RUL MARCH, 1944

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RUMBLINGS

With the possibilities of peace growing every day it is natural that the boys and girls should start thinking in terms of the racing Preparation machinery in which they will one day disport themselves. Flight-Lt. T. A. D. Crook tells me he has jointly acquired with Hugh Hunter the 2.9-litre litonoposto Alfa-Romeo which is said to have been raced by Varzi, and which was used over here by Fontes. It may be raced, but on the other hand, it will always be available as spares for the owners’ 2.9-litre road-equipped Alfa-Romeo, so its acquisition seems sensible to me. Over in Australia, Kenneth N. Brooks has acquired Johnnie Wakefield’s Tipo 6C Maserati. Late in 1939 R. P. Tilbrook shipped the car to Australia less engine, gearbox and steering box, just as it was stripped down following Wakefield’s crash at Cork in 1938, so Brooks is seeking another engine and information regarding correct steering camber, king-pin

incliñation, etc. Two drop arms are also needed, if anyone can assist. Finally, Lt. John Norris, R.N., tells me he has the ex-Thomas Fotheringham ” 2.3 ” G.P. Bugatti awaiting the day. It was owned for a time by R. C. Vickers, and has since been rebuilt. Although racing isn’t specifically mentioned, I imagine the plot embraces competitive movement. The Editor’s researches over the 1908 T.T. Metallurgique have

concluded, a letEdwardians ter from L.A.C. Bull, R.A.F., explaining that this venerable car was sent for scrap just before the Vintage. S.C.C. started pre-1914 classes at sprint events, when it didn’t seem to be of much interest seem to anyone. However, one thing does definitely lead to another at times, and Bull put us on the scent of another, though less cxeit ing veteran, which now bears a van body and delivers seven to eight tons of groceries each week, which it has done since 1933, before which it was a private car. It turns out to be a 1.913 23-h.p. 4:-cylinder King, with central ball-gate gear-change, 3-speed gearbox, fully floating back axle, and cantilever rear springing. It has a somewhat primitive electric commencer, and a dynamo, but a magneto has been substituted for the original Atwater coil ignition. The King is, of course, a product of Detroit. Then, following the remarks by Alan Smith on an ex-Conan Doyle Nazzaro published last month, comes more information about the same car by Brian Finglass, whose firm bought the car from the Conan Doyles and rebuilt it in 1931. The Nazzaro was made by the Fabbrica Automobili Nazzaro, of Foro Boario, Turin, and is such a rare marque that it is worth publishing Finglass’s remarks—but I wish we could find the 1914 G.P. car which ran at Brooklands long after the last war. Incidentally, in 1922 the Nazzaro model offered in this country was of rather similar specification and rather beautifully made, but was of 3i-litre capacity, rated at 20.1 h.p. It had one inlet and two exhaust valves per cylinder, one exhaust valve opening considerably in advance of its fellow, and it would seem that Finglass has confused this unusual valve arrangement somewhat in his description, which is as follows :

We purchased a Nazzaro car, engine No. 3, in 1931, and as it was in a pretty poor state when it came to us, we rebuilt the car throughout. The engine was a 4-cylinder, 32-h.p. 6-in, stroke unit, with a peculiar offset crankshaft giving a straight thrust on the power stroke. The crankshaft ran in five main bearings. An overhead

camshaft operated two valves per cylinder, a third dummy valve operating in each cylinder as a camshaft damper, four eccentrics being fitted on the camshaft to operate these. dampers. I remember there was a most complicated pressure oil-feed system feeding oil to all engine moving parts. Magneto and water pump were driven from skew gearing off the bottom end of the vertical camshaft drive. Cooling was by pump and fan, and an -interesting part of the engine was the massive bearings and shelllike connecting rods. The gudgeon pins had fully-floating smallend hearings.

Measurements from top to bottom of the engine were approximately 4 ft. 6 in. The clutch was-an ordinary multi-plate and always struck me as being very light for the size of engine. There were four forward speeds and reverse. Ratios were close, top being very high. On test, I had the following speeds on the gears : 1st, 25 m.p.h. ; 2nd, 40 m.p.h. ; 3rd, 60 m.p.h. ; top, 110 m.p.h. The back axle was very peculiar, as there was an eccentric adjustment at the end of the torque tube to set the alignment of the rear wheels for circular track running. This adjustment could throw the rear wheels out of alignment so that on a circular

track it was almost unnecessary to steer the car. (It took us a long time to discover this, and we could not understand why the car always proceeded in a crab-wise fashion.) Suspension was 1-ellipties, with very long rear springs and Hartford shockers back and front. Braking was fully compensated with cast-ironlined aluminium shoes on the front and Ferodo-lined on the rear. These brakes, strangely enough, were always most effective. The long-tailed 4-seater body had a span of 5 ft. 8 in. ; the chassis was fairly short. The seats were staggered and a large cover screwed over the passengers’ seats converting the car into a single-seater. Colour was white, and I remember there was a black skull and crossbones painted on the side. Petrol feed was hand-pressure, assisted by mechanical pump off camshaft. Carburation was by two R.A.G. carburetters, giving about 10 m.p.g. The engine, when tuned, ticked over at 500 r.p.m., and maximum speed appeared to be about 3,500 r.p.m. Lighting was by Bosch, and incorporated a very fine dashboard switch-box, fitted with all fuses, and locking in any desired position. The dynamo had 8-point voltage control, giving full charge at low revs., and low charge at any revs, when battery was fully charged. At a gathering of enthusiasts the topic of discussion turned to that involved matter, the personal motor-car —the reasons which prompt certain Values individuals to select one car and others something quite different, and considerations of the more desirable types for post-war use. This is too big a subject to be enlarged on here and now, but a rather unusual sub-division of sporting types which arose from this discussion is worth recording, if only to provide food for further thought and discussion amongst those now exiled far from their own cars. Briefly, the assembled company found agreement in the following suggestion : that cars sought after by enthusiasts can be broadly divided into three divisions : (a) those which appeal on account of their excellent design and, more particularly, the high qualities of their construction, while possessing no very spectacular performance ; they only achieve their full appeal if restored to original good order and maintained in first-class condition ; (b) those cars which are of agricultural outward aspect, but which possess considerable performance or handling qualities ; and (c) those cars which belong jointly to (a) and (b). This method of sub-division applies mainly, of course, to vintage machinery, and typical examples would be : (a) Bamford and Martin Aston, Type 40 Bugatti ; (b) Frazer-Nash, ” 12/50″ Alvis, ” 30/98 ” Vauxhall ; and (c) G.P. Bugatti, Bentley, Alfa-Romeo, etc. The categories, it must be agreed, overlap appreciably, and before they can be seen in proper perspective it is necessary to dwell for a while on the basic examples just quoted. Thus, the side-valve Aston-Martin has been developed to go very rapidly, and it will presumably serve faithfully even if grossly neglected. But anyone earnestly seeking to acquire one to-day presumably hopes to restore it to pristine order and to derive enjoyment from having one of these particular ears in first-class order, rather than to try to make it the fastest of its type, or to merely claim to own “a typical sports car.” On the other hand, a Frazer-Nash, ” 12/50 ” Alvis, or ” 30/98 ” Vauxhall need not be in showroom condition to merit the respect of fellow sports-car owners ; naturally, any car should be clean and well serviced, but, these cars, being less rare than our category (a) examples, and having engines and chassis less deserving of painstaking spit and polish, they make their major appeal on account of the available performance and/or their manner of going. As the real aim of the enthusiast should be to have a car both well turned out and of outstanding performance, the justification for category (c) may, at first sight, be hard to understand. But it must be admitted that a G.P. Bugatti or a blown It or 2.3-litre Alfa-Romeo or the better examples of old-school Bentley appeal almost equally whether you are experiencing their exceptional performance or inspecting them in their garages, so that the meaning of the thing should by now be reasonably clear. Lots of sports cars that come quickly to mind may seem very border-line cases, usually to be put midway between (a) and (b), but you may derive some pleasure and instruction from making a representative list of sports cars and trying to decide in which of three these categories they usually

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