RUMBLINGS, August 1937



The Campbell Circuit Lap Record

AT the time of the Campbell Trophy Race, the opening event over the new Brooklands Campbell road-course, there was confusion as to who held the lap record. Actually, the best time, a lap at 72.74 m.p.h. by Peter Walker (l i-litre V,.R.A.), was established in practice and not equalled during the race. At the short handicap meeting last month Arthur Dobson (1.i-litre E.R.A.) set the record to 73.13 m.p.h. Sir Malcolm Campbell, who designed the course, has offered two cups, one for cars, the other for motorcycles, for the fastest lap of the year. 73.13 m.p.h. equals 1 min. 51’51 secs.

Sprint Fun

Sprint events are extremely well supported nowadays, even if they have not flourished quite so much this season as the trend of last year’s events indicated. There are few aspects of motoring sport so fascinating as going around the country with a really potent sprint motor in tow, particularly if that motor is a very fierce, home-brewed cyclecar. John Bolster must have had endless fun taking course records with ” Mary ” and I wonder which he has enjoyed most— the seconds-splitting dice up the course, or the long journeys home from such venues as Shelsley, Bristol, Donington and Madresfield ? Nowadays, of course, ” Mary ” is towed, but in the beginning she used to be driven about the countryside. I know, because a friend once rode crouched on the back of the chassis, all the way to Lewes. There was Bleriot-Whippet as well as G.N. in ” Mary’s” make-up then.

Sans Springs

On the subject of special sprint cars, a prospective builder is anxious to know if anyone has built a racing cyclecar minus rear springs. He foresees thereby a means of conserving avoirdupois, and of making things easier for the transmission if final drive is by chain or of eliminating universals if the drive is by shaft. He doesn’t mind the possible discomfort in the least, but wonders if wheel adhesion in a very lightweight vehicle would suffer adversely. Have you any views on the subject ? The Gnome cyclecar, circa 1927,

had no springs of any sort, but it used low-pressure, oversize Dunlops and was flat out at about 45 m.p.h. And they quickly put front springs on Field’s Bugatti when it came to this country . . .

Small Car Records

At one time the Class I and Class J records stood at very moderate speeds and as motor-cycle engine technique improved the prospect of some ambitious mortal building a 350 c.c. and 500 c.c. cyclecar to smash these records seemed quite unusually bright. In time special cyclecars were constructed, and the figures for most of the records lifted to less assailable heights. One recalls the little single-cylinder Jappic, ..„:„ . :

surely the smallest car to run in a B.A.R.C. handicap race, and the Avon-J.A.P. which Kaye Don drove. To-day two of the records in the 500 c.c. category are held at just above 100 m.p.h., by Count Lurani’s tubular-framed Nibbio. Now comes news of another 500 c.c. record-breaker, in the form of M. Lucien Clement’s de Couchy, which on May 2nd covered 10 kilos. of Montlhery at 88 m.p.h. M. Clement will soon attempt to lower the Class I hour record, which is held by de Rovin’s de Rovin at 74.44 m.p.h. The de Couchy has a four-cylinder 49.9 x 62.4 m.m. engine with inclined o.h.v., operated by gear-driven twin o.h. camshafts via finger-toppets. A vane-type supercharger is used, driven by epicyclic gearing. The crankshaft is unconventional, of two throw type running in. three slightly conical, two-row roller bearings. Pump cooling, pressure lubrication and coil ignition are employed, and about 80 b.h.p. is developed at 8,700 r.p.m., the complete car weighing 7-1 cwt.

Arnott Supercharging

Arnott has kept his supercharging developments rather neatly under his hat, as it were, but in the last eighteen months all manner of cars have had applied to them the new Arnott vane-type compressor. There is nothing unduly sensational about this supercharger, but it has rotor spindle proportions, blade dimensions and blade fixings, etc., all calculated on a basis of a high degree of reliability. The drive incorporates special Hoffmann high-speed ball-bearings, and is usually by belts, and lubrication is by pressure from a separate tank, the variation between suction in the blower and manifold pressure maintaining the feed. Not content with turning out considerable numbers of the compressors at the large and pleasant works of Carburetters Ltd., at Willesden, Arnott has launched a new carburetter, no mean accomplishment in these days of standardised equipment. Working like an S.U. on the constant vacuum principle, the Arnott carburetter has a piston working in a ball-mounted slide and a floating jet in which the needle locates itself automatically. The easy starting device works on air-bleed, an auxiliary jet placed by the main jet and increases air-flow over the jets in one operation. The carburetter can be mounted in any position without alterations to the main body and Arnott claims

that it increases the speed of a popular small utility car by 8 m.p.h., besides improving its consumption. He tells me that Whitehead’s E.R.A. is being fitted with one of his carburetters and that his blower and carburetter is now standardised on the Atalanta and will be used on the car entered for the T.T.

When we were at the works Ian Connell’s E.R.A. was being fitted with an Arnott supercharger layout, the blower-pressure going up from 15 to 30 lb. per square inch to bring things more in line with the works E.R.A.s. But Connell was very wary about these changes and shoo’d our camera away, the International Trophy Race being in the nature of an experimental outing. Itching to go out in an Arnott-supercharged car, Arnott produced an A.C. ” Ace ” for us, which was ” treated ” for a client four months ago at a cost of about 50. He told me that, although the supercharge is 6 to 7 lb., originally the standard compression-ratio of 7.5 to 1 was retained with excellent results, while no engine parts have been modified. Later the compression ratio was reduced to 6.4 to 1, and Arnott says that the A.C. does to 50 m.p.h. in about 8 secs., 60 to 70 m.p.h. in under 4 secs. and over 100 on the speedometer. Only having time to potter round London town I had no chance to check these figures but I did maliciously respond to Arnott’s suggestion that we should conduct a fuel consumption test. The result surprised me, for on three runs on a pint of fuel each, involving use of the indirect gears and traffic stopping and restarting, and using fuel unsuited to the engine through an oversight, we averaged 20.8 m.p.g. The engine was notably silent, tractable and not in the least addicted to pinking, though these are qualities we now take for granted in properly supercharged engines. But fuel consumption is usually not so good, especially at low speeds when the average installation has hardly thought about beginning work.

Kenneth Evans—Conducteur

” Wilky ” was in very good fettle when I called in to see him at the Bellevue Garage racing shops, where you always experience the fascination of preparation to the full. He had arrived back that morning— at 5 a.m.—from Niirburg, the Evans family having gone on to spectate at Berne. He told me that he had had .a really excellent time in Germany and felt extremely fit. And, of course, he was very pleased that Evans had brought the Alfa-Romeo home ninth in the German Grand Prix, the only independent to finish ahead of him being Hans Ruesch, who was eighth, while Kenneth’s Alfa is only a 2.9-litre, against the 6-litres of the Auto-Unions, 5-litres of the Mercs., and 4.5-litres of Nuvolari’s Alfa-Romeo. Evans finished comparatively fresh, for the monoposto Alfa has very light steering and a sensibly sprung driving seat, while the Dubonnet independent front suspension and reversed quarter elliptic rear springing ensures a fairly comfortable ride. For all that, the car takes a deal of handling, ” Wilky ” telling me that he found it quite exciting at 138 m.p.h. on the outer-circuit of Brooklands, which is about 18 m.p.h. down on Kenneth’s maximum at Nfirburg. Before the race Wilkinson remarked to Evans’s father that during the single pit-stop he would have no time to converse with the driver. This proved to be true, for fuel, oil and water were put in. in 28 secs., and Evans only managed to swallow half his glass of orange juice. He was given signals from the pit and these were repeated from the rear of the pit, where he saw them more

easily on the return leg of the course. The Alfa looked remarkably spick and span after its journeyings. The monoposto body strikes one as unduly wide, this being due to formula impositions. Under the circumstances it seems that the twin propeller shaft transmission to provide a low seating position is needlessly complicated, but actually the use of double drives reduces stresses in the rear axle, and another point is that the final drive ratio can be altered by using different pinions behind the gearbox, access to which is gained by removing about a dozen casing bolts and drawing out the axle assembly and propeller shafts complete, leaving the final drive adjustments, etc., quite undisturbed. The central gear-lever is curiously long and actually cranked to bring it near the wheel, and first and second gear positions are forward left and forward right respectively in the visible gate, a rapid change from first to second being very seldom required. The brakes were in excellent condition in spite of hard usage. ” Wilky ” joyously pointed out that next season formula racing is confined to 3-litre cars, so the Bellevue Alfa should be a factor with which to reckon. Other Bellevue-maintained cars include John Dugdale’s N-type M.G. Magnette, which does just over 100 m.p.h. unblown, J. H. T. Smith’s M.G. Magnette, Billy Cotton’s M.G. Magnette, the wheel of which Wilky shared in the International Trophy Race, Esplen’s R-type Midget, and the modified Montlhery Midget that Denis Evans still exercises to effect at speed trials. Cotton’s newly acquired ex-Seaman E.R.A. will be looked after by Bellevue. Cotton is disposing of the ex-Dobbs single-seater Riley but keeping his M.G.

The T.T. is Coming . . .

. . .

Less than a month to the T.T. Race at Donington. I wonder how many enthusiasts will devote a week of their holidays to watching the practice and preparation beforehand. Donington Park is situated amongst some very fine English countryside and no doubt there are plenty of charming farm-houses near at hand where those who wish could put up quite cheaply, if they are not hardy enough to live under canvas. And rare fun will doubtless be witnessed in the big hotels at Ashby and Derby, though not, I hope, approaching that which we read of in the new book “Sing Holiday.” The entries, if nothing sensational, are sufficient to ensure an interesting race. They do not require much explanation. Undoubtedly the Frazer-Nash-B.IV.I.W.s will be Type 328 cars, with full equipment. Mrs. Dobson’s Balilla Fiat must have a very big mileage to its credit, while the Simca Fiats are French built Balillas. Arthur Fox once again enters a 41-litre Lagonda, which was No. 1 of the Lagonda team last year and will very likely be handled by Charles Brackenbury. But I rather gather that Mr. Fox expects a Continental victory. Eddie Hall is likely to go through non-stop with the 41-litre Bentley. See you at Donington on September 4th . . .

Reharnessing the Horses

Dick Nash has had a spot of chest trouble but when I met him at Brooklands recently he was much better, and talking of reharnessing the horses of the FrazerNash-Union-Special—which is dismantled between events—for more sprint work. He told me the Lorraine was only firing on one as it finished its recent Lewes run in 18.29 secs. Nash’s collection of antique motor-cars is certainly not confined to pre-1905 models, for I noticed two excellent model T Fords, one with the square radiator and much beautiful brass-work, and his small cars include a 1915 Morris-Oxford and a 1913 two-cylinder Swift cyclecar. The T Fords do about 15 m.p.g.

Frazer-Nash Tuning Business

We learn that Whitfield Semmence, who in the past few months has built up an enviable reputation as a specialist in the tuning and service of Frazer-Nash and other thoroughbreds, has owing to his health been compelled to give up his business in Maida Vale in order to be nearer the sea. He has, however, joined the Progress Motor Works (Littlehampton) Ltd., in the capacity of director and works manager, where he will continue his work, catering for the enthusiast and his car. Together with his fellow directors, P. H. Sarvis and D. N. Stowers, both keen. enthusiasts, we feel that another tuning establishment specialising in Sports-Cars on the

South Coast will soon make its presence felt. Incidentally, Semmence possesses a really magnificent collection of precision instruments and tuning equipment which would be difficult to equal. Many of our readers already know, without being told, that he knows how to use them. We wish him the best of luck in his new venture.

The Donington T.T.

I have received a letter from a lady, lately arrived in this country from Ireland, who wishes to join any party of young folk who may be going up to Donington for the T.T. Week. Letters will be forwarded.