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#1 ian senior

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Posted 08 December 2004 - 09:29

As we know, Frank Costin loved the stuff, but I wonder why no-one else (to my limited knowledge) made racing cars from such a sustainable source of material. Yes, there was mallite, which was partially wooden and used in a few cars, and there was the plywood bodywork of the Getem FF car, but I can't think of anything else. Can someone enlighten me?

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#2 Ray Bell

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Posted 08 December 2004 - 09:53

I think the AGP book mentions a car with a wooden front axle that broke somewhere or other...

And wasn't Alec Issigonis' pre-war Special of plywood construction too?

Certainly there have been many Marcoses raced around the world...

#3 bill moffat

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Posted 08 December 2004 - 10:01

Didn't John and Richard Bolster's original Bloody Mary have an ash frame ?

#4 Garagiste

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Posted 08 December 2004 - 10:05

Plenty racing Morgans, too.

#5 bill moffat

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Posted 08 December 2004 - 10:09

..and does the Hanomag's wickerwork count ?

#6 FrankB

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Posted 08 December 2004 - 10:09

Although not with a wooden chassis or bodywork, and perhaps not a "racing" car, but certainly a marque that has been widely raced - the new Aero 8 still has the traditional Morgan ash frame I believe.

#7 VAR1016

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Posted 08 December 2004 - 10:27

Originally posted by Ray Bell
I think the AGP book mentions a car with a wooden front axle that broke somewhere or other...

And wasn't Alec Issigonis' pre-war Special of plywood construction too?

Certainly there have been many Marcoses raced around the world...


The Lightweight Special is largely made from Aluminium - or that's how it looks to me!

There was a lovely cartoon I saw in the 1960s: A scrutineer rejected a Marcos on the grounds that it had woodworm...

PdeRL

#8 petefenelon

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Posted 08 December 2004 - 10:34

Wasn't Voisin's monocoque GP car of 1923 or thereabouts wooden?

#9 bill moffat

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Posted 08 December 2004 - 11:32

..and the Sizaire Naudin voiturettes that pre-dated it.

Other diverse thoughts..the F4 Briham (yes, Briham) of mid 60's vintage was one of the mallite cars. I'd be happy calling the Aero 8 a racing car having seen it perform in National GT's and at Le Mans.

Would the consenus be that the Protos F2 car and Roger Nathan's Astra RNR Gp 6 cars were the most "serious" racing woodies ?

#10 ian senior

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Posted 08 December 2004 - 12:26

Originally posted by bill moffat
..and the Sizaire Naudin voiturettes that pre-dated it.

Other diverse thoughts..the F4 Briham (yes, Briham) of mid 60's vintage was one of the mallite cars. I'd be happy calling the Aero 8 a racing car having seen it perform in National GT's and at Le Mans.

Would the consenus be that the Protos F2 car and Roger Nathan's Astra RNR Gp 6 cars were the most "serious" racing woodies ?


I'd say so, as long as you include the earlier Costin-Nathans, which spawned the Astras. And the even earlier Costin sports racer, with I think a Climax engine, which itself spawned the Costin-Nathan.

Sorry, but I'm not including Marcos and Morgan. Yes, they raced, but they were primarily road cars.

#11 JtP

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Posted 08 December 2004 - 12:30

The problem with wood for racing car chassis is that there are better materials around. iirc, Frank Costin did his apprenticeship at De Havallind the place of the beloved wooden aeroplane. Most De Havallinds, possibly all, were excellent aeroplanes and expecially the Mosquito. Costin and others used to bandy this excellent aeroplane about as a justification for using wood. If a wooden Mosquito was good, therefore our wooden car is good. Anyone remember the original road going Marcos. The one the current car is based on, not the exposed wheel version. Won't rust! Like driving a Mosquito etc! = rotted and fell to bits.

Modern composite cars do actually use a similar construction technique to Mosquitos with a strong outer surface with a light sandwich filling in the middle. So maybe Costin wasn't that wrong, just selected the wrong material (effectively unavailable at the time of the Protos) or just ahead of his time?


The real fact is that De Havallind built wooden aeroplanes and had wood working machinery. The reason a Mosquito flew well and fast was it was an excellent desgn with not one line out of place and would have just been as good made out of alloy. The reverse story is that early in WW2, the Luftwaffe required wooden gliders and gave the job to Junkers. they forgot that Junkers were the first German manufacturer of an all metal plane and had only built all metal planes and didn't have any wood working machinery.

#12 David Beard

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Posted 08 December 2004 - 12:55

I think early Motus karts had a wooden monocoque. The later fibreglass ones looked similar and won the 210N championship in the mid seventies driven by cartoonist Dud Moseley (the constructor), who later raced in Clubman's Sports car

http://www.kartpix.f...es/DSCF3031.htm

#13 Darren Galpin

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Posted 08 December 2004 - 14:10

Posted Image
The Jappic

First entered at Brooklands on the Easter Monday meeting of 1925, this tiny two seater car had a 344cc JAP motorcycle engine. The car was designed by H.M.Walters and built by the coachbuilders Jarvis of Wimbledon. The frame was made from the wood ash with 3/32 inch steel flitch plates and tubular cross-members. It had expanding rear brakes on the rear, but no front brakes. The wheels where 650x65 motorcycle tyres, which were attached by a chain-driven axle to a two-port overhead valve 74x80mm single-cylinder JAP engine via a three-speed gearbox (chain-driven from the engine).

Walters managed to break the Class J flying mile record in the car at a speed of 70.33mph, but by 1926, the original engine was replaced with a 495cc JAP engine. The car was then obtained by Mrs Gwenda Stewart, who changed the cars name to Hawkes-Stewart and refitted the original 344cc engine. Unfortunately the car was destroyed in a garage fire at Montlhéry in 1932.

#14 Tweddell

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Posted 08 December 2004 - 15:31

Please remember: the early wooden costin marcos allready had a pure monocoque at a time, when well-known racecars still had spaceframes, so they were very light but had no torsion at all.
the principles of frank costin were extended by the adams brothers with the construction of the gullwing and fastback marcos, the only cars in motorsport history,with no metal subframes , as all following marcos (1800 ), the costin sportscar, the costin nathan , amigo and even the protos had such "metal helpers".
the morgan , by the way, is no "real wooden car", as it only has a frame for the body.

#15 WDH74

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Posted 08 December 2004 - 19:05

Wasn't the bodywork of Colin Chapman's first trials special (the "Mk. 1") made of plywood covered in alloy sheet? (Or is that what "Mallite" is? I've never heard of Mallite).

On a side note about Mosquitoes: I recall reading that Mossies sent to the South Pacific during the war had a relatively short service life because the humidity would ruin the wood fairly quickly. I would imagine that similar problems would afflict the early Marcos, albiet at a slightly slower pace.

-William

#16 Tweddell

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Posted 08 December 2004 - 20:00

because the humidity would ruin the wood fairly quickly. I would imagine that similar problems would afflict the early Marcos



the chassis do only suffer from permanent wetness, so if you store a marcos with plywood chassis unprotected in the open in a wet corner of your garden over many years.
I collected five cars of the very early types (gullwing and fastbacks), only one needed a chassis-replacement, as it was stored that way i described.
All the others have still their very first original plywood-chassis, still doing their job after more than 40 years continuous life of racing . i think that it is not normality.

#17 dbw

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Posted 08 December 2004 - 20:04

short dull ramblings on wood....on early race cars many materials were used commonly that we don't normally associate with automotive applications...i'll give a few examples that pertain to gp bugattis but apply somewhat universally..

wood; steering wheel rims...oil transfer pump handle...fuel tank cradles...seat frames...quite often frame rail inserts[usually at the dumbirons]-this internal stiffining often gave rise to "wooden frame" stories....bulkhead grommets[not on gp bugs but wood was a standard for many firewalls/floorboards]

leather; apart from bonnet straps/upholstery....shock absorber links [laminated to 1" thick]...strips rivited to panel edges to prevent metal-metal wear....steering column/box couplings...blower drive couplings....torque arm links...oil and fuel cap gaskets...air pump pistons...grease seals...

felt; rear axle internal oil seals...lower firewall gaskets[to stop migration of standard massive oil leaks]...many grease or low pressure oil retainers...

brass,german silver sheet; radiator ..small blower oil tanks....bonnet hinges...any small mounting straps for tubing,brake cables, actuating rods....body panel alignment flanges...

copper;...many rivet applications-floor panels, leather strap fastening....a few gasket applications...

waxed string; leather stitching...wrapping/binding of most anything loose, often varnished after application....[actually lots of oil-based varnish used in many applications]

soft iron wire; safety wire where cotters wouldn't work...double twist hose clamps on small air and fuel[!] lines...wrap rubber hose that connects blower outlet to manifold to prevent expansion...

soft copper wire; used as "safety" wire on huge number of body panel screws,linking one to the next ....

i'm sure i'll remember more as i think about english and italian cars i've known...

#18 JtP

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Posted 08 December 2004 - 20:35

Originally posted by WDH74
Wasn't the bodywork of Colin Chapman's first trials special (the "Mk. 1") made of plywood covered in alloy sheet? (Or is that what "Mallite" is? I've never heard of Mallite).

On a side note about Mosquitoes: I recall reading that Mossies sent to the South Pacific during the war had a relatively short service life because the humidity would ruin the wood fairly quickly. I would imagine that similar problems would afflict the early Marcos, albiet at a slightly slower pace.

-William


Mallite was a aluminium balsa sandwich sheet. Robin Herd used it in the unraced 4wd Cosworth F1 car.

Remember reading about Mosquitos sufferenig structural failure from climatic conditions. But I think it was in the Burma theatre.

#19 David Beard

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Posted 08 December 2004 - 21:33

And please, don't anyone mention the Plank on TNF.....

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#20 David Beard

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Posted 08 December 2004 - 21:40

This site mentions Piper single seaters constructed from Mallite. I have no recollection of them at all....

http://www.thepiperc...org.uk/faq.html

#21 MCS

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Posted 08 December 2004 - 21:42

Originally posted by David Beard
And please, don't anyone mention the Plank on TNF.....


Phew! Nearly did this afternoon in an idle moment actually :blush:

THANKS FOR THE WARNING

Hey, hang on a minute David, you've just mentioned it :lol:

Mark

#22 Ray Bell

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Posted 08 December 2004 - 21:45

Yeah, I've done it again... got the Bolster special mixed up with Issigonis' car...

Mallite was also used in the 1966 McLaren F1 cars. Frank Matich still has a sample that was given to him by Bruce McLaren when Bruce was touting the strength of the material. He claims it's what set him on the path to his present day business... which is encapsulating lesser materials in a drink-bottle like plastic to give them strength and durability.

So you have a cardboard buildup or a foam shape held together by the plastic to make things that wouldn't hold together if not encapsulated.

#23 bill moffat

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Posted 09 December 2004 - 14:09

Originally posted by Ray Bell
Yeah, I've done it again... got the Bolster special mixed up with Issigonis' car...


Don't underestimate your powers Ray. Issigonis' Lightweight Special had a monocoque of an aluminium/plywood sandwich and definitely qualifies...

#24 ian senior

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Posted 09 December 2004 - 14:17

Originally posted by David Beard
This site mentions Piper single seaters constructed from Mallite. I have no recollection of them at all....

http://www.thepiperc...org.uk/faq.html


Wonder if there is a connection between these Piper cars and the F3 Puma, another mallite job. Wasn't the Puma designed by Tony Hilder,who according to that website was also involved with Piper? His name also crops up in relation to Elden (aka Briham), for whom he designed a F100 sports car (that later became the Sturgess). This is all very incestuous.

#25 D-Type

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Posted 09 December 2004 - 14:29

I'm not sure about the Mosquito stories. I understood they anticipated that the humidity in the Far East would cause problems but in practice found that it only slightly softened the glue so it actually had a benificial effect. We need an aircraft expert - Eric!

#26 petefenelon

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Posted 09 December 2004 - 14:52

Originally posted by ian senior


Wonder if there is a connection between these Piper cars and the F3 Puma, another mallite job. Wasn't the Puma designed by Tony Hilder,who according to that website was also involved with Piper? His name also crops up in relation to Elden (aka Briham), for whom he designed a F100 sports car (that later became the Sturgess). This is all very incestuous.


Tony Hilder also did some early work for McLaren - styled the body on the M1, IIRC.

#27 MCS

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Posted 09 December 2004 - 16:12

Originally posted by ian senior


Wonder if there is a connection between these Piper cars and the F3 Puma, another mallite job. Wasn't the Puma designed by Tony Hilder,who according to that website was also involved with Piper? His name also crops up in relation to Elden (aka Briham), for whom he designed a F100 sports car (that later became the Sturgess). This is all very incestuous.


I can remember a Formula Atlantic Puma - Duckhams-backed. I'm sure it wasn't mallite though...

Mark

#28 Joe Bosworth

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Posted 15 November 2007 - 07:38

In 1966 I built a wooden mono sports car. I had it all but finished at the point that I had to leave New South Wales, Australia for a business stint in the US.

Though it never fired a shot in anger I did fully load test it in readiness for completing and racing.

It was virtually all 5/8 inch marine ply held together with Araldite adhesive with brass screws used to hold things togather while the glue set.

All bracketting and engine mounting and the like was done with 16 ga steel bolted and glued. Very simple and often multi-use bracketting.

It was both light and very strong/stiff.

Deterioration over time and dampness was never going to be a concern as it was finished using boat building techniques and we all know how long a wooden boat last with a little care, the same type of care that one uses for any race car.

I know it was propped vertically in corner of the shop at the Parramatta ice works for some time trusting that I wanted to finish it. Too bad that I didn't come back in time. I have never asked but it probably went with the rubble the day the bull dozer went through the place.

I have often been tempted to do it again in identical form as I have all of my design drawings and it would be easy to do it again as all of the hard thinking had been done. The only thing that holds me back is that I am sure that I would not be provided a log book that would allow me to race it.

I am also sure that the CAMS screwed-in-ears would have the shitters if they ever were faced with blessing it.

#29 D-Type

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Posted 15 November 2007 - 10:45

Originally posted by WDH74
~
On a side note about Mosquitoes: I recall reading that Mossies sent to the South Pacific during the war had a relatively short service life because the humidity would ruin the wood fairly quickly. I would imagine that similar problems would afflict the early Marcos, albiet at a slightly slower pace.

-William

I once read the opposite. There were fears that the humidity would affect the glue, but what appeared to happen was it softened the glue slightly which allowed the joints to 'stress relieve' so the aircraft actually got stronger. But I have no idea whether it was true or not.

#30 Tom MacMillan

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Posted 15 November 2007 - 12:41

Originally posted by VAR1016


The Lightweight Special is largely made from Aluminium - or that's how it looks to me!

There was a lovely cartoon I saw in the 1960s: A scrutineer rejected a Marcos on the grounds that it had woodworm...

PdeRL

The Lightweight Special

From John Bolster's fascinating book "Specials"

"The two side members of the body-cum chassis form the whole basis of the car. These consist of five-ply wood, faced on both sides by 28-gauge aluminium sheet, a combination that was formerly used in aircarft construction."

The car was built by Alex Issigonis and George Dowson and had rubber bands for the suspension long before Issigonis used this material on the Mini suspension.

George Dowson was the father of Chris Dowson who was a very successful hillclimber. Supercharged Brabham BT15 - Brabham BT35 - Brabham Repco. But once again I digress.

#31 Paul Rochdale

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Posted 15 November 2007 - 13:10

Mallite? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mallite

I've been unable to discover if William Mallinson & Sons still exists. It would seem to be a superb material for home-built competition or road cars.

#32 Sharman

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Posted 15 November 2007 - 16:46

Nobody has mentioned the "S.A.P.P.d. A.e.B" with its' revolutionary wooden engine which competed in the Grand Prix du Rock

#33 Arjan de Roos

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Posted 15 November 2007 - 17:05

Wood! In a Formula One car from the eighties, it was used!

From the March Leyton House CG891 a friend got the plate (trapezium shape) that Adrian Newey had thought out. In fact as the underside of the chassis (the spot were Guge and Cappelli's bottom had to sit on more or less).

In fact you can see this plate (made of an exotic tropical wood (good engineers use exotic expensiv materials, he)) flying through the air on some pictures from the 89 France GP start collision.
Mechanics gave it away at the German GP.

#34 onelung

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Posted 17 November 2007 - 07:22

Sizaire et Naudins employed wooden chassis side members which were reinforced by steel flitch plates.
Similar system used for early steam locomotives (true!).
My understanding of problems involving wooden components in aircraft; eg Mosquito and (particularly) Avro Ansons was that the the wing spars were prone to failure as a result of the glues of the day failing after being affected by moisture.
Thankfully we have much advanced glue technology today for the Mossie rebuilds/newbuilds and some "Aggies" were kept in the air after the substitution of a metal wing spar for the timber one.
And although it was far away from a racing car, the American Brush automobile not only had a timber chassis, wheel spokes and front axle, the REAR axle was timber as well. Think that one out! Termites' paradise, for sure.

#35 Sharman

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Posted 17 November 2007 - 09:04

Without me looking it up (she's got me shopping and I'll forget when I come back) was the Brush (American) any kin to the Brush (British) I know that Brush Brit built electric cars (And aeroplane propellers in wood).

#36 Allan Lupton

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Posted 17 November 2007 - 09:45

Originally posted by onelung
Sizaire et Naudins employed wooden chassis side members which were reinforced by steel flitch plates.
Similar system used for early steam locomotives (true!).
My understanding of problems involving wooden components in aircraft; eg Mosquito and (particularly) Avro Ansons was that the the wing spars were prone to failure as a result of the glues of the day failing after being affected by moisture.
Thankfully we have much advanced glue technology today for the Mossie rebuilds/newbuilds and some "Aggies" were kept in the air after the substitution of a metal wing spar for the timber one.
And although it was far away from a racing car, the American Brush automobile not only had a timber chassis, wheel spokes and front axle, the REAR axle was timber as well. Think that one out! Termites' paradise, for sure.


O for a Mosquito "new build" or even a rebuild!

Wood and flitch-plate chassis were common in the early days, and for quite large cars too such as the early racers that took part in Paris-Madrid and Gordon Bennett races.

#37 onelung

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Posted 17 November 2007 - 10:12

Don't want to see this thread veer too far away from the "wood race cars" so briefly....
Try to refer "Classic Wings" magazine Vol. 14 No 2,Issue 60, pg 15 .. it tells of Mosquito FB 26 KA 114 having all new timber (fuselage/flying surfaces) rebuilt using epoxy glues to hold the all new timber together, and the (useable) metal items being fitted to the new a/craft. An enormous task which has so far taken in excess of 15 years. Makes rebuilding/restoring an old motorcar look almost trivial, really.

No connection 'twixt the U.S. of A. oh-so-much-timber Brush and the cross-Atlantic firm of the same name, as far as I know. For confirmation, go to the Georgano "bible", "The New Encyclopaedia of Motorcars 1885 to Present".

cheers. :up: