Vintage postbag, September 1962

V.S.C.C. Admission Charges


As a member of the Vintage Sports Car Club and as a competitor in many of their Silverstone Meetings, I was most surprised to see Mr. H. W. Green’s letter in the August issue, though I suppose I shouldn’t have been, knowing how many of the something-for-nothing brigade there are around.

Mr. Green seems to overlook that it is a Club Meeting run by the members for the members. If non-members also find them enjoyable (as many seem to do) and wish to spectate, is it unreasonable to ask them to make a small contribution towards the expenses of running the meeting? Ten shillings for a full afternoon’s entertainment for a car-load of people is not much—the same cost as two gallons of petrol.

The “justification” which Mr. Green seems to demand for the five shillings entry fee to the Paddock, was clearly seen at the July meeting. A Paddock is the place for the preparation of cars for racing—not primarily a display centre. In July for the first time for a long while, there was sufficient room for competitors to get their cars ready, tow-start them, if necessary, and drive them to the starting line free from an overwhelming crush. Members of the V.S.C.C. in general, to whom I have spoken, and the competitors in particular, thought the new arrangement excellent.

If Mr. Green wishes to go on paying only five shillings for entry to a V.S.C.C. meeting and to get into the Paddock free, the remedy is in his own hands. He can join the Club.

Ascot. Ian Easdale

* * *

Liquid Air Cars


Further to the letter I sent to you recently regarding the liquid air car, I am now sending you a little additional information which have managed to find. The car was made by the Liquid Air, Power and Automobile Co., who erected large plants in America and London for the manufacture of liquid air on a commercial scale, with plant invented by Hans Knudsen. The company had a depot in Gillingham Street, London, where they had a car worked by liquid air. A copper reservoir, carefully protected, was filled with the liquid air, which was by mechanical means squirted into coils in which it rapidly expanded, from them passing into the cylinders. A charge of 18 .gallons would move the car 40 miles at an average speed of 12 m.p.h. without any noise, smell or vapour. The speed of the car was regulated by the amount of liquid air injected into the expansion coils. The Company reckoned that with a small 50-h.p. plant for making the fuel the cost would be 1s. per gallon but with a large plant the cost, with profit, could be got down to 1d. per gallon.

Leamington Spa. L. F. Cave.

* * *

Engineers or Meccano Boys?


A few weeks ago I was motoring from Sheffield to the Isle of Wight in my 1913 Morgan Runabout when the engine spluttered to a stop. On investigating the cause I found that the main jet assembly had dropped out of the carburetter, and after half an hour’s search back up the road failed to show up.

My “riding mechanic” and I pushed “Moggy” along the next garage, who though trying to be helpful didn’t really want to know us. We pushed off again hoping to find a carburetter service station, and after a hard push and a tow arrived at Chandlers Ford service station just outside Southampton on A 34. Again asking for assistance we were told by Stan Gray, the engineer, that he would see what could be done. After 1½ hours of turning, drilling, soldering and tapping, a new jet assembly was MADE; yes, actually manufactured from odd bits of brass. The mixture was a little rich, perhaps, but what a difference from the “have to fit a new unit” boys; and the cost: “Nothing, old man, I’ve enjoyed doing it.”

Sheffield. J. B. Craven.

* * *

Identity Problem


I am trying to identify the petrol inspection trolley shown on the adjacent photograph.

I wondered if you„ or any of your readers could be of any help in this matter, as the vehicle is more akin to an early road vehicle than anything normally used by railway companies. The only information I have concerning the trolley is that the photograph was taken c. 1906 when the vehicle was used on the construction of the Great Central Railway line between Grendon Underwood and Neasden, which was opened in that year.

Leicester. Neil Cossons,

Assistant, City of Leicester Museums and Art Gallery.

* * *


I enclose a photograph taken near Grenoble, in France, in early July.

The vehicle was being used as a mobile refreshment stall for Tour de France spectators. Unfortunately, I was unable to find anyone who could give me any details about it.

Bolton. G. Livesey.

[As the photograph shows, this is a circa 1926 11.4 Citroen.— ED.]

* * *

And Now, Vintage Pedal Cars


I enclose a photograph oldie latest addition to my vintage stable.

The car is obviously a model of a Vauxhall of uncertain years, I suspect about 1932. There is no chassis frame but a wooden body with mild steel supports. The front cycle-type guards turn with the wheels. The wheels are spruig by two springs per end of the axles, one before and one behind. There is a full range of instruments—the speedometer indicating 75 m.p.h. There is also a boot and a very solid bumper at each end, a Klaxon horn and red leather upholstery.

This car is on loan to me until my son David (to months) outgrows it or its owner marries and has a son.

Needless to say it will be fully restored along with the Type 40 Bugatti and my 1921 Morris-Cowley sports.

Has any reader an older or similar model?

Shrewsbury. A. P. Wauchope

[There is a very early child’s pedal car in the Montagu Motor Museum and Laurence Pomeroy has had rebuilt the “Prince Henry” Vauxhall pedal-car replica in which he was mobile as a youngster.— ED.]

* * *

Museum Problems


I can no longer contain my wrath. I feel that I must air on opinion, which doubtlessly will be re-echoed throughout the vintage/veteran motor world.

My particular “beef” is directed against the repulsive louts and their hairy girl-friends who, for the lack of something better to do, visit the Beaulieu Museum and the Brighton Aquarium Motor Museum, during holiday periods.

Over the holiday I paid a quick visit myself to the Brighton Museum, and after enduring the usual moronic remarks about “Bet she won’t do the ton, Bert,” and “Fancy showing us such a load of scrap for half-a-crown,” I was horrified to witness a degenerate individual yanking on and off the outside handbrake’ of a particularly nice piece of vintage sportswear! Had he not desisted I should have felt inclined to place my size 10 boot beneath his scraggy jeans at about the speed of his flashy motorcycle.

All this, despite the ostentatious notices screaming out such slogans as: “Do not touch,” “Please do not cross the ropes,” etc. To properly supervise the British holiday public would take a platoon of infantry in Battle Order—with orders to “shoot on sight” (a very desirable slate of affairs). However, if every enthusiast would do as I practise—an icy remark, leaving no doubt as to the heavy hand that is destined to follow any reprisal rudeness –I feel sure that matters could be rectified. My entire free time is spent with, and around, Motor cars—I simply love machinery, especially the fearsome brutes from out of the past, and it makes my blood boil to see beautifully-restored vehicles manhandled by inadequate kilt its.

To finish on a healthily funny note. I quote the observation of a not-too-well-informed young lady, with reference to the ex-Hermann Goering Mercedes-Benz with bullet-pocked windscreen and sidescreens: “What’s all the ‘oles for? I suppose that’s just to show us it’s bullet proof!” I can just picture Lord Montagu and assistants armed to the teeth with sub-machine guns, spraying the exhibit liberally with 9-mm. in order to demonstrate the invincibility of the marque!

Brookwood. John G. Skilleter

* * *

More About Kellys


I notice that mention of the Kelly-Springfield truth has been prominent in your columns in the last two or three issues, and I thought that some data on this make might be of interest to your readers.

The Kelly-Springfield Motor Truck Co. of Springfield, Ohio, commenced manufacture before the 1914-18 war (during which the company supplied trucks to the U.S. Government), and the re-formed company after the truck side of the business was abandoned in the late ‘twenties still flourishes today making tyres.

In the period between 1914 to 1925 for which I possess official Kelly record’s, 15 different models were marketed, designated K-30 to K-61 according to their weight, the former being 1½ tons and the latter 7 tons; these being divided into two groups, each group haying different engines, transmissions and axles—the 1½ tons-2½ tons forming one group and the 3½ tons-7 tons forming the other.

Up to 1919, Mien major changes took place, all models except the 1918 1½-2½ ton series had final drive by countershaft and side chains, cone clutches and 3-speed and reverse gearboxes. The 1918 1½-2½ ton models had worm drive, semi-floating axles and plate clutches; post-1919 3½-7 ton models had internally-geared rear axles, 4-speed and reverse gearboxes and plate clutches. Throughout the whole 1914-1925 period only two sizes of engine were manufactured (I cannot find any mention of a 50- or 60-h.p. model in these records, as mentioned by one of your correspondents), Viz:—

(i) The 22.5-h.p. R.A.C. rating (1½-2½ models. K-30 to K-39) was a monobloc 4-cylinder T-head side-valve with non-detachable head, bore 3¾ in. x stroke 5¼ in., h.t. magneto ignition, force-feed lubrication, pump cooling with radiator behind the engine as on the Mack model A.C. and Renault.

(ii) The 32.4-h.p. R.A.C. rating (3½-7 ton models, K-40 to K-61) was a twin block 4-cylinder, T-head, side-valve unit of 4½ in. bore x 6½ in. stroke, heads non-detachable, 3-bearing crankshaft, and the auxiliaries, etc., as for (i).

The brakes on pre-1919 models were internal expanding on rear wheels only foot and hand; post-1919 the handbrake was changed to contracting on the prop.-shaft.

The wheels were wooden artillery on the 1½-2½ ton models, and a choice of wood or steel disc on the larger sizes; shod with either 36-in. or 40-in, solid tyres.

Prices ranged from: $2,000 for the 1½-2½ K-30 model in 1914 to $5,500 for the 6-ton K-60 in 1924, and for the latter this price included tools, jack, tool-box, mileometer only, two side and one tail oil lamps, radiator guard, bumper and tow hooks on all four corners of the chassis; all vehicles were supplied in lead undercoat or dark grey only.

Most of the Kellys seen in this country were ex-U.S. Government surplus and were mainly 3½-ton models. I do not think the company had agencies in London for trucks, though the tyres were and are sold over here.

If any of your readers know of the whereabouts of one of these machines I would be very glad of the information.

Hove. Maurice A. Kelly

* * *

Country ‘Buses


Reading the correspondence about vintage motor ‘buses has prompted me to recall the exciting days of the late 1920s in this field in the City of Stoke-on-Trent.

To anyone interested in the development of the motor ‘bus, as I was, this was a vastly exciting time, and I only wish I had some of the dozens of photographs I took to aid my memory.

Transport in Stoke-on-Trent up to the early ‘twenties was in the grip of the Potteries Electric Traction Co., with a quite comprehensive, though anciently stocked, Tramway system. They did indeed introduce a ‘bus prior to the 1914 war but it ran away on a steep hill and did not last very long.

The North Staffordshire Railway also had two Straker steam ‘buses in 1904, but these were before my time!

After the 1914-18 war certain enterprising individuals, using their gratuities, entered into competition with the trams and my earliest recollection was of a number of the old sea-side type chara-bancs, of various makes, travelling the ” main ” route from Longton to Hanley, the conductors perilously climbing along the outside steps to collect the fares, and the enormous flapping from the canvas hood and side-curtains when it was wet.

When it was seen that the travelling public preferred this type of transport to the tram, a pattern began to develop, in the shape of large solid-tyred 32-seater or so single-decker juggernauts, mostly Leyland, A.E.C., Daimler and Guy, and these continued for some years until the pneumatic-tyred ‘bus began to appear.

The tramway company meanwhile extended its field with the introduction of ‘buses on additional routes, these being either Tilling-Stevens petrol electrics, or Daimler, solid-tyred and with bodies by Brush. Incidentally, some of the latter were rebodied about 1926 and put on pneumatics, and very smart they looked.

On the less important routes, quite small ‘buses, rather like the old-fashioned hotel ‘bus, with a door in the back, were used, and, indeed, I also remember a converted hearse! and one with wickerwork panels. These later developed into small front-entrance ‘buses of about 20 seats, mainly by Guy, Maudesley and Thornycroft, on pneumatics.

Then came a very exciting period when a number of small 6-cylinder Lancias appeared; these were fantastically fast, and as most of the private ‘buses belonged to their individual drivers in those days, the usual mode of progression was a race between two or three ‘buses from one “stop” to the next, to collar the passengers. This was locally known as “hogging,” and I have many times seen an indicated 65 m.p.h. on the speedometer of the little Lancias past Hanley Park.

After this phase there was some consolidation, and although there were still literally dozens of individual operators, the more successful ones began to build up fleets, and to go in for a larger type of vehicle, though the variety was enormous, not only of chassis but in the number of body builders represented.

At this stage the Tramway Co. began to take a real interest and, indeed, replaced their trams with their own fleet of ‘buses. These were the very light and very fast Birmingham-built S.O.S. machines, very high, and having single pneumatics of very large size on the rear. I believe they were built for them by the “Midland” concern, though they had “Potteries” cast in the radiator header tank. A few years later these were followed by a similar S.O.S. machine, 34 seats I think, with forward control for the driver.

One of the larger operators favoured Tilling-Stevens nonelectric machines’ and indeed at one time there were a large number of this make in service, but they were rather tin-inspired machines compared with some such as a 24-seater 6-cylinder f.w.b. Guildford, on the Manchester run, and a very neat little Talbot, and a very similar-looking W. & O. du Cros which was a great favourite.

I should think every possible make was represented, A.E.C., Daimler (and, of course, Associated-Daimler), Leyland, Dennis (these very fast) Karrier, Commer’ Tilling-Stevens, Guy, Sunbeam (one only, think, a small one), all single-deckers, and very soon in the era, all on pneumatics, a few operators stubbornly stuck to solids for a year or two, but as there was plenty of choice in those days, even at rush-hours, they were largely boycotted by the passengers.

I think one of the most exciting days of my life at this time, for I was madly interested, being about 16 at the time, was my first sight of a Leyland “Lion.” This was the first ‘bus I think (I am open to correction) which had a forward driver’s cab, and they were beautifully low and long. They were only surpassed in beauty by the Leyland “Lioness,” a smaller vehicle with ” normal ” driving position, looking, from its beautiful proportions, just like an enormous private car, though in fact a good deal nicer in line than most private cars of its era.

Shortly after this came a vogue for the single-deck 6-wheeler. I remember some firm made a 6-wheeler conversion for the little Lancias, which must still have been in production, but the favourites were the forward-drive Guys, and I think there were some Karriers.

By this time I was well known to many of the operators, and I often used to spend evenings driving the big Guy 6-wheelers; it was not necessary then to have a P.S.V. licence, of course.

“Hogging” was still the order of the day, and it says much for the drivers that there was never a serious accident. However, it must have become apparent that such Cut-throat competition did not pay, and amalgamations began to take place, and the field became aligned into two camps, the “Associated” proprietors, which was a loose association of independents, and the “Alliance,” which comprised the Tramway Company’s’ ‘buses and a few of the independents which joined their camp. Competition for passengers became even more intense, and not only was this reflected in the now somewhat acrimonious racing between stops, but the luxury of the vehicles provided.

This, however, was the beginning of the end of the interesting period. The Tramway Co., now known as the Potteries Motor Traction Co., and a member of the Brush, British Electric Traction Group, with its better financial backing and organisation, began to swallow up the independents One by one, as did their main rivals ” Stoke-on-Trent Motors Ltd:”. The latter existed until just before the 1939 war, I think, and now the P.M.T. have the monopoly, with just one or two independents on the outer routes.

Until shortly before the war all the ‘buses were single-deckers. I can’t remember that we ever had any open-top double-deckers; an “independent” was the first to introduce double-deckers, built, I think, on the Leyland Lion chassis, but these were covered, and it was several years before any other company in the district used them.

As I said before, a terribly exciting time for the enthusiast, for almost every week there was something new to see and to travel on, and, if possible, to drive.

Looking back, I think the introduction of the Leyland “Lion” was the biggest ever single jump forward in motor omnibus design, though perhaps, if one had then had one’s subsequent technical knowledge, the Midland-built “S.O.S.” ‘buses would have been seen to be a brilliant design.

A popular make I forgot to mention was, of course, the Albion; which came in various sizes. There were a number of Maudesleys in the intermediate period, which I recall were very fast; also large and small Thornycrofts, my recollection of the Karriers was that they were very substantial but a bit crude, as were the Tilling-Stevens, though both seemed very reliable, but my real favourite, apart from the Lioness, was the little Ken, which preceded the Guildford on the Manchester run, return fare to Manchester 6s., in almost private-car comfort, and certainly at private-car speed.

Wonderful days! If only one had thought to pay more attention to detail and write it all down at the time!

Market Drayton. L. J. Roy Taylor

* * *

Vintage Chromium Plating


The radiator of Mr. Kitsell’s 1924 Maxwell was undoubtedly nickel plated when new, but as the car is so well preserved it could very easily have been chromium plated some time in the ‘thirties by an earlier conscientious owner.

Chromium plating was first generally used on t930 models, with one of which, a Cowley saloon de luxe with folding head, I began my 4-wheeled life in 1938 for f 5. The Chromium radiator was then, after eight years, in perfect Condition, although younger readers will find this difficult to believe. The art of chromium plating was unfortunately lost during the Second World War and to my knowledge has not been rediscovered.

Beckenham. B. H. Arundel