, help to protect the woodwork in case of fire.
Corrugated asbestes sheeting is superior to corrugated iron as regards freedom from sweating and corrosion, and it keeps heat and cold out much better.
The rainwater from the roof should be collected in a tub having an overflow to a drain, as it is the best possible to use, after filtering, in the radiator of the car, which cannot become furred up if clean, soft water only is put into it.
No garage should depend entirely for lighting by day on the doorway. At least one window should be provided; and if only one, it should open, to assist ventilation.
If there is a work-bench, it should have a window over it; and this should preferably face north, so as not to admit direct sunlight. Plenty of light in a garage is a great advantage. Illumination will be greatly improved if woodwork is painted, and brickwork distempered white, to scatter light into corners. If a skylight can be included conveniently in the roof, so much the better, as light from overhead is very valuable for some operations.
The or.ly safe and efficient light to use after dark in a garage is electric light. If the house is lit electrically, conductors should be carried from it to the garage-Besides fittings for overhead lamps there should be wall plug sockets on each side, well above the floor, for inspection or heating lamps.
Except in very cold weather, it is comparatively easy to keep frost out of a brick-built garage by means of a hot-water radiator supplied from a gas-heated boiler outside, in a small chamber of its own. Or one of the slow-combustion safety stoves, made specially for the purpose, or an electric radiator of the lamp type, may be used inside.
If, however, the walls are of thin material, it may be necessary to concentrate on the radiator and engine, if draining the radiator or filling it with non-freezing mixture is to be avoided. An inspection lamp or a safety oil heater placed inside the bonnet, and rugs hung over bonnet and radiator will exclude frost. But an un-heated garage is a very uncomfortable working-place in cold weather.
The garage should have a ventilator in or near the highest part of the roof, and it should be possible to close this in frosty weather, to prevent the escape of heat. An opening window at the end away from the door is desirable, to give a through current of air.
A warning should here be given against the danger of running an engine, to test or warm it up, inside a garage with the doors shut; or even when they are open, if the car has been run in stern first. The exhaust gases contain extremely poisonous carbon monoxide, the inhaling of which may be instantly fatal.
Precautions against fire
Every garage must be provided with a chemical fire extinguisher – maintained in proper working order, be it noted. The use of this in the early stages of a conflagration may smother the flames before any serious damage has been done.
A bucket or two of sand, wet sawdust, or fine earth should also be kept at hand, ready to throw on blazing petrol spreading about the floor. Note
It is worse than useless to throw water, as the lighted petrol will merely float on it and be the more quickly distributed.
The painting of exposed woodwork with a good fire-proofing paint is to be recom-mended. The paint at least delays ignition, and may prevent a small outbreak developing into a serious conflagration.
This should be surfaced with cement or asphalt, and slope sufficiently towards a central gutter or drain to free itself quickly of water.