MULTUM IN PARVO
SOME NOTES ON ONE OF THE 1931 AUSTIN SEVEN TEAM T.T. CARS
THE majority of our readers will probably best remember the Austin under review when it was George Chaplin’s proud possession and did extremely well in the L.C.C. Relay Races and High Speed Trials. Some time ago S. T. Lush, of Westminster, acquired the little orange Austin and we requested an opportunity to conduct a long road test with it. This was readily granted, but some time elapsed before the correct plugs could be found to combat the engine’s oily heat, and then Herr Hitler imposed his will ; a supercharged racing. engine on ” Pool ” fuel is no sort of motor to take out for critical analysis. However, so many Austin Seven fans exist amongst our circle of supporters that some notes may be of interest. This .Austin started as one of the famous works team in 1931, the cars figuring in the T.T., Double Twelve, Phernix Park and 500 Mile Races, handled by Waite,
Goodacre, Davis and Co. They wore orange paint, it is said to facilitate recognition of so small a vehicle by the pit-staff. After this particular Austin team disbanded Searle bought the car in question and Chaplin acquired it later, after exploits of note with his ” Chummy ” Austin. In general the car follows standard supercharged ” Ulster” practice, but with many refinsments and in finish and equipment it is one Of the most desirable small racing cars we have examined. The engine has the Cozette blower on the near side, drawing from a Solex carburetter. The three-branch exhaust system is on the off-side, feeding to either a straight pipe or a straight pipe incorporating a Brooklands expansion box. The pressure-fed crankshaft, special valves, tappets, camshaft, valve springs, and pistons, etc. distinguish the unit from standard. The bronze cylinder head is copperised and has a long water outlet duct. The compression ratio is 5 to 1 for road work, with a maximum supercharge of 8-10 lb. per square inch. For sprint work a special head gives a ratio of 5.5 to 1. The blower comes in at 2,500 r.p.m., giving a blow of 3-5 lb. at touring gaits. The carburetter has two main jet combinat ions, one for road work and one for racing. One Relay Race was lost because faulty copperplating of an experimental head led to Water-leakage into the combustion spaces, but this malady has never recurred. The oil pressure is very considerable, and although Chaplin uses his own, improved seal at the nose of the crankshaft, it is not advisable to use the starting handle unless absolutely essential, as this severs the seal. The engine runs on National Benzol fuel and one third of a pint of oil is mixed . with it for lubrication of the blower internals. Oil is also carried in another tank, the filler-cap of which extends through the top of the bonnet, and is fed to the blower via a motor-cycle pump. another tank, having its filler behind the facia, carries a reserve supply of lubricant which can be let down into the sump. Castrol XL for road and ” R ” for racing is doctor’s orders. The chive goes via a special clutch and three speed box to a 4.9 to 1 rear axle. The axle has a special casing stiffened by flanges and the chassis frame has side members of special rein forced section channel. The lowered front axle is of ” Ulster ” type and Chaplin added a 1 inch tie rod running beside it to combat flexion of the radius arms which figure in all Austin Seven front assemblies. The springs are bound and damped by Luvax hydraulic shockabsorbers. Those at the front are mounted transversely before the axle and at the rear the shock-absorbers are actually on the axle, with short arms running out to the chassis—a method. probably necessary on account of space limitations. The brakes are coupled, the central hand lever being very massive, with a huge rubber-grip, and the three-stud Austin
wire wheels carry 4.00″ x39″ racing tyres. Special Fero& brake linings arc used. The radiator cap has overflow tubing and the scuttle is actually part of the 10 gallon fuel tank, which lifts clear on removal of four bolts, to render the engine fully accessible. The big cap has a bar for spinning it off and. on, but quickaction caps are not used for any of the tanks. The tail sweeps up more than a normal ” Ulster,” giving a very cheeky back-view, and equipment includes radiator stone-guard, aero screens and a big gauze screen used for the ” Double Twelve ” races, and a cockpit Cover with celluloid window for easy observance of the instruments. The wings are very rigid, but easily removable and the head
lamp cables have snap-out connections. The facia carries, from left to right Air-pressure gauge ; oil filler tank ; water thermometer reading to 100°C. ; blower pressure gauge ; Smith’s 100 m.p.h. small dial speedometer ; ammeter and lamp switches ; oil thermometer ; oil
gauge reading to 60 lb. per square inch ; small rev.-counter reading to 6,000 r.p.m. and choke control. The air pump, on the
floor, rather cramps the passengers legs. Pressure is kept at / lb. per square inch. The normal oil pressure is 4:5 lb. per square inch, and temperature 50°C. The water temperature stays at 70°C. in spite of the front number plate blanking the radiator ; it is only necessary to expose the whole surface of the radiator for an M.C.C. High Speed Trial. Plugs have been rather a worry, but K.L.G. M50 now stand up well. The fuel consumption
is about 25 m.p.g. on the racing jet and oii at present about 100 m.p.g., indicating need of new rings. So far as road impressions are concerned, the little car is definitely thor
oughbred, in sound, feel and abilities. Acceleration is not marked from a standstill on account of high ratios and a fierce clutch, but the power maintains well at high speeds. Thirty m.p.h. in top gear equals 2,000 r.p.m. On the gears speeds of 28 m.p.h. and 45 m.p.h. are obtainable without over revving. The car cruises very eagerly at 50-60 m.p.h. and has done 75 m.p.h. on the road fully equipped and two up. The blower whine can be heard above the exhaust tang at 3,000 r.p.m. upwards. Chaplin found the rear number plate, which is set across the tail, and the front wings, to take 8 m.p.h. off the top speed. Thus the maximum is about 83 m.p.h. and we believe the car, in Relay Races, has lapped at over 80, getting about 94 along the straight in fully stripped trim and * holding 100 m.p.h. in diving off the home banking. The brakes are astounding, in both extreme power of operation and smooth effortless application and the steering is light, accurate and high-geared The gear-change from bottom up to second requires rather brutal movements and tail slides are not altogether absent on
wet roads. The ” frontworks ” ride dead steady and the suspension is definitely of racing hardness at low speeds. A former owner had fitted a booster to assist the magneto to combat oiled plugs when starting, but this is no longer used. The car was first registered for road use in March 1932. The chassis number is 130187, the engine number XA154 and the type designation : 7 h.p. B3, 3262. Certainly it is a most fascinating possession and one of which we hope to hear more when this War is over. It is in good hands, . for Lush, who belongs to the Harrow C.C. and Vintage S.C.C., has worked at Papworth’s, in the racing departments of Frazer-Nash and George Newman, and on such cars as the racing Benz, and he is a 100 per cent. enthusiast.
‘Writing before fuel rationing cot n inenced, motoring conditions were prastically normal and there was no diminution of sports cars in use. Indeed, we observed lots of modern fast stuff driven by Army and Air Force officers and noted vintage Windsor and Ballot sports. jobs manned by civilians. Incidentally, we have seen about four Windsors in active service in South London within a few weeks. The Women’s Volunteer Reserve car park in Chester Square contained a fine, open 8-litre Bentley carrying a hastily improvised 0.H.M.S. notice and a ” 38/230 Mere6des-Benz was seen in charge of an enthusiastic tin-hatted crew. Undoubtedly Pool petrol and the strict rationing scheme will damp the enthusiasm’ of owners of cherished sports cars, but up to a day or so before the introduction of these limitations to fast motoring we encountered an Anzani Frazer-Nash, mffortamately suffering from a seriously disrumpted transmission, in a conspicuous spot with no ” black-out ” modifications as yet made to its lighting system.
Doubtless its driver now memorises very clearly the exact location of reverse speed ! Of lorries, aome interesting vintage examples have been seen, including a pneumatic-tyred F:W.D., a Peerless, a forward-control Maudslay of at least
welye summers, and a mysterious chaindriven, left-hand job drive engaged on demolition work in a local A.R.P. yard— it demolished quite a lot of the wall in making its exit.