On February 8th the directors and technical staff of Toledo Woodhead (Sheffield). Ltd., the famous spring manufacturers, held a very nicely conducted party at the Hendon Hall Hotel, to show the Press their new Ridemaster spring control.
This device, consisting of a coil spring in tension which augments the stiffness of the main leaf spring, is as simple as it is effective. The auxiliary coil spring is attached by brackets, as shown in the accompanying illustrations, in such a manner that, even if the main leaf spring assumes a negative or reverse camber under load, the coil spring comes into action as the main spring deflects.
The result is load-sensitive, variable-rate suspension very simply applied. The action of the coil spring is applied only in small degree to the front half of the main spring and much more so to the rear half, with the result that the rate-characteristic of the leaf spring is modified favourably.
It will be appreciated what a boon the Ridemaster is for owners of cars the springs of which have “settled,” the shock-absorbers of which have worn out or are unable to cope with the suspension, in which heavy loads are carried, or in cases where some or all of these factors apply.
The coil spring of a standard Ridemaster installation expands 7/8 in. when fully open, but the adjustment provided on the U-bolt attachment is considerably greater, so that a wide variation of auxiliary damping can be applied, and the Ridemaster attachment treated like tightening or slackening a shock-absorber. The cost of the attachment is so modest that it can be regarded as an excellent substitute for an expensive new set of shock-absorbers or, in cases where shock-absorbers are still functioning, they can be adjusted for an easier life than they could enjoy were the Ridemaster not fitted.
These attractions alone should make the Ridemaster in great demand, but the fast driver will find another advantage of fitting this ingenious new Toledo Woodhead device. It is that the Ridemaster, in very simple fashion, renders safer the flabbily-sprung modern car. The Ridemaster on the outside spring only functions during cornering, thus stiffening this spring and altering its “rate” from that of the inside spring, thereby minimising excessive roll and sway.
So simple is the Ridemaster, applying in proprietary form a suspension principle already recognised many years ago by Norton, Lancia and others, that demonstrations were necessary before we could believe that a “gymnasium” coil spring could so improve the handling characteristics of the soggy modern car.
For this purpose Toledo Woodhead placed at our disposal a model-J VauxhalI Velox, model-E Vauxhall Velox, Ford Zephyr, Allard, Austin A70, Austin A70 station wagon and, appropriately belonging to their director, a Mk. VI Bentley, all Ridemaster equipped. In normal motoring, the effect of the Woodhead auxiliary springing was to damp the suspension effectively over severe “bumps” and to provide a taut sensation during straight-line running, the action being rather that of supporting one’s trousers with a new pair of braces as distinct from a pair in which the elastic has become exhausted. On corners the Ridemaster really came into its own, for cars which normally roll excessively and lurch the opposite way under steering correction lost this vicious lurch and, although still canting over, could be cornered fast under proper control, the uncertainty damped out of their over-steer characteristics. This was especially so in respect of the type E Vauxhall Velox and Austin A70 cars.
From this point of view the Ridemaster should render the roads safer, by providing better control over soggily-suspended cars, and it should prove of considerable value to rally drivers who have to drive such cars in against-the-watch tests, and to whom a weak or broken shock-absorber could spell failure.
Already several hundred Ridemaster sets have been sold and at the modest price charged for a pair they should soon be in big demand. There would appear to be nothing to fail, although fairly rapid wear could take place where the coil spring is clipped to the brackets; however, movement here is small and normal greasing should obviate trouble. The bracket which clamps over the spring eye scarcely moves, so should not be subject to wear, and we understand that the Ridemaster was thoroughly tested before it was put on the market and that the makers are contemplating offering a three-year guarantee.
The Ridemaster sells for £3 15s. a set, complete with fittings, which are intended particularly for Austin A40, A70, A90, Vauxhall Velox, Standard Vanguard, Ford Consul, Zephyr and Zodiac cars. At this modest price most drivers would be prepared to sample a set without any recommendation and we certainly think rally drivers would do well to experiment with this simple contribution to stability, which, designed by one of our leading spring manufacturers, looks like out-lasting the average shock-absorber while providing additional benefits in respect of suspension damping. The Ridemaster is available from most garages or direct from Toledo Woodhead (Sheffield), Ltd., Clifton Works, Sheffield 3. — W. B.