Vintage Postbag, March 1961

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Still More Steam! 

Sir,
I have been very interested reading of the steam wagons of the past. One unique example was an under-type Foden which was fitted up as a coach to take the famous Foden Brass Band to festivals and meetings. This was geared high and reputed very fast, able to run away from any petrol coach, and kept in showroom order.

A number of persons have mentioned the Sentinel, which I always thought the best of the lot. The great thing was the immense power low down. The Sentinel had no gears, the chain drove direct from engine to differential, and to see one of these with six tons up and a loaded trailer with four tons, a total weight-of 18-20 tons, climbing a hill of 1 in 7 was a wonderful sight.

One amusing incident — the Sentinel had a lever in the driver’s cab, and by moving this the firebars could be moved, so letting the dead ash fall away. In this case, the driver must have moved the lever very negligently, for the red hot fire bars and the fire all fell out on the road.

One of the points of the Clayton, which was a compound engine, was a device where the throttle was pushed over a stop and high-pressure steam was admitted to both the cylinders to give great power for a short period.

I am, Yours, etc.,
“Tom Long.”
Bude. 

*   *   *

A Coach-finished Alvis 12/60

Sir, 
In your report on the V.S.C.C. driving tests held last November you describe my 12/60 as a “mobile Valspar advertisement” — very flattering, but as my car does not boil I didn’t need to use this nevertheless excellent paint. It is, in fact, painted with a proper coach finish manufactured by I.C.I.

The stunted beetle-tail is somewhat of a mystery as it appears to be original, and is reputed to be a 12/60 prototype, being first registered in February 1932. Alvis Ltd. are, however, unable to confirm this, and I should be pleased to hear from any previous owner who may be able to throw some light on the matter.

I am, Yours, etc.,
D. S. Bennett.
London, N.W. 10.

*   *   *

 

Memories of the Armstrong Whitworth

Sir, 
I was much interested to read your comments on the Angus-Sanderson car in your January issue. My elder brother, Mr. T. C. H. Sanderson, mentioned various makes of car which the body-building firm of Sir William Angus Sanderson used to represent, amongst which was Armstrong Whitworth. Correspondence on this make appeared in your columns some months ago and I intended to write at the time but somehow never got down to it.

The most wonderful car the firm ever produced was the 18/22. Its reliability for those early days (about 1910 or ’11) was quite extraordinary; it had the reputation of breaking more arms when swung by its starting handle than any other model or make!

Another very successful but later model was the 15/20. Less successful models were the 17/25 and a six-cylinder model whose rating I cannot remember.

I well remember the first time I ever drove alone was in 1929, aged sixteen and just eligible for a licence (which I did possess); my mother, brother and myself drove in an Angus-Sanderson car to Newcastle station to put my brother on a train. I was well aware that having put him on the train I should have to drive back and also that if anyone realised this another driver would have been found! My mother never turned a hair when she discovered this fact, and I drove her back fourteen miles to our home in the country with great pride.

I am, Yours, etc.,
D. H. Sanderson.
Thetford.

[Mr. T. P. H. Sanderson has since pointed out that the Angus-Sanderson business was a partnership between his father, Mr. F. H. Sanderson and his brother and that Mr. F. H. Sanderson is living in the North of England. — Ed.]

*   *   *

Sir, 
The very interesting letters of Mr. Georgano and Mr. Smekal about Protos and N.A.G.-Protos made me realise that the N.A.G. factory, too, was an offspring of a famous electric concern, i.e., A.E.G. Excepting its participation in the Kaiserpreis of 1907 Protos did not indulge in any racing. The contrary happened with N.A.G. After the 1924-18 war this factory scored many successes with a 3-litre four-cylinder side-valve car, i.e.:

1921: Avus, 10 pk class (side valves) — Riecken.
1922: Avus, 10 pk class — Riecken.
1924: Monza, Italian Night Prize, 24 hours race — Riecken-Berthold greatest distance of all classes.
1926: Avus, German Grand Prix — 2nd, Riecken.

Riecken is the former Minerva racing driver, who finished second in the 1914 T.T.

The N.A.G. sports car which was still raced in 1928 possessed a handsome appearance. A long bonnet, a low frame, the latter was usually painted white, as were the Rudge wheels and the stark wings, and contrasted nicely with the green of the body and bonnet. It is really amazing that a side-valve job could be tuned to such an extent that it was able to beat the Italians on their own ground. Amongst the beaten was an Alfa Romeo driven by Ascari-Marinoni. Unfortunately that very year this sports car went out of production.

The first car under the joint name of N.A.G.-Protos was a six-cylinder job with o.h.v., 80 x 220 mm., 3.6-litre, 3,200 r.p.m. 74 pk, with three speeds. In 1932 a low-built chassis with a good-looking cabriolet body was marketed. And in 1932 not a straight-eight but a V8 turned out to be the swan-song of this combine.

In 1933 and ’34, using the Voran licence, N.A.G. tried to re-enter the market with a front-driven car possessing an air-cooled double twin motor. Really an ugly duckling which disappeared in 1934. Rather an anti-climax.

I am, Yours, etc., 
J. C. Korthals Altes.
Krullenlaan.