VSCC at Measham

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VSCC at Measham

Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noon-day sun. But on January 1 I / I 2th it was VSCC members out all night on the annual Measham navigation event, based in Hereford. The entry of 59, in classes for vintage sports-cars, PVT cars, and Edwardian and vintage light-cars, was I I down on last year. At the start two of the Ulster A7 drivers were dealing with lighting problems and nine were reminded that if some vintage cars now sprout some very modern lamps for these night frolics, their dynamos do not always cope. The night was dry and clear but snow-blocked roads on the second part of the event had caused a few hasty alterations to the route.

At the third Control, manned by the VSCC Light Car Section with a barbeque to keep these officials alert, in a lay-by at Trumpet beside the A438, Knill-Jones was seen to have removed the off-side panel of his 12/50 Alvis’s screen for improved vision, but had to change over to a fresh battery, and squealing brakes heralded the approach of Sudjic’s Hotchkiss coupe, which had come from Scotland to take part. Three Bentleys had left the start together, Roger Collings navigated by Filsell, Holden’s 3-litre after adjustment of its cone clutch, and Harris’s 3-litre, but they were by now spaced out. Reg Nice had a very useful car, in the guise of an A7 Chummy with Nippy engine, four-speed gearbox, 5.6 25 axle, and 12-volt electrics, in contrast to Bird’s 20/25 Rolls-Royce motor-carriage, which looked as immaculate as if it were in a showroom. Bullett’s A7 Ulster had the usual 45-deg SU and a four-speed gearbox. At the halfway pause, hosted by the RAF with a vast, clean hangar complete with workshop facilities, arrowed and marshalled by chaps from the Huddersfield & DMC, Freddie Giles had retired his Boulogne Frazer Nash with low oilpressure, Shirley’s International Aston Martin was only just joining in, Keith Hill was restoring illumination to his CrouchHelix, but Collings’s Bentley roared in triumphantly. Ducker’s 12/60 Alvis had a lovely passenger in its dickey-seat, Lister’s

Frazer Nash had Christmas tinsel decorating its bonnet, and one must commend Fynn for running his 1926 A7 Chummy with its normal scuttle-mounted lamps, matched by Jane Arnold-Forster’s A7 “top-hat” saloon with standard headlamps. Worse, Teague’s A7 Ulster had to rely on a single large spot-lamp to show him the way.

Due to snow, three sections of the proposed route had to be abandoned, a difficult situation for the officials at such brief notice. Apart from finding the Cantral by map reference, competitors were penalised for too early or too late arrival thereat, and even for approaching from the incorrect direction, making this a tough exercise. On the second stage Roger Collings suddenly found the Bentley without ignition, but skilful rewiring at the roadside had it quickly on its way.

On the whole there was little evidence of mechanical distress as the mad VSCC-men set off to see how the snow lay in the wilds around Paincastle, scene of an observed hill in the RAC Small Car Six-Day Trial 67 years ago. It may be mad, but it is still great fun! W B

Results: Measham Trophy: D Johnson/S Harvey (1928 12/40 Lea-Francis). PVT Award: C Tomlin/A Tomlin (1932 12/60 Alvis). Jeddere-Fisher Award: C Gordon! W Ackworth (1930 Riley 9). Novice’s Award: R Huggett/T Harvey (1930 16/50 Humber). Meritious Performance Award: Miss Arnold-Forster/B Clarke (1920 A7). Other First Class Awards: R Collings/D Filsell (1928 41/2-litre Bentley). Second Class Awards: A D Jones/A Jones (1927 30/98 Vauxhall), R Hurchings/P Selwyn-Smith (1937 328 BMW), J Potter/H Kettlewell (1930 Lea-Francis), K Hill/D Moseley (1923/29 Crouch-Helix), T Cork/P Cattell (1930 Riley 9), A Saunders/P Hoskins (1932 Sunbeam 20). G Tomlin/A Tomlin (1932 12/60 Alvis). Third Class Awards: T Jones/Considine (1925 30/98 Vauxhall), S Lister/I Williams (1932 TT Replica Frazer Nash), E Fynn/G Hyde-Fynn (1926 A7), M Parkin/R Parkin (1931 12/50 Alvis). Having, if I may say so, rather a fine collection of sparking plugs, including an igniter from Concorde, I was very interested in the latest book in the Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust’s series of publications The Vital Spark! by Keith Gough, who joined KLG in 1950, and became Lodge’s Chief Engineer in 1962. retiring in 1982. His little book is about the development of aero-engine plugs but will be of considerable interest and value to those with motor-car plug problems. The historical section runs from the plug devised by the

. Wrights to achieve the first powered flight, and illustrates Lenoir’s first sparking plug of 1880. 1 found the description of how KLG plugs were made, for use at first by K Lee Guinness in racing cars, and the fact that the pre-1914 low-tension ignition system was reintroduced recently for high-altitude flying, very intriguing, as, indeed, is all the material in this 57-page booklet. It opens by reminding us of the very severe conditions under which plugs operate at up to 2000deg C and 1000Ib/sq in pressure -and shows how they have been made to cope with these and other extreme conditions. Good pictures and diagrams are used, including photographs of Lee Guinness on the steps of his original Kingston Hill factory with his eight employees, this factory in the early 1930s with its initials on the roof flanked by arrows showing pilots the way to Croydon and Heston but not to Brooklands; and of masses of different plugs.1 recommend this book to all historians and to those who show concern for their cars. It is No2 in the R-R Heritage Technical Series and nonmembers can obtain it for a modest £2.50, from Richard Hough, Rolls-Royce PLC, PO Box 31, Derby, DE2 8BJ. W B