SPORTING MACHINES ON TEST.
The 350 c.c. o.h. Camshaft Chater-Lea and Sidecar.
” THE RABBIT.”
rrk0 talk of overhead camshafts immediately suggests the ultra-modern racing machine of the rather
experimental and “very Brooklands ” type. To mention Chater-Lea suggests to the pre-war motorcyclist one of the pioneers of the two-wheeler movement, and to the younger generation visions of Marchant humming round the Weybridge track at fantastic speeds. On reading this article, therefore, it will come as a great surprise to many, that the chief impression left by the machine in question is of a docile, comfortable and unfailingly reliable touring machine. But this is not all, the reader may jump to the conclusion that the machine is slow and that the author is trying to gloss over the fact by eulogising its other virtues. In order to dispel this illusion we must descend to hard facts : the machine placed at our disposal by Major Chater-Lea was fitted with a large heavy and incidentally very comfortable sports sidecar, with windscreen. A spare wheel was carried, 3-in. tyres and full dissolved acetylene lighting set made up the equipment, so that it will be realised that track speeds could hardly be expected. Add to this wide ratio gears for trials work, with a rather high-top, and bearing in mind that the engine was a beggarly 350 c.c., we think that the speed of over 55 m.p.h. attained on the level is extremely creditable. We have no hesitation in assuring our readers that with a clean engine, a lighter sidecar and a slightly lower gear, the machine should attain over 65 m.p.h., while solo, So m.p.h. should be easy, even without tuning. Before taking over the outfit we inspected the machines in the making, and were pleasantly surprised at the care taken with each engine. For instance, all the ports are smoothed out till they acquire that glass-like surface so beloved of the amateur tuner, once obtained, but which takes such a lot of getting ! The cams are of the face type and considering the high performance of the engine are of distinctly ” gentlemanly ” contour ; no violent opening and shutting of the valves, a feature that is brought home by the general docility of the engine at low speeds, and the freedom from mechanical noise. Two mechanical oil pumps are used, one feeding the engine in the usual way and the other pumping oil from the ‘sump ‘via the hollow camshaft drive to the overhead par, whence another pipe returns it to the seat tube oil tank. Valve clearance adjustment is
easily carried out by means of hardened steel pads of different thicknesses inserted between the valve stems and the rockers. Another interesting feature of the machine is the quickly detachable and interchangeable wheels fitted all round, enabling a spare wheel to be carried to good purpose.
On leaving London we soon had an opportunity of discovering another trait not usually associated with 350 c.c. o.h.v. units, to wit, slow pulling. Stanmore Hill on the road to Watford is not steep, but it is very tiring, and we tackled it at about 25 m.p.h. on top gear. Three-quarter throttle was given after the bottom corner, and the Chater-Lea accelerated steadily on top till the summit was reached at about 35 m.p.h. Given a high second gear a 45-50 m.p.h. hurricane ascent should be possible. Later during our test we made a non-stop 53-mile run from one of the University towns with a heavily loaded sidecar in r hour and zo minutes, without a sign of distress from any part of the machine, not a rattle developed, and no sign of discolouration appeared on the plated exhaust pipe. Cool running seems to be a feature of this design as no amount of hard driving produced any suspicion of overheating, which is remarkable considering the amount of ” top-hamper ” carried by the game little engine. We have mentioned the wide gear ratios which to some extent spoiled the performance of a genuine greyhound, although 35 m.p.h.
was obtained on second gear at times. We hope at an early date to give our impressions of this delightful mount with close ratio gears and minus the sidecar.
True to Motor Sport policy, we have racked our brains for criticism, but in all honesty we have failed miserably ; the only possible fault, if it really was a fault, was a shght tendency for the back wheel to spend rather too much time off the road ; whether this was due to the big tyres and whether it would be experienced by the solo rider, we cannot say, but in any case it is a very trivial matter. Both brakes were really good, though, as usual, a better method of operation for that on the front wheel is desirable in place of the ordinary hand-lever. The riding position is low, sporting and comfortable and the front suspension functioned perfectly. The steering
T.T. RIDER OUT OF HIS ELEMENT.
,..”,.rh..m! accompanying photograph, taken outside the Castle Mona Hotel, Douglas,
L ., should be doubly interesting to Readers of MOTOR SPORT as it shows Alec Bennett, the winner of Um Junior Tourist Trophy, seated in one of the famous M.G. Super-Sports Models, produced by the Morris Garages of Oxford.
was light, and steady at all speeds without the aid of a steering damper. Finally, we were told that a tool kit was carried in the sidecar locker, but we must confess that we are to this day completely ignorant as to its constitution, never having even thought of using a tool on the machine.
In conclusion, let us state that the o.h. camshaft Ch.ater-Lea is definitely a thoroughbred, one of the best motor-cycles we have ever driven, and that it embodies so many detail refinements that the comparatively high price of Oo for the solo machine is by no means unjustified.
Messrs. Iliffes, Ltd., announce a new and revised edition of the well-known ” Autocar ” series of maps of England and Wales, to meet the growing demand for really high-class road maps. For ease of reference the folding-map is now supplied in two sections, Northern and Southern, contour colours being included, and all roads numbered in accordance with the Ministry of Transport classification scheme. The scale is eight miles to the inch, and both main and secondary roads are indicated. The price of the map in this form, cloth bound, or as a hanging map mounted on rollers and varnished, is 15s. nett, and it may be obtained from the Publishers : Iliffe & Sons, Ltd., Dorset House, Tudor Street, E.C.4.
ALvis (1925), Four-Seater Super-Sports, four-wheel brakes, numerous extras, first class condition throughout and very fast. A bargain ;636o.—Storr, Alvis Agent, West Street, Colne, Lancs.
SET of Whitehead Front Wheel Brakes for sale. New. Supplied for fitting to a RILEY car. Price ,6xo, or near offer. RADCLVFFE’S, 65, Victoria Street, S.W.