rumblings, January 1931
IF there is anything over which we ordinary mortals may consider that scientists have let us down, it is in the treatment of fog. The snappiest motor car on earth is brought down with a sharp jerk to the level of the meanest, when the weather decides to blot out all vision, and although there are many and various devices for use on motorcars under such circumstances they do not really help to any extent. Having had a few doses of this pernicious affliction recently, I have again had to own myself defeated in the matter of getting anywhere in a reasonable time. Most of the regular remedies, such as coloured discs on the lamps, etc., are well enough known, but as they are precious little help no one is much worse off for not knowing them. When things get really thick,—I am referring to the fog only—headlights are fairly useless in any form, though if they are dipped they are somewhat less hindrance than if they are not.
If one is anywhere in the neighbourhood of a great city some use can be made of trams. In fact I should imagine that this is about the only time trams or tramlines are anything but an infernal nuisance. Nevertheless, as they run on rails, they do not have to find their way, and I have often crept home guided by the friendly glow from one of these normally tiresome vehicles.
It is however, a good thing to make sure that the tram being followed is going to the desired destination. Forks in the road are not easily picked out in a real pea-soup fog, and I shall not soon forget the occasion on which I followed a tram, in a series of short rushes, for some miles up the wrong road, to a part of London I had never previously seen ! A left hand drive vehicle is very useful in fog, and though it seems rather a far cry from sports cars to Ford vans, there are probably many readers of MOTOR SPORT who at one time or another went in for B
motorcycle racing in the days when sprint motors were always carried to and from the scene of battle. I had many amusing miles on an old model T on which the left hand drive enabled quite remarkable progress to be made through fog by hugging the kerb. Clinging to it over-assiduously is liable to land the vehicle in sundry yards, tramway depots, etc., but one gets used to that sort of thing.
Some drivers seem to have a special fog sense, which enables them to jog steadily along a perfectly sound course in the thickest blackness without any trouble, but it is a great mistake to hope that you are one of these people when you are not, as the motor will probably finish up in a ditch.
Starting from Cold.
In these days we are rather apt to forget that there was ever any particular bother in starting, as efficient electric starters and uniform fuels have made us thoroughly lazy. However, every now and then a motor decides to be difficult and we have to employ more drastic methods than usual. A little trouble recently with a not too new engine, brought to mind some of the timehonoured methods which used to be so successful, if little unconventional. When the starter has cried “Hold, enough,” and churning round the handle at umpteen r.p.m. has ceased to amuse, and even the chilliness of the morn fails to provide excuse for further exercise, one comes back to the necessity of applying heat and/or power in quantity. Given a large supply of really hot water, the worst case can usually be made more amenable to persuasion, and this is quite a good method. Circumstances do not always fit in, however, and something a bit more violent is indicated. A popular but somewhat hazardous method of warming things up, much in vogue some years ago, is to flood the carburettor gently, turn off the petrol
and set fire to the carburettor. When most of the petrol—but not all—has been consumed, the fire must be extinguished by the application of rags, old gloves, or whatever the size and position of the carburettor demands. This is of course the sort of method not laid down in the instruction book, and in fact not to be recommended except in extreme cases and by an old hand at the game. If the fuel burns right out, the heat will probably ruin the float, while if the car is insured, no insurance company could be expected to have much sympathy with an owner who let the fire go a little too far !
Another method which I used to hear highly recommended, though I have never actually tried it, is to pack up a quantity of carbide in a cloth, wrap the whole outfit round as much of the induction pipe as possible, and then pour a little water on it. This is said to heat things up sufficiently to start anything, and was much in favour with sundry war-time lorry drivers.
This would, I fear, be one of those occasions on which one should not light an A.bdulla, at any rate not within 50 yards of the vehicle. To turn to a more serious aspect of this warming up business, there is one small tip which may be useful. Having started an engine in cold weather many people leave it running for a long time to get it warm, and yet it still does not like it, and the carburettor remains as cold as ever, or more so. This is because the constant evaporation of the fuel keeps the induction pipe and instrument almost freezing, when the rest of the engine is getting warm. The best scheme is to run the engine just long enough to get the head and cylinder block slightly warmed, and then switch off. This gives the heat from the block a chance to flow along the induction pipe and warm up the carburettor, so that when the engine is started up again a few minutes later they will stay reasonably warm. This is also much
cheaper than running the engine for ages till everything gets hot.
To turn to a less chilly subject, there are already signs of considerable activity among the hill-climbing fraternity, and Davenport, among others, has decided that the Shelsley record must come back to this country, and he is solid in his faith in the suitability nf the chain-driven Frazer-Nash type chassis as the means of regaining it. Seeing the number of times he has held the record, he has good reason for his belief, and there is no doubt that this sort of vehicle, with its terrific getaway, owing to its light weight and solid rear axle, together with its wonderful handling qualities, should be just the thing. He is now at work on a new ” B.H.D.” alias Spider, actually mostly Frazer-Nash. He has decided to add a little weight however in the very useful form of front wheel brakes, also to stick to the old twin engine, or rather to enlarge on it by making a four cylinder consisting in its essentials of two of these engines in tandem.
By way of spares he has also acquired the remains of another of the old o.h. camshaft twins, for some time belonging to A. S. Llewelyn, from time to time Lea-Francis exponent. Before this, the vehicle in question wast he property of the writer, who acquired it after it had seen service in many hands, and incidentally had a lot of fun with it.
Davenport’s latest should certsinly have a unique exhaust note, and judging from his previous motors a little cotton wool in the ears is very much indicated at the next Shelsley.
Multum in Parvo.
While nosing round the Frazer-Nash works the other day I noticed “The Terror,” the very special single seater. This is now the property of R. J. G. Nash, who drove it at the Amateur Shelsley, and when he is more used to it should liven things up considerably. It has been having a few alterations carried out to the body, and is now a very pretty outfit, and looks decidedly businesslike with its narrow stream-lined body, short chassis, and twin rear wheels. Its 1 flitre supercharged engine, when at the top of its form, gave off over 100 b.h.p. and as the vehicle weighs less than 8 cwt. the acceleration can be better imagined than described. “The Terror” should be a motor worth looking out for in next season’s sprint events. Another very delightful motor car, of more ordinary type, is now being built by Aldington for his own use next season, and it will probably be used for the Roundthe-Mountain events at Brooklan.ds in place of his old motor, which after a fine career has been purchased by a private owner—lucky fellow ! The new car is standard enough in its essentials, and has a similar supercharged engine to the other. The chassis has been modified by dropping it slightly aft of the power unit and passing it under the rear axle, making it possible to lower the transmission and seating. The standard Frazer Nash is already very low however, and the engine could not be dropped any further without making the ground clearance dangerously small. A slightly different radiator is fitted, together with a
very nice two-seater body. The job is not complete yet, but is sufficiently well under way to see that it will be one of the smartest sports cars on the road, and anyone who challenges it in a rash moment will find that the appearance is only a minor point compared with its performance.
Now that Monthlery is available at all times of the year, and is in any case more favourable for recordbreaking than Brooklands, there seems to be no close season for records. There has been a deal of activity lately in spite of the appalling weather conditions. Dudley Froy and Field had a fine run of records recently in the 4-i-supercharged Bentley, and Froy is also busy with plans for a special motor for long distance records next season. This is to have Eldridge’s 300 h.p. Fiat engine in the big Leyland Thomas chassis. At least these are to form the basis of the car, but it will be altered considerably in other ways, and will probably have a special indirect top gear. Other record attempts have been full of
excitement, as when the steering wheel came off Scott’s 1i-litre G.P P. Delage while Armstrong Payn was driving, and the car came to rest in the mud at the foot of the banking. The delay caused by this was small compared with previous trouble owing to a broken magneto holding
strap. In spite of this, and an icecovered track they collected sundry class records, including 27 hours at 66.89 m.p.h.
The other drivers were W. B. Scott, and Rose-Richards of the successful Talbot team.
D. M. K. Marendaz trotted out the Graham-Paige once more and got the Class B 200-mile record at 101.85 m.p.h. This however, was not without incident, as Veendam who took over afterwards for some further attacks piled up after hitting the parapet in the mist. Fortunately he was not damaged but the motor is now definitely out of shape !
The Graham-Paige in racing guise looks rather snappy, though somewhat high. In side view, its long narrow and shallow body reminds me rather of Rapson’s old Lanchester.
Truly the motor trade is a colossal affair, with ramifications which are not often realised. As a case in point, consider the manufacture of the body of any good car, and try to count up the things which go to its making. Then multiply them by the number of cars made in a year ! At the Rover works, for instance, fifteen hundred cow-hides are consumed each week for upholstery. No wonder that 180 girls are constantly employed, making them up. As to the fabric with which the bodies are covered—and every Rover body of this type is a genuine Weymann, made under licence,—over six thousand yards of double width material are used weekly, making a hundred acres a year. In this up-to-date body factory, there are over a thousand employees and between them they manage to use some twenty-five million feet of wood in a year—enough, almost, to reach from Coventry to the North Pole, and back ! These being the figures for one single company, the consumption of the whole British industry may best be left to the imagination.
Fabric—One Hundred Acres.
By BO ANERGES”