VETERAN SPECIALIST

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VETERAN SPECIALIST

vE decided, as the car DOW itppeared really reliable, that the next Sunday we would attempt a king nonstop run, as a sort of dress rehearsal for the coming lanalmt -Brighton. So on October 23rd we s(.t forth after lunch to cover the hilly route via ticwItinds Corner, Gomshall and Dorking, to Reigate. Having reached Reigate in great style we decided to drive a little way down tlw Brighton road and have a crack at the Reigate ” mountain.” This successfully accomplished in second gear we turned round and returned to Dorking. I fere we made our first stop, at the Water Mill Road House, where the crew procured an excellent tea. (hi emerging after tea we found the car completely surrounded by an interested crowd, and for the next 20 minutes we were plied with every type of question imaginable. The engine helowed itself perfectly, slat-titie. first pull up, and we made a spectacular getaway, Upton going right through the gears in quick succession. ‘Ve arrived home just as it was getting dusk, having covered 45 miles with clockwork reliability. As the car was now considered Brightonworthy, the next two weeks were sio•tit in comuletely stripping off all that remained of the oid paint on body. doors and axles, so that the whole could he given a coat of light grey rust-resist it paint.

(hi November 7th I drove her to the coaddmilder in Guildhod. where tile ” streamline ” mudguards were repaired and repainted, new number plates fitteu I. the front scat re-upholstered in besl buttoned style, and a cover made for Ho. tonneau. I collected her On tlw 17th, and all looked spiel; and span. l’p to HOW we had not really had time to hunt about for genuine contemporary accessories, SO I purchased a new set Of 11?11C:IS oil lamps and a bulb horn as a t etnrorary measure. Saturday, N(Iventher Huth, dawned wet and misty. the day on which all cars taking part in the Brighton run the following day had to be at Moon’s Garage, West !Masi Cr. not later Li inn 8 p.m. ()don arrived after lunch and proceeded to give the car a thorough cheek over, and all supplies of oil, petrol, wale r :ii ii I tools were loaded, not to mention t twee suitcases. A.t. about 3.30 p.m. the crew. which .consisted of Upton, Shanks and myself, climbed aboard and we started on the 32-mile drive to London. Progress was excellent until we reached the Kingston By-Pass, when, as dusk was descending, we made a stop to light the .oil lamps. We proceeded on to a point where the By-Pass passes over the Southern Main Line, with Carter’s Seed establishment on the right, when the front number plate came adrift. This was retrieved and we 1,rocceded until we “line to a straight stretch of road and then stopped to refix the plate. We had onlv !wen stationary ahout a couple of minutes when there was it terrific crash, and the old Lanehester shot forward about. 15 yards. I had been standing on the pavement while I )4011 1111(1 Shanks were standing in front. of the car tying on the number plate. To my horror both I7pton and Shanks went, ” out cold.” Upton came round fairly quickly, but Shanks was ” out ” for quite a long time. It appeared that a” gentleman ” driving a Humber Snipe at quite 40 m.p.h. had entirely failed to see us. This gentleman, who for quite a long time sat in his (‘Sr completely dazed, then asserted that WI had no tail light, and how could he (xhue(‘ttul to see us in the mist ? However, a motor-cyclist had seen our tail light without difficulty, and, further, pointed out to the policeman who had now appeared Hiatt, thong!’ badly squashed, the tail lamp was still burning. The motor-cyclist then went to Petie’s Garage for help. In the meantime we completed the usual exchange of addresses, etc., and proceeded to investigate the damage. The Humber was a complete wreck ; ‘the radiator was flat back on the engine. the front bearer arms of which were broken, the front axle was bent into the shape of a letter V, and as

the engine had moved the whole transmission had locked. We then examined the old Lanchester, which, it appeared, was made of much sterner stuff. The off-side rear wheel was buckled, the hub cracked, the back axle easing slightly bent, I he tyre and tube burst, but, apart from the shattered Niel: panel and rear door, we found no further damage at this stage. We started up the engine and proceeded under our own power very slowly on the flat tyre to Pale’s Garage, the Humber ignominiously bringing up lw rear on the breakdown truck. In the light of the garage I could see that Upton was feeling pretty laid, lout he refused to rest. I think I had mentally said goodbye to all hope of taking part in the Brighton, when Upton had a brainwave. He telephoned Lanehester’s service depot at Hendon, and was lucky in finding Betts still there, although it was quite late on Saturday afternoon. Upton told us that he had remembered that Lanchesters always carried a spare rear wheel in the back of their 1903 service car, tual that he had got permission to borrow it. Shanks was immediately dispatched in a taxi to uendoh, while 1-111 on and myself stripped off the lamaged wheel and found that the offside half-shaft appeared to be slightly bent. However, after %Vital haul seemed an interMilla ble Wait, Shanks arrived ‘vith the wheel, and. thanks to Lanchcster’s system of standardisation and interchatt..eabilily (even in the

wheel litted perfectly ; the feather key might have been lila& for !lie new wheel. So at 11 p.m., (lie oil lamps re-lighted, we were again motoring through the night. We arrived at Moon’s just before midnight and were greeted by several very sympathetie R.A.C. officials, who scrutinised the car at once. I fowever, our troubles were not quite at an end, for WC (Ike( )Ve red the ()Id and very hard steelstudded tyre on the borrowed wheel had started to disintegrate even on the short run of ahout ten miles, and would clearly never stand up to the trip to Brighton. We decided there was nothing we could (I() that night, so 1 j it on, who was by now feeling in a pretty poor state, departed to his home at Wimbledon in a taxi, and Shanks and myself to our hotel. I am afraid sleep wouldn’t come to me that night, so at 6 a.m. I telephoned a knowledge:iltle friend in motor-trade matters, and asked if he knew where I would be likely to get a tyre and tube in London on a Sunday morning. He said he thought the only likely place was the General Tyre Motor Co., ()I Hammersmith. :Vier rintring persistently for about 20 minutes, Ihe telephone was answered luv the night-watchman. I explained my trouble, but he said he couldn’t help me without the propriebw’s permission, and that the best thing would lie to ring the proprietor :it his private residence. This I did, to he eventually greeted by it gentleman who, naturally enotigh, was none too pleased at being brought to the telephone at that hour of the morning. Ifowe er, after I had explained my trouble he was most helpful, told me to go round to the depot and that he would tell the watchman to give me all the help he could. I procured a taxi and went out to Ifainmersmith. On arrival at the tyre depot a new problem confronted us -where were we likely to find a tyre of an odd size like 875 by 105 ? The watchman hadn’t the faintest idea where anything was kept. We consulted the catalogue in the (ace and found that the Size was stocked. So for the next hour we hopped about like monkeys from tier to tier, and eventually. When I had almost given up hope. the watchman found some beaded-edge high-pressure tyres right up under the roof, and to my great relief some were the right size. The next thing was to find a tube ; these were in another part of the building, so firmly clutching my tyre we started the hunt for a tube, which we found after about a further 15 minutes. We again consulted the catalogue, I paid for the tyre and tube, dully rewarded the watchman, and made a hurried departure. The taxi driver informed me that he had almost given up hope of seeing me again. I urged him II) drive to Moon’s with all speed as the time was now about 8.45 a.m., and the start was tuned for 9.30. I arrived at Moon’s about 9.10 and dashed up to the seelaid floor, where we had left the 1,:ineliester the night before. Th, sight. that. met my eyes almost defies description. The whole building was tilled with thick blue smoke, through which people, garbed in the most extraordinary gar milts, flitted backwards and forwards. The noise was indescribable as engine after engine broke into noisy life. I almost died of heart failure when a 40-h.p. Mercedes started up just behind me, shooting out a great yellow flame about five yards long almost between my legs. I eventually groped my way to the Lanchester to find that the old steel-studded tyre had been removed from the rim and all was ready for the new tyre and tube. I found Shanks hanging out of a window trying to get air ; he announced there was a message from Upton saying that the doctor had refused to let him come, and that he was believed to be suffering from internal haemorrhage. This meant I would have to drive instead of Upton, and as I had only driven the car a couple of miles all told, I didn’t altogether relish the prospect. Shanks had got to work with the new tyre, but as he was very stiff, and my experience with highpressure beaded-edge tyres at that time was nil, we didn’t make very good progress until a good Samaritan (one, G. Southon, the driver of the 2-cylinder Decauville next to us) gave Shanks a helping hand while I started the engine and checked the oil, petrol and water— believe me, water was the most difficult thing to get in Moon’s Garage. I had always considered the old Lanchester engine pretty noisy, but that morning I had the greatest difficulty in telling whether it was running or not, such was the noise made by most of the other cars. A 2-cylinder Wolseley next to us appeared to prefer exploding the mixture in the silencer to the cylinders, and the engine of a big 4-cylinder Dainiler sounded exactly like a blacksmith’s shop in full production. The tyre was at last fitted, and as we were by now rather late, we were rushed down in the lift and started right away. We simply bounded into Buckingham Palace Road, not intentionally but because I was unpractised in the use of the hand-clutch. We progressed somewhat uncertainly as far as Redhill. Sometimes we would simply romp along, and then on other occasions we would just manage to climb the slightest up-grade in first gear. The mixture appeared to be wrong, and then, just as we neared Redhill, I remembered that Upton had once said something about being careful not to flood the carburetter. That, of course, was exactly what we had been doing, in fact, either Shanks or myself had been using the hand petrol pump all the way. We stopped pumping and things began to improve. We climbed the hill out of Reigate quite well, and went up Hand Cross in fine style. We were now beginning to re-pass veterans that had passed us earlier in the run. The back axle, too, appeared to be much freer now and we found that we could coast at a prodigious speed down some of the hills. Shanks took a very poor view of this and remarked several times in a rather strained voice that having got so far it would be a pity not to complete the Run However, the engine was going like a clock, and I had now really got the feel of the car. I was determined to make up as much 1,34 time as possible and use every possible means of increasing our speed. Shanks

did, however, make one more mild protest, after we had motored sideways for about ’25 yards on a very greasy patch of road on the outskirts of Brighton, pointing out that in the chapter on “Side-Slip ” in the 1903 Lanchester driving manual he had read : ” It is considered bad driving to navigate a motor vehicle sideways for any considerable distance ! “

On finishing we were greeted by that great sportsman, Sammy Davis, who, having heard of our misfortunes. congratulated us on having completed the Run, which he said was in the best tradition. We had started NO. 58 and late at that, and finished 19th. The R.A.C. certificate presented at the official tea which followed stated that we had completed the run of 561 miles start to stop at an average speed of 19.96 m.p.h. Tea over, we garaged the trusty Lanchester and repaired to the ” Old Ship ” Hotel, where we had booked rooms and where the Veteran Car Club dinner was to be held. The dinner was a great success, and we all yarned and swapped experiences far into the night. A telegram arrived when we were half-way through dinner, which read : ” Congratal lions. NVounded, l’pton.” So ended my ti rst and, I think, most memorable Brighton Run. I slept until nearly 11 a.m. the next day, and Shanks appeared so bruised and stiff he could hardly move. We had a very uneventful run back to Guildford that afternoon, and a few days later I drove the car to London to be dismantled under l’pton’s supervision. for inspection by t he insurance en?Yineer. ( lb be continued.)