Club news, September 1940

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24

I.M.R.C.

The Leinster race will not now be run, on account of the small entry received.

W. MIDDLESEX AMATEUR M.C.

Meetings are still held every Sunday morning at the “Myllet Arms,” Western Avenue, Perivale, and recently a short walk was introduced by way of variety. F. W. Pinhard has been elected to the Executive Committee.

E.R.A. CLUB

A few members again got together at the St. Stephen’s Tavern at 8 o’clock on the first Saturday in August. It has been suggested that a definite meeting place be arranged within the building and announced, to avoid friends missing contact. These gatherings have been announced for the first Saturday in each month at St. Stephen’s Tavern, which is between the Embankment and Whitehall, facing the Houses of Parliament.

750 CLUB

The 750 Club is to be congratulated on producing an interesting “Bulletin” last month, which is to be repeated the first week in October. The contents are to include descriptions of members’ cars, the first dealing with P. H. Hunter’s 1934 A.E.W. Austin. The cover drawing of one of the works racing Austins looks like a naughty tracing of the cover of MOTOR SPORT for October 1937! The impromptu sprint at the picnic was a tie between Hunter’s A.E.W. and Birkett’s “Ulster,” in 8.0 secs., the runner-up being Frost’s Ulster, in 9.0 secs. On September 14th there will be a meeting at the “Sunderland,” Sackville Street, at 6.30 p.m., and future fixtures are a run starting from the Osterley Hotel, Great West Road, at 3.30 p.m. on September 2nd, and an evening at the “Sunderland” on October 19th. G. C. Oxley-Sidey is now a Pilot-Officer, R.A.F.V.R., and has recently taken delivery of an Austin Seven Special from Auto-Conversions.

Hon. Secretary : P. H. Hunter, 39, Warland Road, S.E.18.

GENERAL NOTES

Interesting motoring experiences come to hand much more infrequently these days, and, in a way, are appreciated all the more for that, albeit there is a growing feeling that one must really “Go To It” and smash Hitler so that those happy days when the car was carefully prepared for really long spells on the open road may quickly return.

In the meantime there was a Sunday run to Pirbright to watch a motor-cycle scramble, when it rained torrentially until past mid-day, so that the protection of the Austin saloon was not unwelcome. There followed exhilarating experience of a Mark II Aston-Martin, as recounted in detail last month, when a little hill-storming was tried in the dark, and, next day, a delightful spot of real motoring was put in in Surrey, in alternate warm sunshine and heavy shower, culminating in a diversion to pick up a fellow enthusiast released from “work of National Importance” at 5 p.m. and rush him to town, after which we set off again almost immediately for further motoring in Surrey. That afternoon, certain lanes and by-ways were found to be closed by the military, and not infrequently did we have to restrain the urge to get past long convoys of Army vehicles, once having to pause for quite a while to let lots of immense anti-tank vehicles by on a narrow, uphill stretch— part of Britain’s invitation to the Nazis. But our motoring was never really restricted, and certainly it was grand to experience again a car which looked a sports-car, handled with plenty of life and got along very rapidly. A shade over 80 m.p.h. was attained on the soaking road up to Esher from Cobham, when the going felt a bit exciting, loose shockers and smooth front covers in conjunction with stiff suspension causing a suspicion of instability. The next day we very reluctantly returned the Aston to her owners, the run at 40 m.p.h. across to the other side of the Metropolis, with fuel pump beginning to click, still well worth doing, better as such a car is out on the open road.

Then a Ford “Anglia” saloon presented itself for test, and after an evening and a day swinging very easily about built-up areas, it was taken on a typical English summer afternoon nearly to the coast, never molested once and only turned back at one by-road closed to ordinary traffic. The countryside looked very peaceful that day and war would have seemed remote if every so often the Girlings had not had to bring the speed down for negotiation of “chicanes” and tank-trap barriers. The passenger indulged in much colour-photography once away from military objectives, and that evening the ever-willing Ford took two more persons for a brief ride to the nearby village and brought much photographic material up to London. So good is its fuel consumption that we carelessly disregarded the gauge’s warning, and ran dry ere Caterham was reached, but it was possible to coast and coax the “Anglia” to the only remaining open garage at Kenley, where we ate at a cafe along with members of one of the Services. Then on to town—past a house the light in the upper windows of which stood out like a beacon in the black-out, what time irate police gentlemen attempted to arouse the owner, who was seemingly out, blissfully ignorant of his unwelcome illuminations—and another fairly full day’s motoring was concluded quite early.

The next excitement was a run in Sam Clutton’s great Daimler on the occasion of its removal to the country, this time to make more room for other veterans in the Chelsea garage, and not to protect it from air raid risks. This 1911 landaulette, with its 10 litres or so of sleeve-valve, six-cylinder engine, rated at 57 h.p., was one of twelve of the type, possessed of the biggest sleeve-valve engine ever put into a production car. She is in beautiful order, having covered a very small total mileage, and the new body fitted in 1924 makes her quite recent in appearance, the former owner’s crest still visible on the rear doors. Early that Saturday morning the big car was reverently dusted and its tyres blown up a bit more, and after the blower single-seater Bentley had been manhandled into the road along with an S.S. saloon, it was rolled outside and tow-started behind a delightfully fierce, low chassis 4½-litre Invicta four-seater, a few splutters and a steam-like noise beneath the long, far-away bonnet indicating that the Knight motor was running. Alas, when everything had been re-stowed back behind the yellow doors the Daimler decided not to start on the handle, nor was the starter any use. So everything was brought out again, and the Invicta, which, by the way, carried a spare coil before its radiator, did the job again. This performance had to be repeated yet a third time when we stalled at the Embankment, by a very select wedding gathering, to the discreet interest of two girls in a British Salmson saloon, and the objectionable attention of a busybody in a bowler hat. At last we really were away, the engine sounding no more than a steamer as it opened up, doing nearly everything in top gear, starting happily in middle and eased on the push-forward hand-brake as need arose, the foot-brake being hardly effective. Rounding corners called for some effort, although a modern steering wheel, small enough in all conscience, replaces what was probably an even smaller wooden wheel, but control was decidedly accurate. The right-hand gear-change, too, was quite a handful if bottom did happen to be necessary, the travel across the gate between bottom and second being fantastic. Occasionally fuel pressure had to be maintained on the beautiful little swivelling air pump in the centre of the front compartment, and, as we progressed, the engine condescended to run on the coil only, though the magneto was used to help the battery to charge. The facia voltmeter showed that all should soon be well in that department. The big motor sent back a lot of heat, and Clutton opened his panel of the immense windscreen ere London’s traffic was left behind. Out on the unrestricted arterial road we rolled silently and oh, so majestically along at 40 m.p.h., what time I occupied the back seat in state, reading a letter from America which exuded vintage enthusiasm and showed a 1908 G.P. Mercédès to be going nicely out there, proclaiming, as to present times, a firm desire to help us in every way possible to see the last of Hitler. After a while, an unpleasant grinding sound spoiled our luxurious manner of going, and the floor-boards were hurled out to reveal a huge spoked flywheel idling over in polite marine style, and the offending whittle belt of the dynamo drive, which was at once removed. A downhill section aided restarting, and we did not stop again until St. Albans, when Sam used his umbrella to dip the rear petrol tank, a ministration which showed the consumption to be quite up to the usual 7½ m.p.g. Here, much as I enjoyed experiencing the sort of travel only the Very Rich could command in the palmy days before the last war, I realised that if I was to keep a very different appointment in London at 3 o’clock that afternoon, I must do something about it, and a “Green Line” coach brought me back by a different route. On the way we passed another big and early Daimler, but younger by some ten summers than Sam’s, yet its career already ignobly ended, for it was awaiting employment as a road barricade.

Another Sunday there was an unexpected trip in a Riley to a motor-cycle hill climb at Red Roads, organised by the Allard family en masse. The run down was punctuated only by a puncture, after which several hours grilling in great brown dust clouds could not altogether dispel the beauty of sunlight on the surrounding heathland, nor detract from one’s respect for the modern motor-cycle, which gets up a once quite unclimbable freak hill in under 10 secs., calling for throttle-back at the summit if the rider is not to risk a nasty throw, which one Douglas rider took. Once again, surely the fact that this event, like several others this year, was held with full military permission to use private ground —indeed, a military policeman controlled the crowd—and was graced with an immense entry and an excellent car and motor-cycle attendance, augurs well for motoring sport as soon as this war is finished? After tea at a pleasant tea shop we hurried home, stopping only to remove an extra-air valve that lives between the S.U. and the manifold of the Riley—the single S.U. now used, incidentally, hangs at the rear of the manifold, which is rather unusual on a modern engine. On the Kingston by-pass an Armstrong-Siddeley did its best to obliterate us, but luckily the Riley proved very stable when taken up the central kerb unexpectedly, and skilful handling saved the situation. Home again, we pondered on how even a little motoring is most stimulating these days, though what one is missing was emphasised when a coach journey along the Great West Road seemed almost like travelling in foreign territory, whereas once we were on this road seemingly almost daily. Keep up the R.A.F. bombing raids, please . . . August Bank Holiday being Bank Holiday, we went to a fair, and, sensing as it were something of interest beneath the pulsating Tillings generating lorry, we looked more closely, and came upon none other than a front axle, tubular, with upswept ends of I-section, of very narrow track, carrying very light half-elliptic springs and fantastically small wire wheels. The hub caps revealed that it belonged to a Globe, that fascinating cycle-car which, according to a 1916 specification, had a 105 x120 mm. single-cylinder engine of 1,039 c.c. driving by belt to a three-speed gearbox and by chain to the rear axle. We sought out the fair proprietor, in his little wooden hut, but he knew nothing of this astonishing find; but a few moments later we did encounter someone who regarded mention of this car with no astonishment, and who quoted its specification with no prompting from us . . . Alas, as we expected, the rest of the Globe had vanished.