A Rear-engined Austin
The new overhead-camshaft Austin, fully described elsewhere in this issue, has created no mean stir, and will be one of the star attractions at the Easter
Monday meeting at Brooklands. Murray Jamieson tells me that this is not the limit of his ambitions. If the small car is the success it ought to be, he wants to move on to something bigger, perhaps 1 litres. He hankers after a rear-cngined car, which immediately makes one think of the Auto-Union. However, I gather that it ..vould be built on much more compact lines, with a new form of independent springing, and what better than two blocks of the twin-cam engine to propel it? It yet remains to interest Sir Herbert in the proposition.
The M.G. Head
McEvoys, of Derby, have now produced a double overhead-camshaft cylinder head for the R-type M.G.s and the first three have been delivered to Kenneth Evans, Connell and Briault. Evans’ engine was running on the test-bench at the Bellevue Garage the other day, producing over a 100 h.p., and as the ” down-stairs ” part of the R. engine has already been well tested, the Monopostos should be worthy rivals of the new Austins.
The camshafts are driven from the vertical bevel shaft through trains of gears, and fingers are interposed between the cams and the valves. The blower, naturally a Zoller, is tucked away on the offside of the engine, with a down-draught carburetter and a very short induction pipe.
Blowing at 40 lb.
The cooling system is Pomeroy’s pride and joy. The inlet side of the head is cooled by thermo-syphon, a division cast in the water jackets penning this off from the jacketing round the plugs and the exhaust valves. The water pump drives water through four jets to impinge ditectly on the metal surrounding the exhaust-valve seats, whence it rushes in circles round the sparking-plug bosses. The sparking plugs, which are of a new K.L.G.-type, screw into pocketed holes, and t he gaskets fit between the bottom of the holes and the ends of the plugs.
The blower pressure will be 27 lb. to start with, so that tests comparing the single and double-camshaft head can be made, but by speeding up the blower, which is carried out very simply by changing the sprockets on the chain drive, the boost can be raised to as much as 40 lb. Cracked valve seats have hitherto prevented such pressures being used, but Pomeroy thinks his cooling will overcome this, bringing a horse-power of 200 from a 750 c.c. engine definitely within the bounds of possibility.
The Straight-eight Delage
Seaman has been hard at work all winter rebuilding and revising the 1i-litre Delage which he bought from Earl Howe. Converting the car to independent suspension was found to be too complicated, and the idea has been dropped for the present, but the front springs have now been shifted outside the chassis to lessen the twisting effect of the brakes on the front axle. After the servo locked on him at Monza, causing the car to wrap itself round a tree, Lord Howe changed over to mechanical brakes and big drums, and Seaman has carried things a stage further by using Lockheed hydraulic brakes.
By fitting light tanks, body, and other chassis fittings, the total weight of the car has been reduced from 1,900 lb. to 1,500 (13i cwt.) or about the same as the E.R.A.s. In its original trim the engine gave 150 h.p., producing a speed of 130 m.p.h., but the compression has been considerably raised, so it should develop abou.t 200. Anyhow if anything bursts, Seaman has a brace of spare engines. The gear-box is one of those built for the 2-litre twelves, with five gears but not the geared-up top. The car makes its first appearance in revised form in the Prince Rainier race at Monte Carlo.
Talking of Delages, Oliver Bertram tells me that the big 12-cylinder Delage driven so often on the track by Cobb and later by him has not been decarbonised or taken down for three years, which must be about a record for a racing car. It has had a wonderfully successful career, but is now of course outshone by the Napier-Railton. Bertram is not greatly perturbed now that the single-seater body is coming along on the Hassan Special, and which he thinks stands quite a reasonable chance of beating Cobb’s 143 odd m.p.h. on the Brooklands Outer Circuit. The car will be ready for the Whitsun Meeting. The body is described as a cross between a Mere. and Mrs. Stewart’s Derby, and is tailor-made to fit the driver, who sits well down with only his head appearing. At least a square foot has been taken off
the frontal area. One of the peculiarities of the Hassan is that it only steers properly when fitted with enormous tyres, while the Delage preferred a small section. With either car considerable strength is required to prevent shooting over the top of the banking.
Regulations Which Do Not Please
Two races which have brought forth considerable moaning from drivers and would-be drivers are the Empire Trophy and the Mannin race. In the former, owners of small cars claim that they will have to beat the record small-car lap every time in order to hold their own with the Grand Prix stuff. Drivers of the latter claim that there is only one short stretch each lap where they can pass, and that they will spend the rest of the time eating the dust of the sevenfifties. I should hate to decide which is right. The Mannin race has been limited to cars up to 1i litres with the idea of encouraging British manu
facturers, a worthy enough object. Unfortunately the R.A.C. News Paragraph goes on to say ” and to give them a chance of meeting, on an equal footing, cars which have hitherto monopolised the majority of races run under Grand Prix conditions.” Unless my memory serves me wrong the latter cars belonged mostly to the well-known makes of Mercedes-Benz, Auto-Union and Alfa-Romeo, all of which are excluded from the race. Meanwhile our drivers who have bought Alfas and the like are much incensed at the idea of not being able to get at that £500.
I expect there will be considerable moaning, too, about the new regulations for Shelsley Walsh hillclimb, which Leslie Wilson outlined to me the other day. In brief, the old Sports and Racing categories are being abolished, and instead each capacity class will be divided simply into Supercharged and Unsupercharged.
It is not at all difficult to find fault with these rules, under which racing and touring Alfas and Bug-attis for instance, will have to compete on equal terms, and similarly for the unblown cars. On the other hand there was so much ” wangling ” in the sports-car class—last year four of the alleged T.T. cars were found to be running on dope—that the scrutineer’s task is rendered very difficult. A rather surprising change is that a slow first run will not disqualify a car from making a second climb.
Incidentally, how’s this for a nightmare? The other night Mr. Wilson dreamt that just at the start of a Shelsley meeting all the telephones went out of order. There was no way of getting messages from the top of the hill to the bottom, so every time a car ran, the unfortunate secretary had to toil up the hill with a note and then walk down again.
An Active Club
Before leaving Mr. Wilson, here are two more interesting pieces of news. One is that the Midland Automobile Club intends organising a trip to see the Eifel Races in June. Assembling in Dover, those taking part will cross to Ostend, proceed from there by motor coach to Cologne to stay the night, and will see the races next day. The inclusive return fare will work out at something about £5.
The other item of interest is that the Madresfielci Speed Trials are to be revived by the M.A.C. in July. The event will be an open one, and the course is a standing half-mile.
Fastest on the Road
Switching off rather abruptly from racing to sports cars, what do you consider the fastest car on the road? My own idea was the short-chassis S.S. Mere., which was supposed to do 130 m.p.h., followed probably by the blown 2.3 Alfas and Bugattis, capable of some 115. The man I was arguing with insists that the blown 4i-litre Bentley, as raced by Sir Henry Birkin, takes the award with an easy 130, and cited -how one of them had no difficulty in holding an Alfa the other day on the Great North Road. There is at least one of the team cars still in circulation and in good trim, and if I had the means and the room for it, what a car to own.
Actually the 8-litre Bentley was faster than practically any present-day car, and in an open body was good for close on 110. I saw the original engine the other day, mounted in a Speed Six chassis.
Is it Progress?
In the course of the past year I seem to have driven quite an assortment of makes and sizes of sports car, and am now wondering whether they are so enormously better than they used to be. Silence has been carried to a stage when it is quite difficult to judge the gear-change, and apart from that I have heard of numerous instances of exhaust gaskets blowing, telling of back-pressure and hot exhaust valves. Power at the bottom end is in many cases sacrificed to getting a higher maximum speed, and the punch you, or perhaps I should say I, expect to find when getting away from a thousand revs, is no longer there. A designer with whom I discussed this suggested that the power was still there, but that the accompanying roughness had been removed by
mounting the engine on rubber. Only comparative figures will convince me. There ought to be a good opening for superchargers in the near future, putting back that power at the bottom.
Holding Back the Horses
The all-popular VS Ford goes to the opposite extreme, with more power at the bottom and, indeed, all the way up, than one ordinarily needs to use. To save petrol when using the car for pottering, a friend of mine has fitted the front of his car with a special mat, with a flap which • ordinarily goes under the accelerator, preventing it ‘Ning down to the full extent. When a chase is in prospect, up comes the flap and down goes the pedal to the floor-boards.
Doing a good deal of night driving lately, I have felt the need for some new way of illuminating the dials on the dash-board. Some indirect lighting systems have a rheostat, which allows the amount of light to be reduced to a mere glimmer, and which causes no annoyance even if it is left on all the time.
My own car is not so fitted, the pull-out lamps failing to show up the most essential part of the dial. Installing indirect lighting means a new dash-board, so why shouldn’t one coat pointer and dial with luminous paint? Not all the figures would need doing. On the rev.-counter two, three, four thousand and ” bursting point,” the speedometer thirty, fifty and seventy, the oil-pressure gauge at the danger marks and the telecontrol gauges at their usual setting. If someone knows of a reliable luminous paint, I should be glad to have its name.
Rumblings, February 1950
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