THE LONDON-EXETER-LONDON RELIABILITY TRIAL.
AS SEEN BY A TRAVELLING MARSHAL.
EVERYONE knows that this year’s ” Exeter” attracted a record entry and that the competitors had a wonderful time, with plenty of gold medals and so on, therefore there is no object in making another report on the Trial. Our remarks will consequently be confined to a few observations made during the course of the run, which was made on a four-seater sports Riley—and a very nice little ‘bus it proved to be, too. Our crew comprised Mr. T. D. H. Bond, Wireless Engineer, of the Western Electric Co., in charge of the orchestral effects—a seven-valve Western Electric
Supersonic with a two-valve amplifier; Mr. 0. F. Simond, Trials Secretary of the Cambridge University Motor Club; and the writer, all of whom are to be seen in the flashlight picture taken before the start.
Bond displayed wonderful packing skill in arranging the powerful wireless set in the back of the car, leaving room for himself and various ” properties ” in the eatable line. Simond contributed several No. i size brain waves, chief of which was the fitting of a temporarised roof light for route checking. Incidentally, he was in charge of the timing arrangements, armed with two Accuraspeed watches, and sundry route cards, note books and other odds and ends of stationery.
Our Arrival at Staines.
The arrival of the Riley accompanied by strains of music from 2L0, attracted a certain amount of attention, causing us to be pounced upon by the Press photographers with the result that we suffered from flashlight blindness several times in quick succession.
Music also cheered our way along the narrow passage through the spectators up to Mr. F. T. Bidlake, and sharp on time we got away. The Riley was evidently in very good form, and did not seem to mind its rather heavy load in the least; and, what is more to the point, gave plenty of room for good travelling comfort.
Soon after Bagshot was passed B. B. F. Russell (Morgan) came past at speed, trying to make up time, as at this point he was over half-an-hour late. Leaving Hook, we espied a peculiar object perched on the grass at the roadside, and stopping to investigate, we discovered it to be an A. V. Bicar, completely deserted by its crew, who had evidently abandoned all hope. Just about this time the rain stopped and a bright moon rendered headlamps unnecessary, giving us hopes that we were to have a really enjoyable ” Exeter.” Beyond Overton we stopped to console D. J. Stone, who was looking woefully on a queer little vehicle, which in its young days had been a Stellite, but now
boasts an Angus-Sanderson radiator and things like that. His trouble was due to a faulty big-end bearing, which put him out of the show.
Proceeding along the road to Andover at schedule speed (sic) we were aroused from our dreams of gold medals by a furious ” honking ” from the rear, and giving way we saw H. W. Potter (McEvoy and sidecar) well down to it, making up time.
On entering Salisbury we encountered R. Straker, who should have been following us, but it appeared his ‘bus could not be made ready in time, so he had to cancel his entry. Here the usual replenishments for car and crew were effected, and we met several old motoring friends.
Near Barford St. Martin, L. Martineau stopped to make an adjustment to his very smart little sports Gvvynne, but got going again a few minutes later.
A Belated Soloist.
R. W. Ord (498 A.J.S.) had evidently had more than his share of trouble, for we passed him stranded just before entering Honiton. Hereabouts Bond, who had gone to sleep as the stations had shut down, woke himself up with the announcement that ‘Little Lord Fauntleroy wants to stretch his legs,” and during the stop tried to demonstrate with an automatic pistol, which to our intense relief jammed hopelessly. Here we decided to change plugs as a precaution, Sirnond and Bond doing this whilst the driver took the only nap he had a chance to get. On leaving the check at Honiton we approached an interesting section of the course, and just before the bottom of Peak Hill, observed N. A. T. Parris (Norton and sidecar) had retired in Sidmouth. Peak Hill presented no difficulty to the heavily loaded Riley, and we reached the check at the top dead on time, according to Mr. Spikins from Dent. Simond, who had been watching the speedometer, reported a minimum speed of 20 m.p.h. on the hill. Knowing the difficulty in maintaining schedule speed over the next section, we trod heavily on the gas and
after ten miles discovered that we had our full ten minutes early in hand. This speaks well for the performance of the car, as all who know the section will appreciate.
Striking the main road outside Exeter we encountered the solo motor-cyclists on their return journey, the first two to appear being P. A. Wills and F. J. R. Heath both on Hendersons. We checked in at Exeter, parked the Riley, and then made preparations for the return journey, finding to our dismay that the Thermos had broken, but our hunger was satisfied with odds and ends extracted from among the wireless flotsam in the back of the car, and
then we decided unanimously That the route had been splendidly marked (bouquet for M.C.C.). 2. That police and road scouts were an absolute blessing (more bouquets). 3. That we were models of what travelling marshals should be. 4. That the Riley is a model of what a competition car should be. 5. That the “super-het.” was the goods. These resolutions so inspired Bond that he energetically cleaned screen, side curtains and number plates. Meantime little boys anxiously inquired “Who came in first, mister ? “whilst one bright lad remarked about a neighbouring car, “It’s a Frazer-Nash; it looks just like a Rolls-Royce.” J. A. Driskell (D.F.P.) arrived complete with bright blue beret, having stopped at Honiton to repair his dynamo, failed on Peak through lack of petrol; but be managed to check in on time at Exeter. H. R. Taylor (D’Yrsan) excited interest among the spectators as he nimbly jumped out of his car in spite of having only one leg.
On the Return Journey.
On leaving Exeter we were somewhat harassed by the mud-slinging properties of a Morgan driven by A. T. Clark, who splattered our newly-washed faces, despite side curtains and half-open wind-screen, and then went ahead to pay similar attentions to the passenger in the back seat (!) of a Frazer-Nash. Speaking of the FrazerNash contingent, they were particularly fast and nippy, but some of the drivers paid the inevitable price of ultra high speed, namely, tyre trouble, E. P. Paxman being one of the unfortunates.
The first bill of interest on the way home was Marlpits, which, however, proved to be an easy climb for the Riley, and we almost overtook a two-seater of the same make which commenced the climb about a hundred yards ahead of us. On the right-hand bend half way up Marlpits we passed T. H. W. Clarke (Amilcar), who had stopped with engine trouble. It was not serious, however, as he passed us a little later going strong. Several competitors, ourselves included, were obliged to exercise a lot of patience down Hatway Hill, owing to the extreme caution of one driver who kept at a snail’s pace, evidently under the impression that he was in a five mile limit. We had nearly forgotten what the accelerator pedal was for before we reached Salcombe, but the delay gave us time to reflect upon the gloomy demeanour of R. C. Elwes’ passenger for whom the Exeter did not seem a pleasure trip.