MOT ORING IN Ti E EARLY DAYS
An Interesting Contemporary Book.
OUT OF THE PAST.
THE increasing success of the Veterans’ London-Brighton run and the race at Brooklands last year shows clearly the interest now being taken in the ancestors of the present day motor car.
” Motor Racinc; ,” by colonel Jarrott, is recognised as the leading authority in its own sphere, but we knew of no book which professed to :give the point of view of the ordinary driver of the far off days until our attention was drawn to the volume ” ,1/1ors ” in the Badminton Library, and inspection shows that it is admirably suited to complete the picture of motoring at the beginning of the present century.
The book was published in 19C2, and it is interesting to find that much of it is the work of that great automobile pioneer the late Mr. Henry Sturmey, who in 1895 and for the thirty years that followed, was the first editor of our contemporary, ” The Autocar.”
100 Years Ago.
The first chapter, by the Marquis de Chasseloup-Laubat, outlines the history of the motor car. Few readers probably, unless they happen to be familiar with the exhibits in the South Kensington Museum, realise that the first self-propelled road carriage was built in France by Cugnot in 1769. In the years around 1830 many quite practical steam vehicles ran on English roads, hut the high tolls exacted. through the influence of persons interested in railways, made it impossible to make these vehicles paying propositions, While the enactment of the ” Red Flag ” law took al,vay the attraction to private persons afforded by the possibility of a quick means of transport. Fortunately such crushing regulations did not exist in France, and in 1873 the firm of Leon Bollee put on the market the steam carriages which were the forerunners of our modern self-propelled road transport. De Dion and Serpollet followed up the work of the pioneer, and by 1894 the new automobile vehicles had become sufficiently popular to merit the formation of the Automobile Club de:France. In 1889, the Daimler quadricycle, with petroleum engine, appeared on the scene, and by the time the article was written the new motive power had gained enough ground to be generally recognised as superior to steam. The Marquis concludes the chapter with some racing experiences, personal and otherwise, including the Paris-Marseilles run in 1896. His bag for the run was One dog, two carts overturned, a cow
down a ground. upset. and finally breaking fence When turning on soft
In an article of this length, it is obviously impossible to point out all the good things, but one noticeable remark occurred in the chapter 2 ” The Choice of a Motor,” where the writer remarked that he considered pneumatics an expensive luxury and much overdone. He quotes his tyre bill for one year£50—and says that the airfilled tyres are prone to overheating and Side-slip and definitely Unpleasant in most ways.
The technical matter might with advantage be read alike by intending purchasers of old ,cars, who will find useful details of the works of the cars of 1900, and by the modern driver, who can thus form an opinion of how he would have fared in the early days. Usual practice in induction systems was surface carburetter, feeding .automatic inlet valve. Everyone knows the description of the former instrument as ” A biscuit tin full of wicks,” but the earlier instruments were merely tanks holding .a certain amount of liquid warmed by the exhaust, slightly ruffled by the current of air drawn in by the induction stroke. The most interesting information is that regarding the methods Of controlling engine speed, and in this connection it must be remembered that this speed was intended to be more or less constant, variations of road speed being made by the gears, So that fine adjustment of revs Was not so important as in present day vehicles. To the modern reader the methods used seem in Many cases analogous to plugging the exhaust pipe with
cork, a device now only used for the humiliation of bumptious club members. Ignition advance and retard is given the first place, and still persists in some outboard engines. Throttle control is mentioned as being good, but the other schemes are simply various forms of interference with the normal working of the motor. The exhaust valve was kept up during the induction stroke, so that the automatic valve did not open,
or worse still was not properly opened, keeping a pleasant amount of hot exhaust gas in the cylinder for the next stroke. The inlet valve was sometimes controlled, which after all was only a variation of throttle control, but the most drastic method of all was that of not opening the exhaust valves at all ! This effect was brought about by a Heath Robinson device controlled by a governor.
Ignition methods were Strangely like those of the present day, in that coil and battery ignition was in force, while the Dawson ignition, the first high tension Magneto, was an the Market. On the other hand, the Simms-Bosch system seems incredible to the present day reader, for it produced a low tension current which had to be broken actually in the combustion chamber itself.
The next chapter deals in the eapr:ces of the petrol motor, and is especially notable for the part on unusual noises : the heading ” Bursting Noises—Irregular” is very expressive!
Further chapters deal with transmission and brakes a direct top gear was used by Renault, but the other gears were not quite as simple, for they were obtained by swinging up a complete layshaft for each ratio.
Motor Cycles. Successful motorcycles had not ap
not appeared long before the book was written, but the engine had in most cases been removed from its perch above the front wheel to somewhere above the position
on present day machines. The h.p. Minerva was a popular power unit, and the vibration to which the early machines were subject must have been very useful in vapourising the petrol in its surface carburettor. The Holden was a fourcylinder Water-cooled machine with an engine driving direct to the back wheel but the writer makes no remarks on the performance. Chain drive had only appeared on the Humber, and possibly the P. & M., and other cycles depended on rawhide belts, either twisted or flat. The motor tricycle and quadricycle were keen rivals of the two-wheeler, but the superior handiness of the latter ensured its ultimate survival. The last chapter deals with races and trials and introduces the evergreen question Of the value of such events, haying regard to the tremendous speeds and mechanical perfection already reached. In viewof the tremendous advances which have been made from that day and this, one is thankful that the pioneers did not rest on their great achievements, as they thought them then, and this progress is equally a reply to those who at this present day proclaim that no further
improvements are possible, T. M.