VETERAN SPECIALIST

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VETERAN SPECIALIST

(Continued from the May issue) AFTER our test run with the Lanchester on November 3rd, 1935, we decided, as the day was yet young, to try to get the De Dion ‘ Quad ” running. We pushed and pedalled until we were on the point of complete exhaustion, when suddenly the engine fired, and Messer shot off down the drive at break-neck speed, round the flower bed opposite the front door on two wheels, and back towards the garage yard, which is surrounded by a thick beech hedge. Upton and I could see him frantically turning handles and pulling knobs, but all to no purpose ; he shot straight through the hedge and disappeared completely from sight. Upton and I, still in a pretty breathless condition, dashed up and peered through the gap in the hedge, to find Messer still sitting on the machine convulsed with laughter. It transpired that the twistgrip ignition switch was shorting and the engine could not be switched off. However, I mentioned that by cutting off the mixture one should be able to control the machine and duly mounted into the saddle, only to find out my mistake. I was completely unversed with the intricacies of a surface carburetter and its attendant array of small knobs, and having driven slap through the middle of the best bed of antirrhinums and come to a sudden stop with the forecar firmly wedged in a rose bush, we unanimously decided to rewire the machine before experimenting any further. The rewiring was duly completed and a new set of tyres fitted, and on November 5th, after a few preliminary runs up and down the drive, I decided to take the machine on the road and find out what the general performance was like, Messer following in the family Lanchester in ease of trouble. I covered just over six miles through Seale, Compton and up Puttenham Hill on to the Hog’s Back. The performance on the level and on slight gradients was good, the speed ranging between 28 and 82 m.p.h., but as soon as the revs, started to drop one had to pedal hard. How I got the machine up the 1 in 9 hill on to the Hog’s Back I really don’t know ; by the time I reached the main road at the top I was sick with exhaustion. However, the engine appeared quite reliable and Messer took the machine for a test run on November 9th and covered about nine miles up and down the Hog’s Back, after which he sportingly offered to take it through the London-Brighton run. So the De Dion was insured and licensed with the new No. DPC489, as it transpired that the machine had never been registered, its active career having terminated before January 1st, 1901. It was sent up to London on a truck together with Southon’s 1901 Decauville, Messer and I driving up on the 1903 Lanchester on Saturday, the 16th. The Lanchester performed very well, and the 84-mile trip to the City of London Garage was uneventful. Sunday, November 17th, the LondonBrighton NM again timed to start at

9 a.m. Ninety-nine vehicles entered, the De Dion being No. 23, the Lanchester No. 71, and George Lanchester’s car No. 72. Upton, Messer, his son Norman, and myself all arrived at the City of London Garage in good time to prepare the two cars. The Be Dion started at 9.10 a.m., with Messer driving and Norman Messer as passenger in the forecar. Upton and I had to push them quite a distance before Messer could get the engine to fire, and then we raced back to get the Lanchester started. The Lanchester crew consisted of Arthur W. Bird (at one time Lanchester’s works manager, and then with Meadows), Upton and myself. I drove throughout, and intended, if possible, to reach Brighton first. The trip started in steady drizzle, which eventually developed into a complete downpour, which soon found a crack in my anti-rain armour. A certain amount of caution had to be exercised

Francis Hutton-Stott describes competing in a variety of Veteran C.C. events with 1903 Lanchester, 1899 De Dion” Quad “and 1902 Wolseley cars.

In driving out of London as the roads were pretty g-reitsy,`but once clear of the tram tracks I let the old Lanchester go. The overhaul had made a terrific difference, and the engine now responded instantly to the slightest touch on the governor. Arthur Bird said that the way we shot past batches of six and seven modern cars at a time fairly made his hair stand on end, and Upton clutched both sides of his seat and prayed. At times the Lanchester was travelling at 50 m.p.h., and once was actually timed at 52. We reached Brighton second at 11.18, having covered the 56t miles non-stop in 1 hour 48 minutes. The first car to arrive was G. H. Eyre’s 1902 4-cylinder Napier, but as this car’s number was 54, it started from London some minutes before the Lanchester, the cars being started at half-minute intervals in numerical order. A. W. Smith’s 1903 Clement, No. 67, was third, J. A. Turner’s 1902 Panhard, No. 59, fourth, G. H. Lanchester’s 1903 Lanchester, No. 72, fifth, and A. J. Wrohan’s 1904 Mercedes, No. 95, sixth. A most curious thing was that none of the Lanchester crew remembered seeing Messer with the De Dion ” Quad ” en route. We waited about at the finish hoping to see him arrive, but at one o’clock we departed to the Metropole Hotel for lunch. Messer eventually arrived at 2 p.m., having had a most adventurous trip. The trouble started at Purley, when the cotter of the inlet valve fell into the cylinder, necessitating removal of the head. This happened twice, but was finally fixed with a piece of wire from a roadside fence. During the latter episode a man came up to Messer and asked if he would like to purchase another engine for the machine, and Messer, thinking that if the present troubles

continued it might be useful, said he would, and they exchanged addresses. Curiously enough the owner lived at Ash Vale, only a few miles from home. The brakes, which were leather-lined, became useless almost at once, and Norman Messer had supplied the braking by grabbing the tyres of the front wheels with his hands ; his gloves were torn to ribbons and his hands bleeding, and to add to his general discomfort he was run over by the machine. As the vehicle slowed up on a hill Norman would jump out of the

forecar and push, then, as the machine started to speed up, he would vault over the front wheel and into the forecar again. Unfortunately, on one occasion, as he jumped, his foot became entangled in the rug, causing him to fall flat on his face, and the machine passed over him. They were both soaked to the skin, so we rushed them off to the Metropole to get their clothes dry ; then all attended the official tea and presentation of medals by the Mayor of Brighton at the Royal Albion Hotel. At the Veteran Car Club dinner at the Metropole that evening I was enumerating the many bestial qualities of the Be Dion, and Dick Shuttleworth was saying horrible things about his little 5-h.p. Wolseley, which appeared to suffer every possible trouble and had on two occasions taken close on eight hours to complete the run. Suddenly Shuttleworth said, “Why not swop our horrors ?” And so it was arranged that he would deliver the Wolseley to Puttenham and collect in exchange the ” Quad ” and the spare engine from the man at Ash.

On December 2nd Shuttleworth arrived at Puttenham in his latest Raton and had a short run on the ” Quad ” (which I had entered in the ” Brighton ” as a Be, Dion Houton, but which has subsequently turned out to be a Marot-Gardon “Quad”). He then suggested that we went over to Tunbridge Wells to investigate a rumour he had heard about some of the late Sir David Soloman’s early cars being still in the district. However, we drew a complete blank in this direction, but heard about an old tiller-steered Lanchester, which we were told was in every-day use. We eventually tracked down the owner’s chauffeur, who told us the car was a 1908 20-h.p. Lanchester and had been owned since new by his mistress, Mrs. HayesJackson, that he drove her out every afternoon, and that there was no hope of her selling it. But, as the lady was over 80, we left my address, and were promised that should anything happen he would let us know. I purchased this car some years later, but more anon. Shuttleworth’s little Wolseley arrived on March 17th, 1930, and the MarotGardon ” Quad ” departed to its new home. Messer and I decided to have a

short run on the Wolseley. The engine, which had terrific compression, started fairly easily and we proceeded out of the drive and on to the Hog’s Back. We. had not covered more than half a mile when an ominous thud was heard, followed by complete silence. We pushed the car home and dismantled the engine, to find that the connecting rod had gone clean through the end of the piston. The Wolseley was living up to its reputation I telephoned Shuttleworth and told him what had happened. He said, “The ‘ Quad ‘ is doing its best, too ; I took it out this afternoon and broke a halfshaft 1 ” The score appeared to be one all. However, I liked the look of this little Wolseley and felt it could be made to go. Its registration number is LC9666, and the type is known as the 5-h.p. Baby Wolseley, with single-cylinder horizontal engine, bore 101 mm. by 101 mm. stroke, automatic inlet valve, trembler-coil ignition, Wolseley float-feed carburetter, drip lubrication, two-speed gearbox bolted direct to the engine, transmission by single roller chain to a differential on the back axle, semi-elliptic suspension, and band brakes on the rear wheels and transmission shaft. Engine r.p.m. 900. Top gear ratio 4ito 1. Wire wheels with 28-in. by 3-in, pneumatic tyres ; weight with 2-seater body and hood 9 cwt. Chassis No. X22. Shuttleworth had bought the car at an auction sale at Earls Colne, Essex, in 1930, for 15s., but had spent over £40 in overhauling it. He entered it in the 1930 Brighton run, giving the date of manufacture as 1900, and in 1933 and 1934 as 1901, the wire wheels having misled him into thinking it was one of the earliest Wolseleys, which all had wire wheels. I was not satisfied with the date of 1901, and after correspondence with Capt. Wylie, ran the car as 1902. We sent the piston and connecting rod to the Weyside Engineering Co., Ltd., in Guildford, for repair. Upton

came down on April 4th, this being a Saturday, and we gave the 1903 Lanchester, which had been hibernating during the winter, a thorough check-over and a test trip of some 14 miles, to make sure that everything was right for the Veteran Car Club opening event.

By April 13th the little Wolseley was again ready for the road, and Messer and I went for two or three miles along the Hog’s Back that evening, but the running was most erratic and we decided to rewire the ignition system. This was completed by the 15th, and we again went on test, but without any noticeable improvement. Messer suggested that we advanced the valve timing ; this was done, and the improvement was most noticeable. The engine would now rev. quite readily, and the maximum speed appeared to be about 28 m.p.h., but the running was still erratic and time was getting short, both the Wolseley and the Lanchester being entered for the V.C.C. Rally to Oxted and Tilbuystow Hill Climb on the Saturday. Audrey Howard, who was going to drive the Wolseley, came over on the 16th and we took the car for a 14-mile test via the Hog’s Back, down to the low road through Seale, Puttenham, Compton and back on to the Hog’s Back. We had a number of stops, the engine mysteriously cutting out and refusing to start for some minutes. We cleaned a certain amount of grit out of the carburetter and petrol pipe, but this was not the main trouble. The following evening Messer tested the coil ; this appeared to be O.K. and we had another short run.

Came Saturday, April 18th. Upton arrived bright and early to drive the Lanchester. Audrey telephoned to say she had a bad cold and could not drive the Wolseley. Upton and my brother Tom went on the Lanchester and covered the 34 miles non-stop ; I drove the Wolseley with Messer in attendance. After various delays I arrived at Oxted late, but in time to climb Tilburstow.

It almost seemed that the Wolseley was repentant for its earlier misbehaviour, as it went up the hill without so much as a misfire, in 3 min. 52 4/5 sec., to win the cup for Class 3 , (cars 1901-2). The Autoear reported that Class 3 was won by Miss Howard driving Mr. HuttonStott’s Wolseley—I must look effeminate ! Upton took the Lanchester up in 2 min. 35 sec., 1 mm. 11 sec. bettc.r than its previous time for the hill. R. C. Blake, with his 55-h.p. “Cordon-Bennett” Napier, put up the fastest time, with 1 min. 15 1/5 sec., and Peter MitchellThomson (now Lord Selsdon) 1 min. 35 1/5 see. on his 60-h.p. Merc&les. Altogether 35 cars were entered for this e vent and 32 checked in. The Wolseley, having done its stuff, proceeded to run as badly as ever on the way home. On April 23rd Liberty Film Productions outfit arrived to take shots of the cars in action for their film” Wheel and Woe.” The director arrived in a ” 40/50 ” RollsRoyce, wearing a fur coat and an expensive cigar, accompanied by an equally expensive-looking blonde script girl and a camera man. “The Morris Rally and Gymkhana for British Cars” to give the event its full title, was organised by the Haslemere Motor Co., Ltd., to take place at Guildford Market Place on May 22nd, followed by a gymkhana at Aldershot. They rashly announced a cup for the oldest car attending, condition being taken into consideration. As it was near home I had the bright idea of entering the Lanchester and the Wolseley. When the day came we found that Roy Dennis had entered his 1903 Dennis, Mr. Sears his 1913 Mop* and Mrs. K. Petre was driving the Haslemere Motor Co.’s 1913 Morris. My brother, mother and Upton made up the crew of the Lanchester, and Messer and his son Norman went on the Wolseley. Both cars ran well and the Lanchester carried off the cup. In a weak moment I promised to give rides in the cars at a garden fete to aid Conservative Party funds, at Eastbury Manor, Compton. This proved the most popular side-show, and we had a long queue of people waiting for rides all the afternoon. It was on this occasion that I met Lt.-Comdr. J. D. R. Davies, later to become a most enthusiastic veteran car owner and competitor in V.C.C. events. The next event was the Veteran Car Club London– Eastbourne Rally, on Tuesday, June 30th. I entered both the Lanchester and the Wolseley, but eventually only ran the Lanchester, as the mileage involved was quite considerable and the Wolseley was not running well. On the 29th I drove the Lanchester the 31 miles from Puttenham to Croydon Aerodrome, where I met Shuttleworth, who arrived in his ‘plane from Biggleswade. We stayed the night at the Airport Hotel. The start was from the Croydon Corporation Car Park, and the Mayor started the cars at 9 a.m. on their 51-mile run to the sea. Shuttleworth was my only passenger, it being his first event since his bad smash in the South African Grand Prix at East London, and he bitterly complained about the weather. The run finished in a rainstorm, the Lanchester taking 1 hour 58 minutes. This performance was only bettered by G. H. Eyre’s Napier, which took two minutes less. There was an

official tea at Eastbourne Town Hall, after which all competitors were free to go their respective ways. We put the old Lanchester in the Grand Hotel garage and set to work polishing it up for the. Concours d’Elegance the following day. About 8 p.m. two very tired and somewhat oil-stained people entered the dining room of the Grand Hotel, and I will never forget the pained expression on the head waiter’s face when Shuttleworth demanded scrambled eggs and a pot of tea for two. The cars had to be parked in their appointed places in Devonshire Place by 10.15 a.m., and judging commenced at 11. It was a glorious day with the sun shining and the hundreds of cars, both ancient and modern, presented a wonderful spectacle. There were two cups for veteran cars ; one for the most attractive (this the Lanchester won), and one for the best kept car in original condition (this was won by Major. (4. W. Allen with his 1899 M.M.G.). Twenty-one veterans were entered. The whole affair wound up with a dinner and dance at the Grand Hotel. Shuttleworth departed for Croydon by train and I drove the old Lanchester home via Lewes, Hurstpierpoint, Horsham and Guildford, some 68 miles. After several more test runs we got the little Wolseley ” cracking ” fairly well. We discovered one trouble : the Rolls

Royce coil which Shuttleworth had fitted proved faulty, only making intermittent contact at one of the terminals when hot. This would account for the engine running for a short time and then. cutting out. The next event was the Veteran Car Club Rally to the Bell House at Beaconsfield, to be followed by a reliability trial. This was on Sunday, September 20th. Messer and I took the Wolseley over to Beaconsfield on Saturday afternoon in convoy, with Roy Dennis on his 1903 Dennis. We garaged our cars for the night am! returned to Guildford in Dennis’s 8+-litre Bentley. Upton came down to Guildford on the Sunday morning and we drove the 1903 Lanchester to Beaconsfield, followed by the family in the 21-h.p. Lanchester. On arrival we collected the Wolseley, but before we were allowed to move off to the rallying point the proprietor insisted on having the cars photographed in front of the garage. After lunch at the Bell House, we started on the reliability trial, which was over a 40-mile course taking in Amersham, Wendover, Ashton Clinton Hill, Chesham, Chalfont St. Peter, Sear Hill, Gerrard’s Cross, and finishing at the Bell House. The cars had to maintain a schedule speed of 20 m.p.h. throughout. This proved too much for the Wolseley, although I kept her flat out all the time. My mother, who very sportingly accom

panied me, had a most hectic ride. She had to jump off at the bottom of Ashton Clinton as the Wolseley, having only a two-speed gear, could not make the grade with a passenger, and she got a lift up the hill on the running board of a passing car. When descending the long hill into Chesham she asked me not to go so fast ; I had to tell her that the brakes were hard on and I couldn’t go any slower. A little further on the near-side rear mudguard came adrift and mother had .to hang over the side and keep it off the wheel. During this process the mackintosh she was wearing hung over the side of the floorboard and became entangled in the camshaft, bringing the car mysteriously to a standstill. However, we completed the course, but did not gain an award owing to being late at the finish and having had a number of involuntary stops. The Lanchester, which was driven by Upton, with my brother as passenger, went round the course and checked in so much ahead of time that it was disqualified. There were 80 cars entered in this event, which created a great deal of interest and a record crowd of spectators turned out. After tea we drove both ears home, arriving just after dark with our oil lamps lit. (To be continued.)