I see that reference is made in “News from Australia” in MOTOR SPORT for June to the ” 14/40 ” Lea-Francis, an engine out of one of these ears having been reconditioned and rebuilt for sporting motoring out there. This has reminded me of a long letter forwarded to me by the Editor in reply to a request of mine for information about these rather rare motors published in April, 1939. Evidently pressure of current sporting events precluded publication of this letter at that time, but this
no longer applies, and as it seems that other readers may be equally interested, I am forwarding the letter herewith for publication. The only other information that I
have available about this motor is that externally it is very similar to the wellknown ” 12/40 ” Lea-Francis. Perhaps to complete the facts you, Sir, can provide further details of the specification. I am, Yours, etc., J. S. Moos; (Capt., 11 .E.M.E.) [The letter returned to us by Capt. Moon follows.—En.1
I notice that your correspondent J. Moon asks for information about the Lea-Francis ” 14/40 ” 6-cylinder twincamshaft Model of about 1928.
Having run one of these ears from 1934 to 1931, perhaps I may offer a little general information about this rather interesting motor car. The car appears to have been originally
designed and built as a Vulcan, with the Meadows-designed engine which, I believe, is still manufactured by Ifenry Meadows, Ltd. There are ears in existence carrying the Vulcan radiator which are otherwise indistinguishable from the Lea-Francis. The original engine in my car was of the following general description : 6 cylinders, bore and stroke forgotten [60 100 —ED.], alloy sump and crankcase, iron block and head. Twin o.h. camshafts driven by roller chain from the rear end of the crankshaft. Valves adjusted by shims and operated directly from the can-is with the interposition of a small rocking rider—incidentally, it was very difficult to get the clearances right and keep the operating mechanism quiet when the parts were at all worn. Magneto driven in tandem with the dynamo by chain from the front of the crankshaft. This -end of the crankshaft also carried a vibration damper. Steel con.-rods were fitted in this engine. Its most serious drawback was, however, that. the plungertype oil pump was mounted high up on the rear timing cOver, driven by the chain, and often it refused to prime itself, more especially if the suction filter Wati not scrupulously (lean–although this latter could be removed without drainingthe
sump by reason of a cunning valve in the base chamber. If the crank-pins were not perfectly round and true, they combined with the occasionally imperfect oiling system in violent attacks on the big ends, confiscating the white metal and abandoning the rods. After two of these efforts this engine was demobilised.
Two further engines were now acquired which gave better service. The clankpins were Fin, larger in diameter, the con.rods were of duralumin with bronze-backed white metal big-ends, the rods in the third engine acquired being really substantial affairs. These motors had a gear-type oil pump driven in the same way as the old plunger-type, and gave much greater satisfaction in maximum oil pressure, although it was still possible to get an air lock in the suction side after draining and refilling the sump. No trouble was experienced in priming normally. If the crank-pins were not round, however, it was still possible to disintegrate the big ends by sustained running at 50 m.p.h., though an engine in proper order in this direction was very reliable. I have omitted to mention carburation. This was b i Molex vertical carburetter, with an outside manifold and waterjacketed hot spot. The exhaust manifold was on the opposite side of the head. The cylinder heads were, incidentally,
The outstanding feature of this engine was its smooth running. Dead quiet wlien prosWrly adjusted, it compared very favourably for lack of vibration with some rubber-mounted engines, although it Nvas anchored solidly to the chassis at the rear and, interestingly enough, carried in a single metal-to-metal bearing cornidete with greaser at the front.
The drive )vent through a single dry plate clutch to the unit gearbox. A clutch stop was fitted.. There were four speeds forward which could well have been a little closer between third and top, although the car performed excellently on top. It seemed to have a maximum of about 65 70 in standard touring form, and did al)mit 26 m.p.g. on average docile running.
The change, right-hand gate, required a modicum of skill, but with pravi ice, clutchless changes were possible. Racing. changes worked beautifully.
The brakes were boosted by a Dewandre vacuum servo cylinder, and worked very smoothly in 14-in, ribbed iron drums, although care had to be taken to see that the cross-shafts did not seize. Needless to say they had a pronounced anchoring effect.
Semi-ellipties all round, friction “shockers,” Rudge knock-on wheels, Marks steering (grand), and autovac .feed from a 12-gallon rear tank completed a very pleasant car.
One of these cars, fitted with three S.C.s and doubled oil feed, heavier “shockers ” and better lighting equipment, would be a very good motor, and not very expensive to buy (one of my spare engines came wrapped up in quite a good car for t5), and should Mr. Moon ever consider this, and desire any further and specific information, I should be pleased to place my hard-earned experience of the car at his disposal.
R. K. MATTERSON. Rochdale. [Top gear was 4.7 to l in 1928-9 and 5 to I before that, the tyre size 28 x4.95 in. or 29 x 5 in., the wheelbase 9 ft. 9 in., and the ” tourer ” cost £395.—E0.1