Rumblings, January 1932
k.umblings k flontrERGEs
THE hill-climb held at the end of November at Kimbolton Castle by the Cambridge University Club was rather spoilt by the very wet condition okithe hill itself, and by the fact that the event had been altered at short notice from Aston Clinton, so that some entrants did not turn up.
Owing to the condition of the hill it was not possible to include the right hand-bend at the top, which might add considerable interest to the proceedings if used another time. Before this is done, however, it will need either some resurfacing or some very dry weather or preferably both. The results of this event appear under Club News.
Activity at Abingdon.
In spite of the general conditions at the moment being about as poor as anyone ever wants to see, there are still some bright spots in the gloom. I was down at Abingdon the other day, having a look round the M.G. works, and if there is any sign of a trade depression there I certainly could not find it. The whole place was buzzing with activity, and spite of the rows of chassis going through, and the number of cars being finished off and despatched, more and more orders are keeping them moving ever faster. MOTOR SPORT’S prophesy at Olympia that the M.G. Magna would be one of the sports cars of the 1932 season, is being fulfilled already, for the majority of the cars I saw down there were this model, though there is still plenty of demand among more impecunious sportsmen for the famous Midget.
Watching the efforts of various drivers in the London-Gloucester,
I was struck by the number of failures under circumstances where there was no real excuse for it at all. The standard of driving in this event was really very low, and seemed to have dropped considerably in comparison with what one used to find in such events.
There is no getting away from the fact that trials driving requires a deal of trouble and practice if it is to be successful, and it was very obvious on. this occasion that many entran’s came badly unstuckthrough thinking that it was quite easy and that there was nothing for them to learn on the subject. There were, of course, some cases where drivers did their best with none-too-suitable cars for the job, but what is enough to make anyone weep is the sight of perfectly
able and very good cars being hopelessly mishandled by their proud owners. Some of the latter will persist in thinking that any modern motorcar as supplied, will go successfully through any trial without further attention, and with no knowledge on the driver’s part of trials requirements.
The requirements and procedure are so elementary in essentials that one would imagine that everyone knows them, and that having learnt them will go out and practice on suitable trials hills until they acquire the skill to follow them out in practice.
In the me cor car itself the chief requirements are light weight and power to pull a fairly high bottom gear at low speeds without stalling, combined with revs, enough to be able to rush a slippery hill. Add to this, generous sized tyres run at low pressure, ample steering lock, good ground clearance, and if possible, a solid rear axle. Given these and mechanical reliability, success in trials should then be merely a matter of practice and attention to detail. There seems to be a great deal of misunderstanding about tyre pressures, and it does not seem to be sufficiently realised what tremendously increased grip is given by soft tyres. What is more, Dunlop wired tyres do not come off or burst when the pressure is let down, and in the case of a light car of say 15 cwt. or
under, with 27 x 4.40 tyres, it is perfectly safe to run at 12 lbs. per sq. in., unless the driver corners like a maniac ! The only thing is that the tail is liable to swing to and fro slightly when travelling fairly fast, but if it means the difference between success and failure on hills, no one in his senses will mind a little of that.
To keep one’s tyres at 30-35 lbs. in a trial with any slime about is merely asking for trouble, and ruining one’s chances with an otherwise good vehicle in many cases. In the actual driving of the car on hills, the golden rule is to go fast from the very start and get as much speed as possible on bottom gear before the worst of the hill is reached. It is simple then to ease off a trifle if bends demand it, while if wheelspin becomes excessive there is enough momentum to allow one to ease off the throttle and give the
wheels a chance to grip afresh. The method which I saw practised by several drivers in the Gloucester was to approach a hill with continual cutting out, and then when they saw it was going to be sticky, down went the loud pedal too late,which merely produced violent wheelspin and failure.
Another trouble which was very evident in the re-start test on Bushcombe was the lack of power of many cars, which suggests that their owners, finding them quite satisfactory on the road, never troubled to make sure that the engine was clean and in good trim for the trial. In many cases a careful top overhaul with special attention to valve seatings would have made all the difference. No very subtle tuning is required for such an event, in which fact should lie its appeal to the amateur, but good mechanical condition is
essential. Very sensitive high compression engines in semi-racing tune are not suitable for trials work except in very expert hands, and the more normal sports type in really sound order and thoroughly run in is more suitable.
Among the minor but important details to be checked over is the fuel supply, and here an attempt on actual hills is the only sure way of trying it out. I have found cases of sports cars which function perfectly in normal use, but applied to a gradient of 1 in 4 or so, fail to get any fuel through to the engine owing to insufficient head of petrol. Some gravity feed tanks do not maintain sufficient head unless nearly full, while other systems sometimes have the pipes so arranged that air locks occur on steep gradients. An thissort of thing has got to be found out by experiment, preferably before the trial and not in it.