Vintage postbag, May 1960

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Sir

The article on H.E.s was very interesting to me. My first car was a 1924 2-litre, bought in 1934. My second car was registered 1927 and was the 2.2-litre (75-mm. bore). After this I bought a 1923 one with “Dutch-clog” three-seat body, to break up. This 1923 one was also a 2-litre with 72.5-mm. bare, so that it would appear that the 2-litre was introduced before 1924 and that 72.5 or 75-mm. bore models were both available until 1928.

I was also surprised to read that front-wheel brakes were introduced in 1923. My 1924 model had no f.w.b. I have also seen 1925 models with no f.w.b., and have always understood that front brakes were first fitted in 1927. Then again, was the spiral-bevel axle really introduced in 1923? My 1924 one had the worm-drive axle. The 1927 model also had a worm-drive axle identical with the 1924 one, except that the large “spiders” that transmitted the drive from the fully-floating shafts to the hubs were superseded by small rings that were serrated internally and externally; these seemed to be far more satisfactory.

My 1927 car also had the taper roller king-pin bearings, but these gave no trouble. The 1924 and 1923 models that I had were more like sporting editions of touring cars. The 1927 one was a real sports car, with lots more “urge,” giving a speedometer m.p.h. of 75 (when thoroughly warmed up). Less camber on the springs gave very good cornering powers, helped by the ¾-elliptics at the rear. It would hold its maximum in third (55 m.p.h.) all the way up Priest Hill, Englefield Green. After rebuilding the transmission with the aid of the 1932 car, I had a big-end go and took it to the breakers. I regretted this many times, as 17 years were to elapse before I owned another car as fast.

The H.E. with ¼-elliptics and channel-section torque members was owned by a D.H. (Stag Lane) draughtsman around 1938.

The oddest-looking H.E. must surely have been one reported seen in North London in 1936. This was a “Dutch-clog” three-seater with the single rear seat enclosed; with several small children incarcerated within. Surely the queerest sedanca de ville ever?

How we regret the passing of these cars with such marked individuality.

I am, Yours, etc.,

Weybridge. R. RADFORD.

• • •

Sir,

It might interest you to hear this little tale I picked up from an old gentleman in Norfolk whilst on holiday there last year. We were discussing the topic of steam cars and when I mentioned that they appeared to have made a sudden disappearance from the roads prior to World War I, he told me that he thought he knew the answer. He said that Mr. Doble, the originator of the Doble steam car (living, I believe, at Thetford) brought out many patents for the various automatic controls which were so essential to the running of a steam car. After producing a most satisfactory vehicle incorporating these controls he most foolishly sold the patents concerning the controls to Mr. Rockefeller in America, who later became the Standard Oil tycoon. Rockefeller had no intention of running steam cars, but merely wanted to eliminate a competitor to the petrol-driven automobile.

Of course, without the automatic controls, the steam car was virtually unworkable!

I am wondering if you can verify this story? It seems to ring true; but at all events makes interesting reading.

Incidentally, we also possess one of those air-cooled rear-engined cars of 1,192 c.c.

I am, Yours, etc.,

Theydon Bois. R. P. STEVENS.

• • •

Sir,

I never see a mention of the old Hillman 9.8 Speed Model in your pages. Are there any in existence? I used to race one, reg. No. BO 4042 but have lost track of it. It would be of interest to know if any have been preserved.

I am, Yours, etc.,

Cardiff. HAROLD J. PARSONS.

• • •

Sir,

I have just finished reading the April Motor Sport, in particular the article on page 266 on the Duesenberg model-J. A little anecdote which I read about some years ago concerned the mercury in the crankshaft balancers. In the Pilot models of the J a bit of trouble was experienced with the mercury seeping through the cast counterweights, aided no doubt by the centrifugal force of the crankshaft’s rotation. The result in time caused unbalanced crankshafts. At a meeting of the August S.A.E. one of the members mentioned out aloud, and with a twinkle in his eye, that the crankshafts of Duesenbergs were badly balanced, making sure that Fred Duesenberg heard what was said. Fred’s rejoinder was that he knew this, but anyone who bought his cars now would find that the counterweights were now lined with copper. He took the criticism in good part as the critics had lasting respect for his genious. Fred was killed in a model-J on July 16th, 1932, whilst returning home when the car skidded out of control on a mountain road. His brother August carried on till he was forced out in 1937. A group of Chicago businessmen headed by Mr. Marshall Merkes attempted in 1947 to revive the Duesenberg, but with Angie Duesenberg as chief engineer it was discovered that the car could not be produced under any circumstances for less than $25,000. Also the car was too expensive for post-war taste. August Duesenberg died in 1955 of a heart attack.

Another article which interested me very much was on page 253 “Kissing the Poppets Goodbye.” I possess (and also my father) a Willys Knight car. My father’s is a 1929 model-56 Willys Knight Standard Six. This car has had a fair amount of money spent on it. It has had all the wooden framing renewed and a steel top made. It is just in the process of being painted. Mileage is around 90,000. Oil consumption one pint every 200 miles. My own is a 1930 model 70B in absolutely original condition, mileage 66,000. Petrol consumption is 20-24 m.p.g. for both. My father is now 72 and is a mechanic of the old school and swears by (and sometimes at) Willys Knight. He first worked on sleeve about 40 years ago. Another design shown on page 254 shows the Burt McCollum sleeve was used in the Bristol aeroplane engines of the 1930s and ’40s. I believe these cars are still in production. Keep up the great magazine.

I am, Yours, etc.,

Newport. C. R. OLSEN.

• • •

Sir,

You may like to mention in the next edition of your magazine that the 3rd Kildrummy Castle Rally is to be held on Sunday, June 19th, 1960.

This will be for veteran and vintage cars and motor-cycles.

The second event held in 1959 included 35 competitors and it is hoped that this third event will be more successful than ever.

Further details can be obtained from the Secretary at 12, Golden Square, Aberdeen.

I am, Yours, etc.,

Keighley. JAMES P. SMITH.

• • •

Sir,

In reply to the letter of F. H. H Buen, in the month of December, 1959, I just cannot figure out why he met with so many difficulties in running his 1928 Morris Oxford saloon. Enclosed photo shows my 1929 Cowley saloon; also, a recent addition to the stable, a 1930 Oxford fabric saloon, with the 14.9-h.p. “Six” Morris engine.

The Cowley has never stripped a half-shaft during my 10 years ownership, as I was told to avoid letting out the clutch facing up steep hills, by the previous careful owner.

The engine is not Hotchkiss, but one can see a lot of the robustness of the French engine, in the 11.9-h.p. Morris design.

The transmission has always been quiet on my Cowley, but I find that the big-end bearings clap a little when the engine is not pulling the weight of the car. Like Mr. Buen, I too had some trouble with steering wobble at first but I cured it by doing away with the spring loaded ball arrangement, in the lower end of the steering arm, and substituting a short piece of ⅜ in. gas barrel behind the ball. I get quite a thrill now, from feeling every little wheel bump, right up through the steering wheel.

Almost every Sunday evening we ride over the hump-backed bridge in the Balcombe Viaduct valley, at a good gallop, and the resulting thrill of being airborne brings screams of delight from the children in the back and gives the four springs a jolly good test, for which William Morris must receive full marks for a robust job.

I am, Yours, etc.,

Haywards Heath. A. J. BURT.

• • •

Sir,

You may be interested to publish the enclosed photograph of a 14-29-h.p. bull-nose M.G. which I acquired in 1930 for £14.

I found her a most reliable car in every way, but the petrol consumption was rather high for a then impecunious apprentice, approximately 20 m.p.g.

The car was fitted with a single-seater dickey seat, and the colour was cream and red lines and fenders.

I have owned to date 40 cars; two three-wheelers and six motorcycles, my age being 48!

I am, Yours, etc.,

Upminster. W. H. TEMPLE.

• • •

Sir,

I was delighted to see the article about the H.E. car in the March issue. I owned a 16/55 for a while, but have seen very little mention of it in print. It was a very pleasant vintage touring car, and had the inscription H.E. Six in large letters on an aluminium plate in the centre of the spare wheel which used to cause drivers of small modern cars to indulge in daring and dangerous feats in their efforts to get past and confirm that it said the same at the front (in much smaller letters)!

The engine was especially neat, even the manifolds were integral with the block, the two exhaust pipes leaving the engine one from the front, the other from the rear, each coping with three cylinders. The face of the aluminium cylinder head was quite flat, like a surface plate, except for the six plug holes. The only water passage was a large bore pipe at the rear of the engine, and the combustion chambers were formed wholly in the top of the bores, the valve platform being recessed in the block and the valves inclined, as you stated, at 12 deg. to the vertical.

My car (chassis 6006) did not have servo brakes, but did have the worm-drive front brakes; a unique and effective system. As it was registered in November, 1927, it must have been a very early model (presumably the sixth of its type?). One odd feature for a car of this vintage was the use of 820 x 120 B.E. tyres; perhaps because of this, the steering was delightfully light and high-geared and extremely accurate. The car could be driven for miles on a straight road “hands off.” The pedal operating the multi-plate all metal clutch had negligible pressure, but very long travel and emitted a delightful hiss when engaged.

I last saw it in 1953 when I had to sell it in a hurry because the National Service powers decided I had been deferred long enough and called me up. The character who “bought” it had not the cash available (he said) and promised to pay when he had sold his present car; however, he promptly left home and I never got a penny out of hint. I will never trust anyone like that again!

If anyone knows of the present whereabouts of this car, I would be delighted to hear about it (I won’t involve him in a lawsuit or anything!). And if that character who still owes me the money would like to clear his conscience (?) I would, of course, be only too pleased to settle the account.

I am, Yours, etc.,

Perkridge. G. W. SAMSON.

• • •

Sir,

In connection with the recent correspondence about Dorman engines, you may be interested to know that an engine of this make answering the description given by Mr. C. J. Tucker, Motor Sport, February, 1960, was used for many years in the heat engines laboratory in Engineering Department at Oxford.

The engine was coupled to a dynamometer and was used for demonstrated experiments on fuel consumption; a carburetter with an adjustable fuel jet was fitted but I cannot remember what type of carburetter it was. The engine was there certainly in 1951 and may still be performing its educational duties.

I am, Yours, etc.,

Darlington. S. J. LAYCOCK.

• • •

Sir,

I was very interested to read in your February number particulars of the A.V. Monocar. I owned in 1920 or 21 one of the older type A.V. Monocars, which were Cardens.

The front suspension on this model consisted of a single large coil spring undamped. I entered my Carden in the Oxford v. Cambridge Speed Trials held near Thetford, I think in 1921, over a flying kilometre. Raymond Mays drove an aluminium sports Hillman and averaged over 70 m.p.h. A Calthorpe was second at approximately 60 m.p.h., and my Carden third, at 56 m.p.h. This Was quite a respectable speed in those days for a 6-h.p. car, and needless to say the Carden was not easy to keep on the road even at that speed.

I am, Yours, etc.,

Kenya. J. B. PHELIPS.

• • •

Sir,

Reference in the April issue to the Brocklebank Six as weighing “17 cwt. complete” caused some scratching about in the waste-paper basket I like to refer to as “my files,” and resulted in the discovery of some additional information about the car. I remember it chiefly for its somewhat vainglorious sales slogan, “Britain’s answer to Detriot” (hence the provision of three speeds only?) at a time when British manufacturers were beginning to aim their products at overseas markets—sounds familiar, somehow!

From a road-test in 1927:

Wheelbase, 9 ft. 8 in.; track, 4 ft. 8 in.; tyres, 30 x 5.25 in.; weight, 24½ cwt.

Gear ratios, 4.75, 8.4, 14.5 to 1.

Acceleration times, 10-30 m.p.h., 16 sec., 10 sec.; 24-26 m.p.g.; 8-gallon tank.

Maximum speed, 50-55 m.p.h.

For comparison:

Morris Oxford “Overseas” model, 15.9 h.p., 1927:

Wheelbase, 9 ft. 6 in.; track, 4 ft. 8 in.; tyres, 31 x 5.25 in.; weight, 33 cwt.

Gear ratios, 4.5, 7.6, 10.8, 15.7 to 1.

Speeds, 48, 38, 28, 19 m.p.h.; 24 m.p.g.; 10-gallon tank.

Four-cylinder, s.v., 80 x 125 mm., 2.5-litres.

Overhead worm rear axle; ½-elliptic springs front and rear.

Erskine Six, 1927:

Wheelbase, 8 ft. 11 in.; track, 4 ft. 6½ in.; tyres, 28 x 4.75 in.; weight., 21½ cwt.

Three speeds: top, 55 m.p.h., 10-30 m.p.h. in 10.8 sec.; second, 38 m.p.h., 10-30 m.p.h. in 7.6 sec. 30 m.p.g.; 10-gallon tank.

Six-cylinder, s.v., 66 x 114 mm., 2.34-litres.

Some scraps about the H.E. Six 16/55 saloon:

Aluminium crankcase, seven-bearing crank, separate gearbox, enclosed final drive.

Wheelbase, 10 ft. 6½ in.; track, 4 ft. 6 in.; tyres, 820 x 120 mm.; weight. 26 cwt.

Speeds, 72, 50, 34, 20 m.p.h.

Acceleration times: 10-30 m.p.h. in 12 sec., 8.4 sec., 6.2 sec.

For comparison:

Waverley Sixteen, 1927:

Six-cylinder at 65 x 100 mm., 1,991 c.c.

Wheelbase, 10 ft. 0 in.; track, 4 ft. 4 in.; tyres, 31 x 5.25 in.; weight, 25½ cwt.

Gear ratios, 4.27, 7, 10.5, 17 to 1.

Speeds: 55, 45, 32, 18. 23 m.p.g.; 12-gallon tank.

The Duesenberg Model-J was, and is still, apparently a very costly production car. Was it, I wonder, any more expensive than the McFarlan twin-valve six town car which cost $9,375 in 1928 ex-Connellsville, Penns.? Does anyone know more about this car?

I am, Yours, etc.,

Leadgate. K. R. S. COVERDALE.

• • •

Sir,

I read with very great interest the articles by Mr. C. J. Tucker and Max Williamson, on the subject of the Dorman 4 KNO engine.

There are several points I would take up with the two gentlemen concerned. Basically Mr. Tucker is correct in most of his statements concerning this engine, which was of a very advanced design for its day (1918, as Mr. Tucker mentions). Two versions were produced: 4 KNO, 63-mm. bore x 120-mm. stroke, and 4 KNO II, 69-mm. bore x 120-mm. stroke; 10 b.h.p. per 1,000 r.p.m. for the first and 13 b.h.p. per 1,000 r.p.m. for the Mark II version. The engine was first produced with aluminium monoblock/crankcase/cylinder block with wet liners. It is interesting to note that the liner was sealed, not by a rubber ring, as is the general practice, but by a white metal ring. But after a number of these had been produced, the aluminium block/crankcase was dropped in favour of the cast-iron unit, due, I believe, to the corrosion of the aluminitun block, etc. (Metallurgy in 1918, remember, was not as it is today.)

Several of these aluminium engines were produced, however, with twin carburetters and of these some were used for racing purposes, but information on the cars these engines were used in is a little scarce. I have contacted several employees of Dormans on this matter, all are very conversant with the KNO engines but several seem to think that the Hampton Special (to which Mr. Tucker refers) fitted these twin twin-carburetter jobs.

Now Mr. William’s references to this engine. The stroke he gives as 120 mm. in both engines (4 KNO and 4 KNO II) is correct, but he is very wrong on one or two other points, viz: The engine was made in both aluminium and cast-iron. This is definitely confirmed by a very good authority, Mr. F. Tonks; who, as a comparatively young pattern maker, made the patterns for the castings on this type of KNO. (Incidentally, Mr. Tonks is still a very active member of the Dorman Company in the capacity of Assistant Foundry Manager, to whom I am indebted for a lot of my information.) I think the engine that Mr. Williamson is referring to is the PA type, 63-mm. bore x 96-mm. stroke, producing approximately 8 b.h.p. at 1,000 r.p.m.

There is definitely no side-valve version of the KNO. (This PA type was used extensively by the Motor Trade around 1920-23.) 1 have enclosed a cross-sectional view of this engine (4 KNO) for the specific reason of illustrating the general arrangement of camshafts, combustion-chamber shape, sparking-plug positions, etc. I believe the chief disadvantage of this engine was the absence of a centre hearing, which gave the crankshaft a tendency to whip, and I think that the design went out when the designer left the Company in about 1924-25—and I believe that Max Williamson scores the last point on this one.

The designer of the KNO later joined the Company of Meadows. I am not certain of the date, but the Hampton with “Meadows” engine produced up to about 1932 may have had the brain-child of about 1918 to propel it on its way.

Thanking you for a very interesting and informative magazine.

I am, Yours, etc.,

G. J. HAWKINS

• • •

Sir,

After reading “The Egg and I” (8,000 miles by Scootacar) in the April Motor Sport, I felt it behoved me to pen a few words in extolling the virtues of another reliable and economical British car in which I carried out a very similar journey to Mr. Jephcott’s (at the time I was also a Cambridge undergraduate). The car in question this time is the Austin Seven—but owing nothing to Mr. Issoginis, being of 1928 vintage. The trip was in fact a Northern European tour of 6,000 miles lasting six weeks, two persons being carried out and three back. We passed through ten different countries, ending up on the Finnish-Russian border 80 miles North of the Arctic Circle; on the return journey the snow-line was reached (it being August) at 5,000 ft. in the Norwegian mountains. The only mechanical trouble (discounting two punctures contracted on unbelievably rough Finnish “roads”) was a sheared rear brake-shoe pivot, remedied in half an hour. Fuel consumption was between 45 and 50 to the gallon and cruising speed 40 m.p.h.—a flying start lap of the Rheims G.P. circuit returning an average speed of 38.62 m.p.h. We found Denmark to be good Model A Ford country, but apart from a 1927 Austin Seven owned by a one-armed photographer in Trondheim few other cars of note were encountered.

I should like to end by thanking you for an extremely informative and out-spoken magazine, and for providing, nowadays, a good ration of vintage material.

I am, Yours. etc.,

Hampstead, N.W.3. A. M. HINKLING.