Rumblings, October 1962

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The 1½-litre Fords

Last month we announced the 1½-litre 59½-b.h.p. version of Ford Consul Classic and Capri, which replaces the 1961 1.3-litre 54 b.h.p. versions of these Dagenham-built cars. We have since been able to drive a smart dark blue Goodyear-shod Classic with the enlarged engine, 4-speed all-synchromesh gearbox and other improvements.

What difference to perforniance do the larger, Lotus-inspired, 5-bearing 116E engine and revised gear ratios make? We can tell you—top speed is up by just over 5 m.p.h. to 85.7 m.p.h. and in the gears the maxima are 30, 45 and 73 m.p.h., compared to 45 and 68 m.p.h. for the former 3-speed model. As to acceleration, the 0-60 m.p.h, time is lowered by 2.4 sec:, the s.s. ¼-mile takes 0.2 sec. less. Is petrol thirst increased ? Yes. We got 31.96 m.p.g. from one 1.3-litre Consul Classic, 29.4 m.p.g. from another, tested last year. The 1,499-c.c. Ford gave 25.9 m.p.g. pottering about and 27.6 m.p.g. on long journeys, an average of 26.7 m.p.g. The absolute range was 217 miles.

The car is unchanged generally, so that the in-built rear-axle steering, restricted knee-room in the back compartment and lack of stowage on a back shelf, penalty of the “self-cleaning” rear window, cause disappointrnent, as they did when we tried eagerly this brand-new Ford, the price Of which remains unchanged at £777 17s. 9d.

But, on the whole, the present Consul Classic 315 represents excellent transportation, being a comfortable car capable of a 70 m.p.h. cruising speed. The steering-column gear-shift on the test car worked in utility fashion but with notable precision, although occasionally the lever came close to a steering-wheel spoke and could have barked a more chubby fist. Reverse is beyond top and easy to engage. In contrast to the B.M.C. small cars Ford now provide synchromesh on first gear—Ford’s Executive Engineer Fred Hart makes the point that unless 1st and 2nd gears are kept reasonably close rapid wear of the synchromesh mechanism can result. Perhaps some designers who eschew synchro on bottom have this in mind when providing an excitingly high second gear.

In 600 miles the 1½-litre Ford gave no trouble other than a roof-light which stayed alight in sympathy with facia illumination and failure of the o/s stop-light. It consumed no oil and the brakes, disc at the front, were pleasantly progressive if not noticeably powerful. The new engine is smooth, responsive and free from flat-spots. There is slight metallic exhaust resonance when accelerating which we did not find unpleasant. But Ford’s introduction of sealed-for-life grease points was offset by a squeaking clutch pedal and much creaking from the rear leaf-springs before the test concluded.

The Ford Consul Classic can be summed up as a dull car that is just what many motoring families enthuse over. And the new 116E engine will be welcomed by competition drivers in several spheres.

An excellent estate car

A summer week-end involving transportation of many people and considerable luggage over an appreciable distance suggested that the time was ripe to test a really good estate car. The vast Rootes and Ford empires having nothing available, the Austin A60 and Vauxhall Victor estate cars having been test-reported in Motor Sport in January, and Standard-Triumph’s P.R.O. not even deigning to answer our letters, we turned to a Continental Concessionaire, and were provided promptly and courteously with a smart dark-blue 5-door Peugeot 403 station wagon.

This rather agricultural vehicle is a splendid “sporting omnibus.” It seats up to seven people in comfort, with plenty of space for their baggage behind. Or you can fold down the back seat and have a luggage space 6 feet long increased to nearly 7 feet if the squab is folded over the cushion. If that proves insufficient you can remove the front passenger’s seat, when the length of the luggage compartment is increased to an extent that difficult pieces as ladders, flag-poles and the like can be stowed away. The weight capacity of this special station wagon 403B5 which has a wheelbase 9 in. longer than that of the saloon, is to 10 cwt.

For all its rugged spaciousness, this Peugeot cruises happily at 70 m.p.h. (top speed — 81½ m.p.h.), showing a liking for long straight roads but picking up speed quite reasonably nevertheless. Its engine emits a somewhat agricultural sound at speed but the gears and the classic worm-drive back axle are, like Edwardian children, unheard. Controls, with stalks for flashers and lights, and instrumentation are sensibly arranged, the gears changed with a big, no-nonsense I.h. steering-column lever. The latter still “goes round the corner” to select what is, in effect, a. geared up overdrive-top, but we found this less tiresome than once seemed the case, perhaps because a station wagon tends to be driven less hectically than a saloon. There is not much stowage for oddments, the cubbyhole being far too shallow, but there is a pocket on the driver’s door. The doors lock easily and there is a steering-column lock. The fuel filler is disguised as a rear lamp. The Peugeot, like most French cars, is happiest in its National terrain and in England the 6¼ to 1 direct third gear tends to be a bit low, although very flexible, top (4.7 to 1) a trifle high, but this is no great hardship and the miles roll easily by—after a 12½-hour driving day, with but brief pauses for picnic snacks and some 400 miles disposed of, driver and passengers were notably fatigue-free. You ride comfortably on supple suspension, on those excellent Michelin “X” tyres. The brakes work reassuringly, there is a much-appreciated taxi-like steering lock, very precise rack-and-pinion steering, farm tracks do not disturb the car’s equinimity and this Peugeot corners quite unlike the soggy, overhung station wagons of old. The horn is worked by pushes on the spoke of the steering wheel, one of many practical features.

If the fuel tank is filled completely it is possible to drive at least 365 miles before stopping to refuel from a can; the 65 b.h.p. 1½-litre engine with its efficient combustion chambers and valvegear returns the truly excellent petrol consumption of over 32 m.p.g. and thrives on those “regular” grades that have recently been reduced in price—compare with 26.7 m.p.g. from the far more compact Ford Consul Classic. Although this particular Peugeot had been used for 15,000 miles as a hard-worked demonstrator, in the 500 miles we drove it it used less than half a pint of oil.

Anyone needing a really roomy estate car is advised to consider seriously this individualistic Peugeot. It is now, as they say in the R.A.F., obsolescent, if not obsolete, but. will probably be superseded at Earls Court by something equally useful in 404 station wagons. There are few equally capacious vehicles—the Citroen Safari, perhaps, but that is dearer by nearly £600.

The dear old Peugeot 403 station wagon should soon be an excellent used-car purchase; the price new is £1,190 7s. 9d., duty paid. “Vintagents” will feel comfortably at home in this man-size, straightforward car with its high seats and solid controls.

When will British manufacturers offer similarly spacious yet economical vehicles that are more at home on the farm than being filled with expensive pig-skin cases outside Mayfair hotels? Or something as accommodating as the Peugeot 403BL Family Limousine, which is like the station wagon but has seats for up to 11 people, and sells for a basic £950?

New Lodge plugs

The Lodge plug people started work some ten years ago, in conjunction with Joseph Lucas, to develop a sparking plug that would stand up to the exacting variants of modern motoring, involving idling in traffic blocks or holding continuous full throttle along motorways, and which at the same time would not need adjusting or cleaning for 20,000 miles.

Mr. Max H. Bland, Chief Engineer of Lodge Plugs Ltd., claims that these requirements are met in the Golden Lodge HF plug, which continues to function when nearly fouled and which lasts more than twice as long as ordinary plugs, without the gradual deterioration normally encountered. Starting is assisted by the controlled low-voltage demand of this new plug, which incorporates the well-known principle of the spark-gap, within the plug body. The full technical explanation for the-superiority of the new Lodge plugs is as follows: The sparking voltage is not only initially low but voltage increase due to electrode erosion is also low, i.e. the rate of increase in voltage is “controlled.” This low voltage demand allows the use of a H.F. converter which takes approximately 3 kV. from the available coil voltage. The converter consists of a capacitor connected in parallel with a spark gap, both components being situated in the plug insulator. The resistor/capacitor network formed by this arrangement produces a high frequency pulse superimposed on the coil voltage waveform. It is this pulse that allows the plug to operate when shunted by comparatively low resistances.

In the 14 mm. range there is only one heat grade of Golden Lodge required for almost all engines, but three standard reaches are available, 3/8 in., ½ in. and ¾ in.

This new development in h.t. ignition can be discussed on Stand 203 at Earls Court. The new plug costs 8s. 6d. and is another notable forward-step towards reduction of car-maintenance chores. Incidentally, Smiths have taken over Lodge as, some years ago, they absorbed K.L.G. All very stimulating, but those who have always considered sparking plugs to be excessively priced for a simple mass-produced article, will no doubt spare a thought for Wipac, who make good (if old-fashioned) plugs which sell for 3s. 6d,

Braking break through?

Pioneers in Britain of the hydraulic braking system and in more recent times of the pressure-limited device to prevent wheel locking, Lockheed have now evolved a rather more complex method of preventing rear wheel locking on wet surfaces. The system, which is in the final development stages, consists of a single inertia-type skid-sensing device driven off the differential input drive flange and a vacuum-servo to regulate the rear brake pressure in response to the requirements of the sensing device. On existing installations the sensing device is belt-driven from the propeller shaft as this has enabled the installation to be fitted to a number of different motor cars. When hued by a manufacturer as original equipment it is unlikely that belt drive will be used, although if an owner of an existing car wishes to fit the device, driving by belt would be the only method unless complicated alterations were made.

When a car decelerates due to braking without skid, the rotary speed of the wheel is substantially proportional to the car speed, and hence as the car decelerates the wheel also decelerates in a predictable manner. It is acknowledged that present day cars cannot reasonably be expected to achieve decelerations greater than 1g: therefore if a wheel deceleration in a rotary sense exceeds 1g it cannot be rotating at a velocity proportional to the car speed and a skid must be imminent. The propeller shaft and differential gear input must experience decelerations proportional to the mean of the two rear wheels, and Lockheed have found in practice that it is quite suitable as a reference point at which to detect the imminence of locking of either or both the rear wheels during braking.

The accompanying diagram shows the layout of the Anti-Lock braking system. The sensing unit consists of a casting with a bearing boss at one end and containing a simple normally closed air valve. A control unit containing a flywheels mounted on this boss and is driven by the transmission. The rotational drive between the housing and the flywheel is through a cam plate that receives a positive drive from the housing but possesses axial freedom. This cam plate is spring loaded onto two cam followers mounted in a carrier sleeve that is concentric to the flywheel. A clutch between this sleeve and the flywheel completes the drive Irons the housing to the flywheel.

Under normal circumstances there is a positive drive between the housing and the flywheel so that the flywheel and cam plate assembly revolve as one. Should a rear wheel skid develop, the flywheel overruns the drive and forces the cam followers up the earn, displacing it axially. This movement is sufficient to operate the reaction valve which causes corrective action to be applied to the brakes. Once the transmission speed and that of the flywheel are again in unison, the reaction valve will close and the brakes are ready for normal operation once more.

To let journalists find out for themselves Lockheed laid on a demonstration at Wellesbourne Airfield where, on a runway soaked with water we were able to drive a variety of cars fitted with the device, which could be switched off as required. On the first run without the Anti-Lock in use we ran onto the wet surface at 40 m.p.h. and applied full braking power; the car accelerated if anything and eventually slewed sideways. On the second run with the device switched on the brakes were applied at the same speed and the car continued in a straight line, pulling up about five yards short of its previous mark, Not particularly impressive perhaps but its ability to prevent slides under panic braking conditions is probably the most impressive feature of the system. Perhaps longer experience on the road with a car equipped with the Anti-Lock might convince us completely of its usefulness. What will it cost ? Well, as yet there is no kit available for existing cars but if incorporated into a new design by a manufacturer, Lockheed do not expect it to cost much more than one of the existing brake servo installations.

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