Vintage Postbag, May 1968

The Rover 14/45

Thank you for publishing yet another of my laboured efforts in Motor Sport.

Having driven various types of Rover cars, I am especially interested in all Motor Sport references to the make. The article on Owen John recalled my earliest days of motoring and his ownership of a 16/50-h.p. Rover brought back memories of the middle ‘twenties. We had a 1926 14/45-h.p. Rover (identical with the 16/50 apart from a difference of 5 mm. in the bore). This car, although painfully slow by modern standards, was wonderfully smooth for a 4-cylinder. Its defects lay in the overhead camshaft drive and in the lubrication system. In regard to the camshaft drive it was virtually impossible to get an adjustment of the vertical shaft that would combine a silent tick-over with no danger of jamming the gear at normal road speeds. In short one had to put up with a distinctly audible idling knock which rather spoiled the effect of showing to friends an engine quite remarkable for an impressive exterior. Engine lubrication was something of a problem, the makers insisting on a 40 p.s.i. pressure even at idling speeds. Although easily obtainable in a stone cold engine, it rapidly fell to little more than 5 p.s.i. when the engine reached the normal working temperature. In many ways the 14/45 was a delightful machine, but the above-mentioned failings gave one the rather unpleasant feeling that all would not be well if the car were to be driven hard for many miles. The 14/45 and 16/50 eventually gave way to the push-rod o.h.v. 35.7-h.p. 2-litre 6-cylinder car, which, although a very pleasing motor car at its best, did not have the robust construction of its predecessors.

I am a devotee of the really excellent overhead inlet/side exhaust valve engines employed by Rolls-Royce until the introduction of the V8 and by the Rover Company up to the demise of the 3-litre car. It would be difficult to secure a more satisfactory combination of performance, smoothness and reliability, the engines having all the proved features of overhead induction with the silent operation of side valves.

I cannot agree too strongly with your condemnation of the new A.A. badge. A more dull and unimaginative change could scarcely have been introduced. My car (a Rover 3-litre as you may guess) carries the old metal type and I feel I would be tempted to resign from the Automobile Association rather than accept so miserably inadequate an indication of membership as that now in vogue.

Neath. N. Paddison.
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Vintage and Post-War O.H.C. Wolseleys

I imagine that the Wolseley enthusiasts have hurried to point out the error in your interesting article on Racing Wolseleys. When you state that all later Wolseley s.o.c. engines had the valves operated through rockers, you should have qualified this by saying “up to 1939.” The post-war 4/50 and 6/80 engines have vertical valves in line, with the camshaft operating directly on to the tappet which is screwed into the top of the valve stem. The underside of the tappet is serrated and these lock into serrations on the top of a sleeve that fits over the valve spring. Thus the valve spring keeps the clearance locked, once it is set. The only snag was cost, as the valve, tappet and sleeve were a matched assembly and were about 50s. each, I believe. This made a simple valve replacement a costly job.

With s.o.c. very much in fashion B.L.M.H. are perhaps sorry they ever dropped this range of excellent engines.

Dorchester. J. G. Ireland.