Or the Story, with digressions, of the anguish and joy involved in modifying a 1932 Riley “Gamecock”
[The possibility of supercharging the efficient Riley Nine engine has so often been discussed that these detailed notes on an amateur conversion, by G.H.G. Burton, will be of especial interest to all Riley advocates. – Ed.]
Before starting on the description of the carving up of the “Gamecock,” I think it might interest some of your readers to digest a sort of appendix to the article by P/O. A.G.S. Anderson and myself, under the heading “Enthusiasts in the Forces,” which appeared in Motor Sport many moons ago. It may be remembered that Andy had just achieved a 1934 “Standard” Aston-Martin, to which, owing to its own engine having distributed its con.-rods without stint to areas beyond their normal confines (much to Andy’s chagrin), I had fitted an 8-h.p. ex-Senechal Ruby motor for temporary use whilst the Aston engine was repaired. After an interlude of understandably slow and not so understandably very reliable motoring, during which time the car became known as the “Gutless Wonder,” Andy suffered further misfortune, the evil genius in this case being a double-decker ‘bus, which backed into him, much to the detriment of the Aston’s front end. That’s his story, anyway!
The Aston returned here for a complete overhaul and at the time of writing (April, 1942) the chassis is finished, but the engine still lies in disorder owing to the lack of a suitable cylinder liner. In passing, I should like to say that if any good Samaritan has either a liner, a cylinder block, or a complete engine of the separate-gearbox type, I should be eternally grateful if they would get in touch with me. However, to return to our Muttons. In the meantime Andy purchased, with much misgiving, a circa-1935 Wolseley Hornet “Special,” fitted with a rather comic open 4-seater body, which looked as if it was going to have been a D.H. coupé and then wasn’t. This turned out to be a true enthusiast’s car, in that everything imaginable went wrong, about 10 miles being its trouble-free maximum. The rear main was beyond a joke, oil being spewed into the clutch pit and thence impartially either on to the ground, literally leaving a thin trail of oil behind the car, or else on to the passenger’s legs via the clutch inspection cover, thereby causing members of H.M. Forces who had unsuspectingly begged lifts to mutter undue things anent both the car’s and its owner’s ancestry. However, that little clause “…. at your own risk” saved many a day! The Hornet’s camshaft was carried in three white metal bearings – these got fed up, squeaked and then ran in all directions, and so J.B. Jesty (late secretary of the C.U.A.C.) nobly turned up a set of brass bushes, which, I believe, squeaked but endured. Another of its little foibles was to be found in the electrics. The lights either didn’t, or did with positively vicious intensity for about 10 seconds, whereupon a conflagration would occur. Lastly, it had one other habit – on the rare occasions when it was motoring well it would suddenly dive, without warning but quite definitely with malice aforethought, into the near side ditch. Andy got quite brilliant at curbing this tendency, but I never quite mastered the art and was getting quite used to gambolling in and about telegraph posts and the like. However, it had its points, not the least being a motor which, despite the aforesaid rear main, was delightfully smooth. Andy is now a Flying Officer out in Malta and he has a Hun or two to his credit. Very nice work! His chief grumble is the total lack of motoring.
And now we come to the Alvis, which was a blown 1 1/2-litre F.W.D. With a fabric 2-seater body, and very nice indeed, despite a shocking lack of anchors. Whenever I was in her I used to undergo a gamut of sensations, the predominating being one of great exhilaration, accompanied by an even greater terror whenever traffic lights or similar obstacles were approached. As far as I could see the only way to stop her was by concentrated prayer by both driver and ballast. All the same she was a beautiful motor-car and, as a matter of interest, turned out to have been the property of Earl Howe – hence the crests on the doors mentioned in the previous article. I am very sorry to have to record that her owner, Scotty Gaze, was killed soon after getting her in a flying accident, and thereby the Sport lost one of its keenest and most charming followers. I’ll always carry a memory of Scotty, as proud as Punch and as happy as a kid with a new toy, dicing the Alvis home from Llangollen over 3 in. of frozen snow and wearing a prodigious grin of sheer joie de vivre immediately after purchasing her. That was his idea of living and he did it all with such zest.
I think that that brings us about up to date on such matters, and so I’ll switch over on to a description of the conversion of the Riley to my own ideas.
During 1939 I was running a 1934 Riley Nine “Kestrel” saloon, originally bought for the sake of an exceptionally good “Special Series” engine, complete with Scintilla Vertex magneto, and E.N.V. pre-selective gearbox, which was obligatory owing to a game right leg. This car was absolutely trouble-free and, despite its excessive weight, would cruise all day at between 60 and 65 m.p.h. The leg improved, and at about the same time a friend bought a 1932 Riley Nine “Gamecock” from a chap in Coventry. We brought her up and I, having had a crack at driving her, decided that, with modifications, she could be turned into something akin to a miniature Bentley. The next day I tackled her new owner and contrived to coerce him into letting me have her.
She was absolutely standard, apart from a most intriguing bell mounted under the driver’s seat and operated by a push-button protruding through the floor boards. I’ll guarantee to shift cows quicker with this device than with any horn! General condition was good and she was finished in somewhat faded “Riley Cream,” a colour which caused an unsympathetic family to christen her the “Yellow Peril.”
To start with I decided to get the car into generally first-class condition as reliable transport was essential, and the first move was to swop the engine from the “Kestrel” on the strength of its superlative condition. The saloon was then sold with the “Gamecock” engine installed. The only other alteration made at this stage was the fitting of a natural polished oak dashboard made by a local carpenter, and very well it looks too, even if friends do rudely murmur things about coffins upon seeing it. The instruments were spaced evenly across from left to right and include a new small dial Smith’s rev.-counter (it may be a personal fad, but I rather abhor the vast instruments so frequently fitted), ammeter, defunct petrol gauge, oil pressure gauge and the original Jaeger speedometer, which has been checked to be about 3 per cent. fast at 70 m.p.h. against the watch. All switches are of the tumbler type.
At this time, early 1941, she was dead reliable, somewhat undergeared (5.25, 7.66, 13.13 and 20.37 to 1), rather heavy, and the performance was up to standard. That is to say, she had a maximum of rather over 70 m.p.h., would maintain 65 m.p.h. and gave about 58 m.p.h. in third. With the twin S.U.s carefully adjusted to give the best performance she averaged 33 m.p.g. over quite an appreciable mileage; 5.00″ x 19″ rear boots were fitted in place of the normal 4.50″, but were not large enough to increase the overall gear ratios to a noticeable extent (739 as against 705 revs./mile). Owing to the weight and wide ratios the acceleration wasn’t outstanding, but, due to the really excellent handling in real old school manner and to the brakes, which are cable-operated and very good, at the same time rarely wanting adjustment, quite enterprising averages could be put up. By the way, all performance figures are by speedometer, corrected by 3 per cent. and, to the best of my belief, are fairly accurate, but in all cases should be taken only as near estimates as, of course, no track timing facilities are now available. I hope to find out the truth when happier days are with us again, and in the meantime let the sceptics “seep.”
And now as to the kind of performance required. I wanted a car with, of course, a high maximum, but, to my mind far more important, I wanted a car with a cruising speed in the eighties at fairly low r.p.m. and with potent acceleration up to that cruising speed. It was this outlook that made me decide to get the extra urge by means of a blower, coupled with other alterations, some for reliability and others to get yet more ponies. Generally speaking, supertuned atmospherically-induced motors do not appeal to me, two points being that they tend to be somewhat intractable and that the tune is a rather temporary condition, whereas with a blower you have at any rate always got it, even when the ports have got a fair amount of carbon in them. Anyway, I ordered a Type 1600 Arnott insufflator and an orgy of week-end and evening work ensued.
I stripped the motor without removing it from the chassis, checked all the bearings and fitted new little-end bushes, as these were rather worn, and new piston rings, the top rings being oversize, the land having to be machined to accommodate them; also new and stronger valve springs were fitted. It was then assembled with scrupulous care and awaited the arrival of the blower. This came in due course and, after a certain amount of thought, was mounted on the near side of the engine at the front and approximately on a level with the rocker-boxes, the front end being set in a gunmetal bracket bolted to the timing gear cover. For the rear I cut a steel bracket, supported on the “forrard” exhaust-manifold stud. Arnott’s supplied cast blanks for the pulleys and these were laboriously treadled out on a small Drummond lathe to take a pair of “Remax” No. FB. 480 V-belts. The pulleys give a ratio of 2 to 1, the larger being mounted on the end of the exhaust camshaft in place of the fan drive, thus driving the blower at engine speed. An aluminium jockey pulley was incorporated for belt adjustment. The blower was mounted with its ports perpendicular and an induction pipe, complete with inbuilt blow-off valve, led over the top of the engine, via a special manifold, to the inlet ports. As a result of this an up-draught carburetter had to be used. I toyed with the idea of using a T.T.-type Amal, having had a certain amount of experience with these on racing motorcycles, but eventually decided in favour of an S.U., as, although the Amal would probably give slightly more power, I’ve found that they tend to be a bit “lumpy” at small throttle openings. Accordingly, a Type V.3 S.U. in light alloy was procured, with a bore of 1 1/4″, and the fun started. There just didn’t seem to be any room for it. However, after prolonged wangling, I found that it would fit if the dash-pot faced inwards over the timing chest, leaving 1/32″ clearance only! Luckily the circular flange had been left blank and so I was able to drill it to suit the position in which the carburetter was to go. The next things to cause strife were the controls, and a very great deal of thought went into getting the leverages correct (At one time I had the throttle shut when the loud pedal was depressed!) For the accelerator a 1/2″ diameter silver steel bar was mounted on the bulkhead in steel bearings, being operated on the off side by a series of short rods from the pedal and on the near side a length of 1/4″ silver steel bar with ball-and-socket joints led to the gasworks. The mixture control was worked by a motor-cycle type air lever mounted on the steering column, thence, via Bowden cable, to a pivot arm mounted on the bulkhead, which, in turn, worked the jet through further silver steel rod. Each moving part had its own light return spring and, together with carefully adjusted leverages, gave light and short travel on the pedal and lever, respectively, coupled with a great delicacy of control and a very positive return. All this may seem a lot of fuss over a small item, but I do think that first-class controls are of the essence.
Having got the engine built up, I blithely slapped the radiator into position and immediately found that in future there wouldn’t be any room for it, owing to the blower drive fouling the bottom hose This was overcome by moving the radiator forward about 4″, taking the bonnet with it and tilling the hiatus at the rear of the bonnet by building a false bulkhead and panelling it with 18G mild steel sheet. As a point of interest, this didn’t spoil the lines of the car as much as I thought it would, and now that I’ve got used to it I rather like it.
Next to come in for attention was the petrol supply line. Originally an Autovac (very reliable) had been fitted, but for various reasons I decided to scrap it in favour of a brace of new S.U. pressure pumps, which were set on the near side of the bulkhead, each being wired up completely independently, with its own switch and fuse. A second pipe line from the 7 3/4-gallon rear tank was fitted so as to give a little under a gallon in reserve, one pipe leading to each pump and thence to the carburetter. Thus at a turn of a switch I have a reserve supply of fuel or, alternatively, in the event of failure a completely independent line can be brought into action, whilst for full throttle work both pumps can be brought into use to erase any risk of starvation. It all works very well, whilst the copper pipes, duly polished, look quite impressive. The only other additions at this stage were a “Fram” oil filter, which really does its job, and a rocker-box breather, consisting of a copper pipe connecting the two boxes at their front ends and then leading to the carburetter air intake, which prevents any suggestion of oil leakage from above, the engine keeping spotless even after many hundreds of miles.
By now she was ready to be started and so an Austin Twelve was hitched up and after somewhat lengthy towage she reluctantly consented to go in a decidedly hit-and-miss manner. After toying with the S.U., she proceeded to fire fairly evenly, but the performance…! Brisk acceleration up to 30 m.p.h. and a maximum of 50 m.p.h. with chronic boiling and hectic spitting of sheets of flame through all available vents…. The S.U. needle was an MME, and so a size smaller was fitted. She still spat, she still boiled, she melted plugs, and then, to cap it all, IT happened. In a fever of enterprise we achieved 65 m.p.h. Then all the power (?) went and sundry pieces of aluminium were seen to be streaming from under the rear of the car, whilst a miscellaneous programme of noises, those of the explosive variety predominating, emanated from the engine room. She stopped and, after plucking up sufficient courage, I peered apprehensively at the crankcase. There were no holes in it and thanks were duly given to Allah. The bonnet was tentatively lifted and it was soon apparent that said sundry pieces of “ali.” were the four rocker-box lids and the dipstick, which were eventually returned by the ubiquitous small boy on a push-bike. I diagnosed undue crankcase pressure, probably due to a piston with a hole in it, and it was so. No. 4 had given up the unequal struggle and melted, and so I removed the plug from the offending cylinder to release the pressure, replaced the oddments, and chuffed home on three. Luckily another piston was available and, after scraping the aluminium off the cylinder walls, it was soon fitted, whilst at the same time I went another needle richer. This improved things a lot, giving boiling at full bore only and a maximum of about 75 while acceleration was getting brisker. Next time out an appalling rattle developed and got steadily worse, particularly at certain revolutions. I suspected everything in turn, at one time seriously considering a broken crankshaft, whilst other favourites were chronic whip in the inlet camshaft and other equally foul things. Eventually, in desperation I ripped the engine out and nearly dropped the flywheel on my foot. There was the rattle! Anyway, I heated the flywheel up, made a new key, walloped it up on to the taper and let it shrink on, not without grave misgivings for what would happen should I want to get it off again.
The engine was shoved in again and yet another S.U. needle fitted, which improved things enormously, and so I went up one more just for luck. This latter proved to be the correct size (Type AG actually having ranged from MME through RLB and RLS) and the performance was, to say the least of it, gratifying. In fact, there was more performance than could be used, as, owing to the standard crankshaft, I refused to use more than 4,500 r.p.m. for maintained work, which represented about 72 m.p.h. and 50 m.p.h. in top and third, respectively. Accordingly I got into touch with Mr. Farrar, of Rileys, and he produced a set of close ratio gearbox internals, consisting of the input shaft and gear, the layshaft cluster and third speed gear being suitable for the old type box with helical third only. These gave ratios of 5.25, 6.55, 8.66 and 12.6 to 1. Then to bump up the overall ratios he supplied a pair of 21″ wheels, which apparently had originally been made for an army tourer manufactured about 10 years ago. I removed the gearbox, this entailing shifting the back axle owing to the torque tube (one can remove the engine and I think this would be a lot easier, but I plumped for the axle, as I’d already recently had the engine out). The new parts (actually shop-soiled) were fitted and the whole shoved together again, not without a certain amount of pain when the box was offered up to the engine, owing to the clutch withdrawal arms fouling on everything imaginable. Incidentally, I found to my great relief that the transmission was in very good condition throughout, the universal in particular being beautifully firm and oily (if allowed to run dry this component wears out extraordinarily quickly). The 21″ wheels were shod with 5.25″ x 21″ boots (the only inner tubes available saying in large letters: “Made in Germany” – this after nearly two years of war!) and she was ready again for the road. At the same time I located a particularly annoying and persistent rattle, which had been apparent for some time. It was clearly from the rear of the car and seemed to occur in unison with the movements of the springs, and at first I had put it down to the shock-absorber anchorages. What I found, however, was that the axle was hammering up and down in its mountings, which take the form of a split clamp. Another pair of clamps were no better, and so I completely cured it by filing the adjoining faces of the clamp, care being taken to ensure they still mated up absolutely square, thus letting the clamp up on to the axle.
Next on the list came alterations to the rear of the bodywork. It had been found that on colonial going the petrol tank suffered somewhat, whilst the spare wheel, mounted vertically in normal “Gamecock” fashion at the end of a very long locker, also caught and was pulling the body to bits in a most systematic manner. The two Rotax accumulators, slung low down on either side of the prop. shaft, also came in for a certain amount of no good. Accordingly, I armed myself with sundry large tools, demolition, for the use of, and ruthlessly carved off the whole of the rear of the body, leaving just enough of the locker to accommodate a new Type LTW 11 Lucas 12-volt battery. What was left was strengthened to take the extra and not inconsiderable weight and the petrol tank was raised about 4″, thus bringiter it up out of harm’s way, and at the same time it was fitted with a very nice quick-action filler cap taken from a T.T. Replica Rudge oil tank. The radiator also received one of these. A screwed and glued ash frame was made up by the local and not disinterested carpenter and this was covered with 18G (I think) steel sheet, no aluminium being available, so that the body now came straight down from the back of the seats, over the tank, to finish off on the rear chassis cross-member, with the spare wheel mounted along it. To my mind it’s rather an improvement, with all due deference to Mr. Riley.
She was now producing quite a lurid performance, coupled with complete reliability provided one kept the standard crank and rods in mind, and even on trials going never showed any tendency to boil despite the lack of a fan. Pinking was, however, pretty fierce, even when accelerating hard in the seventies, and the manual ignition control was much in demand. Quite apart from “Pool” petrol, I rather thought the exhaust valves were getting a bit warm, probably due in part to the very sharp curves taken by the standard manifold being unable to cope with the increased gas volumes and pressures caused by the blower. (Even at a maximum boost of 5 lb./sq. in. quite a fair amount of gas must be going places pretty quickly.) Anyway, I set to work to make a “straight flow” four-branch manifold, and to those who cheerfully suggest the manufacture of such items may I say that it’s NOT all milk and honey? In fact, I had the very devil of a time getting all the tubes malted up sweetly and spent hours setting it up preparatory to brazing and welding the various joints. A back plate of 5/16″ mild steel was cut by hand to conform to the ports in the head. Into this short 1 1/8″ inside diameter steel pipes were welded. On to these four stubs I brazed lengths of flexible steel tubing to allow for engine movement. These led through a split bonnet side into a four-branch manifold, in which as easy radii as possible had been taken. It was the building up of this latter that took the time. A further short length of flexible pipe then led into a “Derrington” Brooklands box mounted under the passenger’s seat and out via a 2″ diameter steel tail pipe, which gave a most opulent but quite pleasantly unobtrusive note under all normal conditions, although it must be admitted that when she gets really wound up there is rather a rasp about things. Results were most satisfactory. Pinking practically disappeared unless the throttle was abused and the performance, especially on large throttle openings, definitely improved, thus showing that previously the engine had not been scavenging properly. For general running about Lodge C.3 sparking plugs appear perfectly satisfactory, but for serious motoring Lodge H.46 are needed. An interesting point is that prior to blowing she would occasionally oil a plug, but since then this has never occurred. I put this down to the fact that even at tick-over speeds round about 400 r.p.m. the highest vacuum reading in the induction manifold is only –9 lb./sq. in., with the result that there is less tendency for the oil to be sucked up past the rings, while, of course, when the pressure becomes positive the tendency is for the oil to be blown down.
The lubrication of the blower is on the Arnott system, which is, I think, quite the simplest and most satisfactory method, ensuring as it does that the instrument gets little enough and yet sufficient at high speeds. Mounted on the bulkhead and slightly below the level of the blower is a circular quart tank, completely sealed from the atmosphere. This sealing is of the first importance, as, if air can get in, the whole system goes haywire and prodigious quantities of oil are used – hence a really good screw cap must be used. The oil is fed up to the blower through a 1/4″ pipe and an inbuilt restrictor valve. From the induction pipe a 1/8″ pipe leads to the top of the tank, thus maintaining the same pressure in the tank as in the inlet manifolding. It is this pressure which controls the oil flow. Thus, when going slowly the pressure is low and very little oil is forced up, but when the speed and pressure rise more lubricant is forced up and the blower gets plenty of oil only when it needs it. If the system is kept absolutely air-tight it operates with absolute reliability and the consumption is about 800 miles per quart. I also use a treble dose of “Red-X” in the petrol and find it very good stuff indeed.
And now for that very controversial subject of performance, bearing in mind the previous paragraph dealing with speedometer readings, etc., although I think I ought to say in addition that the brand new and completely independent rev.-counter checks very closely with the speedometer, which has been corrected by the makers for the large rear wheels. She gives slightly over 90 m.p.h., but, and to my mind much more important, she just whistles up to the 80 m.p.h. mark and will maintain 75-80 m.p.h. (80 m.p.h. = 4,501 r.p.m., 90 in.p.h. = 5,064 r.p.m.; 5.25 to 1 ratio; rear wheels, 643 revs./ mile) all day long. Third gear produces 70 m.p.h. in safety at 4,951 r.p.m., but she will go higher. In second gear she will go over 60 m.p.h., but this is most unsafe, and normally I never go over 55 m.p.h, or 5,128 r.p.m.; even this is rather high for the standard crank. Some time ago I had to go from Wrexham to Wargrave, near Reading, and having managed to raise the wherewithal owing to its being a business trip, loaded the Riley up with two other stalwarts, who, incidentally, had a somewhat uncomfortable ride sitting on each other’s knees. The distance from door to door was 168 miles, which checked to within four miles in an A.A. Guide, and entailed going through the centres of Shrewsbury, Kidderminster, Bromsgrove, Stratford, Oxford (not by-passed) and Henley-on-Thames. Times were taken on two watches and stops to ease the passengers’ legs were carefully logged. The actual running time was 3 hrs. 55 mins., which shows an average of 43 m.p.h. In view of the fact that certain conservation of fuel was necessary and that she was carrying 36 stone and luggage, whilst we also had about four miles of convoy to circumnavigate, I think this quite creditable. Over both runs fuel worked out at 27 m.p.g., while no oil was needed at all, except for a pint when we got to Wargrave owing to a slight leak at the Fram filter. Oil pressure never dropped below 40 lb., sq. in. at 30 m.p.h., going up to 75 -80 at higher speeds. I can only say that I was very proud of her indeed, and I really think that, given certain further modifications which I have in mind, she should be quite rapid. These include a different and more substantial crankshaft and con.-rods for the sake of reliability; the former will, I think, require a certain amount of cunning owing to the great increase in the size of the rear main, the diameter being 1 3/4″. Then, to improve the breathing, I intend trying an exhaust camshaft in place of the present inlet, owing to its having a longer dwell – actually 265 degrees as against 230 degrees on the inlet shaft. Another inlet manifold will have to be made up to obviate some rather fearsome bends and whatnot in the current edition, and the maximum boost will be raised to about 10 lb./sq in. by raising the blower speed to a little over 1 1/4 engine speed. Arnott’s inform me that the blower will still cohere at these higher revolutions. The head will be copper-plated and KE965 valves or similar fitted, certainly on the exhausts, probably all round. I did toy with the idea of opening out the ports and fitting slightly larger valves, but hardly think it practicable, owing to the lack of space in the hemispherical heads. To compensate for the weight of the larger crankshaft, I think a certain judicious removal of metal from the flywheel will be called for – but not too much! But then the ability to ask for and obtain 10 gallons of Discol would help, wouldn’t it? Ah, happy days! I wonder very much if she’ll ever go as quickly as I want her to….
And now one short paragraph for the benefit of “Sedan Fairy,” who wrote many moons ago reviling in no uncertain terms the bleaker types of sports cars, for to my mind the lady who sits on my left is the complete answer to all her arguments. She abhors white helmets, invariably turns out in civilised garb without resorting to riding breeches or what-have-you, and after a day in the hills with the screen down is quite capable of appearing in public places after no more than a couple of minutes or so at the driving mirror. If we are going expressly to some function she prefers the screen up, and if it rains on the way she will apply for the hood – but that is only common sense. If things go wrong, a comparative rarity may it be said, she helps where she can, or otherwise keeps out of the way and doles out cigarettes as and when necessary. In other words, she is the ideal passenger, with but one fault – her sense of direction is awful (very nearly censored!). Of course, she may be biased in that she loves the Riley even like a sister; but even so, I feel that “Sedan Fairy” should be able to do better.
And that is the history of the Riley up to date, and I hope that it hasn’t been too boring. In another month or so she will be laid up for the duration and any free time that is not taken up with Home Guard will be spent in further altering her. To those who are considering such work on a car I would say, “Get cracking!” – there will be tears, but they’re worth it. It isn’t cheap, but nobody could call it very costly – in my case, including the original purchase price and all bits and pieces, but excluding the actual time spent, I should think £200 would easily cover the whole shoot. Lastly, this article shouldn’t end without my giving my heartfelt thanks to all the people who have helped so enormously with their advice, particularly Mr. Farrar, of Riley’s, who has always been kindness personified, despite the fact that we have never met – an omission that must be rectified at some more favourable time.
In conclusion, a short paragraph about how I got the engine for my next “Special” – this “Special” business surely gets one. Some months ago I saved from scrap (what sacrilege!) and bought literally for the proverbial liver a complete and ready-to-run circa 1929 “38/250” Mercédès engine and gearbox, complete with compresseur and the most imposing of radiators. I think it is the most pleasing piece of machinery that I have ever seen, with the possible exception of one or two Bentleys, notably a blower 4 1/2-litre. It now lies in my garage, the complete unit plus radiator mounted on a special cradle, so that on state occasions it can be run for a few minutes just to hear those great pots chortle. All the aluminium shines after many hours of Brassoing, whilst I’ve spent many an odd five minutes standing in reverence before her, wondering what sort of a chassis would be most suitable. My idea is to build her up into a single-seater for sprints – not so much with the idea of winning anything, but to have some fun and, no doubt, gain a lot of experience. It’s all very nebulous at the moment, although I have certain ideas as to a chassis. Have any of your readers got any views on the subject? whilst any information about these units would be very gratefully received. After all, two heads are better than one.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget the major engineering feat of transferring her the two miles to my home, after she had been dumped in the yard of the local technical institute for my collection and weighing, as she must do, well over half a ton. Anyway, I collected a gang of the six largest and strongest men in the village, comprising a carpenter, a gardener, a poacher, another poacher, a coalman and a navvy, and bribed them with promises of much beer, with a little on account, to fall in at home at 08.30 hours one Sunday. By 09.30 they were all mustered and off we went in the Fordson lorry from next door. We arrived and they stared silently and a little contemptuously, or so it seemed, alternatively at me and the Mercédès, quite obviously wondering why I’d brought six large men, about a hundred yards of rope, two sets of block-and-tackle, sundry planks and a foul device called a “three-leg” just to get one engine, although admittedly a large one, on to a lorry. However, cigarettes all round got them used to the idea (that I was crackers?); they went through a sort of ritual of spitting on their hands, gathered round the engine, laid rude hands on her and grunted. This appeared to be the signal for action, for they then hoisted with much cracking of joints. The front end of the Mercédès reluctantly left the ground, rose to a ceiling of one inch and then settled back to earth. The VI S.M. straightened up, looked at me, decided they hadn’t been trying, expectorated, and tried again. The first effort remained a world’s record for this particular sport, as this time she didn’t budge. I tactfully restrained a smile and instead tentatively suggested the ropes. etc. The VI S.M. eyed the motor with respect and tacitly agreed. After about hall-an-hour – during which I nearly had kittens when, with my precious engine slung precariously about 6 ft. above ground level, one of the legs of the “three-leg” started to slip – she was safely loaded and very soon equally safely unloaded at home. It is of economical interest to note that the tariff rate of VI S.M. for conveying one motor-car engine for 2 miles is beer to the tune of 9/4….
All the very best luck to all enthusiasts wherever they may be and Allah be praised for the Motor Sport. Keep up the good work, Mr. Editor, even if it does entail the wading through of effusions like this. Believe me, Motor Sport day is the day of the month to a very great many people.
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