EDITORIAL NOTES. Ramblings, Rumours and Reminiscences. Being Asides About All Sorts of Things.
TO argue that the design of the sporting car of to-day may influence not only the touring models of the next season, but may have an important effect upon the performance of motor coaches, may appear to be stretching a point too far, though during a recent visit to a very important West Country manufactory I found this to be the case.
When examining some of the constructional details of a very excellent motor coach engine, it was obvious that someone who was fully acquainted with high speed engine work had had a finger in the pie. Later on I discovered that the designer was a very keen sports motorist and rode motor-cycles when he was not driving his super-sports two seater. The engine in question, though built for a thirty seater coach, was fitted with duralumin connecting rods and aluminium pistons which really did their job properly. In sports cars one is not always very particular about oil consumption, but the sporting motor coach designer has developed a type of aluminium alloy piston which gives a fleet consumption of no less than 1,000 miles of oil per gallon—an unheard of figure for heavy vehicles and quite a respectable one for many light cars.
As a matter of fact, a close inspection of the whole chassis revealed a number of interesting details which might well be incorporated with advantage in touring cars, such as an automatic cam arrangement by means of which the effective length of the road springs varied with the load and the inequalities of the road. Another thing was the rejection of fabric couplings on the cardan shaft, as at high speeds they were found to set up a period in the transmission, the latter being practically redesigned before the real reason for the defect was discovered.
When this new type of coach gets on the road there are very good chances that it will give many moderately fast drivers of cars a good run for their money if they happen to meet it on its speed trials down Bristol way.
From some points of view the extraordinary reductions in price announced at Olympia may be beneficial insomuch as people who hitherto thought sporting cars beyond their reach will be able to become owners ; but otherwise I am not quite sure that our manufacturers are on the right tack. The way in which they turn out cars is, of course, dictated by public demands, and if the masses want cheap cars, cheap cars they must have. Directly we come to the requirements of the sports driver, however, we find that they are not easily met in the super-cheap production. My argument is that high road speeds can only be attained at a relatively high cost, and my own mileage costs taken over a long period serve to strengthen my opinions. To travel fast, or to travel quickly—the distinction will be understood by our readers—you can do one of two things. First, there is what appears to be the cheapest way of going about the business, namely, buying a car of moderate price with an advertised maximum speed of say 50-60 m.p.h. Now, if you want to average 30-35 m.p.h. on long trips, such a car will have to be
driven most of the time at somewhere near its limit of speed. That is all right for a time, but at the end of the first season things begin to get a bit rattly and quite a lot of engine overhaul work will be necessary to bring it up to competition pitch for the next season’s work. What has happened to the bodywork and upholstery during the time must be left as a matter of conjecture, but the point is that money will have to be spent that was saved on the initial outlay.
The second way of travelling at high average speeds is to pay a good price for your bus in the first place, get one with a maximum speed that you rarely want to approach, leaving the possibility of doing a good 50-60 m.p.h. on long stretches without worrying the machinery in the least little bit. I cannot yet say how the relative costs will work out, but feel quite sure that at the end of 1928 my running costs will be considerably less than they have been in the past, because I have decided to put my views to a practical test with a model which is far more of a hand made than a niass production job.
Something rather amusing occurred last week, and shows how easily one can get fogged over a simple thing. Having fitted a new form of petrol gauge made by a famous firm of accessory manufacturers, it was discovered that the instrument would not work. The owner therefore took it back to the works, and in the service department the verdict was passed that the gauge was defective. A second gauge was then fixed to the dashboard as a replacement and still nothing happened. Having no time to try all the instruments in the factory, the owner went on his way, sharing the opinion of the petrol pump people that all petrol gauges are inaccurate, particularly with regard to giving low readings. A little later, the tap to the instrument was turned off and a cheerful gurgling in the pipe was followed by a definite movement of the needle showing the correct amount of petrol in the tank. Investigation showed that the tap had been adapted from a tank draincock, where the lever is down when off. The manufacturers’ representative had quite overlooked the fact and was quite willing to let the innocent instrument take all the blame for his own lack of commonsense in investigating the defect.
When doing the rounds of the Accessory Section of the Show most of the people who have their own garages were reminded of the approach of winter by the display of radiator lamps and similar contrivances. Apart from the fact that many designers persist in placing the radiator drain cocks in inaccessible positions, the radiator lamp is one of the most useful assets in the home garage. Winter also serves to remind the motorist of the advantages of the radiator shutter, and the new model produced by the Benjamin people is not only the least expensive form of temperature control, but also extremely efficient. Nothing is more annoying whilst driving than those elusive squeaks that come from inaccessible corners of the body work, the undershields and valances, but sometimes the worst sort of noise is that emanating from Hartford shock absorbers if the surfaces are allowed to become oily. Unless one is aware of this little peculiarity, the
search for the noise may continue indefinitely and cause more bad language than could be printed in a respectable sporting journal. If the Hartfords are suspected, the simplest thing to do is to remove the bolts, separate the discs and test the springs by bouncing on the running boards. Then if the noise disappears, it is quite easy to clean the discs with petrol and afterwards scrub them with soap and water before they are replaced. The dodge is certainly one worth trying when squeaks are about.
“Exit the pillion rider,” said a newspaper on the appearance of the two-seater motor cycle at the Show. Now, on one likes to throw cold water on an honest attempt to provide cheap means of transport for the masses, but one can’t help wondering what it would feel like to wander about on one of these machines unaccompanied by a passenger it would be bad enough if there were two individuals to share the sorrow, but a solo trip would be too awful to contemplate. No, with all her faults, the pillion girl is likely to remain and is not likely to give up the exhilaration of her precarious perch behind the soloist in favour of any two-seated contraption, however ingenious its design.
To the spectator the sport of motor-cycle football appears to be a most ruinous pastime as far as the machines of the participants are concerned, for curiously enough the riders seldom seem to suffer much more in the way of bruises than when the ordinary game is played. ” Freddie ” Dixon, who started the game in 1923, has used his Velocette for four seasons, whilst other well-known players are using machines that have seen good service for several seasons. At the same time there seems to be much in favour of the suggestion of making special types of mount for this particular game, for as far as the spectator can see, the speed of the game and the durability of the machines would be greatly augmented if certain modifications were made in the design, whilst a mount made specially for motor-cycle football could be turned out at a much lower price than a standard model, and prosperous clubs could even provide such equipment for the use of members.
On Friday, October 15th, the Daimler Company invited a large gathering of interested folk to their works at Coventry to inspect the new models for 1927, including the “Double-Six,” which is described in another part of this issue.
The Company has always arranged these functions on. very thorough lines, but the last one surpassed its predecessors in a remarkable way. At least one thousand visitors arrived at the works, and everybody in the whole motor trade seemed to have put in an appearance. Someone said, “If a certain personage could have cast his net, what a haul he would have made,” and the driver of the special train from London to Coventry carried a heavy burden of responsibility for the motoring public. The Daimler Show was a great improvement on Olympia in that one really had a chance of looking at the things one went to see, which is not easy with many of the exhibits staged in the crowded glass barn at Kensington.