VINTAGE POSTBAG, April 1970

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“Verdict on a Lost Flyer”

Sir,

With reference to your inquiry in the January issue as to the type of ‘buses which were run by the “Red Rose Garage” at Wendover, the first type that my father and other local people can remember running under the “Red Rose” banner were four-cylinder Chevrolets which, it is insisted, were properly built, fourteen-seater ‘buses and not conversions of car or light lorry chassis. These were later replaced by some of the first six-cylinder Chevrolets when these became available. The Chevrolet, alias Bedford, was a favourite make of vehicle in the area, owing no doubt partly to its good torque characteristics in a hilly district and, of course, to the fact that Luton, hence the importers and later the makers, were “just round the third hill”, some 15 miles from Wendover.

Although it is some years since they last ran ‘buses, the “Red Rose” is still a going concern, as anyone who travels along the A413 towards Aylesbury will know. Incidentally, I suppose that Lancaster was serving at RAF Halton, which is only about a mile from Wendover, when he started the “Red Rose” (which is, of course, the emblem of Lancaster).

It may also be of Interest to you to know that the premises where the Cubitt cars were made, in Southern Road, off the Bicester Road in Aylesbury, are still in existence and up till very recently housed the machine shops of Redifon Air Trainers, the Flight Simulator manufacturers. I have not been able to ascertain the occupiers of the premises between the time the Cubitt became another “Lost Cause” and Redifon took over occupation in the guise of Air Trainers Link, in the late 1940s, but the premises were still known as “Cubitt Works” for some years after Air Trainers took possession, although it has latterly been “Aston Works”. “Cubitt Works” itself is a fairly substantial single-storey brick-built premises, unlike the collection of wooden sheds which contemporary photographs show some of the smaller car manufacturers using, although I do have the feeling that the internal arrangement of rooms, floor levels, etc., would leave something to be desired.

Gt. Missenden.M. J. Saunders

More Rapson Products

Sir,

I have read with interest your article on the inventions of F. L. Ranson. I am enclosing a photograph of his Silver Ghost, in which his 17-year old son is operating yet another Rapson invention. “The Rapson Mechanical Hood Lifter” is described in the “Coopers Vehicle Journal” of 1919, and shown in cut-away diagrams to consist of a left-and right-threaded screw shaft across the back of the car on which are mounted two blocks which slide along the shaft when it is turned. Wire cables are connected from these blocks to a lever extension on the hood stick hinges, all the mechanism being hidden in the panelling and behind the upholstery. Rapson claimed that the construction Would “last the lifetime of any car when it is taken into consideration that the hood is not raised more than once or twice a day”.

Also in 1919 was reported “the Rapson Window Silencer and Holder”. This was a spring-loaded hinge set down the edge cf the Window frame. A cam lever released the spring for the window to be raised or lowered.

Langshott. BRYAN K. GOODMAN.

Rapson Tyres

Sir,

The atticles in MOTOR SPORT reminded me of my school days and a bright idea I had for advertising Rapson tyres.

I wrote to Rapsons, suggesting an illustrated advertisement. This was to show a car, obviously shod on Rapsons, leaving a garage, with the spare wheel space, which in those days was on the running-board, blatantly empty. A mechanic chasing the Car with the missing spare wheel was waved away by the driver. The caption was :”Don’t bother with the spare. I don’t need it, I use Rapsons”.

Rapsons replied to my letter, saying that they liked the idea and intended to use it. They would present me with the original of the artist’s drawing. I wrote back, mildly suggesting that if the advertisement was worth using, it was worth paying fr!l And that, sir, was the last that I ever heard of my suggestion!

Belfast. R. T. TAGGART.

The Late Mr. C. H. Seelhoff

Sir,

I was interested to see “Marendaz Myths and Memories”. If my memory is true, my father, the late C. H. Seelhoff, had no connections with the Marseel gearboxes, having broken away from the company before their production.

He was, however, a very competent engineer. I can remember the beginnings of an advanced scooter on Lambretta lines. He subsequently re-commenced business in general engineering.

Coventry. C. B. SEELHOFF.

Horstman Memories

Sir,

I found your Horstman article Of very great interest: During 1927-8 I worked for the Company in their James Street West works for a period, operating a centre lathe and later a Landis grinder. Jack Nation (not Nathan) I remember well at the works and I saw a good deal of him in later years after the last war, often driving the Horstman referred to in your article. Jack died some years ago but his widow still lives in Bath.

Your mention of the Horstman radiator reminds me that these were actually made in the works, the fins on the tubes being slipped over these and soldered in place in a bath of solder, the base and header tanks having the same treatment. Incidentally, I must have machined the last batch of alloy radiator caps! There was a small non-ferrous foundry in the James Street West works where alloy and bronze castings were turned out, and from this foundry also came a good number of quite unofficial car mascots of odd designs which found their way to a number of private cars in the district; I still have mine. The body shop was presided over by Mr. “Mousy” Edwards, who was in no way like his nickname, quite the reverse in fact!. Under his direction the bodies turned out were first class.

The machinery at the factory was a bit primitive and most machines were driven by belts from overhead shafting, in the ease of my Landis grinder it took some ten minutes on cold mornings before the belt would stop slipping, and during this period I used to “cut” my nails on the edge of the big grinding wheel.

My memories of the firm are all happy ones and we were a united family. The machine-shop foreman was Bill Tracy and I think he stayed with the Company long after the cars were no longer produced; he was quite a character. The testing was done by Jack Innes but I think that later he left the Company and joined forces with Capt. F. G. Horstmann, at Guildford, was it? The photograph of the 1921 200-Miles Race car reminds me that a friend in the district owned one of these cars but unfortunately he spoilt it by fitting the front axle off a Morris Cowley so as to get f.w.b. Because of my age I derive very great pleasure from this series on “Forgotten Makes” and hope they will continue.

Wareham. R. CHAPMAN.

The Rockne

Sir,

In answer to Mr. Styles’ enquiry regarding the Rockne Motor Corp. My information is that this company made a 3.1-litre 6-cylinder car with a complete range of body styles selling at prices between $585 and $675. The total number produced was, I believe, over 30,000. This car was, in effect, a small Studebaker. It was withdrawn from the Studebaker list for 1934.

Cranbrook. RAYMOND H. KING

[This is one of many letters received, which have been sent on to our correspondent. —ED.]