Letters from readers, November 1940

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Sir,

Congratulations to you for continuing MOTOR SPORT for the duration. I have been a constant reader for several years, and have always found it very interesting and instructive.

I notice in your October issue a letter from Mr. T. A. S. 0. Mathieson, enquiring about the 2-litre Grand Prix Sunbeams. He is quite correct when he states that one of these cars won the Ulster Trophy in 1934.

The car he mentions is still here in Northern Ireland. As far as I can ascertain the car originally belonged to the late Sir Henry Segrave. It has never been used since it won the race mentioned above. It was owned by the late Mr. Trevor McCalla, who was unfortunately killed in action a few months ago. I have heard his wife has given the car to a friend and he is going to restore it to its original condition. I am afraid Mr. Mathieson is out of luck as far as this particular car is concerned.

Here in Northern Ireland there are still a few “good” cars to be seen. I saw a beautiful twelve-cylinder Delahaye drop-head coupe in town the other day. There are hosts of T-type M.G. Midgets and 4/4 Morgans still on the road. A young blood has procured a late type 2-litre Aston-Martin two-seater with streamlined body. It certainly looks good. We have a couple of Riley “Sprites” and a Riley “Imp” with a Triumph Dolomite radiator cowl fitted. This car is running on producer gas and can still “hit the high spots.” A Lagonda Rapier supercharged two-seater which was originally built for Lord de Clifford; indeed, I could mention lots more which are still taxed and “pinking on pool.”

As far as the sport goes we have had nothing up here in the car line, but we have had a few moor-cycle grass track and hill climb meetings all through the year which have kept us from getting absolutely stale.

Good luck to MOTOR SPORT,

I am, Yours etc., ARTHUR I. FEE.

Belfast.

*    *    *    *    *

Sir,

I have been a subscriber to your paper MOTOR SPORT for some years now, and it has always given me very great pleasure.

In the current number, under “Rumblings,” a request is made re “Lonely Enthusiasts in the Services.” Please put my name and address down at once because my wife and I will be very pleased indeed to entertain any such lonely ones in this district for a night or two, or an odd week-end, at any time, provided we are given twenty-four hours notice.

I may say that I learnt to drive on the old chain-drive Mercs and chain-drive Daimlers and Majas (Austro-Daimlers).

I have a large collection of cuttings from motor periodicals dating back to 1904, and albums of old photographs of old racing-cars, etc. Therefore, there should be plenty to talk about, and as this is a serious invitation I sincerely trust that advantage will be taken of it during the coming months.

I am, Yours etc.,

F. C. MERRALL,  M.B.

28, Orchard Road,

St. Annes-on-Sea.

*    *    *    *    *

Sir,

May I add my name to those who have written to congratulate you on continuing publication during the present spot of bother.

Although motor-racing is to-day practically non-existent, I never pick up my copy of MOTOR SPORT without finding plenty of interesting reading matter.

Before the war I filmed a small amount of motor-racing–mainly at the Crystal Palace, where the slow corners especially favour cine work—and when I go home on leave I always run these films through. I am thus able to enjoy once again the sight of fast cars and famous drivers, and although it is only a shadow of the real thing, it helps to keep me going until actual racing returns once more.

Not being blessed with vast financial resources, my present vehicle is a B.S.A. four-cylinder three-wheeler, which had been rebored and fitted with new main bearings shortly before the previous owner was obliged to sell it. A new set of plugs has been fitted in place of the motley assortment that graced (or should I say disgraced?) the engine when I first took the car over, and although the performance may not be outstanding, it certainly is not sluggish. At first there was a tendency for the engine to stall when decelerating, but an adjustment of the carburetter seems to have cured this fault.

I continued to run the car during the early stages of the war, but owing to a long interval of waiting for leave the already aged battery gave up the ghost and the car is now enjoying a temporary retirement.

After the war, provided Adolf has not dropped a load of H.E. on the lock-up where it now resides, I have hopes of dismantling and rebuilding it as a four-wheeler.

I must apologise for writing in pencil, but in the R.A.F. ink seems even more rare than petrol is for private motoring.

I am, Yours etc.,

R. S. MARRIOTT.

Maidenhead.

*    *    *    *    *

Sir,

I have just bought a Balilla Fiat, one of the five which were imported in ’36 (?), or so I believe.

She has the external exhaust and the Morelli coil ignition which seem to bear this out, also an Italian Solex carburetter.

At the moment I am still running her in, as she has had one cylinder rebored. But she has a very good top-gear ratio; 2,500 r.p.m. appears to equal about 48 m.p.h.

I hope to fit her with a Scintilla Vertex instead of the coil during the winter. Luckily one of my troop fitters was with Scintilla and he is an ardent helper.

I expect you probably could confirm whether she is one of the five, so here are her numbers:

Model 808; Engine No. 000317; Chassis No. 070900; on Block 108 GS.

It merely remains for me to thank you for keeping MOTOR SPORT going on as usual. The day it arrives is one of the best of the month and takes one back to the old days when one could wear civvy clothes.

I am, Yours etc.,

J. L.V. BROWN,

2nd Lieut. R.E.

1st Field Sqd. R.E.

[Can anyone check up on this Fiat for 2nd Lieut. Brown?—Ed.]

*    *    *    *    *

Sir,

My 1912 Lanchester recently did a run of some 70 miles, to Hindhead, Woking, etc., to mark the restoration of the car to a motorable condition.

A few notes on the car’s specification and performance might be of interest: It is described in the catalogue as a “Sports Torpedo.” The motor is a vertical four-cylinder, of 3,234 c.c. R.A.C. rating, 25.6 h.p. Four inch bore x 4 inch stroke, all bearings lubricated at 40 lbs. pressure, water cooled by thermo-syphon, inlet and exhaust valves operated by camshafts and leaf springs on either side of the engine, which is fitted with the Lanchester patent harmonic stabilisers. The carburetter is the Lanchester wick type fed by a belt-driven pump. The ignition is a dual system of high tension magneto and coil. The chassis is of pressed steel channel section. The transmission is through a metal-on-metal lubricated multiple disc clutch, three-speed epicyclic gearbox, and underslung worm back axle. The brakes—multiple disc transmission and internal expanding on rear wheels. Detachable wire wheels with 880 mm. x120 mm. tyres. Wheel base 10 ft. 7 ins., track 4 ft. 8½ ins. Cantilever springs back and front. Tubular front axle, 32 volt self-starter and 8 volt lighting set. The car complete weighs 32 cwt.

The price was £725.

I have had very little opportunity of discovering what sort of performance the car has. But from observation on the above run the maximum in top appeared to be just over 60. But the engine was suffering from valve bounce in all gears. From this it would appear that either the valve springs have lost tension or the gear-ratio is too low. I rather suspect the latter as the car will climb almost anything in top, and one can spin the wheels accelerating in either first or second. We unfortunately had to run on “Pool” petrol, which does not agree with a wick carburetter. The car is very silent and gives one a delightful feeling of well-being.

I am, Yours etc.,

F. W. HUTTON-STOTT, Junr.

Puttenham,

Sussex.

[How many pre-1914 cars have now been out on “Pool” we wonder?—Ed.]

*    *    *    *    *

Sir,

Living in Close proximity to “Pollsmoor” race track I have had the pleasure of seeing quite a few British and foreign drivers do some very fine driving, and I hope to see some more at the close of hostilities. When I say this, I mean foreign drivers as well, for there were some very fine men among them whose sympathies are not with those two “twirps”—Adolf and Bruno—may somebody over-rev. their innards for them soon!

Well, something about yourselves. I have only one grouse and that is, it is only a monthly publication.

At present I own a rebuilt Singer Ten, 1929 model, which has given me wonderful service and has been in a couple of reliability trials. The last one we had only consisted of 139 miles, in which were included some of the stiffest passes to be had anywhere in the Cape Province. On one section cars in lightweight class were allowed to keep to a 24 m.p.h. limit and heavy class (over 1,500 c.c.) to 27 m.p.h. I may mention that the course was nothing more than a goat track, with sudden drops of 6″, then a hairpin bend and the occasional stretch of sand; real soft stuff which had you seen in daytime you would at least have approached at dead slow speed. These passes I refer to take one over 2,000 foot mountains, some of them macadam and others red hard gravel with plenty of hairpin bends; a true trials driver’s paradise.

One driver of a Hudson Eight Special burnt out his lights en route and after a lot of trouble decided to proceed with the aid of the full moon which existed. Believe it or not, he put his foot flat down and arrived at the final control on time much to the detriment of his wife’s nerves.

I had the misfortune to break my radiator bracket, thereby opening my manifold which let out considerable water. With the inevitable insulation tape I made a temporary joint which lasted me home. I retired from the trial, but we all had a good night’s fun for a few bob.

Most of the lads are now on active service. The last track event we had was a handicap race of 45 miles, which saw a very old Bentley brought out into the sunshine. She had 170,000 miles to her credit. She was a six-cylinder saloon and lapped the course at approximately 55, going up the back straight at 80 m.p.h., at about 10 m.p.g. In touring trim she does 17-18 m.p.g.—really a superb car. She had lain dormant for two years, but all that was done to her was flush her oil out and clean the carburetter. There were two other Bentleys entered—a 3-litre and a 4½-litre, with a cut-down chassis and two-seater body. They were faster than the “Grand Old Lady.” Other entries were a Squire 1½-litre and a Maserati, also several M.G.s, B.S.A.s, and some Yanks.

I would like some detailed information on the D.I.S. 14/40 Delage engine which I wish to mount in a Riley frame for trials work. What I wish to know mainly is what viscosity oil (needless to say, I am a firm adherent to Wakefield Castrol), peak r.p.m., tuning, valve clearances and oil pressure. The power unit I possess is in very fine condition. I wish to use 5″ x19″ wheels and 4.1 to 1 top gear from a Ford V8.

I am a fitter and turner by trade with a lathe and good equipment of tools, and building a special is my only bobby.

Here’s best of luck to MOTOR SPORT and its continued success.

I am, Yours etc.,

JAMES W. M. MARTIN.

“Benalma,”

Pluto Road,

Plumstead, Cape,

South Africa.

[Will British Delage exponents please write direct. —Ed.]