A bit of music from the lamented Radio Blog Club

Le Français

Toujours, je suis désolé pour mes amis( et amies) français(es), mais il est difficile pour moi d'écire en français. Peut-être un jour...
S.V.P. regardez ce LIEN

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Back in Action

Yes, for another season (the fifth) without an engine overhaul, the Fanalone has been dusted off. Its first engagement is an invitation to open some of the stages at the Rallye de Beaufortain.

Those who you who a fortunate enough to be in the area will have the chance to see an 037 Stradale, two Evos and the Fanalone in action - in opening duties that is.

Next week I shall be putting a spanner here or there on the Fulvia to ready it for its outing.

The Beaufort (sur Doron) area is stunningly lovely, nestled in the French Alps. I drove through a couple of years ago on my way to Milan; a rare treat it must be said. Another link here.

More on the upcoming rally programme when plans are completed.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Amal Carburettors and the Parker-GN

Well, would you like to try it?

Those of you who have read my series on developing the Fulvia engine, might recall that in Part VI, I mentioned as a possible option, the use of Amal motor-cycle carburettors.

The Amal carburettor is a simple but effective device. Fuel is regulated by means of a single needle and jet arrangement, as in the S.U. carburettor, and the Amal too has a piston free to move vertically. The difference is that whilst the S.U.’s piston is raised by the manifold depression, the Amal’s is lifted by the throttle cable – there is no butterfly - so at full throttle there is a completely clear passage. The carburettors were available in bore sizes of up to 42mm.

Apart of course from motorcycles, the Amal was used on cars before the Second World War, notably by the extraordinary Freddie Dixon on his very fast Rileys that raced mostly at Brooklands. And in the 1960s it was possible to buy tuning kits for Minis that incorporated a pair of Amals.

Perhaps the most successful application, certainly in terms of achievements, was in the Vanwall four-cylinder 2.5 litre Formula one car in the late 1950s. However, this was an application with a difference: the carburettors were used solely as throttle bodies, since the engine was fitted with a Bosch fuel-injection system. Sorry about the small picture but larger versions are available from the source (at a price).

The Vanwall engine with its Amals

It seems that Amals are are still available here and here although I suspect that the larger ones might be difficult to find, but there are also modern Japanese carburettors manufactured by the likes of Mikuni and Keihin which are similar in many respects. Another possibility is Dell'Orto which still manufactures single choke motor-cycle carburettors. Remember that because the Amal presents a clear path a smaller diameter will probably suffice.

To conclude this short piece I should like to add a little about the formidable racer whose pictures appear here. This car is known as the Parker-GN. GN (Godfrey and Nash) was a small company that manufactured “cycle-cars” in the early 1920s. Usually powered by a vee-twin Matchless or J.A.P. engine, the cars featured a very effective gear-change mechanism and chain drive and thanks to their light weight, went very well for the time. Around 1925 the founders, H.R. Godfrey and Captain Archie Frazer-Nash separated, with Frazer-Nash going on to make the famous cars that bore his name which, up to 1939*, still used the chain drive system; later he designed various hydraulic devices including a famous gun turret. Godfrey went on to make H.R.G. cars which achieved some fame ceasing some time in the 1950s. They, like Frazer-Nashes, are very valuable now.

The Cirrus engine showing the four early Amal carburettors

The Parker G.N. is rather different: it is, rather improbably it must be said, fitted with a Blackburn (or De Havilland) Cirrus aero engine. This is an air-cooled four-cylinder of around six litres capacity, and as may be seen in the pictures, fitted with four Amal carburettors. I have seen this car racing several times in the capable hands of Richard Scaldwell and believe me, it is seriously fast!

There are some brave men around.

Sadly I have never heard of anyone fitting a Fulvia with Amals, but the principal appeal is that by staggering them the disadvantage of the uneven length ports could be overcome.

If any one has heard of a Fulvia being thus equipped I would love to hear about it.

* The company had since been bought by the Aldington brothers who founded AFN, the famous Porsche dealers (AFN = Archie Frazer Nash).

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Land-Rover Antics - Part III

In Part II of this short series, I mentioned that being an ex-military vehicle, the wiring arrangements were rather different from standard. One might add “and how”!

Bill pointed out that the vehicle was fitted with a heated windscreen which had never worked. Indeed the windscreen must have been a costly item: it had very fine (for obvious reasons) heating wires inside the glass running from top to bottom. SII Fulvia owners will recognise the idea as it is similar to the heated rear window fitted to those cars.

The Land-Rover had been an army radio vehicle, so there were many now unused fuse places in the large fuse box – find that fuse!. I knew also that there had to be a relay somewhere – I had already checked the windscreen heater for continuity and it was fine. Bill has a factory workshop manual which showed some details but not all – and no locations!

As is quite common with electrical faults, I spent many hours trying to trace the circuit. This was subsequently found to be even more complex as there turned out to be an internal short-circuit to ground somewhere inside the military wiring harness which is practically impossible to dismantle. Secondly, the control relay – a very special high-current item, which I eventually found buried in a stack of wires behind the instrument panel was controlled by a voltage level unit. Quite ingenious, as this means that one cannot drain the battery since once voltage drops to a certain point, the relay will be shut off. Typically, the damned thing didn’t work!

So I rewired everything behind the instrument panel and ran additional cables to the windscreen heater with an in-line fuse. The ammeter confirmed that all is now well.

I then did quite a lot of the same concerning the heated rear window!

From time to time Bill had experienced a fuel starvation problem. This is nasty on diesel-engined vehicles as of course once there is air in the system the engine stops and that’s it! The installation as I mentioned in Part I was not very nicely done, and this included some rather hit and miss “modifications to the fuel lines not to mention something similar in the turbo piping (more on this later). Bill decided that he would take no chances in future and so he purchased a Facet electric fuel pump to assist the lift pump that is installed in the injection pump unit. I managed to fit this (just) on the bulkhead under the driver’s seat right above the fuel tank, together with a relay and a small fuse box which will provide a useful additional source of current should this be required in the future. There is a reassuring lack of air visible in the piping now.

A useful feature on an expedition-type vehicle is an inverter to provide 230v A.C. so that e.g. a laptop computer can be run. The one installed had packed up, so Bill bought a better-quality one which inevitably was rather bulkier. With the amount of accessories fitted space was becoming increasingly in short supply. I devised a neat solution: behind each of the windows is a security grille, so we hung the unit from one of these. The installation which Bill did, is very neat as may be seen in the picture below.

The final electrical task was to persuade the front side lights to work. This turned out to be due to the horrid “bullet” connectors so beloved of British manufacturers – I have experienced vast amounts of grief with these on Jaguars, Austin-Healeys Triumphs etc., etc. As usual one or two had corroded – not behind the lamps where one would expect of course, but once again buried underneath a pile of coloured “spaghetti” behind the central switch panel…

Next time: Turbo pipes, half shafts and other bits and pieces.

Sod the Law!


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Music and Radio Blog Club

Radio Blog Club, a good friend for a while appears to be in some legislative difficulty...

However, in tribute to its brave effort, I shall leave the existing track on this page (which amazingly still works)

Sadly my Playlist no longer works (hence its removal) thanks to the absurd "Hadopi" legislation in France. Apologies to all.