Unipower and Leonides questions

Unipower MH 8875 bridge layer – photo Neil Millington

We are pretty good at answering car related questions, but even with the help of ex-Alvis employees we were not able to answer the following two questions – can you help?

From Keith Roberts:

Q. Having long been an enthusiast of Alvis military vehicles I was pleased to find your web page. My interest falls between automobiles and the armoured vehicles of Alvis, to be exact my interest relates to the Alvis-Unipower trucks. Do you have records related to the MH-660 or MH-8875 trucks produced in the 1990s and if not, can you suggest where such information may exist? Many thanks for any help you can give.

A. Martin Wickham says the design work was done by Unipower at their Greenford site and they were built in the Walsgrave factory. The vehicles went into service with the Royal Engineers, and their museum at Chatham may well be the place to seek further information. We will ask our Followers if they have any information on these vehicles.

Neil Millington found this link to Unipower history

Also…..

From: John Hay-Heddle

Something over 50 years ago I read an article in “Autocar” I think. It was about the work of an emigre French aerodynamicist who came to Britain in WWII to escape the Nazis. He had a theory about using a specially designed exhaust system to boost the power and fuel efficiency of aero engines. The Government was sufficiently interested as to allot him an ALVIS LEONIDES engine to experiment with. He designed and kitted it out with tuned exhaust pipes – one for each cylinder – which looked very like those designed by Walter Kaaden for racing 2 stroke motorcycles. The article reported that he obtained a 10% or better increase in power output and an approximately equal improvement in fuel efficiency.

At the time of the work described and of the writing of the article, there were no electronic aids to perform the calculations needed, nor to test the results of these calculations.  The calculations had to be performed with pencil and paper using slide-rule and log-tables, aided and abetted by blood, toil, tears and sweat and many gallons of midnight oil.

Eventually, satisfied that his calculations, he made up his prototype system.  For the 9 cylinder engine it required nine separate exhaust pipes.  Because this was difficult, time consuming and expensive, and because there was no means of performing mathematical modelling of the interplay between all the salient dimensions, the resulting pipes were all built like trombones; adjustable in all salient dimensions.  For weeks, if not months, he carefully adjusted all the dimensions against each other and recorded the results until he came up with an optimised set of dimensions.

These produced: –

  1. A useful (10% from memory?) increase in power output
  2. A useful reduction in fuel consumption per unit of power produced (again about 10% from memory.) In other words one got an extra 65 BHP from the same fuel consumption as observed in the unmodified engine.
  3. A stunning reduction in noise level.  It was reported that with the motor running at full power one could easily hear the tappets working.  This would have been immensely useful if used on an aircraft like the Westland Lysander employed for inserting and evacuating S.O.E. operatives into and out of occupied France.

What then happened bordered on farce.  He reported his findings to the Ministry who sent assessors down to examine his system.  It seems that, not being content simply to test his optimised set-up, they insisted on playing with the adjustability of the dimensions.  The result was that they so stuffed the operation of the motor that it simply would not run!  Our Frenchman then berated them in lurid French – “Vous foux, imbecilles Anglais” being among the more repeatable terms of abuse he used for their stupidity – and he stormed out “In a truly Gallic huff!”  (The words in quotes are exactly as used in the article.)

What subsequently happened to the Frenchman and his work is unclear, except that the latter was never acted upon.  That is until Walter Kaaden independently resurrected his work 20 years later for use on racing two-stroke motorcycles.

I think you will agree it is a fascinating story, and worth the while of the Alvis Archive to resurrect if you can find it.  Please feel free to edit my account and add it to the archive as an un-documented recollection – even though I can personally vouch for the accuracy of the general thrust of the story as a retired research scientist.

 

 

 

 

New photos from the past

 

We always appreciate receiving old photographs of Alvis cars when they were new and not so new which help complete their history. Some interesting ones have come our way recently.

We also like viewers who appreciate seeing the photos we post and make contact with us. Mike Newbery who joined the AOC in 1965 spotted a Crested Eagle he owned and after exchanging a few emails he sent some period shots of 12893 Crested Eagle which in part ended up in a special, and some photos of the other cars he owned. 12893 Alvery – see comment from Charles Mackonochie


12082 Speed 20 Lancefield which was of interest to the current owner

12082 more recently

Mike also owned 14426, a Speed 25 now in chassis form with an AOC member, 14639 the well known, ex Ken Day, Speed 25 FLP 75 currently for sale and TA21 24919, MON 647 which may have been scrapped but was offered for sale in 1997.


Andrew Wisdom kindly sent this picture of the plate on his Silver Eagle

W.E. Challice was the Alvis agent in Cannington, Somerset.  His daughter, Wendy Lamacraft who owns a TD21 and a 12/50, sent TD21 Model Secretary Jonathan Huggett several photos from her personal album of post-war cars when they were new.

LYD 995 “1951 North Hill, Minehead, Somerset. Me with father.”

Eileen Goddin confirms that the photo showing a maroon Fourteen Saloon is of chassis 23763, which left the Factory 23/05/1950, one of the later Mulliners, Body number M1739, delivered to W.E. Challice. The first owner shown was Kraft Productions of Cornborough Place, Bridgewater, Somerset, wicker product manufacturers. Where is it now?

“KDU 439 Cannington Somerset. Outside Father’s garage W. E. Challice Ltd.”

Malcolm Kindell says “This is a great piece of Alvis history. The second production car, which I believe was one of the cars sent to Geneva Motor Show in 1950 as either the show car or the demonstration car. Later used for road test reports in motoring magazines in the 1950s.”Note the spare wheel tray on this early model.

Wendy had been browsing on the Francis Frith online database of historic photos and discovered a TD21 on this image

W. E. Challice is recorded as the agent to whom the TD21 chassis 26741 (8279 RW) was delivered.  Interestingly it had previously spent about nine months as a works car and appeared in publicity material. Last heard of with the late Ted Halliday it has not been licensed since 2006. Where is it now?

Lastly, FVC 897D is a 1966 TF21 chassis 27375…..

“W. E. Challice My father with the hat on”

Could the man of the left be Rowland Simmons?

Last heard of in the Netherlands in 1994, where is it now?

 

 

 

 

 

Newby Hall pictures

One of the north’s biggest gathering of classic cars included a wide range of Alvis from 1924 to 1967 entered from several clubs at Newby Hall, North Yorkshire…

2931 1924 12/50 200 mile racer
8436 12/50 8251 Silver Eagle and 2931 12/50 racer
8251 1930 Silver Eagle TB 16.95
8599 12/50 OY 294
9314 12/60TL UB 8680
9425 Speed 20 SA – Chris Taylor explains the niceties of the early Speed to Hugh Westlake
12898 Crested Eagle BXR 853
4 cylinders
15459 1270
15459 12/70
22556 MPH 926 TA14 Carbodies dhc
26162 and 26187 TD21s
26482 TD21 JB 3945
26948 TD21 Series 2 and 26181 TD21
Look! 27026 TE21 MHJ 674
27459 TF21 and 11260 Speed 20

 

Continental rallying news

The 24th Pays de Fougères international rally on 25-28 May 2018 brought together 180 crews from a dozen-odd European countries, as well as an entrant all the way from Thailand. For the first time, the rally was chosen by FIVA (the Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens or international federation of historic vehicles) as one of the 10 venues where a FIVA Best Preserved Vehicle award is presented. Paul Chasney scooped the FIVA Best Preserved Vehicle award with his remarkable Alvis TF21 Graber Super from 1966, one of the last six bodies made by the famous Swiss coachbuilder Hermann Graber. However, the judges (veteran FIVA steward Rainer Hindrischedt and FIVA VP Communications Gautam Sen) were hard-pushed to choose between the Alvis and the superb 1959 Lancia Flaminia saloon of Claude-Michel Perseil, which was the close runner-up. Picture: 1966 Alvis TF21 Graber Super; photos courtesy of Guillaume Nédélec; backdrop is the Château des Rochers-Sévigné, the XVIIth Century home of the Marquess of Sévigné, a woman famous for her letters to her daughter, Countess de Grignan, with gossip from the court of Louis XIV, the Sun King

The following weekend the 2018 Graber Treffen was held in the Valais region of Switzerland, for some photos click GT 2018

The same weekend four Alvis took part in the 22ème NEUCHATEL CLASSIC du 2 juin au 7 juin 2018 La route de la « Grande Bourgogne » led by Daniel Fischlin in his Speed 20

Yves Honneger’s 4.3 Offord
26552 TD21 Park Ward – Dominic Fischlin
25942 TC108G Graber – Steve Horne

Some historic pictures have been added to the site of the 1975 International Alvis Day when the Swiss invaded with Grabers and cheese, click 1975

Alvis Days

The 2018 International will be reported in the upcoming AOC Bulletin.

Sixty years ago a full report was written up in the Bulletin but there were no photographs. With the benefit of the extensive photo archives we hold we can now bring you the report with photos and extracts from the programme. Click on 1958 National Alvis Day.

We also have several albums of Section Alvis Days.

For a report on the Midland Section day held in Trentham Gardens click on 1991 Midland Alvis Day

We cannot always recognise the cars and location in the photos we have – can you help with this one?

Where, what, who, when, why?

None of this would be possible without photographers ….

Bill Fryer – photographer photographed

Alvis entries in the Tulip Rally

The first Tulip rally was in 1949 and during the 1950s there were some Alvis entries. In 1954, Lincolnshire farmer J W E (Bill) Banks drove a TC21/100 saloon, 25385 registered MTM 1 to 6th place. Mr Banks was notable for becoming the UK distributor for the Dutch shock absorber manufacturer, Koni, fitted as standard by Mr Graber for his creations.

In 1955 Trevor Boothroyd with “Young Ron” Walton on board managed 83rd place in MLY 913 which survives in the custody of Peter Milne. The story of the search for “Emily” is told in AOC Bulletin 455, January 1999 and also appears in the 50th Anniversary Collection by Newby and Fletcher.

24312 MLY 913 Tulip
24312 – Peter Milne’s TA21 Tickford DHC enjoyed a past life as a Rally car in the Tulip Rally, evidenced by the extra windscreen mounted light and holes in the rear bumper where extra reversing lights were fitted.
1955 Tulip Rally Number 52 – photo Trevor Boothroyd via Peter Milne

In 1956 it was entered once again

1956 Tulip Rally Number 99
1956 Photos by Trevor Boothroyd via Peter Milne

Our Netherlands correspondent reports five Alvis among the Alfas, Volvos, Porsches etc. in the 65th Tulip Rally of 2018 see https://www.tulpenrallye.nl/competitors2018/?lang=en which starts on May 7th in the south of France

Racing drivers and innovations

Much new material has been added this month with articles on Major Harvey, Sammy Davis, innovations of the 1930s, and the 1999 Brooklands Exhibition.Photo galleries have been added for each item so that some previously published black and white photos can now be seen in colour.

The Crested Eagle was first to have ifs and a synchro gearbox. A pristine lubrication chart has been scanned, courtesy of Eric Ody, to add to the data on this model.

And as if there were not enough attractions at Bowcliffe Hall, another new one has flown in….Click on these links to open the new pages…..

Major Harvey

S C H (Sammy) Davis

Synchromesh Gearbox

Independent suspension

Crested Eagle Lubrication Chart

1999 Brooklands Exhibition

Rivers Fletcher

Among the many files we hold in the archives is one marked “Rivers Fletcher Photos” and they came to the top of the pile for scanning. Some are easier to identify than others and here are the ones we need help with….

rivers fletcher collection to identify
rivers fletcher collection to identify
rivers fletcher collection to identify
rivers fletcher collection Speed 25 Charlesworth Dhc

More of Rivers’ Speed 25 photos have been added to the Speed 25 page, click here

rivers fletcher collection 14317 4.3 EGT 51 13367 Speed 25 BVC 834 -where are they now?

A new page has been added to Alvis People, click on Rivers Fletcher


A selection of detailed photos taken by Tony Phillips-Smith of an SB Speed 20 Vanden Plas have been scanned by Chris Bluer and can be seen on the SB page, together with some photos from the new owner of the March Special in its restored condition and David Salter’s latest acquisition, click on BKP 564.


Some reproduction Vanden Plas plates are available from Steve Horne, click on VDP


Some new detail on the construction of the Three Litre prototype 3L2 has been revealed from the George Moseley collection which is held by the W O Bentley Memorial Foundation. Will Morrison has written an article on Harold Radford coachbuilders in the Bentley Drivers Club Review of February 2018 which also features the Speed 20 of Archie Scott-Brown.


The Silver Eagle of the month can be seen by clicking on Silver Eagle

Today’s the day we were at Bowcliffe

A new expanded page is now available, click T G John

John Kelly drove his TD21 from Salisbury to join some thirty others who had come from as far as Kent, Essex and Oxford to join us

Five Alvis braved the salty roads including John Foster in his Fourteen and Charles van Ingen in his TE21 from Cheshire.

Tim Perks in his TC21/100 and Hugh Westlake in his TD21 joined us from Lincolnshire

Our new Persian carpet – thank you Veedon Fleece!

Oldtimermesse St Gallen

Walter and Ralph Schwarz flying the Alvis flag at Oldtimermesse St Gallen

Followers of http://www.Zwischengas.com may have spotted an Alvis umbrella in the report of St Gallen’s Classic Car Show, but no mention of any Alvis. However your roving reporter saw some and also bumped into several Alvis owners visiting the show in the rain. Inside the hall was an SA Speed 20 and an advert for a Fourteen woody, not seen in the UK for some time. Outside in the rain Rolf Huegli had brought his TD21 four door. Have you visited the Fourteen website? It has a new post about Le Mans, click on Fourteen

10074 SA Speed 20 MG 2269
TD21 four door Graber
TD21 four door Graber

On the same trip further Alvis related visits are described in Jottings and details of a Graber TC108G are in Cars seeking new custodians