V-E-V Odds & Ends, September 1982

Thanks to the generosity of readers some amusing old books have been lent to us. For instance, Mr. Richardson of Sleaford brought his copy of “Engineering Wonders of the World”, published around 1910, all the way to the last VSCC Silverstone meeting, to show me an astonishing picture of a French mechanic holding upright a crankcase and crankshaft of a 220 h.p. engine built for the Clement-Bayard II airship, these components being as tall as the man himself, indeed, the crankshaft is taller! Then Nicholas Johnson of the VSCC came up with a copy of the 1910 edition of “The Aero Manual” and that was a second edition), which the staff of The Motor had compiled. It sold then for the equivalent of 7½p and lists 105 flights of more than an hour’s duration, commencing with Orville Wright’s at Fort Meyer in September 1908 and embracing 42 different pilots, some of whom carried passengers. Those associated with motor-racing include Henry Farman, Henri Rougier, Baron de Caters, Maurice Farman and the Hon. C. S. Rolls. D. R. Marrable has weighed in with some old RAF Flying Training Manuals, of 1922 and 1923, from which I see that very careful instructions were issued to pilots about what to do after making a forced landing. Indeed, more than 13 pages are devoted to this in the 1923 manual, if we include advice to pilots after alighting on water. The colours of different kinds of surface are listed, hopefully to enable the aviator to distinguish them from the air, before coming down, and it is amusing to note that an RAF pilot was told to enlist the aid of “the most capable men present” among the spectators expected to congregate, and put one of them to guard the aeroplane, if no military or civil police were available, giving him “some improvised badge of office, so that the crowd may recognise his authority”. We wonder if a, readers had to cope with such a situation?

Last July the Rhayader MC again put on a show of historic cars and motorcycles at the Royal Welsh Show at Builth Wells, HRH The Duke of Gloucester expressly asking to see this display during his visit and spending ten minutes in the marquee. Although the Show programme, running to over 388 closely filled pages and referring to each individual goat and goatling entry, for example, ignored the old motor vehicles, they were listed in a separate programme and ran from a 1950 trials Cannon and a 1955 XK140 Jaguar to a 1913 9.5 h.p. Morris-Oxford two-seater entered by B. J. Williams, a 1908 3-cylinder Clyde, and John Carter’s 1903 Darracq which was excused the Parade as it prefers the open road and boils in traffic. It was good to see one-make Club badges on some of the cars, such as D. Mathies’ 1932 Singer Nine four-door sun-roof saloon and T. Dolphin’s very clean 1938 Austin Ten Cambridge saloon, which we would have thought had just left the showroom had he not told of a rebore back in 1975. Dr. Sayce had entered a very smart 1933 Austin 10/6 saloon and G. Middleton his fabric-bodied 1928 Austin 12/4 saloon. Well-known entries included Reg Worthing’s 1915 Model-T Ford tourer and the Editorial 1924 Calthorpe. David Filsell’s one-previous-lady-owner Austin 7 Ruby saloon was stricken with clutch trouble, and Mrs. Thomas’ Austin 7 Chummy may have been afflicted with a stuck throttle, as she suddenly broke away, to head the entire Parade . . . Rosettes were awarded to the Darracq, the Morris and the Jaguar. As results of the VSCC / MAC Shelsley Walsh hilIclimb of July 11th were not available in time to publish these with our report last month, let us say that Dick Smith’s Frazer Nash, Rodney Felton’s Alfa Rom., Brian Gray’s Hardy Special (from Spillon’s ERA), Guy Smith’s Alvis-Frazer Nash (from the Cognac Special) and Parker’s BHD were the class winners, and that Donald Day’s ERA R14B made f.t.d., in 36.0 sec., winning the Fray Challenge Trophy and the Raymond Mays’ Cup. The Tommy Wisdom Team Award went to the MAC team. An article about the firm of P&G Crocker of Gillingham, Dorset, in a recent issue of Hardware Trade Journal recounts how it turned early to motorcycle and car sales, selling its first car, a Humberette Reg. No. BF 89, in 1903. In connection with recent correspondence about how quickly modern cars rust, a reader of 78 who has been driving since 1920 remarks that his first can was a 1912 Sizaire-Naudin, which the family was still using until 1930 and that its aluminium body and brass fittings never bore a spot of corrosion.

An Australian reader seeks data about the performance of vintage Tipo 20 Diattos in England and enquires whether any survive here. Johnny Thomas has assembled the 1901 Singer Ladies’ Model tricycle with its engine within the front wheel and threatens to ride it in this year’s Brighton Run. It was last used, apparently, for the Pioneer Run, which it had not competed in since 1932, after which it was dismantled and stored in a number of boxes. The front wheel housing the motive-power has Bugatti-like blade spokes, the engine incorporates low-tension ignition, automatic inlet valve and a surface carburetter and the linkage from twist-grip to throttle is very neat, a tiny button being used to depress the exhaust-valve lifter when pedalling to start the machine, which is perhaps more convenient than winding the engine up through the back hub, as on a certain 1912 Alldays Onions also owned by Thomas. Although there was a class for cars from 1920 onwards at the Aberystwyth Summer Festival, none was attracted, but one class was won by 1937 Series II Morris 8 saloon and the opposite class by an MG Magnette saloon that has run less than 10,000 miles from new The event was won overall by Ray Cash’s 1955 Jaguar XK140 fixed-head coupé, the special equipment model, with C-type cylinder head.

For sentimental reasons, a reader would like to know what has happened to the 1933 Bentley he once owned and which he thinks was the first of the Derby-built Bentleys. It was bought from a subsequent owner by a Mr. M. P. Ott of Rhode Island, USA, who apparently sold it to a Mr. Eric Williams, for display in a museum. No trace of it has been established for some time. The Reg. No. was RB 1933, as shown in the museum. Letters can be forwarded. We referred last month to Clubs enrolling an encouraging number of new members. The Armstrong Siddeley (SC listed a dozen recently, of which four had pre-war cars, and the Club magazine Sphinx carried articles about surviving Siddelev aircraft and the 1908 Wolseley-Siddeley omnibus. In Australia, Alan Chamberlain has had the enormous engine of his Napier “Samson” going for the first time since its rebuild and reports that it runs quite smoothly, idles like a modern six-cylinder, and opens up “with a mighty roar”. A modified aircraft-starter, intended for a 1,000 h.p. Wright Cyclone engine, is clipped to the chassis to turn the Napier’s engine and aided by a Ki-gass and trembler-coils, there was no difficulty, the engine firing-up at the first attempt. Mr. Chamberlain has been laid low with arthritis but hopes to drive “Samson” in France, and bring it to England, in 1983. — W.B.