Letters From Readers, March 1957

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N.B. — Opinions expressed are those of our Correspondents and “Motor Sport” does not necessarily associate itself with them.—Ed.

Britain and Grand Prix Racing

Sir,

As one who is concerned every day with the inspection of the materials and bits and pieces that go into aeroplanes, I was intensely interested in Denis Jenkinson’s article on Britain and Grand Prix racing. The aircraft industry is founded on the basic principle of meticulous inspection at every stage from the steel plant or aluminium melting furnace onwards. It is not enough, as Connaughts suggest, to install a first-rate inspection organisation in the place where the car is constructed. You have to be sure that every nut, bolt, forging and casting has itself been inspected to an adequate standard during manufacture. The car builder can do a good deal in the way of inspection after he gets his bits into the receiving store, but there is so much that he cannot inspect because that inspection can only be done when the thing, whatever it may be, is being manufactured.

Consider a crankshaft. Unless the grain-flow in the forging is right it may very well fail in service. Neither Connaught’s inspectors nor anybody else can tell whether it is right without cutting the forging up, so the whole onus is thrown back on the maker, who must see that the die design gives the right grain-flow, without sharp corners or other stress-raisers. Likewise, you cannot tell by outward and obvious inspection whether a light alloy casting is sound; you have to go to a foundry which has X-ray equipment to control its moulding and casting methods. In short, you have to see that manufacture is controlled by inspection and when you get the parts and components in you can then be pretty sure that you are on the right lines and that if anything fails it will be due to bad design rather than bad workmanship. Bristol know all about this because their car plant is, I believe, run on strict aircraft lines and you will have to go a long way to find better high-speed reliability than you get in their engine. Fords, also, have got inspection into proper perspective and they make sure that their sub-contractors really inspect what they make. All this is no consolation to Rodney Clarke because I expect he suffers from the eternal trouble of being a comparatively small consumer and, nowadays, you have to place big orders before you can get the specialists interested.

I am sorry to learn that Connaughts cannot afford an inspection department; personally, I do not see how they can afford not to have one, but it might help a bit if they were to go to established aircraft sub-contractors whenever possible. Such firms do at least recognise the problem.

I am, Yours, etc., John S. Peacock. Newport

News From Georgia

Sir,

My father has been sending me your magazine for the last three years, and I and all my friends enjoy reading it very much, but after reading through some back numbers I must sit down and put my pen on the paper and my cards on the table. I am 26 years old and parts manager of a large garage dealing only in foreign cars. I am also English. First, regarding new cars, why is it that we cannot obtain the new M.G. MGA or the Austin-Healey Six? There is a real big demand for them in this town and I know lots of orders could be filled if only the cars were available, also the little English Ford Anglia. Where is it? People who want a VW are at the moment having to wait about 12 weeks; those people are turning to the Anglia as it is just about the same price, but now they have become scarce. Why don’t you export more? I know you guys cannot use them as you hardly get enough petrol to fill a cigarette lighter.

Next comes the question of getting parts for the cars which were so hard to get. We have at the moment in our workshop one 1951 M.G. TD waiting for a crankshaft, it has been there since before Christmas; also a 1949 A40 Austin that needs an axle-shaft. We are in the process of making that at the moment. We also have a Ford Anglia that needs a right front fender. These are just a few of hundreds of cases I know. Please help us out.

Now English cars versus American cars. English cars are designed as follows: Sports cars — for sport; small sedans — for the family man and general use; large sedans — for touring and the upper class of people.

American cars are designed for the American who wants a car he can take out his family in (and I mean a family). It is usually capable of 100 m.p.h. plus, therefore it makes a good touring car and if he wants to hot it up he can enter it in the speed week at Daytona Beach, Florida. No American car corners worth a damn, but our roads are good and straight. I own a Studebaker, a new one. It is a little later than the one Peter Clarke owns, but don’t take my word, take his. It is a real good car and it is a pleasure to drive. I have 30,000 miles on it and the only things it has had have been petrol, oil, tyres, points, plugs and condensers and it is good for another 30,000. We also have a 1957 Nash Metropolitan with the A50 motor in it. It is just used for shopping and trips around town, but it is a fine little car.

You print a real fine honest magazine. Keep up the good work.

I am, Yours, etc., Mike Becker. Atlanta, Georgia.

“Sportsview” and Ken Wharton’s Accident

Sir,

I was very pleased to read in the February issue of Motor Sport the Sunday Express obituary to that great sportsman, the late Ken Wharton. It was most fitting and appropriate and it is to be hoped that more papers will follow that example in future. I wrote to several and received replies that could well have been written by children still attending school, even from the “Conservative” papers. One point I would like to bring to your attention is that which “Sportsview” brought to bear on this tragic crash. A brief film was shown at the end of the programme highlighting the crash in which particular attention was focused on the body of the unfortunate man, at that time lying on the track. No details or results of the race were given, and one wonders whether or not the interests of “Sportsview” are as genuine as generally supposed. A letter to the B.B.C. brought the reply: “Thank you for your letter, the details of which are here noted “!

Many thanks for an excellent magazine, which I am pleased to note has started a vintage section again.

Here’s one who will sadly miss the yellow overalls this year

I am, Yours, etc., P. F. Zepan. Wallington

[This is but one of many letters expressing disgust of “Sportsview’s” treatment of the sad accident to Ken Wharton.  — Ed.]

VW versus M.M. 1,000

Sir,

The letter from Viscount Bury in your January issue has prompted me to do a little research on the comparative performances of the Volkswagen and Morris Minor 1,000. The following has come to light:—

See table.

A study of these figures shows that there is very little indeed to choose at all on acceleration. I feel the dispute will only be satisfactorily settled when once more petrol is flowing freely enough for a larger proportion of enthusiastically-minded owners of the new Minor to take the road. When this happy day comes I shall look forward personally to verifying my opinion, by an amicable “dust up,” as to which is the superior vehicle. I will say no more in case I am accused of being prejudiced, which, as a completely satisfied owner of a VW, I suppose I am.

I am, Yours, etc., G. P. Howard. Kingswood.

[We have seen better figures for the VW but those quoted are fair to both cars. It must be remembered that they are really quite different vehicles, one using a low-compression engine happy on the cheapest fuels and geared to run at low r.p.m. to ensure long life (3,000 r.p.m. at 60 m.p.h.), whereas the other has a smaller high compression engine, is about one hundredweight heavier, calls for high-grade petrol and revs. at 3,975 r.p.m. when cruising at 60 m.p.h. From other aspects we cannot discuss these two vehicles, having driven a Morris Minor 1,000 for a mere 7½ miles, whereas our experience of the air-cooled VW extends over tens of thousands of miles. — Ed.]

Are Tubeless Tyres Foolproof?

Sir,

I was interested by a letter from C. E. Paine on the matter of tubeless tyres. From the insurance angle I have had some experience of this. On two occasions within the last few months accidents have happened by a driver taking a bend at fair speed and being shot off the road in consequence of deflation of his near-side front tyre. I was quite shocked and somewhat sceptical the first time this happened but found, upon inquiry, that this sort of thing was not unknown to garages and certainly not to my underwriters. In fact one firm of insurance underwriters with whom I discussed the matter were at one time prepared to take up the matter with the manufacturers.

It would appear that unless these tyres are very highly inflated there is a tendency when they are subjected to side pressure to instantaneous deflation. In both the cases I have mentioned it was found that there was no defect in the tyre itself and upon re inflation it was completely back to normal.

All in all, I think I should be very reluctant to use them myself.

I am, Yours, etc., Antony Hyde-East. Kingston-on-Thames

Matters of Quality

Sir,

I was rather disappointed that you had not laid out a detailed accoont of your VW for the year 1956, this car being high on my list of “Cars I would like to own.” I am sure that the number of people who would be interested far outnumbers the ostriches who scream abuse in the face of overwhelming evidence. Probably the most outstanding thing about the VW is the finish, which few British cars can equal. At last year’s Motor Show we had a “blitz” on mudguard edges and it was a bit of a shock to find that the American four-wheeled cinemas had nicely rolled edges, while the only car that I actually cut myself on was made by the firm that have the arrogance to say that they make the best car in the world.

Finally, in these times of petrol high prices and shortages, a tip for Javelin owners. Remove the rubber connectors that seal the carburetter down-pipes to the bonnet air cleaner. The result is ?0 m.p.g. at 40 to 45 m.p.h., and the conversion of the accelerator pedal into a real “loud pedal.” However, this merely serves as a warning not to press too hard, and the intake noise diminishes to a faint hiss at small throttle openings.

I am, Yours, etc., J. A. Bamford. Fleet.

P.S. —  I might ask whether the Editorial VW has had any battery trouble during 1956, as I saw a neighbour of mine push-starting his recently? I could not help thinking, “What price starting handles!” See “Satisfaction,” page 108 — Ed.] 

Swing Axles and Tyre Wear

Sir,

I enjoyed reading Mr. J. C. Morland’s interesting article on motoring in Kenya, but was somewhat surprised at his views on swing axles and their effect on stability and tyre wear. Whilst I have no personal experience of motoring in Kenya, I have driven for many years on what I imagine to be similar roads in New Zealand, and having subsequently learned the advantages of independent suspension all round, would have welcomed the comfort, roadholding, and improved braking that it affords.

With regard to tyre wear, my experience has been the opposite to that of Mr. Morland. I have, to date, covered over 50,000 miles in my Volkswagen, and I am still using the original tyres. Although I have always been careful regarding pressures, 19 p.s.i. front, 23 p.s.i. rear, I have not driven with a view to achieving long tyre life, and have, in fact, been described as brutal to the VW by some of my “friends.”

From the start, the wheels were changed over each 4,000 miles in the following order: spare to near-side front, near-side front to offside rear, offside rear to near-side rear, near-side rear to offside front, offside front to spare. This procedure was followed until 40,000 miles, whereupon all tyres were taken off and turned around. The wheels were replaced on the stations they occupied before the turn-round and have not been changed since. The tyres are Continental “R,” size 5.60 by 15. Incidentally, I was astonished to discover that in spite of import tax, they retail at a figure which is lower than the “ring “price of home-manufactured tyres of identical size.

In view of the scuffing action resulting from the swing axle, one would not expect prolonged tyre life — in fact, this view is supported by your Continental Correspondent, but as I have not yet encountered any other motorist using the rigid or swing rear axle who has covered a comparable mileage, I offer the foregoing for your readers’ consideration and comment.

I am, Yours, etc., J. C. Murray. Hatfield.

All for I.R.S.

Sir,

I have been reading “Cars I Have Owned” in February’s issue. By all means let people say what they think, but when someone suggests that the engine in a Fiat 600 is not in the right place — and, that it would be better with a rigid rear axle, then he is obviously just plain b — stupid! I am sure you will agree with me on this, and I know other people who, like me, are proud Fiat 600 owners and would be only too pleased to demonstrate to anybody the numerous advantages of this very fine little motor car, which is still miles ahead of any small English automobile.

Surely, in Kenya and such like places the engine over the driving wheels must be advantageous! However, from some of Mr. Morland’s other remarks, I gather that he is a little old-fashioned in his views, and I think that the success of the VWs, Fiats, Renaults, etc., prove that he is wrong.

Let him stay in Kenya with his solid back axles — give me i.r.s. any time. Incidentally, what an improvement it would be to see the Morris Minor with swing-axle rear suspension — perhaps in another six or seven years’ time?

I am, Yours, etc., Peter Stapleton. Manchester.

[We are all in favour of rear engines and conventional i.r.s. (conventional by total car sales in Europe) and we would go further and remark that while water is fine in the bath or with whisky, we have no wish for it in a low-powered engine. But the design of the Fiat 600’s i.r.s., being a compromise between swing-axle and trailing-arm, does, we believe, tend to promote rapid tyre wear and so give swing-axle suspension a bad name. — —Ed.]

A.A. (and R.A.C.) Wake Up!

Sir,

One of your correspondents points out that out of £12 10s. only 23 per Cent. (£2 17s. 6d.) was actually spent on British roads in 1955.

What do the motoring organisations intend to do about this state of affairs ? Most sections of the public have some sort of union to look after their interests; why not the motorist?

I, for one, will not renew my membership of the A.A.

I am, Yours, etc., E. Parke. Swansea.

 

“The Search for Oil”

B.P. has issued a book, “The Search for Oil” (24 art pages. 11½ in. by 8½ in., soft covers), the fascinating contents of which are self-explanatory. This publication is notable for some exceedingly fine colour illustrations and should be welcome in schools, etc. It is completely up to date, for although it opens with pictures of pre-historic animals on the oil-forming sea beds, it concludes with hectic helicopters helping in the search for more oil — and in 1957 it isn’t only helicopters which have to search for the precious fluid ! Whether this sort of luxury publication should be encouraged while the price of petrol goes up and up is open to debate but it has been published and you should apply now for a free copy, which on mention of Motor Sport, can be obtained by sending a p.c. to the British Petroleum Company, Ltd., Britannic House, Finsbury Circus, London, E.C.2.

All-Square

From a road-test of the Vauxhall Wyvern in Good Motoring “Square cylinders seem to impart such an unusual degree of smooth ness that there is hardly any engine feel on the accelerator pedal.”

Bowmonk Car Ramps

For the man who likes to attend to his own car, these ramps give a much greater sense of security than any jack. Strongly constructed in welded steel angle, and weighing only 33 lb. each. they can lift the car 10 in., which is a convenient height for most underbody operations. The two ramps are placed under the front or back wheels and the car is driven up in first or reverse gears, a very quick and simple operation. Further particulars are obtainable from Bowser Monks & Whitehouse Ltd., Spring Gardens, Doncaster.

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