Rumblings, November 1944

Another Post-War Venture

Everyone in the North knows Freddie Hambling, so it is not surprising that we ran into him recently. Hambling remembers the game from the very early days, for long before the last war he was with Napiers and had much to do with the cars raced at Brooklands, often riding as mechanicien. In the later stages of the last war he designed an ambitious 4-cylinder small car that would have anticipated the Austin Seven, and also a water-cooled 4-cylinder shaft-drive motorcycle, neither of which were proceeded with. He also built a special 3-speed gear for Morgans, demonstrating its efficiency on a Morgan-Hambling special of distinctly sporting aspect. Then he went North and commenced tuning and dealing in fast cars, mostly Bugattis. His own cars including GP Type 37 and two Type 43s, and a curious coupe of Type 38 specification but actually a “2.3.” More recently Hambling installed the 6-cylinder Scott 2-stroke engine in an Aston-Martin for Dr Wood and also worked on a very unusual Ford V8 and a special-bodied 4-cylinder Jowett for the same enthusiast. Incidentally, Hambling’s war-work is mostly associated with diesel engines, and he uses a Ford Eight-engined Morgan 3-wheeler, while Dr Wood has a Ford Ten-engined Morgan.

Hambling’s latest venture is the design of a car intended for the post-war market and of very great interest to enthusiasts. Two delightful models, very well made of wood, paper and cardboard, exist, apart from the drawings. To combine the advantages of a short and a long-stroke engine in one unit a 4-cylinder opposed, eight-piston layout is used, with two crankshafts, the upper one geared to the lower at the rear of the block. The block itself is a simple casting, so compact that it is probable that no water-passages will be required between the bores, which measure only 60 mm. With a stroke of 65 mm, the capacity is 1,496 cc. There are four valves per cylinder, arranged two on each side, at right angles to the bores, as once used by Lanchester and on the 1911 Delage. A camshaft on each side operates via rockers, the cam boxes being reminiscent of Bugatti practice. The gear train coupling the cranks, which are plain-bearing and fully balanced, drives the camshafts, and a Roots blower drawing from an SU carburetter. The crankcase covers are light alloy, and dry sump lubrication employs two gear-type pumps, self primed from a large oil tank behind the small inclined radiator, and driven from the rear of the bottom crank. The magneto is driven from the front of the top crank. The engine is four-point, solidly mounted. The chassis comprises a tubular backbone and a boxed “Y” nose accommodating the engine. Hambling observed the bad effect on handling of a variable fuel load at the rear of a car when driving Bugattis, so he has decided to place his fixed loads fore and aft and his variable loads amidships. To this end the gearbox is incorporated in the rear axle and body and fuel tanks are mounted on the tubular backbone. The shaft to the Borg and Beck clutch is driven at about one-third engine speed from a gear in the crank-driving train. The gearbox is in one with a De Dion type rear axle, the driving shafts of which have constant velocity universals and ribbed brake drums against the axle housing. The gearbox has constant mesh gears, the dogs of which operate in a special manner and are controlled from a small lever on the steering column via a flexible drive. The final drive bevel gears will be correctly adjusted on assembly and no provision made for taking up wear—a Bugatti feature. Independent suspension is provided fore and aft, consisting of transverse leaf springs and two transverse torque rods as a wish-bone at the top and a single rod beneath. Braking is to be by Girling. To get three on the front seat of a coupe body reminiscent of a Bugatti elektron coupe, the steering wheel is well over on the off side, with a reduction to the column behind the facia, and three separately adjustable seats are used, while the parking brake is of umbrella-handle type. Low windows aim at giving lots of vision. The chassis dimensions are : wheelbase 7 ft 10 in, front track 4 ft 2 in, rear track 8 ft 11 in. Two exhaust pipes lead out of the lightening holes in the near side of the engine “Y.” The engine is expected to be very smooth and untiring, and to be capable of some 8,000 rpm. The aim is to offer two 3-seater coupes, both weighing 13 cwt, one to run normally at 6.500 rpm and give 110 mph, the other to run at 5,500 rpm and give 100 mph, the price being about £700. A cheaper model, with Singer Nine engine, weighing 12 cwt and giving 83 mph is projected, to sell at around £260.

This sounds an ambitious plan, but the war should give us higher-etliciency fast cars, and a 110 mph is a useful goal. We certainly hope the Gordano and the Hambling will come along to brighten the peace.

Stafford East’s Stable

Passing through Chesham recently we stopped at the Winterbourne Garage to call on Stafford East, who. although busy on Ministry of Supply work, managed to show us some things after our own heart. First on the list was Teddy Wilkes’s ex-John Bolster “30/98” Vauxhall which the owner is gradually rebuilding in his inevitably limited spare time—he has to cycle over from Luton before he can start work ! Every nut and bolt on the chassis is being methodically renewed, and rivets replaced by ht bolts, while the engine is to be assembled with one of the fully-balanced crankshafts. The car will be kept in its original condition, with elegant 4-seater body. Next we saw East’s own car, a 4-litre Bentley on which he and his father have built a useful utility body to replace the original rough fabric saloon body. The photograph in Motor Sport of a similar car road-tested in 1941 inspired East, and a very neat result has been obtained, the body having less overhang than the one we illustrated. The Bentley regularly averages 100 miles a week and, as the roadholding is unaffected, East says he does not in the least mind being his own lorry driver ! An engine from an “Ace of Spades” 6-cylinder Lea-Francis was noticed, and East is renovating his own 2-litre AC saloon, for which he has made up a neat six-branch exhaust manifold. While working on this car he has been using a “Ruby” Austin Seven saloon, but this is to be replaced by a J2 MG Midget. “Not that I like MGs,” explained East., “but an MG is better than an Austin Seven Ruby !” So busy is East that he has not been able to work on his antiques to the extent he would have wished—they include his rebuilt touring GN, a 10-hp Panhard, a V-twin JAP-engined NUT motor-cycle with two-port heads involving some wonderful piping and silencing, and a 2-speed, open-frame Scott. We were able to see the latest addition to his premises, namely a test-bed and water dynamometer. This dynamometer can absorb up to 175 bhp, and is so arranged that the car’s own radiator can be used to circulate the coolant, an electrically-driven fan supplying a current of air equivalent to that at a road speed of 60-100 mph. A supercharged 2-litre Lagonda engine was on test for the local police inspector when we called—this gentleman is very keen and is completely rebuilding his car, having just tined a new dashboard –but normally the bed is used to test Ford V8 engines for the Ministry of Supply. There is accomodation for an engine and gearbox and an ingenious feature is that of twin tachometers, one driven from the engine and the other from the brake, so that clutch slip under full power cannot go unobserved. East will retain this test bed after the war when he hopes the Winterbourne Garage will be able to offer special service to the enthusiast, accurately recording engine performance and doing any kind of job, especially that of making “one-off” parts for special cars. Even now, one of his clients is putting a Ford V8 engine into a Triumph Ten.

Masterful Models

Various attempts have been made in the past to offer models of racing cars to the public, but mostly these were mere toys, if we except the Alfa-Romeos and Bugattis made by March Models Ltd, and fitted with fairly reasonable wire wheels. Now another concern has pronounced itself able to undertake the construction of accurate car models to special order. This concern, the Dagra Engineering Co Ltd, of 31, King’s Road, London, SW3, has already done some excellent aircraft models, notably for the Westland Aeroplane Company, and those racing drivers who feel they would like to own accurate reproductions of their cars, perhaps installed in their tender-lorries, should be able to obtain what they require from this concern. We have no idea how much such models would cost, or how long they would take to build-presumably from photographs, and/or examination of the real car, but we understand that some very elaborate and detailed aircraft models have been made for around £20 each. Of course, size and elaboration would have a close bearing on the cost. Apart from non-working scale models, Dagra can build petrol-driven models or make up component parts for them, such as final drives, centrifugal clutches, very excellent wire wheels etc. In passing, an excellent subject for a Class 3 petrol-driven model would seem to be the Leyland-Thomas, for it obviates difficult-to-form dumb-irons, had disc wheels, and offers plenty of under-bonnet space for the tiny engine, coil, condenser, accumulator and carburetter.