Letters from Readers, October 1946

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28

Sir,
In the course. of literary browsing came upon this eighteenth-century gem, taken from Boswell’s “Life of Johnson”:

“If (said Dr. Johnson) I had no duties, and no reference to futurity, I would spend my life in driving briskly in a post-chaise with a pretty woman; but she should be one who could understand me, and would add something to the conversation.”

Should not such profession of “Enthusiasm” be rewarded by a posthumous honorary membership of the V.C.C.?
I am, yours, etc.,
John Monckton.
London, S.W.7.

Sir,
I thought your readers might be interested to have a few details of my 1922 10.4-h.p. Fiat.

This car is a very much modified sidevalve tourer which has been fitted with a special overhead valve head. A Lucas magneto and Bosch dynamo replace the original Italian electrical equipment. The body is now a 2/3-seater bullet-shaped affair reputed to be made from the engine nacelle of a crashed Zeppelin, and the artillery-type wheels have been changed for 6-stud wire wheels.

Top speed is in the region of 65, but the really remarkable quality of the car is its hill-climbing capabilities; it will pick up on top up hills which reduce the average modern car to third, this with four up. The fourth passenger is accommodated in a small hole in the tail.

If you could put me in touch with anyone who has one of these o.h.v. heads for 10-h.p. Fiats, 1922 to 1927 or 1928, 4-cylinder, of course, I should be very much obliged.
I am, Yours, etc.,
P. B. Harrison.
Chester.
[In the middle ‘twenties a “10/15” Fiat used to compete in sprint events. Could this be the same car? — Ed.]

Sir,
I was very interested in the description in the August issue of Mr. Carson’s proposed 500-c.c. racing car, in which he is utilising Norton engines in an Austin Seven chassis, driving through a Norton gearbox. You state, however, that he is using a model “E.S.2” engine for sprint work and a model “18” for longer duration racing, but surely there must be some inaccuracy in this report? The 490-c.c. push-rod engine fitted by the manufacturers to both the model “18” and “E.S.2” is the same, and the only difference between these two models lies in the frame construction, as the latter uses a frame of semi-loop construction.

No doubt the other power plant besides the push-rod one that Mr. Carson proposes to use is one of the overhead camshaft engines, in which case it will either be a model “C.S.1” or model “30.” The main external visible differences between these two engines are in the valve springs, rocker-box, and carburetter, as the model “30,” which is, of course, the 490-c.c. engine fitted by Norton Motors Ltd. in their famous “International” model, has hairpin valve springs, a rocker-box of more robust construction, and is fitted with a flange-fitting Amal T.T.34 carburetter, whereas the “C.S.1” is, of course, fitted with normal coil springs and a normal adaptor-type fitting Amal carburetter. I wonder if Mr. Carson has been fortunate enough to obtain a model “30” engine built in Manx racing specification? If so, this engine will be, amongst other things, fitted with an alloy head and barrel, and electron crankcase and rocker-box — all of which will be conducive to a really good power to weight ratio, and which, when the car is completed, should prove a worthy challenger to the now firmly established half-litre class.
I am, Yours, etc.,
M. M. Usher, L.A.C.
R.A.F.

Sir,
I have been wondering when somebody would be daft enough to introduce the subject of steam cars into the alcohol/castor oil-soaked pages of Motor Sport, and now that “Baladeur” has done it, I hope you will not fire him out of hand. His article this month about Leon Serpollet provided great enjoyment for me at least, because I begin to see that all the sufferings I have had with steam cars (one car but in many different layouts) have their exact prototype in the sufferings of Serpollet & Co. This helps to take the sting out of it. Like Serpollet, I had a grate — in the Mk. I model — and although it never actually fell out on the road, it almost certainly would have done so through time, as most of the boiler casing got burnt away, and when the high-pitched scream of escaping steam one day signified that the steam generator tubes were also burning away, I decided it was time to try some other, less corrosive, fuel. The Mk. II therefore uses vaporising oil in a vaporising burner which was made for me by a firm, the manager of which knew Serpollet, and used some of his better ideas.

The same firm made the steam generator which I mounted in the front of the chassis. This was a mistake, because the fumes from the twelve little blow-lamps came out of a chimney just on a level with the driver’s face — or should it be chauffeur’s in this case? — which made breathing possible only at times. The Mk. III model therefore has the boiler at the rear, the Stanley 10-h.p. engine as part of the back-axle (ratio about 1 1/2 to 1), and fuel and water tanks with a model T radiator, still to fit, as a condenser. I will not mention pumps because “Baladeur” seems to have covered that ground pretty thoroughly. All I need say is that the Mk. Ill seems to be less temperemental than either of the preceding models, and on slight down-hill grades it surprising velocitirs. What is bothering me now is what firm will insure it! If all else fails it might be possible to register myself as an insurance company, and have one customer, myself. I think there may be the germ of an idea here for other owners of vintage cars and “specials.”

I think that this will be quite enough as your space is probably limited just now, but I would like to say how much Motor Sport is enjoyed.
I am, Yours, etc.,
Alex. S. Wilson.
Dunblane,
Perthshire.