Rumblings, January 1950
Fifteen pence or eighteen pence?—that was the problem that faced the publishers of Motor Sport. As you know, fifteen pence was the figure agreed for Motor Sport, and for three months we have published at this price. Many readers have complained that on the new paper the sharp reproduction of the excellent photographs has been lost, and why not improve quality rather than cut price? So, after much thought, we have decided to produce Motor Sport as you see it today, and advise our readers that from the February issue the cost will be eighteen pence.
* * *
The new International Formula governing the racing of 500-c.c. cars, which is discussed editorially in this issue of Motor Sport, is very acceptable to British exponents of this class of racing car, because it differs very little from the Formula laid down by our own 500 Club.
Superchargers are still barred, fuel continues to be unrestricted and can be carried in any suitable size tank. The minimum weight is 440 lb., against, the 500 Club’s stipulation of 500 lb., and is a good move, because, either by stick-and-string methods or the use of light alloys, skilful constructors were aware that they could get below 500 lb. without impairing safety. The 500 Club stipulated a minimum wheel-track of 3 ft. and tyre diameter of 21 in., to exclude freaks, whereas Formula III merely calls for a minimum ground clearance of 4 in., but in serious racing freak machines are unlikely to get much of a showing, anyway. Cars must have four wheels and no restrictions are imposed on gearboxes; two separate braking systems are specified but not necessarily one set on all four wheels as our Formula required, and the exhaust need not be silenced but must not trouble other drivers. Whereas the 500 Club Formula stopped short at a bonnet and body, the new one is more strict, calling for one or two seats, a mirror each side, each of 50 sq. cm. minimum area, and the usual, sensible, fireproof bulkhead. In short, all our “500s” are ready, as they stand, for a spot of real Formula racing. Such races, it is laid down, must be for a minimum of 32 miles over a course of at least 0.9 miles to a lap—but as we have been staging just such 500-c.c. races that is a mere detail. So go to it, lads!
* * *
About eighteen months ago we went to Gatwick Airport to visit Wade Engineering Ltd. Last month we went there again and if ever an example is wanted of how private enterprise gets on with a job, this is it. Wade make superchargers, and nothing else. They set out to design a really quiet, reliable Roots blower of quality construction and not only achieved these requirements, but by using four-lobe rotors and a Broom & Wade helical port they obtained that good output in the lower speed range formerly only possible with the temperamental vane compressor, together with very high efficiency. The rotors work with .002 in. clearance, driven by a steel helical pinion meshing with a bronze helical pinion. The shafts run in ball races and have labyrinth-type frictionless oil seals, which also prevent damage to the blower should a ball-race collapse. Lubrication is normally arranged by pressing a button every 290 miles or so, when a small quantity of lubricant is by-passed from the main engine supply to the rotor gears. When we first saw a Wade Venter supercharger we agreed that it was very well constructed and looked likely to be exceedingly reliable and efficient.
Today this is confirmed by the fact that the majority of the leading oil-engine manufacturers are adopting the Wade as a standard installation, while prototype oil-engine installations are in hand for firms as far afield as Italy, notably F.I.A.T., for example. On the car side an American agency is likely to have been formed by the time this account appears, and sets for Ford and Mercury V8 and “TC” M.G. engines are selling in large numbers, incidentally, with the full blessing of the engine manufacturers.
In the past there have been many attempts to market a satisfactory general-purpose supercharger and in our time we have investigated most of them, but never have we seen so many completed superchargers as we saw in the stores at Gatwick. The Venter is made in twelve sizes, covering all practical sizes of internal-combustion engine. The smallest we saw would have been suitable for an auto-cycle engine or the model boat engine of a few years ago. The largest was complete with lifting-eyes—you see, it was of 18 litres capacity and destined for a marine engine.
All Venter superchargers can be fairly termed “race-bred.” Each one is expected to run satisfactorily up to 15,000 r.p.m. and to have an overall efficiency of at least 60 per cent.
The test equipment at Gatwick is most elaborate and most impressive to inspect. A Ford V8 engine unit provides the drive and the blower under test is mounted in a reaction-cradle which enables its power absorption to be measured. British standard flow-meters check the output, while to test for quietness of functioning the Dawe technique is employed, whereby every noise-frequency can be isolate and assessed. Photographic records of pressure variations in output, recorded by an oscillograph, and of sound spectra, can be taken when required.
Each Venter supercharger goes on to this neat and fascinating rig. It is first motored round with open port for about ten minutes and is then run-up so that mechanical losses can be measured—an efficiency of 95 per cent. or more being expected. If this test is passed satisfactorily the supercharger is run up to 6,000 r.p.m. with 10 lb./sq. in. pure air pressure across the rotors, and the sound check carried out.
Methods such as these ensure a high standard of reliability and efficiency, and consequently Wade have been successful in supplying standard “off the shelf” Venter blowers for use on racing-car engines, either as replacements for worn-out original superchargers, or as new installations. Last season an R 010 Ventor blower went through four long-distance races, blowing at 15 lb./sq. in, pressure and running at nearly 12,000 r.p.m. without any trouble or sign of strain. Consequently, we were not surprised when Costin Densham, the Technical Director, told us that Wade installations are likely to be used by many of our leading drivers this year, on cars such as E.R.A., Maserati, Delage, etc. It will be recalled that last year Ansell, Whitehead and Poore got very good results from Venter installations. Ansell’s 1½-litre B-type E.R.A. had its Jamieson blower replaced by a standard R 010 Venter running up to 11,000 r.p.m. and blowing at approximately 14 lb./sq. in., using a 2 3/16-in. bore S.U. carburetter. Poore replaced the twin blowers on his 3.8-litre Alfa-Romeo with two R 015 Ventors in parallel, giving approximately 10 lb./sq. in. boost at 8,000 r.p.m. A two-stage layout was designed for the 2-litre Whitehead/Walker E.R.A., an R 020 Venter running up to approximately 9,650 r.p.m. feeding to an R 015 Venter turning at 5,960 r.p.m., the resultant boost being 24 lb./sq. in.
Naturally, nothing so drastic is needed for ordinary cars and the “TC” M.G. installation consists of an R 010 Ventor driven at 1.1 times engine speed by dual belts and blowing at a maximum of about 5 lb./sq. in., when, incidentally, it absorbs some 5½ b.h.p. In the normal Ford V8 installation the blower runs at 1.2 times engine speed to give 4½-5 lb./sq. in. maximum boost, but this can be elevated to 15 lb./sq. in. to suit the more rabid “hot-rod” enthusiasts. Apart from the Citroën Six road-tested by Motor Sport last month, such cars as a Talbot 105, a Railton and a new Morris Minor have been fitted by Pat Whittet and Co., Ltd., of Lightwater, with Ventors, and a Javelin installation is in hand. Costin Densham, who entertained us at Gatwick, can be justifiably proud of Wade Engineering Ltd. He may well go down in history as the man who really did put supercharging on the map, where so many others had tried but not succeeded. One of Densham’s major concerns is the fallacy that the supercharging of normal engines spells increased fuel consumption; he hopes to stage a convincing public demonstration in the near future to prove that this is not the ease. Busy as he is, Densham retains his enthusiasm for Edwardian racing, having his Sunbeam, Calcott and the Hutton of this period, does his business motoring in a Lancia Augusta, and before we left took us out in a Ventor-blown “TC” M.G. to demonstrate the urge this car possessed low down in its speed range and that it is scarcely more noisy than the standard job, in which it is Abingdon’s pleasure that the mixture is put in by a chance of providence.
* * *
At one time enthusiasts made hybrid motor cars for the fun of doing it, with no particular purpose in mind. More recently such tireless energy and ingenuity has tended to be directed to cars intended for trials or sprint events. But down at Lowfield Heath James Boothby Motors Ltd. seems to be a last stronghold of the road hybrid, although, of course, they also construct “specials” for competition purposes.
When we called there unexpectedly the other day, Mr. Jay was not exactly “up to his eyes” in Specials, because he was sitting in his office. But the specials were there all right.
The first car he showed its is obviously going to have a potent performance. It consists of a Type 329 B.M.W. chassis, with its rigid, purposeful tubular construction, into which has been installed a 2½-litre Jaguar engine and gearbox unit. This entailed inserting a new tubular cross-member to carry the gearbox. A Jaguar back axle and very short prop-shaft is used, with, above it, a vast fuel tank taken from an old Austin Twenty and suitably modified. A special radiator block is fitted behind the transverse spring of the neat wishbone i.f.s. system, whereas the B.M.W. radiator was in front of the springs. The steering is cunningly composed of a Standard steering box from which a transverse drag-link connects with the track-rods of the B.M.W. rack-and-pinion mechanism, while the position of the steering wheel can be varied, as a Ford Eight universal joint is incorporated in the column. At the back the ½-elliptic springs are now parallel, and the Jaguar wheels are built on to the B.M.W. hubs, while the front hubs have been modified to accommodate the Bendix brake’s. The cooling system is pressurised to humour the low radiator. This seemingly well-planned car weighs under 12 cwt. in running trim and will have an aerodynamic two-seater body rather reminiscent of that of a “Silverstone” Healey, but with covered-in spare wheel. It has been built for S. Walker, of Blandford, and so well did it handle during preliminary tests that so far no front shock-absorbers have been necessary.
Another conversion nearly completed was a Riley Kestrel saloon with its original six-cylinder engine neatly replaced by a Rover Twelve, without disturbing the Riley steering box, radiator or bonnet or, for that matter, the Riley torque-tube, which mates with the Rover gearbox.
Then there was a “TA” M.G. Midget being prepared for club circuit-racing for a friend of Jay’s. The body has been panelled throughout in light alloy, the interior likewise. Blade-type front wings, a Bugatti-type spare wheel mounting (this alone saving some 18½ lb.) and a light-alloy dumb-iron apron cuts down weight, a James Boothby Motors sprung steering-wheel is fitted, and Newton shock-absorbers are fitted all round, those at the rear mounted on drilled brackets. The engine has been tuned to the first degree laid down in a book on tuning issued by the M.G. Car Company—this book is a sensible attempt to guide those who crave British “hot-rods.”
In contrast to this glistening green M.G. and a cream Morgan “4/4” which stood beside it, was Collins’ F.I.A.T. 1,100 chassis, its radiator already inclined and a belt-driven water-pump installed, destined for an aerodynamic closed body. Then there was an Alvis Speed Twenty, once a saloon, now being rebuilt as an all-alloy open four-seater on steel-tube formers, and a Hyper Lea-Francis, its fabric two-seater body being replaced by an alloy two-seater faithfully retaining the same lines, even to a (now semi) outside hand-brake, and its engine unit now an Alvis Firefly preselector with a very neat quadrant remote gear lever. James Boothby Motors featherweight cycle mudguards will be fitted and, in metal, the boot of the body provides useful luggage space.
Even now the list is not exhausted, for there was a shortened Riley Gamecock in which a Ford V8 Thirty engine is being installed, for a client who has a caravan to tow, and a successful trials-special built by an employee, Peter Hunt, using a three-speed Morris Eight engine unit in an Austin Seven chassis having F.I.A.T. 500 i.f.s. and ample ground clearance. In an age when production cars assembled from proprietary parts have an unfortunate “sameness” except in the highest price classes, such specials provide the enthusiast with individuality at a price he can afford.
Jay himself is running a road-equipped Type 35 straight-eight Bugatti with twin Soles carburetters, which he uses every day. Another interesting car was a late-model “38/250” Mercédès-Benz with an Erdmann-Possi two-seater body. Vintage cars were also represented by examples of Delage, Alvis, de Dion Benton, and other cars, and there was a comprehensive stock of beaded-edge tyres. A place to remember, in fact . . .
* * *
The Monte Carlo Rally
Adventure is dear to the meter enthusiast’s heart, especially in these dark days, so it is pleasant to realise that on January 22nd the Twentieth Monte Carlo Rally begins. The entry list was closed about a week after it opened, with a total of 308 entries, and many intending competitors have been excluded. But 75 British crews, in 23 different makes of cars, are due to defend British prestige in this greatest of all rallies. Sixty-five of these are due to start from Glasgow and will drive south during the evening and night of January 22nd/23rd, embarking on a special R.A.C.-chartered steamer at Folkestone, for the crossing to Boulogne, on the morning of January 23rd. We wish all British competitors “God speed” and publish hereunder the full list:—
C. F. Bartlett-E. Salvage .. Vauxhall
K. B. Miller .. Lea-Francis
D. M. Healey .. Healey
F. Guest-R. Guest .. Ford
P. Zetter-F. Lee .. Allard
F. D. Cooper-G. L. Carte .. Riley
W. M. Couper .. Rolls-Royce
J. C. Rockman-B. S. Pulver .. Jaguar
P. W. S. White .. Ford
D. G. Warwick-F. M. Warwick .. Jaguar
G. F. Willment-H. Lumley Saville .. Humber
Mrs. E. Allard-Mrs. E. Wood .. Allard
S. H. Allard-G. Warburton .. Allard
L. Potter .. Allard
R. Walshaw-R. S. Henson .. Hillman
C. A. Leavens-H. C. O’Hara Moore .. Jowett
C. Glenie-G. Abrahams .. Austin
A. Roberts-I. Peters .. Austin
S. Barsley-J. Dudgeon .. Jowett
D. H. Murray-W. L. Innes .. Bristol
G. N. Milton-C. Edge .. Vanguard
C. G. Heselton .. Vanguard
J. Blumer-A. R. Collinson .. Morris
C. J. Turner .. Jowett Javelin
R. J. Brookman-F. Fletcher .. A.C.
P. C. Harper-C. Evan Cook .. Hillman
T. M. Donald-R. T. Penman .. Jaguar
W. B. Black-G. Lockhart .. Allard
M. B. Anderson-R. M. Hastie .. Hillman
W/Cmdr. C. H. Powell-S/Ldr. E. Brackenbury .. Vanguard
S. E. Croft Pearson-Mrs. M. Croft Pearson .. Lea-Francis
H. B. Murphie .. Healey
G. Hartwell-P. Monkhouse .. Sunbeam-Talbot
N. Garrad-J. A. Cutts .. Sunbeam-Talbot
J. Pearman-W. Chipperton .. Sunbeam-Talbot
M. Gavson-P. Lanzetter .. Ford
O. H. Jones-C. C. Thomas .. Morris
S. R. Taylor-E. F. Craven .. Armstrong-Siddeley
D. W. Price-B. D. S. Ginn .. Allard
Maj. P. K. Braid-Maj. G. Erstwick-Field .. Jowett Javelin
W. T. Franklin-D. R. Burgess .. Lagonda
K. E. Carter-R. M. Carter .. Vauxhall
R. Nelson Harris .. Ford
J. H. Kemsley-W. Frend .. Hillman
P. J. Berntsen-R. Frondsal .. Hillman
H. S. Shears-A. N. Other .. Hillman
N. Mann-C. S. Mann .. Healey
A. S. Porter-R. Bernard .. Jowett Javelin
E. H. Channon-P. Channon .. Riley
G. R. Holt .. Ford
R. E. Holt .. Allard
G. A. Duff-A. A. Pattern .. Singer
G. C. Healey .. Healey
W. H. Robinson-J. T. Lock .. Jowett Javelin
L. Odell-J. Agate .. Triumph
E. J. Newton-W. Bancroft .. Bristol
T. C. Wise-M. S. Wilson .. Jowett Javelin
L. G. Johnson .. Jowett Javelin
J. G. Rece .. Ford
G. A. Mandow-G. Arden .. Rover
R. F. Ellison-H. Schofield .. Jowett Javelin
E. N. Hiskins .. Hillman
A. H. Grimley-R. W. Phillips .. Jowett Javelin
G. Schonhut-H. Bellamy .. Rolls-Royce
G. McKerracher-C. Croll .. Triumph
A. G. Imhoff .. Allard
E. N. Brinkman-J. Ellis .. Riley
T. H. Wisdom-N. Black .. Vanguard
L. G. Riley-W. E. Deacon .. Morris
G. F. Hayward-J. R. Kempe-Roberts .. Riley
Miss B. Haig-Miss B. Marshall .. M.G.
D. H. Greenhalgh-R. C. Soukup .. Singer
M. Wick-J. Appleton .. Allard
Mrs. E. M. Wisdom-M. Marshal .. Vanguard
R. J. Morton-B. Morton .. Vanguard
* * *
Leslie Johnson returned from Montlhèry last month, leaving the E-type E.R.A. behind. He had hoped to break the Light Car 1½-litre hour record and short distance Class F records, but the bumpy surface kept speed to 130 m.p.h., the fuel tank split and a new three-point mounted tank did likewise. Hard luck!