Automobile Accessories Reviewed

Timing Cars and Motor Races

The present interest in car performance and motor racing means that, more than ever before, stop-watches are in great demand. We were invited recently to visit Louis Braham Ltd., of 143-149, Gt. Portland Street, W.1, and inspect a range of Breitling time-pieces which they have decided to import from Geneva after careful investigation into the quality, accuracy and reliability of these watches. Emphasis was on stop-watches, of both the wrist and pocket variety. Breitling of Geneva make the proud claim that they are the only company whose watch has orbited the earth, a Breitling Navitimer being chosen for this purpose in May 1962. This make of watch is also well known to the World’s air-line pilots.

The 17-jewel Navitimer, which costs £42 in this country, embraces a chronograph calibrated with logarithmic scales of an aerial navigation computer, a movable bezel, 12-hour recorder, 30-minute register and flyback stop-watch, on a luminous dial. The Chronomat, also 17-jewel, so much used by air-line pilots, is notable for its slide-rule bezel which can be used to solve complicated mathematical and engineering problems, and is also a conventional and compact 1/5-second stop-watch. It costs £36 in this country, and after using one to time motor races and road-test cars we intend to say more about it at a later date. The Navitimer is the official time-piece of the Aircraft Owners’ and Pilots’ Association and the value of this and the Chronomat to rally navigators and drivers is obvious.

Apart from these two notable watches, Breitling make a fascinatingly wide range of watches incorporating stop-watch mechanism, such as the Copilot, with unique 15-minute register for close timing and easy-to-read dial, the less-complicated Chronograph, or the Superocean, specially created for deep-sea exploration, in normal and self-winding versions. Another Breitling watch much used by professional pilots is the Transocean, in super water-tight case, with or without calendar. Prices range from £18 10s. to £53.

Besides these well-known and very high-grade watches, Breitling list a big variety of normal stop-watches, priced from £7 10s. to £18, with choice of six dial forms, of 54 mm. diameter to fit comfortably in the hand, in dust-, water- and acid-proof cases, with unbreakable glasses. Every timer is antimagnetic, regulated with electronic machines and tested at different temperatures, and they undergo severe endurance tests. These Breitling stop-watches are supplied with 1, 7, 11 and 17 jewel movements, for timing to 1/5th, 1/10th, 1/50th, or 1/100th second, and with 50 sec., 3, 50, 55, 30 and 60 min. records and sectors to suit all manner of sports, from water-polo and ice-hockey to yacht racing, with either normal or split-second hands.

Breitling dashboard clocks are found in most types of air-liner, from Boeing 707 to Douglas DC8 and Caravelle, and such clocks should be of great interest to those responsible for equipping rally cars. Messrs. Braham do not supply these watches direct but will be pleased to show them to any reader who calls at their showrooms, and to give advice on the choice of a watch. The name of the nearest jeweller who stocks Breitling watches, and catalogues, will be supplied on application, and mention of Motor Sport.


By far the greatest proportion of items that come into the office for test consists of bottles of “jollop” for curing the various maladies which afflict the motor car. Many are useless, or expensive variants of some easily obtained product, and are not worth recommending. However, some items seem to be worth considering. One is STP, which means Scientifically Treated Petroleum, and this is a petroleum-based additive developed in Germany now marketed by the Chemical Compounds Division of the Studebaker Corporation in the U.S.A. and sold in Britain by Oversea Buyers Ltd., Monotype House, Fetter Lane, London, E.C.4. It is a 100% petroleum product with the addition of the following elements: barium 0.001%; calcium 0.00001%; chlorine, bromine, iodine, total 0.003%; magnesium 0.0001%; nitrogen 0.01%; phosphorus 0.00001%; silicon 0.006%; and zinc 0.00001%. STP is sold in 10-oz. tins costing 12s. 6d. each, which are suitable for treating engine sumps up to 8 pints capacity; above this capacity a 10% solution is recommended. Two staff cars were treated with STP, which is very thick at low temperatures and difficult to pour from the can. One car had an engine in good condition with normal oil pressure of 50 p.s.i., but the other was in poor shape with sagging oil pressure which dropped to 20 p.s.i. at normal running temperature. Little difference was noticed on the first engine but on the latter unit the oil pressure rose to 40 p.s.i. soon after the treatment, and stayed there for many weeks, gradually falling slightly until a fresh tin of STP revived it after two months. During the intervening period only 30 grade oil was added to the sump, so the pressure rise could not be attributed to the use of thicker oil. The regular driver of this car commented that the engine felt smoother after the STP treatment, but otherwise no other changes were found. STP is also recommended for coating engine parts during assembly, and it is interesting to note that the use of STP in this way is authorised by American aircraft companies such as Lycoming. It is also used in all new Studebaker cars  and was used in the supercharged Avanti which gained a number of speed records recently. The STP Division of Studebaker is also sponsoring the four-wheel-drive Novi Ferguson car for Indianapolis, so you may like to feel you are helping to run a racing car!

Three products come from Trico-Folberth Ltd., Great West Road, Brentford, Middlesex. These are an anti-freeze solvent for screen washer bottles priced at 7s. 6d., a de-icer at 7s. 6d., and an anti-smear windscreen treatment at 6s. 9d. The first is useful in cold weather as the water bottle does not freeze up and the water sprayed onto the screen does not freeze. The solvent is claimed to be harmless to rubber, paint and metal. The de-icer is sprayed onto iced-up screens and seems to work quite effectively, although a scraper will do the same job only slightly slower. Trico obligingly sell a combined scraper and squeegee for 5s. The anti-smear liquid is sprayed onto screens from an atomiser which is not very effective and managed to squirt most of the liquid over our hands, but the solvent seemed able to remove the oily film which often clogs the screen and wiper blades.

Latest from HoIts is Chrome Wax at 5s. and Engine Clean at 5s. 6d. Chrome Wax is a protective film for chrome and not a polish, and seems to be quite effective but it is difficult to obtain a smooth finish as the aerosol can does not spray evenly and it is very difficult to remove if a mistake is made. Engine Clean is for spraying on oily engines, after which the filth can be brushed or hosed off. The main constituent seems to be paraffin and we imagine that plain paraffin and a soft brush would be cheaper and just as effective.

From Newman Kimberley Enterprises Ltd., London, W.1, comes Hide Food at 9s. 6d., a product supplied in an aerosol can for polishing leather upholstery. We have no staff cars with leather seats so we tried it on a briefcase, which seemed to improve with the treatment, although the smell of the cleaner is not as pleasant as that of leather.

Motor mechanics have long been wise to the value of such products as Swarfega and Dirty Paws, which clean even the dirtiest hands. Dirty Paws is now available in small tins at 1s. 9d. and 3s. 11d., and this pink jelly with the antiseptic smell quickly removes ingrained oil and dirt. Many people rub it into their hands before starting work on the car and this undoubtedly helps when the time comes to wash it off.

Mendac Car Coat

Most car coats tend to be bulky, expensive and of limited use, but the Mendac coat is relatively cheap at £3 9s. 6d. and can be used at all times. The coat is made from showerproof poplin treated with Phobotex, which ensures that it is washable and water repellent. Inside it is padded and quilted but not too thickly, so that it can be worn over a jacket without feeling too bulky. Two large side pockets are fitted, as are adjustable side vents, and the cuffs can be buttoned-up if required. The front is fastened by four buttons, which quickly came loose on our test coat, and a small button at the neck to close the collar. Available only in a dark brown colour, the Mendac coat is sold in chest sizes 38, 40, 42 and 44 in., and is available from Mendac Shirts Ltd., Hipley Street, Old Woking, Surrey.

Restall Head-Rest

Car seat designers are becoming increasingly aware of the advantages of head-rests and the day may not be too far distant when all car seats will incorporate integral head-rests. Not only are they useful for passengers who wish to sleep but they are a means of protection for the neck in collisions from the rear, as painful neck injuries can result when the head snaps backwards suddenly. One of the best-known head-rests is made by Restall Bros. Ltd., of Floodgate Street, Birmingham. This head-rest, which is shaped like a cotton reel, has a sponge rubber interior covered with black P.V.C., and is mounted on a plastic covered metal frame which slips over the seat back-rest. The head-rest swivels concentrically as well as moving up and down, so that everyone can find a comfortable position. The metal frame is available in two sizes, one to fit up to 2 in. thick back-rests and the other for the 2-in. to 4-in. sizes. Both sizes cost £2 19s. 6d.

Cryton “Home” Battery Charger

Better known for their large array of electronic testing equipment for the garage trade Crypton Equipment Ltd., of Bridgwater, Somerset, make a battery charger for use in private garages. Known as the “Home” charger it sells for £3 19s. 6d. and is mounted in a compact, well finished box which can be affixed to the garage wall. It has a 1¼ amp output, can be used over a range of 200 to 240 volts and is quickly adjustable for charging both 6 and 12 volt batteries.