The book review of the Boy Scout’s journey on a 1922 Talbot-Darracq takes me back many years, as my father ran a similar model for about five years. This car had all the maladies anybody could think of, plus many more of its own. Accessibility was very bad indeed. For instance, to remove the sump required the removal of the timing case which in turn required the radiator off. One secret little vice was the positioning of two cylinder head nuts inside each siamesed inlet port. Although the car was supposed to have metric threads it had virtually anything and everything, so each nut had more or less to be kept to its own bolt. When we got the car the ride was horrible—virtually solid at the rear —but we found that the centre pivots of the cantilever springs had seized. Once we got those working the suspension was better but still very hard. The crown-wheel and pinion gave up several times until my father was convinced that propshaft “whirl” had some effect on this. Actually it was a shaft, not a large-diameter tube, because it ran inside a torque tube. To overcome this whirling he cast a white metal steady bearing at the centre of the tube. This was supplied with minute quantities of oil on runs over about 10 miles through a drip feed. It seemed to work, because the c.w & p. never gave any more trouble.
Rocker arms were a weak feature, as several broke, but we found that later models had much stronger ones and we got a scrap engine fitted with these. The clutch was withdrawn by a sleeve, with a collar at each end, in tension. One of these had to screw on and the metal failed at the base of the thread where it was of only paper thickness. This had to happen on a wet Saturday morning in Aberystwyth, whilst towing a small caravan. Fortunately the road was downhill and the gearbox was so good that clutchless changes were almost the norm. We managed to get to a site of sorts and spent most of our week’s holiday dismantling the back axle, gearbox and flywheel and fitting a new sleeve, considerably beefed up, made in a local engineer’s shop. In the end the absence of front wheel brakes made the car dangerous on wet roads in “heavy” traffic and it was pensioned off, being replaced by a 11 h.p. Lea-Francis.
The current issue of MOTOR SPORT also mentions the acquisition of Ketteringham Hall by Lotus Cars. In 1943 I was responsible for taking in a supply of electricity from Hethel and the establishment of an emergency diesel generating plant, all in readiness for the occupation of the Hall by the US Army Air Force, for their Generals HQ. There were then ten acres of kitchen garden in the charge of a Mr. Emms with whom I became very friendly despite the fact that my task entailed digging trenches all over his gardens. One evening I was allowed by the butler to watch Lady Boilleau, the owner’s wife, descending the stairs in full evenings dress, to dinner, which she took in solitary state. How times change! [Yes indeed!—Ed]
Anglesey F. E. GREAVES