Asides

MAGNETOS – A CARE FREE ALTERNATIVE

by Steve Denner

Many moons ago Chas McGurk confided to Demon Tweaks that it was possible to convert the V-twin JAP to a simple coil and distributor (Kettering) system by mounting and driving a distributor in place of one of the magnetos.

In one such conversion Chas had crept up on an unsuspecting Vincent and requisitioned its 50 degree distributor cam which was then “cut and shut” into an early Lucas distributor. This surgery required bits of different distributor shafts to be welded together to provide a taper for the JAP bevel gear at one end and a home for the Vincent cam at the other. Shaft alignment under these circumstances is difficult to achieve. An alternative has been tried as described here.

For myself, the sound advice from Andrew Makin at Performance Ignition Services in Melbourne was to start with a Bosch distributor ex VW, and “Made in Australia”. The reason? He can still get almost any spare required to provide continuing service of the instrument. The vacuum advance is removed and the rotating plate is locked to the base plate with a BA screw. Here are the major steps:

First, make new bracket which mounts the distributor horizontally on the left hand magneto platform so that the drive shaft is at the correct height to engage with the bevel drive from the timing chest. Second, modify and fit the JAP bevel gear on the distributor drive shaft. Third, make and fit a suitable cam for a 50 deg. twin instead of an in-line four VW. Fourth, modify the distributor rotor so it can deliver two unequally spaced sparks through the existing four cylinder distributor cap.

1. Distributor mounting bracket.
This may be either fabricated from mild steel or cast from aluminium to suit the platform mounting. I chose the latter (because I am a lousy welder). The shaft centre height is 45mm above the platform, and the distributor is 1.062” diameter where it is clamped. See below for machining the 45mm centre height of the distributor and below that for distributor mounted in the bracket:

IMG_3742

IMG_3743

2. Drive shaft bevel gear.
The distributor in its VW life is driven by a skew gear which is a parallel fit on the distributor shaft and pinned in place. The standard JAP bevel gear has a taper seat with no keyway. The choice is therefore to either grind out the taper to fit the shaft or grind a taper on the distributor shaft to fit the gear. It was much easier to have the gear ground to fit the shaft (0.491”) and it can then be drilled and secured with a roll pin to achieve (say) 0.005” end float. It should be a precise but not a press fit on the shaft which would make it difficult to dismantle for servicing; the pin will take all necessary drive load.

3. Cam for points
The problem of making an accurate cam is simplified by recognizing that the only critical point is when the points open and a spark is generated. All other points in the cycle can be “more or less”. The dwell time when the points are closed should be not less than 30 deg but could be a lot more, with the only disadvantage being a heavier drain on the battery. The points gap for the rest of the cycle should not be less than .015”.

The Bosch cam is removed by off-hand grinding the hard casing, after which the rotor shaft can be turned accurately with a carbide tip to 15mm dia. A new cam ring can then be machined (below) and fitted to the rotor shaft. The ring has two pairs of flats accurately milled, using a rotary table or dividing head, at 0 deg and 155 deg. The second flat is cut 20 deg ahead of the first to ensure that the points are closed for about 35-40 degree of arc. Importantly, this cut on the leading end of the first cut does not affect the critical point where the contacts open.

IMG_3737(5)Cutting flats for the new cam-ring

The cam rotates clockwise viewed from the distributor cap end, as shown below. Therefore the points will open at the LH (trailing) end of the flats. Providing that nothing is done to remove metal from this critical contact point you now have an accurate ignition cam for a 50 deg twin.

Distrib cam drwngMachining details for the pairs of flats

I made the new ring 20mm diameter, which is slightly larger than the diameter of the Bosch cam. Too big a diameter would increase the rubbing speed of the fibre heel of the points. The adjusting slot in the points holder will need to be filed longer to allow correct gap setting with this increased diameter.

In practice it is sensible to lightly stone the edge where the flats and outer diameter of the ring intersect to make life easier for the fibre heel of the contact arm.

IMG_3741The new cam ring  machined and fitted to the rotor shaft.

The new cam ring is made from 4140 steel because it can be nitride hardened, which will be done at a low enough temperature to avoid any distortion. Aim for a light push fit on the shaft so that you can Loctite it in position and this will be enough to prevent it slipping under the friction of the fibre heel. The cam will need to be indexed to the rotor arm so that the rotor is passing a post in the distributor cap as the points open. The rotor is modified as described below to cope with the unequal spacing between cylinder ignition.

IMG_37394. Rotor arm.
The standard Bosch rotor arm is retained but modified to extend the arc of the arm (right). This is necessary because the terminals in the cap are spaced for 4 cylinders at 90 rotor degree firing intervals. We are using only two of the (opposing) terminals but the spark will be delivered at 155 and 360 degrees of rotor arc. This is done by soldering a prepared brass segment to the existing arm, but be careful that the extended arm does not foul the terminals in the cap and that the HT spark is not asked to jump Sydney Harbour. Bits of plasticine or BlueTac could serve as a witness to check this. Finally assemble the cam so that the rotor arm is abreast of a contact in the cap at both of the opening points on the cam.

The mechanical advance system is retained and to check the ignition at the desired full advance position grip the rotor arm and rotate clockwise so that the advance weights come up against their stop. Ignition advance is adjusted by rotating the distributor body in the cradle and clamping, which is substantially easier and more accurate than trying to position the bevel gear on the taper and tighten  it up after disengaging the magneto.

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ART SENIORS’ VERY FAST JAP

Continuing our occasional theme of Still Things Turn Up, we have news of the revival of a JAP-engined motorcycle which was prepared and ridden by one of Australia’s most controversial motorcycle characters. On it, he set three outright Australian land speed records and holds the lap record at the Vale circuit near Bathurst.

Art Senior is most famous for extracting explosive power from humble Ariels but he first came to prominence in the early ’30s on a self-tuned but wickedly quick flat-tank AJS. On this he set an all-comers Australian quarter-mile speed record as well as winning the 1934 Junior GP in record time at Bathurst. He also won the 1935 Senior GP at Phillip Island, again on an AJS and most likely the same machine.

In late 1934, New South Wales OK Supreme agent Stan Ellis acquired a retired factory racer (see above) to help publicize and sell OKs. The bike had been campaigned in England throughout the 1934 season, including the Senior TT at the Isle of Man. Ellis offered to pay Senior’s expenses, a generous retainer and all winnings if he would prepare and ride it in major race and sprint events.

Eventually, on 27 November 1935 Senior made a successful attack on the Australian flying quarter-mile record wresting it from Rudge-mounted Wal Hawtrey. Senior’s outward run was 111.11mph and the return 112.23mph, for a mean speed of 111.67mph. In June 1936, Norton-mounted Leo Tobin added 8.33mph to Senior’s record for a mean speed of 120mph and Australian records in the 500, 750 & 1,000cc classes.

It was thought that this figure might stand for some time but within a couple of months, Senior had smashed both it and the 130mph mark. A newspaper reported, ‘On Wednesday August 27th, in very adverse conditions on a course close to Sydney (Hume Highway near Liverpool), Arthur Senior, the well-known Sydney racing cyclist, attained the highest speed on the road ever recorded by a motor cyclist in Australia – 130.434mph. His average speed of 123.288mph for a two-way run is accepted as an Australian record in the 500, 750 and 1,000cc classes. Senior was astride an ex-works OK Supreme on which he had previously established the record in late 1935 before it was broken by Mr Leo Tobin some eight months later’.

For the first record attempt, the bike had been stripped but, for the second (see below), Senior and Ellis decided to streamline the OK. Their inspiration was the supercharged Brough-JAP streamliner (known as Leaping Lena) that had set a world sidecar speed record when piloted by Australian Alan Bruce. Senior, ever reluctant to farm work out, set about fabricating the panels himself.

An aluminium wedge enclosed the crankcases, gearbox and clutch. The front down-tube and fork blades were sheathed in the same material. An elongated tail cone, which also covered the top of the disked rear wheel, was shaped to allow his backside to slide inside. And a new petrol tank enabled Senior to squat even lower. Lastly, a handlebar fairing, designed to deflect wind over his reverse beaked helmet, was made.

Art Senior on the Hume Highway on a very wet record day, and below, outside the Stan Ellis showroom

The TT wheels, with their large brakes, were replaced by weight-saving unbraked front and lightly-braked rear items. To minimize rolling resistance, the tyres were the thinnest imaginable. While it lacked Leaping Lena’s elegance, Senior’s Ned Kelly-esque hotchpotch proved surprisingly effective. He later remarked ‘The most difficult part about the streamlining was finding somewhere to attach it’ (the writer has noticed that some lugs have been crudely altered and wondered why. Clearly this was done to aid mounting the fairing).

But hang on – 130mph! That’s a 15% speed increase on the original bike. Impossible! Without access to wind tunnels, streamlining design in the day left a lot to be desired and could not possibly account for all that improvement. Something else was clearly at play.

Unbeknown to those outside the inner sanctum, Stan Ellis had recently taken delivery of a new JAP JOR racing engine (JOR V/46508/S): a pukka 1935 big fin, twin carb, twin spark job used exclusively by HRD at the TT. It shared the same bottom-end as the ‘34 unit so slotted straight in. He fitted a high-compression piston to run on alcohol and enlarged the inlet ports from 7/8” to 1-3/32”. The ports are splayed at 22.5˚ with 7˚ of downdraft and are fed by two right-handed carbs (handed pairs were not made before the war). This engine type had only ever been used in anger once: in the 1935 Isle of Man Senior TT where, in stark contrast to the previous year’s lightly-finned, single-carb units, it proved both fast and reliable.

As the fairing hid the new motor from inquisitive eyes, the remarkable speed increase was put down to a combination of Senior’s freakish ability to conjure yet more grunt from clapped out junk allied with the wind scything properties of his crudely fashioned fairing. Art’s and Stan’s secret was well kept. The record-breaking bike was soon put on display at Stan Ellis Motorcycles Goulburn Street premises. A massive placard proudly proclaimed it as ‘the fastest motorcycle in Australia’. It proved a huge draw card and orders flooded in.

With OK sales soaring on the back of Senior’s records, Ellis offered Senior his own OK Supreme agency which duly opened on 1 June 1937. Senior should have been over the moon but something was gnawing away inside him. Shortly after a club event on June 13 (his last on the OK), Senior demanded Ellis gift him the record-breaker as was the tradition following a successful record attempt. Ellis rejected Senior’s claim as he had not only financed the entire campaign but this was not part of their deal.

Senior’s decibel-rich dummy spit not only kayoed their lucrative two-year partnership but also his own 2 week old OK Supreme agency. However, Australia’s fastest man wasn’t out of the saddle for long. Ariel’s Eric Moore gave him a new Red Hunter to race and sprint. It turned out to be a very lucky move as Senior’s record-breaking resumed and Ariel survived the war.

With the war killing off both motorcycle racing and OK Supreme production, the bike lost its hero status and its purpose. Now little more than a curio, Ellis moved it on and it was thrashed and trashed. I can only assume that the person(s) responsible for this vandalism was oblivious to its great deeds. Sometime in the early ‘fifties, it sold as a flogged-out ex-racer with no special history. While the new owner, who sold it to the writer, never got it running, he did arrest its decay. And so, despite the abuse and despite languishing unrecognized and largely unloved in a western Sydney shed for nearly seven decades, it survived.

Over time, many important components such as the TT-spec Webb forks, drop-forged Harwil front wheel, Bowden racing levers, bespoke oil tank and Amal TT carbs had disappeared. The condition of the remainder varies greatly. The frame has several broken lugs and more twists and turns than the Nurburgring. The TT petrol tank and Harwil 8” rear brake have clearly had a hard life but the priceless mechanicals: the Burman AR racing gearbox and bronze head twin carb JOR engine are surprisingly sound. There remains enough of the original for an authentic resurrection.

The bike as it is today

For practical reasons, the bike will be returned as closely as possible to its 1937 Bathurst lap record trim. A frame jig has been fabricated and a set of double-damped TT Webb forks and Hunter Bros front wheel (a favourite of Art’s) found. Bronze 7/8” Amal 15TTs are proving elusive. Period racing Bowdens will have to suffice for the moment. A new oil tank, primary guard and exhaust pipe will need to be made.

By and large, progress is glacial, but the bike, bless it, survives.

Anon

A SHORT HISTORY OF JAP
SPEEDWAY ENGINES

The following is another experiment in posting more detailed information online. Not having worked out how to display a pdf file, the following is in the form of images and some of the detail may have been lost. If you zoom to 200 or 300% you should be able to read the text but the detail of the drawings will still be hard to read.

Its an analysis of surviving JAP engine drawings and other information which attempts to create a history of the earlier speedway engine. Corrections and comments are most welcome either here or on the JAP Engines Facebook group.

This is very much a work in progress. To download the full pdf of 9 pages click here JAP info models etc See also JAP DRAWINGS SURFACE

With and Without Glory

Terry Wright looks at what is needed to complete his
history of the big-twin Cooper.

POWER WITH GLORY: Hillclimbing the Big-Twin Cooper has long been the provisional title of the intended sequel to the Loose Fillings history of the big-twin Cooper and its antecedents to 1950 or so. It has been planned that it would cover the great hillclimb years of 1951-1961, when the Cooper was absolutely supreme in the UK as well as many parts of the Commonwealth and the Empire.

When all is ready it could take a couple of years to distill the research, write the text, select the pictures, lay out the pages, collate the citations, caption the photographs, prepare the index, get it printed and reviewed … and manage the sales whereby I should just about break even on the printing costs. But time is running out and if I can’t get some input from the UK it’s not going to happen.

While the main story is clear and easy enough to write, there are too many little ‘back-stories’ and details unresolved. As well as the historical narrative, I am proposing to catalogue all the period big-twins although without trying to document their provenance beyond 1961. In my view the book needs this catalogue and the catalogue can’t be done without more definitive research. That means ‘boots on the ground’ and that isn’t possible for me at the moment.

The Australian, New Zealand, Asian and African cars are fairly well resolved because they have been in tightly knit motorsport communities where the provenance of the surviving cars is generally well known right up to today. But many of the British cars are all-over the place as far as their history is concerned. There are too many mysteries and inaccuracies in the folklore which is often all there is to go on.

For example reliable information is needed on the following:

The Ken Wharton championship winning lightweight Mk4 was sold to Scandinavia less engine by Bryan Eccles around 1960. What has become of it? Here it is in Bryan’s hands …

Rivers Fletcher had a Mk8 c1958 – what became of it and who had it before him … ?

The Bertie Bradnack’s onetime twin rear-wheeled Mk7-L3-53 most recently driven by Doc and Tom Willoughby was certainly driven on at least one occasion by Tony Marsh at Rest and be Thankful – why – was he thinking of buying it ? Here it is with Bertie at Brighton …

And what happened to MK7-L1-53 and Mk7-L2-1953 of which I have found no trace. Was one of them the Peter Bell owned car which Michael Christie drove from 1953 and then Ken Wharton drove in his last year before he was killed … ?

Was another the Mk7 (possibly) that Les Leston raced in 1953 when everyone else had given more or less given up racing the twin? And was this a factory car run with full Cooper support and if so what was the objective … ?

What became of the ex Peter Hughes car that David Roscoe sold to Jimmy de Villiers in Rhodesia in 1958 and which may have been rebodied (below) .

Almost certainly it is this car in the Rhodesia copper belt …

What happened to Mk5-L3-51 ordered by Harry Schell according to the records published by Doug Nye, but which I am sure he never raced. Did someone else get the car and if so who? Here is the 1950 Mk4 twin

Betty Haigh had 10-38-50 – what became of it? Indeed what became of most of the early Mk3 and Mk4 twins including those of Spike Rhiando, Syd Logan, George Abecassis, John Cooper, Bill Aston, George Hartwell, Bill Whit house, Pat Fergusson, Eric Brandon, Ray Merrick Michael Christie, Ken Wharton (his first 1950 car) and various others?

These are only some of the questions needing answers so any input would be much appreciated. Most importantly I would be grateful for the sight of ANY 1951-1961 period twin photos of ANY quality. In many case such photos are the only surviving primary evidence of who had what car when and where.

Terry Wright

Skirrow Progress Too Slow!

SKIRROW PROGRESS TOO SLOW!

Some years ago I bought a ‘Skirrow Special’ on eBay, of all places. The Skirrow went into limited production in 1936 and was a development of a prototype that Harry Skirrow had built for Belle Vue, Manchester speedway. It was all part of a plan to start up speedway car racing, which was a raging success in the United States, in England.

Belle Vue decided to build their own cars so Harry started a company called Skirrow Special Cars Ltd to build his. Car Speedway Ltd was set up to run the business side of things and there was a National Association of Speedway Car Racing Circuits that licensed drivers in 1938 and 1939. The photo below shows one of the Belle Vue Elto-engined cars ahead of a Skirrow-JAP at Coventry speedway some time in 1938 or 1939. When the war started, racing  came to a stop for the duration.

Skirrowracing

The photo below shows a brand new car at London’s Lea Bridge speedway where they were built for Harry Skirrow:

Mackereth

Post-war, about a dozen or so of the  JAP 8/80 V-twin­ engined cars were bought up and kept in Northamptonshire by Dave Hughes who founded the Brafield speedway  in 1949. He took the cars to speedway tracks all over the country, organized races and did what he could to revive midget car speedway racing.

Some Skirrows were still racing in 1962 but cannot have lasted much longer. Sometime in the 1960s, one of the most successful of the pre-war midget drivers, Les White, bought one of Hughes’ cars. lt was just ‘for old time’s sake’ said his son Malcolm who did a ‘light restoration’ on it and demonstrated it from time to time at a local speedway.

When Les retired from the garage business he sold everything up and the car went to America, eventually to a private collection in Florida. From there it was sold to Canada, and then I bought it without an engine and shipped it to Sydney with the aim of restoring it and running it in Vintage Speedcar Association events. Here is the car as it arrived,

SkirrowAsBought

The chassis has two pairs of BSA FWD springing and drive mechanisms, one at the front and one at the back as can be seen in the following drawing:

SkirrowChassis

The rear wheels are obviously fixed direction-wise and both ends are without dampers. The front uses a BSA steering box and column with a Bluemels sprung steering wheel.  A double sprocket on the front-mounted engine drives forward and rearward Rudge clutch assemblies which are on counter-shafts running in cast aluminium mounting cases. Exactly as on a speedway bike, a final drive sprocket is fixed to each clutch and drives a shaft on the ends of which are flexible joints and all the other BSA bits and pieces . The following video shows the chassis and the transmission after the body was removed:

The whole of the chassis and running gear was stripped to bare metal and reassembled with repairs and replacements such as the flexible drive couplings using the invaluable assistance of the BSA FWD club’s spares scheme. The sprockets were replaced and a new rear drive-shaft was the only significant part that needed to be custom-made.

I was prepared to make an engine more or less from scratch but I was lucky to acquire a post-war  8/80 JAP and Greg Summerton has made a new crankshaft and reconditioned the bottom end. The cylinders need to be relined and a new timing cover machined to accommodate the prewar total-loss Pilgrim pump. Cylinder heads and rocker gear need a service of course and there are brand new Mahle pistons andTerrys valve-springs in boxes as well as new valves. There are Amal type 27 carburettors with twin float-bowls. but no magnetos.

Rudge speedway countershaft units and clutches seem to be like gold but I found two sets of these to replace the ill-fitting Norton units. The very stylish body, which is mainly several heavy pieces of welded sheet metal sitting directly on the chassis, has been extensively reconditioned with some new panels and it is now ready for final finishing. Here it is at the moment:

20200302_142058

20200302_142122

Nobody knows how many Skirrows were made but I have seen a reference to Harry Skirrow saying there were just 17. Several were reportedly destroyed by bombing in the war, two ended-up in Australia but have since been lost and, allowing for a few to be scrapped, that would line-up with the dozen or so that Dave Hughes had.

There seem to be just three complete Skirrows surviving including this one. Bugatti expert Ivan Dutton has one which he bought at auction about ten years ago; it is complete and running. He also has a real treasure in the substantial remains of demon-driver Spike Rhiando’s Skirrow as well as one of the Elto-engined cars built for Belle Vue. It was Spike Rhiando’s spare engine for his Skirrow that was part of a deal for John Cooper to build a long chassis car with the 8/80 JAP at the rear. Spike first raced this in the Isle of Man in 1948.

I wrote a while ago that work on the Skirrow had stopped while several other projects – a book and another car – were finished off. That work seems to be  everlasting, so I want the Skirrow  to be taken over by somebody else. I bought it out of curiosity and dug up a lot of  history some of which was used in my book Power Without Glory.  The Skirrow was a pioneering series-production single-seat racing car with strong motorcycle connections. Significantly, it was the reason the 8/80 JAP, as developed by Eric Fernihough for his world’s motorcycle record efforts, went into limited production.

It’s a sweet little car and if you would like full details of what has been done, and still needs to be done, with a view to making an offer for it over $A30,000, or about £15,000, please get in touch.

Terry Wright

tsrwright@gmail.com

There is another Loose Fillings article about early English speedway car racing at  https://loosefillings.com/2015/12/13/bugattis-did-it-too

STARTING TROUBLE?

STARTING TROUBLE?

I am not sure who first built a roller starting machine for an air-cooled car like ours, but Garry Simkin had one long before he built one for me, and when I took it and the Walton JAP to the UK in 2002 it was, I think, the first that had been seen there in air-cooled circles.

Be that as it may, it proved its value and was then enhanced somewhat with adjustable feet so that it could be levelled and/or raised or lowered to level the car. The only limitation with this approach is that you have to cart the machine around with you, and if you have to do a restart it’s all a bit of an effort. Because there is normally no differential on an air-cooled car you also need a helper to jack the opposite wheel off the ground then put it back down and push the car off the starter rollers when it is running and ready to go.

One day at Shelsley Walsh, I saw a Vincent powered car that seemed to self-start well, and having embarked on building a brand new engine from scratch for the Walton JAP I got stuck into the on-board starter motor problem.

First you have to attach a ‘flexplate’ with a ring-gear to the engine. You get one of these from your local ring-gear shop (mine was ex Daihatsu with 100 teeth) and attach it to the engine sprocket with a suitable spacer and screws all lock-wired in place, of course. Obviously, the ring-gear has to clear the chassis and the primary chain. In my case that was straightforward but it is best to dummy the whole thing up before cutting metal.

Next you need a starter motor and I just went on-line and found a brand new unit available in Melbourne for custom big V8s to which the supplier fitted a starter pinion to match my ring gear. Probably a much smaller motor than my 2.5hp job might have been fine but I was not taking any chances.

Obviously you will already have thought about how and where to mount the starter and you can really only do it in front of the engine. In my case there were three mounting holes in the chassis forward of the engine for a supercharger that Bruce once had on the car and it proved easy to use these (see below, guessing Templestowe, Victoria. Ten mm thick aluminium plate was cut, machined and screwed to form a T piece mount with slotted holes so the starter could be moved when the engine was moved. If the starter motor was mounted on the engine rather than the chassis then of course there is no need to adjust it when the engine is moved to adjust the primary chain.

BruceBlower

Bruce Walton and the supercharged Walton-JAP, here with a Mk1 JAP engine and Marshall cabin blower  supercharger

The wiring is simple. You need an Anderson connector to connect your portable starter battery to the motor. You need a starter button in the car which is wired to the starter motor and that is it. From day one it has worked flawlessly and clearly has a heap of grunt to spin the JAP over and fire it up without hesitation. I do have an electronic ignition set-up with automatic retard so that doubtless helps too. Not having to hump around the roller unit is an advantage and there are no issues with the car sliding off the rollers or needing help to restart other than somebody to connect and disconnect the battery. Obviously you are carrying a bit more weight up the hill.

TerryMotor

Starter motor as installed in the Walton JAP using the supercharger mounting holes

There was a stage when I was having problems with my first set of flywheels shifting and thought the starter motor might have been responsible but some expert opinion (naa … no worries!) and some high-tech computer modelling (thanks Roald) dismissed this worry. A more recent and more compact solution has been built by Brian Simpson which he describes as follows:

The flexplate is from a BA to BF Ford Falcon with a strengthening ring welded to the centre . A JAP spline from an old sprocket is welded to the ring so it is easy to change the gearing by simply sliding the flexplate off then the sprocket (I am using a speedway type splined sprocket carrier) I then had the finished article dynamically balanced. The starter motor is of course from the same model Falcon with no modifications needed.  Brand-new off e-bay the motor was under $A100.00 & the flexplate was $A40.00 from a wreckers.

Click above to play video

IMG_0708

The car needed rewiring with heavy cabling to the starter motor & the fitting of a battery isolating switch to keep CAMS happy. I have also fitted an Anderson socket and plug for a slave battery to do all the work in the dummy grid area. The car is wired so it will start on the slave battery only with the on board battery totally isolated. Interestingly the car starts easily with its own battery & there’s at least 3 or 4 starts before it starts to weaken.

IMG_0691

Thanks Brian.

Terry Wright

Addendum:  The picture below of the Walton JAP shows the starter motor and fuel pump shielded by a cowling identical in shape to a pannier fuel tank which sits on the other side (bottom)

IMG_0025

Oops, no pee in Simkin

GREAT COOPER PICS ON-LINE

146Prescott copy-X2

GREAT COOPER PICS ON-LINE

Isn’t this just the loveliest pic you could imagine of a big-twin Cooper in action? It comes from a collection that Hugh Miller has published at  https://www.hughmillerphoto.com/Motor-Racing/Air-Cooled/ and it is reproduced here with his kind permission. But who is it? Here’s another shot, by Hugh, maybe a fraction earlier on the same run:

PrescottRoy011 copy-X3

This is, according to Hugh’s programme, Jim Payne at Prescott in May 1963 but he thinks it looks more like Mike Hatton. Hugh took the picture in his teens and he might be right to question the record –  I have met both Mike and Jim and I do agree it looks like Mike from many other photos I have seen of him in the ‘sixties. I haven’t, though, got any period pics of Jim.  I do have a lot of Mike Hatton pics because he was a close friend of prolific Photographic Craftsmen photographer Griff Bury and I have copied most of what Mike has. So I looked further and Mike initially seems to be in a dark helmet, as follows, at Shelsley Walsh on 12 June 1960 or 11 June 1961:

Mike Hatton, Shelsley Walsh, 12.6.60 or 11.6.61 photo by Photographic Craftsmen

Then I found this super Griff Bury photo which I have labelled as Mike Hatton but don’t have a date for:

Scan-7

I am quite sure this is Mike Hatton and so it seems that the dark blue ex Michael Christie Mark 10 had a facelift about 1962 and maybe the helmet got a paint job. My Cooper twin entry information – reports, programmes, results – collected with a view to some day finishing the big-twin story of the great hillclimb championship years from 1950 – mainly stops at 1962. So if anyone can verify –  or challenge –  what’s written here, please let us know.

There are more fine photographs, both period and contemporary, on Hugh’s website and just to finish, here is another classic Shelsley shot by Hugh of Mike Hatton on the Esses approach.

Shelsley142-X5

Terry Wright

 

 

 

 

 

 

COOPERS IN CEYLON

COOPERS IN CEYLON

Ceylon might seem an unlikely place to have air-cooled Coopers but, as we have written in the case of darkest Africa (see www.loosefillings.com/1387 ), they were there too.  Recent correspondence from Vincent owner John Farrington, who worked there 1978-81, has added to the little that we already knew about life and racing in what has been Sri Lanka since its independence in 1972.

It’s long been known that one of the first of the production Coopers, later known as the Mk2 type, left London in late 1948 or early 1949 bound for Colombo. There it found itself in the hands of SG ‘Bill’ Bilton, manager of the British Car Company, who were Nuffield agents and AE Filby an engineer for Messrs Rowlands who were Rootes agents.

Both are reported as driving the car but the ownership is strangely uncertain. It seems most likely it was owned by one of the two companies mentioned above because, in a long article in Motor Sport, November 1949, p457, an anonymous author describes persuading his managing director to buy the Cooper. There is a blow by blow description of the car’s acquisition. There is a photo of the author (presumably), the Cooper and trophies that have been won and here it is from Motor Sport.

CeylonCooper

The author also describes his first outing in the Cooper-JAP at a Ratmalala airfield race on 3 April 1949 where the JAP seized; this was followed by ftd at the St James Estate hillclimb on Easter Sunday, 17 April 1949. There are frequent references to a friend ‘Phil’ who is overseas on six months leave and who is going to use the car when the writer is on his home leave. My best guess is that the author and first driver is Bilton because the cars in the background are Nuffield models and ‘Phil’ is Filby.

In both pairs of hands the car was most successful, winning hillclimbs at St James, Oodoowerre, Mahagastotte and Karanapolando with racing on the WW2 airfields at Ratmalana and later Katukarunda. There were other places too that were used for (mainly) motorcycle racing such as at Kandy and Nuwara Eliza and the Cooper certainly competed at the latter.

I have a little more information DavidCeylonBike8from my English friend David Stevenson who was posted there in 1951 along with several motorcycles which he road and raced with some success (right). He returned to England in 1952 with a nomination as the third member of the Ceylon ‘team’ for the Isle of Man TT that year. He didn’t have a suitable bike but a sponsor supplied one and a Junior replica was earned for finishing well. Following that he rode the bike, an AJS 7R, all the way to Spa to race in the Belgian Grand Prix and then back to London! He can’t remember where he finished but recalled it was well up with the privateers.

The following are some of David’s pictures from Ceylon 1950-51, showing road racing at Kandy and the 500 Cooper at one of the airfields:

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CooperCeylon

That gets us to the letter from John Farrington who wrote to Loose Fillings recently about the Vincent ‘White Shadow’ engine which he has and which came out of a Cooper in Ceylon. Here again there are a few mysteries. What is known is that the engine number, 1A/1458, is recorded in the Vincent works records as being supplied to JP Fergusson in early 1949. Fergusson first competed in a Cooper Vincent, presumably with this engine, at Shelsley Walsh in June 1949. Then, in 1950 Fergusson was JV Green’s entrant a few times at Goodwood in a Mk4, serial number 10-44-50 and here he is on 27 May 1950:

GreenGoodwood.27.5.50

Vincent records have the Vincent engine being overhauled for Green in 1950 with the note ‘ex Fergusson’. Curious? How is it that Fergusson had a car and engine in 1949, but the engine ended up in a new car of Green’s in 1950? We can only assume that Fergusson sold his car sans engine, maybe to someone who didn’t want a big Vincent and sold or lent the Vincent to Green who put it in a new car. Maybe.

The car is known to have been sold to Eric Thompson some time later in 1950 and he used it a few times but advertised it for sale in Autosport in November that year. It is believed he did not sell it and he competed in it a few times in 1951. Then it was advertised again and it is believed to have been sold to Ceylon.  John Farrington, who worked in Sri Lanka in 1978-81 wrote as follows:

The first mention of this Cooper was in a Ceylon Daily News article on 8 February 1952 saying that it had recently been imported. The owner was reported as being one Cedric Seneviratne. Subsequent reports gave the names of drivers as Brown and  MI Rouff. The car was plagued with problems of overheating. A large scoop was added to the nearside to direct air onto the engine. The oil filter housing was cut off to aid airflow to the magneto, and the car was run without an engine cowling. It was also fitted with a clutch from an ex-WD Harley.

Gamini de Zoysa acquired the car from Seneviratne in the late 1950s. He holed the 13:1 pistons. Following advice from the Vincent club he stuck to a lower compression ratio and began a winning streak. He also had a high-speed engine seizure which caused the drive-side mainshaft to turn in the flywheels. I’m not sure whether the seizure happened at the same time as the holed pistons, or subsequently. He scrapped the 1A engine and sold the remains to me (minus conrods and TT carbs). With a Black Shadow engine as replacement, he continued a winning streak, but some years later left the car deteriorating in a makeshift garage when he emigrated to Canada. 

John says that a lot of this information came from John Mocket who worked in Ceylon in the early 1950s, about the same time as my friend David Stevenson; David left Columbo about the time the Cooper-Vincent arrived so he has no knowledge of it.

The black and white picture below from John is of Gamini de Zoysa in full flight at Katakurunda race track:

VincentCeylon

The colour picture below is of the remnants of the car, with what looks like a replacement nose, sometime later. Unfortunately nothing is known about the later years of the Ceylon Coopers and neither seem to have survived. At least the engine has and some of the history.

CeylonCooper2

Terry Wright

COOPERS AT BATHURST 1952

COOPERS AT BATHURST 1952

Here’s something different, as we catch up with the ‘movie’ age. Sorry we don’t know who took this great film.

Bathurst New South Wales was the venue in 1952 for that year’s Australian Grand Prix and there was an impressive entry of five air-cooled Coopers, plus another for a shorter event.

To quote from John Medley’s excellent book, Bathurst, Cradle of Australian Motor Racing, ‘Cooper distributor John Crouch was pleased; the Cooper entry was impressive: his own silver MarkV 1100cc, South Australian Bill Craig’s bronze MarkV 1100cc, and ex motorcyclist Lloyd Hirst’s cream MarkV were entered in addition to the now familiar MarkIV 1000cc Coopers of Mischa Ravdell and Jack Saywell. As well, Dick Cobden had entered his blue MarkV 500cc for the big race, and Bill Patterson his green MarkV 500cc, which he had recently raced in Europe, in the shorter event’.

Sadly, the results didn’t live up to expectations, and Jack Saywell was the only Cooper running at the end of the 38 lap, 150 mile long event, in 16th place, having covered 32 laps.

Observant viewers of this 10 minute film will see:

John Crouch (number 7) at 52 seconds then 1:20 and 2:38
Bill Craig 9 (number 6) at 6:15
Lloyd Hirst, (number 8) at 41s, 55s, also 1:16
Mischa Ravdell (black car number 10)  at 2:17, 3:0, 3:58 and 5:17
Jack Saywell (red car number 11) at 1:15, 3:38, 4:05, 6:50, 7:15, 8:30, 9:03, 9:50
Dick Cobden (Number 23) at 28 and 50 seconds, also at 5:35

Well, we hear you say, where are those cars now? Fortunately, most are still with us.

The John Crouch driven MkV Cooper is in the Penrite Collection in Melbourne. The Bill Craig MkV later had a 1100 cc Coventry Climax fitted by Bill Pile in South Australia where it was used extensively by various owners before migrating to NSW for Paul Armstrong – it now resides on the NSW south coast and appeared at the 2018 Sandown historic meeting.

The cream coloured MkV of Lloyd Hirst later went to Queensland and ran a Ford 1172 cc engine and also a BMC B series engine fitted by Bowin race car designer-builder John Joyce; however it cannot be accounted for now.

The black MkIV of Mischa Ravdell was used in supercharged form by Lex Davison to win the 1955 and 1956 Australian Hillclimb  Championships  and passed through many hands before being obtained in dilapidated form by Garry Simkin in the early 1990s. It is now back in original condition and being used regularly.

Jack Saywell’s MkIV went to Bill Reynolds and Jack Myers with a supercharged Triumph then through various hands before being restored by Tony Caldersmith with single JAP . It was bought by Andrew Halliday and is awaiting a twin JAP to be built up hopefullyto end a long period of retirement.

Dick Cobden’s single MkV was used extensively in Victoria by Reg Smith then bought by Lex Davison who, with Phil Irvings assistance, fitted a supercharged Vincent and christened the car ‘’Cooper Irving’’. This combination won the 1957 Australian Hillclimb Championship at Albany, WA. Graeme North of Shepparton Victoria used it mainly in country Victoria events; it then passed through many hands including Neal Videan and now resides with Graeme Noonan of Phillip Island.

The green MkV single JAP was raced by Bill Patterson in the UK before the Bathurst 1952 AGP event and was later used extensively in Victoria before spending many years in Tasmania with a 1000cc Jap. Later owned by Brian ‘Brique’ Reed, it is currently owned by Peter Harburg in Queensland.

So that’s 5 survivors out of 6 which is a pretty good score we think. How many of the other cars at Bathurst that year also survive?

Garry Simkin




THE FIRST AUSTRALIAN 500

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FIRST AUSTRALIAN 500

Doesn’t this photograph have a lovely Australian feel to it, and would it be right to think it might be in Queensland? Must be the trees or the style of  hats maybe?*

What is known for certain it that this is Australia’s first competing ‘500’, the Low-Lane Special built by Bill Low and Bob Lane in Melbourne in 1947 with an Ariel Red Hunter engine. Other 500s had been promised or had even unsuccessfully appeared for practice, but the Low-Lane was the first to make it to the finishing line at Rob Roy hill-climb on 21 September of that year in a vaguely stated time of 40s.

The chassis, was a slightly modified ABC, which Australian Motor Sports (October 15, 1947, see below) says was an American-made Austin Seven which was married to a Ford 8/ 10 front axle with a Ford wishbone and transverse leaf spring. The upsweep at the rear of the chassis served to provide a top anchor for coil springs and the drive is by chain to a sprocket in a new banjo housing which is open at the front. The differential was discarded of course. Brakes were ‘modern’ Girling all round and the steering was by a Model T box.

Lowe Lane 500 1

Lowe Lane 500 2

Bill Low ran his MG TC at the September meeting and was tenth fastest in 38.40s so the round 40 seconds quoted by AMS seems not too bad. On November 2 that same year at the Australian Hillclimb Championship he was recorded more precisely in the Low-Lane at a ‘smart’ 42.18s so maybe that 40s was on the hopeful side? The champion for that year was Arthur Wylie in his special at 29.18s.

There doesn’t seem to have been another 500 at Rob Roy until the 1949 championship meeting on 1 November which was won by John Barraclough in the ex-Bira MG K3 in 29.69s. Reg Hunt’s 500 did 31.40s and L Day in the Day 500 was at 38.51s.

Our information is that the Low-Lane was bought by Queenslander Clem Warburton and taken to Queensland in late 1947 and was later run in hillclimbs there by Connie Jordan and Doug Wiles. That’s about all we know for the moment but what is news is that ‘things still turn up’ and Jeff Hodges in Bomaderry, just north of Nowra NSW, has the car for sale at a nominal price of $1000.

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Post a message below and we will put you in touch or email direct to jeffandsuehodges@gmail.com.

Terry Wright

* In fact, it must be Queensland because the car didn’t have a body when it ran in Victoria.

RARE COOPER YEARBOOK SURFACES

RARE COOPER YEARBOOK SURFACES

Long-time Melbourne Cooper aficionado Garth Rhodes has been having a tidy-up and has kindly given us a Cooper Yearbook which we haven’t seen before at Loose Fillings. There are some interesting advertisements and photographs of air-cooled cars which we are happy to reproduce here. Many thanks Garth, but sorry the image quality isn’t better here.

Cooper1

Cooper 3

Cooper 4Cooper 5

Cooper 7

Cooper 8

Cooper 9

Cooper 10

Then follow some pages of photographs which are not new to us but we think these are:

Cooper 16

Cooper 17

Cooper 18

Cooper 19

The following though is not the Mk8 as we know it but maybe the early ones had the body style of the  Mk7 –  seems more likely that there just wasn’t a Mk8 twin when the yearbook was put together.

Cooper 20

Cooper 21To finish here is a cutaway drawing of the Cooper Bristol; the rest of the handbook is a list of Cooper successes from 1946 to 1953.

Cooper 22

Hope you like it!

TW

BACK TO AIR-COOLED CARS

BACK TO AIR-COOLED CARS

‘Look what’s turned up’ is a constant story on Loose Fillings  and thanks to some very nice photography we are pleased to bring you no less than three ‘barn-find’ Coopers recently for sale in the United States.

Daniel Rapley said he had two lots of  cars for sale. First there was a Mk7 AND a Mk9, recently pulled out of a barn in Massachusetts. The Mk9 engine was apart. There was a quantity of spares, both mechanical and bodywork. Price was $US22,500 for the pair

The other lot was a Cooper Mk4 which came out of the same Massachusetts barn that the Mk7 and Mk9 came out of. It was owned from 1959 to 1972 by Milo Kibbe in the USA. Photos of it racing in 1960 show it looking in this exact layout. She’s a lovely old thing. Price was $US19,500.

We’ll let you work out which car is which. For more call Daniel Rapley +1-203-470-5298 or email: danielrapley@gmail.com

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11.6

10a

2f

2e

7.30

22a

I’M STICKING WITH BIG-TWIN JAPs

I’M STICKING WITH BIG-TWIN JAPs

While on my annual migration from Australia to the English summer of 2018, I was recalling my first such trip way back in 1978. I had decided to settle in Australia and was returning to sell our little house in Stony Stratford which was just within earshot (with the right wind) of Silverstone circuit.

Apart from my day job, I had started to write and sometimes photograph freelance for Australia’s Revs Motorcycle News and the Australian, and New Zealand contingent at the Silverstone British GP that year was one of my targets. I interviewed and photographed Greg Hansford, Jack Findlay, Mike Hailwood, and Dennis Ireland. It was, I think, the year of Mike Hailwood’s return to the Isle of Man and he, for a while then an antipodean, was also in the frame.

It’s mainly distant memories now. However, I have no trouble remembering the day that Alexander, Lord Hesketh, (properly Alexander Fernor-Hesketh, Baron Hesketh) who lived even closer to Silverstone, turned up at my front door to try and shut me up about the new motorcycle he was planning to make.

I had heard on the grapevine that Ron Valentine, technical head of the Weslake concern, was developing a V-twin version of their very successful speedway 500cc single. Such an idea interested me and to find out more I rang Ron, and after speaking some vintage JAP, soon had an invitation to visit his works in Rye on the south coast.

Ron was most hospitable; we spoke a lot more JAP; he took me to lunch and then I had a tour of the works. They did everything there – cast crankcases and cylinders even – and my freely-taken photos show piles of these in various stages of machining (below).

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In the foundry, attention that day was focused on the first casting of the left side crankcase of the new V twin which Ron told me was to power a motorcycle that Lord Hesketh was planning.

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The other crankcase half had already been cast and heat-treated and was being milled in the machine shop (below), so that scene was added to the pictures I had taken in the foundry.

HeskethMachining (2) (2018_09_06 11_38_40 UTC)

This wasn’t the race engine I had expected to see. It was much more interesting than that. As far as my nascent freelance journalism was concerned, I had a motorcycle ‘scoop’. Hesketh had become world famous with James Hunt driving the F1 cars built in his stable block – maybe he could revive the almost dead British motorcycle industry? This was pretty exciting stuff in those days, I can tell you, with British manufacturing on its knees and Margaret Thatcher yet to give the country some tough economic medicine.

Back in Stony Stratford, I rang the nearby Nicholas Hawksmoor designed Hesketh stately home of Easton Neston near Towcester and soon found myself asking his lordship for details of his motorcycle manufacturing plans. I told him about the photographs I had and after a few seconds of seemingly stunned silence he said

‘Where are you?’

‘Just down the road in Stony Stratford’, I replied.

‘Can I come round – I can be there in 20 minutes’, he said.

So Hesketh turned up in his Rolls-Royce, drank tea in the kitchen and laid out the deal he had in mind. If I held off publishing my photographs he would give me exclusive access to all the Hesketh material well before the official announcement was made. Revs would have the full story before any other motorcycle magazine worldwide.

I ran all this past Revs editor Mike Esdaile. Hesketh’s offer seemed genuine enough. It seemed a pity to put a damper on his plans by prematurely releasing the story for the sake of being first with it. His lordship had been very friendly and persuasive and so we agreed to his proposal. Eventually I found out that Hesketh was no gentleman as far as his word was concerned. Neither Revs nor I heard a word from him again and my photos of the prototype Hesketh engine haven’t seen the light of day until now.

The Weslake engine which I had seen in its early stages was ready to ride in 1980 and offered all sorts of novel – for British breeds – technology such as four valves per cylinder and chain driven twin overhead camshafts. Hesketh’s success with his Formula 1 team gave everyone hopes that his motorcycle project would succeed at a time when there was little public confidence in Britain’s manufacturing competence.

Designer and cartoonist John Mockett has written about the project’s development, ‘I was working for Yamaha Europe, making prototypes and concept models … Yamaha encouraged me to get involved … and paid for some of my time there because they thought there should be another British motorcycle. The first prototype I saw didn’t need a side-stand because the exhaust pipes held it up, so you just lent it on the pipe! That was the stage they’d got to – they didn’t have anyone in a senior role who knew anything about motorcycles.’

MotoGP journalist Michael Scott was at the champagne and caviar launch in 1981 (below, Alexander Hesketh with Mike Hailwood aboard) and he wrote, ‘We all had a test ride, and the bike was lovely, a bit big and heavy, but it had this terrible gear change….the Hesketh people would ask us what the bike was like and we’d say it’s really nice but, er, the gearbox is a bit clunky …. I do remember my coverline …: To The Spanner Born.’

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Hesketh Mototcycles plc was formed and a factory was set up in nearby Daventry to assemble outsourced components. It was, says Alan Cathcart, conceived as a ‘two-wheel Aston Martin –  a classy, expensive, gentleman’s express’.  But the bike soon demonstrated a multitude of faults.  It was heavy, unreliable and the rear cylinder overheated. With unfavourable press reports and the motorcycle market then falling, only 139 bikes were produced before the company went into receivership in 1982.

Cagiva and the Triumph cooperative looked at buying the rights and then Lord Hesketh formed a new company in 1983 to manufacture a full-faired version called the Vampire. However, the old faults were still there and this venture only made 40 bikes before closing in 1984.

Mick Broom, one of Hesketh’s team on his estate, then took on development and support and resolved the V1000s overheating problem with improved oil flow.  He made a few bikes a year until the marque was sold in 2010 to a new company headed by Paul Sleeman, which announced it was going to make just 24 bikes in total with a 1917cc S&S engine made in Wisconsin – the very same one they put in the recreated Morgan threewheelers.

The price when it was launched in 2014 was a whopping £35,000. Motorcycle News said it had ‘style, character, quality and exclusivity’ and they all sold.  Last year the Hesketh Sonnet was put on the market with a more affordable (for some) price of about GBP25,000. For that you got an even bigger 2163cc, triple camshaft S&S engine producing 145bhp at 6000rpm. ‘It delivers a completely unique blend of Anglo-American performance that nobody else offers on two wheels right now’, writes Cathcart. And now for 2018 there is the supercharged Valiant SC with 200bhp for GBP50,000.

It’s all amazing, really. Forty years ago the British motorcycle business was going out backwards. Now there are new Triumphs, Nortons, Ariels (definitely not a Pixie revival) and even a questionable recreation of the Brough Superior made in France. It seems to me that if you want a classic experience you should get a classic bike but good luck to them.

I’m sticking with my big-twin JAPs.

Photos August 1978 by Terry Wright show machining of the prototype engine’s first crankcase half and the casting of the other side along with piles of 500cc speedway engines.

 

New Motor Heritage Foundation

New Motor Heritage Foundation

At Loose Fillings we have been interested to hear that the following has been announced this week:

‘The Australian Motor Heritage Foundation is in the final stages of negotiations with the Australian Racing Drivers Club for long-term occupancy of secure premises at Sydney Motor Sport Park, initially being the whole of the separate building that comprised the original offices of the ARDC, then transferring to a tenancy within the intended new development in the Brabham Drive complex.

‘Also, we have been informed that the ARDC is in negotiation with a number of Australian universities and tertiary institutions, about four in all, which are combining to propose the construction and operation of a campus at SMSP where automotive and aeronautical engineering will be taught. We understand that the AMHF will be encouraged to co-operate with the institutions at that campus to enhance the special educational resources available at SMSP’.

The AMHF has recently been constituted as a not-for-profit company with six directors to provide a permanent home for Sydney enthusiast Hugh King’s remarkable collection of motoring books. We understand ‘Motor’ includes two and three-wheeled vehicles which is as it should be, of course.

The foundation’s directors say ‘…it is not a ‘library’, nor is it a ‘museum’ …instead, this Foundation is to serve the community … with a needed educational resource of national significance, situated at the demographic centre of our largest city, just like is set up successfully in the USA, in parts of Europe and in Japan.’

It was news to Loose Fillings that there was to be a major redevelopment at what we still prefer to call ‘Eastern Creek’. It seems only yesterday, but it’s nearly thirty years, since the editor was watching Bob Barnard and a back-hoe marking out the circuit on the ground around the rather misnamed ‘corporate hill’.

A Google search shows us that in March 2017 Glenn Matthews, ARDC’s CEO, wrote to the Greater Sydney Commission in connection with its West Central Draft District Plan as follows:

‘A new and broader vision is being shaped for the Sydney Motorsport Park precinct that we believe will be of high interest to the Greater Sydney Commission and its strategy to attract smart jobs to Western Sydney and agglomerate industry expertise with research and education opportunities.

‘… We are convinced this broader vision will bring significant social and economic impact through developing talented students in the region, growing smart jobs in innovative globally relevant industry in and around the motorsport precinct, and being an even more significant player in regions visitor economy.’

It was almost exactly in these terms that Greiner government officials were talking when the Eastern Creek circuit was first mooted; hopefully this time it will happen.

The ARDC is proposing a motorsport institute for research and development, a ‘race academy’, circuit lighting, dual pit lanes and an ‘innovation and research hub’, with most of the development being at the end of Brabham Drive around where the grandstand now is (see below).

2018-06-28 AMHF Prospectus for SMSP 15

The relevance of all this to Loose Fillings is that this new venture might well provide a permanent home for the also remarkable Graham Howard Collection of maybe 100,000 papers and photographs which is owned by Loose Fillings’ Garry Simkin and Terry Wright.

We look forward to hearing more, no doubt sometime before next year’s New South Wales election, and we’ll keep you posted on any developments relevant to the Graham Howard Collection.

 

 

 

THE SAD DEATH OF ERIC FERNIHOUGH

THE SAD DEATH OF
ERIC FERNIHOUGH

Just 80 years ago – on 23 April 1938 – 33 year old Eric Crudgington Fernihough was flung off his wildly tank-slapping Brough-Superior motorcycle into the ditch on the side of the new road to Istanbul south of Budapest.

There, one of Britain’s greatest motorcycle racers died, and with him his hopes of regaining for his country the absolute world motorcycle speed record, which had been taken from him by the mighty BMW’s Ernst Jakob Henne.

Eric did not have a good start to life either. Family legend, and some evidence, suggests that his father and mother were initially well-to-do.

But not long after he was born in Birkenhead in 1905 as the ninth child of Jane and John Fernihough, Eric’s mother was recorded working as a lowly stewardess for the Cunard steamship line. It appears that all but Jane’s grown-up children were in care. Of the father there is no trace at the time and Jane was to die giving birth to a daughter in December 1908.

It is believed that Eric was chosen for adoption by Mrs Emily McCalmont at a Merseyside children’s home some time before 1910.  Eric retained the Fernihough surname and lived at 5 Stourwood Avenue, Southbourne, with his new mother, who had been widowed in 1903.

We know Eric spent two years from 1920 boarding at Clayesmore School then near Winchester and three years at Cambridge University studying chemistry, engineering and economics. He graduated BA in June 1926 and later acquired an MA.

Quite a lot is known about his Morgan three-wheeler and motorcycle activities of the time, some of it from the diary of the remarkable Miss Butler. She recorded she became engaged to Eric in November 1924 to give some apparently necessary (in the eyes of her parents) respectability to her spending a lot of time in Eric’s Cambridge shed and at various speed events all over southern England.

Whether the relationship was purely platonic and competition-focussed we will never know because Kathleen’s will required that her diaries be destroyed; fortunately for this story she wrote and dictated several sets of extracts about her time with Eric.

After various adventures including world records at Brooklands driving Eric’s Morgan, and a bad crash in 1926,  her father banned further racing, Mrs McCalmont put her foot down too and, Kathleen noted, ‘the engagement fizzled out’.

After Cambridge Eric took up motorcycle racing and was a frequent competitor and record breaker at the Brooklands track. He still lived in Southbourne and it is understood that he worked for ‘Hendys’, Britain’s first Ford dealer, which had a branch in Bournemouth and also dealt in motorcycles.

From 1926 he had an extraordinarily successful motor cycle racing career on a variety of makes but mainly Excelsiors with JAP engines, initially at Brooklands and in Ireland but eventually on the Continent.

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As a motorcycle racer, Eric mixed it with the best. From his photo album at Brooklands Museum.

Late in 1931 he married Dorothy Penrose from Shirley in Hampshire, and took over the Tower Garage next to Brooklands track where he developed a tuning and motor engineering business.

As well as winning many major races at Brooklands, he had numerous class wins and places in international races in Belgium, Switzerland, France, Sweden, Ireland, Holland and Spain. In 1932 ‘Ferni’recorded 18 firsts and 13 lap records. In 1933 he had 14 firsts and 17 records. In 1934 he had 16 firsts with 18 in 1935 and 10 in 1936.    (440)

In July 1935, with a JAP V-twin engine Brough-Superior motorcycle he had developed himself, he set a new Brooklands lap record for motorcycles at 123.54mph. It was a phenomenal speed that was only to be slightly bettered by Noel Pope before the track closed for racing in 1939.

Eric2

In 1936 Ferni made his first move towards taking the absolute world motorcycle speed record with a visit in October to record sessions being held on one of the new German autobahns between Frankfurt and Darmstadt. The flying start records eluded him with Ernst Henne’s factory 750cc BMW taking the absolute record over a kilometre to 159.1mph but Eric was able to claim a standing start kilometre record of 103.56mph.

Travelling to Gyon south of Budapest in early 1937, now with two bikes, one supercharged and one with a sidecar, he narrowly took the absolute record from Henne at 169.79mph on 19 April along with a second prize in the form of the outright sidecar record.

A racing injury in Sweden put Ferni out of action during the latter part of the year. Meanwhile Piero Taruffi (Gilera) and Ernst Henne, each with a mere 500cc (but superchargedwith full streamlining), attacked the record. At the beginning of 1937 it stood to Henne at 173.68mph.

Once again motoring the long road to Hungary, Fernihough returned to Gyon in the spring of 1938 to try to cap Henne’s new record. It was a tall order even though the road was modern and part of it had been designed level and dead-straight specifically for record breaking.

But runs had to be completed in both directions with only a limited time for adjustments between them. The timed km section was in the middle of the 5km straight and every bit of road available was needed to accelerate and brake. This meant that the approach curves had to be taken at considerable speed.

The flying mile started with one of the kilometre timing points so it was effectively even nearer to the southern end and the approach speed here was critical. Eric made it his practice to do a fast single timed run away from Budapest which was the reverse of normal use of the course. He would then do pairs of runs starting from the south away from the sun, maybe so that he would have the longest approach to the mile on the return run.

Mainly slightly elevated above the surrounding plain, there were only a few trees and buildings roadside apart from a roadhouse (which is still there) in the middle of the timed section.

The Royal Hungarian Automobile Club, for a daily fee of £75 (doesn’t sound a lot, but it was then) provided all the necessary facilities. The road was swept during the night. There were gendarmes with rifles to keep order.

First he cruised up and down in an open car checking for wind shadows and any other hazards. Then the bike was warmed-up and ‘hotter’ plugs fitted. Finally by way of preparation there was a fast run north to south and a last action photograph was taken with him flat on the tank and his arms fully extended.

Eric3

On the fateful day: Eric warms up the Brough

All seemed well and his first record run started back towards Budapest. What followed was only sketchily reported in Britain and ever since there have been arguments about the cause. Only one eye-witness seems to have put pen to paper in English and The Motor Cycle quoted him in its issue of 28 April 1938:

As he entered the measured distance a slight wobble was to be seen. The very severe wobble developed. Poor Ferni tried to correct it but …. it made the front fork go from one lock to the other. It was impossible to straighten. He lost control, flew about thirty yards, landed on the wall of the ditch and fractured the base of his skull.

The Hungarian press agency put out a release with the news of the accident at 12.00 noon and the story was in the British newspapers that afternoon. Eric’s companion, John Rowland, then had the dreadful job of driving their station wagon home to England with Eric’s remains following a few days later.

There is evidence that Eric knew what he was up against in trying to regain the record but that he bravely went on. A surviving letter from a friend to another, written on the day of his death, says “[the] sad truth compels me to admit somehow it was not unexpected. I spoke to him on the matter the last time I saw him …”.

Eric was not the first, and not the last, to experience the sometimes fatal interactions between aerodynamics and vehicle design which even today are not always understood or predictable. Things can still go wrong even after much simulation and testing, the trigger often being difficult to nail down.

It is notable that Eric’s fatal run was the first time he went to record speed with a near full enclosure of the body of the bike. He had earlier run it with little or no streamlining – not even enough to keep the wind off his goggles which were distorted so much he sometimes couldn’t see the road properly. He had last run it for his absolute record runs the previous year with a crankcase/gearbox fairing and a new tail fairing and with this he seems to have frightened himself badly.

It may be that the substantial extra enclosure of the main body of the bike reduced the ‘weathercock’ effect of the tail fairing while introducing a new possibility of ‘flag flutter’ due to asymmetrical airflow  as suggested by Hungarian authorities.

Of course we shall never know. In all probability an accumulation of ‘second order’ effects started to get worse as speeds rose with the fatal, and (almost) literal, tipping point being the now more complete streamlining shifting what is known as the ‘keel area’ fatally forward while maybe adding new aerodynamic problems.

Eric was buried in Boscombe cemetery, Bournemouth on 4 May 1938. He will be remembered this month by a ceremony, not there, but at a memorial (below) where he died which has been built by local people on the Gyon road in what is now the city of Dabas in Hungary.

Terry Wright

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Terry Wright is working on a book about Eric Fernihough, Ernst Henne and their pursuit of the absolute world motorcycle speed record.

JAP DRAWINGS SURFACE

JAP DRAWINGS SURFACE

Well not so much ‘surface,’ as published for the first time. Quite a few years ago a roll of film, which had been found in the street, was handed in to the police in Wolverhampton. The roll was of over 700 microfilmed JAP drawings which had perhaps been dumped after Villiers took over JAPs and moved the remnants of the JAP Tottenham (London) factory to Wolverhampton.

Not being claimed or an owner found, and rather than being destroyed, the film was given to a friend of ours who allowed the Vintage Motor Cycle Club and the Morgan Three-Wheeler Club to copy them. The MTWC made digital copies and a copy was given to Loose Fillings some years ago.

The first set of three drawings published are of the 8/45 KTOR and JTOR crankcases of 1924 or thereabouts, probably with the later addition of ribs to the drive-side crankcase. There should be a timing cover for a single platform magneto but we have not found it yet. It may be that the drawing was lost when a new drawing was done for the 8/80 in 1936.

Future uploads will include the 1936 8/80 996cc JAP and the postwar Mk1 1098cc JAP used by Coopers. As well as crankcases there are cylinder barrel and head drawings of various types but no small parts –  the collection is almost exclusively of drawings for moulding and machining of castings in iron and aluminium.

As well as twin-cylinder engine drawings there are many of the speedway 500 engine which will also be published. Note that the drawing number is the same as the JAP part number

So, watch this space, and here is the first being the 1924  and onwards crankcase for the JTOR, KTOR and probably the water cooled LTOW. Later, these drawings were amended for the 8/80 and in due course the 8/80 timing cover was amended in 1949 to suit the pump used for the dry-sump engine.

If you want higher resolution files, you can download pdfs from JAP DRAWINGS in the menu across the top of the page.

Image (561) JAP7405Above: Drawing 7405

 

Image (560) JAP7406Above: Drawing 7406

 

Image (559) JAP740X

Above: Drawing 7439 for chain driven magneto

 

Here’s a list of the available motorcycle-type engine drawings which will eventually be published:

 

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Jap DwgList_Page_2

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Jap DwgList_Page_4

More Bill Harris

MORE FROM BILL HARRIS’
PHOTO ALBUM

Here’s a bit of an experiment in presentation for us, the following being some of the pages of Bill’s 50 page photo album which starts at Bathurst in 1939 (it says so on the back of the pic below) and follows him to England as a speedway rider post-war.

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Enter a caption

Born in 1915, Bill raced at Maroubra (concrete oval) and Penrith (1 mile dirt track) in New South Wales before World War 2. In 1947 he sailed to England to ride for Tamworth and when speedway lost its lustre he went to work for Ken Wharton as a race mechanic for 1953.

Page 7

Page 1

Page 37

Next he joined Sheffield steelmaker Denis Flather looking after his 1897 Benz and his 1951 Flather Vincent known as the Camel (car in front below). Bill raced the Camel during 1954 while building a new Norton-engined car to his own design with wishbone and coil suspension at the front and De Dion at the rear.

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Bill entered the Flather Special in 6 meetings in 1955, 8 in 1957, 12 in 1958 and nine in 1959 often finishing in the top 5 which was pretty good when you consider how strong the competition was.

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Page 15

Then,  in 1959, he teamed up with Alex Francis to build ‘Alexis’ cars for the new Formula Junior. For 1960 a second car with independent rear suspension was produced for what was obviously turning into a professional rather than an amateur class.

Page 20

Two new rear-engined cars were built for 1961 and eventually three cars were fielded in races all over Europe and there was a successful venture into F2 as well as Formula Ford and Formula 3 ; cars continued to be built into the 1970s. Number 36 below is Australian driver Paul Hawkins and maybe somebody can say where and when it is?

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Bill and his wife Reimer and daughter returned to Australia at the end of 1965 and Bill was later active in historic racing with his Lea Francis powered Harris Special. He died in 1995 and his album was given to Loose Fillings‘ Garry Simkin who is shortly to deposit it in safe hands back in the UK where Bill was so successful.

Page 59

TW

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Short Change On Fire Extinguishers

Short Change On Fire Extinguishers

Just watch this little demonstration of fire-fighting foam in action:

 

Way back in 1999 Loose Fillings -see Back Issues above  – pointed out a serious shortcoming in UK competition rules about fire extinguishers in our kind of cars. It was noted that dry powder extinguishers – which universally work on alcohol fuel and which you can buy in any hardware shop – were ‘prohibited’.

All this was in the context of the (now) editor taking the Walton JAP to the UK and being told he would have to remove the compact 1 kg dry powder unit that was required in Australia. Apparently ‘prohibited’ means to the UK Motor Sports Association (MSA) that you can’t even have it in the car.

The UK requirement, you see, was for proprietary halon replacement Zero 2000 or generic AFFF – which doesn’t work on alcohol. For that you need ‘AR-AFFF’ – that is ‘alcohol resistant aqueous film-forming foam’. This important distinction simply wasn’t made.

As if to demonstrate this to all concerned, about the same time the Vintage Sports Car Club (VSCC) published a picture of a methanol-fueled Cooper Bristol burning out even though it had an MSA approved plumbed-in system. Only when marshals arrived with dry-powder extinguishers was the blaze extinguished.

Eventually, the issue was pressed home face-to-face with the secretary of the VSCC and the technical head of the UK Motor Sports Association (MSA). Neither would budge an inch from their opposition to the use of dry powder (despite it long being an FIA approved extinguishant) and their unwillingness to specify alcohol-resistant foam when the fuel required it.

Fast forward nearly 20 years to the new MSA rules for 2018, and we still find the old rule in place:

K Competitor: Safety

3.1.Capacities
. Extinguishers are classified as …
…. Dry powder extinguishers are prohibited.

But wait … there’s more … there are also new rules, for the time being optional and recommended, but soon to be mandatory, which at last adopt FIA prescriptions as follows:

3.3.2 Permitted extinguishants:
AFFF, Clean Agent, powder or any other extinguishant
homologated by the FIA.
3.2.3. Minimum quantity of extinguishant:
• AFFF 2.4 litres
• FireSense 2.4 litres
• FX GTEC 2.0 kg
• Viro3 2.0 kg
• Zero 360 2.0 kg
• Extreme 2.0 kg
• Powder 2.0 kg

Note there is still no mention of the need for alcohol-resistant foam even though ethanol blends are now being used in ‘modern’ competition as well as old fashioned methanol for historics. Read this, for example:

Alcohol resistant aqueous film forming foam
AR-AFFF is the firefighting agent of choice for fires involving all types of hydrocarbon or solvent fuels. These solvents include ethanol and ethanol blended gasoline (E-10, E-85 and E-95), acetone, methanol, ethers, esters and some acids.
AR-AFFFs provide longer residence time in vapor suppression situations, particularly when firefighters encounter unignited fuel spills. AR-AFFF is required for fires and vapor suppression of spills involving E-10, E-85 and E-95 gasoline-ethanol blends now being carried in standard over-the-road gasoline tankers for delivery to retail gas stations. (https://www.firerescue1.com)

Be that as it may, in the UK, where extinguishers are optional for hillclimbs, you can now use dry-powder for racing.

But in Australia, where extinguishers are mandatory for hillclimbs, an extinguisher is no longer required for any form of racing!

Make sense of all that if you can, and wonder if the people who make these rules know what they are doing!

TW

PS: Both in Australia and the UK some serious questions are unanswered by Loose Fillings’ inquiries:

Except for the Australian Grand Prix, CAMS does not require that alcohol-type concentrate (ATC) or alcohol resistant (AR) foams be used trackside – it simply says they ‘are usual’. But are they?

The new MSA regulations don’t incorporate the FIA standard’s requirement that  extinguishers be labelled with the type of fuel for which they are suitable. So how would anybody know?

Does your club, be it in Australia, UK or elsewhere, ensure that alcohol type extinguishers are used at meetings it supports?

 

“Extreme” Tojeiro-JAP for sale

Continuing our ‘extreme air-cooled’ theme, we hear that the
extraordinary ‘Tojeiro-JAP’ is up for sale but didn’t sell at Britain’s National
Exhibition Centre on Saturday November 11.

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The car was once on the Loose Fillings editor’s ‘bucket-list’. It was all-but tracked down some years ago but found its way into the hands of David Lee who did a remarkable job of a chassis-up restoration including the building of an engine.

All sorts of bright ideas were put forward for exploiting the 1096cc ‘Mk1’ all-alloy JAP V-twin when it was announced in late 1949 as a successor to the 1949 ‘dry-sump’ version of the pre-war total-loss ‘8/80’.* Coopers experimented with a transverse front-mounted engine coupled to a clutch and gearbox but that chassis is not known to have ever made it onto the road.

However, supposedly inspired by an Autocar article which had extolled the virtues of mating a Jowett Jupiter four-speed manual gearbox to the JAP Mk1 via a custom bell housing, Brian Lister took up the idea for a car to be built by John Tojeiro using a bell-housing that had been made to link the JAP to the Jowett box.

Brian was back at the family’s Cambridge engineering firm after a spell in the RAF and John had just set himself up outside Cambridge to make one-off cars. Brian’s first motorsport ventures in 1951 were with one of Cooper’s front-engined sports car but he wasn’t happy with it and commissioned a JAP-engined Tojerio, much along the lines of the Cooper prototype but with a much improved chassis.

This was John Tojeiro’s second chassis and it was the first out of his workshop in April 1952, but it carried a Lister chassis number BHL1. There was a Standard differential and Turner magnesium wheels and the whole thing is said (probably optimistically) to have weighed around 400kg, much as was claimed for the contemporary rear-engined Cooper single-seater. Whatever the weight really was, it was very light for what was technically a sports-car. Note, in the restoration photo by David Lee, below, the obvious stiffness compared with a Cooper.

TojChassisLister JAP 1 (1)(2)

Nicknamed ‘The Asteroid’ by Lister, and road-registered as KER 694, it was fearsomely quick when on-song according to the Lister story written by Robert Edwards. In its first season, 1952, Brian (above) doesn’t seem to have had a lot of success in coaxing the JAP’s performance out of it but amongst his Cambridge circle was demon lightweight (5ft tall) driver Archie Scott-Brown and tuner Don Moore.

Scott-Brown at the wheel in 1953 had no less than six first places in races (below) as well as driving his own Cooper-MG. But the Asteroid, more formally known as the Tojeiro-JAP, was really no sportscar and had to be towed to meetings rather than driven on the road which was then a serious nuisance. Archie repeated his runs of successes in 1952 but then Brian sold to the car to Peter Hughes who was living in Scotland.

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John Tojeiro, Archie Scott-Brown and Brian Lister each went on to greater things in motorsport while Hughes campaigned the car in races and hillclimbs north and south of the border. In 1954 he had five circuit wins, a fourth in an international race, and two best times of day at Bo’ness and Barbon hillclimbs as well as class records at Shelsley Walsh and Prescott.

He then acquired a big-twin JAP-engined Cooper and was killed while driving back from helping Ecurie Ecosse at Le Mans in 1956. We know for certain what happened to his Cooper – it was bought by David Roscoe and then was sold to Jimmy de Villiers in Rhodesia. By then, presumably, the Tojeiro had been sold.

It is said to have passed through the hands of GMG Oliver, Alistair Dent Hutton, Northern Sports Cars Ltd, Peter Jones, W Richard Heylings, John Pacey, Richard Procter, John Baker, Jeremy Wade, Jonathan Bradburn and Frank Gourlay before being bought by David Lee in 2009.

Still road registered, this car could be a real pain in the #### today but a lot more is known now about how to keep a big-twin JAP together and in the right hands it could provide as much excitement as it is possible to have on the road or the track.

A Scottish friend, Gavin Ross, who first told me about the car, remembers it like this, “I think of all my memories from those days long ago at Bo’ness, those of that car are the most vivid; it was certainly the car that made the biggest impact on me at the time. As DSJ used to say it had PRESENCE; in spades! It was sensational to watch in action, it was just so quick compared to the other runners in its class.” The Bo’ness photo below by Graham Gauld shows Peter Hughes at the entry to the ‘courtyard’.

TojeiroGauld

Loose Fillings’ founding editor Graham Howard encouraged its possible purchase saying, “You could see this car as the first move towards the emergence of totally impractical racing “sports cars” with pure-race engines and no real passenger space or luggage capacity”.

The editor is wondering if he may actually be lucky not to have bought the car, but he can’t help thinking wistfully of it as ‘one that got away’.

TW

POSTSCRIPT
*There never was a ‘Mk2’ JAP even though that is what the ‘Mk1’ is widely called today. Probably the terminology arises from the 1949 engine (which JAPs labelled ‘Dry Sump 8/80’) being incorrectly described sometime in the past as the Mk1.

For more on Tojeiros, see a fine book by Graham Gauld, “Toj: John Tojeiro and his cars” available from http://www.smrh.co.uk/acatalog/

For auction details see http://www.silverstoneauctions.com/1952-tojeiro-jap.

RACING ROUND THE RAMPARTS

“Round-the-houses” racing is a great tradition which is still practiced here and there with historic events in West Australia. In continental Europe it was once the way most motor racing was done, with meetings usually embracing both bikes and cars. Perhaps Pau and Monaco are the only survivors running to contemporary car formulae.

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Angouleme in western France was one of those towns where the annual races were an important part of the social and sporting calendar. Starting in 1939, the first main race 20170927_144622for grand prix cars was won by the great French hero Raymond Sommer in an Alfa Romeo 308. Racing recommenced in 1947 and continued until the Le Mans tragedy year of 1955. In 1978 the meeting was revived as a historic event and has continued ever since.

The old town, of Romano-Gallic origins, occupies a fortified craggy plateau high above the surrounding country, and around the plateau are the remains of over 2km of ramparts after which the race is named. A mere 1.2 kilometres long, the course runs along the ramparts, plunges downhill between packed houses, streaks along the bottom of the fortified cliffs then zig-zags back up to the plateau again. It is tight, roughly surfaced and wholly unforgiving as far as run-off is concerned.  An ‘off’ generally means contact with a stone wall or armco.

This year saw the 39th running  of the modern ‘Circuit des Remparts’. Somehow or other the pits were created in the middle of the town next to the hotel de ville, armco was erected here and there, and entries for prewar cars up to 1500cc, 500cc cars, 1965-1974 GT cars, group B rally cars, Bugattis type 35, 37, 51 and 59, post 1974 GTs, pre-war racing cars over 1500cc and pre 1965 GTs were invited to race on Sunday 17 September 2017.

The first voitourette race was led, almost from start to finish, by Morgan ace (and old mate of Loose Fillings) Chas Reynolds who has, over the years, perfected a racing engine with speedway top-end bits on the robust 1323cc DTZ rail trolley motor. As you can imagine, the big-twin exhaust note reverberated splendidly though the tight streets of Angouleme and not a beat was missed.

The second race, being for 500cc cars, was for our air-cooled  brethren and it was pleasing to see that these days the once ubiquitous curved tube Cooper is being challenged by a wide variety of other makes and models.

For a start there were no less than 6 DB (Charles Deutsch and René Bonnet) cars which were initally built around a modified Dyna Panhard flat twin engine mounted ahead of the front driven wheels. There was an Arnott, a Staride, a Martin, an Effyh, the Waye special (late of Australia), a Revis, an RJ, a Cousy and several more-modern blow-ins such as a Vixen (1966) and a Boyer (1960). All were allegedly 500cc and why the latter two were there was a moot point.

IMG_1554
IMG_1567The flat-twin DBs are fierce looking creatures

Further inquiries on the Internet revealed that the ‘Boyer Racer 500’ was conceived about 1998 for a French formula. It had a Honda V-twin Transalp engine developing 50hp at 8000rpm, with a five-speed gearbox. Yet in the programme it is listed as 1960 which is patently not true. Whether the same may be said of the ‘1966’ Vixen VB1 I have not troubled to find out as it finished well down the field. Suffice to say it should be totally unacceptable to genuine historic 500 racers to have this sort of pretend car in the grid.

The race was to be over 23 laps, which was to be a bit much for some people fuel-wise, and they and others wanted a rolling start as they are now accustomed to. At a post-briefing conference it seemed to be agreed with the organisers that a shorter race with a rolling start would be run, but in the end it didn’t happen; indeed there were two standing starts from the grid – one for a parade lap and one for the race.

Being on holiday and not at work, Loose Fillings was not really keen enough to keep a lap chart, hadn’t done the usual homework in the paddock and found it impossible to question the blow-ins about their equipment and its dubious presence. Indeed the winning car simply wasn’t even in the paddock after the race although the driver turned up to stand on the podium.

As far as the race is concerned, some notes and results might suffice: Xavier Kingsland in his Norton engined Staride set a cracking pace and had a long dice with George Shackleton’s lovely Mark 11 Cooper which stopped on lap 12. Xavier was to finish on the same lap in second place behind the Boyer, while Oliver Rinaldi’s DB was 30 odd seconds adrift. Then followed Andy Raynor (Cooper Mk5) and Roy Hunt (Martin 500) with Martin Sheppard in the Effyn Brynfan Special. Yes, only one Cooper in the top six.

For Loose Fillings, a star attraction car-wise was the Waye JAP sold to England a few years back by Sydney’s Halliday family. It was bought last year by Simon Dedman from Essex who, over the winter, did a chassis-up rebuild including some new body panels. It looked splendid. After a few hillclimbs, this was Simon’s first race meeting as the French organisers seemed not to require a full race licence. He went well but fried his clutch after 14 laps, in which he was not alone.

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IMG_1486Simon Dedman has done a terrific job with the Australian Waye JAP

It was great stuff, the 500s looking and sounding terrific in amongst the limestone walls of the old town. The atmosphere was true round-the-houses racing. It was tight on space, sociable, friendly, competitive and apparently well organised. In other words, great fun and well worth the trip if only for the sights, noises, smells, food and drink.

Highly recommended/Four and a half stars.

POSTSCRIPT

Raymond Sommer won the 1950 F3 race in one of Harry Schell’s Coopers and here he is  superimposed on the unchanged but now full-colour townscape of Angouleme.

Angouleme