THE EX-ELWES M.G.

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24

THE EX-ELWES M.G.

IT was a satisfactory day for me when I ‘decided to visit a tiny village in the heart of Warwickshire to have a ” look-see ” at a 34 M.G. Midget Which was for sale at a very reasonable figure, together with a few spares, including a cylinder-head complete with valves, two S.U.s, dynamo and differential assembly. On being introduced to the car, the registration number, AGP 291, appeared very familiar, but for the moment I couldn’t place it. I remarked on this to the owner and asked if he knew anything of its history, but he professed ignorance, and a look at the log book did not help, as it was a duplicate, for the only other name appearing besides. his own was I fuxham’s, of Bournemouth, from whom he acquired the car. A few minutes later a sudden thought made me Wok through a collection of photographs I had with me, and there and then I produced a snap of the car taken at Worthing in 1933 or

1936,. looking exactly the same, with J. C. Elwes sitting on the back of the driving seat. I then knew that if the model had been reasonably looked after in its later life, it was a very potent r icce of Machinery and one of the fastest 750-c.c. ” touring ” ears in the country. Half an hour’s careful examination revealed only badly worn king pins and bushes and upholstery and floor boards sadly in need of renewal, so I paid my money and a week later brought the car home.

My first job was to write a letter to Maclachlan, of Austin fame, who is a business partner of Elwes, and who was responsible for tuning the motor, and ask if he could give me any ” dope ” concerning it. Although I had had considerable experience with a Marshall-blown ” M.G. Midget, the J4 was almost a closed book to me, which is not surprising, as only about 12 ears were built. It so happened that he still had all his data and notes, and I am indebted to him for most of the information given below. Car No. J4 003 was bought by Elwes and Watson in 1933. It ran in four events that year, the last one, unfortunately, ending in tragedy. Its first race Was the J.C.C. International Trophy, with Elwes driving, but during a ” mix up ” on the opening lap it hit a wall and the steering was too badly damaged to allow it to continue. Amends were made on its next appearance, however, for at the Empire Trophy Meeting it won the 50-Mile India Trophy at an average of 101.23 m.p.h. The Relay Race followed, ending in a broken crank, and then came the ill-fated “500.” Elwes drove in the opening stage, and at the appointed time came in to refuel. Watson took over and on his third lap the car overturned, caught fire and was nearly burnt out. Poor Watson was thrown out and did not recover from the injuries he had received. The cause of the accident has never been solved, for Elwes stated that when he handed over, the car was running per

fectly., .

The following year was spent in rebuilding, and then commenced several seasons Of very successful motoring, first in the hands of Elwes and later by C. E.

A. E. L. Antell describes his supercharged 750-c.c. J4 M.G. Midget, which gained many competition successes in 1934.

Robb, the Irish driver. Running fully equipped, with lamps, guards, and all the usual touring paraphernalia, the following results have been obtained :—

Shelsley Walsh, 48.2 sec. ; Brighton standing I-mile, 61.22 m.p.h. ; Lewes, 22.3 see.

Without the touring aids, a Mountain race was won at 66.65 m.p.h., and Craiganlet Hill climbed in 1 min. 25f see. The car also held (and Still does as far as I know) the 850 -c.c. lap records for the Cork Circuit at 70.9 m.p.h. for Leinster at 72.6 m.p.h., for Limerick (speed unknown), and has lapped Plicenix Park at the resounding speed of 84.04 m.p.h.

Turning to the mechanical details, the engine has a bore and stroke of 57 min. by 73 mm., giving a capacity of 746 c.c., and follows M.G. practice in that the single overhead camshaft is driven from the crankshaft via the dynamo through the usual bevels and spring coupling. The dynamo is specially wound to withstand high r.p.m., and the valve fingers are standard, except that the bushes are made of a light, alloy instead of bronze, thus effecting a desirable saving in weight. Tulip valves are fitted, held in place by a tiny spring cirelip, no split cotters being used. The cylinder head is copperised, with beautifully polished ports and cutdown valve guides to assist gas-flow, while a solid steel gasket is used, necessitating grinding the head faces together after every decoke if a perfect joint is to be obtained. The pistons are of Aerolite manufacture and differ from the usual ” P ” type in that the gudgeon pin is very much nearer the crown, presumably to aid in the dissipation of heat ; they give a compression ratio of 6.6 to 1. The twobearing crank, of M.G. design and manufacture, is fully counterbalanced, while the rods are I-sect ion steel. The elektron sump holds one gallon of oil and an auxiliary 2-gallon tank on the bulkhead feeds this, via an S.U. float feed, as soon as the level drops. Cooling is by pump and differs from the “C ” and ” J2 ” in that the water jacket is built out, allowing a greater depth of water between the bores and the side plate. Later blocks had a series of holes between the bores to eliminate steam pockets which had a habit of forming. The supercharger, a No. 8 Powerplus, is clipped on two tubular cross-members at the front end of the chassis and is driven at about iths engine speed from the crankshaft via a short shaft with two self-aligning races. The “gasworks ” is unusual in that a Solex is fitted, and this is the first blown M.G. I have seen with anything other than an S.U. This layout has proved eminently satisfactory and gives a clean pick-up throughout the range. Lubrication of the blower is looked after by a pipe taken from the off side of the cylinder head near the oildrain housing. The pressure should not exceed 1 I to 2 lb. per sq. in., and can be adjusted by suitable alteration to the amount of metal on the restrictor pin governing the feed to the valve gear. In addition, a double quantity of upper cylinder lubricant should be added to each gallon of fuel. Blower pressure is 15 lb./sq. in. :Vlaclachlan gives the following settings for varied fuels : For road work a 50/50 mixture is used with a 32-mm. choke, 190 by 44 main jet, and 65 pilot jet. K.L.G. 718 plugs are O.K. up to 4,500 r.p.m., and this speed should not be exceeded, as unless a harder plug and fuel comprising 75 per cent. benzoic and 25 per cent. Ethyl is used, there is a risk of cracking the head. In sprints, using a 60 per, cent. alcohol fuel, the main and pilot jets are increased to 270 by 44 and 70, respectively, while for short-distance races, where acceleration is the first consideration, a 33-min. choke is an advantage, using K.L.G. 646 or 690 plugs. Maximum engine speed should not exceed 6,000 r.p.m., for although otw can momentarily go to 6,500, to hold it at that is courting disaster, as at that speed the life of the Crankshaft is literally a matter of minutes •

The gearbox is E.N.V. with a two-plate clutch and is common to the J4 only. With a 4.5-to-1 axle ratio the lower ratios are : 6.16, 8.37 and 12.1 to 1, giving a. theoretical road speed at 6,000 r.p.m. of approximately 108, 78, 60 and 40 m.p.h. respectively, with 4.50 in. by 19 in. rear tyres.

The rest of tla chassis, with a few exceptions, is standard 11.G. practice. The steering box is a Bishop, and the patent M.G. divided track rod is fitted. The front axle is plated and two hefty torque cables prevent twist when treading heavily on the brake pedal. The brakes themselves are special, having 12-in. drums, made by R. R. Jackson, and, strangely enough, they have no cooling fins. The back plates are reinforced, especially round the cam hearings, and wind scoops are fitted fore and aft. Outsize racing Hartfords look after the road shocks and 2 S.U. fuel pumps are bolted to a flange at the back of the chassis and draw from a 24-gallon tank, on which is mounted the spare wheel.

The body is nothing more or less than an aluminium-alloy shell and was originally on IL. C. Hamilton’s M.G. Midget (which car finished 2nd to Nuvolari in the 1933 T.T., and was last heard of as belonging to R. D. Poore). The bonnet and mudguards are of the same material, the latter being quickly detachable, with the lamp wires in pin plugs for easy removal. Each electrical component has its own tumbler switch, and the instruments include a large rev.-counter reading to 8,000 r.p.m., blower pressure gauge, blower oil gauge, ‘oil and water temperature gauges, ammeter, etc., with manual ignition control on the steering column.

The body is in need of some attention as it splits so easily, and if considered too. stark by some people they must bear in mind that the saving in weight over the standard article must be considerable and is one reason why the car will pull a 4.5-to-1 top gear. Up to now I have only managed a .short run round -the houses. The steering is really first class and totally unlike that of any other M.G. I have driven (always, to my mind, the weak point on the everyday product), due, no doubt, to the .divided track rod which ensures that whichever way the car is steered the rod is always in tension. The gearbox makes the car, the changes either way coming through as rapidly as one can shift the lever through the gate. The engine is beautifully smooth, but has ‘absolutely no torque below 2,5(H) r.p.m., and this fact, in conjunction with the high hottom gear, caused me to sta on my first attempts at getting away until I realised that the car had little in common with my blown ” P.” The rev.-counter is no ornament and must be consulted, as the engine ‘speed rises in an incredibly short space of time and it is very easy to exceed the permitted maximum. All the road springs are corded, and the car sits on the road really

well and corners in a fasl ion that would be asking for trouble in the more normal motor-car.

The car has been completely stripped and is now in the process of being rebuilt. This, in view of the very limited time at my disposal, is taking a long while. but results so far have justified the attempt. I had intended to use it for road work, but in view of Maclachlan’s observations on the desirability of using a fuel mostly consisting of benzoic, I am not so sure that. this intention will be fulfilled, unless, of course, 87-octane fuel is generally available after the war.