HISTORY repeats itself, in the use of mechanism, just as in national story. Our attitude to both histories is similar, for as we appreciate the pageantry and glitter of King’s courts and warfare, whilst we overlook the patient work of yeoman and artificer, so to-day we hail with pride those who produce the speedy motor bicycle or racing car. The luxurious limousine, the thundering lorry, and the commodious omnibus, which are taken for granted, whilst we have no time to think of the men, often unlettered, sometimes not -even reaping due reward, on whose work these triumphs of engineering have actually depended for their creation. These men in the realm of practical mechanism explored as truly as did David Livingstone, Captain Cook, or Francis Drake, each in his sphere—and their perfected work is accepted as usual constructional practice to-day all the world round.

In earlier and less hurried times than those in which we now live, such men might conceivably have been honoured by learned societies, or parliaments might have called them to their bar to express their thanks ; Kings might have knighted them, and some of them, at last, might have rested that outworn mechanism—the body—among the illustrious dead.

Would the Dean of Westminster think it too incongruous if he were asked to find a resting place for the body of some little known explorer who first used wire in tension to build a wheel ? Could a resting place be conceived for such a one under the same groined roof that for centuries has sheltered Geoffrey Chaucer’s grave ? Why not ? Many of the early mechanical inventors who have made possible the sporting car of to-day were perhaps more worthy of such honour than some whose bodies lie in national shrines.

However, to return to our main road. It is curious that although the first dandy horses and hobby horses were built in England, Paris was soon the centre of the sport and trade of making and using pedal propelled bicycles. But this was only for a short while, as the cycle trade soon came back to this country with the English invention of the wire suspension wheel by Haynes and Jefferies, who were Londoners.

The spokes on this pioneer wheel, which was to mean so much, were radial, and it was some years before the tangent spoke, with steel nipple, came into use. The credit of this is due, I think, to Trigwell, of Brixton, whilst the brass nipple, owing to its early liability to strip its thread at high tension, but slowly took the place of the quickly rusting steel one.

It is interesting to remember that the best small capstans and tapping machines in early days came from the works of D. Napier & Sons, who, long before cars were thought of, were famous precision tool makers and engineers. The pneumatic tyre in its present form is due to the work of Dunlop and Bartlett, as the latter was the first

to insist that beaded edges clinched in the rim was the proper method of attaching the cover to the wheel.

Before turning from wheels, one should call attention to the years of work that were put in on suitable forms of rims. A name that should be remembered in this connection is that of E. H. Woollen. A vivid recollection of a cycle race meeting on the grass track at Kennington Oval under the auspices of the Surrey B.C., is that of Maltby riding with disc wheels about 1892.

In regard to ball-bearings, it must be allowed that these did not originate in the cycle trade. But their use was quickly adopted by cycle makers in general, owing to the adjustments evolved by Bown, of Birmingham, Hughes, and Rudge, of Coventry. It should be specially noted that when ball-bearings were used in the steering heads of bicycles and tricycles, it was the first application of such bearings to take up thrust in a swivelling or gyrating manner.

To the credit of the cycle trade stands the application of the differential drive by James Starley, of Coventry, and Arthur Sydenham, of London, the latter being the author of the spur and pinion type. Again, steering wheels coupled together so as to turn in differing circles were first introduced on pedal tricycles. The system was known as the Akerman, but I believe that Sydenham was the holder of some of the first patents. •

Regarding frames : although the maker of fully fledged motor cars has for some years almost forgotten that he ever used steel tube except as a cross member, he may again utilise it extensively, provided he finds a better method of joining than brazing provides. The most up-to-date of motor bicycles is, of course, still dependent on tubes brazed to forgings and castings.

Of chains and chain gearing, so much was done by many early designers at about the same time, that it is almost invidious to make selection. But we should remember such pioneers as Mabbot, of the Abingdon Works, Charles Garrod and Hans Renold, the latter a Manchester man, by the way. Each of these helped to increase quality and lower production cost in a manner that has since substantially benefitted motorists. Before leaving the subject of chains, it is well to remember that Harrison Carter was the first to enclose chain gearing in dust-proof, oil-bath casing.

Other early power transmitters comprised all kinds of epicyclic gearing and sliding pinion gears. Here again Sydenham was one of the earliest and most thorough workers, followed by Sturmey, Archer and others. One other now famous name in this connection is that of Bowden, of Nottingham, whose help in transmitting power round awkward corners has been, and still is, of first importance. In concluding my present notes, I would like to emphasise one point. These productive inventors were all British ! In fact nearly all of the improvements I • (Continued on page 104)



have mentioned came from the three cities of London, Coventry, and Birmingham. Very little of a really pioneer nature was evolved or developed in the United States, France, Germany or Italy. Yet these other countries have certainly since built on our surely laid foundations. The British inventors were supported by the sporting and racing men of their time, some of whom were amateurs and others dependent on the trade for a living. Things were really very much the same in this connection in the early cycle racing days as they are at present in automobilism ! On grass track, on cinder path and on the highway, strenuous tests were made, criticism offered, and encouragement given.

There is, as at the tail end of an igsop’s fable, a moral to be drawn from this brief review of early accomplishments.

The men who did these things so soundly need not your help and encouragement to-day. But there are always keen intellects and bright minds ready to respond to kindly interest, and to develop good ideas under fair criticism and human sympathy. I do not suggest that to-day there are many Watts awaiting their Boltons, nor Dunlops their Du Cros, but motoring sport, the motor trade, and the inventiveness of this country certainly need stimulation and encouragement. It is primarily for the motoring sportsmen of to-day to give these, as did their valiant fathers when pedal. cycling was young. Truly this is the time for service and sacrifice and not for exploitation and advantage !


In the 2-litre climb, Paul, on a Beardmore, came up steadily and fast, so steadily as to make his speed deceptive, and many people were surprised to learn that he had captured the record for the hill, his time being 50 1/5 seconds. The next fastest in this event was Harvey on another Alvis, his special car being out of the running as the result of his mishap in the previous event. His time was 54 seconds.

The day concluded with the unlimited event, which was opened by Mrs. Stewart Menzies, who brought up a big Peugeot in steady fashion. Cook on the T.T. Vauxhall made a thrilling climb, but was not able to beat the time of the smaller cars. Captain Malcolm Campbell, who had entered the big Sunbeam, met with a mishap en route and did not compete. The event finished with good climbs by Park on a Vauxhall, and Kensington Moir on a Bentley.

Altogether a very fine day’s sport, and one upon which the Midland A.C. are to be congratulated. The awards were as follows :

PRESIDENT’S Cup: Best performance on formulze : H. Heath (II h.p. Darracq), 69 4/5 secs.

BEST AMATEUR PERFORMANCE (FormulEe) : Miss W. M. Pink (Ii h.p. Aston Martin), 79 2/5 secs.


BEST PERFORMANCE BY MEMBER (F0M11.11M) : R. F. Summers (II h.p. Aston Martin), 69 4/5 secs.

FASTEST TIME OF DAY: C. Paul (13.5 h.p. Beardmore) 50 1/5 secs.