The Norton on the ” Exeter “
On the route of the Boxing Night Informal I picked up a rather nice pair of gloves by the roadside. I think it is very probable that these belonged to one of the ” competitors ” and wondered if it would be possible for you to put a small note in MOTOR SPORT to the effect that I would forward the gloves to the person giving the correct description of them. (Incidentally, I found them most useful as mine were wet!)
I would like to take this opportunity of saying how much I enjoyed the rally-there is so little vintage activity in this part of the country that I look forward to the Informal as the event of the year.
This was my first experience of vintage motorcycling-and, my last! For the future I shall stick to four Wheels and the comfort of a hot dashboard under my feet! Full marks to the Norton tho’ she behaved wonderfully for a 42-year-old and the only trouble she gave was when the oil pump broke free of the tank and a little belt slip up White Sheet forcing me to go up ” horse fashion.” This was a great relief to me as the bike had not been taxed since 1930 until Christmas Eve this year, when I had a short run to stretch the belt, and I imagined much greater disasters ahead of me when I left Torquay in the sleety darkness of Boxing Night.
However, in spite of the iced-up roads, missing the longed-for breakfast at Beaminster, and having to be forcibly unfolded when I got home-I enjoyed it, and thanks again.
I am, Yours, etc.,
Torquay. Euan O. Clayden.
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P.& M. Panthette Memories
Mr. Walton’s letter about the Panthette revived some memories, but I must correct him about the valve operation. The valves were opened by push-rods and rockers, and closed by springs, but the valve-gear was unconventional in two respects-one was that the valve springs, instead of being coils encircling the valve-stems, were short leaf-springs (like tiny ¼-elliptics) which lay parallel to the rocker spindles and closed the valves by pressing on the pushrod end of the rocker-arms; the second feature was that the other end of the rocker, instead of being a pad bearing on the end of the valve-stem, was forked and the two arms encircled a collar which was attached to the threaded valve-stem by locknuts. This provided means for setting the tappet clearance. The advantages claimed for this arrangement were that the stem was not weakened by the cutting of grooves for collets or cotters, that there was no side thrust on the stem, and that opening and closing were positive, or more positive than with the usual layout.
Mr. Walton is absolutely right in saying the Panthette engine was a honey. It was completely enclosed, the only external moving parts being the flexible coupling for the magneto-drive, and the final drive sprocket. Moreover, it was so advanced in design and conception, with barrels well spigoted into the crankcase, and oil contained in the sump, that if shown today it would quite likely be hailed as a masterpiece of clean design-which it was. It was designed as a result of a clamour for a revival of the A.B.C. without the latter’s faults, but I am not sure if it ever went into production-I cannot remember ever seeing one on the road. The name ” Panthette ” arose because it was made by Phelon and Moore, whose other machines were-and still are- ” Panthers.” They were big singles of 500 or 600 c.c., and this was the first lightweight.
Apart from the engine, the rest of the machine showed Bradshaw’s advanced thinking. The top “tube ” of the frame was in fact an H-section forging of appropriate shape, the engine-gear unit being slung below this backbone in a duplex cradle of flat steel strips. The model weighed 196 lb., and the performance claimed was 60 m.p.h. and 125 m.p.g.
It is noteworthy that by the time the Panthette appeared in 1926, Bradshaw had already designed the A.B.C.s (motorcycle and light car), the A.B.C. Skootamota, and the Bradshaw oilcooled engines. Examine any of these today and you will find features of design which were far in advance of their time. Many of these features lapsed, only to be revived more recently in modified and developed form.
I am, Yours, etc.,
Kew. Edward Stott.
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A Contemporary Trojan
I have enclosed a photograph of a Trojan which may be of interest. [Reproduced above.—Ed.]
The approximate year of this model was 1926 and the new purchase price was £145. My father, W. G. Bryant, purchased this car from a garage in Little Sutton, Wirral, Cheshire, for £20 in 1928 after it had done a mere 13,000 miles. He ran it until 1935, doing a similar mileage, and sold it to a garage in Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire, for the princely sum of £4. My father used to comment that if time was no object this car would go anywhere, as it was very reliable but progress was somewhat slow with its top speed of 35 m.p.h.—when in mint condition. Most hills were taken steadily in top gear, but on the occasion when a particularly steep hill had to be climbed the first and only other gear was used, reducing the speed to a mere, grinding, 5 m.p.h. I remember we were highly indignant at the occupants of other cars which passed us when they turned to grin broadly as they shot by at 25 to 30 mph.
The rear axle was ” dead,” having no differential, resulting in stiff steering and heavy handling on corners as the wheels strained to straighten. Tyre wear was rapid, 7,000 miles being the average life. On one occasion, after a garage had put in 40 lb. all round instead of the normal 25-30 lb., it was discovered, after about 40 miles, that half the tread had scrubbed from the front tyres. The extra pressure was not noticed in travelling as the springing on this car was excellent.
For a 10-h.p. car the body was large and five adults could be seated in comfort. It was, in those days, considered to be an economical car to run-40 miles to the gallon could he obtained. In spite of its faults we were very fond of our Trojan.
I am, Yours, etc.,
Ipswich. A. G. Bryant.
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The Sopwith Camel
The Sopwith Camel was the finest fighter, at low and medium altitudes, of its time because (a) it was the first single-seater with two Vickers guns in R.F.C. Squadrons, and (2) because of—not in spite of—its peculiar flying characteristics which skilful pilots were able to exploit to their advantage. By using the pronounced gyroscopic and torque reactions, these pilots could perform manoeuvres in close combat which could not be matched by the stationary-engined enemy fighters, often of far higher performance in speed and climb. To get involved in a dog-fight with Camels below 12,000 ft. was usually disastrous for the enemy, as their aces were well aware.
The point to be stressed is that the flying qualities which its detractors labelled as bad and vicious were the very qualities which, in the hands of good and intelligent pilots, made the Camel so successful.
An obvious analogy can be made between the detractors of unconventional aircraft and the detractors of unconventional motor ears. One reads and hears so many reports of the ” dangers ” of unconventional motor cars, particularly those with engines its the ” wrong ” places, and I always wonder whether these critics realise that, the louder they complain, the louder they proclaim their own lack of skill and adaptability ? When a devotee of the Camel heard another pilot call it a deathtrap. he at once knew that the other pilot was a ham-fisted type incapable of flying it. But he did not bother to argue the point, if he was wise, because he also knew that the ham-listed type was safer with the humdrum.
I am, Yours, etc.,
Crowborough. R. Neville, R.A.F. (Ret.).