In reply to Mr. E. H. Mower’s query in the December issue, the National Tricar was made by the late Frank Bullock and myself, when we were in partnership in Great Ducie Street, Manchester, from 1902 to 1905.
We used 4-h.p. M.M.C., 4 1/2-h.p. de Dion, and 6-h.p. two-cylinder Stevens engines. Drive was by Reynold Silent chain to a countershaft and again to the rear wheel. The first model was fitted with a Dupont two-speed gear, but later models had a three-speed epicyclic gear of my design.
We also had the local agency for the Orient Buckboard and the two vehicles mentioned on page 789 of your October issue were bought by Mr. Bob Brown, of Ashton Old Road, Manchester, at the auction sale subsequent to Mr. Bullock’s death, and the Tricar was the last one made.
I am, Yours, etc„
I have just seen the letter from Mr. E. H. Mawer in your December issue, asking for details of a three-wheeler National.
About 1905 I went to Rose Bros. at Gainsborough and collected a National chassis with a small landulette body – this was the 18-h.p. three-cylinder model – yes, three-cylinder. This was for a very well-known solicitor in Newcastle – Mr. Edward Clark – and he kept it for several years.
One thing I remember well, both hand and foot brakes on the rear wheels; the shoes were lined with cast iron and on application they gave off a noise like “shus,” or similar to the sound of release pressure from the vacuum on the Underground trains.
Messrs. Rose Bros. had a good-sized factory, but I certainly have no recollection of a three-wheeler. Now it seems likely to me that somewhere in the past, the suggestion of a three-wheeler made by Messrs. Rose has been confused with the three-cylinder 18-h.p. model which was manufactured about this time.
I hope these notes are helpful to your correspondent.
I am, Yours, etc.,
I was delighted to read the letters written in response to the “Bullnose” Morris article. They provided just the type of first-hand information for which I was looking. If Mr. R. Baillie had not told us of his Morris Belsize Bradshaw Special, and it was discovered today. I wonder if anybody would guess the truth about it.
Mr. Stewart Dewsbery asks about the “Bullnosed” straight-eight. I believe only one straight-eight was built, which was very much a “special,” and that production of more than one was never completed. Evidently the Prince of Wales was due to tour the Morris works so W. R. Morris had this straight-eight specially built as a “hack” vehicle which would be suitable for the occasion. I have heard that this straight-eight engine was basically two four-cylinder o.h.v. Hotchkiss engines as used by Gilchrist Cars Ltd. built onto a common crankcase, although I have also heard that two side-valve Hotchkiss or Morris engines were used. The car was not a bad performer, as the tester can remember becoming airborne going over a canal bridge on his way to Weybridge, where the car was to be fitted with its coupé body. I am still hopeful of obtaining a lot more information about this straight-eight. I believe Morris may also have built a V8. There was even a twin-cylinder “Bullnose” Morris ! This was one of the twin-cylinder Hotchkiss engines as fitted to B.S.A.s for a time, fitted into an early Morris-Oxford chassis for test-purposes, the Hotchkiss staff testing the car in Wales.
Mr. F. H. H. Buen’s letter listing all the troubles he had had with his “Flatnose “. Morris reads rather like one of the many letters you publish from dissatisfied owners of modern cars. There are two important differences however. Firstly, unlike any modern car owner, Mr. Buen modestly admits that some of the troubles may have been due to poor maintenance on his part, and secondly, in spite of all the troubles, he seems to have found his Morris days fun. Mr. Buen still has not managed to shake my belief in Morris reliability. I wish the Bullnose Morris Club could cater for “Flatuose” Morrises, but the work involved in catering for “Bullnose” Morrises alone is too much. The owners of 14/28 and 14/40 M.G.s are, however, well catered for by the M.G. Car Club, who have a special section for early M.G.s, and I can assure any prospective members that they would receive a warm welcome from the historically-minded Wilson McComb and Russell Lowry.
What a wonderful first-hand account Mr. H. W. W. Hoskyn gave of the surprise sprung by A. E. Keen in his Cowley at the Oxford speed trial. An excellent account of these rather faster (to be accurate, very much faster) than standard ” Bullnoses” is given in the February 1947 edition of MOTOR SPORT.
I am, Yours, etc.,
LYTTON P. JARMAN,
Hon. Sec., Bullnose Morris Club.
I was most interested in Mr. Corbishley’s experiences of the G.W.K. car in MOTOR SPORT for December.
We had one of these cars in 1922, for four years, and it did very well for us. Mr. Corbishley describes the peculiar transmission very accurately, so there is nothing that I can add about that. But he says it was inefficient. I entirely disagree about that. The discs had to be adjusted about once a week to avoid any slipping at all; it was easy to do, but if you didn’t do it you got trouble. And that is why some people cursed the G.W.K. – because they got a bit of slipping through bad adjustment.
But the whole trouble with the G.W.K. was that it was damned noisy; the whirr at the rear from the transmission often was louder than the engine, which was a fine little Coventry-Climax conventional four-cylinder, and, yes, it had a self-starter. But because of noise, no saloons were ever made, as the noise would reverberate to the roof. And that was the let-down – about 1927 when saloon bodies became very popular; G.W.K. did not make them, and so they passed out. They had also lost their designer, Mr. Grice, who later died. G.W.K. stood for Grice, Wood and Keiller. I wonder if Wood and Keiller are still alive ? Before the first big war, they made a fine little 8-h.p. with engine at the rear and friction drive. It won many competitions, and Wood and Keiller were the drivers of them.
The driven disc of our car had a fibre lining – both cork and fibre were tried. If you ever drove off with the brake on or drove off with the wheels whizzing round on soft grass you got a flat on this disc, which would get you home but made an awful clatter which made everybody turn round. A new lining (cost 15s.) was easily fitted. We only had two flats. The cars were splendid hill-climbers. I could pass most 10-h.p. cars on a hill, and when properly adjusted could get 40 m.p.h.
I am, Yours, etc.,
G. A. Shaw.
I was greatly interested in the letter from Mr. Barry Corbishley, in the December issue of MOTOR SPORT, describing the four-cylinder G.W.K., particularly as I owned one of these cars in 1920 (No. MD 635), and covered a considerable mileage in it.
I found the friction drive, as a transmission, most efficient, and the rapid change to any gear meant good acceleration, particularly in traffic, but one had to drive sensibly as thoughtless drag on too high a gear could cause flats to be worn on the driven member through slip. However, like most post-war construction, the workmanship and materials were poor, but it was a praiseworthy attempt to produce an efficient, cheap, light car at a period when such cars were next to impossible to find. Mr. Corbishley appears surprised that so small a friction area is able to drive the car, but it is not always realised that all cars, even Rolls-Royces and racing cars, depend on friction drive, between the driving wheels and the road, and the small area of contact between the tyre and the road is usually well lubricated with water, and on occasion with snow and ice, which considerably reduces the coefficient of friction, whereas in the case of a friction transmission the discs are always dry and formed of chosen material for the purpose. Moreover the friction discs have only to transmit a driving load of about one quarter of that of the driving wheels, as the final drive was geared down about 4 to 1 in the hubs.
The pre-1914 G.W.K.s were two-seaters with two-cylinder engine set across the frame behind the front seats. The flywheel of the engine forming the driving disc, with the driven disc mounted on the forward end of a propeller-shaft and rolling on the face of the flywheel. These pre-1914 G.W.K.s were very popular and better made than the post-war ones.
I am, Yours, etc.,
ANGUS C. M. MAITLAND.
Mr. J. F. Tadman’s letter was of great interest to me regarding the cylinder and valve arrangement used by Riley and Lea-Francis.
I feel that although the Dorman engine has been casually mentioned as the forerunner of this most satisfactory design, the time has now come to endeavour to try and shed a little light on this myth surrounding it.
In 1918, W. H. Dorman & Co., Ltd., of Stafford, introduced the model 4KNO engine of 69 mm. bore X 100 mm. stroke, giving a capacity of 1,795 c.c. and developing approximately 47 b.h.p. at 4,000 r.p.m.
Twin high camshafts were used, operating external push-rods via mushroom tappets and hence through wick-lubricated rockers to angularly displaced valves, giving a semi-hemispherical combustion chamber. The rocker box was in one piece, the sparking plugs being located immediately under the inlet ports.
Drive to the camshafts indicated considerable effort to achieve silent operation. An inverted tooth chain drove the inlet camshaft and a similar chain with two identical sprockets transmitted the drive across the engine from the inlet to the exhaust camshaft.
A gear-type oil pump fed lubricant under pressure to the rear main bearing and camshaft bearings. The front main bearing utilised a roller-race and big-ends were of white metal – splash fed.
One further point of great interest to the historian and an indication of the futuristic design of the 4KNO engine was the option of an alloy cylinder block/crankcase assembly, and most engines were fitted with “wet” cylinder liners.
These engines seem to have slipped into obscurity although Dorman’s still possess one, and another is believed to be owned by Glasgow Corporation fitted in a mechanical road sweeper. Various little-known makes fitted this engine, viz., Hampton Special, Lacre, Vulcan, Seabrook, Airedale, Varley-Wood and Stafford. I should be very interested to hear of any of these engines still in existence, and may be of some assistance as I possess copies of operator’s handbook and spare parts manual relating to this model.
I am, Yours, etc.,
C J. TUCKER.
In response to the request for information about the 1905-6 Leader car, I have before me a copy of “The Automobile,” Vol. III, published in 1906, from which the following extract is taken :
“Leader cars are of British manufacture and were originally placed upon the market by Charles Binks, Ltd., of Nottingham; the firm now being responsible for them is New Leader Motors, Ltd.
” Leader cars can be recognised by the shape of the radiator looked at from the front and by the two side levers with ball heads which are not together in one quadrant. The pressed-steel frame is supported by ample springs over the axles, and the back axle is fitted with combination roller- and ball-bearings, this being the type of bearing chiefly employed on the car. In the rear-axle bearings the contact is on the whole length of a roller 1 in. long, the side thrust being taken by balls. The artillery wheels are carried by ball-bearings in front and by improved roller-bearings at the rear, and have tyres varying front 28 in. x 3 in. on the 8-h.p. car to 36 in. X 5 in, on the 90-h.p. car. The engine cylinders are separate castings and all valves are mechanically operated, and are on the one side. There is a gravity-feed to the carburetter, which is of the Binks’ patent design, in which all the air used is delivered past the jet, there being no auxiliary air valve, but the petrol-spraying nozzle is adjustable, and the choke-tube area is variable at the will of the driver.
“In the sectional view of the Leader (Binks) carburetter, A indicates the usual float chamber from which the petrol passes to the mixing chamber, and issues at B. The air supply comes through the bell-mouthed tube C and passes over the petrol nozzle, the mixture then impinging on the baffle cone D, underneath which are ports through which the mixture passes to the engine at E. The choke tube or piston, G. is raised or lowered by the driver operating through lever H. This varies the ejecting force of the air rushing past B, and provides a ready means of altering the mixture. The advantage claimed for this arrangement over the fitting of an auxiliary air inlet is that the mixture supplied is intimate at all speeds, whereas by admitting auxiliary air to vary the proportions of the mixture, it is thought that the charge passing to the engine is not all explosive. A throttle valve is shown at J. The admission of petrol to the mixing chamber is controlled by valve K, having pointer L.
“The system of ignition employed in Leader cars is high-tension with accumulators, trembler coils, and wipe contact breakers, an optional system being similar but using a single trembler coil. The ignition control lever is the only lever fitted to the steering wheel. The butterfly valve in the induction pipe is operated by a pedal which, in its normal position passes just sufficient gas to allow the engine to run at its slowest speed, any variation to full speed being obtained by depressing the pedal. To use the engine as a brake in running downhill, this same pedal is lifted slightly with the foot, thus serving to shut the mixture right off. The jacket water is circulated on the thermo-syphon system in the small cars and by a pump in the larger cars, through a honeycomb radiator, behind which is an engine-driven fan. The lubricating system comprises a tank under the footboard and a hand-pump on the dashboard, the pump forcing air into the tank and so feeding the oil under pressure to the distributor, and thence through sight-feed glasses to the different parts of the mechanism. The drive is transmitted through a leather-faced cone clutch to a sliding spur wheel three-speed gear, giving direct drive on the top speed; thence the drive is through a universally jointed propeller-shaft to the rear axle. A pedal operates a metal-to-metal brake on the driving shaft, and one of the side levers similarly brakes on the rear-wheel hubs.”
I am, Yours, etc.,
GEOFFREY R. EDWARDS