temperamental until I decided to lubricate it with dry powdered graphite, since. when it has been perfect, disengaging filly and being very smooth in taking up the drive At first we used 80 per cent, light engine oil in. paraflin as a clutch lubricant., but the clutch always dragged using this, and even dragged on pure paraffin. The graphite thug seems to be the answer, and the plates show no sign of damage after using it for tWO years.
Brakes consist of east-iron linings and steel drums ; contracting shoes, worked by the foot-pedal, on a drum behind the gearbox, and expanding shoes, worked by the handle, on the rear wheels. The linings were all pretty worn, and We couldn’t quickly get any more cast-iron ones. Misguidedly we used Ferodo in the transmission brake, but the drum got so hot it split.. That meant a new drum being fabricated, but we learnt our lesson, and now use only cast-iron liners, after experimenting with sintered bronze. Ferodo, however, makes the back-wheel brakes work much better, but the braking system is undoubtedly the Itala’s weakest point, and, I think,. understandably. One cannot get good braking with rear wheel brakes only on a car with 60 per cent. of its weight on its front wheels! During 1946 and 1947 we raced the Rola wherever we eauld, always driving to and front the meetings in the ordinary way, and doing reasonably well in the events. I found, on decoking during the early months of 1948, that. there WIIS small hole in the middle of No. 4 piston. This was paused by careless machining when the piste/is were made, as there was only about IN in. of metal left in the tuntre of the. piston-crown when they had bored the bole for the back-centre with a centre-drill. This had burnt
through, leaving a hole. I was persuaded to have this welded by, a low temperature process, and we reassembled the engine, and competed at Prescott in May with no apparent trouble. Our next outing was to take the Hata to France to see the French G.P. at Rheims,. but this trip proved to be a chapter of accidents. Firstly the hole in the piston went through again, and directed a jet of hot gases like a blowlamp into the crankcase, seizing the little-end and melting No 4 big-end, so I spent most of my weekend at Rheims in dismantling the engine. The ” welding ” proved to be Unable to cope with the temperature of combustion, and had disappeared. It looked like solder 1 The French garage foreman said he could weld up the hole by gas welding, so we let him I ry, and he did it without distortion, which surprised me. We had to come home with the big-end clanking, as there wasn’t time to get it remetalled in France. However, all our troubles were not yet over. We arrived on Dunkirk docks in the dark, with very poor lights, and took La. wrong turning which landed us on a railway line about a foot below the level of the road, with our flywheel touching one of the rails and sending, out a shower of sparks. We had to try to build a .ramp and get out backwards on to the road, a job which was rudely interrupted by a light engine which wished to mow us down. Eventually we reversed out with a leap, but in doing so stripped reverse and firstgears. Reverse gear is only
there for show, I’m convinced, because it is very weakly made indeed, and I suppose was only included to comply with the G.P. regulations. We got home with no more troubles, but had to do a snappy refit of the big-end to enable us to compete at Prescott the following weekend. I started in second gear and was only about one second slower titan usual. That winter we had new pinions made to pattern, and overhauled the gearbox completely.
NOTABLE ITALA ACHIEVEMENTS
Silverstone. (Club circuit), 2 min. 7 see.
Prescott, 53.63 see, Shels1ey Walsh 50.08 see. Brighton, 61.8 m.p.h.
We had another major disaster next year when a ball-race collapsed in the back axle, wrecking the pinion and the race-housing. We had to have a new pinion made, and do some very tricky machining and sleeving of the pinion housing. This has all proved most satisfactory, though we lost, most of. the 1949 season because of it. It did, however, give us an opportunity of checking the axle ratio, which proved to be 1.65: to 1, instead of the 1.8 to 1 which we had previously supposed it to be. This runty account for the unexpeeted speed with which centers rush up at you when you think you are just cruising gently.
The radiator proved unable to let the water circulate freely, due to partial choking of the tubes, and at racing speeds the header tank would develop leaks One to the positive pressure inside it produced by a very healt by pump. We eventually had the radiator dismantled and purified, mid since then the trouble has gone. A new radiator block would have cost the earth and we just couldn’t afford it.
I can only hope we have new ironed out most of the bugs From the machinery (I like Mixed ntetaphors), and that we have no more major expenses for a lit Ile while.
Tyres alone are expensive enough nowadays in all conscience, and the Itala gobbles them up pretty smartly when racing ; but in spite of all these things, I really don’t know any Other form of motor-racing 1 could hope to afford which would give me half the fun and value for money that “Floretta ” has given. There is a fascination about a really fast Edwardian that cannot adequately be described in words. One must drive it to be convinced. The steering, cornering and roadholding are impeccable, and the torque at very low speeds quite unbelievable: Incidentally, I get. 13 m.p:g. on the road. I only wish the other big. Edwardian racers which have survived would come out to do battle more often. There still are ‘a few left in this country. which have not been sold for dollars, but their owners seem “shy of producing them.. I ‘hope, if they read this, that their consciences will prick them into action again or that, if they cannot drive themselves, they will let some of the other enthusiasts drive for them, and give the Itala a bit of competition.
In tune, in time, on song
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