An Unofficial Commentary
London—Land’s End Run.
Observations During a Journey in Search of Experience.
THE 119 BEAN SNAPPED ON THE LAND’S END TRIP.
JIM and I ” bossed ” a gold in the London—ExeterLondon owing to the collapse of what appeared to be a perfectly good tyre on Peak Hill, and though the old Bean never hesitated at any part of the trip, we made up our minds to carry out some experimental work on the engine and then go down to Land’s End with the rest of the M.C.C. members in search of experience. The greatest pleasure connected with these trips is to be found when one makes the first attempt, for then there is the glorious uncertainty whether one’s car will be good enough for the stiff climbs, apprehension as to whether one will do just the wrong thing in the excitement of the moment, and whether somebody else will not konk out on a tricky corner of a difficult hill just when one wants to put up a particularly good show.
You have all read the reports of the event, so it is useless for me to repeat what has been recorded already ; but if I may be permitted to confine my comments to personal experiences it may be of interest to all except the regular competition driver, who has nothing to learn about these sort of events—though incidentally, it may be remarked, many well-known drivers and cars failed to get through the classic Easter trial with full honours.
Getting more Revs.
As everyone knows, the 1923 Bean was just a good solid job, without any pretensions to speed, and had an engine which possessed a distinct disinclination to get round at anything above 2,500 r.p.m. Now, Jim and I have messed about with our particular haricot and induced it to turn over at quite a respectable speed, by the aid of a set of Specialloid pistons and a ” hot-stuff ” camshaft specially made for the job by Laystalls. To be quite on the safe side we remetalled the conrods and did a little in the way of engine balancing as the overhaul proceeded. Incidentally, the new camshaft played havoc with our original carburettor setting, which meant that we had to spend a quiet night on one of the new roads trying different combinations of jets, chokes and diffusers against the clock over a measured mile The best we did was 32 m.p.h. on second speed and 45 m.p.h, on third. If the chassis had not been such a
long way above the ground we should have burst our 6o m.p.h. speedometer, which, in fact, recorded under the correct reading on account of the oversize tyres fitted to the standard rims.
The acceleration we passed as being first class, and then, in an ambitious moment, we gave the magneto a bit more advance, so that, until the car reached 45 m.p.h. it had to be run at full retard. In passing, I may remark that this extra advance helped to spoil the climb at Porlock, when we were driven straight across the first bend, as the curve was blocked by a machine that failed just in front of us.
Why we did not Compete.
Having made all these preparations for the trip, one may well ask, “Why did you not compete ? ” Well, for one reason we wanted to see how other people got on, to meet friends and enjoy wayside chats without being harassed by Father Time, and to loiter about on the hills and other places of interest.
With these objects in mind we began our trip by losing our way in the fog before arriving at Slough, but reached the place of assembly in time to see the sidecars start. By this time many of the cars had arrived, and we had an opportunity of inspecting the new Rover Sports, the Speedy Morris, the little Austins, and other cars which were destined to make good performances. If it had been possible to have taken a colour photograph of the interior of the great sheds in which the cars and their drivers assembled the result would have been extremely interesting, for here was the sporting youth, dressed in aviator’s overalls, with a long tasselled cap hanging over his back and extending to his waist. The sporting maid affected a similar attire, smoked innumerable cigarettes, and consulted route cards with a professional air. Except for the presence of the officials, the whole scene resembled a gigantic carnival, with an orchestral accompaniment in the sounds of the departing cars as their exhausts roared and whined a valediction on passing out into the night.
Not a Race.
As carefully pointed out by the compilers of the programme, the London—Land’s End Run is not a race; but all the same there were precious few drivers whose right feet did not go hard down for the first few miles. Each of the little Austins tried to show it was as good or a little better than the one in front, and it was only when the seasoned competitors began their long journey that the tail of the procession settled down to a sedate rate of speed, which was seldom varied throughout the trip, except on the few occasions when it was necessary to make up time.