Looking Round the Speed Shops

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S.A.H. Accessories

Syd Hurrell, the proprietor of S.A.H. Accessories, Vimy Drive, Leighton Buzzard, concentrates solely on the Triumph TR series of cars and other makes which use the Triumph engine, such as Peerless and Morgan. The result of this concentration is a highly developed engine and suspension conversion which has been tested over many hundreds of racing miles by many drivers including Mr. Hurrell who has gained many successes with first TR2s and more lately TR3s.

The Triumph TR2 was introduced to the public in late 1953 and almost from the beginning Syd Hurrell began modifying the willing engine to give more power. Every year he thought he had reached the limit but there was always a little more power to be obtained — for instance after last winter’s mods. had been completed the works car had gained from 6 to 8 seconds on most circuits with a Goodwood lap time of 1 min. 48 sec., a very creditable time for a road-equipped sports car which is fully usable on the road.

The basis of the extra power is the modified cylinder head which is given a compression ratio of 9 or 9.5 : 1, an improved combustion chamber shape and enlarged and polished ports. The standard inlet manifold is retained but is enlarged to match cylinder head ports. The TR3 has a high port head and a 27 per cent. power increase can be expected while on the TR2 about 17 to 20 per cent. improvement is realised. These mods. can be carried out for £25 10s. or the TR2 owner can purchase a high-port TR3 head for £16 17s. 6d.

Also recommended for use in conjunction with the modified head is the four-branch exhaust manifold. This system pairs cylinders 1 and 4 and 2 and 3 leading into a twin pipe which connects up with the standard tail pipe. This costs £19, and virtually completes the engine changes deemed necessary by Syd Hurrell. He has naturally experimented with other mods., including special inlet manifolds and ram pipes, but found they made no difference to performance so has not bothered to manufacture them although many people request these two items. Another essential item if continuous high speed running is anticipated is the oil cooler kit. The price of these kits varies depending on whether the by-pass or full-flow type is required but will be between £20 and £25. A special kit for the Peerless costs £22.

On the suspension side an anti-roll bar is available at £6, competition front springs at £4 9s. per pair, competition rear shock-absorbers at £6 6s. per pair or if Konis are required these are £7 10s. per pair. There are of course many other accessories such as 60-spoke road wheels which are essential for racing as the 48-spoke standard wheels collapse after a while. The Remax Baldwin brake booster, which is stocked at £7 10s., is especially useful in enabling light pedal pressures to be used in conjunction with disc brakes fitted with hard linings.

A more recent development is the use of glass fibre replacement parts for the front wings, nosepiece, boot lid, and gearbox cover. Other parts will be added to the range shortly so that it will be possible to have almost the whole body made of glass fibre. For racing there is an enormous saving in weight while repair costs for glass fibre are less than those for steel. Thus should a Triumph owner be involved in an accident he may be wise to purchase a glass fibre replacement than to have the steel component repaired. There is also a saving in cost over the steel product. The TR2 owner can, by purchasing a glass fibre TR3A nosepiece, convert his car into a TR3A (or at least make it look like a TR3A).

Mr. Hurrell is eagerly looking forward to the day when the twin-cam TR3S will be released — if ever — when he hopes his progress round the circuits will be even more meteoric than before. The unfortunate incidents at Le Mans when the fan blades went through the radiators were due to the fact that Standard Vanguard fan blades were used, running at half the speed they normally do in the Vanguard. Unfortunately the engineers overlooked the fact that the revs. would build up much more quickly on this twin-cam unit, with the result that the blades were subjected to much greater loadings and eventually detached themselves.

The success of Syd Hurrell’s modifications cannot be doubted — the race records speak for themselves, while the fact that the Triumph and Peerless teams have used his equipment at Le Mans needs no explanation from us. Mr. Hurrell does not think the time has come to end the production run of the TR. His philosophy is that there is a waiting list for the car, indicating that the public still want them, so why change to a new model? — M.L.T.

Alexander Engineering

Alexander Engineering, of Haddenham, Bucks., was formed in 1946 by Michael Christie for the manufacture of gaskets. This business is still carried on and indeed makes all the gaskets for Alexander conversions as well as supplying gaskets for out-of-date models. But in 1953 the company turned to the tuning of family saloons, a subject which had received little attention at that time. The business has grown so much that conversions now leave the works at something like 200 per month, which probably explains why so many family saloons are difficult to pass these days!

A large variety of makes and models are catered for by Alexanders and the range is being added to practically every week. At present the following cars can be converted: Austin A.30, A.35, A.40, A.50, A.55, A.90, and Metropolitan, Austin-Healey Sprite, Ford Anglia, Prefect, Consul, and Zephyr, M.G. TB, TC, TD, TF, Y, Magnette ZA and ZB, Hillman Minx, Morris Minor Series II and 1000, Morris Oxford II, Standard 8 and 10, Renault Dauphine, Vauxhall Victor, Sunbeam Rapier, Wolseley 4/44, 15/50 and 1500.

Alexanders are on good terms with most manufacturers who generally supply cars in advance of the release date so that the work of modifying can he completed as soon as possible. When a new car arrives at Haddenham the development staff under the direction of Mr. Martin carefully run the car in, then take accurate performance figures for the car in standard form. If the engine is an unknown quantity the technical data supplied by the manufacturer is thoroughly sifted and the engine is taken down and examined to determine whether it is strong enough to take the extra power whilst maintaining reliability. The work of modifying then begins. After each modification the engine is put on the Heenan and Froude water brake to check power and torque and a graph is made up every time. Experiments are made with all the components until a satisfactory power output is reached together with a good torque curve. The engineer has to bear in mind that the customer wants his horsepower as cheaply as possible so his aim must be for the best horsepower gain per pound money.

When the conversion has been finally approved work begins on manufacturing the necessary parts. All castings are contracted out but polishing is done at Haddenham. The removal of metal from cylinder heads is done at Haddenham in a well equipped-machine shop and port polishing is carried out in a separate shop. The large stores carries hundreds of items from anti-roll bars to complete Laycock de Normanville overdrive units. Over 400 carburetter kits are in stock at any one time and these are sent out complete with manifolds so that the customer has the minimum amount of work to carry out.

Alexanders have appointed a nation-wide network of distributors who are authorised to fit all Alexander conversions. Each firm sends at least one mechanic to Haddenham for a week’s training in the fitting of the various kits. Each distributor handles conversions only for the makes he normally sells so that in large towns there may be five or six Alexander stockists. In addition the Rootes Group distribute certain Alexander items through their chain of dealers, a particularly popular seller being the Lockheed Servo Brake system for which Alexanders are Concessionaires. We were able to try this fitted to a Hillman Minx and the improvement over the standard brakes is very noticeable.

The recently introduced models are not being neglected by Alexanders and work is going ahead on a number of interesting projects for the 1960 season. From what we have seen of these new conversions Alexander Engineering should not lag behind in the year ahead. — M.L.T.