Last week I mentioned that red quarters on a BMW radiator
badge denoted what car? This was after the division of BMW following WWII. The
Eisenach factory ended up in East Germany, the Soviet side, and continued to
produce the pre-war BMW six cylinder models, initially called ‘Autowelo’, and
then EMW. The radiator badge color was changed in 1951. Incidentally, the
Vietnamese police were using EMW motorcycle and sidecar outfits for many years.
So to this week. Which helicopter factory became one of the
most significant makes in motorcycle racing? Clue: it was owned by an Italian
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct
answer to email [email protected]
Why electrics is a black art
and physics doesn’t work
Some examples of the noble black art in auto electrics.
Remember the fuel pump on the original Mini’s, made by Lucas, otherwise known as
the Prince of Darkness. In a fit of madness, Sir Alec Issigonis decided to put
the fuel pump under the floor of the boot. I personally think he forgot about it
during the design phase, and the pump and its subsequent placement was an
afterthought after the engine wouldn’t fire. Oops! No petrol. Oops! No pump.
Now if the pump had been carefully wrapped in its own pump-sized
condom, everything would have been fine. But it wasn’t, was it? Puddles, streams,
overflowing Bangkok klongs, or a decent spit, would cause the pump to stop. Ok,
OK, water in the points, so the electrical pulse doesn’t, or something. Whatever,
the end result is that you are stranded.
Actually I have had a life-long hate of fuel pumps. Remember
the old MG TCs? The pump was mounted on the right hand side of the scuttle
firewall. Whenever it stopped ticking you had to get out, and perform black
magic to get it to work. You unscrewed the cap and gently coaxed the points back
into flutter mode, then reassembled everything and away you went.
I had another method, which did not require you to stop at
the side of the road or unscrew anything. I used to keep a short iron bar down
beside the driver’s seat and when the pump stopped pumping, I would lean out
with the bar in my hand and beat buggery out of the pump. It would start again,
either because I had made the points open and close, or because the pump was so
frightened it was trembling. To make it easy, the sides were off the bonnet (‘de
rigeur’ in those days, complete with leather straps across the top bonnet
Another bit of engineering that defies physical laws lies in
the universal joints in the propeller shaft. A kind of metal X with case-hardened
caps filled with rollers. Despite all the greasing in the world, these things
would always seize up, and you had to pull it all apart.
The owners manual made it look easy. (Those were the days
when the manufacturer actually allowed you to touch the car. These days your
warranty would become null and void and you would probably be subjected to some
kind of exquisite electro-torture.) But back to the manual, complete with some
chap in a dust coat. “Tap the yoke lightly and the bearing will appear” was what
the good book said. Not one solitary word as what to do when the bearing didn’t
appear - and they never did.
No, the tapping physical law does not exist. You have to get
the biggest cold chisel you can and split the casing, and by the time you have
thoroughly butchered it, then the bearing will appear - in bits. “Tap the yoke
lightly” indeed! Physics be damned!
Fancy a DB5? For $6 million?
The James Bond 1964 Aston Martin DB5 is apparently set to
fetch more than $6 million when it goes to auction for the first time in its
The second of only two ‘007’ versions of the famous sports
car driven by actor Sean Connery in the ‘60s 007 films Goldfinger and
Thunderball will go under the hammer in October in the UK.
The DB5 comes equipped with all the original ‘Q’ gadgets and
modifications seen in the movies, including the front-mounted machine guns, rear
pop-up bulletproof shield, revolving number plates, oil-slick sprayer, smoke
screen, tracking device, and, of course, the removable roof panel that allowed
Bond to jettison his unwanted passenger from the Aston Martin’s ejector seat.
Now how is this for inflation? An American radio broadcaster,
Jerry Lee, bought the 1964 DB5 prototype from the Aston Martin factory for
$12,000 in 1969. The first Bond DB5 sold in 2006 for US$2,090,000.
130 mph laps at the IOM
The annual Isle of Man (IOM) TT’s are on again, and our
motorcycling correspondent Alan Coates has been keeping me up to date. The top
riders are averaging 130 mph (208 km/h) for the very tight and twisty 37.7 mile
(60 km) road course around the island.
Cameron Donald Suzuki at IOM
In addition to the Super Bikes and Super Sports, there is also the TT Zero
electric bike race again. These noiseless electric bikes look like breaking the
magic 100 mph (160 km/h) barrier this year and there is a STG 10,000 incentive
for the first electric powered motorcycle to do this. This landmark was achieved
for the first time by a conventional bike in 1957, when Scotsman Bob McIntyre
lapped the TT Course in 22 minutes 24.4 seconds for an overall average of 101.03
mph. Rob Barber and Team Agni recorded a fastest electric lap time of 25 minutes
53.5 seconds (87.434 mph) in the 2009 clean emissions race.