Following a recent Facebook item on KB's Brabham BT 43 F5000 I would like to add my contribution. As Bob Paton will recall, I was employed by MRD in the winter of 1972/3 as a detail assembler of production parts for BT 41/42s. My main task was to put the "Brabham" touch onto parts bought in for outside suppliers... Jack Knight steering racks, setting up the discs and calipers on the Hewlands, fitting bearings to front and rear uprights and so forth. I was racing a Palliser WDF2 Formula Ford and it just so happened that some of the parts were very similar to earlier Brabham bits. I recall that Bob allowed me to refurbish the Palliser's steering rack along with a tranche of BT41/2 racks. The rack had been bent in a prang at Oulton Park and I needed to rebuild the car in time for the first FF Festival at Snetterton where John Leffler, Larry Perkins and Bob Skelton had come over to contest the FF World Cup at Brands. Ex patriat, Buzz Buzaglo and I made up the five Aussie drivers at Snetterton. That event was in August-September 1972 so I must have been employed at MRD then.
To come to the point of connection with the BT43 I was asked to fettle the Hewland which had been removed from the ill-fated and only once-tested BT39 Brabham Weslake which had lain in the Mill shop.
Now, at the time I was probably aware of the specifications of that particular gearbox but time fades the memory. This is jogged by the follwing entry from Sanderson's Brabham lineage website:
"Brabham BT39 – Produced 1972 – 1 made
Formula One car based on BT38 chassis but fitted with Weslake V12 engine and Hewland FG400 gearbox. Tested but not raced."
So, if this listing is correct, it was an FG400 which I had on my bench.
Later information suggests that the BT43 had a DG300 Hewland. KB and I have had some deep and meaningful discussions on this point over recent years and if the above information is true then I can only surmise that the FG was replaced by a DG by the time he drove the car in Australia.
This chart shows the specifications for the main types:
"The following is the list of larger product range up to 1981.
"Hewland Design", bespoke casing, alternative to ERSA Knight
5 speed version of HD
"Large Gearbox" for Indy, internal oil pump
All new HD5, big seller
4 speed LG, LSD or 'Power-Loc' for CanAm
FT gears with LG diff. for DFV
5 speed LG500, longer bearing carrier, for F5000 and CanAm
"Different Gearbox", LG diff., internal oil pump, for F1 and sports cars
Second generation of LG, for Indy
Second geneneration of LG600, new case, selector rod and diff.
Second generation of DG300
Second geneneration of FG400, for DFV
Lower ratio FGA, larger case for bigger diameter gears, for high rev. turbo F1
Higher torque version of DG300 Mk.II, stronger case, for sports car endurance
I also assisted in mahandling the BT42 aluminium tub to which had been grafted a pair of triangular-shaped crushable-structure panniers. I remember that a pair of tubes had been set inside these and the whole shebang was stood on end so that expanding foam could be poured into the cavities. There was probably extra fuel tankage included in the set-up.
In the early summer of 1973 my wife, Gaye, and I set off to contest the Europameisterschaft FF. We carried the Palliser in an ex-BA aircrew Bedford bus and raced at Zolder (2nd), Hockenheim (6 or 7th), Mainz-Finthen (5th), Djurslandring-Denmark (dnf punted off by a Swede), Osterrichring F1 meeting (2nd and into the lead of the championship), Anderstorp (4th), Brands Hatch GP (9th) to end up just one point behind the winner, Hans Binder. Binder won a fully-supported F3 car and went on the race in F1. Bernie Eclestone was with his F1 team in Austria and, encouraged by Peter Windsor, I asked BE if I could assist in the F1 race pits. Bernie clapped me on the shoulders and congratulated me on my performance in the support FF race. He offered me a "test drive" in the experimental narrow-track "works" F3 car. Although I rather triumphantly returned to the factory from which I had taken leave of absence for a seat fitting, the planned test day at Silverstone was cancelled. Shortly afterward, Bernie closed down the shop and the workers "let go." That would have been around August 1973.
Gaye and I went home to Australia, I set up a "learn-to-drive" school, took a position with Max Stahl's Racing Car News as the advertsing manager (Hi Ray), worked with Peter Wherrett's advanced driving school (sometimes alongside KB) and eventually Gaye and I bought out the PW interests and ran Nationwide Defensive Driving School and Peter Finlay's International Racing Drivers' School until 2010.
We brought the Palliser home and I raced it for two more years, the second of which in 1975 was with the Grace Bros-Levis' team when I repeated my "bridesmaid" performance by claimining a close (1 point) finish to young Paul Bernasconi. Paul went to the UK and worked for Ron Tauranac at Weylock while running an F3 Ralt.
In 1992 I returned to my roots in Hillclimbing with one of the school's Formula Fords (the Mawer) and won the NSW state title as a hat trick in 1994,5,6. I took a couple of glorious runner-ups in the Australian Hillclimb Championships (the second of which was in the "works" Pilbeam MP62 at the Esses course on Mount Panorama. A three-event sortie to the UK with the Pilbeam team at Shelsley Walsh, Loton Park was a most enjoyable return to racing in the UK in 1997.
My last Hillclimb car was the ex-James King March 77B F3 re-tubbed chassis (C2) (ex- Paul Hamilton et al)) fitted with a 2 litre YBM mit der kompressor and running Motec on methanol. Noisy but too heavy.
I retirement I occasionally provide high-end chauffeur services and regularly fly a 3-metre wingspan model glider fitted with an "electric thermal" in the nose. My website is : www.planeimages.smugmug.com where some of my aviation photography is displayed amongst other things.