Your articles on “Forgotten Makes” always interest me greatly and that on the Bleriot-Whippet and its expanding pulley gear brought back memories of the Warne.
Its history is short but not uninteresting. The original belt-driven tandem Bedelia (sponsored largely in this country by Messrs. Palmers of Tooting) seemed to have “sparked off” this type of vehicle. Amongst others, a Swiss engineer named Fritz Sabel produced a similar one called Sabella. He apparently soon discarded the fixed-pulley tandem-style for a side-by-side expanding pulley version. In 1912 he became associated with a Mr. Pearsall and an engineering firm in Leytonstone called Warne & Co. A company called Pearsall-Warne Ltd. was formed, trading as the Warne Car Co. to produce the Sabel-inspired vehicle, I joined the firm in the summer of 1912. at the opening of their showroom in Shaftesbury Avenue, opposite those of the Palmer Cord Tyre Co.
The first Warnes had 8 h.p. “V”-twin J.A.P. engines with chain drive to a countershaft carrying expanding pulleys at either end, operated by a long lever in a quadrant at the driver’s right hand, and having eight positions. Seven positions gave variable gearing whilst the eighth, and forward position, opened the pulleys to their fullest extent and allowed the belt to rest on a ball bearing ring to give a neutral. Whittle belts were used to drive the back wheels. A second and similar lever enabled the back axle to be moved to and fro on links to adjust the belt tension. This lever, in its rearmost position, brought the belt rims into contact with two fixed “V” blocks on the chassis to provide a hand brake. Foot brake, of the contracting band type, operated on the rear wheels. Springing was 1/4-elliptic all round with wire and bobbin steering. Wheels were 26 in. wire with 2 1/4-in. B.E. tyres. Various types of carburetter were fitted, B & B, Amac, Lukyn and Binks. The open two-seater, the only model offered, was priced at £99 “bare.”
Tyres: Avon, Clincher, Palmer or Dunlop, were to customer’s choice. Lighting, acetylene head and oil side and tail, was again to customer’s choice. You could have one or two headlamps, either self-contained or with separate generator. The cheapest set was about 25s. and the most expensive about 55s. Screen and hood were extra.
The original front axle was tubular and the dummy radiator a plain wire mesh grille. In the autumn of 1912 a redesigned front axle, cast steel of I-beam section, was fitted, with an alloy imitation radiator. The frame was of ash plank with steel flitch plates, and the completed vehicle, ready for the road, weighed some 7 cwt.
Bakers the Precision engine people of Birmingham produced a beautiful “V” twin engine with additional outside flywheel and this was fitted in 1913. Further redesigning took place during 1913 and at that year’s Motor Cycle Show the firm exhibited a model with a separate “sub-countershaft,” with a friction-driven reverse gear.
I do not know how many were produced in 1912/14 and I lost track of them on the outbreak of the war.
They were very roadworthy and pleasant vehicles to use but the rather peculiar controls could be confusing.
E. J. HONE.