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Holbay: John Read and his engines


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#51 Stephen W

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Posted 17 October 2010 - 13:23

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A one litre screamer - this had been rebuilt by John Beattie for hillclimbing complete with different carbs!

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#52 RogerFrench

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 15:57

I saw this a little late, sorry.
I've done more research, too.
The Miles Wilkins book is a bit off. The standard engine for the S3 was a 1600 Crossflow - I think the Cortina GT engine. There were some Holbay modified pushrod engines too. The TC engine was only fitted as standard to 13 S3s, and they were Holbay-modified.

Have been doing some more checking, Miles Wilkins, in his Lotus Twin Cam Engine book, says that under Mike Walker of Lotus Components at Hethel, the Lotus Seven S3 had a standard twin cam engine. Later, in 1970, he collaborated with Holbay ....to produce the S3 SS with a 'tweaked' twin cam (giving 125 or 135 bhp) ........Only 13 of these were made, and with the announcement of the Big Valve unit, the Holbay tuned version was dropped. Following on from the S3 came the S4, in either Big Valve form....or with the 1600 GT Cortina pushrod engine.

Does that sound about right?

James



#53 bradbury west

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Posted 18 October 2010 - 16:31

There were some Holbay modified pushrod engines too.


IIRC by 1969/70 the Holbay downdraught crossflow at 140-ish bhp, was de rigeur for front running Clubman's cars, qy Jeremy Lord in the Tech Del car, et al, although Tim Goss had blitzed everyone previously with his Jim Donnelly Silvertune powered car, although that was probably more as a result of the major re-engineering of the 3/7 .
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#54 SJ Lambert

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Posted 23 October 2010 - 01:57

Tony Gooch, ex Holbay, has sent me the following-

I came across this subject on the Autosport forum. (So Here goes!!) I started work for John straight from school,in July 1961,he was running two businesses at the time,a general garage(Hollesley Bay Garage) repairing and servicing cars, which strictly speaking was where I was employed as an apprentice mechanic, and the fledgling Holbay Racing Engines, although the two often intertwined. Holbay was housed in a single building behind the main garage,known as the test shop (photo enclosed) which contained a
Heenan and Froude dynamometer.There was initially just one full time mechanic working with John,a very likable South African called Terry McClement (presumably as alluded to by hatrat). I used to pump petrol,(Fina,18 pence/gallon,now it's 118 pence/litre),sweep the floor and clean parts in solvent from stripped down engines,oh and I sometimes got to paint the red backgrounds to the Holbay logo on the valve covers.

Above the main garage building was a flat (apartment) where John lived with wife Jane and daughter Rebbeca and at the time he ran a rather unusual red Bristol 403,sadly neglected,which I only rode in once,when he brought me back (to Woodbridge) after my initial interview,doing about 100mph most of the way,10 miles. He later changed it for a grey 406.Terry built a Lotus 7,Holbay powered of course,and I had several rides in that,real fun.We had the first,I guess, Brabham/Tauranac MRD badged 1100cc Formula Junior turn up one Thursday in 1962(?),March or April which went to Snetterton on the Friday,it being a Bank-Holiday,but it was back on Saturday,engine cover all burnt,the engine had caught light. This was accompanied by Frank Gardener, a frequent visitor, who stayed in the flat above. There was certainly a very strong Brabham connection, he being very instrumental in the acquisition of a Repco cam-shaft grinder which was housed in it's own heated building, that machine was better looked after than we staff were!

In '62 '63 Jack Brabham came and stayed for three days,watching the engines being built and I saw some of the sheets that accompanied the engines were marked "Works team units". When the engines were completed they were run in for 5 hours on the dyno then power tested before having new big-end shells fitted prior to delivery.The exhaust for the test engines was a four branch manifold merging into a single pipe one third of the way down the building. With the double doors open, the noise was deafening and I remember one of the locals saying "He does that (tests engines) well into the evenings,Sundays as well",but I never heard of any complaints.It was in '63 I guess, towards the end of 1100cc and in anticipation of 1000cc F3 that an extra building was put up behind the garage and about twelve new hands taken on, some local, but several coming from much further afield,living in caravans parked around the countryside,John's secretary told me years later that as they were all enthusiasts prepared to work for next to nothing,that's what he paid them! At Martlesham was an RAF war time aerodrome which became redundant in 1959 and many buildings became available for use as industrial units so Holbay took one over in1965ish,(difficult to remember exact dates)and the garage was sold, where I remained for another couple of years.

Petrol used for testing the engines was Esso Golden,being collected in cans from a service station about twelve miles away, this being considered more potent than the Fina brew we sold. I was driving out of town one day when I noticed John in the big garden of a big bungalow so turned round and went back for a chat,the last thing he said to me was"If I ever needed a job,go and see him,he'd soon find me something to do"but while the work was interesting I never felt the need to take up his offer. I went over to the old premises today and had an interesting conversation with the new owner, but the old building has been completely rebuilt, only the test shop still standing, hence the picture. Incidentally,there was an Australian guy there who came and went,Max Ellis,I've established contact with him,he's big in Country music in Tamworth,NSW.

Best regards,Tony Gooch.

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Thanks Tony, wonderful anecdotes!!

James



#55 bartchops

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 12:39

Tony Gooch, ex Holbay, has sent me the following-

I came across this subject on the Autosport forum. (So Here goes!!) I started work for John straight from school,in July 1961,he was running two businesses at the time,a general garage(Hollesley Bay Garage) repairing and servicing cars, which strictly speaking was where I was employed as an apprentice mechanic, and the fledgling Holbay Racing Engines, although the two often intertwined. Holbay was housed in a single building behind the main garage,known as the test shop (photo enclosed) which contained a
Heenan and Froude dynamometer.There was initially just one full time mechanic working with John,a very likable South African called Terry McClement (presumably as alluded to by hatrat). I used to pump petrol,(Fina,18 pence/gallon,now it's 118 pence/litre),sweep the floor and clean parts in solvent from stripped down engines,oh and I sometimes got to paint the red backgrounds to the Holbay logo on the valve covers.

Above the main garage building was a flat (apartment) where John lived with wife Jane and daughter Rebbeca and at the time he ran a rather unusual red Bristol 403,sadly neglected,which I only rode in once,when he brought me back (to Woodbridge) after my initial interview,doing about 100mph most of the way,10 miles. He later changed it for a grey 406.Terry built a Lotus 7,Holbay powered of course,and I had several rides in that,real fun.We had the first,I guess, Brabham/Tauranac MRD badged 1100cc Formula Junior turn up one Thursday in 1962(?),March or April which went to Snetterton on the Friday,it being a Bank-Holiday,but it was back on Saturday,engine cover all burnt,the engine had caught light. This was accompanied by Frank Gardener, a frequent visitor, who stayed in the flat above. There was certainly a very strong Brabham connection, he being very instrumental in the acquisition of a Repco cam-shaft grinder which was housed in it's own heated building, that machine was better looked after than we staff were!

In '62 '63 Jack Brabham came and stayed for three days,watching the engines being built and I saw some of the sheets that accompanied the engines were marked "Works team units". When the engines were completed they were run in for 5 hours on the dyno then power tested before having new big-end shells fitted prior to delivery.The exhaust for the test engines was a four branch manifold merging into a single pipe one third of the way down the building. With the double doors open, the noise was deafening and I remember one of the locals saying "He does that (tests engines) well into the evenings,Sundays as well",but I never heard of any complaints.It was in '63 I guess, towards the end of 1100cc and in anticipation of 1000cc F3 that an extra building was put up behind the garage and about twelve new hands taken on, some local, but several coming from much further afield,living in caravans parked around the countryside,John's secretary told me years later that as they were all enthusiasts prepared to work for next to nothing,that's what he paid them! At Martlesham was an RAF war time aerodrome which became redundant in 1959 and many buildings became available for use as industrial units so Holbay took one over in1965ish,(difficult to remember exact dates)and the garage was sold, where I remained for another couple of years.

Petrol used for testing the engines was Esso Golden,being collected in cans from a service station about twelve miles away, this being considered more potent than the Fina brew we sold. I was driving out of town one day when I noticed John in the big garden of a big bungalow so turned round and went back for a chat,the last thing he said to me was"If I ever needed a job,go and see him,he'd soon find me something to do"but while the work was interesting I never felt the need to take up his offer. I went over to the old premises today and had an interesting conversation with the new owner, but the old building has been completely rebuilt, only the test shop still standing, hence the picture. Incidentally,there was an Australian guy there who came and went,Max Ellis,I've established contact with him,he's big in Country music in Tamworth,NSW.

Best regards,Tony Gooch.

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Thanks Tony, wonderful anecdotes!!

James

I've just realised the engine on test in the photo is the Fiat 6 cylinder that John took on,so it must be around 1976

Edited by bartchops, 24 October 2010 - 21:40.


#56 bartchops

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 12:40

I've just realised the engine on test in the photo is the Fiat 6 cylinder that John took on,so it must be around 1976.



#57 Ray Bell

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 20:48

Can you please tell us more about this 6-cylinder engine project?

What capacity? Doesn't look like a production cylinder head?

#58 bartchops

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 21:52

Can you please tell us more about this 6-cylinder engine project?

What capacity? Doesn't look like a production cylinder head?

This was a project that Fiat/Abarth undertook,to develop a two litre formula 2 engine(1973 on)? pulled the plug and John bought it up involving Tom Wheatcroft, Brian Henton,subsequently got nowhere with it and sold it on.

#59 Ray Bell

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 22:11

Was it based on the Fiat 1800 bottom end?

I know, I ask too many questions...

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#60 Tim Murray

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 22:43

It was designed as an out-and-out racing engine, so might not have had many links with production Fiat engines. In this earlier thread there's this brief technical spec:

The car was indeed a Wheatcroft, called P26-Abarth, engine was designated as Fiat-Abarth L6-260, an inline 6 (no V6), with 4 valves per cylinder, quoted with 316 HP/10400, 1986 cc, bore x stroke 86 x 57 mm, interesting enough exactly the same as the Ferrari Dino V6 of 1977, as used by Chevron

and another photo:

The Abarth Holbay engine.

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Edited by Tim Murray, 24 October 2010 - 22:43.


#61 Spaceframe7

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 23:39

[quote name='SJ Lambert' date='Sep 13 2010, 12:28' post='4588969']
"I must admit to having more than a passing interest in John Reid and his Holbay Racing Engines concern. Despite having found numerous period articles detailing the creations of his illustrious contemporary firm Messrs Duckworth and Costin, I've been unable to find even one article on any Holbay motors"

Regarding some of the questions in this topic concerning the Holbay 1600 c.c. Crossflow 'Clubman's' engine installed in various Lotus Seven models, this engine was first displayed in a Seven at the 1969 Racing Car Show in London. The car was called the Series 3 Lotus Seven 'S'. It had an expensive 'Rolls Royce' paint job, leather seats, radio, and was a one-off. The car was pricey, and no longer in the budget sports car category it was originally designed for. The engine, fitted with forged Hepolite pistons with deeper cut-outs machined into the piston crowns by Holbay to compensate for the higher lift of the Holbay R120 camshaft (as compared with the standard FoMoCo part) provided 10:1 c.r. The unit was fully balanced, and had twin 40 DCOE Webers on a special Holbay inlet manifold. The R120 camshaft was also used in the Works Escorts cars for the 1970 World Cup Rally. Engines for this competition were 1830 c.c., R120 camshaft, 9.5:1 forged Mahle pistons, and long throw crankshaft, twin 45 DCOE Webers, and gave approximately 140 bhp with standard valves. The Clubman's R120 1600 c.c. Crossflow engine was an optional extra for Lotus Seven Series 3 cars and the later Series 4. The Lotus 7X of Tim Goss had a 140 bhp Holbay Ford Crossflow engine, the details of which I have yet to discover, but it was under 1600 c.c. to follow the regulations of the series. I still have a complete list of Holbay racing parts that were available prior to 1992, and they show a good selection of camshafts in their range. The Twin Cam in the 7 was the work of Caterham Cars - probably along with one or two owners who said it could be done - when Lotus said it couldn't. Caterham showed a 7 to Colin Chapman which was fitted with the T/C and the Lotus Seven 'SS' appeared at the 1969 Motor Show complete with cut-away bonnet to display the engine. 13 'SS' models were officially produced, but it has been suggested that there could have been a few more unofficially constructed for personal friends of Mr. C.

I have long admired the racing successes of Holbay Engineering as well as the historical connection with Lotus. I have read numerous articles and road test reports on various Lotus models fitted with Holbay tuned engines - especially the Seven, and decided to try and found out more about the company, and why it went out of business circa 1992. As a preface to my search for information, I had been a very satisfied customer of Holbay for a couple of years in the early 1990s while I purchased new Holbay tuning parts to replace worn out original Ford parts on my 1600 c.c. Crossflow engine. Whenever I wrote to the company with an order, a very helpful gentleman by the name of John Read would personally reply, and provide pricing and availability, plus detailed instructions and spec. sheets for fitting the new Holbay parts. If there were any errors or omissions, Mr. Read would respond, and I would receive replacement parts very quickly, and at their cost.

Approximately 2001, I e-mailed Holbay Engineering at the address on their web site with a request for replacement parts. Never receiving a reply, I did a bit of digging and found out that after the untimely death of John Read in a flying accident, the company formed by him had folded in 1992. The web site was still being maintained in 2001 or thereabouts, but the Holbay Company had moved from the address I had on Betts Avenue, Martlesham Heath to a new location - a nearby village in Grundisburgh, and was now selling and servicing road cars. There was no indication that the engineering side of the business was still in operation. In 2002/2003, Richard Coles purchased the engineering equipment from the 'new' Holbay business, and started up his own company called Coltec Racing Engines Ltd. He hired one of the original Holbay Engineering machinists, and commenced production and machining processes for Ford engines, and other makes plus motorcycles. I discovered his web site by accident after checking the 'Holbay' name again. I was in telephone conversation with Mr. Coles on a couple of occasions, he was very helpful and interested in my inquiry, and provided snippets of information he had learned concerning the original Holbay Engineering.

I came across a connection between Paul and Roger Dunnell and the Holbay company in John Tipler's book "Lotus and Caterham Seven - Racers for the Road". Mr. Tipler mentions Dunnell Engines in connection with some of the Caterham built Sevens, and credits Paul Dunnell's father - Roger Dunnell - as the founder of Holbay Engineering. I had read of Dunnell Engineering's accomplishments many times in Cars and Car Conversions (now back - on line - since August 2009, by the sister publication Race Car Engineering via their web site). The magazine featured numerous articles involving Dunnell built and tuned engines, in either Zetec or Duratec form.

I took the liberty of contacting Paul Dunnell regarding the Holbay connection, and he was very helpful and willing to answer my questions. He granted permission to reprint his answers. Following is a a short Q and A format of the content of our e-mails:

Q: I read on Holbay's web site (dated 2001) that they credit John Read with the founding of the original Holbay Group in 1959. However I read that your father had a great deal to do with the formation of the company or was the actual founder. Which is correct?

P.D: Roger was the oldest of 9 children, John (Read) being the youngest. Although they had different surnames, they were very much brothers, not half-brothers. My grandmother was a formidable lady, and kept her surname for the first 3 children. I always assumed that in fact she did not marry my grandfather until later - which would explain the anomaly, but no, she didn't get on with my grandfather's side of the family, and so refused to take the name until much later.

Q: How did the business get started?

P.D: Uncle John (Read) started the business in 1958/9. At the time we were living in Sheffield, and my father Roger built the engines in our cellar. It was not until later (1964) that we eventually moved to Suffolk, John having acquired premises at Martlesham Heath. Both my brother Malcom and I worked as children alongside Dad and John, and of course later took a full time role within the company. In essence, Uncle John was the boss - who did all the deals, whilst Dad, Malcolm and I, along with a team of engineers and machinists, produced the engines and attended all the race meetings throughout Europe.

Q: As a very satisfied customer of Holbay Engineering in 1991/2, I always received personal follow-up and advice from John Read, and was saddened to read of his tragic accident pursuing the hobby he so much enjoyed. Many years later I was advised by Richard Coles that he had taken over Holbay Engineering in approximately 2003. Mr. Coles mentioned that he had managed to hire a former employee from the original Holbay days, but was not able to provide much information on Holbay or the parts situation previous to his take-over. He did mention that he believed some of the Holbay tuning parts were actually manufactured by Cosworth and re-badged by Holbay. Was there a strong Cosworth/Holbay connection during your father's ownership do you know?

P.D: Malcolm had left the company around 1985, while I stayed on until 1989/90, before setting up Dunnell Engines. John's death in 1992 dealt a blow to Holbay that it was unable to survive. It subsequently went into liquidation. Many of the machines were purchased by a gentleman from the Isle of Man (forgotten his name!), who set up Holbay Classic in the nearby village of Grundisburgh. To all intents and purposes, the business, although using the Holbay name, had little to do with its former self. Its main business being the sale of road cars and servicing same. When this business folded for the second time in 2002/3, Mr. Coles (who had worked there at the time) purchased the equipment, and formed a new company called Coltec. I see that the name 'Holbay' is still used as a link to Coltec. To my knowledge one of the old Holbay workers, a machinist, is still employed at Coltec. I'm sure that Mr. Coles could provide further information if pushed, but the fact of the matter is that apart from the domain name 'Holbay.co.uk', there is no tangible link to the Holbay that both you and I understand. The suggestion that a link existed between Cosworth and Holbay is ridiculous, and we certainly did not use Cosworth parts in our engines, although John and Keith (Duckworth) did exchange Christmas cards for many years. Dad continued to work until well into his eighties with John, and helped both Malcolm and I in setting up Dunnell Engines.

Q: To your knowledge has there ever been a book published on Holbay Engineering, and its racing successes? I have searched the web, but there seems to be little information on Holbay as a formidable tuner/successful race engine manufacturer during the time of Lotus and its racing efforts.

P.D: I have been approached on three occasions to help write the history of Holbay. Until Dad's death in 2005 it was a possibility, but now I feel less able. He was not only my Dad, but my best friend and I miss him dearly. Rebecca (John's daughter), Malcolm and I are very proud of what was achieved. In our opinion Holbay ceased to trade in 1992. We take a dim view of the shenanigans from 1992 to present.

Q: The connection between Cosworth and Holbay was suggested by Mr. Coles, but I find it puzzling that some of the old Lotus test reports in my collection from Autosport, Motor and Classic Cars etc., refer to Holbay tuned twin-cam engines being further tuned for some Lotus road/racing cars by Cosworth. I do not understand why Cosworth would have to do any further work to race engines that have been fully tuned by Holbay. It is obvious that Holbay had all the expertise they ever needed to fully tune any twin-cam ever built. This is just my observation, but perhaps the report writers were merely passing on the information supplied by the respective owners, regarding their choice of engine builder. The reasons for both companies being involved is never clarified in the road tests.

P.D: Can't recall that Cosworths were ever heavily involved into the old T/C. Remember that at that period they were developing and in production of the FVA/C and DFV, with the BDA just being talked about, so the T/C would not have been of much interest. They did of course do a few for Clark's Cortina. However, if you want to copy the text of the article over, I'll try and see what it's all about. Indeed, we didn't use the T/C until F3 rules changed in 1972 allowing its use. We started the development programme in June/July 1970, and displayed our new engine at the Racing Car Show in January 1971. It of course went on to win us many championships, until again the rules allowed 2.0 litre engines into the series in 1974, upon which we developed the Pinto F3 unit as a replacement. It is often assumed that we produced loads of other spec. T/Cs. This is incorrect. Only a handful of T/Cs other than F3 or F3 based race engines were ever built. Of course, the most publicised of these were the ones built for Lotus and used in the 7. I remember it well!

I intended to conduct further follow-up with Paul Dunnell after he had forwarded e-mails showing Roger and himself working on the racing cars at various race tracks. Unfortunately my old PC DNF'd and it took a long time to recover my files after I purchased a new one. I would like to write to him again and obtain answers to questions I failed to ask concerning the Lotus connection and how it came about. Perhaps if he is willing, this can be sooner than later?

As a P.S. I have noted a response on the web by a Seven owner that Dunnell Engines still has a few parts remaining from the original pre 1992 parts list. Their objective is to only sell these parts to bona fide Holbay-built engine owners. While I have not confirmed this, it seems a very sensible and fair method of selling these now very rare parts.

Edited by Spaceframe7, 27 January 2011 - 00:13.


#62 David McKinney

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Posted 27 January 2011 - 07:22

Q: How did the business get started?

P.D: Uncle John (Read) started the business in 1958/9. At the time we were living in Sheffield, and my father Roger built the engines in our cellar. It was not until later (1964) that we eventually moved to Suffolk, John having acquired premises at Martlesham Heath.

In NZ in 1962 I worked with a young English immigrant (we had 'ten-pound poms' too) who had worked for John Read at Holbay in Suffolk, so John at least must have been there before 1964


Q: The connection between Cosworth and Holbay was suggested by Mr. Coles, but I find it puzzling that some of the old Lotus test reports in my collection from Autosport, Motor and Classic Cars etc., refer to Holbay tuned twin-cam engines being further tuned for some Lotus road/racing cars by Cosworth. I do not understand why Cosworth would have to do any further work to race engines that have been fully tuned by Holbay. It is obvious that Holbay had all the expertise they ever needed to fully tune any twin-cam ever built. This is just my observation, but perhaps the report writers were merely passing on the information supplied by the respective owners, regarding their choice of engine builder. The reasons for both companies being involved is never clarified in the road tests.

P.D: Can't recall that Cosworths were ever heavily involved into the old T/C. Remember that at that period they were developing and in production of the FVA/C and DFV, with the BDA just being talked about, so the T/C would not have been of much interest. They did of course do a few for Clark's Cortina.

The first twin-cam engines I saw (late 1963) were clearly marked 'Lotus' and 'Cosworth' - one in a Lotus-Cortina the other in a Brabham BT6


#63 bradbury west

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Posted 27 January 2011 - 10:22

Holbay moved to Martlesham Heath, inland, after being at HOLlesley BAY for a few years. see earlier posts 4 etc.
Roger Lund

#64 Spaceframe7

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Posted 27 January 2011 - 22:50

[quote name='David McKinney' date='Jan 27 2011, 08:22' post='4802677']
In NZ in 1962 I worked with a young English immigrant (we had 'ten-pound poms' too) who had worked for John Read at Holbay in Suffolk, so John at least must have been there before 1964

Hello David, he was. I have quoted Paul Dunnell exactly as he wrote in his e-mail. He meant that he and his immediate family - dad Roger, brother Malcolm, Paul, Mum etc. moved to Suffolk in 1964 from Sheffield. John Read - according to Mr. Dunnell, was already set up in Suffolk in 1958/59.

bradbury west quote: 'Holbay moved to Martlesham Heath, Inland, after being at HOLlesley BAY for a few years. see earlier posts 4 etc.'

Hello Roger. I got it the first time, thanks. I wondered where the name came from and forgot to ask Paul. As you had already posted this information, it was not mine to 'borrow' and add to this post. I had so many questions to ask, and having a failing computer to deal with, I could only expect so much from Paul without sitting down face to face with him. Living in Canada, and not being able to personally visit the very helpful people who have taken the time to write on various motor racing topics, I can only ask so much. I've only added what Paul told me from recollections of his time at Holbay (now over 22 years ago) with him answering my very basic questions. I wanted to ask him many more, but his time, and my previously mentioned PC problems got in the way. Thanks.

Edited by Spaceframe7, 27 January 2011 - 22:53.


#65 Leigh Trevail

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 12:25

In the E.C.M.C. January review Bernard Baker; the club Secretary recalls the Ford Escort Mk. 1 that he once owned. In an earlier post I mentioned fellow E.C.M.C. member Laurence ‘Slim’ Coe and his involvement with Holbay, he is again mentioned here. Presumably by Bernard’s opening line the car had been mentioned in a previous issue which I have not seen. Here is what he says.

Mentioned last time the prototype Mexico. ART174H was a pale blue Escort Mk. 1, one of twins. The badge on the back, and the instrument binnacle inside, were 1300GT but this hid the true nature of what was under the bonnet. Holbay, under Slim Coe, had put together a 1600 crossflow, tweaked a bit, and a Cortina 2000E gear box. Never did find out what the diff ratio was, but the car zipped off the line pretty quickly and ran out of steam around the 95 mph mark. I was lead to believe that it was a prototype for the highly praised Mexicio Mk. 1 which was identifiable by the wider wheels and flared front arches that did not appear on a standard Mk.1. As to whether Holbay had the idea, and passed it on to Ford, or Ford commissioned Holbay to prepare the initial package, I do not know. When they had finished with it, the car found a new home with David Earle at Waldringfield. He was not heavily into rallying, also being a keen sailor meant time was at a premium. One incident, however, does stick in my memory.

I’m fairly sure it was a SCCoN event, but it might have been the Norwich Union Premier. I have a rally plate on the wall for a Premier, where I was in car number 6, but this is undated, so that its no help ! The event was pretty uneventful ( no pun intended ) until the early hours of the morning. Like a few nights just recently, the temperature suddenly dropped to well below zero. Ice formed on the INSIDE of the car windows. Puddles on the ‘whites’ had started to freeze, but rally cars bashing through the surface resulted in freezing water being splashed up from the wheels into the arches, and onto long horizontal icicles trailing from the back panel. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the like of this since. The trail out the back was solid enough to stand on, without it giving way !! All very picturesque. But the fun started at the finish. We came down a lane to a main road ( A47 ??) and had to do a hairpin right into the car park. We stopped at the junction and restarted with difficulty. As David tried to negotiate the hairpin he had a problem. The front arches were so full of ice he could barely get a 90 degree turn on the wheels. We had to shuffle up the main road a little way, stop; reverse down the main road, and then execute another ninety degree turn to get into the car park. As a number of other cars were also doing the same thing at the same time the regular users of the main road, for some reason, got a bit confused as to what was going on !!

I bought the car from David - £ 1300 if I remember rightly - but like all my cars, it eventually failed an MoT on rust. Dave Lewis acquired it and ran it ( after welding on a complete new front end ) for some time after. I put a new box in it; can’t remember why the other one broke. An advert in Motoring News said a new 2000E box for sale at £ 25 on a London number. I phoned up and agreed a rendezvous on Hampstead Heath. The box slid from the boot of one car into that of my brother’s ( Austin 1100 style ) MG 1300 , notes went in the other direction and nothing was said. Somebody later reckoned that they could identify the box as coming from Ford Comps Dept by the colour of the jointing compound !! Not just a hot engine in that car !!


According to the DVLC this car still exists and was registered 14 10 1969, which indicates that the modifications were carried out on a secondhand car. Thanks to Bernard for allowing me to copy this.

#66 Proditto

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 12:41

Long time back I had a Rapier H120. The name was from Holbay and 120bhp. The original engine was not usable as a road engine according to Rootes (wild cam)and the final road engine had only 110bhp. Still back then 110bhp was good for a road car.

#67 piperp2

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 13:39

I remember when I was 17 (1977) just after I had completed my OND in mechanical engineering I approached John about a job as an engine builder he invited me for an interview at Martlesham and I remember being shown around, it wasn’t a glamorous place by any means but I do remember that there was a lot going on and it seemed an exciting place to work. I remember seeing quite a few of the Rootes H120 engines there and I vaguely remember John talking about a contract with Ginetta. John offered me job as a trainee engine builder but as I had not quite passed my driving test and at the time lived in a little village just outside Colchester it meant a journey of two bus rides and a train. I reluctantly declined the job and went to work in the drawing office at Woods of Colchester, I often wondered what if....!

Edited by piperp2, 07 February 2011 - 14:32.


#68 dodgealpine

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Posted 12 March 2011 - 18:47

The Hunter GLS and the fastback Rapier both shared the rootes 1725cc HOLBAY engine. the 120 refered to the torque not BHP.The engine was a slightly detuned version of the London to Sydney marathon winning Hunter.
http://img203.images...8/imag0509n.jpg
This is the engine fitted in my 1965 Sunbeam Alpine, modded slightly giving 122 BHP on the rolling road.

#69 Fatgadget

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Posted 12 March 2011 - 21:43

Can't help with info, other than to say that Holbay had their own cam-covers cast for the Lotus TC motor, these are quite collectable now.

You can say that again.Saw a tatty one at a auto jumble for an eye popping £600. :eek:


#70 Paglesham

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Posted 12 March 2011 - 22:59

A friend of mine who used to run the Piper Sports and Racing car Club also had a Ginetta G21 and the GRS utility that Ginetta made. Both ran on H120 engines from new, which Clive tuned further. They always seemed very strong engines.

When I worked at Audi's design centre, Uedelhofen a few years back, I was involved with engine design and STYLING!! Yes they decided to style the engines so they wouldn't need some ghastly plastic cover. Part of this project was a new engine, a cheapy with 8 valves and one OHC. It ended up looking just like a Holbay H120 engine. It seems they never made it. The engine stylist, a complete Anglophile with two classic Lotus single seaters in his and his father's garages already had a picture of an H120 on his office wall.

Martin

#71 fyrth

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Posted 13 March 2011 - 14:37

Posted Image

Holbay cam cover for the Ford Lotus twincam, without the correct centre casting or indeed black crackle finish and polished letters. Thanks to this thread I’ve been in touch with Paul Dunnell who is pleasingly interested in Holbay history and has plenty of information, both in his head and in writing. Paul identified that the cam cover is sitting on top of a correct Holbay modified head, even to the engineer who did the work in 1972!

Edited by fyrth, 13 March 2011 - 14:40.


#72 SJ Lambert

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Posted 07 May 2011 - 13:00

As an erstwhile F3 mechanic (the clue's in my login name!) I built and re-built a great many Holbay F3 engines from 1968 to 1971 (yes, the 1-litre F3 Torneo series in Brazil was in January 1971), but ageing memory being what it is I may have a few gaps in my recall of the engine. However, I believe the following to be true:

1. The Holbay block had five bearings and steel main caps, with the crank being machined from a single billet of EN45 steel. Rods were steel, and pistons were short-skirt (slipper). I think the pistons had 3 rings all above the gudgeon pin.

2. The cylinder head had 4 inlet down-draught ports machined into the head, with the manifold and single-choke Weber (with slide throttle, not butterfly) sticking up in the air above; the engine was mounted at an angle in the chassis to allow the carb and manifold to sit vertically. The head was torqued down to over 100 lbs/ft using high-tensile Allen bolts and had 2 studs to replace the bolts displaced by the downdraught ports, with nuts tightened up through the core-plug holes in the side of the block. Roger Dunnell of Holbay told us to tighten these nuts "until it hurt" :) .

3. Camshaft was gear-driven, off which the distributor and dry-sump oil pump were driven. Cannot remember how many bearings the camshaft had, but the pump and distributor were side-mounted, not front. The distributor had no advance/retard mechanism, but still used contact points. The water pump (which may well have been standard) was driven by a rubber toothed belt. No dynamo or alternator obviously.

4. Rocker gear was non-standard with steel pedestals supporting the rocker shafts, pushrods and rockers may have been standard. I believe the cam followers were strengthened versions, but still were prone to surface cracks from the vicious cam profile. Valve springs were double and harmonically designed to reduce valve bounce; these often broke when a driver missed a gear and took the revs over 12,500 rpm. Valve clearances were critical to optimise the narrow power band and were checked after every practice and race.

5. The flywheel was lightened and balanced along with the crank, and the clutch was a single sintered copper and steel plate with an immensely powerful pressure plate. The clutch was either on or off, slipping took a great deal of practice.

All in all, a remarkable engine producing an amazing performance at ludicrous rpm. It was a big let-down when the F3 formula changed to the strangled 1600 twin-cam.



G'day F3Wrench - Some time ago I discovered two of these capped threaded bars (so they're nuts really) rattling around in our S65 Holbay engine after it had been reassembled in the UK - the head may well have been modified from original and these "nuts" really were hiding behind the core-hole plugs in the water jacket of the block not being utilised for any purpose other than as sacrificial anodes - I don't suppose you can put a finer point on Roger Dunnell's advice to "TIGHTEN 'EM TIL IT HURTS"?
(I'm a bit scared to go all the way to 100) - could the perfect number be somewhere nearer to 65? Were those two allen key capped head bolts treated differently to the others? (The others are standard on ours - the two capped head bolts are shorter and appear to be the same as as the main bearing cap bolts).

Posted Image



#73 BritishV8

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Posted 08 May 2011 - 03:08

Lotus offered "Lotus-Holbay" engines in their Type 61 Formula Fords, circa ~1969-70.

Coincidentally, I included some notes about this partnership in an article published earlier this very evening: Kyle Kaulback's Lotus 61MX

Holbay built to Formula Ford specs:
Posted Image
105bhp at 5850rpm. 108lb-ft at 4400rpm.

#74 Spaceframe7

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Posted 08 May 2011 - 18:19

Lotus offered "Lotus-Holbay" engines in their Type 61 Formula Fords, circa ~1969-70.

Coincidentally, I included some notes about this partnership in an article published earlier this very evening: Kyle Kaulback's Lotus 61MX

Holbay built to Formula Ford specs:
Posted Image
105bhp at 5850rpm. 108lb-ft at 4400rpm.


Hello. Excellent notes and photos regarding Kyle Kaulback's car. Really enjoyed reading the history of the Lotus FF cars. Just received a reprint copy of the Jake Lamont and Tom Andresen book "How to build and maintain Competitive (yet legal) Formula Ford 1600 engines" (available from Pegasus U.S.A.). Great reading and an invaluable resource on the Crossflow engine. SS7

#75 DenisB

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 11:42

Holbay memories from Denis Backhouse (Tasmania) and Robin Robb (Queensland, Australia).

Robin and I were both employed at Holbay Racing Engines, at Martlesham, Suffolk, during 1965 and 1966.

Rob discovered this Nostalgia/Holbay Forum, and suggested we should respond, since we could probably fill in some of the gaps.

Denis drafted this memoir, and Rob added comments. I've noted where Rob had specific comments thus ... (Rob) comment ...

OK. Let's begin .......

Holbay Racing Engines started as John Read's company out of his motor garage at Hollesley Bay, Suffolk (Hence the name!) At some time prior to 1965 (when Denis, started there) , John Read and Laurence Coe formed some sort of partnership, (Us young blokes never knew,or cared, what) and moved to the workshop at Martlesham Airfield, an old WW 2 airfield, used after the War as a civil airfield, with many of the old RAF buildings used for industrial premises.

In 1965/1966 I (Denis) was the storeman for Holbay Racing engines. Robin was an engine fitter - one of several, as I recall. Brian Johnson was the senior fitter and had worked at Hollesley Bay. Mike Brinkhoff and Mick Stelley were two other names I recall.

Other staff were ... Frank Wiswold (also from Hollesley Bay) solely responsible for camshaft manufacture on Holbay's own grinder. Also looked after the Parco-Lubrize camshaft plating tank.

There was a machinist <can't remember his name - nice guy, as I recall.> in charge of the machine shop and Myles (Paddy) Fahey, apprentice machinist.

Bernard <can't remember his surname> was in charge of port grinding and valve seat work.

Coe had a Standard-Triumph dealership in Ipswich, and some work was carried out by his mechanics there. I recall taking Ford 105E sumps there for welding. They had been cut around about an inch down from the mounting flange to form the outline for dry sumps, and a shallow folded base was then welded on with oil ports brazed in.

We sourced Hobourn - Eaton scavenge rotors for the dry-sump pumps from Coe's dealership. They were Triumph parts (Herald maybe?) and were the same diameter as Ford pumps, but were conveniently about 50% deeper, giving them the additional capacity needed to perform as scavengers.

(Rob) ... I built and did rebuilds on a couple of wet sumped speedboat engines. They had large angled wet sumps to allow for propshaft angle.

John Read was absolutely obsessive about rigidity within his engines.

Every component in the R65 and R66 Formula 3 engines was designed to be as rigid as possible.

Hence the use of the 120E 5 - bearing cylinder block.

Read sourced his blocks direct from Ford. They came to us minimally machined. Probably only the top deck, the sump face and bolt holes drilled and tapped.

At the Martlesham workshop, the machinists made up steel main bearing caps from billets. I think they retained standard Ford front and rear caps, but I can't be sure.

The earlier Formula Junior motors had always had a steel centre main bearing cap fitted, so it was a short step to fitting more of 'em the the five-bearing 120E block.

Steel blocks were also Araldited and screwed in place to make a 5 - bearing cam tunnel, doing away with the Ford distributor drive and petrol pump. The holes for these were blanked off with plates.

The blocks were then line-bored. Although there was a line-boring machine on the shop floor, I never saw it used. I believe an outside engineering works used to do that. Whilst the blocks were away, the cylinders were also bored and honed to 80.149mm. I recall that standard Ford main bearing bolts were perfectly OK, particularly since we were using ten instead of six!

When blocks returned, they were thoroughly cleaned inside and out, with particular attention to oilway drillings, and painted. (Rob) remembers that they were spray painted with a mixture of green and silver paint. The colour varied, depending who mixed the paints!

Holbay serial number plates were then pop-riveted onto them.

Crankshafts were machined from massive billets - probably steel. Laystall rings a bell, but I can't be sure. I certainly DO recall the weight of the raw billets before machining though, as I used to have to hump them around (as storeman!) Again, machining was done by an outside company. Billets would come in, and then go out (somewhere) returning as shiny, machined-all-over 5-bearing short-stroke cranks.

I believe camshafts also came from Ford, but were unmachined, as-cast or forged, whatever they were - probably cast from the flash still adhering. This virgin metal yielded two additional bearings where the petrol pump eccentric and distributor gear would normally have been machined. Frank Wiswold would grind cams, including 5 bearing journals, and then they would be batch-processed through the Parco-Lubrize tank.

Parco-Lubrize was a heated tank of some sort of chemical where the batch of cams would be suspended for a longish period of time ... several days maybe? They would come out black all over with some sort of scuff-resistant chemical impregnated into the pores of the metal.

My role was to hang the batch and record the time of immersion. Frank would tell me when to take them out, dry and oil-dip them, label them and put them into stock. I think they also had the cam grind reference stamped on the drive end flange.

I liked Frank a lot, but he had a VERY short fuse when disrespected! I recall one day when he had asked some of the young lads to turn down the loud pop music they had tuned an old radio to. They responded by turning the volume UP! Frank turned off the grinder, took up a largish ball-pein hammer and drove it through the speaker cone. Without a word, he resumed his seat and turned the grinder back on - in perfect silence!

Slipper pistons came from Hepolite (Hepworth & Grandage). I had to weigh each one on a sensitive balance scale, and write the weights on the crown. When the engines were trial assembled, with no piston rings, the distances down the bore of each piston were noted by the fitters, and ideally a set of very close weights and depthed pistons would be assembled. Then the piston crowns were lightly skimmed to even the depths to within very close tolerances, and the deck of the cylinder block was then machined down to give the desired clearance between piston crown and block deck.

A set of matched, machined pistons would come back to me, and I would very carefully re-balance them by grinding material off around the gudgeon pin bosses. The fitters had, of course, numbered both pistons and con-rods so the engine could be reassembled perfectly.

Con-rods were mostly standard 105E rods, but carefully polished along the flanges to preclude cracking. Again, I weighed them and assembled them into closely matched sets. (Rob) ... I built many engines with standard Ford rods and many with a Holbay designed rod,a very nice strong rod that was 12.5 mm longer, never saw one break, only bend.

I believe the fitters had gauges to check for straightness and twist, prior to accepting a rod into an assembly. Big-end cap bolts were of better-than-standard quality. I used to carry hundreds in stock, as they were always renewed at rebuilds.

Main and big-end bearings were Vandervell brand, I think.

Dry-sump pumps, as I've mentioned, were a tandem composite of Ford 105/109E Eaton pressure rotor, and a Standard-Triumph rotor as scavenge pump. Holbay's own castings replaced the Ford timing cover and the pump shafts were shortened and machined to slot-and-tenon drives.

The crankshaft and water pump pulleys were replaced with cog-belt drive on smaller pulleys. Interestingly, no tensioner was fitted - or apparently needed!

Back to rigidity. Ford steel pushrods were chopped up to provide about 1 inch long stubs that were then pressed into aluminium tube to form lighter, more rigid pushrods. Some engines, I recall, were built with standard Ford steel pushrods.

The rocker assembly was next for attention. Ford rocker assemblies were purchased, dismantled (my job - again!) and the standard aluminium posts discarded. Holbay outsourced aluminium castings that were much more robust than Ford's. (see Bradbury West's pic. from Sept. 14th 2010 for a wonderful example.) Unbrako allen screws were used to torque the assembly down. I used to lightly polish the rockers with a flexi-drive to remove forging flash and tidy them up to reduce a bit of weight and remove potential stress risers..

And of course, the engine was topped off with the pretty Holbay aluminium rocker cover. I used to glue in the R65 or R66 medallion for dry-sumped engines, so I almost certainly handled those rocker covers pictured!. Wet sump engines could have an oil filler cap installed here, but I don't recall ever seeing a wet-sump engine during my time there. Rob has already mentioned some speedboat engines he built that were wet-sumped. I think most of our speedboat engines were 1500s and 1650s. 85mm pistons and an over-bore on a 1500 crank stroke gave the extra capacity to 1650cc.

I've left the cylinder head until last, as it was a work of art. SJ Lambert's pics of Sept. 16 2010 illustrate the downdraft head perfectly. Except it's been fitted with a pair of downdraft Webers.

Barely machined heads would come in from Dagenham. Just the face and rocker cover surfaces milled, and (I think) valve guide holes bored. Our machinists would machine two flats above the inlet ports, to which were Araldited and screwed a couple of cast iron angled blocks to form the upper parts of the downdraft inlet ports.

Four parallel holes were machined at the appropriate angle and four inlet tubes with tapered bores were pressed and Loctited into place. The upper surfaces, where the manifold would bolt on, were then skimmed flat on the mill and mounting holes drilled and tapped. Valve guides were pressed in. There was a bit of experimentation with various guide materials.

The heads then passed to Bernard, who would finesse the internal contours of inlets and exhausts with his high-speed flexi-drive grinder, tungsten burrs, stones and finally polishing abrasive sleeves. He would also cut the valve seats. Valves were special items. I can't recall the supplier.

Valve springs were BSA (motorcycle) Gold Star Clubman special double springs and spring caps. We called them "Rocket" springs, I recall. They came in in bulk, but again, I can't remember the supplier. There were some experiments with titanium retainers, but they were few and far between as I was never asked to buy-in much titanium bar. I remember the machinists growling that titanium was a pig to turn on the lathe!

Bernard or I would check the compression rate of each and every spring to ensure they were all within specs. Any that were marginally low would be relegated to sets for road-going engines that would not be subjected to sustained high revs.

Holbay's signature O-ringed alloy welch plugs were made necessary by two Unbrako allen screws that had to be inserted into the welch plug hole, and screwed up from under into helicoils in the cylinder head, as the downdraft plates and ports blocked off two of the original cylinder head bolt holes.

(Rob) ... Sometimes on dyno tests, the downdraft inlet ports leaked water into cylinders and we had a special water neck fitting that allowed us to pour stop leak (was it Holts Stop Leak?) into the engine while running. Ports were pressed in sleeves (tubes) then ported.

And the carburetor! Wow! This was real left-field thinking. As has been mentioned, Formula 3 engines of the day had to inhale through a single flange supplied by the F3 management. Maybe 38mm? Don't quote me! (Rob) ... Carb restricter flange was, I think 36mm.

Holbay designed and had cast a high-rise downdraft manifold that was topped by a very special Weber carb. This started life as a twin-throat downdraft until I took a hacksaw and sawed off one choke! True! The rough face was then milled flat and a cast plate was araldited and screwed on to cover the ugliness, and block the un-needed second fuel drillings. There may have been some plugging of those drillings too. I have a vague recollection of peening aluminium welding rod into them before glueing the plate on.

I have to tell you, I was literally trembling, the first one I had to saw up! Coe was standing beside me, laughing like a drain at my obvious terror at potentially stuffing up a priceless Weber carb. I recall he had a number of supportive comments like "Don't worry Boy. If you mess it up you'll have it paid off out of your wages by ... Ohhh ... 1970, I suppose!"

Again, SJ Lambert's (Sept. 16th 2010) pics of the #52 Gold Leaf Lotus shows the single downdraft carb to perfection.

As you can see from several of the pics, the engines were laid over to allow the Weber to remain perfectly upright. Holbay also stocked adapter plates for Hewland gearboxes, to the correct inclination.

Again, from memory, I think a complete F3 engine was around 400 pounds sterling in 1965/66. That would have related to about 40 weeks wages for an average worker, so relate that to 40 x $800 in Australia today (2011) = $32 000. Realise that today you can buy a japanese 1000cc motorcycle engine that will produce about the same horsepower - (100 - 105bhp) for around $1000 from a motorcycle wreckers! No wonder motor-cycle-engined racing cars are all the go!

(see home.st.net.au/~fettesi/dbf1300.htm for our 1980s interpretation.)

Interestingly, in 1966 a Cosworth F3 engine came in which I saw dismantled and reassembled. I think a deal was done where Reid & Coe got to look and measure, and the owner got a very well-priced rebuild!

Cosworth seemed to take the light-is-good philosophy. They used a 3-bearing block and their crank, if my imperfect and aging memory serves me right, was a fabrication! It looked like three machined sections with pieces of square section hollow tube welded between them. Now I could be totally wrong here. I only caught a glimpse of the internals, but that was sure what it looked like! Cosworth also had a side-draft head.

(Rob) ... I rebuilt many Cosworth engines, I think we were cheaper than a Cosworth rebuild. Ford standard crank---some Cosworth engines used this crank --- not fabricated but a Ford high nodular cast iron crank.

Interestingly, both motors - Cosworth and Holbay - made something like the same horsepower on Holbay's Heenan and Froude dynamometers. 105 or 107 hp, maybe? Some were stellar performers with 112+bhp!

Some Cosworth engine owners would buy Holbay camshafts and install them, also Holbay rocker gear.

(Rob) ... re: Bernard's heads --- Each head was a one off, and some performed better than others, the highest performers after a dyno run were taken off and reserved for favoured customers. Another head was fitted to the dynoed engine and run again to meet Holbay stated minimum bhp.

With reference to the Hillman engine mods, I believe that John Read's sons, as they came of age, joined him in the business some years after '66 (after I left - I never met them), and at that time the business moved back to Hollesley Bay.

Rob migrated to Australia in 1966 and I followed him in 1967. In fact, he and Viv, his wife, sponsored me and gave me a start in this new country. (Best move I ever made. 'Bless you guys!)

I did see a website maybe 15 years ago, when the Web was in its infancy, where the Read boys paid tribute to their Dad, then sadly deceased, and talked about their Rootes Group sports and racing motors. Just a very few years ago, I Googled again, and found them gone.

As an aside, Read (I think it was) owned a beautiful six-cylinder Bristol, which I recall being driven very quickly in a sprint meeting at Martlesham airfield. My memory shows Coe driving? Read commented once to me that the OHC Bristol engine was a German aircraft design - all alloy, I believe. Part of post WW2 reparations?

Rob recalls Coe driving a Triumph Spitfire. Sounds right, as Coe had a Standard-Triumph agency.

Bernard had an early Mercedes "roundy" sedan in perpetual renovation.

Mike Brinkhoff and Brian Johnson both drove Goggomobils at one stage. With fuel at hideous prices, nobody thought these tiny toy cars were funny ('funny - strange'. They were certainly 'funny - ha ha!')

Mick Stelley turned up one day in what looked and sounded like a competition Jaguar XK 120 (?) I recall a big leather strap across the bonnet, and very loud and rumbly, cammy exhaust.

Frank Wiswold retired to build model steam locomotives at his home at Hollesley Bay. I was privileged to visit him there on a trip home in 1982 and view his workshop and models. He would have to be late now - or about 100 years old!

Brian Johnson moved back up to the Midlands, to Rugby where his wife's parents lived. He eventually became an art blacksmith, and his (second) wife ran a catering business. Sadly the last time I saw Brian, in the 90's, he was suffering random memory lapses. The family thought early Alzheimers?

I came very close to marrying Brian's sister-in-law, but the girl sensibly gave me the flick to pursue her dental studies. (we still exchange Xmas cards!) And so, heartbroken, I joined Robin and his wife Vivien in Australia, who sponsored my emigration. And the rest is (non-Holbay) history!

But go to ... home.st.net.au/~fettesi/dbf1300.htm ... and you'll see more of my involvement in Australian Hillclimbing in the 80's.

Rob has built or assisted in a number of racing and sports/racing cars, with an early association with Lionel Ayers and his MRC 23B replica, plus an airplane and a sailing trimaran.

We've all come a long way since the 1960s!

Rob's oldest lad is a genius CAD/CAM guru, building jewellry that masquerades as racing engines! His younger son is an engine management guru for Dick Johnson Racing, in Queensland, Australia.

Cheers,

Denis.
www.bayviewguesthouse.com
in beautiful Stanley, Tasmania.

#76 Ray Bell

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 13:02

Thank you, Denis and Rob... a great addition to this thread!

Please find others to which you can make a contribution...

I can assure you that people all around the world will read and marvel at this new information.

#77 bradbury west

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Posted 17 May 2011 - 17:07

[quote name='Ray Bell' date='May 17 2011, 13:02' post='5022352']
Thank you, Denis and Rob... a great addition to this thread!
Please find others to which you can make a contribution...
I can assure you that people all around the world will read and marvel at this new information. /quote]
Quite right, Ray, a wonderful post. Nice to see my rocker shaft got an honourable mention.
Roger Lund

#78 SJ Lambert

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Posted 18 May 2011 - 07:25

Welcome aboard Denis and Rob - your first post immediately above is solid gold as far as I'm concerned - feel free to visit and inspect our little Holbay mill anytime. When time allows I shall put some visuals to your memoir - your collective memory accords very closely with what's between the sump and rocker cover of our little number.

Let me echo Ray and Roger's sentiment - bloody marvelous!!!

Cheers James

#79 SJ Lambert

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 10:40

Thanks again Denis and Robin as promised, pictures to your excellent expose - my comments are in italics - I'll add some more pics by editing this post, but am posting it as is in case I encounter any hurdles.

Holbay memories from Denis Backhouse (Tasmania) and Robin Robb (Queensland, Australia).

Robin and I were both employed at Holbay Racing Engines, at Martlesham, Suffolk, during 1965 and 1966.

Rob discovered this Nostalgia/Holbay Forum, and suggested we should respond, since we could probably fill in some of the gaps.

Denis drafted this memoir, and Rob added comments. I've noted where Rob had specific comments thus ... (Rob) comment ...

OK. Let's begin .......

Holbay Racing Engines started as John Read's company out of his motor garage at Hollesley Bay, Suffolk (Hence the name!) At some time prior to 1965 (when Denis, started there) , John Read and Laurence Coe formed some sort of partnership, (Us young blokes never knew,or cared, what) and moved to the workshop at Martlesham Airfield, an old WW 2 airfield, used after the War as a civil airfield, with many of the old RAF buildings used for industrial premises.

In 1965/1966 I (Denis) was the storeman for Holbay Racing engines. Robin was an engine fitter - one of several, as I recall. Brian Johnson was the senior fitter and had worked at Hollesley Bay. Mike Brinkhoff and Mick Stelley were two other names I recall.

Other staff were ... Frank Wiswold (also from Hollesley Bay) solely responsible for camshaft manufacture on Holbay's own grinder. Also looked after the Parco-Lubrize camshaft plating tank.

There was a machinist <can't remember his name - nice guy, as I recall.> in charge of the machine shop and Myles (Paddy) Fahey, apprentice machinist.

Bernard <can't remember his surname> was in charge of port grinding and valve seat work.

Coe had a Standard-Triumph dealership in Ipswich, and some work was carried out by his mechanics there. I recall taking Ford 105E sumps there for welding. They had been cut around about an inch down from the mounting flange to form the outline for dry sumps, and a shallow folded base was then welded on with oil ports brazed in.

We sourced Hobourn - Eaton scavenge rotors for the dry-sump pumps from Coe's dealership. They were Triumph parts (Herald maybe?) and were the same diameter as Ford pumps, but were conveniently about 50% deeper, giving them the additional capacity needed to perform as scavengers.

(Rob) ... I built and did rebuilds on a couple of wet sumped speedboat engines. They had large angled wet sumps to allow for propshaft angle.

John Read was absolutely obsessive about rigidity within his engines.

Every component in the R65 and R66 Formula 3 engines was designed to be as rigid as possible.

Hence the use of the 120E 5 - bearing cylinder block.

Read sourced his blocks direct from Ford. They came to us minimally machined. Probably only the top deck, the sump face and bolt holes drilled and tapped.

At the Martlesham workshop, the machinists made up steel main bearing caps from billets. I think they retained standard Ford front and rear caps, but I can't be sure.

Light green painted exterior, grey inside crankcase, five Holbay main caps

Posted Image



The earlier Formula Junior motors had always had a steel centre main bearing cap fitted, so it was a short step to fitting more of 'em the the five-bearing 120E block.

Steel blocks were also Araldited and screwed in place to make a 5 - bearing cam tunnel, doing away with the Ford distributor drive and petrol pump. The holes for these were blanked off with plates.

The blocks were then line-bored. Although there was a line-boring machine on the shop floor, I never saw it used. I believe an outside engineering works used to do that. Whilst the blocks were away, the cylinders were also bored and honed to 80.149mm. I recall that standard Ford main bearing bolts were perfectly OK, particularly since we were using ten instead of six!

When blocks returned, they were thoroughly cleaned inside and out, with particular attention to oilway drillings, and painted. (Rob) remembers that they were spray painted with a mixture of green and silver paint. The colour varied, depending who mixed the paints!

Holbay serial number plates were then pop-riveted onto them.

Posted Image


Crankshafts were machined from massive billets - probably steel. Laystall rings a bell, but I can't be sure.

Posted Image



Posted Image



I certainly DO recall the weight of the raw billets before machining though, as I used to have to hump them around (as storeman!) Again, machining was done by an outside company. Billets would come in, and then go out (somewhere) returning as shiny, machined-all-over 5-bearing short-stroke cranks.

I believe camshafts also came from Ford, but were unmachined, as-cast or forged, whatever they were - probably cast from the flash still adhering. This virgin metal yielded two additional bearings where the petrol pump eccentric and distributor gear would normally have been machined. Frank Wiswold would grind cams, including 5 bearing journals, and then they would be batch-processed through the Parco-Lubrize tank.

Parco-Lubrize was a heated tank of some sort of chemical where the batch of cams would be suspended for a longish period of time ... several days maybe? They would come out black all over with some sort of scuff-resistant chemical impregnated into the pores of the metal.

My role was to hang the batch and record the time of immersion. Frank would tell me when to take them out, dry and oil-dip them, label them and put them into stock. I think they also had the cam grind reference stamped on the drive end flange.

I liked Frank a lot, but he had a VERY short fuse when disrespected! I recall one day when he had asked some of the young lads to turn down the loud pop music they had tuned an old radio to. They responded by turning the volume UP! Frank turned off the grinder, took up a largish ball-pein hammer and drove it through the speaker cone. Without a word, he resumed his seat and turned the grinder back on - in perfect silence!

Slipper pistons came from Hepolite (Hepworth & Grandage). I had to weigh each one on a sensitive balance scale, and write the weights on the crown. When the engines were trial assembled, with no piston rings, the distances down the bore of each piston were noted by the fitters, and ideally a set of very close weights and depthed pistons would be assembled. Then the piston crowns were lightly skimmed to even the depths to within very close tolerances, and the deck of the cylinder block was then machined down to give the desired clearance between piston crown and block deck.

These are the original 85mm Hepworth and Grandage pistons.


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A set of matched, machined pistons would come back to me, and I would very carefully re-balance them by grinding material off around the gudgeon pin bosses. The fitters had, of course, numbered both pistons and con-rods so the engine could be reassembled perfectly.

Con-rods were mostly standard 105E rods, but carefully polished along the flanges to preclude cracking. Again, I weighed them and assembled them into closely matched sets. (Rob) ... I built many engines with standard Ford rods and many with a Holbay designed rod,a very nice strong rod that was 12.5 mm longer, never saw one break, only bend.

These Holbay long rods are the same length as the Cosworth SCA series rods.

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The same long rough cast rods before lightening and instilation

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I believe the fitters had gauges to check for straightness and twist, prior to accepting a rod into an assembly. Big-end cap bolts were of better-than-standard quality. I used to carry hundreds in stock, as they were always renewed at rebuilds.

Main and big-end bearings were Vandervell brand, I think.

Dry-sump pumps, as I've mentioned, were a tandem composite of Ford 105/109E Eaton pressure rotor, and a Standard-Triumph rotor as scavenge pump. Holbay's own castings replaced the Ford timing cover and the pump shafts were shortened and machined to slot-and-tenon drives.

The crankshaft and water pump pulleys were replaced with cog-belt drive on smaller pulleys. Interestingly, no tensioner was fitted - or apparently needed!

Back to rigidity. Ford steel pushrods were chopped up to provide about 1 inch long stubs that were then pressed into aluminium tube to form lighter, more rigid pushrods. Some engines, I recall, were built with standard Ford steel pushrods.

The rocker assembly was next for attention. Ford rocker assemblies were purchased, dismantled (my job - again!) and the standard aluminium posts discarded. Holbay outsourced aluminium castings that were much more robust than Ford's. (see Bradbury West's pic. from Sept. 14th 2010 for a wonderful example.) Unbrako allen screws were used to torque the assembly down. I used to lightly polish the rockers with a flexi-drive to remove forging flash and tidy them up to reduce a bit of weight and remove potential stress risers..

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And of course, the engine was topped off with the pretty Holbay aluminium rocker cover. I used to glue in the R65 or R66 medallion for dry-sumped engines, so I almost certainly handled those rocker covers pictured!. Wet sump engines could have an oil filler cap installed here, but I don't recall ever seeing a wet-sump engine during my time there. Rob has already mentioned some speedboat engines he built that were wet-sumped. I think most of our speedboat engines were 1500s and 1650s. 85mm pistons and an over-bore on a 1500 crank stroke gave the extra capacity to 1650cc.

I've left the cylinder head until last, as it was a work of art. SJ Lambert's pics of Sept. 16 2010 illustrate the downdraft head perfectly. Except it's been fitted with a pair of downdraft Webers.

Here it is without the Webers

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Barely machined heads would come in from Dagenham. Just the face and rocker cover surfaces milled, and (I think) valve guide holes bored. Our machinists would machine two flats above the inlet ports, to which were Araldited and screwed a couple of cast iron angled blocks to form the upper parts of the downdraft inlet ports.

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Four parallel holes were machined at the appropriate angle and four inlet tubes with tapered bores were pressed and Loctited into place. The upper surfaces, where the manifold would bolt on, were then skimmed flat on the mill and mounting holes drilled and tapped. Valve guides were pressed in. There was a bit of experimentation with various guide materials.

The heads then passed to Bernard, who would finesse the internal contours of inlets and exhausts with his high-speed flexi-drive grinder, tungsten burrs, stones and finally polishing abrasive sleeves. He would also cut the valve seats. Valves were special items. I can't recall the supplier.

Valve springs were BSA (motorcycle) Gold Star Clubman special double springs and spring caps. We called them "Rocket" springs, I recall. They came in in bulk, but again, I can't remember the supplier. There were some experiments with titanium retainers, but they were few and far between as I was never asked to buy-in much titanium bar. I remember the machinists growling that titanium was a pig to turn on the lathe!

Bernard or I would check the compression rate of each and every spring to ensure they were all within specs. Any that were marginally low would be relegated to sets for road-going engines that would not be subjected to sustained high revs.

Holbay's signature O-ringed alloy welch plugs were made necessary by two Unbrako allen screws that had to be inserted into the welch plug hole, and screwed up from under into helicoils in the cylinder head, as the downdraft plates and ports blocked off two of the original cylinder head bolt holes.

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(Rob) ... Sometimes on dyno tests, the downdraft inlet ports leaked water into cylinders and we had a special water neck fitting that allowed us to pour stop leak (was it Holts Stop Leak?) into the engine while running. Ports were pressed in sleeves (tubes) then ported.

And the carburetor! Wow! This was real left-field thinking. As has been mentioned, Formula 3 engines of the day had to inhale through a single flange supplied by the F3 management. Maybe 38mm? Don't quote me! (Rob) ... Carb restricter flange was, I think 36mm.

Holbay designed and had cast a high-rise downdraft manifold that was topped by a very special Weber carb. This started life as a twin-throat downdraft until I took a hacksaw and sawed off one choke! True! The rough face was then milled flat and a cast plate was araldited and screwed on to cover the ugliness, and block the un-needed second fuel drillings. There may have been some plugging of those drillings too. I have a vague recollection of peening aluminium welding rod into them before glueing the plate on.

I have to tell you, I was literally trembling, the first one I had to saw up! Coe was standing beside me, laughing like a drain at my obvious terror at potentially stuffing up a priceless Weber carb. I recall he had a number of supportive comments like "Don't worry Boy. If you mess it up you'll have it paid off out of your wages by ... Ohhh ... 1970, I suppose!"

Again, SJ Lambert's (Sept. 16th 2010) pics of the #52 Gold Leaf Lotus shows the single downdraft carb to perfection.

As you can see from several of the pics, the engines were laid over to allow the Weber to remain perfectly upright. Holbay also stocked adapter plates for Hewland gearboxes, to the correct inclination.

Here's a shot of the car still fitted with the original Holbay engine featured in these pics, Weber carbs, Hewland 30 degree adaptor plate and gearbox. In fact, the car was designed around this drivetrain even though following ones contained Ford Lotus Twin Cams in the main.

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Again, from memory, I think a complete F3 engine was around 400 pounds sterling in 1965/66. That would have related to about 40 weeks wages for an average worker, so relate that to 40 x $800 in Australia today (2011) = $32 000. Realise that today you can buy a japanese 1000cc motorcycle engine that will produce about the same horsepower - (100 - 105bhp) for around $1000 from a motorcycle wreckers! No wonder motor-cycle-engined racing cars are all the go!

(see home.st.net.au/~fettesi/dbf1300.htm for our 1980s interpretation.)

Interestingly, in 1966 a Cosworth F3 engine came in which I saw dismantled and reassembled. I think a deal was done where Reid & Coe got to look and measure, and the owner got a very well-priced rebuild!

Cosworth seemed to take the light-is-good philosophy. They used a 3-bearing block and their crank, if my imperfect and aging memory serves me right, was a fabrication! It looked like three machined sections with pieces of square section hollow tube welded between them. Now I could be totally wrong here. I only caught a glimpse of the internals, but that was sure what it looked like! Cosworth also had a side-draft head.

(Rob) ... I rebuilt many Cosworth engines, I think we were cheaper than a Cosworth rebuild. Ford standard crank---some Cosworth engines used this crank --- not fabricated but a Ford high nodular cast iron crank.

Interestingly, both motors - Cosworth and Holbay - made something like the same horsepower on Holbay's Heenan and Froude dynamometers. 105 or 107 hp, maybe? Some were stellar performers with 112+bhp!

Some Cosworth engine owners would buy Holbay camshafts and install them, also Holbay rocker gear.

(Rob) ... re: Bernard's heads --- Each head was a one off, and some performed better than others, the highest performers after a dyno run were taken off and reserved for favoured customers. Another head was fitted to the dynoed engine and run again to meet Holbay stated minimum bhp.

With reference to the Hillman engine mods, I believe that John Read's sons, as they came of age, joined him in the business some years after '66 (after I left - I never met them), and at that time the business moved back to Hollesley Bay.

Rob migrated to Australia in 1966 and I followed him in 1967. In fact, he and Viv, his wife, sponsored me and gave me a start in this new country. (Best move I ever made. 'Bless you guys!)

I did see a website maybe 15 years ago, when the Web was in its infancy, where the Read boys paid tribute to their Dad, then sadly deceased, and talked about their Rootes Group sports and racing motors. Just a very few years ago, I Googled again, and found them gone.

As an aside, Read (I think it was) owned a beautiful six-cylinder Bristol, which I recall being driven very quickly in a sprint meeting at Martlesham airfield. My memory shows Coe driving? Read commented once to me that the OHC Bristol engine was a German aircraft design - all alloy, I believe. Part of post WW2 reparations?

Rob recalls Coe driving a Triumph Spitfire. Sounds right, as Coe had a Standard-Triumph agency.

Bernard had an early Mercedes "roundy" sedan in perpetual renovation.

Mike Brinkhoff and Brian Johnson both drove Goggomobils at one stage. With fuel at hideous prices, nobody thought these tiny toy cars were funny ('funny - strange'. They were certainly 'funny - ha ha!')

Mick Stelley turned up one day in what looked and sounded like a competition Jaguar XK 120 (?) I recall a big leather strap across the bonnet, and very loud and rumbly, cammy exhaust.

Frank Wiswold retired to build model steam locomotives at his home at Hollesley Bay. I was privileged to visit him there on a trip home in 1982 and view his workshop and models. He would have to be late now - or about 100 years old!

Brian Johnson moved back up to the Midlands, to Rugby where his wife's parents lived. He eventually became an art blacksmith, and his (second) wife ran a catering business. Sadly the last time I saw Brian, in the 90's, he was suffering random memory lapses. The family thought early Alzheimers?

I came very close to marrying Brian's sister-in-law, but the girl sensibly gave me the flick to pursue her dental studies. (we still exchange Xmas cards!) And so, heartbroken, I joined Robin and his wife Vivien in Australia, who sponsored my emigration. And the rest is (non-Holbay) history!

But go to ... home.st.net.au/~fettesi/dbf1300.htm ... and you'll see more of my involvement in Australian Hillclimbing in the 80's.

Rob has built or assisted in a number of racing and sports/racing cars, with an early association with Lionel Ayers and his MRC 23B replica, plus an airplane and a sailing trimaran.

We've all come a long way since the 1960s!

Rob's oldest lad is a genius CAD/CAM guru, building jewellry that masquerades as racing engines! His younger son is an engine management guru for Dick Johnson Racing, in Queensland, Australia.

Cheers,

Denis.
www.bayviewguesthouse.com
in beautiful Stanley, Tasmania.










Edited by SJ Lambert, 11 June 2011 - 13:44.


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#80 bartchops

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 18:54

Welcome aboard Denis and Rob - your first post immediately above is solid gold as far as I'm concerned - feel free to visit and inspect our little Holbay mill anytime. When time allows I shall put some visuals to your memoir - your collective memory accords very closely with what's between the sump and rocker cover of our little number.

Let me echo Ray and Roger's sentiment - bloody marvelous!!!

Cheers James

I agree, all good stuff but with one major inaccuracy,John never had two sons,just the one daughter Rebbecca.His brother Roger Dunnell had three boys,one of whom,Paul, set up a racing engine business Dunnell Engines in Stowmarket.

#81 h4887

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 19:45

A friend of mine who used to run the Piper Sports and Racing car Club also had a Ginetta G21 and the GRS utility that Ginetta made. Both ran on H120 engines from new, which Clive tuned further. They always seemed very strong engines. Martin


Clive replaced the H120 engine in his Ginetta with a 2 litre Pinto. I replaced mine with a 2 litre Zetec.


#82 hatrat

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 19:48

About a a year ago when I was chasing down information on early Formula Junior heads, I tracked down one of the original Holbay employees who resides in South Africa. He is Terry McClement who was very helpful to me with details on how Holbay developed their FJ engines.
Terry has come across this thread on TNF and has sent me the following email :

Recently perusing the Autosport Bulletin Board nostalgia forum, I read Tony Gooch's comments on his days at Holbay.
It struck me that I was the last man standing of the original Holbay triumvirate, and now that both John and Roger are gone, it remains for me to chronicle those early formation days. I was there when it all started, and owe it to the friends and customers whom I encountered over my years of service.
I tried to register as a member for the forum, but kept getting rejected, so could I ask you to post a message to say that I am willing and able to extract portions of my personal journal relevant to Holbay for any one interested?
I have created a gmail acc: carbdoc@gmail.com specifically for this purpose, please feel free to include this
address in the post.
regards
Terry


This would be a fantastic opportunity to get the recollections from someone who was there at the beginning. It would be best if Terry could actually register on TNF so all could participate in his recollections - perhaps someone could assist him in registering.

#83 bradbury west

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 17:19

A very warm welcome to Terry. Just out of interest, my engine is 1163/167, complete with Hollesley Bay plate, and came with my roundtube Ginetta G4.
Roger Lund

#84 RDV

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 17:38

One of these members was Laurence ‘Slim’ Coe who started working for Holbay in the mid sixties as the Design and Development Engineer. In the late sixties he was in charge of taking a small team of Lotus cars to South America to compete in Formula Ford. It was here that he first met Emerson Fittipaldi; who he encouraged to come to the U.K. Emerson enrolled with the Jim Russell Racing School who were one of Holbay’s customers.


...slight slip in time...Emerson had won the British F3 Championship during 69 with the JRRS Lotus 59 with a Holbay engine, and the temporada was in the winter of 69, after the British season was over, having as team mates W.Fittipaldi, Ian Ashley and Marivaldo Fernandes...Slim came over to maintain the engines, with David Baldwin representing Lotus.

#85 dodgealpine

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Posted 13 August 2011 - 16:04

Hi All, great & interesting postings, My question is ;- I know Holbay engines were used in several cars but did holbay ever race its own car? Also did Holbay have its own racing colours?

#86 RJE

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Posted 14 August 2011 - 08:29

Hi All, great & interesting postings, My question is ;- I know Holbay engines were used in several cars but did holbay ever race its own car? Also did Holbay have its own racing colours?



Am I right in thinking John Reid raced a Britannia in early Formula Junior races in Britain?

#87 bartchops

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 08:29

Am I right in thinking John Reid raced a Britannia in early Formula Junior races in Britain?

He may well have done,there was a Britannia chassis and associated bits and pieces suspended from the roof of the test shop when I worked there.I remember it being taken away on a trailer some time around 1964,perhaps Terry McClement can add more.

#88 stemc

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 12:44

hi all
Sorry to drag up an old thread

im looking for old holbay 16v cylinder head drawings or info.
in order to help prove or indeed disprove the validity of the warrior reproduction.

Where im up to:
holbay sold info / tooling to Kearns + Richards who further developed this head (mainly modifying it to removable cam carriers)
This was sold to Richard Ives who sold to its current manufacturer Connaught.

If I could get some original drawings this would help

The valve size, combustion chamber is identical.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.


#89 RS2000

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 14:12

I have some photos of the two, in which it is possible to see the cams were further apart on the Holbay than on the Warrior. No drawings though. Which side of the argument are you on? I wouldn't want to assist in supporting the BHRC stance!

Edited by RS2000, 09 February 2012 - 14:13.


#90 stemc

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Posted 09 February 2012 - 15:24

Simply trying to find out the truth
I know the cams are slightly further apart
and the cam carriers are removable
but as the story that ive heard go's
On the original heads it was near impossible to fit the cams
all the valve springs needed to be compressed at the same time
the removable cam carriers were a mod to make things easier
and possibly a change carried out by Kearns + Richards ltd


#91 SJ Lambert

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 13:37

Happy days!! Have just secured a second Holbay cover on the same casting as our original one. It is the last proprietary Holbay piece needed in order to complete a second "clone" Holbay engine for the Elfin 300. Will look pretty good with the Holbay front pump and tacho drive when attached to a 120E engine block.

Posted Image


Now need to down draft an Anglia head, build a set of rockers and order cam and springs - likely be a Holbay/Coltec 658 grind cam and matching Rocket springs.

Am cheating on the internals as will use custom length narrow pin Carillo rods and CP pistons.

Edited by SJ Lambert, 08 April 2012 - 23:22.


#92 bartchops

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 15:01

I came across this extract from a Holbay brochure,dated 1961.Posted Image









#93 SJ Lambert

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 21:11

Nice one bartchops, lovely image of lanky Frank in the little Lotus.

The snippet reminds me that I'm overdue in asking Twinny or David to correct the spelling of John Read in this thread's title, if that's convenient?

#94 David McKinney

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 21:54

Funny, I always thought it was John Read, but everyone else seemed to know better...

#95 SJ Lambert

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 22:31

I took a stab in the dark at the outset, incorrectly............

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#96 SJ Lambert

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 19:57

Have just obtained three more B104 Holbay rods to complete a spare set for the S65 engine. Got them out of Market Drayton, Shropshire.

Edited by SJ Lambert, 31 October 2012 - 01:14.


#97 SJ Lambert

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 08:18

Happy days!! Have just secured a second Holbay cover on the same casting as our original one. It is the last proprietary Holbay piece needed in order to complete a second "clone" Holbay engine for the Elfin 300. Will look pretty good with the Holbay front pump and tacho drive when attached to a 120E engine block.

Posted Image


Now need to down draft an Anglia head, build a set of rockers ...............


Don't need to build a second set of rockers anymore, have just received a pukka Holbay set to compliment the second motor!!!

Posted Image

Edited by SJ Lambert, 10 January 2013 - 10:29.


#98 Leigh Trevail

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Posted 06 October 2013 - 19:07

Footage of Jimmy Shand in the Team Holbay Lotus VII can be viewed on YouTube.......

 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=TjXIpy3cldE