VETERAN SPECIALIST

Author

admin

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

VETERAN SPECIALIST (Continued from the February issue)

AFTER the Kent Messenger run in September. 1934, there was nothing until the “Brighton” in November. The 1903 Lanchester had been running solely on the low-tension magneto ignition,

although a trembler coil and wipe H.T. ignition was fitted. Upton said that coil ignition was often fitted as an extra and was original, and that if we ran on dual ignition, we would find the performance improved. So the coils were tested and found to be O.K. and the fibre wheel on the camshaft was skimmed up, it being badly grooved. On October 30th we gave the car a 20-mile test run ; the dual ignition certainly improved the top-gear performance on hills, but produced a rather pronounced thump and a wrist shattering kick on the starting handle (this latter quite impossible with the

Lanchester system of low-tension, as the starting handle will not engage until the ignition is fully retarded). One more short test run on Sunday, November 11th, and the car was considered in good trim for the forthcoming” Brighton.” On Saturday, November 17th, I drove the car up to London and parked it at the City of London Garage, in Wilson Street ; this meant a drive right through the West End and the City. We had great fun dicing with the. London taxis and found we could always beat them at their own particular game of turning and dodging in and out of traffic, as owing to the Lanchester tiller steering and good visibility one could drive with ” half-athou.” clearance on either side. On one occasion when we got through between a ‘bus and a Rolls-Royce, Messer informed me that we stripped one skin of nickel plating off the nearside hub cap! Sunday morning dawned cold and grey as we set off for the City of London Garage, early, to allow us time to give the Lanchester a final check over before the run, which was timed to start at 9 a.m. On arrival at the garage we discovered that an oilfeed pipe to one of the main bearings had become unsoldered, ‘which proved to be an ill omen. We made the best job we could with copper wire (I hate to see veterans all tied up with wire and string), and had just started the engine, when along came Captain Wylie with Mr. James F. Skinner. Motoring Editor to a large group of neWS1 ) t i )1,’ I’S. Wylie introduced us and asked if I could give Skinner a seat on the car, and, turning to him, remarked : “You will get to Brighton all right, this is one of the most reliable cars in the run.” (Ill omen No. 2.) We consulted the programme and found that 93 cars were entered. Of the run itself and the subsequent disaster I will content myself by quoting from a few of my Press cuttings. The Motor said : “Most of the veterans were journeying quite as rapidly, and in many cases a good deal more quietly, than the ordinary weekend traffic stream. F. W. Hutton-Stott’s 1903 Lanchester seemed to travel particularly effortlessly.” The Light Car : “Despite the traffic, several veterans sturdily ploughed their way through the throng,

In which Francis Hutton-Stott tells how he acquired another early Lanchester and a De Dion ” Quad.”

unhesitatingly overtaking many modern cars. F. W. Hutton-Stott (1903 Lanchester), for instance, kept his place with ease, and Tom Thornycroft (20-h.p. 1904 Thornycroft) and A. J. Wrohan (1904 60-h.p. Mercedes) went down .to Brighton faster than many a 1934 model.” The crew consisted of Skinner, Upton and myself. Upton drove as far as Reigate, where I took over and drove to within about 111 miles of Brighton ; but I will quote from Skinner’s story which appeared in a number of daily papers : “My own car must have been a masterpiece of mechanism in its day, being equipped with low-tension magneto ignition, wick carburetter, 3-speed and reverse preselective gears, worm drive and cantilever suspension. Like a number of its competitors to-day, however, it was dug up

Hutton-Stott’s 1903 2-cylinder Lanchester broke its lower crankshaft. This diagram explains this happening ; it should also be studied in conjunction with the article on engine balance in the March MOTOR SPORT.

(Illustration by courtesy of the Motor. out of the past to shake its weary limbs in a gallant attempt to cover the 56i miles from London to the sea. The scene at the City of London Garage, from which, in company with the other cars, we made our start, was something that baffles description. With nearly 100 of Britain’s oldest mechanical roadfarers reluctantly being stirred to life, engines banging and spluttering, with now and again an earsplitting explosion from some more recalcitrant car, and clouds of acrid exhaust fumes smothering all, one might have imagined it to be a living vision of Dante’s Inferno. Once our own mount had been coaxed into activity it positively bounded into the street, and we were off on our great adventure. We started No. 65, but, in less than half an hour we had overtaken more than a dozen other veterans struggling gamely along or else already fallen by the wayside. Brixton Hill was taken in flying style on top gear, and once on the open road the car simply leapt into its stride, and at Crawley was well in front. This looked as if we should be among the first arrivals, having passed some 50 other cars at a roaring 40 m.p.h. Then, at Bolney, only 111 miles from Brighton, came catastrophe. A sudden thump, a rattling jerk, and the most expensive sort of noises possible to. hear came roaring out of the engine. We had, in the parlance of racing drivers, “blown up.” The crankshaft had broken in two and we were “derelicts of the road.” Sammy Davis, who broke down about a mile further on with his famous Leon Bolide ” Beelzabub,” and who succeeded in pushing it all the way to the finish, wrote in The A utocar : “So we arrived on the new stretch of road 14 miles from Brighton very contently, though both of the opinion that things were going too well to last. An enthusiast on a following car announced we had averaged 20. Tom Thornycroft went by in fine style all over the road, and a group round HuttonStott’s Lanchester looked depressed.” That is putting it mildly. It was the first and only occasion to date on which the trusty Lanchester had failed to complete an event. The lower crankshaft (be it noted the Lanchester has two crankshafts) bad broken clean in two, and there is no sort of roadside repair that will get you to the finish with that trouble. MOTOR SPORT wrote in their report of the event : “In order to discourage dangerous speed, the 4.A.C. this year decided not to publish the times from London to Brighton, but friendly duels were bound to develop. The two 1903 Lanchesters, which even at this early stage in their evolution had epicyclic gears, engaged in a neck-to-neck struggle, with the 60-h.p. Mercedes as a third contestant. Unfortunately Hutton-Stotts Lanchester, a sports model of those days, and fitted with aluminium body and light wings, stopped very suddenly with that rather modern trouble, a broken crankshaft.” There was, however, a certain amount of comic relief, when a” bright young thing” of about 18, in a minute sports Austin ‘

Seven, pulled up with a .flourish and, producing what looked like a clothes-line,

announced that she would tow us to Brighton. The Lanchester weighs 23 cwt. without passengers, luggage and various cans of petrol and oil, not to mention tools and spares which we always carry on a run. The result can be imagined ; the rope broke three times without moving the Lanchester as many yards, and the Austin was getting very hot, not to mention the youthful owner, who, in the end, had to aamit that it was too much for her to tow. By this time the family Lanchester, which always acted as tender, had arrived on the scene, and Messer produced a tow rope of suitable diameter and towed us to a garage at Sayers Common, where we left the car and took Skinner on to Brighton in the tender car. We attended the Veteran Car Club dinner at the Metropole that night, but we were a rather subdued patty somehow ; it did not seem quite the same, not having completed the run under one’s own “steam.”

We sent the old Lanchester by train from Three Bridges back to Guildford as we were not too keen on towing the car far before we examined the damage. It was not until December that Upton came down and we dismantled the engine. It is interesting to note that, apart from the broken crankshaft, there was no damage at all. The six con.-rods had held everything in place supported by the upper crankshaft. We had the broken lower crankshaft examined by Professor Bacon when he delivered a lecture on “Metal Fractures” at the Institute of Consulting Engineers in the middle of December. He was of the opinion that the crankshaft had been fractured along time, probably years, owing to a section of the surface being so polished. It will be remembered that when wt completely overhauled the chassis and bodywork we did very little to the engine. So we decided that now was the time to give the engine a complete overhaul and bring it into line with the rest of the car. The lower crankshaft we had repaired by Laystalls and the upper one tested for fractures ; we also had all the connecting rods tested, fitted new phosphor-bronze main, bigand small-end bearings, also new camshaft bearings. Terrys made new valve springs to the original specification, Laystalls balanced the two pistons (these being different owing to one having the welded head), and fitted new rings. We took the opportunity of having all the engine parts polished inside and outside. This engine overhaul was a long job, and Upton spent many week-ends helping Messer and myself. a Towards the end of 1934 I heard of another Lanchester, owned by a Mr. Thomas Hayward, of Coulsdon. I went over to inspect it, and found it to be practically all dismantled and suffering from the same trouble as my car, i.e., a broken lower crankshaft. The car was a much earlier model than mine, being aircooled, and the engine was No. 88. (I wrote to George Lanchester about it, and he told me it was of 1901 manufacture.) There were, however, a number of parts. missing, including most of the body. Mr. Hayward told me that he bought the car in 1908 from the Rev. W. T. Potter, of Charles Square, Maida Vale, who had acquired it in 1905 from James Whitfield, a director of the Lanchester Motor Co. The original licence number was 0166, but Mr. Hayward re-registered the car in 1908 with the number LB5888. The chassis had been jacked up for some years and the engine used to drive the plant at Hayward’s Falcon Works, Coulsdon, and It was towards the end of the 1914-18 war that the crankshaft broke, as a result of more and more load being imposed on the engine as the works expanded. Mr. Hayward accepted my offer of £5; I quote the following from his letter :

If you will let me know when you would send for it I will have everything collected and put ready. I cannot tell you how pleased I shall be if you are able to get her running again, and I shall be most interested in your progress. I ran her many thousands of miles, but never once did she let me down. I once arrived at Eastbourne with four passengers to discover that all six big-ends were burnt out. I cleared out the bits and came home without any. The connecting rod forgings alone worked on the crankshafts and got us all home safely.” When I went over to collect this car I discovered a 1900 Loeomobile chassis standing in the works yard. Upon enquiry it appeared that Hayward also had -the engine for this car stored away, but that he had not seen the body for many years, as it was under a 15-ft. high wood pile behind the works. I telephoned R. 0. Shuttleworth, who badly wanted a steam car, and he flew over to Puttenham and landed in a field near our house. We then both set off for Hayward’s, at Coulsdon, and spent the entire day shifting the wood pile from A to B, and just as it was getting dark two very tired and dirty people found most of that

Locomobile body. Dick Shuttleworth bought the car and the rest is history. As to the Lanchester, at worst, it would be useful as spares ; at best, I might get it going one day. The 1903 Lanchester was entered for the first Veteran Car Club event of the 1935 season, the Tilburstow Hill Climb and Godstone Rally on April lath, but as the date approached it became quite

evident that we would not be ready (we did not, in fact, have our first test run until June 22nd.) I went with Capt. Wylie as passenger on his 6-h.p. Wolseley in the hill climb, and photographed most of the cars at the rally, a thing one has never time for when competing. It was about this time that I had to attend the wedding of a cousin at Buntingford, in Herts, so thought it a suitable opportunity to -visit Bishops Stortford to try to solve the mystery of why the 1903 Lanchester was so badly worn, if it had only been used until 1906. After enquiries at various garages in Bishops Stortford, I discovered that the Lanchester had been owned by a Mr. Leach, of Leach’s Garage, and that it was he who cancelled the licence on January 18th, 1900, but that he continued to run the car until 1923, presumably on trade plates. Mr. Leach was very interested to hear that the old car was on the road again, and said that he had run it as a hire car until 1915, and as a tow car from 1913 to 1923. He told me it must have covered a tremendous mileage, something between 80,000 and 100,000 miles, and that during the 1914-18 war it often towed in Army trucks of three or four tons weight. From 1923 until 1932 it had been left in the open. So that little mystery was satisfactorily solved. Mr. Leach produced the original foot bellows for blowing the horn, a bundle of wicks for the carburetter, and a number of other small odds and ends which he said belonged to the car, and he showed me all that remained of a 1904 18-h.p. 2-cylinder Lanchester which he once owned. All that remained was one rear wheel and part of the back axle.

On June 22nd all was ready, the engine a joy to look upon, everything polished ; in fact, looking under the engine cover was like looking in a jeweller’s shop window. Upton and I set out on our first test run in the early afternoon and covered some 36 miles. We kept the engine speed well down, in fact we only opened up once, for about half a mile. The difference was siinply incredible ; the slightest touch on the foot governor pedal and the seat literally hit one in the back. Full r.p.m. were reached in the space of yards, whereas before the “Brighton” disaster it had taken miles to work up to the maximum. Of course, we only had the front seat on for this test, which must have made a certain difference. We had a few snags ; the helical wheels gearing the two crankshafts together overheated and the valve gear seemed very noisy, but the latter, we decided, was because the rest of the engine was so much quieter. There were also some peculiar noises emanating from the countershaft (this being geared to the two crankshafts by a third helical wheel.) So we decided to dismantle this, together with its attendant trains of epicyclic gears, and re-bush everything. To cut a‘long story short, we had five more test runs before we considered everything first class. In fact, we were only just ready in time for the Veteran Car Club’s next event, a rally to Ramsgate on July 12th, followed by a gymkhana the same afternoon with the usual egg and spoon race, balloon busting, bottle races, etc. This was followed by the Ramsgate Concours d’Elegance the next day. There was a special class for veteran cars, and the old Lanchester carried off the first prize, G. H. Eyre’s 1902 Norfolk being second, and J. M. Turner’s 1899 Panhard third. Twenty-three veterans were en tered for this event, which was followed by a. dinner and dance at the Granville

Hotel, Mrs. K. Petre presenting the prizes. The car behaved very well except for a Certain amount of over-heating. The

engine actually seized once, and this Messer and I put down to all the slow running in processions in connection with the ” Coneours,” plus the effect of the new bearings. The next event, the Kent Messenger Veteran Car Rally on Saturday, Septem ber 7th, was a timed event over a route from Canterbury, through Chilham, Ashford, Bethersden, Tenterden, Rolvenden,

Cranbrook, finishing at Hawkhurst. Mr. Odic, Laystall’s works manager, who had taken the greatest personal interest in the overhaul of the Lanchester engine, came as a passenger, as did Messer. We again met our old friend of the year before, Hayward’s 1904 Cadillac, but this time we had no trouble in leaving it well behind. The Lanehester put up the third fastest time, covering .the 40-mile course non-stop in 1 hour 29 minutes, an average speed of 26.96 m.p.h. It was beaten only by E. H. Someryille’s 1908 Renault (29.27 m.p.h.) and F. C. I tandall’s big 1906 Humber (28.92 Wt• had no trouble in passing Neville’s 1908 Stanley steam car, or Mrs. K. B. Green big 1906 Martini. John Bolster’s 1903 Panhard appeared to travel steadily to Complete the course in 2 hours 6 minutes (19.05 m.p.h.). The crews were entertained to tea at the Queen’s I Intel, and H. R. Pratt-Boorman gave a ciritasi show -of films he had taken at recent V.C.(‘. events. Certificates of speed and plaques

were presented to all who finished the course. Odie was so thrilled with the whole affair that he extracted the promise of a seat for the next London-Brighton race. The following Sunday, the 15th, was the Veteran Car Club’s “Southern Rally”

to the Wheatsheaf Hotel, Virginia Water. Thirty cars were entered for this event. The rally was followed by a reliability trial over a course of 501 miles, which included Ascot, Twyford, Wargrave, up the sharp White Hill outside Ifenley, and back to the starting point hy the same route. I had as passengers on the Lanehester Audrey froward (the first member

of the “unfair sex” to accompany me on a rally), and Dudley Alexander, who owns a 1904 Lanchester—this is the later type 12-h.p. model with the roller-bearing crankshafts. We had a certain amount of overheating on the trial, but by dint of coasting down hills and careful driving we corn

pleted the course, non-stop and at our scheduled speed. Audrey Howard and Dudley Alexander thoroughly enjoyed the run, and both joined the V.C.C., Alexander being keen to get his 1904 .Lanchester running again. On emerging after tea we found that the Lanehester engine has seized solid. We found it impossible to free it, so had to tow the car home.

Upton, who had been unable to take part in the last three events, came down the following Saturday, and with the Aid of Messer, we pulled the engine down once more and discovered what our trouble was. The old Lanchester engine is inclined backwards, so that a straightthrough drive is obtained via the cardan shaft to the worm shaft on the back axle. It transpired that the oil way in the rear bearing of the lower crankshaft had been cut in such a way that it wound the oil out of the bearing instead of into it. Upton gave special instructions about these oil ways when he had the new bearings made, but we all failed to notice the error when we assembled the engine. We had a new bearing made, and this Messer fitted with great care, as we wanted no further trouble in this direction. In The A utocar of September 20th, 1935, I noticed a De Dion Quadracycle advertised for sale. I eventually purchased this vehicle for .£5 10s. from Mr. A. E. Curzon, of Harehills, Leeds, who proferred the folldwing advice on hearing that I proposed to enter it for the next Brighton run : “Choose a driver with two good hefty legs. Will he need ’em? ask your humble, for, believe me, I’ve pedalled so fast that my legs were a blur and my eyes stood out like lamps.” It appearef I that Mr. Curzon, who had owned the machine since 1900, won a bronze medal with it in a Leeds-Bradford veteran car trial organised by the York

shire Automobile Club on May 16th, 1981. The first owner was a Mr. Carpenter, of Manchester, who bought it new in 1899. Mr. Curzon promised to send the De Dion down by road transport some time during October.

The Lanchester was now all ready for the road again, and we were determined to get the engine well run-in before the next “Brighton.” So we arranged a series of test runs over increasing distances. November 3rd, 19 miles ; 8th, 251 miles ; and 9th, dress rehearsal for the “Brighton,” 57 miles. The old car was now going like a bomb, would go anywhere on top gear, simply romped up on to the Hog’s Back in top gear from a standing start at the railway bridge at the bottom, and we were travelling at 38 m.p.h. when we reached the Compton fork at the top.

The De Dion Quad arrived one evening during the first week in November. It appeared to be a standard De Dion tricycle with an air-cooled, single-cylinder engine of 11h.p., having a bore and stroke 2f in. by 21 in., surface carburetter, and coil ignition controlled by twist grip on the handlebars. Single fixed speed assisted by pedals. The front fork and wheel were removable, and a two-wheel forecar could be fitted. The tyres appeared in a pretty bad state, so a new set was ordered, it being considered we would have plenty of trouble without tyre troubles. The wiring of the ignition system appeared to be shorting everywhere, and at night looked just like a firework display. Otherwise the machine appeared to be in very good order.

This is the fourth article in this most interesting series. The .first instalment appeared in the December, 1944, issue, followed by further contributions in January and February, 1945. The (series will be continued in subsequent issues.