Veteran-Edwardian-Vintage, July 1970

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A Section Devoted to Old-Car Matters

A Scrap of History

The more encyclopaedias and reference books there are, the less history there remains to be discovered. But thanks to readers of Motor Sport, interesting gaps can still be filled in. For instance, Mr. A. J. Walker, of Stoke Newington has sent us a catalogue relating to the Realm-Forrest motor car and commercial van. It seems that when the Argyll Company folded up this concern took over the remaining 1904 to 1908 parts from the liquidator and also the London premises, of Argylls, at Upper Rathbone Place off Oxford Street, claimed to be one of the largest garages, with showrooms and workshops, then to be found in Central London. Realm-Forrest offered Argyll parts at reduced prices and took on many members of the staff of the defunct firm of Argylls (London) Ltd.

They also ventured into car construction, but avoided anything as elaborate as the sleeve-valve, front-braked cars which had taken Argyll to bankruptcy. Indeed, the Realm-Forrest was simple in the extreme. It had a water-cooled vee-twin engine of 84 x 110 mm bore and stroke mounted on the n/s of the chassis, a steel disc in lieu of a flywheel on the crankshaft providing the driving member of a friction transmission system, the driven disc being on the front of the propeller shaft which drove directly to the bevel-geared live back-axle. The driven disc was mounted on a swinging frame, moved by rack-and-pinion mechanism, so that it could transverse the face of the driving disc, even to giving a reverse gear. The description in the catalogue is rather confusing, but it seems that a pedal was used to part the discs and a lever to select the required ratio of drive, grip being provided by leather rings – yet one more variant of the well-known friction drive.

The Realm-Forrest was certainly simple, for it had no water pump, ignition was by coil and accumulator, and the lubrication was described as “perfect”, being by pump on the dashboard! It was claimed that the engine would run at from 4 to 25 m.p.h. and that the friction rings would last for 7-8,000 miles, being replaceable at the roadside by the unskilled, at a cost of 12s. 6d. Fuel consumption was estimated at 26 m.p.g. (“about 1/2d. per car mile”) but wasn’t guaranteed, “As this is somewhat influenced by skill in driving.” The writer of the catalogue was very verbose, dealing with the remarkable evolution of the motor vehicle since the 1896 Emancipation Act, remarking that “In a nation characterised by its solid and unemotional qualities, the descendants of a race of hardy hunters and a people essentially addicted to outdoor life, with, behind them, centuries full of traditions attaching to the horse, there is small wonder that a spirit of conservatism should have manifested itself in regard to that noble animal, and that the appearance of the mechanical carriage should have been largely resented as an unwelcome and objectionable innovation, but pointing out that horse traction on the basis of 80 miles delivery a day would cost £685 per annum (five horses and four vans) whereas one Realm-Forrest van, costing £150, would do the same job for £332.

On the subject of the transmission, the author of the catalogue remarked that although friction drive, by belt and pulley, had become almost obsolete since the Brighton Run of 1896, as with the railways’ “battle of the gauges”, after hot discussion “the consensus of engineering practice has gone almost wholly in favour of tooth gearing, and we are in general in agreement with the profession”. But, the catalogue explained, “there are cars and cars”. For those of 50 or 60 h.p. it would supply the use of a gear drive, but a really well designed form of friction drive might be found no less efficient in cars of even up to 40 h.p. As the Realm-Forrest was light and of low power and had a special “rolling contact drive”, how could the Realm-Forrest gearless motor car fail to succeed?

In fact, a van used by J. Wickham & Sons, bakers of Reigate, had run close on 900 miles, giving 22 m.p.g. and other testimonials were received from three Liverpool owners and another in Aigburth, it being claimed that no purchaser had every complained of failure or breakdown. Nevertheless, one wonders whether the author of the catalogue was not more skilled in his profession than the makers of the car he was extolling? The 6 cwt. van and wagon were said to do 4 to 18 m.p.h. and the 8 h.p. car 4 to 25 m.p.h., the respective 1908 prices being £150, £135 and £145 with hood and screen. A back seat cost an extra £7. Free driving instruction was given to all purchasers of Realm-Forrest vehicles – but how many were there to instruct? – W.B.

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V-E-V Miscellany

The remains of an old Morris, possibly a Ten, are reported from North Devon, in the form of engine, suspension, brakes, gearbox and back axle from car no. 34/T/23464. Maurice Smith managed to obtain an MoT certificate last May for his 1895 Lawson steam tricycle, after it had stood for 1 1/2 hours attaining its working pressure of 80 lb./sq. in.; it attained a creditable 36% efficiency figure in the braking test. This is the odd device known as the “Craigievar Express” after the castle in Scotland where it was built, which Maurice Smith has been renovating for the past 3 1/2 years. A circa-1935 Wolseley saloon has been discovered under a pile of wood in a N. Devon builder’s yard, apparently in complete and restorable condition. A 1923 Autocrat tourer has been splendidly restored by the apprentices at Dorman Diesels Limited of Stafford, who acquired this car, which has a 1,496-c.c. Dorman engine, some time ago. This, apparently, is not the Autocrat coupé that was in the news some years ago.

Two Clubs which cater for early American cars, the Pre-50 American AC, which has its Rally of the Giants at Shottesbrooke, near Maidenhead on August 30th, and the Classic American AC of GB, which has its Woburn Rally on August 16th, deplore in their magazines the silly prices bid at auctions for old cars, which are the last slackening. Incidentally, the May issue of Hood and Fender, duplicated journal of the Classic AAC, lists the more acceptable classics as Cadillac 16, Marmon 16, Duesenberg J, Lincoln KB V12, Cadillac V12, Packard V12, Doble steamer, Lincoln V8 of 1932-2, Chrysler Imperial, Packard Super 8, Pierce-Arrow V12, Franklin 12, Pierce-Arrow 8, Lincoln V8 pre-1931, Lincoln K V12 post-1933, Stutz DV 32 and Stutz SV16, Chrysler Airflow, Cord 810, Cadillac V8 to 1936, Lincoln Continental, Auburn V12 and Cord L29, Auburn 8 and Du Pont, in that order of merit, although these are not necessarily the Club’s official views.

The Austin Ten DC has its Beaulieu Rally on July 18/19th. It is open to Austins of 10 h.p. and over first registered between 1930 and 1939 inclusive and entrants have to bring privately-taxed vehicles to the rally field by noon on the Sunday for driving tests and Pride of Ownership contest, etc. The Midland Festival of Steam, with vintage car support, takes place on the same week-end, at the Country Showground, Stafford, the arena events starting at 2.30 on the Saturday and at noon on the Sunday.

The Wolseley Register has issued another list of recorded vehicles, which is divided into veteran, Edwardian, vintage and post-vintage models, with some history interspersed between the sections. It is interesting that two dozen vintage Wolseley Tens have passed through the Register’s records, and that eleven 11/22 models and half-a-dozen of the 7-h.p. flat-twins are listed (we hear of someone who wants to make a 200-Mile Race replica from an 11/22 chassis), but we are sorry to learn that the sole example of 1921 20-h.p. six-cylinder Wolseley has left this country for a Dutch museum. Non-members can obtain copies of the list for 5s. post free (7s. 6d. if overseas) from the Hon. Sec. of the Wolseley Register, which caters for 1895 to 1947 cars. He is R. S. Burrows, 17, Hills Avenue, Cambridge.

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V-E-V Odds and Ends

Having dealt with the commencement of St. J. Nixon’s round-Britain run in the 1899 Wolseley and the VCC 1,000-mile Trial, we were disappointed not to receive any official news of these events. However, Jaguar Cars’ Press Office tells us that at the Guildhall banquet Lord Montagu was awarded a special Daimler trophy for completing every section of the route in the VCC event, despite overheating troubles on his 1899 Daimler and having to start earlier and finish later on each of the eight days than other competitors – when they were resting and taking refreshments Lord Montague kept regularly motoring on. He drove single-handed, but 92-year-old Mr. Randolph, who took part in the 1900 Trial, covered virtually the entire route as His Lordship’s passenger. A reader reminds us that Rapson tyres were fitted to Ettore Bugatti’s Bugatti Royale in 1925, these being 1,000 x 180-mm. covers.

A rusty but restorable 1934 Vauxhall saloon has been discovered in Wales.

In answer to last month’s enquiry about how many different makes of steam wagon are still in existence in Britain, a reader has sent us a newspaper cutting reminding us that Leyland Ltd. Apprentices have rebuilt a solid-tyred Leyland steamer, the only known survivor of its type, which had been discovered derelict after working in Australian logging camps for many years. Three pre-war Fiat Balilla sports models from England, painted red, white and blue, were scheduled to take part in the Register Fiat Italiano’s Citta di Torino last month, which included a run round the old Valentino Park circuit. Two of these Fiats, those of Liston Young and Derek Collins, are ex-Brooklands and TT cars.