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Mechanic's Miracles


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#1 Barry Boor

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Posted 20 February 2007 - 15:09

I am not absolutely sure, but I don't think we have ever had a thread wherein we elaborated upon amazing achievements by race (or other) mechanics.

Many of us must have experienced, or read, of such feats and I thought it might be nice to share them.

If I may be so bold, I will begin with this remarkable story from Paul Frere's book 'Starting Grid to Chequered Flag', published by Batsford Paperbacks, price 5 shillings.

To set the scene, he was practising for the 1956 Mille Miglia in which he drove a Renault Dauphine. A few miles from Pescara, on a recce lap, the gearbox started to fail. A small roadside garage was enlisted to 'help' sort it out. This is what follows:

"...the chief mechanic and two apprentices set about dismatling the box.

Despite the heat, I broke out in a cold sweat when I saw him removing, one by one, gear wheels, ball bearings, ball races, distance pieces, pins, keys, lock washers and I know not what else, without appearing to take any notice of the order in which they came out. Then, oh horror of horros, the lot was thrown pell-mell into a tin containing some petrol."


A cracked gear wheel was found and the decision taken to rebuild the box without that gear. He continues:

"After having allowed himself a half-hour rest at lunchtime, the mechanic replaced his glasses, readjusted his beret and began reassembling the box, scratching about for each part he required amongst the hundreds spread about on the bench. Carefully examining each one before putting it in, he did not make a single mistake and did not have to take apart any assembly which he had already done. For those who know the complication of the Renault five-speed gearbox, this was a performance beyond all description. Helped by a stooge, (sic) he worked like this until half-past one in the morning and only went home when the box had been completely assembled."

Priceless!

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#2 Pedro 917

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Posted 20 February 2007 - 18:11

During the closing stage of the Daytona 24H of 1971, the John Wyer Automotive mechanics (led by Ermanno Cuoghi & Jo Ramirez) changed the gears of the then leading Gulf-Porsche 917 of Rodriguez & Oliver in +/- 90 minutes.
The car was so far ahead that Pedro re-entered the race only 2 laps behind a Ferrari (can't check it but I believe it was the NART 312P of Posey-Adamowicz). One hour later, Pedro was back in the lead and won the race.
Cuoghi told me once that all the mechanics were already in clean overalls as victory was expected and Wyer / Yorke wanted them to be nice & shiny for the pictures. Then Pedro came in with the jammed gearbox and when the job was done, all mechanics looked as if they had an oil shower. Wyer was amused though and allowed them to ride on the car to the Victory Lane.

#3 Ray Bell

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Posted 20 February 2007 - 18:56

Not a mechanic, but a welder...

Colin Bond told me this story about his hillclimbing days, during which time he drove a Lynx with a supercharged Peugeot 404 engine. The gearbox was from a Porsche.

A rear upright broke on the car at Collingrove, in the Adelaide Hills, in practice. Overnight Colin sought out help and found a local man who, by his description, loved welding materials that were prone to catching fire.

The part was duly repaired as the man and his wife operated on it together, Colin went on to win the event.

Then there is the story of the Le Mans Sunbeam Tiger which had its engine bearings replaced in the pit lane during the sixties.

#4 jph

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Posted 20 February 2007 - 22:39

Sorry to be pedantic, but it wasn't one of the Sunbeam Tigers that underwent a bearing change in the pitlane at Le Mans , but one of the Sunbeam Alpines in 1962. The car was the one driven by Peter Jopp and Paddy Hopkirk and, the oil having been drained, the bottom end of the engine dismantled and the big end bearings replaced, the problem arose as to how the oil could be replenished. Le Mans regulations forbade topping up or replacing engine oil until a certain distance had been covered, but the oil drained from the engine was, of course, somewhat polluted with swarf and other undesirable substances. To the rescue came a pair of ladies' tights - a perfectly acceptable filter under the circumstances. No barriers between pit lane and track in those days, of course - nor any chicane before the pit straight, so the quicker cars would be passing at best part of 150mph or so.

Back into the race, but, alas the engine cried enough a little while later.

#5 JSF

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 00:22

I wont bore you with mine. :D

One of the most famous i know of was when Ari Vatanen was driving a works Escort when the diff exploded, he managed to limp out of the stage to emergency service at the side of the road. It just so happened the rear diff in use on the works cars was the same as fitted standard to a 3 litre Capri.

The Ford works mechanic scoured the road for passing cars and stopped a passing civilian ;) who just happened to be driving a 3 litre Capri and asked if they could borrow his rear diff.

Next thing you know the capri is up in the air, bits of rear diff and oil being extracted, up goes the Escort BDA, in goes the diff, off goes Ari. Cue the Capri 3 litre driver being given a Ford Motorsport business card to show the local service manager at the Ford dealer and being told to book his car in for a new diff. Poor guy was on his holiday at the time. :D

#6 Lotus23

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 01:00

Unlike JSF, I will bore y'all with mine:

Running the Lotus 23 in final practice, I managed to snap the gearshift lever, leaving just a small stub remaining. I managed to trundle back to the pits, hoping we could scrounge up a welding rig. None to be found anywhere. Time was running out quickly, and I was just about to give it up as a lost cause.

But my talented and resourceful mechanic buddy dug out a large Phillips head screwdriver and, with a minimum of fuss, replaced the shift lever with the screwdriver. Worked just fine.

Form follows function...

#7 URY914

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 01:38

At the 1977 Daytona 24 hrs, a 911 destroyed it engine. The owner of the car also drove a 911 on the street and it was setting in the parking lot. Yep, you quessed right. They pulled the street car's engine out and stuck in the race car and finished the race.

#8 Ray Bell

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 02:51

Originally posted by JSF
.....The Ford works mechanic scoured the road for passing cars and stopped a passing civilian ;) who just happened to be driving a 3 litre Capri and asked if they could borrow his rear diff.....


Good job they didn't need a front diff!

#9 Phigr7

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 07:06

Originally posted by Pedro 917
.
The car was so far ahead that Pedro re-entered the race only 2 laps behind a Ferrari (can't check it but I believe it was the NART 312P of Posey-Adamowicz). One hour later, Pedro was back in the lead and won the race.

In was the Bucknum-Adamovicz's 512S

#10 Gary Davies

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 08:20

Not racing, but it got me out of a bind... Back in the early 70s it was, I was moving some important gear from the office in South Bucks to the company's nearly completed exhibition stand in Earl's Court. I had taken a well-used VW Combi from the car pool and time was against me. It started to rain somewhere around Slough (surprise surprise!), the wipers wiped a few times and then stopped, but the wiper motor appeared to be whir-whirring away happily enough. Of course, the gubbins behind the dash had fallen to bits. Time for the miracle.

I found that by twisting and pushing my left arm down, around and up (yes, I do only possess one wrist and one elbow per arm) I could - juuuust - reach a lever that was connected directly to the wipers. My chin, as a function of this contortion, was about 2 inches from the steering wheel rim by this time. Thus, I became a windscreen wiper motor as well as a driver. Well ... I was young and of course, possessed limitless skill in all things.

I made it, didn't crash and didn't have my collar felt by the constabulary. :cool:

Then there was the time the gear lever on a Hillman Hunter from the same car pool came out of its 'ole. Another story...

#11 Sharman

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 11:15

I was told a story and can't vouch for its veracity.
We were at Goodwood with one of the ex Jacobs Twin Cams (1 MTW) and used a local garage to do some work on the car. The foreman there told us about an American driver running a Corvette who blew his engine and happened upon a road going version in a carpark. He enlisted the help of this self same foreman and started to take the engine out of this "find" in the car park. The owner arrived to find the thing nearly out and, as he would, went berserk. The racer/owner said to the foreman "Take no notice get that f-----g engine out I'll deal with this guy" I don't know what it cost him but the road engine went into the racer and he duly competed in I think the TT. Somebody may have the entry lists and possibly the story can be confirmed.

#12 ensign14

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 11:32

NASCAR changed its rules in about 1979 to ban engine changes in mid-race. This is following an incident where Darrell Waltrip's mechanics managed to change one in nine minutes...

#13 Ray Bell

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 11:41

Originally posted by Sharman
I was told a story and can't vouch for its veracity.
We were at Goodwood with one of the ex Jacobs Twin Cams (1 MTW) and used a local garage to do some work on the car. The foreman there told us about an American driver running a Corvette who blew his engine and happened upon a road going version in a carpark.....


The 1948 Australian Grand Prix was run, as many were, in stinking hot conditions...

The surroundings had been burned off, it was an area totally exposed to the sun, no shade, hot runways, hot flat nothingness everywhere.

Ford V8s were notorious for boiling in such conditions, especially in racing. Many spectator cars were, it is said, awaiting the return of cylinder heads after the race, during which many heads were cracked.

#14 scooperman

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 13:38

not exactly an amazing achievement story, but it is about mechanics, so here we go.
In August 1953, my parents emigrated to the USA, after I was born they moved to Florida to stay with Mom's sister. Aunt Bea had a little house in rural West Palm Beach. She worked as a cook/domestic over on the island of Palm Beach. We lived in her house for a while, my father worked in construction, he needed a car so after a couple of months of saving a bit of money he bought a little Crosley. Then one day my aunt's employer, Miles Collier, showed up with one of his friends , Briggs Cunningham, they talked to Dad for a while, and then they jacked up his Crosley and took the rear axle away. Mom said they later brought it back and reinstalled the axle. My mother told me this story, so it must be true.

#15 petefenelon

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 15:54

I think the rejig of the active Williams FW12 to passive suspension in one overnight frenzy counts as a pretty good piece of mechanic/engineer miraclework - especially as "our Nige" managed to bag second with it.

#16 Ray Bell

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 16:52

Kevin Bartlett crashed his M10B at Sandown in practice for the Gold Star meeting in 1971... in the last practice session, naturally...

By race day Lugsy Adams had borrowed or bought (on credit, no doubt) all the bits needed from opponents etc and had resurrected the car. It was still having wheels aligned as it headed for the grid and started the race with Frank Matich's sponsor's name on the nose panel.

It won.

#17 sterling49

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 21:27

Originally posted by Ray Bell


Good job they didn't need a front diff!


:rotfl: :rotfl: :rotfl:

#18 D-Type

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 23:02

On the 1954 Safari, Vic Preston and DP Marwaha in a VW were in the lead after leaving Kampala to head back towards the finish in Nairobi. Then the splines of a rear hub sheared. Preston cut a deep "V" into the hub with a cold chisel, refitted the hub onto the driveshaft and rammed the chisel home as a key. They limped into Kisumu, which is on the shores of Lake Victoria, hoping to make a more permanent repair. in 1954 VWs were not that plentiful but they located one which belonged to a young lady. She was about to take a cruise on a lake steamer and was none too pleased to be woken at 6.30am by two distraught unshaven rally drivers wanting to borrow her rear hub. But they had the foresght to take the local VW agent with them who promised her a free repair so she agreed. having fitted the cannibalised hub, they went on their way having lost two hours. But they were well ahead of schedule and timed stages were very long and by the time they reached the finish at Nairobi they were unpenalised. So Volkswagen won the Safari for the second time and a legend was in the making.

Story Courtesy of Charles Disney's History of the East African Safari and repeated in Roger Barnard's Safari Rally - the first forty years

#19 Doug Nye

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 23:30

Duncan Hamilton and Masten Gregory co-drove the former's D-Type Jaguar '2 CPG' at Le Mans in 1957 (memory?) and an exhaust fracture burned a hole in the monocoque skin and began to attack the driver. In the pits Duncan's mechanics set about finding a fix, patching the tub to resist and deflect the exhaust blast and sending the car back into the race - to finish sixth (memory again?).

Some time after dawn the French police crew of an armoured vehicle parked behind the pits - presumably in case of a riot, you know what these naughty motor racing crowds can be like? - returned to their vehicle, and were seen to be examining it, absolutely thunderstruck.

Someone had oxy-arced a rectangular slab of armour plate out of its hull...

You can guess where that had gone.

The plate, energetically inscribed to commemorate the story, resides today with Duncan's son Adrian at Up Nately, Hampshire.

DCN

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#20 Ray Bell

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Posted 21 February 2007 - 23:42

Originally posted by Doug Nye
.....the French police crew of an armoured vehicle parked behind the pits - presumably in case of a riot, you know what these naughty motor racing crowds can be like?


Nahh...

They were there to make sure the money taken by the purveyors of fine frittes and hot dogs wasn't stolen!

And to get a free feed, of course.

#21 D-Type

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 00:36

Doug,

You mean an anecdote in Touch Wood is actually true! :drunk:

And on this occasion Masten finished two places ahead of Ed Hugus ;)

#22 seldo

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 01:35

I don't know where to start as there are so many, and several of them revolve around my late friend Norm Ellis who was a copper.
One time we were racing at Bathurst at Easter and one of my mates damaged the engine of his Cooper S in practise. We pulled the engine out and stripped it down at the local BMC dealer Barry Gurdon Motors (who was a legend in his own time and always supported the racing fraternity and gave us total strangers free and open accesss to his workshop around the clock). When the engine was stripped it was found to have several badly damaged pistons, so the word was sent around to try to find a set of +.020" pistons and rings....to no avail. But a friend in Sydney had a set of +040" pistons which we determined we'd somehow make do, and these were duly despatched and arrived about 4 hours later in the middle of the night. Norm, who had no machining experience at all, painstakingly set these up in the ancient 4-jaw lathe and after centring them by eye, and using a large shifting spanner as a set of vernier callipers, machined them down to suit. The car was rebuilt overnight and competed again next day.

On another occassion, I was racing a Dolamite Sprint (also known not so affectionately as a Dynamite....) at AIR in Adelaide. As per usual, the engine blew in Friday practise and I phoned Norm in Sydney and said to not bother coming down because of the probelm. (He had had to stay back an extra couple of days because of his work shift). As always, he said "Don't worry - he'd see what he could do...." He phoned late on the friday night and said that all was fixed - he'd "sourced" a new block and would be down on the first plane.
Sure enough, he arrived in the morning with a brand-new block as his "carry-on" baggage. Although he would never really divulge in detail the whole story, we gather that he went out to the Leyland facility at Liverpool in Sydney's west , and using his considerable charm and the authority of his Police rank, somehow managed to get the night-security blokes to give him a block from spare-parts "on the nod". The car was rebuilt and raced the weekend (but blew a head-gasket this time)....
Another time we blew a clutch at Albury's Hume Weir circuit. Again Norm came late because of his work shift, but arrived at the circuit on the Saturday chauffeuring Bob Jane and Johnny Harvey in the back seat of Jane's Mercedes 600 Grosser. (No, he'd never met either of them before, but somehow convinced them that he could get them to the track faster or some-such).... When we explained to Norm that it was all in vain since we had no spare clutch and there was no chance of finding a Volvo clutch in country Albury on a weekend, he disappeared in the crowd and "borrowed" a spectator's ute who was just arriving at the track. Norm returned about an hour later with a new clutch from an Austin Freeway (which fitted), having knocked up the local BMC dealer at home and got him to come and open up his shop.
An amazing man...RIP.

#23 jm70

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 02:14

Just a brief one to begin, as I haven't time for all of the.
Before I got really involved in racing, I was spectating at Riverside. There came a call over the PA for a cap and rotor for a 350 Chevrolet. As I was driving a Camaro at the time, I loaned them out.
Now I realize that what ever problem required the replacement could just as easily spoiled mine, and left me to walk home.
The second one, a bit later. I had purchased a new 68 BMW 1600, and the dealer was involved in racing a B Sedan BMW. Again, at Riverside, and the rain came. The crew had no rain tires, not feeling the need in Southern California. So I offered up my Michelin X's from the street car. They ran the race, but at this point, I am not sure that the original treaded race tires were much worse!
At a later time I will relate a longer story about rear diff's, repairs in a motel bath, etc.

#24 Ray Bell

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 02:33

What was it Merv Waggott said when he looked over the Dolomite engine?

It meant that Ron Missen was a miracle worker, he got one over the finish line regularly...










.....Of course, it might not have been the same as other Dolomites.....

#25 seldo

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 06:19

Originally posted by Ray Bell
What was it Merv Waggott said when he looked over the Dolomite engine?

It meant that Ron Missen was a miracle worker, he got one over the finish line regularly...


.....Of course, it might not have been the same as other Dolomites.....

Now that you have refreshed my memory Ray :
Merv, in his quiet sage-like fashion just shook his head sadly and said ...."Trust the bloody Poms.... 3/8ths of an inch of metal to hold the water in.....but only 60 thou to keep the power in...." :


....and you are right again....Missen's Dolomites were....ummm....a little different.... I subsequently drove them.... In fact, Hoddo (team owner Ron Hodgson) was so concerned about the risk of the whole team's disqualification if the Dolomites were failed at post-race scrutineering, and so withdrew us on race day morning from the '77 Bathurst 1000. Didn't matter as it turned out because the Morris A9X failed and the Rutherford/Guthrie car crashed (to their enormous relief since they had totally failed to come to grips with 'the Mountain').

#26 Ray Bell

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 07:11

I thought it was thirty thou...

I understand that there were bearings halfway along the axle shafts to keep them straight because they were so flimsy and so much was asked of them when the engines were at full power.

In fact, I saw them.

#27 seldo

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 08:38

Originally posted by Ray Bell
I thought it was thirty thou...

I understand that there were bearings halfway along the axle shafts to keep them straight because they were so flimsy and so much was asked of them when the engines were at full power.

In fact, I saw them.

All true....but that was only a small part of it.... Cooling system, front apron apertures (cooling), gearbox/o/drive so we had 7speed gear-box, sump baffling/windage tray, axles, weight etc etc....

#28 Buford

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 10:20

I once broke the spring steel strap on the Mini clutch plate. We had no spare and neither did any of my competitors. I thought I was done but my long time unpaid mechanic fixed a vice to the trailer, filed down and drilled a putty knife blade, installed it, and we won. Seemed like a miracle to me. Driving was the easy part.

#29 Lotus11Register

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 12:11

Hardly a miracle but an example of life when times were simpler. Nearly fifty years ago when Henry Grady (one of the makers of the BEGRA) was racing his Lotus Eleven on Florida's west coast, the A30 gearbox began to fail in practice. He knew it would never make it through the race. So he and his 'team' turned to Mrs. Grady's Morris Minor which was the also their tow vehicle. "I knew the gearbox wouldn't fit," Henry said, "but most of the guts were the same."

Working through the late afternoon and evening they removed the Minor's gearbox and stripped it right there in the sandy paddock. Then they rebuilt the box in the Eleven and had it ready for the big race. Keep in mind that they had only a limited number of hand tools with them. After the race, which they managed to finish, the Grady team reversed the process and put the good parts back into the Minor which they then used to tow the Eleven back home.

Mrs. Grady drove the Minor for several more years after that.

#30 bill moffat

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 12:21

If we are looking at true miracles then look to Le Mans rather than Lourdes.

Mid-race a damaged and unserviceable starter motor* is plunged into a tub of oily holy water to "cool it down". Seconds later the mechanic lifts the unit out of the water and it is cured and looks, ahem, almost new. Now that's a miracle....

* I think it was a starter motor, or was it some gearbox bits?.

#31 D-Type

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 12:32

Also at le Mans, there was the car that came to a stop out near Mulsanne with some mechanical problem. Under the regulations only the driver can work on the car using tools and spares in the car. So a mechanic was despatched to give advice. An official made certain that he stayed behind the rope and only told the driver what to do.

Now, this was right beside a race track that was also a public road so it is conceivable that bits might fall off cars and end up on the verge. So our intrepid driver took a walk along the verge and fortuitously found a spanner of the correct size and a piece that had fallen off an unspecified model of Citroen or Peugeot that just happened to fit where his car had broken ...

And the official surprised his friends thenext week by producing a bottle of a suberb single malt whisky.

#32 McGuire

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 13:48

Originally posted by Barry Boor
I am not absolutely sure, but I don't think we have ever had a thread wherein we elaborated upon amazing achievements by race (or other) mechanics.

Many of us must have experienced, or read, of such feats and I thought it might be nice to share them.

If I may be so bold, I will begin with this remarkable story from Paul Frere's book 'Starting Grid to Chequered Flag', published by Batsford Paperbacks, price 5 shillings.

To set the scene, he was practising for the 1956 Mille Miglia in which he drove a Renault Dauphine. A few miles from Pescara, on a recce lap, the gearbox started to fail. A small roadside garage was enlisted to 'help' sort it out. This is what follows:

"...the chief mechanic and two apprentices set about dismatling the box.

Despite the heat, I broke out in a cold sweat when I saw him removing, one by one, gear wheels, ball bearings, ball races, distance pieces, pins, keys, lock washers and I know not what else, without appearing to take any notice of the order in which they came out. Then, oh horror of horros, the lot was thrown pell-mell into a tin containing some petrol."


A cracked gear wheel was found and the decision taken to rebuild the box without that gear. He continues:

"After having allowed himself a half-hour rest at lunchtime, the mechanic replaced his glasses, readjusted his beret and began reassembling the box, scratching about for each part he required amongst the hundreds spread about on the bench. Carefully examining each one before putting it in, he did not make a single mistake and did not have to take apart any assembly which he had already done. For those who know the complication of the Renault five-speed gearbox, this was a performance beyond all description. Helped by a stooge, (sic) he worked like this until half-past one in the morning and only went home when the box had been completely assembled."

Priceless!


To me this is merely a case of attempted embellishment, writer's artifice... either that, or at the time the author was naive to actual car innards and much too easily impressed. Storytelling flourishes aside, this is just an ordinary tale of a mechanic repairing a transmission, and rather taking his time about it if you ask me. (From before lunch to half-past one in the morning? This was just ONE gearbox, right???) So he threw all the parts in one can, big deal. Only an amateur or beginner would need to lay everything out in order. No "miracle" here.

As a former mechanic, I have to say that often I have wondered just what motoring journalists thought they were going on about. :

#33 Barry Boor

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 14:52

:(

the author was naive to actual car innards and much too easily impressed.



So too the poster, apparently....

#34 James Page

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 14:59

Originally posted by bill moffat
If we are looking at true miracles then look to Le Mans rather than Lourdes.

Mid-race a damaged and unserviceable starter motor* is plunged into a tub of oily holy water to "cool it down". Seconds later the mechanic lifts the unit out of the water and it is cured and looks, ahem, almost new. Now that's a miracle....

* I think it was a starter motor, or was it some gearbox bits?.


Was it not an alternator? I think Vic Elford's book makes some mention of it. Good trick, anyway!

#35 Alan Cox

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 15:10

Originally posted by lotus23

Running the Lotus 23 in final practice, I managed to snap the gearshift lever, leaving just a small stub remaining. I managed to trundle back to the pits, hoping we could scrounge up a welding rig. None to be found anywhere. Time was running out quickly, and I was just about to give it up as a lost cause.



Gosh! Not the first failure of a Lotus 23 gear-lever that I have heard of. Last year, in one of the Gentleman Drivers races at Oulton Park, Jason Wright snapped the gear-lever in Michael Gans' ex-Ian Walker 23, but carried on to the finish.

Don't tell me that ACBC didn't use the most hardwearing materials in all of his constructions...........

#36 McGuire

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 15:19

Originally posted by Barry Boor
:(



So too the poster, apparently....


My apologies. In no way were my remarks intended to refect upon the poster, only on the author's point of view. The author is supposed to know more about the subject than the reader if the flow of information is to operate.

#37 MPea3

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 15:30

Aah, but not all of us are or were mechanics... :)

As a violin maker I'd like to think I know how to use my hands. Having attended Georgia Tech in mechanical engineering I'd like to think I can be analytical and understand how things work. I learned a LONG time ago however that when I work on cars it's best to keep thorough notes on disassembly, and mark parts and ziplock bags carefully. If I were to take that gearbox apart without my normal failsafe procedures, I'd be left with a pile of parts. I kind of envy those with the experience to do it so easily. I'm also impressed when I see it done, whether or not I should be.

#38 Sharman

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 17:05

Originally posted by James Page


Was it not an alternator? I think Vic Elford's book makes some mention of it. Good trick, anyway!



A bit too far up the line for alternators and for Vic who was still sitting mostly in the left hand seat at that time. it was a dynamo

#39 FrankB

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 17:44

Not motorsport related, but I was walking a haul road in a quarry where we had a lot of plant operating (nearly all Cat) when I found a yellow bolt that had obviously parted company with one of the machines. I rang the plant manager back at Head office, gave him the bolt dimensions and he instantly said that it was a suspension mounting bolt for a Cat D300 dumptruck. I ignored the other Cat trucks, and the second 300 that I flagged down had a bolt missing.

It certainly impressed, me given the number of locations that the bolt could have come from, that Dave could instantly identify which type of machine and which assembly to check.

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#40 frogeye59

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 20:02

So enthused by his first visit to the Revival, having attended the Goodwood Ball, Mr Sheen dropped his good wife at the hotel, changed and returned to the circuit to assist his mechanic with the rebuild of his bike, prior to the sunday race.

Here he is beavering away at around 7.30 in the morning still putting the finishing touches to the re-build.

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Not a mechanics miracle perhaps but a Legend who still adored his sport and grounded enough to roll his sleeves up and get stuck in. Respect. :up: :up:

#41 Ray Bell

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Posted 22 February 2007 - 20:40

Originally posted by McGuire
To me this is merely a case of attempted embellishment, writer's artifice... either that, or at the time the author was naive to actual car innards and much too easily impressed. Storytelling flourishes aside, this is just an ordinary tale of a mechanic repairing a transmission, and rather taking his time about it if you ask me. (From before lunch to half-past one in the morning? This was just ONE gearbox, right???) So he threw all the parts in one can, big deal. Only an amateur or beginner would need to lay everything out in order. No "miracle" here.

As a former mechanic, I have to say that often I have wondered just what motoring journalists thought they were going on about.


As a writer who often gets embroiled in the dirtier side of automotive usage, I have to agree that the speed at which the job was done wasn't impressive at all...

I do think that the man staying on the job all that time has some worth, however.

FWIW, a 5-speed Renault box in 1956 would indeed be a rare thing.

#42 JSF

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Posted 23 February 2007 - 21:33

It depends what was wrong with the Box, i've had one bitch of an LG500 that took me from mid afternoon to 3:30am to remove, strip, replace the crown wheel and pinion, set the lash etc. rebuild and then re-install in the car. It would normally take a couple of hours to do that, this bugger took ages because the main casing had gone out of true when the CWP exploded pushing the case sides out and it also stretched the diff unit so it was no longer round. Everything then becomes a big job because nothing lines up quite right, even getting the gear cluster back on is a nightmare as the shafts dont slide in easily. Boxes can be a real pig of a job when they feel like it. :mad: :D

#43 Ray Bell

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Posted 23 February 2007 - 22:27

I certainly hope it all came good when you next applied 400 ft/lbs of torque to the input shaft?

#44 fivestar

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Posted 24 February 2007 - 04:17

Suggest you read Alf Francis's biography. "Racing Mechanic". he seemed to perform miracles in the early post war races.

#45 ex Rhodie racer

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Posted 24 February 2007 - 08:01

Who was it that said, "never let the fact spoil a good story".
Lovely stories on here. Who cares if they are 100% accurate ?.
In my youth in Rhodesia, spare parts were hard to come by (they are even harder to come by today ;) ) and the mechanics had to be really inventive. Parts fitters they were not. :)

#46 JSF

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Posted 24 February 2007 - 19:53

Originally posted by Ray Bell
I certainly hope it all came good when you next applied 400 ft/lbs of torque to the input shaft?


Add another 100 and you are about there. :)

The car went great, started last on the grid and finished 7th.

The box needed a fair bit of work back at the workshop to rectify the problems though, it was very much a best effort setup to get it through the race.