More technical reminiscences
Oh what memories your letters page evokes! It’s hard to remember that so many cars from the 1950s and 1960s had no synchros on first – or sometimes any – gear. There were Fords with three-speed gearboxes, Morris Minors with four on the floor, and if I remember correctly, Sunbeam-Talbot recommended in its handbooks that first gear was only to be used in an emergency. You were most definitely not supposed to set off in first every time, otherwise the gearbox would suffer and fail.
These days, the art of double declutching is probably as relevant as using your hand signals – it is becoming a lost art. I can remember having a Morris Minor in 1963, and having to do that at every give way junction, and all around the back streets.
In an Austin A35, the big end bearings would wear rapidly – that doesn’t happen any more. Good job it was easy to do, with clear access to the sump. I also seem to remember that if the crankshaft was wearing out(!), the shells would show more wear on one side. The piston rings mentioned in the Top 10 1950s
icons feature ( CCW, 20 January) would not be Corded. Cords? A very popular aftermarket brand years ago, which unlike ordinary replacements, had steel spring bands inside them, which once the pistons had descended down past the wear ridge at the top of the bore, expanded to give a better seal against oil burning. You also got better compression.
These were very popular back then, as it was a substantially cheaper option than getting a full rebore. You’d also be less likely to need all-new pistons, either. It has to be said that they could be a good temporary bodge for unscrupulous traders to get rid of cars with worn engines.
There were clearly no consumer rights back then. Or the small claims court! It was bought as seen, tried and approved!
DS Boyes, Leeds, West Yorkshire