Ramblings, Rumours and Reminiscences. Being Asides About All Sorts of Things.
AWEEK or so since we were reminded that thirty years ago the motorists of this country received their charter of liberty and that henceforth they might go their ways without being preceded by a man on foot carrying a red flag. Therefore on November 14, 1896, the progressive advance in legislation was celebrated by what was termed the Emancipation Day procession from London to Brighton. Now we rejoice to think that we are blessed by a far more progressive body of legislators, for has not the Speed Limit been raised from twelve to twenty miles an hour.
Personally I have the greatest respect for our lawmakers, but seem to think that there is something wrong somewhere. For example, only a little while ago I was laboriously making my way to a county police court on a stuttering little 10 h.p. two-seater to keep an urgent appointment with the Bench. There was a honk-honk from the rear, and before I could collect my thoughts— I had been wondering what sort of defence I should put up—a whacking great Daimler glided smoothly by at a good fifty.
It was as much as I could do to keep up with it for the next few miles, and then we both slowed down on approaching my destination. A constable on point duty saluted the Daimler and glared at me, for the occupant of the saloon was the Chairman of the Magistrates, who half an hour later relieved me of five of the very best pound notes I had ever earned—and for doing far less than His Worship did every day of the week. Writing of magistrates reminds me of another worthy, before whom I was haled for some offence or other. Now, as it happened, this gentleman owned a very antiquated Panhard, which I was repairing at the time. It was a sort of dog-cart affair of the dos-a-dos variety, and when riding in the back seats the passengers let down a flap on which their feet rested. Mr. Magistrate came down to the works and I took him out on a trial
run to see if we had got all the bits of machinery back properly again.
Now, the rear identification number was painted on the flap, and I managed to forget to fix it up before starting. The owner took the wheel, and yielding to my selection of a test route, drove the car through the thickest part of the town to a point where there was an extra officious police sergeant. My luck was in, and Mr. Magistrate was stopped for not having a rear number showing, and duly had the pleasure of fining himself. A year later I sold him a new car and then pointed out the advantages of the number plate arrangement and confessed to my wickedness. Though the joke was against him, he was forgiving enough to appreciate the humour of the situation, and we parted on the very best of terms.
A very important case was recently heard before the Court of Appeal, presided over by the Lord Chief Justice, Mr. Justice Avory and Mr. Justice Salter. Judgment had been give against a Cardiff motor-cyclist on the grounds that a motor-cycle fitted with a hand and foot brake applying separate shoes in the same brake drum did not comply with the Motor Car (Use and Construction) Order of 1904.
This judgment was reversed in the Court of Appeal, when the judges held that the brake drum must be regarded as a part of the wheel and not a part of the brake mechanism, but qualified this conclusion with ‘diffidence and reluctance.”
The importance of the case lies in the fact that had the decision gone the other way, we might have found ourselves in the predicament of having to alter most of the existing systems of four-wheel brakes, for it might be held that since the system included only one compensator, there was only one brake ! The whole position appears to point out that a very little knowledge, backed up by a literal interpretation of antiquated regulations, is quite a dangerous thing, and we are reminded of the state of affairs existing with regard to the licensing conditions of public vehicles, where policemen have the authority to condemn any machine for use as a taxi or omnibus, in which the design does not happen to agree with regulations framed by people with no engineering experience whatever. One of the most ingenious examples of brake design is that known as the Andre-Len servo brake, which was exhibited by T. B. Andre & Co. Ltd. at Olympia. The idea is so simple and effective that one wonders how on earth it was not thought of years ago, for it produces
quite a remarkable servo action by an extremely simple alteration to the actuating mechanism of an ordinary brake. In the case of an ordinary cam applied brake, one shoe tends to pull round against the pivot, thus increasing the contact between it and the drum, whilst the tendency for the opposite shoe is to pull round in the direction of the drum rotation and thus exert a pressure on the edge of the cam, which tends to pull the brake off. In the Andre-Len system, the shoe which normally has a counter servo action is replaced by one of a modified form, the action of which actually increases the efficiency of the brake. This is done by making the shoe in two parts, the inner portion of which is fitted in the usual way, but the outer part is mounted on rollers and is free to rotate within certain limits. Thus, when the brake is applied, the free portion of the shoe follows the direction of the drum and its end comes into contact with the edge of the cam in such a way that the pressure applied by the lever is considerably increased, by a genuine servo action.
I understand that arrangements are being made to supply the new device to fit a wide range of cars, and that fa particulars with prices will be issued shortly.
A great deal of interest is being shown in connection with the proposed race track near Brighton, and from all accounts, the project should be most successful.
For some reason or other, the Brooklands track has never quite caught on with the general public, many of whom are not greatly intrigued with the idea of watching cars spinning round and round in the far distance. Of course, the introduction of artificial hairpin bends and similar efforts to excite the spectators have proved an undoubted advantage, but on the whole it seems a pity that such a wonderful place should have been allowed to rank as a very poor attraction compared with, say, some of the racecourses or football grounds.
From such particulars as are available at the moment it appears that the Brighton track will offer quite a number of interesting features, and I learned the other day during a visit to the sight that one very prominent racing driver has stated that in his opinion the course will be eminently suitable as a venue both for forthcoming Two Hundred Miles races and British Grand Prix races, to say nothing of innumerable events of the ordinary kind. It is refreshing also to observe that in the Sussex area we have a large body of very keen sporting motorists and this, coupled with the natural advantages of the site on the Downs, should certainly make for an outstanding success.
The problem of Christmas presents is again before us, and raids are now being made on the shops where these articles are sold. Every year a great deal of money is expended in the purchase of calendars, ash-trays and things of a nondescript character coming under the vague category of ” Xmas Gifts.” These things are invariably described by the happy recipients as ” Just the very thing I wanted,” and everyone wonders where on earth the junk can be housed. Christmas in modern times has largely degenerated into a festival of indigestion and a transfer of useless articles from one member of the family to another, but it always seems that the ancient habit of making gifts could be much improved if the motoring interests of the community were more closely borne in mind. For example, there are numbers of accessories of all kinds that could take the place of the usually useless gift, for there are few motorists to whom some addition
either for the car, the garage, or the driver is not very acceptable. Anyhow, if our readers have not already done their Christmas shopping, the hint is one that is well worth putting into practice.
ANOTHER FRAZER NASH RECORD.
Just before the closing of the Brooklands Track for the season, Capt. A. Frazer Nash was successful in piitting up a new record for the Class G standing mile. This is for cars up to 1,100 c.c. capacity, and consequently the engine of the Frazer Nash had to be modified to bring it within the category. The new record now stands at 71.12 m.p.h.
RALPH DE PALMA.
After a long and varied experience as a road and track racer, Ralph de Palma has recently taken up an appointment as consulting engineer to the Studebaker Corporation of America.