Vintage postbag, November 1966

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To Spain in a Morris Minor

Sir,

On September 12th this year, fellow student Dave Morgan and myself arrived safely on Calais quay in my 1930 Morris Minor saloon to await the ferry home, after a trip to the Costa Brava, Spain.

A “straight line” route was taken from Calais on the southerly journey, passing through Paris, over the Massif Central through St. Flour, and so on to the Mediterranean coast and through Perpignan into Spain. This route proved to be very scenic in places but also rather arduous, hence we chose the easier route home through Lyon.

The car caused quite a stir wherever it went. We received waves from the young and middle aged, cheers and laughter from the children, and an intense stare from the old! When it was parked, the principal attractions seemed to be the nameplate (publicity for B.M.C?) and the Calormeter. To the French the car was a  Morreece Meenure” (to the English tourists it was  just another Austin 7 “—how infuriating). The engine ran faultlessly; indeed, on well surfaced roads we were able to cruise (dare I say effortlessly?) at 45-50 m.p.h. However, much of the journey was covered on poorly surfaced roads which caused us to slow down. We experienced quite a few punctures, all in the back tyres, which were good 450 x 19 in. (400 x 19 in. on the front). Wheels and tyres were my main concern for the whole journey. On leaving Spain we tied a sombrero to the spare wheel for amusement. The joke wore thin however after untying the wretched thing several tiines to change the wheel. It stayed nevertheless until, at 100 miles south of Calais, one of the rear wheels had a nervous breakdown (six or seven broken spokes). On changing the wheel, the sombrero was inadvertently left on the roof—to be blown away thus marking that fateful spot. The only other trouble incurred was the loss of charge, which could only be regained by the fitting of a spare dynamo I had borrowed.

The car, a 1930 o.h.c. 847-cc. Morris Minor coachbuilt saloon, was bought secondhand by my father in 1936. He ran it for 20 years after which an uncle ran it for a further two years. One of its first duties after the war was to “taxi” my mother to hospital immediately before my birth, and, a little later on, to return her and myself home!

In order that the car was not scrapped it was given to me. Following a rebuild it took to the road again in June 1965. In June of this year it won its class at the Morris Eight Tourer Club’s Concours at Beaulieu.

During the rebuild I tried to maintain orginality. After a four-month road trial of 2,500 miles I decided to replace the cable brakes with an hydraulic system based on that of the 1934 Morris Minor [Sensible.—ED.]. I also decided to strip the engine down once more and have the rotating parts balanced. A final modification (just for amusement) was the installation of a 1933 Morris Minor 4-speed gearbox [A pity.—ED.]. These improvements were very useful on the Continent.

Finally, the statistics for the above journey are: 1,700 miles at 35.9 m.p.g. on 2 pints of oil. The engine did not overheat—we did—together with several modern English cars!

Chelmsford. KENNETH MARTIN.

An Inexpensive Talbot 14/45

Sir,

Every month we read of rising vintage car prices, pushed up by the collector and thus forcing the genuine enthusiast out of the market.

I would, however, draw impecunious enthusiasts to the paragraph “V.E.V. Miscellany.” One never seems to hear much about these sad cases but I did obtain a quality vintage motor car through this column some four years ago.

A 1929/30 14/45 Talbot Weymann sports saloon lay derelict in Sutton Coldfield. The kind owner wished to dispose of this vehicle for nothing. It really was not worth any more. To cut a long story short, one reconditioned engine later we arrived home in Surrey with the car. Since then the gearbox, brakes and back axle have been reconditioned, odd parts re-chromed and plenty of Valspar applied. The total cost—less than £130, which spread over four years is not too bad.

The car is not concours and never will be. It has provided an enormous amount of fun and thanks to Mr. Roesch has one of the most endearing, but rare features, of any motor car—quality.

So take heart enthusiasts—one does not necessarily have to go to Sotheby’s. Try doing it the hard way without a cheque book.

Little Bookharn. R. C. HALL.

The Fate of a 1914 T.T./G.P. Vauxhall

Sir,

I feel that it is time that I put pen to paper regarding the fate of one of the 1914 T.T./G.P. Vauxhall racing cars, more especially so in view of your comments on Vauxhall G.P. Profile No. 21.

The car in question being 3.3-litre Vauxhall No. 3, of the 1914 T.T. team, driven by Higginson and going out of the race on the first day with engine trouble due to its losing engine oil.

In the 1914 French Grand Prix the same car was fitted with a longer stroke crankshaft and a bigger bore block and was driven by De Palma, in this race lasting until the eighth lap when it went out with unspecified troubles.

During World War 1 all of the three T.T./G.P. Vauxhalls were modified by their makers in the manner stated by L. Pomeroy in the Vauxhall Profile, and stored for the duration of the War.

In the post-war era Vauxhall No. 3 was registered for the road, the registration number being XL2707, and was raced at Brooklands by the Gibsons, crashing in 1922.

The car was then rebuilt and found its way to a dealer in the Euston Road, being then purchased by Mr. R. L. Aspden, who used it on the road and raced it on the sands at Southport (see. Motor Sport, September, 1958), exchanging it in the late 1920s for the V12 Sunbeam. After this, being long in the tooth, the car stood in a shed at Brooklands until it was bought by Mr. Andrew Baynes, of Canterbury, who was at that time a Cambridge University undergraduate. Mr. Baynes last registered the car for road use on August 30th, 1931, with the L.C.C. Taxation Authority, and it was entered and driven by him in the Inter-Varsity speed trials at Hexton Hall in 1932, after which it was decided to overhaul the car.

A 3.3-litre engine was obtained from Vauxhall’s in 1932-1933 (not 1938 as stated in L. Pomeroy’s Profile 21), and the car was stripped down.

Tragically, Mr. Baynes was killed in a road accident on Dover Hill, and the Vauxhall was never reassembled.

The chassis frame and running gear being given to a local builder who made them into a trailer to carry bricks. I have since tried to locate this trailer without success. When World War 2 started both 3.3 and 4.5-litre engines went as salvage to help the War effort.

It took over eight years of writing letters and following up every clue to track down this car to its last resting place. Most of the facts above were given to me by the mother of the deceased, and the family chauffeur, a splendid fellow who was at that time (1964) 72 years old and a veritable mine of information. He claimed that the Vauxhall was still capable of more than 95 m.p.h. in a clapped-out condition, with the 4.5-litre engine fitted, and I see no reason to doubt this. He had driven many types of car, from Mercedes Benz to Minerva, and recalled how the Master of the House would decide on the spur of the moment to slip over to Monte Carlo for the week-end, just like that, and off they would go.

So, appart from some minor pieces, and some photographs which I have, that Sir is that.

S. Harrow. TERENCE LARNER.

Austin 7 Half-shafts

Sir,

Congratulations to the Austin 7 and crews on their U.K.-to-Australia and London-to-Tasmania trips. I note Horsbrough and Card had more than their share of half-shaft trouble and as it is common to these wonderful little cars a word on the subject would not be out of place.

The major cause of half-shaft failure is badly fitting hubs and keys and I find the best way to fit these components is as follows:

Lap the hub on the shaft using valve grinding paste until the hub can be moved round the shaft steadily showing that high spots have been removed. Clean off paste and fit the hub to the shaft without the key and tighten up hard. Note the position of the nut, i.e., count the threads on the half-shaft showing and mark top flat or corner of the nut. Remove hub, fit the key and tighten up; the nut should go on the same distance as without the key. If the nut will not go on so far the hub is riding on the key and that is the cause of the failures. To remedy, file the key until the nut will go fully home. This will need several trials; tile only a bit from the key each time where it has been marked.

When finally assembling, if you find that the cotter-pin will not go in, do not slacken off a fraction but remove the nut and file a bit off, so that when fully tightened, the cotter will slide in. A useful tip is to mark the end of the shaft in line with the cotter hole.

Sometimes, when the hub and shaft are very worn and further metal has been removed by grinding, you find that the whole axle is locked due to the fact that the half-shaft gear has been pulled up hard on to the diff. cage. Do not worry, however, as a tapered sleeve shim can easily be made from bending round a piece of thin copper or even Aluminium from a cigar tube or pastille box and cutting to size with ordinary scissors. After fitting this shim, the nut should be tightened after 5, 25, 50 and 100 miles or until it will tighten no further, showing that the shim is fully bedded in. Even without the shim, the nut should be checked after a few miles, and again, if it could be tightened.

One can, of course, drive an Austin 7 with a broken half-shaft, provided the broken end is pushed in to lock the differential and a wheel nut used as a distance piece to stop it working back.

I have driven my Austin daily for over nine years and leave the Jaguar at home for the wife.

Stalybricige. BRIAN R. HARFIELD.

THE ROESCH AND MAYBACH CONTROVERSIES

Sir,

Referring to Mr. Roesch’s letter in the October issue of Motor Sport, I am sorry that he regrets my language, but I believe that it is only under the stimulus of controversy that Truth will reveal her Nakedness.

Mr. Roesch states that my facts are misleading, but fails to explain in what way. The valve gear should not only be light but should also enable the engine to breathe effectively. Probably the lightest form of valve gear is an automatic overhead inlet valve and side exhaust. However, one does not now employ such a scheme, as mechanically operated valves are found to give better results in spite of an increase in reciprocating weight.

Being a keen student of competition car development, I have long been well aware of the outstanding record and of the design features of the Roesch Talbot. One of the lessons learned is that races are generally won by a combination of virtues, and it could well be argued that the Talbots achieved their results, not because of the push-rod valve gear, but in spite of it. Thus, if the same design skill and ingenuity which had been lavished on the push-rod system, had, instead, been devoted to an overhead camshaft concept, the cars might have done even better, such as winning a Le Mans General Classification.

The victory of the side-valve Sunbeam over the d.o.h.c. Peugeot and other valve designs of the same piston displacement in 1912 did not prove that side valves were superior. The long reign of the two-valve head has not proved that it is necessarily better than a four-valve one. And so on.

A point of historical interest not mentioned in my previous letter for reasons of space concerns the “overhead valve rocker oscillating on an adjustable ball-ended stud.” Mr. Roesch implies that he was the first to use such a scheme. However, as far back as 1915 the American Ferro o.h.v. V8 passenger car engine also used “overhead valve rockers oscillating on adjustable ball-ended studs.” A sectional drawing of the engine appears on page 631 of the fifth edition of P. M. Hades “The Gasoline Motor.”

Referring to Maybach aero engines, my impression is that the “mystery” in question was never completely resolved and I believe I may be able to help. About three years ago I had some correspondence with Maybach over a paper which they had presented at an S.A.E. meeting. One of the subjects discussed concerned the Maybach aero and airship engines of the pre-1918 era and I was very kindly sent a fairly detailed tabulation a specifications and power curves at two levels of atmospheric pressure for the 300-h.p. model (MbIVa).

As shown by the attached extracts, the tabulation indicated that six models were produced before 1918. You will note that the “AZ” one was the second of the series and it appears, as has happened in other cases, that the idea of having serial numbers or letters did not occur until after a second model was conceived. It is suggested, therefore, that the first model fills the place of the missing ” BY.” Much to the discomfiture of historians, serial numbers of cars and engines frequently depart from the canons of simple logic. The tabulation also goes to show that the T-head engine with five valves never existed.

Coming nearer home, if you look on page 322 of the 1931 edition of Ricardo’s book, “The High Speed Internal Combustion Engine,” you will see an illustration of a sectioned Maybach aero engine cylinder of the 1914-18 war. This clearly shows five overhead valves, two large and three small.

Thank you for a very interesting magazine.

East Horsley. F. R. B. KING.
[In thanking Mr. King for an interesting letter, I would make the point that the point at issue was whether the Isotta-Maybach racing car could have had a 30-valve T-head engine as The Motor implied.—ED.]

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