The factory methods of A. Harper, Sons and Bean Ltd. at Tipton in 1922 were geared for mass-production, insofar as this was understood in Britain at that time. Indeed, the pioneer of mass-manufacture of cars, Henry Ford himself, had visited the Bean works that year and had declared that some works were as well, but never better, organised for production.
In making as many 11.9 Beans as possible, castings, stampings and bar material from outside sources were tested for quality, then stored until required for machining, when electric trucks conveyed them from one shop to another. In the main machine shop the tools were arranged in line, the appropiate jigs being mounted on rails and wheeled into place under components as required. Crankcases had holes drilled in them by multiple drilling rigs and proceeded down the line to the assembly bay where cylinder block, crankshaft, etc. were in stalled. Heavy components such as cylinder blocks passed from one machine to another on rollers and small items like pistons arrived at the machines down inclined shoots. After completion they were put into store again until needed for assembly.
Chassis frames had the necessary holes drilled in them at one end of a long assembly shop, after which they travelled on a moving line past outlets from the various assembly stores, cross members, axles, engine, gearbox, steering assembly, etc. being fitted as they moved along. Even in those mass-production days crankshafts were balanced, pistons matched for weight and matched to cylinder bores before assembly in the engines and engines were run-in and then run-up, being required to give a minimum of 21 b.h.p. Each gear was tested individually before going into the gearbox and the spiral-bevel final drives were run-in and then adjusted for quiet functioning. The Bean chassis was finally run on a 1/2-mile test track in the factory grounds. Finished chassis were steam-cleaned and spray-painted.
The Company was making about 80 cars a week by these “modern” standards at the end of 1922, compared to an average of 60 a week in October 1921. The bodies were made at Dudley, jigs being used for planing and cutting up the seasoned wood used for the frames and labour-saving product methods being employed. After the bodies were fitted a final road-test was undertaken, before painting and varnishing was done.
It is amusing that in 1922, when a four-speed Bean was offered as well as the older three-speed model, some customers were said to prefer the latter because “it required less frequent gear-changing”, whereas with properly-spaced ratios one would have expected the opposite to apply. Even more droll was mention of “a special sporting 11.9 model”, looking exactly like a normal two-seater with dickey but with the four-speed gearbox and panelled in aluminium, although its chassis was modified hardly at all. — W. B.
V-E-V Miscellany.—A 1923 Talbot 10/23 coupé is looking for a good home, having been carefully laid up in Essex eight years ago, after being restored and re-coachpainted in 1960. A rather derelict 1930s Austin Six saloon probably a H6, lies in a field in Wales. The Armstrong Siddeley OC has purchased from Rolls-Royce Ltd. all the remaining new Armstrong Siddeley spares. They intend to supply all customers, not only their members; enquiries to J. D. Hubbuck, 6 Chilton Close, Westbourne, Bournemouth, Hants until the end of August and thereafter the same gentleman at 90, Alumhurst Road, Bournemouth. The reference to two ancient commercial vehicles in Eire in this column in June has brought a note to the effect that they feature in the film “Ryan’s Daughter” and were then in running order—but where are they now ? Vintage motorcycles and Morgan three-wheelers will feature in the Chew Stoke Steam Festival at Pagans Hill Farm, Chew Stoke, near Bristol, on August 12th/13th, which is run by the Bedminster Rotary Club for charity.
The Frazer Nash chaps, having conquered Snow Hill, are now planning a Raid on the French Alps next year, to commemorate H. J. Aldington’s penalty-free run in the 1933 Alpine Trial, this to follow the same general lines as their great Raids on Bolzano and the Nurburgring. It sounds exciting, especially the Nice to Aix 305-mile bit! Readers are still generously donating early sparking plugs to the Editorial collection, such as an F.A.G. a Molla and a Powerton 5VM. They are always welcome! The remains of a 35 h.p. straight-eight Sunbeam have turned up in Leicestershire, information being sought about this model, and a reader offers free an o/s door with glass for a Circa 1932 Austin 7. Vintage cars are not always expensive—a letter in the Morgan 3-Wheeler Club’s Bulletin refers to a family model Morgan found in a Salvation Army garage and bought for £3.50, and an Austin Riley, almost complete but with damaged mudguards, was valued by the country garage where it was lying, at £10. To commemorate the association of John Marston with Ludlow, Sunbeam cars and motorcycles were displayed there during last month’s Festival, conveniently on the day prior to the STD Register’s 22nd annual pilgrimage to Wolverhampton. The present “with it” aspect of the old car movement has resulted in a 1930 Sunbeam Mann Egerton saloon being offered as the prize in a competition, in which the distance it would run on one gallon of Five-Star petrol had to be correctly estimated—but why Five-Star when this car should run satisfactorily on 92-octane ?
The Rolls-Royce EC is to be congratulated on its very comprehensive Members List, which gives names and addresses with a section of members’ cars model by model, from which it is seen that the Club has 132 Silver Ghosts, 90 PIs, 129 PIls and 71 PIlls on its books. It is proceeding with its arrangements for next years’ 1913-73 Alpine Commemorative Rally which is to include at least eight passes including the Stubalpe, Loibl and Katschberg which featured in the 1913 Alpine Trial, although it will not be a replica of that historic event because, as the brochure rather charmingly states “That involved a great deal of arduous motoring on dreadful roads, going into what are now Yugoslavia and Italy, as well as the whole of Austria, in an attempt (unsuccessful as far as Rolls-Royces were concerned) to break the cars. Success or failure depended largely on the ability of the cars to climb the passes without stopping and on the presence or absence of mechanical bodily derangement at the end. What those shocking roads could not do in 1913, modern roads would find it even less possible to do in 1913 and it was felt that Silver Ghost owners would resent an attempt to break their cars as much as some of their ladies would deplore ten solid days in their motoring veils without a stop in sight”. Arising out of our colour plate the Sunbeam “Tiger” in the May issue, W. E. Harker recalls the remarkable acceleration of this car when it was driven from the Wolverhampton works during a visit of Rolls-Royce apprentices to be modified and disappeared rapidly up the road, the works gate-keeper acting as starter—acceleration “of the most enormous rapid motion”, to quote Segrave, which, Harker says, “made an impression on me never—in all my experience of many racing cars since—to be equalled.” He recalls that the press of the day referred to Kaye Don’s name for that car as appropriate because “It sprang Tiger-like upon its prey!” Harker met the Sunbeam again, when Sir Malcolm Campbell had rebuilt it and was making his Brooklands come-back at the 1934 Whitsun Meeting, and the 1 1/2 litre V8 twin-crankshaft Harker Special, which is still intact, bent it, with May’s Riley on Campbell’s tail, in a mountain race.
A Devon garage informs us that it has gasket sets, control boxes, semaphore type direction indicators, fan-belts, etc. for old Austins which it is prepared to dispose of on “a non-profiteering basis”. The proprietor’s elder son recently purchased a 1932 Austin 10/4 in excellent condition and was given with it an original water-colour of the car.
The Historic CVC Trans-Pennine Run which goes from Manchester to Harrogate takes place on August 6th. The 1911 Austin town carriage formerly owned by the Austin Motor Co. has been acquired by A. K. Roberts of Worcestershire and was used recently by Forward Trust Ltd. for a publicity tour of Birmingham. The vintage and pvt section of this year’s Singapore GP, run in heavy rain on a handicap basis, was won by a Singer Junior tourer, from a Riley Lynx with hood up, third place going to an Austin 7 Special. Fastest lap was made by a Hotchkiss and the 17 starters included a V12 Haynes. In Malaysia a 1927 Willys-Knight tourer was bought for a nominal sum recently and vintage Chevrolet and Armstrong Siddeley are for sale there. A rather sad, possibly early 1930s Thornycroft lorry has been outside a Lancashire breaker’s. The Lanchester Register is holding the first event in recent times designed to bring together pre-Daimler BSA and Lanchester cars, in the form of a road-safety run in E. Anglia on September 10th. Details from H. R. Coles, Ardleigh Hall, Ardleigh, Colchester. Vintage Morris-Oxford and Chevrolet cars are reported in daily use in Melbourne, Australia.
30/98S at Vauxhall’s
The Vauxhall 30/98 Register met at Vauxhall Motors, Luton, on June 25th. Four E-types and 16 OEs were entered, the oldest being Durdin’s ex-racing Vauxhall. They were supported by Vauxhall’s own Edwardian and vintage Vauxhalls and five 23/60s. The Register knows of 164 existing 30/98s throughout the World, consisting of 132 OEs, 30 Es and a couple of hybrid E/OEs. They are distributed 78 in the UK, 64 in Australia and the rest in various places including America.