An engineer remembers

John B. Perrett Recalls – Working at Brooklands with Reid A. Railton, on Tanks, at Trojan’s, AFN, BP, etc.

Amongst a number of minor misfortunes, fate has passed me some very handsome slices of good luck. Perhaps the best of these was the way in which I came to work for Reid Railton at Brooklands Track. May I say to the younger readers that in the 1930s the name Railton meant, to the sporting motorist, much the same as Chapman does today?

But first I must digress a while and explain that I had just completed my apprenticeship with G. Wailes and Co., of Euston Road, London. This was an old-established family engineering firm which would and didn’t, make almost anything that someone was prepared to pay for. While I was there we made such odd devices as a perpetual-motion machine and a cricket-ball bowler. More important, however, was a prototype car for Mr. Donald MacKenzie, a Canadian inventor. As it was built in 1930 it could well be said to pre-date the Volkswagen. It was of unit construction, made of aluminium throughout, and had independent suspension front and rear. The power train was at the back and consisted of a Johnson outboard motor-boat engine driving vertically down through an Austin 7 gearbox to a Triumph Super 7 differential-unit. It performed well but was lost in the financial depression of the ‘30s. Another item of interest is that one day when I was sorting out some old drawings, I came across the plans of a 9 in. bore, 12 in. stroke, 2-h.p. oil-engine, for Dr. Ackroyd Stuart. Luckily I recognised these as being the design of the first solid-injection oil-engine in the World. The Science Museum was interested and some recognition made of the man whose name should, more properly, be applied to present-day compression-ignition engines, than that of Dr. Diesel.

To get back to Brooklands; as I said, I had completed my apprenticeship and was looking for “further advancement” when, on the way to work, reading the “Sits. Vac.” Columns of the Daily Telegraph, I saw that Reid Railton was requiring an assistant. I took the next train to Weybridge, (I should have got off at Byfleet and saved myself a two mile walk round the perimeter road), and arrived at Thomson and Taylor’s before Railton had completed his breakfast – he was not an early riser. He soon came into his office in the bungalow and spoke most kindly to