Vintage Postbag, November 1957

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100

Sir,

I was very interested in the letter of Mr. James Johnston in your September issue regarding Argyll cars. My father purchased a 1913 model just after the 1914/18 war, and I learned to drive on this car, although I was still a bit young to remember technical details. It had a four-cylinder engine rated at 12.9 h.p., a stylish tourer body with two enormous acetylene headlamps and front wheel brakes! These latter were most unusual at that time. Four-wheel braking had been tried out by various manufacturers and had been abandoned as unsatisfactory, but the Argyll company persisted and, I believe, were still producing cars with four-wheel brakes when the system was generally re-introduced around 1923/24. Later models had sleeve-valve engines, and Argylls were always built to the highest standards. The Old Argyll Works, not far from the foot of Loch Lomond, is still a building of impressive magnificence.

I should think that the company was wound up in the later ’20s, but by that time I was driving an Arrol-Johnston — another famous Scottish car.

I am, Yours, etc., J. Young. Aberdeen

Sir,

In reply to Mr. Johnston’s letter (September Motor Sport) regarding the Argyll car, I can give some information about those made between 1925 and 1931.

For 1925 one model was listed. Known as the 12, it had a 1,496-c.c. four-cylinder engine and a single-plate Ferodo clutch. The cost was £375 for the chassis and £495 for the complete car. This model was continued in 1926 when a high-tension magneto and disc-clutch were provided.

A new model, the 12/40 was introduced in 1927. This had a 1,630-c.c. engine, being manufactured in two forms, touring and sports. The former cost £475 and the latter £610; chassis price was £360.

Both models were continued in 1928/9/30/1 with some variations in prices but not in mechanical specifications.

In 1931, an entirely different model was introduced, the 18/50. Equipped with a six-cylinder, 2.390-c.c. engine, it had coil ignition, pump-cooling and a three-speed gearbox. The wheelbase was lengthened from 9 ft. 3 in. to 10 ft. 1 in. and prices were £395 for the chassis, £495 for the tourer and £550 for the sports. All previous models had thermo-syphon cooling, H.T. magneto ignition and four forward speeds.

The address of the company was the Argyll Motor Co. Ltd., Bridgeton, Glasgow, and as far as I know production ceased in 1931.

I am, Yours, etc., N. H. B. Chellaston.

*

Sir,

Your August number contained a photo of a G.N. Tourer captioned “Pleasant Discovery.” It gave me pleasure also because I rebuilt it. In the autumn of 1952 I saw an advertisement in Motor Sport for a G.N. at Northampton. With Mr. R. H. Mitchell of Harpenden I drove to Northampton in my Vauxhall Twelve to see it. I found it. It had four wheels and a frame, radiator dummy, the wreck of an engine, two original front wings, bonnet and headlamp and apparently a complete transmission. An old car bucket seat lay on it and that was the lot. I bought it, wheeled it behind the Vauxhall, tied it on and it started to rain. We brought it home to my place at Wheathampstead, a saga in itself. No foot brake, hand brake locked everything up solid. Mr. Mitchell sat on it in a Sidcot suit, two blankets draped round him, soaked to the skin but we got it home.

We pulled it to pieces and found the original pistons and bores in remarkably good shape, almost round, valves bad but amenable to discipline, big-end gone and when I say gone I mean all gone but the steel bush and that wafer-thin. The crankpin was a beautiful blue and had been doing far more than its normal duties. We made new parts for male and female conrod bushes, a new steel bush, built up the crankpin, ground it down, hand-chromed it and ground it down to size again. The camshaft was good but the cam tracks were badly pitted. These were carefully ground to eradicate the deeper potholes. We winked at a cracked valve seat (a common trouble) and promised attention later on. The transmission was in very good shape after some adjustments were made and the brakes were well up to standard with a little attention. The magneto, an original Fellows, was remagnetised and the dynamo, Lucas, Whittle belt-driven from the prop-shaft was also still producing. The starting-handle bracket gave me some trouble. I could not remember exactly what it looked like and as it had completely gone another had to be made. I wrote to G.N. Motors of Balham and Mr. Hayman very kindly racked his memory and sent me a sketch, undimensioned of course, as all their records were destroyed in the bombing of London. That solved that problem. The original bonnet was a mess but good 22-gauge cold-rolled sheet: It made two good silencers (since replaced by chrome-plated ones). New exhaust pipes were made and bolted up to the frame and steel undershields fitted front and rear completely enclosing engine and transmission as the original.

The body differs from standard in that it has a sloping flap at the rear instead of the canoe point. We hoped to find a spare wheel to mount on a post, some day.

Running, and at that quite well, for the standard tourer that exceeded 50 was a good one, Mr. Mitchell set about some simple trimming for seats and squabs and gave the job a coat or two of British green. He drove it fairly regularly until his unfortunate death when his widow sold it to a Mr. Stephenson. I spent many happy hours working on this car so you may believe your photo was a pleasant discovery for me.

I worked in the fitting shop at G.N. Motors at East Hill, Wandsworth (now Clayton Mineral Waters) in 1921, 1922, 1923 and part of 1924, and then went to Kingston with Captain Frazer-Nash, at the garage opposite the Celestion Works until just after the 1924 200 miles race.

In 1924-5 I had a small garage in Watford specialising in G.N. repairs and overhauls.

I am, Yours, etc., Robert E. M. Rayns. Wheathampstead.

*

Sir,

Being the joint-owner of a 1923 Rover 8.9, I found the letters about Rover cars in your September edition very interesting. Perhaps these correspondents will be interested to see the enclosed photograph. The car is powered with a two-cylinder air-cooled engine, rated at 8.96 h.p. with 85 mm. by 100 mm. bore and stroke. Although nearly 9 h.p., this model was referred to as the Rover Eight. No self-starter is fitted to this particular model, but space has been left for one. Braking is only on the two back wheels, which tends to make skidding very, easy.

We are proud that absolutely no replacements have been made, except for the tyres, so that the car is exactly as it was when originally purchased.

I am, Yours, etc., C. V. Stern. Mill Hill

*

Sir,

Could any of your readers supply me with any information about a make of car believed to be a Mosley, the outstanding feature I have been able to unearth being the huge brass bands round the bonnet and radiator. This car was known to have been owned by the late Sir Hehawke Kekewick, Bart., of Peamore Hall, Exeter, Devon in 1925 and was considered a relic even then, being used only twice a year to drive to the estate.

I am, Yours, etc., R. H. L. Carpenter. Thundersley.

*

Sir,

During a short holiday in France recently, I unearthed under a pile of raincoats and tarpaulins a two-seater, 5-h.p. Peugeot. Upon making enquiries of the friend with whom I was staying, he disclosed that this vehicle was his first car, he having bought it new in 1922 or 23, and using it until 1953 since 1947 in conjunction with a light 15 Citroen. All that was required to put it on the road he said was a battery, petrol, air in the tyres and a turn of the handle.

The bodywork and chassis were most solid, although in need of a coat of paint and as far as I could see all the components, including lights, horn and hood were present.

However, as he has recently purchased a 2-c.v. Citroen, the Peugeot is in danger of being turned out of its garage and probably broken up.

When I told him that this would be a pity, and criminal in the eyes of the veteran-vintage cult in England he seemed most surprised and promptly gave the Peugeot to me.

Hence I should be most grateful if you could suggest how one would set about bringing this car to England.

I am, Yours, etc., R. B. Leslie.

[Can any reader offer advice? — Ed.]

*

Sir,

I venture to send for your Vintage Postbag the enclosed photo of a Swift, bought about 1908 by my father. The body was “made to measure” with the wide front seat set especially far back to suit his long legs. There was a two-cylinder engine (sometimes the devil to start), oil side-lamps, and a big acetylene headlamp (that was removed when the car was used in town).

I seem to remember an oil tank on the dashboard with a series of brass pipes running to the bearings. Punctures were dealt with by a “Stepney wheel” — a spare wheel that was attached to the affected road wheel by leather straps!

My father, who was a doctor, used the car daily for his work (and for taking his five children out) for some six years.

With its well-varnished, green bodywork, polished brass radiator and side-lamps it looked a “splendid equipage.”

I am, Yours, etc., Robert C. Taylor. Moor Park.

*

Sir,

It was of great interest to me to see the various Rover models circa 1928 which appeared in the September issue as I have just completed a 2,000-mile tour of France and Spain with my 1928 Rover 9.8-h.p. four-seater tourer.

Over this distance, covered in nine days, the only trouble I experienced was two plugs ceasing to function (both these were new ones replaced before going abroad). Carrying four people, luggage and camping gear I averaged 30 m.p.h. and 28 m.p.g. and although the temperature was 95-100 deg. F. and no fan is fitted, only a small quantity of water was consumed.

In spite of the rather primitive “clock spring” shock-absorbers on the rear and complete absence of front ones, the suspension stood up to the shocking pave found on some of the Continental roads and gave a better ride than many modern saloons would have done (excluding of course “peculiar foreign motor cars” with independent suspension at each corner!)

The only difficulty was keeping out of the gutter on the severely cambered roads due to the high-geared steering and the heavy load carried.

I am, Yours, etc., K. H. Williams. Heywood

*

Sir,

I should be very grateful if you could help me over a problem of restoration of a 13-h.p. Swift tourer (1925).

Most of the nickel has come off the brass radiator, and I sent it away to be re-nickeled. The firm concerned say that they cannot do this because the case is not removable and would be damaged during the nickeling process. Do you think this difficulty could be overcome? If it cannot, would a brass radiator look incorrect on this car, if the existing nickel was removed?

I am, Yours, etc., C. Buckmaster. Brettenham.

[Letters can be forwarded. — Ed.]

*

Sir, I uncovered, about a month ago, a 1920 model-T Ford, much mutilated, and nestling beneath such a heap of farming implements, etc., as to render this car completely indistinguishable until one had removed a few oil drums and implements. Then one beheld a car, devoid of its former glories, which had obviously been rusting away for years; nearly eight as I learned later.

Needless to say, I purchased and towed away this historic relic (much to the amusement of everyone we passed and to the horror of my parents).

Upon viewing my purchase I found to my horror that some unmentionable person had cut away the rear part of the body to make it into a farm truck, the remainder of the body had been attacked by rust and woodworm (not the wheels, I am glad to say), and that the radiator was missing, having been sold, no doubt.

I then decided that this car was worthier of a better fate so I have decided to restore it to its original form. There is a snag, however, bigger than all these mentioned. I have no information of any kind on this model and I would be eternally grateful if any of your readers could oblige me with some and, if possible, any spares or brass lamps, etc., they may have lying about.

I am, Yours, etc., Keith A. Rose. Hoveringham.

[Letters can be forwarded. — Ed.]

*

Sir,

I thought you might be interested in the enclosed photograph of Sunday afternoon activity at R.A.F. Oakington. All the machines shown belong to flying instructors and students at this station. The H.R.G. in the foreground belongs to me, and is the car which won a Coupe des Alpes in the 1951 Alpine Rally, driven by John Gatt.

The beetle-back Alvis belongs to Pilot Officer Lisle who has just fitted a three-carburetter Silver Eagle engine in place of the former 12/50 unit.

The crane has just been towed here by the 22/90 Alfa-Romeo to assist in replacing the H.R.G. engine. The Alfa and the Black Shadow Vincent both belong to Flt.-Lt. Hull.

Also on the station, but unfortunately not in the picture, is Flt.-Lt. Blanford’s 1,750 supercharged Alfa-Romeo, which is an old team car driven by Campari in the 1930 T.T., and by Boris lvanowski at Phoenix Park.

Even at Oakington, of course, there are one or two eccentrics who drive around in saloon cars like those seen in the background. A recent arrival on the station was a Victor — not a bomber, but a descendant of the 30/98 on the wrong side of the blanket.

I am, Yours, etc., D. H. Ellis (Flt.-Lt.).

*

Rapier Register

At the annual general meeting, held at Overstone, Northants, on September 22nd, it was announced by the Hon. Sec. that since the Register had been started in January, 1953, 244 members had been registered. It was, however, decided not to enter the competitive field at present but rather to assist those members who were interested to prepare their cars for events promoted by the larger clubs. Full particulars are available from the Hon. Secretary, G. D. Speight, 158, Sandygate Road, Sheffield 10, Yorks.

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