Rumblings BOANERGES, December 1931
NOW that the period of fogs and other inflictions of the season are upon us, we have once more to consider means of getting about in spite of them.
It is quite obvious that we are little better off in had weather conditions than we used to be, as far as visibility is concerned, while in some ways we are worse. I spent a week-end recently driving a sports car some years old which had the now defunct type of 3-piece windscreen, and in spite of beastly weather I had a perfectly comfortable and safe drive.
Single-panel screens and good screen wipers are all right up to a point, but especially at night, any sort of glass is a hindrance to visibility and increases dazzle, and being able to open just the right part of the screen without getting blown out of the car is a great advantage, while in conditions when fog is actually freezing on the screen, nothing but this type of screen is any use at all. I wonder why it has died out— perhaps in these cut-price days, cost has something to do with it. I know of one keen sports car owner who likes last driving and is not averse to fresh air, who insists on this type of screen on his new models, and has to get them made specially.
These Speed Claims.
I was talking to a well-known designer the other day on the subject of motor car performances, and he was condemning with some violence the increasing tendency to make extravagant speed claims for cars in advertisements and elsewhere, in a way that the public get
an entirely erroneous idea of what speed really means.
The result is that a maker whose car is really much faster than the average, but who states its maximum speed truthfully, is at a serious disadvantage in comparison with his more optimistic competitors.
M.P.H.—In the Showroom.
There is no doubt that salesmen and owners are inclined to talk loosely of 70-80 m.p.h. as if it was a common performance for small sports cars when, in actual fact, they never approach it, and if they did would think they were doing 90 m.p.h. at least.
The performance of the modern sports vehicle is really very remarkable indeed and its makers are to be congratulated, but it is not nearly as fast as people think. The speedometer bogey is the chief trouble, and the fact that the average motorist wants to think he is going fast has led to the fitting of geared-up speedometers as standard on many makes. The degree of optimism varies, and if the car is one of the few really fast ones it may even be accurate without disgracing itself.
In most cases the correct gearing of these instruments would be such a shock to the pride of the average owner that the sales of that particular car would suffer badly. The sad thing is that they would suffer unjustly, as the car’s speed would be very good indeed,—it is only the distorted idea of speed that the average owner has, that would make it seem poor. A real 75 m.p.h. on anything up to 14-litres is really very fast indeed
for a standard job, and the car which can reach that speed, and reach it quickly, need be afraid of little else on the road. It is, therefore, all the more annoying to hear owners claiming quite seriously that their perfectly standard production of something between 750 and 1,500 c.c. will comfortably exceed this. It is difficult to know what to suggest as everyone naturally claims just that little excess, which puts him on an even footing with other makes. If they all descended to the truth it would be all right, as their relative performances would still be the same, but their actual speed would be much more interesting.
When in doubt, take your motor over a measured mile with the speedometer at a fixed reading of say 40 m.p.h. and take the time by stopwatch. Do it several times to make sure, and if possible at various speeds. Then you will know where you are, and if you are not satisfied you can set about tuning the engine till it really does what you want. Nor are rev, counters infallible as the face can be rotated slightly to alter the reading.
I was down at Acton the other day having a look round the new works of Abbey Coachwork Ltd., who have been doing such a lot of Wolseley Hornet bodies. They have now got a very much larger works ; which will enable them to meet the big demand for their bodies which their old place was inadequate to supply. They were already extremely busy and were starting work on their
special edition of the M.G. Magna, and already had several chassis there. It looks as if they will be among the first to be able to supply this car, for which there is already a big demand. There were numerous other makes of chassis in their works ; one which makes a very nice job is the special speed model Rover, which has already been tested in MOTOR SPORT, and which has an amazing performance.
It is really extraordinary how quickly the demand for special bodies has grown recently, and now that they can be obtained relatively cheaply there is no excuse for owners grumbling that cars have lost their individuality by mass production.
750 c.c. Possibilities.
Now that the season has closed with the M.G. Midget having achieved 110 m.p.h. at Monthlery, it is interesting to speculate what speeds will be reached in this class next year. The increase this year must have astounded even the most optimistic, and George Eyston and his colleagues deserve more than ordinary congratulations on their efforts. The record-breaking car is of course the property of Mr. Palmes, who is one of the directors of Jarvis and Sons, the well known agents, of Wimbledon. This active participation in the sport has given them much valuable information, and any buyers of cars from this source will haye the benefit of this experience if they require any tuning, repairs or other alterations to their models, of whatever make. I was talking to W. M. Couper the other day, and he tells me that Birkin’s racing Alfa is for sale with two bodies. As this laps Brooklands at 125 m.p.h. and has many major successes to its credit, someone is going to get a good motor. Inci
dentally his .Maserati, which won the Mountain championship, has been sold, through Philip Turner, to Straight, who raced a Riley for the latter part of last season. Birkin’s own racing programme for next year has not yet been fully settled.
Another interesting racer for sale is the 1,100 c.c. Maserati which H. Widengren raced last season, finishing up with the Ulster T.T. This is being offered by Charles Follett, Ltd.,’ the Alvis distributors.
The B.A.R.C. dinner was a highly successful function, and in spite of the depressions elsewhere we were able to celebrate one of the most successful seasons in the history of the track. Mr. Bradley has certainly to be congratulated on the result of his efforts, together with his staff of helpers, and Brooklands is full of new schemes. What with the aero club developments in addition to the work that has been done in other directions, we shall hardly know ourselves next season. Although there is a slack period now as far as driving is concerned, there is no rest for the track authorities, who are now getting down once more to the eternal question of bumps.
This business crops up year after year, and it is very hard to effect a big improvement without spending huge sums. However, it will be better next year, we hope. The big bump formed by the bridge over the river at the end of the home banking is not so easily dealt with, as it is formed by the meeting of two sections of the track at an angle. I hope the fork will be smoothed out a bit on the inside, as the passage from the Byfleet banking down the straight when merely coming in after a practice lap is very rough
going, and if we have any “sandbank circuits” this part will come into use.
A Running-in Aid.
The question of ninning-in is one of the most important in the whole business of getting the best possible performance from an engine, and I was very interested to receive particulars of the ” Talisman ” Assembly and Running-in Compound as it is called. This is a blend of a special colloidal graphite with an oil. The mention of graphite is apt to frighten some engineers, as it is generally acknowledged that ordinary mined graphite, in spite of its heat resistance and properties as a dry lubricant, is useless in an internal combustion engine, owing to its liability to clog oil-ways, and become deposited.
In this compound the graphite is in a special ultra-microscopic form which cannot be subject to this trouble, while its properties as a safeguard against seizure are enhanced. In any stiff engine there is a liability to temporary breakdown of the oil film with the result that the bearing surfaces are damaged and clearances increased. By the use of this compound in the oil a last line of defence in the shape of the graphite is provided, and its resistance to temperature is so high that failure is practically impossible. Also the surface produced is of the highest finish and the overall mechanical efficiency of the engine is increased. The importance of this under racing conditions is obvious, and makes for a Much higher safety factor and increased speed.
Although primarily intended for running-in the engine, considerable advantage under hard driving conditions will be found if its use is continued.