Rumblings, August 1962

Engine Testing by TV

The Editor is something of a sceptic. For instance, he is not convinced that fitting a funnel or similar extractor to the exhaust pipe of an ordinary car will make it go faster, nor is he in favour of lubricating an engine with new-fangled multi-grade oils or adding additives such as “blackcross” or “jolly” to the sump, having always been served admirably by straight Castrol.

For many years, therefore, he had felt indifferent to having an engine “tune-up” by the Crypton people. All that was changed when he went down to Bridgwater last month to look over Crypton Equipment Limited and their electronic test machines.

The seed from which Crypton grew was planted nearly 70 years ago at Taunton.

In the late 1890s, two brothers named Newton, one of them a Somerset cricketer, started a factory for making direct current motors and generators and they, in fact, installed electric lighting in Taunton, one of the first towns in the country to adopt electricity.

Around 1920, Newtons of Taunton were acquired by Rotax Limited and subsequently by Joseph Lucas Limited as a result of the Lucas-C.A.V.-Rotax amalgamation in 1926. This provided the opportunity for the development and production, for the first time in Britain, of battery charging and electrical testing equipment for the automobile industry.

In 1935, Lancashire Dynamo and Crypto Limited, who manufactured a patented type of automobile battery charger, took over the garage equipment interests from Rotax and a new company was formed to specialise in automobile testing and servicing equipment. The new company was Crypton Equipment Limited and the name derived from the “Crypt” of Crypto and the “ton” of Newton. Operations began in the Willesden factory of L.D.C. but so rapid was expansion that a new factory was built nearby. Progress continued up to the outbreak of war, when a rapid turnover was made to the production of specialised equipment for the Admiralty and Ministry of Supply.

At the height of the 1940 “blitz,” the Crypton works were totally destroyed and a new home had to be sought. This was found in a derelict ‘bus garage in Bridgwater and in a very short time production was established and soon outstripped previous records.

When the war ended the important decision to stay in the West Country was taken. The present factory was built, and was in operation in 1947.

There followed a period of rapid development in the range of automobile servicing equipment, an outstanding example of which was the Crypton “Motormaster,” which, for the first time, introduced “Area Testing,” a new method of testing engines which completely overcame previous complications and cut testing times by many hours.

Now the “Scopemaster” has been introduced, which has only four connections and enables seven standard tests to be carried out in 10 to 20 minutes, covering more than 30 possible faults, without removing a single part from the engine, and, moreover, under working conditions. Using a miniature TV screen and an oscilloscope for engine timing, the indications on the screen, once understood, provide the clue to the state of plugs, coil, condenser, distributor, fuel pump, ignition timing (including both centrifugal and suction advance and retard control), contact-breaker points (including dwell of break), etc., while an exhaust-gas analyser checks on carburation.

We do not propose to describe how this equipment functions, but once understood it is simplicity itself and should appeal to all the better service stations and garages. Crypton run a week’s training course for garage personnel who are going to operate the “Scopemaster.”

The prompt manner in which this handsome piece of equipment traced faults in an engine was convincingly illustrated when we took the office-hack Morris Mini Minor into the factory. This had nearly 42,000 miles on the odometer and the engine had run 26,000 miles. The zizzling pictures on the screen proved, to our surprise and to the credit of B.M.C. and Lucas, that it was in very good condition. The carburation was found to be slightly weak when the gas-analyser readings were taken, which was quickly corrected. The entire electrical system was in very good order. At first the coil appeared to have a low reserve but the “Scopemaster ” quickly traced this to high resistance at Nos. 1 and 4 plugs and, after these had been replaced, the entire circuit was passed as O.K. Then the revealing screen, while testing at cruising r.p.m. (determined by using the voltmeter as an electrical tachometer), first with the suction pipe attached, then with it removed, revealed that the suction ignition advance was reticent; a few drops of oil freed the diaphragm and the” Scopemaster” not only showed the trouble cured but that the advance was now spot-on to B.M.C. recommendation.

Tile dynamo charge starter speed and battery condition were all in order, as the efficient Acton depot of Joseph Lucas had confirmed some time before.

The speed and accuracy with which this Crypton equipment locates faults is very impressive. Asked whether it could be applied to competition cars, Crypton remark that when B.M.C. were in despair over the Twin-Cam M.G.A engine, which they eventually withdrew from production, it was a Crypton engine test that revealed that the suction ignition advance was lagging as revs dropped, with resultant holing of pistons. And we have heard that similar equipment, of another make, was used in the Chevrolet Corvette pit at Le Mans to trace misfiring trouble.

The latest Crypton “Scopemaster” costs £500. It is made in the Bridgwater factory, at the rate of 50 a month, the total annual turn-over of such equipment being £500,000 on the Home Market and £750,000 Overseas.

Overseas sets are safeguarded by the employment of a plated chassis, and Crypton make their own cabinets, durably finished and baked in the largest gas ovens in the West Country. The electronic “works” utilise mainly valves instead of an all-transistor circuit, as valves are more durable in hot climates. As Crypton make almost all their equipment themselves the stores occupy one-sixth of the floor area of their spacious Somerset factory. Every “Scopemaster” undergoes an 8-hour saturation test and a final 6-hour test. In fact, every individual item of Crypton equipment, from the humble battery-charger to their enormous £600 machines for testing dynamos and starters (which, incidentally, incorporate a D.A.F.-type belt drive) is tested before leaving the factory. The oscilloscope timing lamps are supplied as separate items for £15, and these function up to speeds of 3,000/4,000 r.p.m. If necessary, the “Scopemaster” can be used to check faults at crankshaft speeds of up to 7,000 r.p.m.

To have one’s engine checked promptly and efficiently by modern electronic equipment is highly satisfactory and more and more discerning motorists will, we predict, be looking in future for the Crypton sign at garages and service stations.


One After the Other

Just lately we have experienced far too much of what “Archie” Butterworth used to refer to, aptly, as the “perversity of things” – the “things” in our case being motor cars. First of all, a previously-faithful vintage car developed alarming clatters in its engine and will be hors de combat for several months. Next a road-test Rover 80 developed a high temperature for no apparent reason and just dragged itself back to Rover’s London depot, to expire under a (water vapour) cloud.

Then, on an occasion when an appointment with a specialist at a hospital 14 miles from home made a car essential and one was in no mood for set-backs, the Editorial Minibric, having motored impeccably all the morning, broke its throttle-cable immediately we got into it to drive away after lunch. (Let us enlarge on this by saying that a bodged repair with a nut and a blob of solder by Lex Garages Ltd. a week earlier was the cause of this unwanted and ill-timed calamity; the local B.M.C. agent found us the last cable he had in stock and did a very prompt repair.)

Finally (to date) a road-test Simca 1000 chose another highly inconvenient time to die mysteriously at the road-side after we had driven it just over 200 miles, with trouble that baffled even the Simca Service Engineer, who had to abandon it. (Whether this puzzling trouble could be due to the high under-bonnet temperature at which this rear-engined water-cooled car runs, that has necessitated cold-air venting round the fuel tank and a crankcase fume extractor to eliminate unburnt hydrocarbons, we do not know).

All of which depresses us, for this is 1962 not 1902 and in a car reliability is more important than any other quality.

Agreed, unreliability isn’t confined to cars. House-wise we can think of only a few items that have been outstandingly troublefree—an English Electric refrigerator, our Bardic “BM” electric torches, a Pye portable radio and a Parker pen, although the last named was lost eventually, due to having been supplied with an ineffective clip…

But, in general, modern life is punctuated unpleasantly with mechanical failures and this “perversity of things.” Medically, too, there has been a troublesome week with an arm like a football and subsequent mysterious seizure of the leg muscles, all due, apparently, to vaccination incurred because we ventured innocently into Spain to sample a Renault R8.

Just at the moment, what we crave is reliability – and let economy, comfort, speed and styling follow where they will.


Life in Air-Liners

Racing drivers and their managers, racing mechanics and many of the business executives who read MOTOR SPORT travel frequently by air and must have sampled most of the current makes and types of air liner. Some of them, especially those with a leaning towards motoring history, may sometimes ponder on how it all began. We felt that some light might be thrown on the fascinating pioneer days of air travel by a book in Putnam’s splendid series of aviation books. This proved entirely correct. There is a fascinating account of what air-liners were like in the times when you left Hounslow or Croydon for Paris in biplanes with car-type water radiators and nothing much in the way of navigational equipment, in John Pudney’s “The Seven Skies” (Putnam, 42, Great Russell Street, London, W.C.1, 30s.).

This 320-page book is a study of B.O.A.C. and its forerunners since 1919 and brings history up to the present day. It is intriguing to read this life-span of the air-liner from the Handley-Page 0/400 6-ton biplane of 1919 that cruised at 75 m.p.h. on 710 h.p. to the Boeing 707 of today, which weighs 132 tons and gets through the sky at from 525 to 577 m.p.h. on a thrust of 64,000 lb.

Unlike others of the excellent Putnam aviation books, this one is of normal format instead of giving technical data in tabular form for those who seek intimate details of the air-liners in which they fly and have flown – this will, no doubt, be provided in their books “The World’s Air-liners” and “The Modern Air-liner,” both by Peter W. Brooks, which we have yet to review.

“The Seven Skies” makes us very nostalgic for the old days of adventurous aviation. We are old enough to have schoolboy memories of going up Plough Lane, Waddon over the aeroplane level-crossing, to watch air-liners arrive and take-off from Croydon Aerodrome (we even remember an air display there) but we never knew Hounslow as an Airport. But we believe the original terrain of Hounslow remains largely unchanged; can anyone provide a map of this aerodrome as it was in 1920?