V-E-V Miscellany, December 1978, December 1978

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The person who owned that “unknown cyclecar” that was runner-up for first prize in this year’s Cyclecar Rally from 1969 to 1975 tells us that it is a 1921 Burrell with a 1910 JAP engine having an automatic inlet valve. Lack of time, money and legislation were against its completion but Mr. Hogg says he did manage to get the ash, centre-pivot front axle onto the vehicle without having to undermine its strength by drilling it and springing was his own mock-up, not completed.  He is a real enthusiast, who sought to revive our “Boxing Night Exeters” after legislation had decided WB to abandon them, and now runs a 1929 o.h.c Morris Minor tourer and an Alvis TE21 saloon.

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A reader in Yorkshire requires photographs of the Talbot-built bodies used on the 14/45 Roesch Talbots, so that he can rebuild the six-light body on the 1927 model he has acquired and which a former owner had converted into a shooting-brake; our correspondent also asks whether the fabric covering of these London-made bodies was stuck onto the steel or aluminium panels. Another Talbot 14/45 query comes from a company which has a client in Germany who seeks a 1927 Y5 Talbot with a van body as fitted to a number of these chassis by The Star newspaper, but this seems a forlorn hope, as all these vans must have long since been scrapped.

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 The truck-bodied Austin 7 we referred to recently belongs to Mike Cavanegh who runs the Bourton Motor Museum at Bourton-on-the-Water in Gloucestershire.

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The Pre-War Austin Seven Club has been looking at the history of the “Grasshopper” competition Austin 7s in recent issues of its Newsletter.

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One of the persons listed in the front row of the mechanics photographed outside Parry Thomas’ now-defunct Brooklands premises as “unknown” in our September issue is, we are informed, Erik Nelson, who flew in the RFC during WWI, and joined the TID Co. on demobilisation.

***

Another link with Brooklands is that Brian Harvey of GP Models tells me that Ken Wetton who left Lesney’s after 25 years in model-making used to be with the Vacuum Oil Co. and remembers in 1933 going to the Track in connection with the long-duration (several days) diesel-oil test of an AEC double-decker ‘bus, which ran at something over 50 m.p.h. while racing cars roared round the banking far above it…

***

Donald Eyre, who was the last survivor of the aviation team which worked with Sir Henry Royce, died recently at Alvaston, aged 73. He worked for Rolls-Royce Ltd. for so years, from the design of the 1931 Schneider Trophy engine to the forerunner of today’s jump-jet aircraft. He also designed the Rolls-Royce stained-glass window in Westminster Abbey.

***

One of the two lightweight bodies for 328 BMWs that came to this country before the war, one for A. F. P. Fane, the other for the Aldingtons, is apparently owned by Mr. Richard Loveday of Northwood, and as the Aldingtons are said to have returned theirs to Germany after it was involved in an accident, the ex-Fane, ex-Earl Howe 328 now in America presumably has a replica body?

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If the owner of the Riley Imp, Reg. No. KY 9676, cares to let us have his address, we have a photograph of this car, taken in Cornwall in 1965, to forward to him.–  WB

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The Austin Seven Record Run at Goodwood

It will be remembered that last year a group of Austin Seven enthusiasts decided to attempt to establish a 750 c.c. class record for 10,000 miles, this being an unestablished target, although the 10,000 kilo. record stood to a Simca Gordini at over 103. We have advocated filling-in some of the unclaimed records with older cars, so this attempt interested us. The car was not exactly a genuine vintage Austin, as it incorporated non-vintage components, including a Reliant crankshaft and other parts to convert the engine of this 1931 Ulster into something more closely resembling a 1937 “Grasshopper”. The 1977 attempt was unsuccessful, as the cylinder block parted from the crankcase but new British class records, officially timed and observed, were established, for 1,000 miles, 24 hours and 5,000 kilometres.

This year, again at Goodwood, the team had another crack at the 10,000 miles figure. Chris Gould’s modified Ulster Austin was given a new cylinder block with stronger base-flanges, resembling those of the one-time “works” Sevens, a new Reliant crankshaft, the 1977 mods. of plain bearings throughout fed by a Mini oil-pump driven from the David Newman camshaft being retained. High-tensile holding down studs secured the new block (previously a standard block had been used, with Nippy pistons, 1.1″ inlet valves and exhaust valves of normal size but in nimonic-80 steel). The twin SUs were replaced by a downdraught Zenith carburetter, a Cambridge head was used, and the crankshaft was drilled to further improve the lubrication system.

This time the attempt failed again but the Avon-shod Ulster, driven first by Stirling Moss and watched by Col.. Waite, Stanley Edge, Bert Hadley and Pat Driscoll, took four new British class records in spite of a spate of six broken halfshafts having to be welded and heat-treated in the pits, the car being withdrawn when it was discovered that No. 2 piston was breaking-up. However, the little car, using Champion plugs, Petrofina petrol tubing, and protected by Chubb fire-extinguishers, had by then covered 8,062 miles, which speaks loudly enough to anyone who knows the difficulties which long-distance recordbreaking involves, especially, round a road-circuit with what is basically a 47-year-old small car.  — WB

***

Progress Report on the Napier “Samson”

We hear from Alan Chamberlain that he is progressing well with his replica of the chassis of the 1904 racing Napier “Samson”, out in Toorak, Australia. He has been obliged to make a replica of the original chassis, as this has long since vanished, but it is to be propelled by the original 90 h.p. six-cylinder Napier engine as used in this car for racing at Brooklands and elsewhere under the auspices of S. F. Edge. The car took part in the now-legendary Match Race against Felice Nazzam’s 21-litre four-cylinder Fiat “Mephistopheles” at Brooklands in 1908,  losing on that occasion. It vanished soon afterwards. But the engine went out to Australia for installation in a racing motor-boat and has been acquired by Mr. Chamberlain and rebuilt.

In making a replica of this Napier chassis for the original engine Mr. Chamberlain is, we understand, at least following the 1904/1907 designs as closely as possible, helped by drawings found in the Science Museum in London and from other sources, but modern materials will increase the safety-factor. A new front axle beam was machined in Mr. Chamberlain’s workshops last July, the design being unusual, as the spring-pads have a wide base to locate with outboard-mounted springs, presumably to help obviate chassis roll, a Napier feature in the earlier models, but a facet that restricts the steering lock. In August the ball-ends for the steering-arms were machined. Indeed, except for some minor parts, the entire rear axle is complete and the rear springs and spring seats have been made and assembled. Three differential units have been made, giving respective ratios of 1.6, 1.85 and 3.0 to I. These comprise complete centre-sections, so that axle-ratio can be changed simply by replacing the entire centre-section. Incidentally, reverting to the front axle, this was originally of a very crude shape, of doubtful strength, because in 1904 the steering-arm was above the springs and axle, so that a snake-like drag-link curving round the offside spring had to be used. Napier’s quickly changed this and naturally Mr. Chamberlain has based his new axle on the later type.

All castings and forgings have been made and the gears for the two-speed gearbox cut, but when we last heard from Mr. Chamberlain some machining and heat-treatment had still to be done and the gearbox casing needed machining. It will be recalled that in one of its forms “Samson” had a radiator consisting of coolant tubes following the shape of its long pointed bonnet. This system is being faithfully copied. It will be constructed of 80 1/2″-diameter copper tubes, a wooden mock-up having been made to ensure the correct shape for the front header tank, and to aid the sheet-metal workers.

This exciting Napier is due to come to this country next year and compete in suitable events, if its unavoidably replica chassis can get it past the regulations. This might be doubtful in the case of thc VCC Brighton Run, on which the restorer has, I gather, set his sights; but the traffic might well deter him in any case. — WB

***

Nothing New

Among the striking new cars at the NEC Motor Show were the Opel Senator and Monza and the Vauxhall Royale which is really, an Opel with a Lutonian badge. These interesting new General Motors’ cars use the now well-known camshaft-in-head valve layout of other Opel cars. It is an ingenious and neat means of obtaining the advantages of overhead-camshaft operation while reducing the height of the engine and shortening the length of the camshaft drive, which is by duplex chain.

I was reminded of this while researching something quite different, when I came upon a description of the Lavoie car, made in Montreal in 1923. This had many ingenious features, such as integral body and chassis, full-elliptic springs, and three valves, two exhaust and one inlet, per cylinder, like a Bugatti. The 3-litre four-cylinder engine also had a camshaft mounted just below the cylinder head. It was driven by helical gears and although a wedge-shape combustion-chamber was used, as on the new Opels, this was achieved by an oddly-shaped piston crown, because the valves were vertical, whereas in the 1978 Opel engines the valves are inclined above a flat-crowned piston. The Lavoie valve-gear used a longer rocker to prod the valve than in the compact GM design of today but it achieved a shorter camshaft drive than an o.h.c. layout would have entailed,  a shorter engine, although this was of less consequence in 1923, even with a stroke of 127 mm against the 1978 Opel’s 69.8 mm stroke.  It also enabled the head to be removed without disturbing valve timing, which the GM layout does not, although, of course, the frequent decarbonising undertaken in vintage times is not necessary today, so that this is a minor advantage now. One wonders how many of these unconventional Lavoies were built and whether the valve gear inspired that of the 2-litre Lagonda, which had two underhead camshafts operating inclined valves via bell-crank rockers? — WB

 

 

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