commentary on the london

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36

COMMENTARY on the LONDON—LAND’S END RUN—continued.

Baffled by the Fog Fiend.

The early hours of Saturday morning were heralded by a dense fog, which lay in patches along the route, and though this caused obvious inconvenience to some of the drivers, others sped through the denseness as if it did not exist. At every turn we expected to see some competitor ditched, but by luck and good judgment the convoy got clear without any casualties, as far as could be ascertained.

A few hours before dawn, however, the fog thickened, and at times our pace had to be reduced to a mere crawl, so much, indeed, that we wondered how some of the competitors managed to keep up to the scheduled twenty miles per hour.

During a stop at Bridgwater we took the opportunity of adjusting our steering column, which had been taken down prior to the run. On engaging the worm with a different section of the worm wheel the freedom of the gear had lessened, beside which there was a certain amount of backlash due to side movement on the worm wheel spindle. The latter was soon corrected, after which the steering eased off considerably, which was a very good thing considering the nature of the route which lay before us.

The Ascent of Porlock.

Not having any reason for tarrying with the backmarkers, we decided to go ahead in order to arrive at Porlock Hill in time to see some of the motor cycles and the entire batch of cars make the ascent. During our unofficial ascent, as already described, we suffered a bad baulk which, coupled with too much advance on the ignition, caused the gallant little engine to jib. Had we not been disturbed by the sight of the stranded car, which impeded our proper course on the hill, the restart would have been fairly easy, but, to Jim’s utter disgust, we had to be helped over the diagonal crossing of the steepest portion.

Was it for this we had toiled during those many nights, wrestling with spanners and • scrapers and things ? But, after all, it was all in the luck of the game, and we were not alone in our sorrow, for the hill took a heavy toll of the competitors. We profited by experience nevertheless, and discovered that engine revs, cannot be obtained quickly unless the spark is brought well back and advanced as the engine picks up its load. Such things are written in the elementary books on driving, but no book yet produced can help anyone during the infrequent seconds when everything seems to combine to upset one’s better judgment. Sometimes a skilled driver may let his clutch in with too sudden a jerk, others will fumble the gears, and on Porlock Hill there seemed to be a regular epidemic of inadequate side brakes, the partial failure of which caused a large proportion of the competitors to run backwards for a few yards instead of making a clean re-start. A few of the little cars executed some spectacular zig-zagging while negotiating the steepest portions, but most drivers maintained a regular course, it being an easy matter to pick out those who knew the hill by the way in which they steered round the bends with a regular sweep and chose a medium course between the rough on one radius and the severe gradient.

After waiting until the last of the cars had passed, we proceeded to make up the time in order to catch up with the leaders, but here our luck petered out. It began with a fast ascent of one of the hills on second gear, with the engine screaming round at a speed that one would hardly credit. We knew the valve cottars were likely to give trouble, and carried a selection of spares, so that when the one located under the hottest part of the exhaust pipe sheared we stopped to play snapdragon with a stiff valve spring and a cottar which showed a preference for going anywhere except in the valve slot. Our next valves are going to be of a better steel, and be fitted with circlips instead of cottars.

In a matter of ten minutes or so we were going again, but pulled up on seeing a friend looking very disconsolate beside his car, which appeared to be going great guns on the Porlock section. Naming no names, we may mention that this particular car should have done well, as a week or so previously we had used it during the week-end, and did a stretch of road at between 79 and 8o m.p.h., besides climbing a hill nearly as bad as Porlock at a very encouraging speed. Our friend’s luck was out, nevertheless, for a slipping clutch had caused the engine to boil dry, and, stranded in a waterless waste, he was on the point of abandoning the contest. Happily we were able to come to the rescue with our spare tin of water, and the competitor was soon humming on ahead to make up for lost time and an:attempt to wrest a silver medal from the M.C.C.

Are Security Bolts Desirable ?

I have not yet discovered the reason why one of my new tyres tore off the rim when rounding the third right hand bend in succession on a winding part of the road, but am inclined to think that tyre manufacturers place rather too much faith in the security valve in these days. The defect may have been due to taking. the corner too fast, but I think that had the tyres been secured to the rims by a few security bolts this little trouble and the scrapping of a brand new tube would have been avoided.

With these delays we were behind again at Beggars Roost, and so did not catch up with the field until Launceston was reached, and after scouring round the town for an oversized tube for the spare wheel, hurried on to Bluehills Mine, which was reached in time to see the last fifteen cars ascend.

Our car made no bother at all about the long drag up to where the “bonne bouche ” of the Land’s End trip begins, and, making no mistake about the engine rev.;. this time, we charged at the corner on first speed, and succeeded in getting round without hesitation, except for a slight impact with the stone heap on the outer radius. This was followed by an easily corrected skid as the car righted itself, and the rest of the ascent was made in fairly good style. It seemed as if the spectators expected the old 11.9 Bean to come unstuck on this hill, and the cheer they gave when the difficult corner was rounded recompensed Jim for all the trouble he had taken with the preparations. The remainder of the journey was uneventful except that on leaving Penzance it seemed as if Land’s End was about a thousand miles away, but this was partly due

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