Rumblings, December 1955

Author

W.B.

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64

The Class G Cooper Records
The merit of the successful attack on twelve International Class G records at Montlhèry on October 17th by a sports Cooper-Climax driven by Jim Hassell, Arthur Owen and Bill Knight is discussed Editorially on page 735. Russell drove for the distances up to one hour and the others thereafter, facing rain and high winds. The actual records to fall, subject to official confirmation, were: —

The Cooper ran as a sports-equipped car. The single-overhead, camshaft, rear-located Coventry-Climax engine used pump Esso petrol, was lubricated with normal Essolube oil, and the ignition was Lucas, with K.L.G. sparking plugs. The tyres were Dunlop, the valve springs Terry, the pistons by Hepolite. The fastest lap by this little 1,100-c.c. sports car was to the tune of 132.56 m.p.h., and that freak gearing was not resorted to is indicated by a standing-start lap at the record speed of 101.79 m.p.h. These excellent speeds and the low Esso consumption of about 35 m.p.g. are a fine tribute to the streamlining of the Cooper and seem to justify John Cooper’s use of a sawn-off tail. The Coventry-Climax engine, too, deserves high praise. Naturally, Charles, and John Cooper supervised the attempt. The drivers used Timex watches with every satisfaction. Altogether, a splendid all-British visit to Paris!

*   *   * 

The G.P.-Winning Connaught
The victory at Syracuse by Brooks in a G.P. Connaught deserves our warmest praise, for this is the first G.P. victory by a British car, as distinct from a British driver, since the late Sir H. O. D. Segrave won the 1923 French Grand Prix and the 1921 San Sebastian G.P. at the wheel of 2-litre Wolverhampton-built Sunbeam racing cars. The Connaught’s success is particularly pleasing, because the small Send concern, none too well off for funds, did not have the best of fortune earlier in the season, and it was B.R.M., by a brief but meteoric run while it lasted at Oulton Park, and Vanwall, by dual victories at Castle Combe, which were in the public eye. Now Connaught has blossomed out and left the other British contenders far behind. It was aided at Syracuse by the following accessories and components: —

Dunlop Rubber Co. … Disc brakes and wheels.
K.L.G. … Plugs.
Joseph Lucas. Ltd. … Ignition equipment.
Armstrong-Siddeley Ltd. … Preselector gearbox.
Hardy Spicer Ltd. …Universal joints and shafts.
E.N.V. Engineering. … Transmission gears.
Vandervell Products … Thinwall bearings.
Plessey Co. … Pumps for brake servo. Transmission, lubrication and fuel supply.
British Timken … Adjustable taper roller-bearings.
Marston Excelsior Ltd. … Light-alloy radiator.
Mintex … Brake pads.
Alta Car and Engineering Co. … Alta engine.
A.E.C. … Two transporters carrying cars.
K.D.G. Instruments … Instruments.
Dunlopillo … Seat upholstery.
Automotive Products Ltd. … Lockheed Avery couplings and hose.
Hepworth & Grandage Ltd. … Pistons.
Durion, Ltd, … Camshaft followers treated with Durion process.
High Duty Alloys … Hiduminium Alloys.
James Walker, Ltd. … Lion Packaging.
Wills, Pressure Filled Joint, Rings Ltd. … Wills rings.
Titanine … Ti-fast enamel.
Dzus Fasteners, Ltd. … Dzus fasteners.
Farnborough Engineering … Tranco valves.
Esso Petroleum Co. … Fuel and oil.
Smiths Motor Accessories … Tachometer, thermostat and stop clocks.
Laystall Engineering … Crankshaft.
Accles & Pollock … Tubular frame.
Tempered Spring Co. … Valve springs.
Jonas Woodhead Ltd. … Road springs.
Northern Aluminium Co. … Noral body panelling.

·           *   *   *

The Formula 1 Bugatti
At last details of the G.P. Bugatti, which we all hope to see, singly or as a team, in next year’s races, have been released. Designed by Giachino Colombo, who was behind the invincible 158 Alfa-Romeos; and who designed the V12 G.P. Ferraris just after the war, the new G.P. Bugatti has a straight-eight 76 by 86½-mm. light-alloy, wet-liner engine with a two-piece five-bearing crankshaft, from the centre of which a gear train drives the twin overhead camshafts. There are two cylinder heads, one per four bores, with valves inclined at 90-degree included angle and two plugs per cylinder. As in the case of the B.R.M., while fuel injection is contemplated, carburetters — four dual-choke Webers — will be tried first.

This engine is installed behind the drive in a tubular-frame chassis, with a five-speed gearbox mounted beside the engine and coupled thereto by the central gear train, via an ingenious servo clutch. A de Dion back axle is employed and disc brakes of Bugatti design are in hand. The cam-boxes show signs of the finish for which Bugatti was famous, and the nuts retaining them are truly reminiscent.

Let us hope that M. Marco, who now manages the Bugatti factory at Molsheim, will find sufficient finance to field this interesting Formula 1 Grand Prix car next year.

*   *   *

No Transmission!
The use of an airscrew to drive a motor vehicle is advantageous but normally thought to be impractical. Before the 1914/18 war Grenville Bradshaw tried out such a chassis at Brooklands, we believe using an A.B.C. aero-engine, and in 1922 a brave soul built a propeller-driven cyclecar, using all-round independent suspension, four-wheel brakes, and a shapely, pointed-tail fuselage, at the front of which was an air-cooled flat-twin engine driving, at 2,000 r.p.m., a wooden two-bladed propeller encased in a tubular frame enclosed with wire-mesh. This little car would reach 50 m.p.h. in still air and covered 150 miles a day on a tour, but after two days driver and passenger suffered “splitting headaches” due to the noise and slipstream.

The advantages possessed by such vehicles are elimination of weight, cost and complication of clutch, gearbox and live back axle, smooth getaway, and excellent hill-climbing properties, abetted by a complete absence of wheelspin. Tyre wear is low, for the same reason. In 1922 the firm of Marcel Leyat, at the Cote d’Or, commenced building the propeller-driven Leyat cyclecar. It was of ingenious conception, with rear-wheel steering, front brakes, a beautifully-shaped fuselage and a cased-in four-bladed propeller out in front, driven by a three-cylinder Anzani radial aero-engine. It was made in both open and saloon form, costing, respectively, 11,590 and 12,500 francs, and could be had in de luxe form for an extra 3,000 or 4,000 francs. A speed of 78 m.p.h. was claimed, and restarting on a gradient of 1 in 5½, one up, with a petrol thirst of about 30 m.p.g. The saloon weighed less than six cwt. The novelty of the Leyat was its primary appeal and from 1922 at least until 1924 a French chocolate firm used one on the Paris boulevards. However, it was admitted that “… in traffic driving, when the need for rapid acceleration arises, the slipstream from the propeller is very annoying to following vehicles and pedestrians who may be crossing the road behind it.” If it played havoc with the short but tight-fitting skirts of the ‘twenties, what would it do to today’s fuller fashions? And what about umbrellas on wet days?

However, these problems have not stopped a present-day enthusiast. C. J. Robins of Yeovil, from building such a car. He wanted a three-wheeler but decided that in this case he had better build it himself. Work started on the i.f.s., using eight Bristol Jupiter aero-engine connecting-rods as wishbones, attached to special king pins carrying hubs from a 1932 Morris van. These wishbones were located by a steel box-girder and Standard Vanguard wheels fitted. The rest of the chassis was mainly 2-in. diameter steel tubing.

A visit to the Rotol factory while on holiday confirmed what Robins had thought — a 3-ft. diameter airscrew would provide 100 p.s.i. thrust at 4,000 r.p.m. from 15 b.h.p.

Early experiments were conducted with a home-made “prop.” carved from a 6 in. by 4 in. oak post, 3 ft. 6 in. long, at the rate of five parts shavings to one part finished blade. The engine at this time was a Harley-Davidson but it was quite impossible to start it by swinging the prop. An Ariel Square Four with Austin Seven pistons was substituted, but this commenced once only, after some twenty hours of swinging! Luckily this labour took in pre-stock-car-racing days and decided Robins to acquire one of the then cheap Ford V8 power units, complete with electric starter. This he “cut-in-half,” mounting the resultant V4 in front of the front box-girder of his chassis. This proved a fool-proof starter and in October, 1954, the first test-run was arranged, 45 m.p.h. being obtained across wet grass with power in hand. The following months the revs. really rose and a prop.-blade flew off. A 3-ft. diameter steel propeller from a war-time target-towing aircraft winch was substituted and the three-wheeler, after an appearance on TV, was driven to London. It is now at Raymond Way’s Kilburn premises, where they, quite rightly, enthuse over all £5 tax three-wheelers. Mr. Robins claim about 70 m.p.h. from a standing start in ¼ of a mile, still accelerating, and his local police passed the vehicle as perfectly road-worthy. But mind those umbrellas!

*   *   *

Desmond Scannell has resigned from the secretaryship of the B.R.D.C. to take up a post in industry.

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