Hints and Tips - How to Go Racing

From: Ian Grace
Sent: 05 July 2000
To: british-cars-pre-war
Subject: How to go racing

OK, here's the situation.

I'm rebuilding a 1927 Morris Oxford as a special. It's getting a Morris Commodore marine engine (equivalent to the MG 18/80 engine and Le Mans style 2+2 body). Twin carbs., dry sump, h/comp pistons, etc. So it should develop similar or superior power to an 18/80, but will weigh only about 3/4 of an 18/80 on the road. Its also getting an 18/80 Mk II 4-speed box and considerably shortened torque tube. It is being based on a similar car campaigned at Shelsely by Barbara Skinner in the early '30's - this car had an 18/100 Tigress engine and did Shelsley in 54 to 56 secs. I have the blessing of the VSCC Eligibility Subcommittee for the general layout.

Now I've rebuilt many cooking cars before, but never one for serious competition - and never a special (don't tell Thirlby!). I'm looking for the Top Ten Things To Do to the car that you wouldn't normally do during a regular restoration of a car to go down the pub in. I'm a little worried about chassis stiffness (handling nightmares to come?), and I have heard rumblings about crack testing, catch tanks, scutineering bays, yellow crosses, fireproof undies, etc., but can the listening mandarins of speed say more?

I'm not out to go cup hunting - just something that will be reasonably competitive (or at least not embarrassingly pedestrian) all round at hill climbs, sprints and maybe even a little circuit racing?

All advice gratefully appreciated - even if its Don't Bother!

Ian Grace

(Perhaps I should add that no original Morris Oxford was harmed in the making of this car - I started with a bare chassis - with the chasis number already filed off, and the engine came out of a barge on the Rivery Wey - in pristine condition - only a few nautical miles from new, and never revved above about 1,200).


From: John Hardy
Sent: 06 July 2000
To: Ian Grace
CC: british-cars-pre-war
Subject: Re: How to go racing

Can we have replies CC'd to the list on this one please. Veeeery interesting.

JH


From: Alan Fairless
Sent: 06 July 2000
To: Ian Grace
CC: british-cars-pre-war
Subject: Re: How to go racing

The answer to this could be never ending. But, assuming the car is to vintage spec, the minimum you would have to do to pass scrutineering would be:

1) Obviously the car would need to be in good mechanical condition, and clean ( ie no 70year grease accumulations)

2) Fit a throttle return spring which acts directly on the butterfly spindle.

3) There needs to be a method for isolating the fuel supply. Either a mechanical tap, accessible and labelled, or an electrically operated equivalent.

4) Fit a fire extinguisher, of an approved spec.

5) The seat needs to be securely fixed, and not of the "tip up" variety

6) Clearly label the ignition / elec cut out switch

7)Fasten down the battery ( or any loose objects)

8)Make sure any glass is of the laminated variety

9) Fit catch tanks to the radiator overflow, and oil breather ( 2 litres minimum)

10) Check you are within the noise limits. If it doesn't sound too loud it will probably do!

Thats 10 and will at least get you past scrutineering and on to the track.

Winning, now , is a different matter

Alan Fairless


From: Ian Grace
Sent: 06 July 2000
To: Alan Fairless
CC: british-cars-pre-war
Subject: Re: How to go racing

Alan,

Most grateful for that. All looks fairly simple except for the catch tanks. Would it be possible (sane?) to use the dry sump tank between the dumbirons for this purpose? It should be at atmospheric pressure in there. How big should the water catch tank be?

Item 2 is news to me - presumably fit on on each carb.

The battery will be positioned well aft to take the weight back.

Interestingly, I found that the head has a half-moon-shaped blanking piece fitted directly behind the cam - where a rev counter drive can be taken off. I don't think any of the Pendrell-engined Morrises had a rev counter - but the 18/80 did. So, I'm fitting an 18/80 take-off which will mean either modifying the pressed steel cam cover - or obtaining an MG alloy one.

I have an 18/80 exhaust manifold and the exhaust should be fairly standard - the 18/80 had twin silencers, and this Pendrell engine is well known for its near silence and lovely exhaust note.

Demarinising the engine was great fun. I threw away the water-cooled manifold (about 100 lbs of cast iron) and about ten miles of plumbing that came with the engine. Also relieved myself of the epicyclic gearbox (two speeds - forward and back). Next problem was that the Commodore has no clutch - just a flanged shaft bolted to the flywheel to connect to the gearbox directly. I now have a car flywheel with all the clutch spring sockets, but have no clutch as yet. There was a mechanical fuel pump fitted where the water pump should be - I have obtained the correct water pump now. I'm told that I may have to rewind the dynamo - apparently the marine units were designed to generate volts at a far lower speed as the engine would not have revved over about 1,200 in the barge. I took the sump off, and all looks pristine, but I will re metal the bearings - that metal has to be 70 years old. Bores are standard and perfectly unworn - but I'll cherck them for any ovality. The engine came with a chain-driven starting handle mounted about 2 feet above the engine and driving a gear on the front of the crank. Thats all gone.

The only marine bit I'm retaining is the front engine mount, which, on the Commodore marine engine is V-shaped, and so the engine will sit about 2 inches lower in the chassis than would be the case with a Morris Isis or 18/80 engine. Another reason why I'm reluctant to flatten the front springs - ground clearance.

Ian


From: Ian Grace
Sent: 06 July 2000
To: David Laver Alan Fairless
CC: british-cars-pre-war
Subject: Re: How to go racing

David,

Most grateful for that.

My only experience of scrutineering was on a Light Car Summer rally at Roger Colling's Thruxton House in Hereford. I tracked down Roger, who was the scrute. He handed me my ticket over a cup of tea on his lawn, and said in a fatherly way, "Nice car, Mr Grace". I don't think he'd ever seen the car...!

My wheels are five-stud bolt-ons which look very sturdy in the hub department. I'll almost certainly respoke the entire set. I have 12 inch finned-drum brakes from a late Isis.

It's probably worth adding that the car (and I) are in Michigan right now, but it will return to the UK as soon as its roadworthy. Some lucky chap or chapesse is then going to be asked to look after it for me until I return in about five years.

Anyone want to start a monthly pub meeting in Grand Rapids ;-)

Ian

David Laver wrote:
>
>Ian,
>
>It took me probaly ten events to reach the point where the scruitneer said 'nice
>little car' rather than furrowed brow and wondering where to begin. I always ask
>for 'advise' items and try and get as long a list as possible as there is always the
>danger that the next scruitineer will focus on some other item.
>
>VSCC scruitneers are the strictist. At 'local' events and as guest class they are
>like the MOT station and laugh that there isn't much to check and of course its all
>unsafe anyway.
>
>The list of scruitneers is published and one might be willing to 'pre inspect' in
>the same way as VSCC eligability sometimes will review work in progress. For a pint
>and lunch somewhere half way between you one might be tempted out. An alternative
>is drive to a race/hillclimb meeting in the car but to spectate and cadge a look
>over.
>
>> 4) Fit a fire extinguisher, of an approved spec.
>
>At my first event I had it clipped in and they made me take it out again as it
>wasn't secure and more of a hazerd rattling round the car. Leave the over centre
>clip in place. Make sure its firmly mounted but within reach. Under your knees or
>along side the transmission in the passenger foot well is about right.
>
>A plumbed in extinguisher system is only a little more expensive. Its only the
>price of some tube and a pull cable more. One nozzel to the carb, another under the
>dash pointing at the crown jewels.
>
>FIRE WALL - ensure the bulkhead is complete (no holes). Size of acceptable hole
>varies by scruitneer. I used to have leather gaiters round the peddles but in the
>end had to make an alloy box. 'In the end' was at Cadwell Park from an advert
>hoarding in about 22 minutes to make the final practice session. Some scruitneers
>have wondered if plywood is an acceptable material for my bulkhead. One day I'll
>alloy plate it.
>
>> 6) Clearly label the ignition / elec cut out switch
>
>Battery isolation switch with the correct sticker. A triangle with a red spark on
>it. Get a Deemon Tweaks book. Best spot for the switch is on the scuttle below
>the screen frame where you can reach it from the seat and marshalls can get to it
>with the car upside down.
>
>> 7)Fasten down the battery ( or any loose objects)
>
>Acid proof box over the battery, at least if it is in the cockpit.
>
>Yellow tape round the earth lead.
>
>> 9) Fit catch tanks to the radiator overflow, and oil breather ( 2 litres
>> minimum)
>
>Size of tank depends on engine capacity. When you get a licence you get a 'blue
>book' of regs. Most of the regs don't count if the car is the age of yours however
>they are all good sense.
>
>-----
>
>WHEELS are the, absolute THE, critical items. Make sure spokes are of even tension
>(run a big nail round and listen to the pings) and the nipples have not rusted. On
>an Austin 7 they also insist on big washers and lock nuts - the standard conical
>nuts don't survive hard cornering and the wheel pulls over the top.
>
>King pins, wheel bearings next. Give the wheels a wobble.
>
>Not too much oil dripping out. Not too much slack in the steering. Steering col
>fairly well anchored.
>
>I'll email any more if it occures to me.
>
>David
>
>
>


From: Ian Grace
Sent: 06 July 2000
To: David Laver
CC: Alan Fairless; british-cars-pre-war
Subject: Re: How to go racing

David Laver wrote:
>> I will re metal the bearings - that
>> metal has to be 70 years old.
>
>Are you sure that's necessary or even a good idea?
>
>David

I was steered in this direction by Geoff Radford, who has just got his Tigress running after having only had one outing in the 50's since before the war. He checked the metal after a few miles and it had broken up completely. This might have been some exotic racing metal put in there in the '30's which might not have lasted so long as regular stuff.

I think I'll have all the caps off and take a really good look before any final decision.

Many thanks,

Ian


From: OLIVER TOMLIN
Sent: 06 July 2000
To: 'Ian Grace'
CC: 'british-cars-pre-war'
Subject: RE: How to go racing

I was told by my father that white-metal can crystallise with age - and goes kind of dark grey - and as you say breaks up easily. It seems to be through lack of use, but I don't understand how this happens. I've seen it happen too, so there's no denying it.

I've just had the bearings redone on my railton straight eight engine (They were grey and chipped). It took the guy about 12 months to finish it, but it was only 600 so worth the wait. The car is another special and my time-frame currently extends to about 7 years!!!! Information posted on this mailing list will be incredibly handy - one day!! - so thanks to everyone so far and in the future.

I'm building a 'Sports-Tourer' using a Triumph Gloria rolling chassis. I've moved the radiator backwards by about a foot (styling reasons only!) and have shoe-horned the Railton engine and gearbox in (they come to over 3.5 foot in length). I've done this without major mods to the chassis - but chopping 65 year old metal still makes me feel incredibly guilty. The Railton engine is said to produce 120bhp, and Railton's Light Sport Tourer did 0 - 60 in 8.5 secs. I hope I can get somewhere near that.

Its probably not going to be VSCC accepted. The engine and gearbox are but it appears from my investigations so far that the chassis is not. I'm not too bothered because I'm incredibly fired up to do it!!!! Chassis, engine, gearbox, axles, brakes (hydraulic - as stolen by Frazer Nash owners!) and most ancillaries are all 1936. The body is going to be along the lines of the Straight 8 Triumph Dolomite. (My inspiration)

Whittered on for far too long.

Hope its of interest to someone.

Regards

oliver


From: Jack Woehrle
Sent: 06 July 2000
To: OLIVER.TOMLIN; Ian Grace
CC: british-cars-pre-war
Subject: Re: How to go racing

In a message dated 07/06/2000 OLIVER TOMLIN writes:

<< I was told by my father that white-metal can crystallise with age - and goes kind of dark grey - and as you say breaks up easily. It seems to be through lack of use, but I don't understand how this happens. I've seen it happen too, so there's no denying it. >>

The problem is contamination present in the zinc component at the time of pouring. Since WWII this problem has been widely recognized and anyone who does new pourings most certainly is aware of it. Bearings poured before the War should be considered suspect. This embrittlement is seen in all sorts of products that used Zinc based castings before 1940 or so.

Jack Woehrle


From: Ian Grace
Sent: 06 July 2000
To: James Holland; Alan Fairless
CC: british-cars-pre-war
Subject: RE: How to go racing

James Holland wrote:
>It sounds like an interesting project and it is nice to know a standard car
>hasn't been butchered in the process but what happened to the barge?Are we
>robbing Peter to pay Paul?
>
>Rgds James H
>

Dunno! I inherited the project from Bev Hicks, who obtained the engine and all the other bits about ten years ago. He was going to build the special for his son, but his son fell in love with a Triumph Spitfire, so he got that from Dad instead. Unknown to Bev, I was planning the Skinner Special 'replica', which had virtually the same spec. So to cut a long story short, I bought the kit from Bev, sold the Bentley 3 litre Van den Plas body that he had obtained for it, and am starting to design Jensen coachwork similar to that on the Skinner car.

I did, however, manage to pass ALL of the marine engine clobber to Stu Harper (he of Morgan racing fame), who has a very nice pre-war motor launch with the same Commodore engine in it. Unfortunately, his water-cooled manifold had given out just the year before, and he had spent vast sums having a new one made from scatch. He now has a spare which doubles very nicely as a garage doorstop!

Incidentally, he had also had a problem with salt water corroding the waterways in the block. His solution was to mill the cylinders completely off the block, weld on a new billet of steel and machine six new cylinder bores. Now that's restoration!

Ian


From: Ian Grace
Sent: 06 July 2000
To: OLIVER TOMLIN
CC: 'british-cars-pre-war'
Subject: RE: How to go racing

The issue of moving the engine back in the chassis is a hot button one for the VSCC Eligibility Committee. In my case, I guess I got away with it since this is a different engine, so who can say where it is supposed to be!

Good luck with what sounds like another fascinating project.

Ian


From: Clive Sherriff
Sent: 07 July 2000
To: OLIVER TOMLIN
CC: 'Ian Grace'; 'british-cars-pre-war'
Subject: RE: How to go racing

Message text written by OLIVER TOMLIN
>I've just had the bearings redone on my railton straight eight engine (They were grey and chipped). It took the guy about 12 months to finish it, but it was only 600 so worth the wait.<

Not in my book it would'nt be!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Clive Sherriff


From: OLIVER TOMLIN
Sent: 07 July 2000
To: 'Clive Sherriff'; OLIVER TOMLIN
CC: 'Ian Grace'; 'british-cars-pre-war'
Subject: RE: How to go racing

Aaargh!!!! Don't say that!

He white-metalled and line bored the 8 big ends and 5 mains, reground the crank, skimmed the head and the block and honed the bores.

I was quite chuffed!!! But then I wasn't in a rush!

oliver


From: Clive Sherriff
Sent: 07 July 2000
To: OLIVER TOMLIN
CC: 'Clive Sherriff'; 'british-cars-pre-war'; 'Ian Grace'
Subject: RE: How to go racing

My point is that this should only take a week or two - there seem to be too many shops that assume as something is old it can be put to the back of every queue they get. - but if there was no rush and you live with this sort of delay OK - but then they try and do it to me too......and I dont want to wait a year - I might be dead by then!!!

Clive


Home | Hints & Tips | Suppliers | Engineering Data | Links | Events | For Sale | Gallery | Books | Videos | About Us