CARS OF THE AIRCRAFT MANUFACTURERS
ROLLS-ROYCE make both cars and aeroplane engines. In this article the Editor attempts to compare their motor-car production and testing methods today and pre-war. Sec also page 851. ANUMBER of manufacturers eminent in the aero-engine sphere have manufactured cars, but in most cases there has been little or no resemblance between the motor-car and the aeroplane engine, which is rather surprising, surely
The Armstrong Siddeleys of the vintage era did have valve rovers and valve gear reminding one irresistibly of the B.H.P. in-line aeroplane engine built by that famous Coventry company, and the 4050-11.p. car with which 0. IL Napier & Sons sought to enter the luxury-car market after the Armistice of 1918 certainly had overhead camshaft valve gear, made good use of light alloys, and generally bore a close resemblance to Napier’s famous broadarrow ” Lion ” 12-cylinder 450-h.p. aero-engines. The Hispano-Suiza of the same era was closely related to the war-time Hispano aero-engines in its valve gear and cylinder block arrangements, although the aeroplane motors were V8s, the car an in-line 37.2-h.p. six-cylinder. I am sure Parry Thomas, God rest his soul, learnt from his ” X “-type aeroengine some of the ingenious points he subsequently incorporated in his splendid Leyland Eight luxury car. Salrnsons of the ” pushpull” persuasion (four push-rods for eight inclined o.h. valves !) certainly were copying war-time aero motor practice. Wolseley made V8 Hispano-Suiza aero-engines under licence during the 1914-18 War and you can see the connection if you study the Wolseley Ten and other Wolseley o.h.c. car engines of early vintage years.
Curiously, although W. O. Bentley designed extremely effective aero-engines which played their part in winning the 1914-18 War, they were air-cooled rotaries and his post-war car had its watercooled cylinders in-line and was related, not to the air, but to the Grand Prix course at Lyon in 1914. Nor does the engine of the Bristol car owe anything at all to the splendid sleeve-valve air-cooled Bristol radial aeroplane motors for which Sir Roy Fedden was responsible. Indeed, it is a crib of the pre-war German 328 B.M.W. sports-car power unit.
The Wolseley has an aero-engine ancestry which was short-lived because Lora Nuffield refused to put up with the Shallow dealing of the Air Ministry during pre-World War Il rearmament and closed down his aero-engine factory. But these engines were air-cooled radials hearing no resemblance to current or subsequent Wolseley motor-car power units.
I would be prepared to say that Rolls-Royce’ self-styled makers of “The Best Car in the World” and certainly builders of the finest water-cooled aero-engines of both World Wars; kept their cars and their aeroplane motors separate, from the design aspect, if Runty Scott-Moncrieff had not told me a story to: the effect that towards the end of the war Rolls-Royce had a small VS aeroplane engine in course of development which had push-rod-operated valves and was known as the” Goshawk ” and that when some years later the RollsRoyce Twenty car was introduced (and, as I have told in these. pages, caused adverse comment because it had several American features, such as three speeds and a central gear-lever) it was based on this aero-engine and was known in the factory as the ” Goshawk.” Perhaps someone who knows more of this, will confirm or deny Bunty’s story ? But where the highly successful overhead camshaft Rolls-Royce
” Hawk,” ” Falcon,” ” Eagle” and other World War I aero-engines were concerned, they bore no resemblance to the great 40/50 RollsRoyce cars, any more than the post-war Rolls-Royce car engines have anything in common with the magnificent “Merlin” of World War II, apart from the use of light alloy with cast-iron sleeves for the cylinder blocks of the Phantom HI and today’s
In reflecting thus I find myself becoming curious to know how Rolls-Royce factory methods of today compare with those of the vintage era. My request to visit the Rolls-Royce Motor Car Division at Crewe has met with continued rebuffs. But an American journalist, John R. Bond of Road & Track, has made the expedition end, under the circumstances, it is to his journal that I turn for enlightenment.
In his issue of September 1960 Bond devotes much space to RollsRoyce matters, remarking by way of preface that The Rolls isn’t hand-made, it doesn’t have a sealed engine, it isn’t guaranteed forever. It’s just the best car in the World . . .” Bond tells us the prototype” Silver Cloud H ” VS engine was ready in 1955 and went into production late in the summer of 1939, after tests totalling 12,000 hours on the dynamometer and 380,000 miles on the road.
Having penetrated the Crewe Motor-Car Division of RollsRoyce Ltd. -after a train ride from London, Bond came away with the impression that there are no mysteries in manufacture of a Rolls-Royce, with one exception. He gives the impression that the plant is almost cramped and the cars “made rather normally.’ The exception relates to how the radiator shell is shaped from sheet steel by “half a dozen craftsmen.” Manufacturing methods which caught Bond’s eye were the multiple drilling of the block, 38 holes in one end, 29 in the other being drilled and tapped simultaneously, and the steps taken to ensure perfect alignment of main and camshaft bearings in the block. Forged alloy timing gears are a novelty, with “helical teeth finish ground to super-precision aircraft-quality standards.” Bond was surprised to find that Rolls-Royce “buys out” as many or even more components than any other company, such as casting’s, forgings, pistons, Valves, bearings, starters, generators, hydraulic pumps, radiators, frames, bodies, etc., while making their own steering gears, transmissions, and back axles; also many of their own screw machine parts.” ” Aero ” threads go in at points of high stress. ” As a very general statement,” writes Bond, ” R.-R. toleranees are no better, no cleser, than good U.S. practice—cylinder bores 0.001 in., pistons graded in steps of 0.0003 in., and a few diameters
held to 0.00025 in.” But material selection, heat-treatment and inspection impressed him deeply. The final assembly line apparently moves very slowly, consistent with an output of 10 ears a day, 50 a week, 2,5.00 per annum.
As to testing, he tells us that every engine. is run for 21. hours on the bench, each car driven for 200 miles on the road. This prompted me to refer to “The Magic of a Name,” the hook written by Harold Nockolds in 1938 to eulogise the sacred make. I find reference to the care taken in manufacturing the pre-war RollsRoyce Phantom III ” … one frequently comes across clearances ‘ ITALIAN G.P.–rontinucd from page 827 Meanwhile the pits were still very busy for on lap 38 Drogo had at last stopped for fuel in the white Colonia Cooper-Climax and on lap 39 von Trips had stopped so that Dunlops could look at his rear tyres; they were not too worn so off he went again, but this brief stop had let Cabianca go by into fourth place, thus spoiling the Ferrari display. As the rear-engined P.2 Ferrari went the whole distance without refuelling it was a pity that its run was spoilt by an indecision over tyres. At 44 laps Mairesse stopped unexpectedly to tell about horrid noises in the transmission but, he was sent on again to finish one lap behind Phil
Hill. The number one American road race driver completed the 50 laps at a new record race average and thus became the first American to win a proper Grand Prix in Europe since Jimmy Murphy way back in the dark ages. Ginther was a worthy second followed by Mairesse, Cabianca who had driven most determinedly and spoilt the Scuderia Ferrari clean sweep, and von Trips who was first of the P.2 category. A lap later came the two works Porsches and in true German fashion showing perfect team discipline they crossed the line in an apparent .dead-heat though Herrmann was given the verdict. Finally came the three private F.2 cars led by Drogo who had driven a very good race for his first try at Grand Prix racing, and then Seidel and Gamble. Results : ITALIAN GRAND PRIX—Formula I and z—so Laps-500 Kilometres Dull and Dry
That Phil Hill should be the first American to win a proper motor race with a Grand Prix car seems absolutely right, for few will deny that he is the best American road-race driver of recent years.
One would think that a Grand Prix without Moss, Brabham, Brooks, McLaren, Bonnier and company would be a dull affair, but having now seen such a race I am not so sure. *
The A.C.I. probably made a profit on this Grand Prix for the income was about the same and there was no expenditure on starting money for the ” Grand Prima Donnas.” I would not be surprised if other organisers don’t follow the example of the Italian Club and say So what!” when the British teams make engine demands in future.
Most interesting rumour at Monza was the one about the motorcycle and aircraft firm of M.V.-Agusta building a 1961 Formula I car. The next best was that Porsche have a new for next year—about time too.
The Italian G.P. has gone the full circle; in 1954 the grid was a mass of red cars and silver cars with one or two green cars at the back. After a period when the grid was a mass of green cars, 1960 saw the grid full of red cars and silver cars once more with a few green ones at the back. • • •
This year’s average speed of 252,534 k.p.h. was a big improvement over 1956 but not as much as it could have been had the works Coopers been racing against the Ferraris.
Porsche must be thinking hard for they had to refuel in 300 miles whereas the F.2 Ferrari did not, and these are next year’s G.P. cars. Von Trips averaged 202.484 k.p.h. for the 5o laps, which compares well with the 206.791 k.p.h. of Fangio with the streamlined Mercedes-Benz in 1955 on the same circuit.—D. S. J.
CARS OF THE AIRCRAFT MANUFACTURERS-
continued from page 634 of one-tenth part of a thousandth of an inch,” wrote Noekohls. ” The hollow crankshaft, for example, a quarter of an inch thick, is ground to limits of a fourth part of a thousandth of an inch, hardened to a depth of fifteen thousandths of an inch. and finally lapped until it acquires -a mirror-like surface. The connecting-rods are polished all over until they shine like glass, including the tiny oilways through them. An interesting technical feature is the thirty-thousandths of an inch hole in the con.-rod through which oil is squirted onto the thrust side of the cylinder wall . . .” Every rod was tested before assembly. Nockolds goes on to remind us that before the war RollsRoyce had its own foundry for casting iron, light alloys and bronze, its own forge where con.-rods, steering arms, ‘etc., were made, and its own plastics plant, where they made their own distributor covers, coil casings and insulators. They had their own chrome and nickelplating plants and made their own valve. springs, which were. tested at 4,500 r.p.m. for two hours. In those days Rolls-Royce made their
own shock-absorbers and radiator honeycombing. Crankshaft forgings came from Vickers but every one had a 9-in. extension piece which went to the R.-R. laboratory for testing. Engine-testing pre-war involved a four-hour run on town gas, with fresh oil filtered through the oilways, then a seven-hour run on petrol, during which power readings and fuel consumption tests were made. The complete chassis was tested for eight hours with its rear wheels on a roller-dynamometer, and afterwards taken for a 300-mile test run with a ” soap-box ” body. Next a sound amplifying saloon-linx was attached and a further SO miles covered in this form. A separate staff then made further tests and examinations and finally, with coachwork in place, the car underwent it final road-test. As to the number of employees, Nockohls refers to a total of” roughly 9,500 in 1938 “; Bond mentions 3,600 persons at Crewe today, ” not. all employed on ears.” Although I have not yet been allowed to visit the Rolls-Royce factory, this comparison of the methods. employed at Derby in 1938 with those found today at Crewe-answers
some of my questions. Verb. . B.
THE VETERAN CAR RUN
The Veteran Car Run from London to Brighton will be held this year on Sunday, November 6th. More than 200 veterans have been entered, including cars from France, Belgium, Holland, Germany and the United States. The official entry from the United States is a 1903 Oldsmobile Runabout which was chosen after a competition at Hershey, Pennsylvania. Over 200 members of the Antique Automobile Club of America will be in England on the day to watch the event. They will be on an 18-day tour of Europe in celebration of their Club’s Silver jubilee. The event will once again start from