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Mercedes-Benz windscreen button question ('50s racing)


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#1 MoebiusPT

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 13:43

So, the story is a follows.

Around the early 90's, I remember seeing a documentary about auto-racing (can't remember the name, although it covered several episodes until the 1990s), not sure if only GP was included or if sports car was also being described.

I remember this one statement, made by Stirling Moss regarding the "pragmatism" of the Mercedes-Benz team lead by Alfred Neubauer. Moss said something like this (pardon, my memory may have altered some things):
"I once had a race in which a small pebble cracked my windshield and I had to drove to the pits for the crew to replace it. The next race, if a stone cracked my windshield I would just press a button and a new windshield would come up!"

Now, was this quotation of a real system (300 SL/SLR or W196?) or was it just a way of describing the spirit in which Neubauer and Uhlenhaut led the team?

Another quote from the same show went something like this: "If one would ask them to install squared tires into the car, he (Neubauer) would pick up his book and would browse some pages and say, we tried that in '37 and found that the car vibrated a 'little bit'".

Cheers!

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#2 D-Type

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 15:06

The windshield button story is a bit of an exaggeration. They simply made the screen from 10mm thick glass.

However, the cars, both the GP cars and the 300SLRs, did have some special features:
After problems encountered with newspapers blowing into the radiator intake causing overheating, they fitted a hinged grille that that the driver could operate to clear blockages
The cockpit vents had lever adjustment that could be adjusted by the driver whereas in other cars the driver had to make a pit stop to have them altered
If a brake was tending to lock (as it would when the lining had worn away) there were four buttons in the cockpit to squirt a jet of oil into the offending drum - no brake was better than a locked one.
The gear change had a lock to prevent accidentally engaging reverse and another allowing only the gear above and below to be selected.
They had a lever allowing the driver to adjust the rear suspension as the fuel load in the tail tank reduced.

Moss told the square wheels story about Uhlenhaut rather than Neubauer.

Edited by D-Type, 08 April 2012 - 15:07.


#3 Roger Clark

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 20:25

The windshield button story is a bit of an exaggeration. They simply made the screen from 10mm thick glass.

I'm not sure about that. Moss suffered a broken windscreen at the Italian Grand Prix, which was, of course, the last race for the Grand Prix cars. There remained the Targa Florio and it is quite possible that the SLRs had some form of pop-up windscreen for the mountains. They did have drop down handlamp covers according to Quicksilver Century.

#4 AAGR

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Posted 08 April 2012 - 21:14

Well, yes and no - but I'm quoting from Karl Ludvigsen's THE MERCEDES BENZ RACING CARS book, and Karl is usually absolutely accurate.

A suitable picture of the cockpit area carries this caption :

'Changes to the 300SLRs for the rugged Targa Florio race included an extra heavy windscreen and a steel shield that could be flipped up if that should break ....'

AAGR

#5 Roger Clark

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 07:04

THat picture doesn't appear in Quicksilver Century. I thought it was an expanded version of MercedesBenz Racing Cars. Anyway, I think this shows the origin of Moss's story.

#6 Allan Lupton

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 09:50

'Changes to the 300SLRs for the rugged Targa Florio race included an extra heavy windscreen and a steel shield that could be flipped up if that should break ....'

That'd be the newly invented transparent steel, then?

#7 Sharman

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 10:08

That'd be the newly invented transparent steel, then?


Somewhere I recall seeing a metal aero deflector which was available in case of breakage of the original glass aero screen

#8 Roger Clark

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 12:18

That'd be the newly invented transparent steel, then?

The driver didn't look through the windscreen of a 300SLR.

#9 Allan Lupton

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 13:43

The driver didn't look through the windscreen of a 300SLR.

True so far as it goes, but the top of the screen was so high that he'd have to look through it to see close-in objects, and there were a lot of those on the Targa Florio and as you see he didn't miss all of 'em anyway:
Posted Image

Edited by Allan Lupton, 09 April 2012 - 13:45.


#10 bradbury west

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 14:37

Somewhere I recall seeing a metal aero deflector which was available in case of breakage of the original glass aero screen


I have resisted chiming in so far as my books are all boxed-up in storage, but I recall an account in one of the books by either Jenks or SCM telling of how a spare screen kit c/w all relevant nuts and bolts and bespoke spanners fastened to it, was made by MB after on broke in testing, and how quickly they could install it. I thought it was Perspex. However, turning up one of my spare copies of MS June '55 , in the MM narrative by DSJ, on page 301, bottom of rt column, in notes about immediate pre-MM routines our hero comments that they had practised fitting the temporary aluminium aero-screens that went in front of the Perspex screen should it be broken by a stone, - MB remembering how Hermann Lang was nearly suffocated at Donington in 1938 when his 'screen was broken.
Roger Lund

#11 Sharman

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 15:18

I have resisted chiming in so far as my books are all boxed-up in storage, but I recall an account in one of the books by either Jenks or SCM telling of how a spare screen kit c/w all relevant nuts and bolts and bespoke spanners fastened to it, was made by MB after on broke in testing, and how quickly they could install it. I thought it was Perspex. However, turning up one of my spare copies of MS June '55 , in the MM narrative by DSJ, on page 301, bottom of rt column, in notes about immediate pre-MM routines our hero comments that they had practised fitting the temporary aluminium aero-screens that went in front of the Perspex screen should it be broken by a stone, - MB remembering how Hermann Lang was nearly suffocated at Donington in 1938 when his 'screen was broken.
Roger Lund


So my memory does work sometimes Roger!

#12 Tuboscocca

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 17:29

Wonderful (works) photos are to be found in

Mercedes - Benz 300SLR by Karl Ludvigsen (Iconographics 2004).

The double seater windscreen, the wrap around plexi windscreen with security glass middle section, the sheet-metal emergency windscreen, should the security glass windscreen be broken..

Regards Michael

#13 MoebiusPT

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 15:38

Thank you all for your insightful comments.

Was nice to know that there was a great deal of true behind the myth and thank you D-Type for additional trivia provided.

Were these kind of preparations, hacks if more commonly speaking, common during the 50s/60s or were they more centered around Mercedes-Benz or other Germanic operations (thinking Porsche here)?

For instance the air-brake mechanism on the Le-Mans version of the 300-SLR versus the brake-disc of the Jaguar Type-D. The British team there scored a great coup in terms of expanding the performance envelope although the german innovation is also of interest. Additionally, both these technologies were already used in aviation, for quite some time IRC.