A Section Devoted to Old Car Matters
Restoring a 1914 Turner
Ever since I came to live in Cornwall, back in 1930, I have held the view that there must be quite a few veteran and vintage cars tucked away in out of the way places, but it was only fairly recently that I have had an opportunity of testing out this theory. The result has certainly justified my ideas, and, indeed, I believe that if only on account of its comparatively remote geographical location, Cornwall may well yield many more interesting “finds” to anyone who is prepared to devote the time and effort. Perhaps I should mention here that I am not in any way connected with the “Come to Cornwall” campaign. The county has many other attractions as well!
Curiously enough, in my own case the search came to an end almost on my own front doorstep. A rumour had reached me that an “old car” was lying in a nearby builder’s shed and without delay I reached for the telephone. The results were not altogether encouraging — the builder admitted that he had such a car, but he had no idea of selling and, to quote his own words, thought that he might one day “do it up and have a bit of fun with it.” Just what his ideas of fun were, I never discovered, but the make was one of which I had never heard, and on this score alone it seemed to be well worth while following it up, especially as it appeared from his rather vague description that it could well be a genuine Edwardian. I had previously made up my mind that nothing manufactured after 1916 would be acceptable.
Early next evening the doors of a shed were opened, and there under a pile of cement bags, tarpaulins and odd pieces of timber, protruded an unmistable brass radiator, albeit covered with is thick layer of verdigris and dust. Half an hour’s labour uncovered an obviously Edwardian two-seater, complete in almost every respect, and I knew that from then on I should know no peace until I had become the owner. Many more visits and telephone calls were made — the process was rather like water wearing away a stone, but eventually the day came when I was able to tow it away. Perhaps it was just as well that a rigid tow-bar was used, for we soon discovered that the brakes had no noticeable effect whatsoever, and the journey home involved several hills.
And so to the car itself, a 1911 Turner, a car which I must confess had never come to my notice during almost thirty years connected with the Motor Trade. It was manufactured by the Turner Maufacturing Co., Ltd., of Wolverhampton, during the period 1910 to 1923, roughly, and I understand that it was this same firm which made the Turner-Miesse steamer of French design, mentioned in the November issue of Motor Sport. The firm is still very much in existence, and I believe make, among other things, marine diesel engines. My own car carries a brass plate on the dash inscribed “The Turner. Car No. 1250. The Turner Petrol Car Co., Ltd., Wolverhampton.” So far as I have been able to ascertain to date there is only one other (of on earlier date) still in existence, and this is now owned by Turners, but I should be very glad indeed to have any news of others.
The car has just been officially dated by the Veteran Car Club as of 1914 manufacture and according to the local authorities, who were most helpful, was first registered on June 30th of that year. Apart from a short period in Saltash, all its life seems to have been spent in this area and according to the authorities it was officially “broken up” in 1924. Certainly, from the general condition, it did not appear to have been run since then, and the original Oleo sparking plugs were still in place, and the side-curtains were still in the wrappings.
The engine, which is 76 by 120 mm., is of rather unique design; in fact, by comparison, a modern engine looks an untidy mess. Both inlet and exhaust manifolds are integrally cast with the block. The inlet valves are overhead, operated by push-rods and rockers and mounted directly above the side exhaust valves. Lubrication of the rockers is by four brass wick-feed oilers mounted on the rocker-box cover, one filling of these being sufficient for about three hours’ running. The entire inlet valve assembly with its seating and spring can be removed after first taking out a brass plug. The crankshaft is a two-bearing type of rather slender proportions, taking into account the long overhang at the rear and the very heavy flywheel and clutch assembly. Big-end lubrication is by dippers on the bearing caps and the main bearings are supplied by an externally-mounted oil pump, plunger-driven front the camshaft. The firing order is 1-2-4-3. The cast-iron pistons are fitted with three plain rings only. The cylinder head is non-detachable, and the plugs are located on the off side of the block. Ignition is by an extremely neat M.E.A. high-tension magneto, beautifully finished and furnished with a small inspection window for timing purposes, and driven by the same chain as the camshaft. The carburetter is a brass up-draught type Zenith and there is a curious brass spring-loaded valve assembly mounted in the inlet manifold immediately above it. The precise purpose of this I have so far been unable to discover, but adjustment of the spring loading serves as a very accessible means of adjusting mixture strength.
The clutch is a normal cone type, pressure being supplied by a very powerful single coil-spring. Originally fitted with a leather lining which was very prone to stick in, it has now been replaced with a Mintex lining, and apart from a rather noisy withdrawal race it operates very sweetly. The drive is taken by an open shaft to a four-speed gearbox of enormous proportions — it is, in fact, almost as large as the engine — and from thence via an enclosed prop-shaft to the fully-floating worm-drive back axle. Long semi-elliptic springs are fitted all round and, in spite of the complete absence of any form of shock-absorber, they give a very comfortable, steady ride; in fact, very much more comfortable than a good many modern systems!
The foot-brake works on two expanding shoes in a drum mounted on the gearbox main-shaft. In theory it looks as though it should work well. In fact, although modern linings have been fitted, the retarding effect is disappointing. The hand-brake lever, 3-ft. long, operating on the two rear drums, is, on the other hand, most efficient. It has a rather spongy feeling, and I suspect that the drums themselves tend to expand. Nevertheless it locks both back wheels easily. At a later date I hope to make up steel rings and to shrink them on to stiffen up the drums.
Steering is by worm and sector, high-geared and decidedly on the heavy side. Originally there was very little castor action but wedge’s under the front springs have cured this. The front axle itself is a rather neat tubular casting not unlike the Bugatti, except of course the springs do not pass through it. Tyre size is 710 by 90, mounted on wire wheels with Warland detachable rims, the spare being mounted on the off-side running-board.
Electric lighting was at this time an optional extra — I was able to verify this point from an original maker’s catalogue — and is by The Efandem Co., Ltd., of Wolverhampton. The dashboard unit is a particularly beautiful piece of work, glass-fronted, with voltmeter as well as ammeter, and a very neat rotary-type switch. The dynamo is mounted on an inverted ” U “-shaped casting and driven by belt from the clutch shaft. An Apollo electric horn is mounted on the off-side front wing, the note it gives being hardly in keeping with the very impressive appearance. The bodywork, apart from the wings and bonnet, is panelled entirely in zinc on ash frames, and seems to have stood the test of time very well. The hood, which is the original one, is still remarkably weatherproof in spite of the fact that it does not come right down to the top of the windscreen, being merely secured by two straps to the base of the frame.
On arriving home, I decided that nothing short of a complete strip end rebuild would achieve the ultimately desired result and I therefore set to work, ably assisted by a very good friend. The engine, not surprisingly, was seized up solid, but a fortnight’s relentless soaking with additive eventually freed the block and it was lifted off.
It was quite impossible to avoid breaking the piston rings; in fact only one came away whole and this was sent to Brico, who very obligingly made me a new set at a very reasonable cost. The bores had very little signs of rust and no signs at all of wear. All the bearings were in sound condition, and after stripping, cleaning and a very careful examination of all components, I ground-in the valves and reassembled the unit. All four ball-races of the front wheels were on the point of collapse from rust, but here again I was lucky in being able to discover a London firm who were able to make up replacements for me. In the case of the dynamo the difficulty was overcome by turning up two small “packing” rings to permit the use of modern races. The gearbox and back axle proved to be in very fair order and it was only necessary to give them a thorough clean out and reassemble them again.
On removing the thick layer of grime it was evident that the car had originally been painted mustard yellow; most of the paint was already peeling off and complete stripping was merely a matter of patience and elbow grease, and it has now been replaced with a coat of Oxford blue with cream wheels. The leather upholstery has lasted remarkably well, although it had gone very hard. However, repeated application of saddle soap are gradually softening it up. The radiator proved to be watertight, but some very amateurish soldering on the casing was ruining the appearance, so this job was entrusted to the local branch of Sercks, who made a very good job of it.
The engine started quite easily and after various minor adjustmentss I was able to make a short road test, with which I was well satisfied. Just one week before the car was due to take part in its first rally the magneto went on strike, and had to be sent away for re-winding. It was actually returned on the evening before the event and has since given no trouble; the engine almost invariably starts on the second swing of the handle. I had visions of overheating but these proved to be groundless, and during the whole course of the event there were no signs of boiling, even when going through Camborne in very heavy traffic during the middle of July. It was here that the driver of a Bugatti courteously raised his hat to us as he passed by in the opposite direction, and in case this should meet his eye, I can assure him that we reached our destination and arrived back home again without any trouble, in spite of the continuous rain.
The car was stored away for the winter, but I am looking forward to further activities with it this year — and, who knows, we might even have a decent summer.
V.S.C.C. Pomeroy Memorial Trophy Contest
This takes place this year at Silverstone on March 21st, with tests including s.s. and f.s.1/4-mile, and one-hour high-speed trial, the contest continuing on March 22nd with a road section in the morning, starting and finishing at Banbury. The idea behind the contest is to determine the best all-round touring car of any age, and over 2;250 c.c. — there is a separate prize for under-2,250-c.c. cars. Petrol consumption will not be checked this year so the high-speed trial should be run at excitingly high speeds.
Vintage S.C.C of America Inc.
A new national club has been formed and incorporated with headquarters at 11, Rendall Road, Boston 32, Mass., to encourage the preservation, ownership and operation of vintage sports cars.
The founding officers are : Edgar Roy, President; Colonel George Felton, Vice-President; W. Royal Leith, Jr., Secretary; and Robert DeHart, Treasurer. Theodore Robertson, Everett Dickinson, Paul Ceresole, Russ Sceli and Clark Kendall are founding directors. Cars will he divided into the following categories:
Class I — Small Cars (2-litres and under):
(a) Race cars built before 1945
(b) Sports cars built before 1945
(c) Sports cars built after 1944, discontinued rare models only.
Class II—Large Cars (over 2-litres):
(a) Race cars built before 1919
(b) Sports-type cars, model first built before 1919
(c) Race cars built after 1918, before 1945
(d) Sports-type cars, model first built after 1918, before 1945.
Membership will be in two categories, active for car owners, and associate for non-owners interested in vintage sports cars and the endeavours of the club.
1959 V.S.C.C and V.C.C Fixtures
The season is all set for much pleasure for those who enjoy attending vintage and veteran-car meetings.
The Vintage S.C.C. announces the following 1959 fixtures:
March 21/22 — Pomeroy Memorial Trophy Contest
April 11 — Silverstone race meeting
May 2 — Buxton Rally
May 16 — Ulster Spring Meeting
May 31 — Beaulieu Rally
June 14 — Light Car Rally
June 27 — Oulton Park Race Meeting
July 25 — Silverstone Race Meeting
August 22 — Edwardian and Light Car Rally
August 23 — Prescott Speed Hill Climb
September 13 — Madresfield Rally
October 3/4 — Welsh Rally
November 1 — Eastern Rally
November 28 — Northern Rally
December 13 — Southern Driving Tests
The Veteran C.C. has booked the following dates:
April 25/26 — Cheltenham Rally & Prescott Hill Climb or Concours d’Elegance
May 9 — Eastbourne Rally and Timed Run
May 23 — North Lancs or Welsh Rally
June 6 — Plymouth Rally
June 27 — Watford Rally
July 10/12 — Scottish Rally
July 18 — Stratford Rally and Timed Run to Oxford
September 12/13 — Harrogate Rally
November 1 — R.A.C. London-Brighton Run
In addition there will be eleven minor events May to September.
A reader living at Wadebridge has a complete 1930 Swift Ten back-axle which the lucky person, out of the scores whose letters we forwarded, may care to have to render mobile the Swift that we mentioned recently in these columns as being given away.
Someone in California possesses an instruction book. in English, covering the 4-cylinder 95 by 140 mm. C3 Long and C5 Voisin cars, which he is prepared to give to anyone owning such a car.
V.S.C.C Heston Driving Tests (February 15)
On the day following their praiseworthy Marshalls’ Dinner, at which the guests of honour were Dean Delamont, John Eason Gibson, William Boddy and the Secretary of the Peterborough M.C., the V.S.C.C. held their second 1958 Driving Test Meeting at Heston.
Driving there in the Editorial 1924 Calthorpe, as being an appropriate car in which to make this pilgrimage, we discovered that an entry of 78 had been received, to contest the usual driving skill manoeuvres. Mostly the cars were old favourites but Philip Mann had brought his distinctly sporting 1909 single-cylinder Sizaire Naudin and we do not recall seeing Blower’s 1925 12/50 Alvis before. Notably brisk getaways in the Le Mans test were made by Clutton (1928 Bugatti), Barker (M.G. ” Tiger “) and Barry Clarke (1930 4-1/2-litre Bentley), the last-named leaping into the cockpit after sprinting from the start in true Chattaway style. One Austin Seven defaulted entirely and Hamish Moffatt’s 1927 O.M. took its time. Laurence Pomeroy, in spite of a leg injury, displayed great agility in getting into his 1914 Prince Henry Vauxhall. There was little of note amongst a big assembly of spectators’ cars, the exception being a 1920 Angus Sanderson tourer, found in Essex and now in fine fettle, with 14 h.p. s.v. Tyler engine, dual petrol fillers on the scuttle, aluminium bonnet, cantilever back springs and touring body with tumble-home sides. Unusual were the flanges on the body to which the mudguards were bolted. The only other car which caught our eye was an elegant 20/60 Sunbeam coupé. — W.B.
First Class Awards: M. J. Huckstepp (1924 Morris Oxford), D.F.H. Wood (1923 Riley), W. S. May (1927 Vauxhall), D.H. Gahagan (1926 Bugatti), H.F. Moffatt (1927 O.M.), J. Berrisford (1925 Alvis), D.W. Llewellyn (1924 Bentley), D.P. Harris (1934 Frazer Nash), P. Major (1932 Frazer Nash), M. Doland (1933 A.C.)
Second Class Awards: J. D. Rogers (1923 Jowett), A.D. Jones (1929 Austin), F. Bruce White (1930 M.G.), C. Clutton (1928 Bugatti), P. J. E. Binns (1929 Riley), T. Ely (1934 Riley), A. Collins (1931 Alvis), W. J. Bodington (1932 Alfa Romeo).
Third Class Awards: J. M. Hill (1930 A.J.S.), D. C. S. Rendall (1928 Austin), C L. Barker (1930 M.G.), G. Robson (1928 Lancia), W. M. Thornhill (1932 Alvis).
A Siddeley-Special saloon (perhaps not strictly vintage) believed to have been laid up since 1937, after running 25,000 miles, has been found, apparently in sound condition, at Redhill. It is possible that the car is for sale—letters can be forwarded.
Lord Brabazon of Tara is scheduled to open the new Montagu Motor Museum buildings at Beaulieu on April 5th. Owners of vintage and veteran cars and motor-cycles are invited to attend and are offered free admission and a souvenir award. Southern T.V. coverage is anticipated and many hundreds of active vehicles are expected to join the 200 museum exhibits at Beaulieu that day. Those proposing to attend are asked to notify the Curator, Montagu Museum, Beaulieu, Brockenhurst, Hants.
At Easter there will again be a section for vintage cars and motor-cycles in the M.C.C. Land’s End Trial.
The Stutz Bearcat is referred to in René MacColl’s entertaining book “Deadline and Dateline” (Oldbourne Press, 1956) as fashionable wear for young American bloods in 1927, which suggests that the classic cult arrived in the U.S. sooner than present addicts realise! On I.T.V.recently Jackie Rae mentioned having left a Stutz Bearcat back home in the States, presumably in recent years.
We have ascertained that the Chenard-Walcker saloon mentioned in these columns recently is a circa 1924 2-litre saloon which eventually may be restored and which in any case is not at present for sale.
In a yard in an Essex town recently we came upon a Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost saloon of the early ‘twenties, a big Daimler saloon, a vintage 10/25 Rover saloon, an early Buick with station-‘bus body and an early Morris Commercial coach. They are not necessarily for sale.
At a scrap yard in Essex we are told that several vintage commercial vehicles, vintage Rolls-Royce and Crossley cars, an early Humber, a Hotchkiss and “something on solid tyres” are to be seen, while a 1926 Rolls-Royce Twenty, complete and apparently sound except for tyres and exhaust manifold, was for sale for £45 at a Surrey breakers.
In Gloucestershire a Wolseley 2-seater of about 1927 vintage, probably an o.h.c. 15-h.p. model, with a broken half-shaft, is thought to be available. Letters can be forwarded.
A reader who is seeking hood, hood frame and sidescreens for his 1935 Austin Seven Ruby, tells us that at a breakers he visited, he saw, in the Shrewsbury/Welshpool area, a vintage Austin 12/4, an early Austin 20 hearse, a complete Humber 9/20 saloon, two Singer Juniors, a big Sunbeam saloon minus two wheels, an early but rough Leyland lorry and an early, dismantled, Vulcan lorry. Also a Rolls-Royce P1 saloon in fine order and a just post-vintage Armstrong Siddeley priced at £12 10s. Letters can be forwarded.
Another piece of motoring history revealed by a newspaper, the cutting from which was sent to us by a reader, concerns a picture of the motoring members of the Wedmore Cricket team assembled in 1905, published in The Weston Mercury & Somersetshire Herald. One of the two surviving people in the picture, 84-year-old Mr. Curtin, was able to identify all the others but the vehicles set a tougher problem. Two are de Dion Boutons, but Dr. Bracey’s car was not identified — Mr. Dennis Field, forward please — nor were a motor tricycle owned by an employee of the local milk depot or the forecar standing beside it.
The Veteran Car Club of S. Africa continues to issue bi-monthly its excellent printed magazine Veterantics.
Another good one is Beaded Wheels, published monthly on behalf of the veteran and vintage movement in New Zealand.
Remarkable ! Following recent reference to the Chic car in these columns, one has come to light in Newcastle, Australia. It is a 1924 four-cylinder Meadows-engined tourer with Gallay vee-radiator and C.A.V. electrics. The artillery wheels at the front have been cut down to take modern tyres ; the original lamps, which had been replaced, have been recovered.
Those who are interested in historic commercial vehicles may care to investigate a 1927 Leyland coal lorry which was taxed to the end of last year, when it was driven into a Manchester breaker’s yard.
It is becoming popular for local newspapers to publish items concerning locally-made, long-forgotten makes. This is a praiseworthy trend, because local reporters are in a good position to contact and draw out persons connected with such cars. The Kentish Times recently published a good account of the Orpington light car, assembled in the early ‘twenties in the village of that name by S. & M. Ltd.’s garage opposite the pond. The engine was a Coventry-Simplex and Ford model T parts figured in the design. Like so many small firms, S. & M. hoped to go into mass-production but the demand was small and only a dozen were made. Overheating and trouble with the part-Ford back-axle did not help sales. J. Milroy and F. Smith were responsible for the car, aided by Mr. Linley, who helped with the drawings. Mr. Milroy now lives in Chelsfield and Mr. Smith farms near Tenterden, while Mr. Linley went on to design a self-change gearbox. We are indebted to a reader for the newspaper cutting—and the Kentish Times would be interested to receive a photograph of an Orpington.
There seems little danger of old-car discoveries drying up for some time to come. As we close for press we hear of an A.C. Six with caravan body (not for sale) in the West Country, an Angus-Sanderson in a northern breaker’s yard, a 1926-28 Armstrong Siddeley 15/6 at the back of an old coach trimmers in Taunton, a somewhat rough 1928 12 or 14 h.p. Armstrong Siddeley saloon and another unidentified car near Doncaster. From N. Wales there come rumours of a 1921 Rolls-Royce, a 1915 Peugeot and a single-cylinder Rover in sorry condition, while a 1920 bull-nose Morris Oxford has been found under a tree near Burford and, with a 1923 Austin Seven, is about to be restored.