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Slow but dangerous?


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#1 Doug Nye

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Posted 06 October 2021 - 12:59

Might anyone here have any idea what this might be, with its belt-drive and general air of sturdy dependability?  Another glass-plate neg just rediscovered...

 

GPL-EARLY-CYCLECAR-PRE-WAR.jpg

 

DCN



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#2 Vitesse2

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Posted 06 October 2021 - 14:14

Might these be the entire production of Alvechurch cyclecars from 1921? Brummagem registration, boat tail on the further car would suggest early 1920s.

 

https://www.gracesgu...ch_Light_Car_Co



#3 JacnGille

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Posted 06 October 2021 - 14:36

An early or first CVT transmission?



#4 Allan Lupton

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Posted 06 October 2021 - 14:54

Although Nick Georgano says 1911 for the Alvechurch, I think Vitesse2 may well be right. - V-twin engine, belt drive and "pram wheels" looks earlier than 1921

I think JacnGille may be onto something as it could be the system used on the Zenith-Gradua motorbike. That had one variable pulley and maintained belt tension by moving the back wheel and you could imagine the linkage supporting the rear axle in Doug's picture was similarly controlled.


Edited by Allan Lupton, 06 October 2021 - 14:54.


#5 Geoff E

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Posted 06 October 2021 - 15:52

OL registration was in use 1923-24, following OK and preceding OM. 

 

https://www.oldclass...trations/ol.htm



#6 Doug Nye

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Posted 06 October 2021 - 18:38

Hmm - by e-mail Scott Barrett of 'The Automobile' has just come up with chapter and verse...at least, he's convinced me.

 

But I won't spoil the fun unless he does, here.    :cool:

 

Really - what a leap of faith to invest good guineas in building machines such as this with a view to securing customer sales, fame and fortune...

 

DCN



#7 Bonde

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Posted 06 October 2021 - 19:46

Doug, all the more astounding when one considers how many tried their hand at selling cyclecars within that fairly narrow timeband pre an post WWI. I once set out to count the number of cyclecar makes listed in Georgano's Encyclopedia of Motorcars, but threw in the towel at about the 200 mark.

 

I must confess to having a weak spot for cyclecars - alluring and repulsive all in one. But if I could time-travel, being part of the cyclecar 'movement' is one of things I would love to try (pioneering aviation, the early days of Grand Prix racing, the roadster era at Indy, the early days of t500cc F3, early days of Formula Junior, early days of Formula Vee and early days of jet power are some of the others that I would visit in some way or other :-) However, my Time Machine would have to save me many times just the instant before I otherwise would've terminated myself :-))

 

An early or first CVT transmission?

 

In a sense yes, but they tended to have stops, notches or gates on the shifting arrangement so that a small number of discrete ratios (typically between 2 and 4) were available to the driver. Maybe to give it some "feel of a real motorcar"? But there probably were some that had a continuous selection.



#8 Odseybod

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Posted 06 October 2021 - 21:25

And if it rained and spray from the road surface made the belt wet ...?



#9 404KF2

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Posted 06 October 2021 - 21:32

...it would behave like any old DAF!



#10 Ray Bell

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Posted 06 October 2021 - 21:59

I think a closer look at the front suspension could be revealing...

 

It doesn't seem to align with the drawing in Speedy's quoted Alvechurch picture.



#11 Vitesse2

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Posted 07 October 2021 - 07:04

I think a closer look at the front suspension could be revealing...

 

It doesn't seem to align with the drawing in Speedy's quoted Alvechurch picture.

The picture is the company's earlier ALC.



#12 Doug Nye

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Posted 07 October 2021 - 07:38

Perhaps dig a little deeper into Birmingham-built obscurities...?

 

DCN



#13 cpbell

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Posted 07 October 2021 - 17:35

Whatever it is, it cannot be any more obscure than this:

 

https://www.youtube....h?v=2RlKXqmk2js



#14 Doug Nye

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Posted 07 October 2021 - 17:39

Quickest part of that one appears to be the steering ratio.   Highly-strung, in fact.

 

DCN



#15 Odseybod

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Posted 07 October 2021 - 17:55

I'd say it has the huge bonus of sounding like an early Anzani aero engine (and it's probably just as difficult for the untrained ear to tell if it's misfiring).



#16 cpbell

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Posted 07 October 2021 - 18:14

Quickest part of that one appears to be the steering ratio.   Highly-strung, in fact.

 

DCN

It was sorted and was subsequently much more controllable.


Edited by cpbell, 07 October 2021 - 18:14.


#17 Dipster

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Posted 07 October 2021 - 20:38

I'd say it has the huge bonus of sounding like an early Anzani aero engine (and it's probably just as difficult for the untrained ear to tell if it's misfiring).

 

 

I was expecting to see plod arrive to give them a hard time.............

 

PS. Off topic but thinking about taking that out on the road does anybody remember Jenks piece about him taking a Lotus F2 out on a Christmas day? And getting away with it? Probably wouldn't have got 10 feet nowadays........


Edited by Dipster, 07 October 2021 - 20:41.


#18 Bonde

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Posted 07 October 2021 - 20:54

And if it rained and spray from the road surface made the belt wet ...?

 Yep - 't'was very clever!

 

Automatic torque limiting device to prevent wheelspin in the wet  :cool:



#19 DouglasM

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Posted 08 October 2021 - 07:34

The ingenuity of engineers on full display with this contraption. The more I look, the more I'm intrigued. The axle casing has a 'dog clutch' on the left-hand side which is moved by the screw adjustable rod, but what's its purpose?. The cables and pulley wheels somehow move the axle and therefore adjust the wheelbase. I don't think this fitted in with the ethos of the cyclecar. 



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#20 Charlieman

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Posted 08 October 2021 - 09:19

The asymmetry of this device is hard to follow! However I suspect it is less complicated than it looks.

 

I think the rear pulley is in constant rotation and the clutch on the left disables drive. [edit: clutch next to front pulley, not on axle.]

 

The longitudinal cables running over the leaf springs may be brake cables. That suggests the wheelbase is constant unless there is a fascinating brake compensator mechanism which we can't see.

 

The drive belt looks too thick to be leather (rhinoceros hide?) so perhaps some rubber composite which provides a bit more stretch.

 

No differential so who cares about wheel spin in the wet!

 

The front pulley plates probably have a dish or surface finish which we can't see in the photo. The RHS plate is probably fixed laterally and the LHS plate moves. 

 

The strange rod connected to a crank on the rear axle appears to be an adjustable tensioner using the two four eared wing nuts by the front pulley.

 

Wheels and electrics look early 1920s. This car didn't stand a chance when the Austin Seven arrived.


Edited by Charlieman, 08 October 2021 - 09:20.


#21 Allan Lupton

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Posted 08 October 2021 - 09:41

. The cables and pulley wheels somehow move the axle and therefore adjust the wheelbase.. 

I think that's the system I referred to in post 4, above, as used for the Zenith-Gradua motorbike
 



#22 robert dick

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Posted 08 October 2021 - 09:56

Obscurity assembled at Birmingham in 1920, a Gerald:

ger.jpg
 



#23 Doug Nye

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Posted 08 October 2021 - 10:43

Predictably spot on from Robert.  This previously received from Scott Barrett of 'The Automobile':

 

P1120329.jpg

 

P1120330.jpgBARRETT-MWW-GERALD.jpg

 

We have a considerable number of old negatives depicting this kind of obscurity, but they only rarely emerge from my customarily chaotic safe keeping.

 

DCN


Edited by Doug Nye, 08 October 2021 - 10:44.


#24 absinthedude

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Posted 08 October 2021 - 11:04

When my late father was restoring his Morgan F2 three wheeler, he took it out on the road for a few "skirmishes" well before  he took it to get an MOT or had it insured. Had to test it, you see. This would be 1992. Luckily no boys in blue about, fairly quiet street in Letchworth Garden City...though there was a road running race which was taking place on the same day, unbeknown to us. I stood lookout and armed with a cine camera to record the historic occasion of the car's first foray under it's own power since 1964, dad reversed into the road and before you know it a bunch of runners come around the corner and literally take no notice...



#25 2F-001

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Posted 08 October 2021 - 11:19

Whatever it is, it cannot be any more obscure than this:

 

https://www.youtube....h?v=2RlKXqmk2js

If you'll excuse a little off-topic diversion - that Robinson appears again (in a slightly more refurbished state) in this little film about the Festival of Slowth cyclecar gathering:

 



#26 cpbell

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Posted 08 October 2021 - 15:48

If you'll excuse a little off-topic diversion - that Robinson appears again (in a slightly more refurbished state) in this little film about the Festival of Slowth cyclecar gathering:

 

Thanks!  I know a gentleman who assisted in improving the steering geometry in order to make it safer.



#27 mikeC

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Posted 09 October 2021 - 07:45

Charlieman suggests the Gerald stood no chance once the Austin Seven arrived; I would suggest it stood no chance against the likes of the Jowett 7 or Rover 8, long before the Seven appeared!



#28 robert dick

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Posted 09 October 2021 - 15:38

Wondering if the Gerald used this type of variable pulley, invented in 1917 by W. B. Dunbar of Sydney, Australia:
http://cnum.cnam.fr/...89/90/196/2/191

... and
if there was a connection between the Gerald Engineering Co. of Birmingham and a Gérald company of Paris.
The "Société Anonyme des Établissements Charles Gérald" had shops at 74 Rue du Commerce, Paris 15ème (Grenelle),
and had on offer reconstructed BSA motorcycles and Ruby-engined cyclecars.

Advertisement published in Moto Revue/Paris, 15 September 1923:
chger.jpg
 



#29 Vitesse2

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Posted 09 October 2021 - 18:39

The Gerald Engineering Company doesn't seem to have lasted long - the first post-Great War phone book for Birmingham was published in 1921, but there's no sign of a company of that name. Not conclusive, of course, as it may just have been part of another enterprise, but we do at least seemingly know where they were based, so reference to an old commercial directory might provide further clues.

 

My gut feeling would be that it's just coincidence though.



#30 Charlieman

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Posted 10 October 2021 - 15:00

Charlieman suggests the Gerald stood no chance once the Austin Seven arrived; I would suggest it stood no chance against the likes of the Jowett 7 or Rover 8, long before the Seven appeared!

Whilst being post WWI, the Gerald shared characteristics of pre-war cars. The cars which succeeded in the vintage era, including the Austin Seven, were built using war knowledge -- materials science and production engineering. 

 

Anything more about Dudley Taylor? My web searches have been unproductive.



#31 Vitesse2

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Posted 10 October 2021 - 15:48

Whilst being post WWI, the Gerald shared characteristics of pre-war cars. The cars which succeeded in the vintage era, including the Austin Seven, were built using war knowledge -- materials science and production engineering. 

 

Anything more about Dudley Taylor? My web searches have been unproductive.

I wonder if he might have been a solicitor? The scans Doug has posted give a postal address of 7 New Square, Lincoln's Inn for the Gerald Engineering Company. Not the normal sort of locale you'd expect for a car company. Although it could just be an accommodation address of course.



#32 Henk

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Posted 10 October 2021 - 17:39

His full name was Frederic Dudley Gerald Taylor

(engineer; 148 Salisbury Road, Moseley, Birmingham)

 

https://worldwide.es...?q=pn=GB162378A



#33 Vitesse2

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Posted 10 October 2021 - 18:11

His full name was Frederic Dudley Gerald Taylor

(engineer; 148 Salisbury Road, Moseley, Birmingham)

 

https://worldwide.es...?q=pn=GB162378A

Born in Lambeth first quarter 1891. I've also found both his marriage and his death. Married in Luton 1925.

 

Died September 28th 1939 at Royal Bucks Hospital Aylesbury. The day before the 1939 Register was compiled. Home address was then Fox and Hounds Inn, Pottesgrove, Bedfordshire. He was the pub landlord.

 

https://bedsarchives...eSheepLane.aspx

 

His widow took on the licence, doesn't seem to have remarried and died in 1994, just short of her 90th birthday.

 

The pub is still in business.

 

https://www.vintagei...flyingfoxwoburn



#34 Geoff E

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Posted 10 October 2021 - 18:27

German Patent-

Bicycle drive with automatic variator and continuous controller e.g. for bicycle drive, has pedal shaft and tensioner with movable part connected to driving disk by large thread connected to pedal shaft

https://patents.goog...2006009615A1/en

 

US Patent-

Gearings for conveying rotary motion with variable gear ratio, or for reversing rotary motion, by endless flexible members without members having orbital motion using belts, V-belts, or ropes engaging a pulley built-up out of relatively axially-adjustable parts in which the belt engages the opposite flanges of the pulley directly without interposed belt-supporting members using two pulleys, both built-up out of adjustable conical parts

https://patents.goog...atent/US2609700


Edited by Geoff E, 10 October 2021 - 18:29.