AS an example of patience and determination the efforts of Mr. R. C. C. Palmer in completing the construction of his Tojeiro-Butterworth sports/racing car should not go unrecorded. Well known in vintage circles as the owner and intrepid driver of a “chain-gang” Frazer-Nash in vintage races, and more recently of modified saloon cars in hill-climbs and sprints, Mr. Palmer decided in 1956 that something a little more modern was required. Through a variety of circumstances he ended up with a Tojeiro chassis and one of the flat-four air-cooled engines made by Archie Butterworth.
The engine was one of Butterworth’s earlier efforts and was fitted with ordinary valve gear, the interesting flap or swing valve being added to the specification at a later date. The engine happened to be available at a modest price and appeared to be quite able to deal with the then popular M.G. engine, as the Climax unit was not yet in production.
The Tojeiro chassis was also in the early stages of design, the first one being quite a simple ladder type which Mr. Palmer decided to use although the space frame chassis became available shortly afterwards. The Butterworth engine was taken to the Tojeiro workshops where the first difficulties became apparent. Owing to the great width of the engine the chassis had to be modified to give enough clearance for the cylinder heads. The frame tubes were bent and a tubular steel framework was built at the front end for the wishbone front suspension.
An M.G. TD gearbox was mated to the engine without much trouble by using an alloy mating ring but the main problem was in starting the engine as no teeth were fitted to the flywheel. The problem was eventually overcome after much trial and error by fitting an aircraft starter motor above the engine and turning the crankshaft by belt drive.
All these troubles and many others consumed much time as Mr. Palmer insisted on doing most of the work himself in his own garage. Another problem was the installation of the four Amal carburetters which were fitted at an angle of 90 degrees to their normal operating angle and Mr. Palmer feels that one or more of the carburetters is flooding. But he philosophically hopes to overcome this snag in due course. Being an air-cooled engine much attention had to be paid to efficient ducting. Mr. Palmer was especially keen to get the cooling right as he felt that inefficient cooling was part of the trouble with the Elva-Butterworth which Archie Scott-Brown drove on several occasions. Two large ducts were placed beneath the normal radiator grille and carried to the front cylinders while an ingenious series of vanes painstakingly made by hand carried cooling air to the rear cylinders. By comparison, the fitting of the de Dion rear axle, Alfin drum brakes, and rack-and-pinion steering was fairly simple.
The front of the body is a glass-fibre moulding which has been modified on the top and fitted with carburetter air intake bulges on either side and in the centre is a grille for taking out excess heat from the engine compartment. The remainder of the bodywork is carried out in aluminium and is easily removable. The interior trimming of the cockpit is tastefully executed in red p.v.c. and the bucket seat is especially comfortable. As part of his policy of building as much of the car as possible Mr. Palmer made the wood-rimmed steering wheel in his own workshop.
Over three years have elapsed since the project was started and the car would undoubtedly be outclassed in modern sports-car racing where drum brakes, de Dion axles and twin-tube chassis have practically passed into history. However, Mr. Palmer hopes to enter the car for a number of sprints and hill-climbs in the near future when the final bugs have been eliminated. Having driven the car at modest speeds on an airfield he is satisfied with the car’s handling and if the noise of the engine is anything to go by it should he quite a potent machine. -M.L.T.