Six Cosworth V8 preparation specialists
During the 11 years since the public introduction of the Cosworth engineered and (initially) Ford-financed Formula 1 V8, an increasing demand has brought a new breed of business to the motor racing industry. In discussions before these articles appeared we found ourselves referring to “the supertuners” and that is exactly what they are, fettling and occasionally developing the most successful Grand Prix engine of all.
Who are these people? What are their qualifications and backgrounds? These were the primary questions we set out to answer by talking to the staff, owners and managers who control the activities of six concerns listed at Cosworth Engineering Ltd. as regular trading partners, by implication companies trusted to maintain the DFV engine to an acceptable standard.
Normally the word “ tuning” implies machinery that performs better than in production form, but only two of these concerns were involved in providing extra horsepower for the already highly developed 3-litre unit. Why? That was another key question, answered in part by Cosworth co-founder and director Mike Costin as he confirmed that there had been a concerted effort on their behalf to try to ensure the outside companies used Cosworth components. Reliability rather than commerce is the reason for this move.
The other partial answer to the tuning question is the existence of Cosworth development DFVs which search for the ultimate race-winning performance, and few small business concerns feel the need to challenge the originators of their bread and butter. . .
IN BRITAIN there are six companies who have shown their skill and commitment to the Cosworth Grand Prix V8 and earned the right to discount on Cosworth parts: Heini Mader’s Swiss concern also has a similar arrangement. In practical terms it means holding at least £5,000 in smaller parts and ordering major parts four months in advance – crankshafts, block, heads, connecting rods and so on.
To match this remarkable engine, which had just scored its 114th GP win when I wrote this, there is a remarkable range of people looking after it in the field, and it is about them that the majority of this article is written.
Before outlining their activities, a few current DFV facts. Some 296 such engines had been built as at July 1st 1978, when the retail cost was £ 15,910 plus VAT. When the engine was first sold ten years ago (a season after Lotus and Jim Clark scored its debut win at Zandvoort in 1967) the price was £7,500 with no VAT. Power output was quoted as 425 b.h.p. by Ford in 1968; today special development units push toward the 500 b.h.p. level and are supplied to Tyrrell, Wolf, McLaren and Lotus. There are 12 such development units, but there is no compulsion to use them and both’ McLaren and Lotus frequently do not race them in the official number 1 car. However this does mean, with the exception of Nicholson McLaren Engines, that those who supply any of those recipients of Cosworth development engines will comment that their units are supplied for practice and testing rather than racing, but this makes no difference to the way an engine is prepared.
Since the beginning of the year, when Cosworth announced that a number of improvements would be made to the engine, there have been two significant further changes. The first is the release of bigger valves and inlet ports and the second (about to be incorporated in engines made after that July 1st date) was a revised crankshaft – still in the same material – with a different oiling system allowing 60 p.s.i. feed instead of the previous 100 p.s.i. Cosworth graciously declined to tell me the thinking behind this move but did inform me that it was felt that it would be a help in guarding against the occasional “ random big-end failures” that occur. A number of smaller detail changes have also been made since the beginning of the year and it is clear that this MADE IN BRITAIN product is still a match for anything made in foreign parts .. . and that Cosworth and others are not tempted toward complacency.
Nicholson McLaren Engines Ltd., Pulborough Way, Green Lane, Hounslow, Middlesex (01-572 3232).
Two factors combine to make our opening company the shortest description. Firstly John Nicholson’s concern has been fully described by Motor Sport before (September 1973) and two, the unfortunate Nicholson was recovering from a shaking he received in a powerboating acrobatic display the day before this was written: his staff proved most helpful.
In fact the Nicholson outfit are the only people outside Cosworth to take on DFV development really seriously and their motors are regularly raced by both Lotus and McLaren. When I spoke to them Peterson and Hunt had taken second and third places respectively in the French Grand Prix using their DFV preparation. I think this says more about the calibre of the company than the forced lack of words!
There are seven engine builders at the West London premises and they look after up to 23 engines. Some eleven are for McLaren and five for Lotus with further units prepared for Hector Rebaque and Alain de Cadenet, who uses them not only for finishing 24-hour races (a pretty telling comment in itself) but also for Can-Am events in America where he currently races a Mirage V8.
High calibre work outside DFVs includes responsibility for maintaining up to eight turbo BMW engines for the Munich factory (not a happy season) that are built to McLaren USA specification, and Formula Atlantic BDA units for South Africa (including those for Ian Scheckter, the series Champion), New Zealand, USA and Canada.
There are two test beds capable of withstanding DFV punishment at Hounslow, but the newer F-type is still being finally sorted by Heenan and Froude and Nicholson. In the original description of the company by Clive Richardson I noted the 120-hour rebuild cost £400, a block was £1,200 and heads £320 each. Comparable prices today, almost five years later, are £900 (lower than most), £3,090.74 and £959 or £957 for a single head, depending on whether it’s the more expensive left-hand or cheaper right-hand one!
The staff are a pretty international bunch, from the inevitable Kiwi to a Swede and a new lad who will be going through the training mill: nearly all have an engineering background, probably in toolmaking. Unlike the other companies mentioned here they rarely advertise for staff.
Future plans include an enlargement of the machine shop facilities and a separate cylinder head preparation department.
Euroracing Engines Ltd., 149 Cardiff Road, Reading, Berks. ( Reading 585355).
Formerly March Engines Ltd., Euroracing Engines Ltd. is managed in its day-to-day business by director Peter Hass. A German who has worked more in Britain and America during his 39 years than in his native country – “ there you could only go racing properly with BMW and Porsche and I do not like working for big companies” – Hass is a complex character of considerable ambition. The business is unusual in not only its chequered history but also in its capabilities which include running complete racing car teams in the past, as well as current work for the March factory on the Formula Two BMW four-cylinder units. They have also built Toyota Formula Three engines and ran such a car last year, but now the emphasis is on DFV and BMW rebuilding and – in the case of the DFV at least – they are also doing some test and development work out of their own resources. March Engines Ltd. was sold to ATS, the Formula One team, as part of the March GP effort at the end of 1977.
Hass is widely experienced in the enginebuilding business. He became involved with the aborted Gurney Grand Prix car project and did actually work for the lanky Californian at Santa Ana. There the USAC Ford-based engines, some with 3-valve-per-cylinder layout, were rather more interesting to him than the country. So he came back to Britain, a country which has offered him employment varying from Speedwell (when they were in Finchley) to being probably the only German ever to work within the hallowed competition walls of Abingdon! “ A friend wrote and introduced me to McLaren and I remember one winter day there – John Nicholson (who arrived before me) and I stripped our first DFV together!
“It was very exciting at first, learning all about this engine in our own little place off the McLaren workshops. Eventually we had four people working on the engine side, but it was a bit limiting just rebuilding DFVs. Both John and I had ideas of other work we wanted to do, more on the engineering side. I don’t think many people know that Max Mosley actually offered John this place in Reading.
“John was very busy at the time with his Atlantic car, but I was very interested because I knew Max would be involved with the BMW engine as well as the DFV.
“Anyway Max, Robin Herd and Martin Walters were the bosses when I came here in 1973.” It was a pretty rocky start. The premises were those of Chris Amon’s effort and although spacious, with very luxurious office accommodation up top (which was let to Peter Macintosh for some time), Hass says, “ We had to start from scratch. On site there was Martin Walters, an ex-Cosworth man (now at March) and four engine builders. We had F2 and F1 commitments to meet for March and the BMW engine was totally new to us. We had to do our dyno testing at Champion for the DFVs, but the BMWs were often run-in in the car! It was terrible.”
Hass looks appropriately doleful, and it’s clear that it has not been easy to survive even this far, the ATS link being established as from November 1st last year. Obviously the ATS effort, which consisted of Mass and Jarier as drivers when we talked, has to be serviced. There are 12 such DFVs belonging to the team, six of those directly ex-March units. Hass is very keen to impress on us that the ATS situation does not mean they do no work for others, and was naturally delighted to do some engines for Lotus (five in all, built to standard Cosworth specification) though it was not clear whether Lotus would be sending more rebuilding work along during the season. Incidentally one of those engines powered Ronnie Peterson during his remarkable South African GP, when the Swede just beat Depailler.
ERE have also provided units for Jorg Obermoser’s 3-litre Toj sports cars, based in Germany and for the Mario Delotti Ensign raced with success in the British Group 8 series earlier this season by both Geoff Lees and Giancarlo Martini.
There are now six engine builders employed by the company, a driver, secretary and Hass himself. He prefers to employ local people using newspaper advertisements to recruit “ men with a proper engineering background: toolmakers and the like. There are not many trained engine builders in existence, but if we can get a man who has received proper engineering training, then we can school him in the right way.”
Six of the men are recruited in the local manner described, but Ken Horton, who acts as assistant manager, also taking overall charge of the engine building, came from David Purley’s Lec racing operation, bringing with him a knowledge of BMW, V6 and four-cylinder Ford four-valve-per- cylinder engines, as well as DFVs. The development work is carried out by another former Speedwell employee, John Poole.
The Reading premises carry a great deal of stock, some £40,ooo-worth needed for DFV work and “ about 80%” of Cosworth origin. Commenting on their inspection procedures Hass says, “ We never put a new part into an engine without inspection. There are visual measuring and crack detection checks for connecting rods, liners and cranks.” The usual Magnaflux crack detection equipment is employed, but both ferrous and non-ferrous materials can be checked on the premises. Generally they prefer to buy Cosworth parts because the company are fair in their dealings, and there is the comforting knowledge that components are fully checked at Northampton though Hass adds, “ They are human beings too, so we check everything we can.”
Although they have high regard for Cosworth engineering, Hass does comment that Ken Horton would normally inspect the connecting rods on all the engines they build as they feel there has been a machining operation problem with the rods recently. Otherwise the individual engine builder would do the inspection, motors being built in teams of two men who do the complete job. At Cosworth and elsewhere a man may specialise in oil pumps or other ancillaries rather than build a complete unit.
For the teams they supply the engine has to be absolutely ready to go, including all car ancillaries, such as the clutch, which is not usual procedure. This makes the prices slightly higher than we found elsewhere, a basic £925 labour quoted for a routine rebuild. This includes dyno testing and oil, but not parts or special machining, a normal practice throughout the people we interviewed.
A conventional Heenan and Froude GH 490 brake test apparatus is used over a 1- 11/2 hour running in and power test session. As you would expect they start at low load and 4,000 r.p.m., gradually increasing r.p.m. and load until they peak at 10,750 r.p.m. They expect between 258 and 260 lb. ft. torque at 8,500 r.p.m. and somewhere in the region of 480 b.h.p. from the standard Cosworth specification.
Like others on the Cosworth list they are not too happy that Northampton are offering development engines. “ They used to be fairly distributed (pre-development engine era -J.W .) but now it is restricted. This change of policy makes a situation where teams who have not got the benefit of development engines feel at a disadvantage.” Totally unlike most of the rivals we talked to, they are prepared to offer more power. Hass naturally declines to discuss the areas in which they feel they have produced a claimed 15 b.h.p. bonus over the usual figure but does say that they were exceptionally happy when just such an engine completed 600 miles with Jarier in the South African GP this year: Jarier was seventeenth on the grid at Kyalami, recorded the twelfth fastest lap during the race (less than a tenth slower than Tambay’s remarkable comeback performance in the works McLaren) and he finished eighth overall, a lap down on the leaders.
To be fair to the other builders and Cosworth I must point out that additional development items are released pretty frequently: one of the other tuners could well have claimed extra development b.h.p. as a result of Cosworth releasing larger valves, and so on. The fact remains that Hass and his development man have plugged bravely along paths that others now feel are forbidden or a waste of time – who wants to set themselves up as knowing more than Cosworth? In fact that’s not the Hass objective, he is merely keen to provide people outside the Cosworth development engine magic circle with an alternative.
I asked each of these “ Supertuners” to talk about their worst disasters and all replied quite happily, though I got the feeling that E R E had seen more than their fair share of failures owing to the inexperienced drivers employed by March in their last season of Grand Prix racing. They had seen most permutations of the valve in Piston modification due to over-revving, encountered when the driver changed down too early. Mainly they find that if an engine is going to give trouble because they have made a mistake, then it occurs on their test bed, not in the car. Commenting on the overall durability of the engine, Hass told me that they have worked on engines with heads numbered in the low forties — a good few years back now – “ but it doesn’t matter so long as they are properly checked each time.”
Looking around the premises I found the workshops upstairs and down were very neat with extra care taken over labelling to avoid any mixup between engine types. There is also a very neat corner of the premises where they overhaul Hewland gearboxes – and they have sent a man to look after both engines and gearboxes at most circuits. “ He has to be very different to our workshop people: able to keep calm under pressure at the track,” Hass feels. The anglicised German feels sadly the lack of machine tools on his premises – though a lathe, a small milling machine and some drilling equipment are on view – and this is the chief area where he expects to spend £15-20,000 this year, as he dislikes depending on busy small engineering companies outside.
Upstairs, apart from a super big leisure room for the men and a budding drawing office, there is the main engine assembly area. They reckon to have completed 110 rebuilds at these premises during 1977 and there is capacity for about ten going through simultaneously.
Hass had much more to say about lubrication than anyone else too. He uses Shell oils (like Cosworth) for DFVs, though last year he experimented with Castrol in Formula Two and was very impressed with the co-operation from the Research and Development department at nearby Pangbourne. Now he uses both brands, though for ATS it has to be just Shell.
Before leaving Euroracing Engines Ltd. we asked what ambitions Hass held? Typically individual in thought, as before, he said cryptically, “ Of course we would like to make our own engine – it’s the obvious summit to the tree. No, it would not have eight cylinders – but for this year it’s enough to buy some more machinery.”
Hesketh Engines Ltd., Stable Block, Easton Neston, Towcester, Northants. (Towcester 51253).
Even years after the glory days of James Hum; even just after Olympus had walked their bag of gold from the splendid Northamptonshire estate to the Wilds of Lotus-blooming Norfolk, even now Hesketh have Style.
Calling in was a pleasure. The splendid courtyard surrounded by the converted stable blocks is quite the most picturesque of sites for a racing establishment -m ost of which crouch within the clinical dullness of the ubiquitous modern trading estate. The staff seem quite friendly, but I would hate to welsh on a bill when dynamic (and big!) Hesketh Automotive Director Jon Fisher was set on the trail!
Fisher tried to explain the maze of companies that surrounds chairman Lord Hesketh. Aside from realising that Hesketh Automotive (which has Fisher and Anthony “ Bubbles” Horsley as co-directors) controls the activities of eight subsidiaries below, of which Hesketh Engines Ltd. (formerly Hesketh Racing Engines) was one example, I was rather more puzzled at the close of the explanation than at the start.
The Olympus withdrawal has simply meant that they have stopped running Formula One cars – “ Though we could obviously do it all over again if a sponsor came along,” Fisher reminded me. The engine side, under the control of former Cosworth man Ray Buckley, remains in blooming health and has recently been the subject of some multi-thousand pound investment, including the installation of a second dynamometer for smaller engines.
Fisher has been right through the racing mill the hard way, including a stint of attempting to make the Dastle a competitive Formula Three car with drivers like Steve Thompson, Horsley and Hunt. “ We needed a sponsor and Bubbles knew this guy called Hesketh . . .” he recalls laconically. Fisher actually left them for a while after the Dastles had been particularly badly savaged at one Brands meeting by Messrs Horsley and Hunt, but “ I came back to put this factory together in October 1973.”
Buckley arrived in early 1974, having worked on his own and for other leading names in the racing business before bringing his enviable reputation for DFV assembly to a new aristocratic home. Today there are 27 people employed on the racing side of Hesketh’s activities. It is a little harder to break down the staff exactly on the engine side, because some of the services can obviously be shared, but there are now seven full-time employees in the engine shop, two men to work the dynamometers and complete the assembly of the smaller unit (both by Heenan and Froude of Worcester of course). Additionally they could call on the help of two machinists, a pair of draughtsmen (not that they need them for routine rebuilding), a couple of racing designers and five people in the fabrication department.
When Buckley joined in 1974 it was purely to build engines for Master James, who won the Silverstone International Trophy with the thennew 308 that year and scored the team’s first and last GP win at Zandvoort the following season. When the first Hesketh withdrawal was made at the end of 1975 Harvey Postlethwaite made his way to Wolf and Wolf Racing became the first customers for Hesketh-maintained Cosworth V8 engines.
Today Wolf have three or four DFVs maintained at Hesketh, though the motors are not expected to propel J. Scheckter in battle, merely for testing and practice, while Cosworth development engines should be fitted for racing miles. Copersucar have three engines looked after at Hesketh, Frank Williams booked in a similar number last year, but they have yet to receive any this season. There are also two engines for B & S Fabrications (Brett Lunger’s private McLaren), one for Theodore, another single unit destined for Rupert Keegan at Surtees and three engines apiece for British Group 8 teams run by John Macdonald and John Cooper. They have also worked for Arrows this season and put together two more DFVs for the Le Mans Ibec project. No wonder Buckley says, “ We’re really full up at present. I just don’t think it would be fair on the existing customers if we took on any more DFV work.” Buckley, like some of the other successful DFV preparation specialists, is extremely glad that the teams have taken the step of spreading engines around, rather than putting all their eggs in one basket.
By coincidence Buckley had also worked for Speedwell in North London, but given his Cosworth background and the geographical proximity of Easton Neston to Northampton, it is perhaps not surprising that three of the men employed on the engine building side have also worked for Cosworth, the highest number we encountered.
“ One lad is from the Aston Martin engine place at Newport Pagnell, but that is not the obvious training for F1 engine building. F1 really is a different world, you have to get everything spot-on, it demands a lot of concentration on every detail. We’ve a lad from Formula Ford who has made out all right with us, but the right kind of bloke could be a greengrocer,” Buckley said with an infectious gust of Irish laughter. “ It’s all a question of the right mechanical approach when he is building DFVs. Unfortunately the toolmaker’s mentality is very rare now, but if you can find a good man in that line he is likely to have the right attitude for further training.” The two men on the dynamometer have both been at Cosworth, the older Mick Hayward also known for his work at the MIRA proving establishment.
Engines normally stay on the Hesketh premises about eight days, assuming they have been booked in a fortnight or more before the regular customer wants a rebuild carried out. The procedures and the attitudes are, not surprisingly, among the most Cosworthian we encountered. Buckley’s feeling is, “ If you can reach Cosworth standards you are doing a good job.”
The engine assembly area itself reminded me a little of the Lancia Competitions Department (the old one at the Turin factory) in that the place had high ceilings and a character beyond utilitarian workshop. They work with two men to an engine and they do all the work, no subassembly procedures here either. It is felt that there is more interest to the job this way and time penalties are worth incurring if the men’s keenness is to be maintained.
Most of the inspection of parts coming into the place, and there will be some £35,000 worth most of the time to satisfy the healthy customer list, will be done by Buckley. They utilise the expected Magnaflux machine but the electrical parts are left to Cosworth – ignition black box, Lucas pick-up and 10,800 r.p.m. limiter. Buckley feels that one major improvement in consistency has come in the more recent limiters which really do come in where they are supposed to, instead of the previous spread covering several hundred r.p.m.
Although the premises are not in the clinically clean bracket themselves, the precautions to protect DFV components taken are worthy of a hospital. Buckley reckons that they may spend an extra two hours or so cleaning up components and putting them away in plastic bags (not a usual sight in the establishments I visited), and everyone confesses they do occasionally get a little bored cleaning out the intricate castings, especially head porting and so on.
Although it has no particular relevance, I was impressed at the way Buckley could pick out the owner of each apparently identical DFV by small points like paint marks or simply the motor’s overall external appearance.
The test cells are remarkable externally for the giant chrome exhaust systems clambering up to suddenly shoot skywards like those of a big American truck. Internally the outstanding feature is the labour that has gone into making them easy to work with, Aeroquip lines being used wherever possible and the Jubilee clip with faithful hose being relegated to all but the most humble role. Over £30,000 has been invested here, and to help recover some of that investment the smaller Heenan and Froude should soon be operational catering for production-based engines up to 200 b.h.p. Formula Ford at the lower end as well as the premier league?
Bench testing follows the normal one hourplus described at Euroracing but Buckley gracefully declines to discuss power outputs. He points out that power can vary as much as ±6 b.h.p. from tests held in the cool of the morning to the comparative inefficiency of a muggy noon. “ There are no rewards for producing unreliable engines and we know that if we do the job properly the power will be close to what Cosworth expect: we try to produce engines that are simply good to drive and stay together with no tricks at all.”
Buckley is honest enough to admit that, perhaps two or three times a year, they will build an engine, put it through the testing procedure and just find that the power is not there – “ even though the engine seems to be running as sweet as you like.” Then they have to pull it apart again, searching for an obvious reason, which should not be there because of the building procedure! Quite often, in Buckley’s experience, “ You’ll find everything is right after a complete check; give the valves a lick round, put it all together again and it’ll be right on the bed.” The reasons seem to defy logic, just the same as there is often no difference that accounts for better or worse power outputs between engines using the same equipment and assembled to the same tolerances, a condition attested to by many of the men we talked to.
Hesketh charge £925 for the basic rebuild service – including parts the bills are usually over £ 2,000 – and this includes changing the pistons, crack testing and balancing the flywheel. The customer automatically gets a full list of the parts put in his engine.
Hesketh feel that their Group 8 customers should rebuild their engines every two races or so, despite the shorter distances involved, for it is using the full 10,800 r.p.m. that makes the difference, not the miles: for the Le Mans 24 hours the Ibec team were advised to keep to 9,000/9,500 r.p.m.
Discussing engine failures Buckley felt that when a motor blew it often took the evidence of the cause of failure with it. He says they use Duckhams oils for building and testing, “ but it doesn’t seem to matter too much what you use. Oil problems are more often due to oil flow, whether it be our fault or in the design of the car.”
The worst blow-up they can remember was at the Austrian GP a few years ago with a driver making his GP deput. After 2/3 laps the engine started missing at the top end. The poor driver thought he was just bouncing it off the revlimiter, but in fact a valve spring had broken. “ Right in front of the pits -filled with every top man in racing – it exploded. There were pumps and bits of metal raining down on us: the valve fell in and the engine subsequently demolished the crankshaft and rods, damn nearly cutting the block in two. We didn’t rebuild that one,” concludes Buckley with an easy smile.
Buckley obviously has not shut his mind to the possibilities of development on the DFV, though they steer clear of tackling the task themselves. He feels that the frictional losses could be reduced at the bottom end in respect of both crankshaft and bearings and that – even with the phenomenal experience acquired with the V8 – further improvements will also be made in the inlet and combustion area of the design. “ Every year new minds think it over. I think the situation is rather like giving a million monkeys a million typewriters -on e of them will write Shakespeare!”
Swindon Racing Engines Ltd., Crampton Road, Greenbridge Estate, Swindon, Wilts. (Swindon 31321).
Led by the fascinating John Dunn, a man schooled in motorcycles as well as the former “ other h a lf’ in Falconer & Dunn, the American V8 specialists, Swindon Racing Engines is a truly impressive outfit. Quite simply it is as if Cosworth had decided to set up shop in Wiltshire ten years or more after they settled on Northampton. That really is not surprising because Dunn’s co-directors are Keith Duckworth and Mike Costin. However there is no preferential treatment, as Dunn is quick to point out, and they actually progressed into DFV work only after serving a type of apprenticeship on smaller Ford-blocked four-cylinder units in Clubmans and Atlantic formulae. There is another fundamental difference too: Dunn is absolutely adamant that he intends to stay in the refurbishing business, not the research, development and manufacturing activities that Cosworth are involved in. Time and time again the large, grey-haired man, complete with the tan, haircut and slow courteous speech of a refined John Wayne, firmly explained that they did not want to become the originators of new engines and parts.
That Dunn is sincere is as obvious as their success since building their first DFV for Ken Tyrrell in 1973. The fact remains that the record of SRE and Dunn himself has persuaded an interesting cross-section of clients in from the club racers to Leyland Corporation, who now have their previously rather troublesome Dolomite Sprint F3 motor race-prepared at SRE. Dunn stonily surveys the amount of fabrication work they have been involved in with this project and looks quite gloomy about the whole thing, but his pride in at very least improving the 16- valve unit’s record in the Unipart-sponsored Marches is undeniably there.
Dunn served his apprenticeship as a toolmaker and always looks for a similar background when recruiting. “ A car background is no good,” he says positively, “ Most of the people we have are trained engineers. We try not to have established engine builders; there are exceptions to the rule in our past, but at present you do not find we have such personnel.”
Dunn was always interested in motor bikes and started getting mechanically involved with grass track racing back in 1949. Right up to the early sixties he was involved with motor bikes from Maicos to running the racing Derek Minter Honda 250-4. He was also interested in more fundamental engineering though, having studied subjects like valve train dynamics and producing a design jointly with Jack Knight for a fourvalve, 1-litre racing engine based on the A-series BMC unit.
His American experience began as a mechanic at Carroll Shelby’s Ford organisation. In seven Californian years he progressed through actually running the Shelby Trans-Am and Cobra sports racing programmes on the mechanical side to the establishment of Falconer & Dunn Racing Engines. They prepared Ford USAC V8s (the engine Foyt has now further developed and used to win Indianapolis last year) as well as developing the Boss Mustang 5-litre V8 for Formula 5000 in the Lotus 70 driven by Andretti, subsequently owned and raced by George Follmer.
When the American factories started to withdraw from racing under pressure from the safety and emissions politicians, Falconer & Dunn felt the draught, though they showed their inherent mechanical ability via the ubiquitous Chevrolet V8s for competition use as Ford interest waned.
Dunn had already been part of discussions with the Cosworth management about their desire to shift the rebuilding of DFVs outside St. James’ Mill Road. By mid-1972 Dunn’s wife and three children were back in Britain and a brand new, purpose-built factory was taking shape at Swindon.
Dunn says it was difficult, even with his years of experience, to anticipate all the needs of a growing business, but the result is unquestionably the finest premises I looked over, a vast engine assembly area and superb test cell for the usual Heenan & Froude dynamometer calling for special comment. Another cell to house a smaller Heenan & Froude is currently half constructed: it has taken over a year of onoff work, 4-6 months of continuous labour in John’s estimation. Significantly Dunn comments, “ It’s just as much an engineering function as building motors,” when discussing their engine brake testing facilities.
It is difficult to appreciate now that Dunn and his embryo company has to wait until 1973 before undertaking a DFV rebuild. Now they operate on the principle of working on some DFVs for more teams rather than take responsibility for all of a team’s DFVs: John actually waded through the customer book June ’77-June ’78 and discovered (almost to his surprise I think) they had completed 102 DFV rebuilds. That means anything from the usual routine stuff (£900 for labour, average bill with parts £2-2,500) to major blow-ups costing £8-10,000.
The 14 employees also tackle all kinds of BDA four-cylinder (yes, even occasional rallying versions), the Unipart Triumph motors for F3 and maintain a pair of Ford-Cosworth GAA V6 units for Nick Whiting – plus anyone else interested in these now obsolete units.
Before they ever tackled a DFV SRE started with a joint Cosworth project to develop a Clubman engine for Noel Stanbury’s Griffon. Also in 1973 they started the relationship with Ray Mallock in Formula Atlantic. Mallock is still a customer, and Formula Atlantic died in his country (although it will be back next season), but before the Formula passed on Swindon built at least 90% of the engines in the category, including those of Gunnar Nilsson. Now they reckon to build 25 new BDAs a year.
Current DFV clients are Lotus (three units, test and practice only); Surtees (six units, “ it varies a bit” ) and four engines apiece for Shadow and Arrows. They also have worked on a lot of the DFVs that were used in the South African series and on engines destined for use in the British Group 8 Championship.
In Dunn’s experience, “ The DFV is a very highly developed unit and we rebuild to Cosworth’s standard specification. It is not our intention to be involved with development, that is what the Cosworth programme is for. We build our engines with two men to a unit, though the helper tends to be a bit of a floater.”
Out in the engine area we were able to see that six men work purely on DFVs and the Cosworth system of rebuilding “ accessories” like the water pump and the “ bomb” . Bomb? That is the central metering unit/ignition cluster driven by quill shaft and nestling right within the central vee, hidden by the often equally mysterious Black Box. In fact two or three men work on the ancillary component assembly side and one of them confirmed that it takes about eight hours average to service that central unit.
Another five of the average 1 oo man-hours spent on a routine rebuild are spent on quality checks of incoming parts with the engine builder himself holding the responsibility. All the mechanical parts are dye or magnetically examined and a great deal of time is spent measuring up clearances and anything else that can be measured in respect of weight as well as dimensions. They do not operate an electrical test rig as such, but the dynamometer provides all the information they need on this side.
Valve springs come in for special mention – as they probably would if you saw them on your garage bill at £260 a set every 500 miles! Dunn explains, “ They are not complex but they are made of exotic materials which are of a dirty nature internally. The time taken to X-ray them looking for such internal pockets adds much of that cost.” At SRE they also replace the connecting-rod bearings at each 500-mile rebuild, finding that they tend to “ lose their fit” otherwise. Pistons are replaced every 1,000 miles, as per Cosworth procedure, but John comments ironically that blocks are not generally “ lifed” items: “ They tend to get destroyed in blow-ups before there’s any sign of stress!”
There are two aspects of engine installation where the builder and the team have differing standards. From a reliability viewpoint Dunn says he would prefer to see five gallons of oil carried on board a Grand Prix Cosworth-engined chassis, but everyone has to use about two gallons or less. “ This means the lubrication system has to be absolutely right to keep the oil temperature down below 1oo°C,” but Dunn adds, “ We can offer advice and practical assistance in oil tank design when problems crop up.” This was the recent case for one of the Group 8 customers, but they got through a lot of engines before seeking installation assistance!
The other very big difference that car designers are saddled with is the need to get the exhaust system in neatly without fouling the rear suspension components, driveshafts or any of the other hardware that sprouts around the rear of the current Formula One machine. At Swindon the engines run with the optimum system of gentle curves and straight-through tail sections, exhausting via acoustic splitters. Outside there’s just a faint trail of exhaust haze and the hum of an apparently peaceful, though large, industrial engine. Inside a Cosworth V8 may be screaming toward 1 1,000 r.p.m. peaking toward the end of a two-hour session! If we have been lucky enough to photographically capture a Cosworth V8 “ on the bed” at Swindon you will also notice that system actually exits forward of the engine, not to the rear as it will be installed in the car. John reckons that some of the systems used on current GP cars lop up to 10 b.h.p. from the figures they expect “ on the bed”.
Again 480 horsepower is sought, power testing taking place in 500-r.p.m. increments between 7,250 and 10,750 r.p.m.: best torque will vary over a 1 ,500-r.p.m. band according to the fuel injection trumpets and exhausts installed, the highest figures arriving between 7,000 and 8,500 revs. The normal running-in process is followed but over 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.
The test cells are actually part of a separate building to the rest of the factory but now integrated within. As at Hesketh the actual bed itself is copiously equipped by Aeroquip. A control panel outside is brim-full of instrumentation as well as the hand throttle. There are 11 primary dials and two tachometers, one digital and the other a massive conventional unit. A sliding scale on one side of the three flat faces that offer information to the operator records the intake temperature, and another set of figures like the mileage recorder on a car tell how many hours the bed has done and those of the engine under test.
Dunn reports that the test beds are always the bottle-neck in engine building, requiring the same kind of organisation that the whole rebuilding business itself needs. When you look around the stores shelves (probably £80,000 in stock, half of it for DFVs) and hear that, in practice, ordering has to take place 6-9 months ahead you realise that an unpredictable blow-up must sadden a lot more people than just the driver. For it is the major components that are hardest to get; Cosworth need to give the DFXturbo a priority, putting them in more of catchup position than for years.
There is a useful machine shop with lathes and milling equipment. Dunn confirms that he feels there is only one company capable of developing the DFV, and that’s Cosworth, so there are no plans for expansion on that side. An adjacent room is filled with three men industriously cleansing and working on cylinder heads, but only one or two are needed to cope with the DFV.
Of his business, Dunn summarises, “ Building engines to this standard is a matter of organisation and liaison. We try to build to aircraft specification without the back-up which that industry has. There is a lot of pressure in F 1 to do the job quickly and we hate like hell to let people down. Though you have to remember that the man racing a club car wants to go racing just as badly as the big-money men.
“ There’s no glamour to this job, just routine. All the work seems to get destroyed in one way or another and you have to be keen to get stuck in and build to the best possible standard again. For me F1 is the commercial side of the business – I get my pleasure out of my son’s motorcycle scrambling (which is why you rarely find Dunn at Grand Prix) or from the contacts we establish in the British club racing world. There’s more contact there, more feedback somehow,” concludes this remarkable engineer.
Engine Developments Ltd., Somers Road, Rugby, Warks. (Rugby 71056).
AT 36 years of age it seems a bit cruel to call John Judd a veteran anything, but he is certainly a very widely experienced engine man, now managing the fortunes of Engine Developments with his father (David) as works manager. Non-DFV work includes most of the Toyota F3 engines serviced in this country and they are now hand-modifying a batch of eight Formula Super Vee water-cooled motors for use in either March or Ralt chassis.
Judd worked at Coventry Climax up to the end of the 11/2-litre formula and then did a much longer stint for Jack Brabham at Guildford, including maintenance of the single and double overhead camshaft Repco V8s – “ We had no test bed for the s.o.h.c. engines that won the two Championships,” he says, wryly adding that the four-cam design pumped out about the same 400 b.h.p. as the DFV did in its debut season, but they could never sustain the reliability over “ a 12,000-mile supply line.” In 1969 Brabham went for Cosworth power and there was no racing engine work for Judd: in those days you did not work on the units outside Cosworth. He then started working on the design side for Ford and Vauxhall (Brabham-Vivas, remember?), and it was not long before he had formed Engine Developments and had moved from Guildford up to Rugby: he came from Coventry originally.
That was in 1970 and for several years the new company worked on the design and development of road engines for both Vauxhall and Ford Australia, completing a new version of that company’s straight-six in 19 71. The fuel crisis really ended that type of work – “ everyone needed a half-a-million-pound emissions lab. before starting,” he recalls – and by 1974 they were back into racing. Surtees had his own engine shop and Terry Moss of Northampton used to test them. The engines wound up on Judd’s Heenan and Froude and it was not long before the Rugby concern rebuilt one of Surtees units.
Now there are ten employees looking after five DFVs for Arrows (“ I can guarantee we are in Patrese’s car” , Judd says with pride, though I’m not sure he meant that to cover all the spectacular young Italian’s outings, some of which have ended in unexpected engine disaster!). Also on the customer list are four motors from Shadow, three from Fittipaldi, four from B & S Fabrications and three from Theodore. Some engines have also been prepared for Danny Ongais as a separate Shadow project. They have also prepared some DFVs for hillclimbing, notably those for Roy Lane’s March and enlarging the ex-Graham Hill DFVs to 3.3- litres for Mike Macdowell.
Engine builders are recruited through local papers, “ bright young men between 19-21 who have learned some basics, perhaps in technical college,” says Judd.
Virtually all the parts in the place come from Cosworth. Engine Developments are able to check out for themselves the electrical components and both ferrous and non-ferrous mechanical parts. The shop foreman is Terry Devlin, who was recruited, like some of his workmates, from Rugby Cement works.
Again two men per engine is the norm, but the metering/ignition “ bomb” may well be done by a third person. The engine builder is encouraged to do as much of the work as possible, more than at Cosworth as a guideline, but as everyone I spoke to commented, “ The hardest thing is to keep up job interest and standards when you are just turning out DFVs all the time.”
With Judd’s past experience it is not surprising that they have done DFV development work, though they are currently content to let the matter rest. They used some of their own ideas for the Shadow team when they felt that the Cosworth availability of development engines had put them into the second division. These ideas were also applied to other engines when it was found that they were getting an improvement – but now Cosworth have released many of the same parts so there is no reason to go on at present, though Judd acknowledges that such work does add considerably to the interest of the job. An ex-BRM employee, Neil Walker, is currently working as a draughtsman on the Super Vee project.
Judd reveals that the rebuild time for a DFV can be anything between 80 and 140 hours, but thinks the average is around 110 : charges start at £900, but the company (like the majority) do not include clutch work. The testing of engine and parts is reckoned to consume about 10 hours, with an hour devoted to the normal running-in and full power checks to 10,500 r.p.m. The r.p.m.-limiting device is checked on a rig, not the bed, and Judd points out that you can get different levels of r.p.m.-limiter including one that operates between 11,400/11,500 r.p.m. – “ and with those on it’s not hard to get an engine that’s been downchanged to over 12,000 revs,” he comments.
Expected power output is ±5 b.h.p. on 478 b.h.p. on a standard motor or ± the same figure on 488 b.h.p. if it has been modified. As Judd describes it, “ You can always screw more power out of them – but can you make it live, that’s the question?” He feels the engine offers remarkable torque down to 8,000 r.p.m. but none of the drivers complain if it is no good below 9,000 r.p.m.
Like John Dunn, Judd can recall blocks nearly severed by flailing connecting rods. Bearing in mind the price of a new DFV he feels it is always worth rebuilding, even if the bill is like that for Brett Lunger, who once managed one of over £8,000 after a blow-up in Canada. He confirms that they have seen 4-5 year-old blocks start to crack around the webs -b u t like everyone else he adds that they usually get blown up well before that stage!
Although Judd sees the future of his business as engine manufacturers rather than as rebuilders, he delivered a very nice verdict on Cosworth’s less obvious achievements. “ Cosworth have made it easy for us all in the engine-building trade. I don’t know of any other concern where the parts are as clean and as easy to fit -y o u certainly cannot put together an F3 engine without the worries of trying to get bits to fit first.”
Alan Smith Racing (1977) Ltd., Manchester Street, Derby. (Derby 48974).
A few years ago Motor Sport carried a full-length feature on these premises and their owner, former Reg Parnell employee Alan W. Smith. Since then the emphasis of the company has changed from building modified American racing V8s (usually 5 or 5.7-litre Chevrolets) to the preparation and maintenance of the racing Cosworth V8 design, though they still do a great deal of non-DFV competition engine preparation. The 1977 reference in brackets comes from the fact that Alan himself retired in 1976 and then had to come back to resume responsibility for the business.
I talked to works director Bruce Stevens, who has worked with DFVs since 1967 – and I gather that when Smith or Stevens say they work with the engines they mean just that, doing the parts checking as well as taking a hand on the dynamometer or whatever may be needed. There are seven staff recruited through the local paper – “ otherwise you pay £200 a week for an established man” – but they are effectively nine with Smith and Stevens. They prefer their men to have served some sort of engineering apprenticeship but a 21 year old ex-plumber (Mike Cowlishaw) has proved his worth to such an extent that they have made him foreman.
Non-DFV work outside the few remaining Chevrolets (the call was mainly in the National saloon car championship, which now has a 3-litre limit, and F5000, which is no longer current in the UK) Alan Smith do quite a few BDAs for the Irish and the modified Group 1 Ford V6 engines used in Stuart Graham’s four-strong Capri team.
Smith are better equipped with dynamometers than most rivals, with two of the big GH490 Heenan and Froude machines, of which one is reserved solely for DFV use.
All new parts are inspected either by Smith or Stevens, the latter including in his experience years spent at Cosworth and a spell at Swindon Racing Engines. “ We leave nothing just to Cosworth,” says Stevens, adding, “ and if we have not seen the engine before then we check like hell. Before an engine like that is stripped we check hardness of both heads and block.”
The aid of the Magnaflux process is called in as usual, plus “ a half-wave machine capable of exploring faults up to 1 50th thou” , and there is also a Radalloyd of Leicester “ like a little robot” which does the big non-ferrous components. All the electrical parts and the metering unit are also checked prior to building.
Stevens does all the electrical test work, using Rita ignition rather than the current Opus Cosworth installation for the DFVs used by Tony Trimmer: in fact it’s a dual ignition system with the system in the vee retained as well as the Rita pick-up from the crankshaft nose. Ensign also have an engine with a similar ignition layout and a lot of testing has gone on, with the co-operation of Lucas, into trying to make this the most reliable Cosworth DFV ignition system.
Inspection also involves removing the cylinder liners from the block, a process duplicated by Swindon personnel.
However, the people who assemble the engines, four in all, do not usually strip them down unless there is a real hurry job on. A team of three people do this and are responsible for cylinder head, throttle slides, water and oil pumps and dynamometer work.
Charges start at the normal £900 for labour with “ a little bit extra for any machining or sizing,” plus any parts needed from the £20,000 stockpile. Alan Smith now look after Tony Trimmer’s “ two engines, whenever he can get a race that is – we’re very happy to work with Trimmer as he sent us our first DFV in 1976.” The Ensign team’s four engines are by Smith and Geoff Lees was expected to have a Smith unit in his new Ensign at the British Grand Prix, assuming he got a run. Arturo Merzario is a customer with three engines and another three units are out in hill climbing – two for the Waring & Gillow outfit and another for Peter Kaye, all three mounted in Pilbeam chassis.
The testing procedures and the conclusions drawn from it are interesting. The usual 11/4 hrs. are occupied running-in, but starting at 3,000 r.p.m. for about half an hour at a 5 lb. load. Then it is 15 min. on to 3,800/4,000 r.p.m. at 9 lb., a quarter of an hour at 4,800 r.p.m. and 12/13 lb., then another 15 minutes at 5,000 revs. and 15 lb. before it’s considered run-in. Routine checks are then made to make sure there is no trace of the pistons “ picking up” anywhere and to make sure that the timing is not overadvanced. Any problems on the dynamometer obviously cost money as the engine then has to go back for rectification and that is something they seem particularly anxious to avoid at these Derby premises. Having also checked that the fuel flow is adequate they will run up in 1,000-r.p.m. bursts from 7,500 to 10,500, preferring not to go within the r.p.m.-limiter. If they are specifically asked to they will install a limiter that acts at 11,000 r.p.m., but the normal procedure would be to release an engine with the Cosworth recommended minimum of 465 b.h.p. at 10,500 r.p.m. They have found that engines giving “ only” 470 b.h.p. seem to get better results than those known to give 485 horsepower: Stevens also says that you often get customers complaining that engines are useless when the torque figures are especially good! Presumably the unit feels “ flatter” because it is easier to drive?
Asking my tactless question about Great Blow-Ups They Have Known, I was told of one case which cost most of an engine’s major components because an oil feed from the dry sump to the engine became detached. The customer was sufficiently honest to admit this rather than try to put the blame on the engine builder. As Stevens says, they can usually tell whether the oil pressure dropped prior to a failure (in which case it’s 99% certain to be an installation fault) by the markings on the afflicted part, but the catalogue of destruction wreaked by a dropped valve is more difficult to analyse and prevent. He thinks that the crack detection work they are able to do helps a great deal here, but points out that Cosworth reckon only 350 miles’ life for the springs: most come back having covered 400 to 700 miles!
The company used to do development work on the DFV, but have now dropped it as a result of Cosworth’s own efforts. “ We get the development packages like the bigger valves and so on, so whatever Cosworth want to do, that’s OK by us.”
For the future this is a company that is perfectly content to stay the same size as it is now – “ we cannot control things if we expand” -sa ys Stevens, who adds that they would like the DFV to remain their main source of work. “ Although they are supposed to be more difficult than other types of engine, we have found they are actually easier because they are constructed correctly,” he concludes. – J.W .
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