Letters from Readers, June 1944



Browse pages
Current page


Current page


Current page


Current page


Current page


Current page


Current page


Current page


Current page


Current page


Current page


Current page


Current page


Current page


Current page


Current page


Current page


Current page


Current page


Current page


Current page


Current page


Current page


Current page



As a keen motor-racing enthusiast, being particularly interested in the future of the Sport, I welcome the suggestion, in the April issue of your wizard monthly, for new blood on the R.A.C. Competition Committee.

The suggestion of electing Raymond Mays seems long overdue, as obviously there is nobody who is better suited. More than once he has publicly voiced his willingness to assist the Sport to the utmost, particularly as regards helping the new generation of racing drivers. It was, I believe, solely.clue to Mays’s pioneering that the E.R.A. car came into being, and, entirely apart from that, his allround racing experience is unique.

Having started as an amateur, he must have experienced the financial and other difficulties of the would-be driver.

This suggestion is by no means only my own outlook, and so we look to you as Editor of a most powerful part of the motor-sporting Press to help carry this suggestion into effect.

Thank you for the marvellous work you are doing in keeping up the morale of we enthusiasts in the Forces. I am, Yours, etc.,

JOHN F. G. MACLAGAN. Rotherham. Sir,

I was very interested to see Capt. Moon’s reply to my comments on his proposed sports car design, and I am prepared to accept that his choice of a 5-speed gearbox and rear-wheel drive have not been dictated by the requirement that the car should be capable of competing in not too fearsome trials—though I am still a little surprised that he requires five speeds for normal road work. To have the perfect ratio for every condition from repeated re-starting in traffic to continued high-speed cruising seems to me a luxury for which be is likely to have to pay dearly in both weight and expense, and one which has not so far been considered worth while by sports-car designers.

My apologies to him for implying that he had not specified his ground clearance. I overlooked the relevant paragraph in his very comprehensive article. But his letter serves to emphasise a point I made —that his ground clearance was increased by the requirement that the car should be suitable for trials. For road work his figure of 7 in. could be reduced to 5, in. with a corresponding reduction in effective frontal area.

I will concede his point that a weight distribution which is excellent for the road may not be a bar to trials success. His example of the ” 328 ” B.M.W. is very convincing. The question of the third passenger’s ” reasonable ” comfort is a key point in the design. It is Capt. Moon’s principal reason for using his unusual and rather complex transmission line. It is one of

my chief reasons for suggesting front drive as an alternative. Of course, it turns largely on one’s interpretation of ” reasonable.” Personally I feel that it is a nuisance to the third man (or woman) to have to put both feet on one side of the transmission tunnel, and that if he puts one on either side, he is likely to be in the way of the driver, who usually has little enough room for his own left foot off the clutch pedal. Evidently Capt. Moon thinks that this degree of discomfort is not unreasonable, and, disliking front drive, feels that it would be a heavy price to pay for the extra room. I like front drive for a number of reasons, and think quite the reverse. Obviously we must agree to differ here. Capt. Moon suggests that by using front drive I should increase the height of the crankshaft from the ground, and thereby raise the centre of gravity and inerease the frontal area of the car. Measurement of my Citroen Twelve gives me the following figures : height of differential centre 14 in. ; height of crankshaft centre 16iin. ; clearance under clutch-pit 10i in. From these I deduce that it would be possible to pass the clutch shaft under the final drive and obtain a crankshaft

height of in., with a clearance under the clutch-pit of 5i in., which should be adequate for road use on a car of 8 ft. 9 in. wheelbase, particularly as the low point would be very close to the front wheels. These heights could be slightly increased if desired by using larger diameter wheels (5.50 x 16 on the Citroen), or the clearance under the clutch-pit enlarged by using a multi-plate clutch of smaller diameter. In short, front drive imposes no significant limitation on the minimmn height of the crankshaft.

Certainly, as Capt. Moon points out, the wheelbase would have to be increased over his by some 9 in. All front-drive cars are longer than their rear-drive counterparts, but since, from savings of weight in various directions, they work out as light, or lighter, this extra wheelbase is an advantage rather than a drawback.

I therefore maintain my original point that, by using front drive and accepting a slight sacrifice in versatility, it would be possible to build a sports car equivalent to Capt. Moon’s, but more roomy, simpler, lighter and cheaper. I am, Yours, etc.,

C. W. J. MARRIS (Squadron-Leader). Sir, My good friend Capt. John Moon is absolutely Correct. Not only does the crankshaft-mounted fan on the Ford V8 pick up water, but also dust and small stones. The reason for using this type on FGP750 was to reduce the frontal area of the car for speed trials and hill climbs. It was never run in a trial in this form. We are following with interest the progress of Ford technicians and

appreciate the possibility of the new central mounting of the fan for post-war trials use. I am, Yours, etc.,


London, S.W.6. Sir,

Referring to your article, “Racing and the Public,” in the issue for May, I would like to make one or two by no means unimportant points from the point of view of the ordinary soldier. The Royal Gloucestershire Hussars in peace-time had a squadron with its headquarters at Colston Fort, St. Michael’s Hill. Many of the members of this squadron were also members of the Bristol Light Car Club. The regiment has for many years been mechanised, and a very strong enthusiasm for “matters motoring” has been built up at the squadron headquarters.

I would like to represent to some of those people who would decry any demonstration of enthusiasm over sporting motoring that it is competitive events, the club spirit, and the enthusiasm of the amateur owner-builder which produced the driver-mechanics and fitters, second to none, with whom I had the privilege to train and fight in the Western Desert.

If a mechanised army i required to win our wars, then in order that they may preserve our national beauty spots for the public, let us give our potential soldiers every encouragement in following a hobby or profession which will be of inestimable value to them when the call comes. I am, Yours, etc.,

JEREMY TAYLOR, R.G.H. (Major). London, S.W.1. [‘While we devoutly hope the call will not come again in our lifetixne, it seems possible that it will, and probable, if we go soft again. _Major Taylor sees what so many ordinary motorists miss—if we are to avoid wars in the future we must be r repared and motorised .-‘—En.] Sir,

The discussions now proceeding upon the revision of taxation open up the possibility of interesting pecuniary speculations for the economy motorist. If a capacity tax should be adopted, it will be necessary to fix swept volumes which will represent the limits for various rates of tax. In the lower classes these may well be 750, 1,000, and 1,500 ex., or, possibly, 850, 1,100, and 1,500 c.c. Should either of these limits be adopted, it will be seen that the majority of British second-hand cars will move up one class, assuming these capacities to take the Place of the 8-, 10and 12-h.p. rates. Conversely, the square-engined Continentals will move down. It is, therefore, reasonable to assume that while the market values of British cars would fall, there will be a corresponding rise in Continental values.

If our wily industry should adopt irregular capacities to keep their cars at the same tax level, such as 1,000 c.c.-8-h.p., 1,250 c.c.-10-h.p., 1,650 c.c.-12-h.p., it is unlikely that there would be any appreciable fluctuation in their market value. But such volumes would also bring more Continental cars into lower classes, making them more popular with a corresponding increase in price. It would appear, therefore, that there is a very good reason for those of us who own British cars to dispose of them now while the prices are high, exchanging them for square-engined Continentals which again will be able to show a good profit if the capacity tax be eventually adopted. Should the speculator be thwarted by the introduction of a petrol tax instead, he will at least have had the pleasurable experience of some good cars.

Under a capacity tax, all long-stroke engines must suffer, even if a graduated scale of capacities is employed. One must view with concern possibilities such as the 3-litre Bentley being rated higher than the 2.3 Bugattis and Alfas, the 41 equal to the 12-cylinder Lagonda, while the graph and bank overdraft will go right off the page before coming to the big stuff. Another interesting point, should the poor motorist have to bear the burden of a capacity tax, is accentuated by Laurence Pomeroy’s recent article in the Motor, giving “average” statistics_ for pre-war cars. Before the war we were told that if we wanted more performance from British cars we would have to pay for it. The article mentioned shows that if our 12-h.p. car is to compare with the “

1,500″ Continental, it must reduce weight by 24 per cent., petrol consumption by five per cent., and the standing quarter by eight per cent. It must increase low speed pick-up by five per cent., higher acceleration by 11 per cent., maximum by 17 per cent., and IT MUST STILL SELL AT THE SAME PRICE. If that can be done, either we were sadly misled before the war, or our manufacturers have only just begun to learn the fundamentals of business economics. We all know that they are able, technically, to surpass these figures with ease, but unless some business acumen is present, one can imagine the whole potential increased prosperity being absorbed in an effort to keep the price down sufficiently to compete in those markets. I am, Yours, etc.,


Birmingham. Sir, For some time past there have been discussions at Brains Trust meetings and various articles in motoring journals as regards the future of motor racing in its different forms, suggesting G.P. formulas and the make-up of the R.A.C. Competitions Committee. This committee is, after all, responsible to the country for all these things, and it was interesting, in the April issue of MOTOR SPORT which specialises in furthering these aims, that the name of Raymond Mays was suggested for inclusion on the R.A.C. Competitions Committee. It is no overstatement that the carrying into effect of this suggestion is voicing the most earnest hope of many of those who have

the future Success and advance of British motor racing at heart, both as a national asset in general and as a sport in particular. After all, who was it that was really responsible for there ever being an E.R.A.?

£ s. d. alone will produce little. s. d. has to be invested in a good thing to produce a tangible or worth while result, in whatever form that takes. It is no good saying, “Here is £X, go and beat the world in the 1,500-c.c. class next year.” The result from scratch would be little. But if £X is placed at the back of a good article, which is the culmination of years of research, development and proof by test, then one may reasonably expect results to be swiftly forthcoming. Such was the case with E.R.A. Raymond Mays, over a period of many years, carried out extensive research and development with various engines and chassis, with the assistance of many wellknown engineers plus considerable help from many of the leading manufacturers, connected with the motor industry, who had faith in his very earnest endeavour to succeed. (It is not generally known that Amherst Villiers, the late Murray •••••••••••••••••••••?••••••••••••••••


We understand that the well-known firm of Cox & Company, Watford, manufacturers of tubular motor seats, etc., has been converted into a private limited liability company under the title of Cox & Co. (Watford), Ltd. This is an entirely formal matter and there is no change in regard to ownership. ********•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

Jamieson and Peter Berthon all were given the opportunity of showing their technical ability through first being associated with Raymond Mays, whose super-enthusiasm and determination started them on their specialised careers.) The culmination of some of this research and development work was the engine in the White Riley. This highly successful power unit was the backbone of the E.R.A., and round it a suitable chassis and body were built. The man who therefore was primarily responsible for the E.R.A. more than anyone else was Raymond Mays. The marque’s success is a household word. Is he not, then, the obvious man to

give a hand at the hub of British motor competition and sport, and put his unrivalled experience and knowledge— with his uncanny ability of being able to get together a band of people who do produce results—into that organisation ?

The R.A.C. represents the :£ s. d.— Raymond Mays’s opinion represents the good article worth backing. I am, Yours, etc., H. L. P. LESTER (Wing. Cdr.). International Sportsmen’s Club, Upper Grosvenor Street,

London, W.1. Sir, I read the letter from Capt. Moon with interest and must congratulate him on his observance of a remark in Mr. Biggs’s article on the Light Trials Allard. I refer to his point about the crankshaft fan mounting and its unsuitability for

negotiating water splashes, this is quite correct, and when such events occur again I would naturally remove the offending fan. This car, incidentally, runs quite satisfactorily without the fan being fitted at all. In my previous Allards, all of which had the fan mounted in the dynamo, it was my practice (and my team-mates’ also) to slacken off the dynamo mounting and thus disconnect the fan and fan-belt before entering deep water splashes. Even the rotation of the belt tended to throw up water. I am, Yours, etc.,

K. HUTCHISON. Farnham, Surrey. Sir,

I was interested to read in the May “Club News” of Mr. H. Macey’s scheme for rear independent suspension using a f.w.d. Alvis chassis.

One wonders in which direction he intends to propel the chassis.

I believe some of the early Burney streamline experiments were carried out on a reversed f.w.d. Alvis with the stub axles locked and with a more orthodox front axle assembly in place of the independently-sprung rear wheels.

Mr. L. A. Lansdown, of Westland Aircraft, a ” 12/60 ” owner, might know something of this chassis ; I believe he took part in some of the road tests.

I am, Yours, etc.’

W. JACKSON. Old Bursledon,

Hampshire. Sir,

Referring to the letter from S/Sgt. R. Truscott, and the photograph of his 41-litre Bentley, the following information may interest him and other enthusiasts.

Bentley chassis No. 290 was an early 1923 speed model 3-litre and the 41-litre engine No. TX3246, is 1928—one of the last to be fitted with the cone clutch. The main disadvantage of this is the heavy pedal pressure required. I rather liked the cone clutch, but had to abandon it eventually because of its inability to transmit the considerable additional hairy-legged horses I was able to get out of these engines, and still retain their original reliability which entailed considerable and costly research. The cone clutch had the advantages of being relatively light and having the minimum of overhang as compared with the 1929-31 plate clutch. The weight complete with flywheel was, cone clutch 76 lb., plate clutch 139 lb. The early 44litres had rather a tender rear end to the crankshaft, and it has been suggested to me by a vintagent that the design of this part was left to the works office boy. If that was so, his efforts in weight-saving were commendable at that time, if, unfortunately, a little misplaced. When plate clutches were fitted to these crankshafts, the shaft objected to the additional load and overhang, and things became worse when badly damaged starter teeth unbalanced the flywheel. The 6i-litre back axle is very heavy, and the additional unsprung weight does not improve roadholding with a short chassis. Mr. Truscott may have the 6-i-litre ribbed front brake drums, but it is impossible to use the 6i-litre method of front-brake operation on a 3or 4i-litre frame.

In the photograph, truss rods are cqcarly Shown under the frame side ineit hers. These were not fitted as standard to this frame, and it is very important to see that the frame is suitably reinforced at both ends for a distance of about 7 in., where the truss-rod brackets are attached to the side members. If this is not done the side members will break between the rear shackle Of the front spring and the truss-rod bracket. One will also find that cracks have developed at the other end just in front of rear spring anchorage. If Mr. Truscott wishes to have any other information, and cares to write to me, I will be delighted to help. I am, Yours, etc.,

L. C. McKENzfE.

Thornton Heath, Surrey. Sir, do not think that any car in standard production has had its maximum speed more discussed than the M.C. ” ‘I’ “-type. As road-tested by the motor Press its maximum speed, taken over a Hying Irmile, mean of two runs in opposite directions, was stated to be 82 m.p.h. by the stop-watch. I de) not know what speedo readings were recorded, but I have no doubt that M.G.s, like most car manufacturers, ” permit ” the reading to be somewhat fast in order to Satisfy the great British public. The red ” danger mark on the rev.-counter is at 4,800, which corresponds to 82 m.p.h. By the way, my figures are all from memory. so please don’t jump at me if rin slightly inaccurate ! [The Aytocar got 77.39 m.p.h. mean and 79.65 maximum, and Moron SPORT could not do timed tests because of obstructions on Bmoklands.—En.j Mr. A. G. Sanderson is not quite correct in his description of the l00-m.p.h. “Musketeer.” The first ones were. not fitted With a balanced shaft, but they did have cycle-type wings of “au.” in place of the long sweeping iron ones, which incorporated running boards. The bonnet and door panels were also ” au.” Compression was raised from 6.5 to 1 to 7.2 to 1 for my model, while the other team cars were even higher-“; .5 to I. The cylinder head was eopperised, special valve springs, larger LUVax shockers, special braking system were all used. Of course, there were many other alterations and fittinis of value in reliability trials, but having no connection with speed. The Ala rshall blower on my car ran at one-and-a-half times engine speed, and puffed at 6 lb. per 5(1. in. I think

I am correct in stating that the standard “‘r” is 45 b.h.p. My Wiled engine gave 50 b.h.p. =blown and nearly 90 b.h.p. blown. Thus we have a 45-b.h.p. car giving, say, 80 m.p.h., and in its lightened, tuned and blown form giving 100 m.p.h. Quite reasonable really. The cynic will enquire, “And, pray, what are the revs. at that speed ? “-and I would at once agree that they are excessive. Once again am unable to state figures, but I remember crossing the finishing line at Wetherby Speed Trials at 73 m.p.h. in third gear with rev.-counter needle off the dial ! Harold Biggs doubts that the M.G. “Musketeer can do 100 m.p.h., and quotes his experiences with Maedermid in Mac’s “Muskets.” As the owner of probably the most potent ” Musket,” which I bought from Mae in February, 1938, I think I can write reasonably authoritatively on this subject. My model is the 1937 car, ” number one ” of the team for that year, and was probably better eared for than the others as, I understand, the others always ran hlown while Mae and I only ran blown for trials, etc. Indeed, I used to run to the scene of an event unblown and connect up the blower at the start. It was only a 10minute job and could be done, with long practice, with one’s eyes closed ! The team of cars was entered for the Donington 12 Hours in 1937 and were quite standard as they were seen at trials, except that the front wings, head lamps, windscreen, air cleaner and Other very minor things were taken off. Even the wing brackets were left on, as these affect the radiator mounting. Very little work was required before or after the event in which the ears won the team prize, which was what was aimed at from the very beginning. I should mention that the team was made up of a combination of the “Musketeer ” and “Cream Crackers’ drivers. Below

I am showing how they won and some interesting data. Maedermid stated to me that down Starkey’s he was getting 104 m.p.h. each lap. I have also reached this figure at the same place, and in order to ward off the obvious challenge re speedos, let me say here and now that the speedos were “police accuracy” type and were often sent back to Jag’s for checking (which explains the nasty marks round the dial on the dashboard from constant removal !) I have recently sold this car to Rowland Motors. I am, Yours, etc.,


Leeds. Sir,

The views of Cecil Kimber and Raymond Mays on post-war racing must obviously be considered in all seriousness.

Is Mr. Kimber not taking too gloomy an outlook of the future of Brooklands, though ? It may be some time before racing can be resumed at the Track, but when this is possible, it is an infinitely better course than the Crystal Palace, and has the advantage over Donington in being near London ; also it lends itself to every type of race, which neither of the other venues do. Outer Circuit events at Fimoklands still had quite a following up to the outbreak of war, and there are still a good many racing and sports cars capable of putting up a good show. If some of the older hands are tired of the Outer Circuit, there will be many young enthusiasts only too keen to follow their footsteps. As the Editor reminds Raymond Mays, the Outer Circuit is a very 52.10 49.76 51.89 625.24 597.16 622.68 6

5. . 17, 44 g 0.4 5 8 245 11 17 234 6 9 244

Macdermid-Toulmin Car No.

18 … Bitstock Crawford Car No. 19:

Langley Jones Car No. 20 …

valuable venue for car testing. Where else could fast cars be tested ?

Finally, without the Outer Circuit Brooklands would not be Brooklands.

The old methods of handicapping need altering. Class handicapping by all means, but not of individual drivers or cars in a given class. A driver who spends much time, thought and money on bringing his car to a high state of efficiency should not be re-handicapped because he wins a race. The winning of a race should be something worth striving for. I believe the falling off in attendance at Brooklands was directly due to the ridiculous display of an obviously slow, and perhaps ill-prepared, car coming in first. I am, Yours, etc.,


Sutton, Surrey. * * * Sir,

As a T-type M.G. owner I find these exaggerated maximum speed claims by over-enthusiastic owners (and others) both amusing and annoying. The Thursby-Pelham M.G. is a good example.

I remember reading in the Autocar that this owner ascribed his ” over 90 m.p.h.” claim to some form of tuning, the exact nature of which he was ignorant ! Barring supercharging, my experience has shown that the popular methods of tuning seldom increase maximum speed by More than three or four m.p.h., though acceleration is considerably improved. As an example of ” popular ” tuning, I suggest the following : Raised compression, copper-plated head and valves, a little port polishing, careful assembly, rounded off by suitable ignition timing and mixture strength. (Mr. ThursbyPelham may find that all or part of that routine has been applied to his car. In any case, we should all like to know for certain how the performance is obtained !) Very shortly after the inception of the ” T ” M.G. it was road-tested by the various journals, and all agreed upon a genuine maximum speed, carefully timed, of 78-79 m.p.h. This is a considerable improvement on the figures mentioned by the anti-buzz-box brigade (usually 75 m.p.h. or less), and if we add four m.p.h. for conventional tuning, We have quite

an impressive speed for a 0-h.p. cheap sports car.

I think it is a pity that such an excellent £222 worth of motor-car should become a laughing-stock in the motoring world, simply because some owners insist on making wild and unsubstantiated claims in an endeavour to impress other owners of better and/or bigger sports cars. I am, Yours, etc.,

A. H. SHEFFIELD (F/Sgt.). R.A.F. Sir,

Your correspondent, Mr. F. A. Kappey, must have been bitten very severely by the 5-cylinder engine bug to make such sweeping statements in support of this type, as he does in the letter published in February. It is not conventional thought and conservatism that has kept the 5-cylinder engine from achieving any great success, but certain of its characteristics which weigh against it, viz. : (1) The 5-cylinder engine is very difficult to carburate in an efficient manner. This difficulty can be overcome by incorporating a low-pressure boost, while it does not apply in the case of a compression-ignition engine, amongst

whose ranks are found the only presentday examples of this type.

(2) It will tend to be rather weighty, owing to the desirability, in the interests of symmetry, of using a main bearing between each pair of cylinders. Where sufficient crankshaft stiffness as a beam is available, I think that it is desirable to keep the number of main bearings in an engine to a minimum, in order to save friction loss and to keep the shaft short and thus torsionally rigid.

(3) Production will not be easy, relatively speaking, due to the multiplicity of main bearings, and, due to its five throws, all at different angles, as well as its six main bearings, the crankshaft will prove more difficult than a four or a six both to forge and to machine.

(4) The engine is out of balance by a primary couple which tends to make it rock about a transverse axis.

Mr. Kappey also gives a rather false impression of the popularity of the 5cylinder in the commercial-vehicle field. Instead of finding, as one might expect from his letter, that there are several makes of this type of engine available, one finds that there is only one example, which is one of a range of engines produced by one manufacturer which have a common bore and stroke, and having 2 3, 4, 5 and 6 cylinders. Admittedly this engine is quite widely used, but this is because it happens to conform in cubic capacity and in power output with a general requirement of the commercialvehicle world, and because of its excellent fuel consumption and longevity, which it shares with the other models of the same nuke. As this engine was occasionally fitted to vehicles made by a firm with which I was associated, I have had a certain amount of experience with it, and can say that it compared unfavourably in smoothness of running both with the 6-cylinder version of the same make and with the 6-cylinder of our own make (of about the same capacity as the 5), which was the standard power unit in the vehicles in question. I am, Yours, etc.,

J. S. MOON (Capt.).

home Forces.