Ramblings, Rumours and Reminiscences.
Being Asides About All Sorts of Things.
AR witnessing the unavailing struggles of competing cars at one of the observed hills included in the recent Colmore Cup Trial, one cannot help wondering what useful object can be served by making the routes of this and similar trials so unnecessarily difficult, at least as far as the car entries are concerned. A good deal of fun, both for spectators and entrants, is to be found when the solo riders attempt to slither up exceedingly steep slopes covered with about a foot of deep mud, but the sorry exhibition put up by cars on such freak climbs as Mill Lane, near Cheltenham, is little more than pathetic. We have participated in these events both on cars and motor cycles, fortunately not our own property, and as part of our journalistic routine, but cannot see just what the abnormally severe courses serve to demonstrate. The whole thing is tending to become farcical as far as the genuine amateur is concerned, for there are few who can really afford the risk of smashing machines and paying for the damage out of ordinary motoring expenses. Trade entries come under an entirely different heading, for firms are willing to pay for the publicity successes afford, though incidentally it is the customer who pays eventually, in the price of the machine.
Let it not be supposed that we are siding with those august personages who look with supreme disfavour upon all but a meagre few trials per year, but rather wish to offer constructive criticism in cases where club organisers prevent representative entries from their members by including ” frame-breaking” sections in otherwise useful and enjoyable events. Many enthusiasts look upon the Edinburgh, the Exeter and Lands’ End Trials as being too easy to attract much attention, but between these and the Colmore, Victory and similar trials there is a great gulf fixed. Competitions should and may encourage the sporting spirit amongst those who, at present, are just ordinary
motorists, but organisers do not seem to cater for this class of driver except in the smaller clubs, the doings of which are far too little known to the general motoring public. Is it my imagination or is there really a certain amount of bias existing in favour of organising club members where entries are accepted from other clubs ? Now and again I hear bitter grouses from competitors of repute, who have seen awards go to home club members when such competitors have either made glaring breaches of the rules or failed conspicuously at some point of the course. Nothing can be more galling to a seasoned competition rider than the exercise of favour on behalf of certain club members. Esprit de Club is quite right and proper provided it does not descend to mere favouritism and interfere not only with the trial in question,
but the entire sport as a whole. To Club committees I would recommend the point as worthy of earnest consideration, to observers strict impartiality and to all riders, the sense of carrying out the rules in accordance with the ethics of true sportsmanship. Really, when one comes to think of it, there is no justification in claiming baulks for ordinary” konks ” that escaped the marshal’s eye, but alas ! dear reader, how often has it been done, and what a nasty taste it leaves even when one’s cleverness (sic) is rewarded by an unmerited placing in the list of results.
Now to turn to brighter topics, lest I earn the reputation of an habitually disgruntled critic. Everyone likes to wear his tyres right down to the canvas before they are finally cast aside for collection by the rag and bone man—what he does with them goodness only knows— but the thing is to keep them in service as long as is humanly possible. Have I discovered a new firm doing good and cheap re-treading ? No! though I believe many such exist, but whether re-treading the smaller sizes of covers actually pays with present prices is rather an open question. The method I am now employing with very successful results is that of vulcanising all the bad cuts in my covers with the” Baby” vulcaniser made by Harvey Frost and Company, and a very fascinating little instrument it is too. In common with many brother motorists I had hitherto regarded vulcanising as a specialist’s job, about which no one, not even the experts themselves, could be quite certain, but after one trial on a piece of scrap cover the process became absolutely simple and absolutely sound repairs were effected. Of course, the average garage man pooh-poohs the idea of home vulcanising, predicting all sorts of failures connected therewith, but then it is his business to sell new tyres, or failing that to find work for his own men on the large vulcanising apparatus he generally possesses. Everyone is quite ready to agree that it is the cuts on the tread which cause otherwise good tyres to collapse, because water percolates into the canvas and rots the fibres of the canvas, thus destroying the fabric upon which the tread is secured. Tyre stopping serves up to a point but nothing short of vulcanising is reliable when cuts of any magnitude are to be stopped up. When preparing a cut portion of the tyre, one ruthlessly cuts out the affected area right down to the canvas and then roughens the surface with a kind of rasp. The next part of the process consists in treating the prepared area with a solution and afterwards neatly plugging the hole with the vulcanising rubber, which is pressed and rolled unto place. The ” Baby” vulcaniser is an entirely selfcontained unit, practically fool-proof, which clamps on the tyre by a chain passing round the wheel rim and after a while the repair compound is cooked so as to become part and parcel of the existing tread. My experience has proved that tyres treated in this way remain put and that the amount of time spent in home vulcanising is amply repaid. Only I would advise readers not to wait until the treads are too badly worn before commencing operations ; for when a certain limit is reached
and the pattern of the treads is worn off, the becomes particularly vulnerable to flints and other objects, after which there is nothing else but or running the cover to death.
I understand on good authority that the famous speedman, Mr. J. S. Wright, intends to ride a Brough at Brooklands this year and if the machine is tuned up to anything like the perfection of Wright’s previous mounts, some sensational speeds may be anticipated. Rumour also has it that many McEvoy’s will be seen on the track during the ensuing season and at the present time no fewer than nine riders are busy getting into training.
The postponement of the first Brooklands’ event leads one to assume that the condition of the concrete is not yet all that might be desired, indeed one wellknown rider reports that little has been done to the lower portions, all the work having been concentrated on the preservates of the 120 m.p.h. brigade, which is quite all right, but probably some of the less speedy cars will come in for a good deal of bumping unless the authorities get a move on by the time the business commences. The new stands also are giving rise to some anxiety, but this is principally due to constructional details which should not be difficult to remedy in time.
Once more we have had a tragic reminder of the dangers of exhaust gas poisoning, which are not fully realised by some of the less experienced motorists. It is indeed a very risky procedure to tune a car with the engine running in a small garage where no adequate ventilation is provided, for the carbon monoxide which always accompanies exhaust smoke is very poisonous and two parts of the gas in 1,000 is unsafe. A large four-cylinder engine exerting full power at about 1,000 r.p.m. will dangerously ,contaminate about 3,200 cubic feet of air, if carbon monoxide constitutes 12 per cent. of the exhaust, a proportion which is frequently reached if the explosive mixture is too rich. At this rate, it does not take long for the air in an enclosed space to become dangerous, and many owner-drivers have experienced disagreeable symptoms after testing engines with the exhaust escaping into the garage. Carbon monoxide is colourless and odourless and so may and does exist undetected by the senses in the exhaust of motor vehicles whose behaviour in the matter of smell and smoke is above reproach ; but luckily as it appears in larger percentages it is accompanied by the acrid odour of partially oxidised petroleum products or the black smoke due to the presence of free carbon. In accomplishing a perfect exhaust, the efficiency and smooth running of engines will also be increased, for in various tests it has been found that the losses due to incomplete combustion vary from 5 per cent. to 40 per cent. The excess of lubricating oil used may be several hundred per cent. more than is necessary for safe and economical lubrication and both of these wastes give rise to conditions that are inimical to the smooth running of the engine.