Obituary - Reid A. Railton

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It is with regret that we have to report that Mr. Reid A. Railton has died in Canada at the age of 82. Railton was closely associated with motor racing and record-breaking, in the capacity of an exceedingly capable engineer and designer. During the First World Was he served in the RNAS. He that joined J. G. Parry Thomas as his Assistant at Leyland Motors, on the design of the advanced Leyland Eight car, and he remained a very close friend of Thomas until his death at Pendine in 1927. Railton went on to complete the design of the Brooklands-model Riley 9, winning the first race in which the prototype took part, following an abortive time with his Arab car, which used valve-gear of Thomas pattern, but with a chain-driven instead of an eccentricoperated o.h.-camshaft.

It was Reid Railton who was responsible for the Railton car, using a lightly-stressed Essex/Hudson engine in a modified Hudson chassis. This set a new standard of comparativley-inexpensive high performance before the war. But Railton’s greatest genius was displayed while he was associated, as a Director, with Thomson & Taylor Ltd., the well-known Brooklands engineering company (which, happily, survives, as an Alfa Romeo agent). He designed the chassis for the first ERA, planned Campbell’s 1932 LSR “Bluebird”, and was responsible for the very successful racing and record-breaking Napier-Railton, built for John Cobb. His subsequent Land Speed Record Railton-Mobil, of completely original conception did exactly what was intended, capturing the LSR for Cobb three times, at 350.3 m.p.h. in 1938, at 369.7 m.p.h. in 1939 and at 394.2 m.p.h. in 1947. Railton, who went out to Utah with Cobb, was also involved with the boat in which Cobb died attempting to take the WSR. It was a great loss to this country when the quiet, self-effacing Reid Railton went to America to work for the motor industry there. – W.B.

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