OCTOBER, 1950 THE GARDNER M.G. THE GOOD OLD DAYS !
• * • THE GOOD OLD DAYS I
I have just finished reading Mr. Karslake's article on the 1909 Napier and would like to thank you for this, to me, extremely interesting reading.
As a boy I worked in the old Napier factory at Acton Vale in 1908, and saw some interesting things there, including the big racer for the Gordon Bennett in Ireland, the wheels which were made for Charles Glidden's 16-h.p. They had locomotive flanges and were used by him to chive the car over the American railroads. Of course I sit* the first or some of the first six-cylinder jobs. I worked on the 1-2-h.p. erecting bench and the sixcylinder erecting bench or space was next to ours. You will understand that the, whole factory was housed in one building and on one floor. There were no interior walls or divisions, and the erecting bays were set out on the floor and consisted of benches set up against the walls and on which the fitters had their vices, and behind them were the spaces on which atood the chassis which were in course of production, the men engaged in the various operations going from chassis to chassis. The completion of the whole vehicle from the wooden chassis, or frame rather, to the finished article was a very interesting performance. Every part was fitted by hand and it. involved a very great deal of hard work for everyone concerned, and the whole job took several weeks. For instance, on our 12-h.p. job the frame was made of ash, on the sides of this were fitted two plates, one inside and one out, on each side member, cut to shape and drilled with holes for t, -in. countersunk screws, the inner plate being tappet'. These plates were of On. steel plate and when fixed in position the edges stood proud of the wooden frame by about one. sixteenth of an inch; this proud metal was filed down flush to the wood, by hand, about Six feet of it top and bottom both sides, a sixteen-inch bastard file was used and I can assure you it was hard work. 1 know. All the ears made in my time were chain driven, the ignition distributors were on the body side of the dash and chain driven from the engine, and some of the sixes had a chain-driven pump on the gearbox, which I think looked after the oil in the box. We worked a fifty-four hour week, 7 a.m. till 12 noon and from 1 p.m. until 6 p.m., no tea time and you took breakfast before you left home in the morning. I had an hour and a halt's journey across London and used to turn out at 4.80 a.m. and drew the princely
wage of one penny farthing per hour with time and a .half for overtime, but I learned something.
With regard to the body on Mr. Barker's car, I had a 45-hp. Mereedet in 1910 with a similar body except the front screen and the mit was in one piece and came away from the body when the retaining screws were removed. Also, the body was hinged to the chassis by two strong Steel hinges at the back, and underneath were two pairs of telescopic tubes; these were attached at one end to the body and at the other to the chassis and inside them were two very strong springs, the body had a very large and strong hook and pin on each side, also a lifting handle, the screen and roof were removed, the hook unfastened and the. whole body could be swung up clear of the chassis, being held up by the action of the two very strong springs inside the tubes. It. enabled any work on the chassis to he carried out entirely unhampered by coachwork, the work finished, the two handles were pulled and the body dropped gently back in its appointed place. I believe it was called the Thomas Body Elevator: I have a photograph of the car but not with the body swung up. This car belonged to Mr. W. R. Lerianton, an Uncle of John (Mathis) Lenanton.
I claim to be one of the first to drive a oar for use by the Press, for the delivery of newspapers. In 1902 I worked at the Euston motor Co. in Euston Road, and on Sundays we sea-three ears out to take Sunday papers round London to augment. the newsagents' supplies. I drove one of these ears. We had two-cylinder Panhards; with tube ignition, single-cylinder Darracqs with steering-column gear.change, V-twin Aders.(Ader, not Adler), also with ateering-eolUmn gear-change and cars of similar types. We carried Lloyds Weekly Metes, News of the World, Referee and Weekly Despatch. I have trespassed too long On your valuable space and patience hut you kneriv what occurs when one looks back over the years, what visions are conjured up and stores of happy memories dived into. I have a photograph of the first fleet I. took charge of—two Leon Bolles, a Mass and a Clernent,Talbot with open rear entrance body, sans screens, sans hood,
and with low-tension ignition. I took these over in 1907, the two Bolles being new ones just out of the. coachbuilders and what beautiful ears they were. I am, Yours, eke,
London, W.11. H. YouNO. • • •