Another Roamer-Duesenberg...

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91

Sir,

My attention was drawn to the article in the September Motor Sport on the Roamer-Duesenberg. Mr. Jones does not own the only touring car, for there is another flat radiator tourer owned by a Mr. Baker of Battle Creek, Michigan, which is reputed to have a Duesenberg engine. There is also my car, which fortunately does not look like a Rolls-Royce.

I have a few comments to make on your article.

According to your photographs, the wheels of Mr. Jones’ Roamer are Hayes, which have a ratchet-lock on the solid nickel wheel-nut engaging a ring of slots inside the wheel. Six pins on the hub engage corresponding holes in the wheel. The true centre-lock wire wheels are those used on Rolls-Royce, Hispano-Suiza, etc. The Hayes wire wheels differ from the Houk only in the wheel-nut thread which is coarser. The pull-out Buffalo wire wheels used on many of the better American cars during the ‘twenties and early ‘thirties are also centre lock.

On my car the spare wheels are on side mounts. The rocker cover is different, having a small cover removable for clearance adjustment. Incidentally, the rockers have an effective length of just over 14 in. The coupling between the generator and the Dixie magneto is bolted fabric. The carburetter is a Stromberg 03. The original headlamps are single beam U-mounted barrel type, with Paterson lenses.

I would question the manufacture of the gearbox. About this time Duesenberg was starting small scale production of his own 8-cylinder A model, which was fitted with a 3-speed box. It seems unlikely that he was making a 4-speed overdrive unit for someone else. Perhaps it was made by Brown-Lipe, quoted as makers of the clutch.

I would venture to suggest that more damage might be likely to result from lugging the engine at 45 m.p.h. in overdrive than from driving the car without “deference to its two bearing crankshaft.” The crankshaft is short, rigid, and beautifully counterbalanced. The big-end journals are 2 5/16 in. diameter, compared with 2 1/8 in. on the SX Stutz Beareat. It is well to remember that the engine was designed as a racing engine about 1913. Any defects would have been remedied by 1920, or the design discarded. The engine was used by Roamer until 1924, and by Revere until 1926. It had no reputation for being fragile. In fact, the only reputation it did have was for being very fast.

A 105 m.p.h. racing Roamer is mentioned. The car was a stock car with a Duesenberg engine, in all probability.

My car did a two-way run over a measured mile on the Geelong road, timed and supervised by the R.A.C.V. The average was 103.2 m.p.h., and one run was made at 105 m.p.h. The car held the Broken Hill-Adelaide record. In an attempt on the Adelaide-Melbourne record, the car was 1 1/4 hours ahead of the record held by an E-type 30/98 Vauxhall, when at Mortlake, with 150 of the 465 miles still to go, the ninth of twelve tyres blew out, and no replacement could be found. The tyres were experimental Dunlops, and subsequently were not released to the public.

Mr. Eric Scott, the original owner of the car, says that the only defect in the car was weakness in the front springs, which caused the car to “plunge” at very high speed. They attempted to remedy this by fitting an extra pair of Hartford shock-absorbers to the front axle.

The cost of my car, which was probably specially imported, was £1,350 landed in Melbourne. It is probably a 1922 or 1923 machine. Its appearance has a passing similarity to a Metallurgique. It is right hand drive, and was built as such.

With regard to oil consumption, there are no oil rings. There are oil return slots and holes in the pistons, below the third compression rings.

The differential is offset to the left. There appears to be a step-up gearing onto the pinion. The footbrake operates contracting bands on drums at the rear wheels. The handbrake bands are expanding inside the same drums. The double cantilever springs are above and below the back axle, and there is therefore no torque reaction member. There does not seem to be any provision for shock-absorbers.

My car has been in the open for the last 20 years, and all the wooden framework of the body has rotted. The motor was last run on racing oil, and was seized, but I have taken it apart, and it does not even need new rings. The total mileage is less than 20,000.

Lastly, I question the stated capacity. My car is 4 1/4 x 6, which is just on 5 1/2-litres. An engine with 4-inch bore is a shade under 5-litres, and I fail to see how a 5-litre engine can be 5.6-litres.

Thank you for the valve clearance.

Ivan Saxton.
Victoria.