My Poti Is Quite Flexible And Useful

Last week I posted a story showing the World War II Royal Air Force navigator’s map reading light that I have and that I used in one map reading rally.  After trying and fabricating several map reading potis I settled on a simple poti that I modified so that I can fit it anywhere with any scale in a matter of about five minutes.  This is useful because one local rally uses a map with a scale that is not commonly used.  My poti is shown below.


My Poti

My poti came with an open bottom that rests on the map.  The reading lens has a diameter of about 90mm and provides two-times magnification of the map.  The handle on the left side of the poti is useful to me because it frees my right hand to make notes.  Because it has an open bottom I was able to piece together a homemade scale bar that I can add to the poti in order to estimate distance on the map.  I can change the scale to suit any scale used by the rallymaster or that matches the maps being used.  Below I show the scale bar that I made for the 1:150,000 scale maps that I have collected for the Monte Carlo Rallye Historique. Each major line represents a 1.0 kilometre with the shorter lines representing a 0.5 kilometre.   Note that there is a set of lights that ring the inside of the poti which can be turned on to greatly aid reading the map in night rallies and be useful during day time map reading as well.  The unit draws its power from a cigarette lighter power plug.

Poti Showing Scale

My Homemade Scale Device

I can add a second scale on the opposite edge of the bar if two map scales are required, therefore I have complete flexibility.

Another feature of this poti is an access hole on the right side of the poti.  This is shown below.

Poti Map Access Hole

Map Access On Side Of Poti

With this access hole I can insert a pencil into poti which allows me to add marks, notes, or distances to the map without removing the poti from the map.  Having a small scale bar maximizes the open area where I can add information to the map.

Poti With Pencil

Pencil Can Be Inserted To Mark The Map If Needed

The image below shows how distances can be estimated using this device.  These images were taken in the darkness, only using the light from the poti.

Poti along D2565

Example Of Estimating Distance On A Map

Some roads, such those in the area of the legendary Col de Turini shown below, are so crooked that distances are hard to measure, but intelligent guesses can be made as you get used to the map length of a kilometre.

Poti at Col de Turini

Some Roads Are Too Crooked To Easily Use The Measuring Scale

I am very pleased with my poti.  It has all of the features and flexibility that I need to meet the challenge of any rally.

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My New Stopwatch And Clock Accessories

Several weeks ago I purchased a Smiths Rally Clock on eBay from David Scothorn who does business on eBay under the commercial name “autonavia”.  In addition to forwarding the Smiths Rally Clock, he included two rally clock mounts and a Chronos battery-powered time-of-day clock.  I posted a message about the Smiths Rally Clock on September 21, 2015.

An interesting aspect of the mounting plates is that watch decals have been added to each mounting plate.  The single clock mounting plate is shown below.

Clock Mount Single

Single Clock Mount

This single clock mount is a 2-1/4″ x 2-1/4″ x 3/8″ metal block that is pre-drilled for a four-bolt mount onto a dash or a navigator’s rally board.  The block will suit a typical stopwatch.  The decal on the block is more visually interesting than a plain metal block if the clock is removed from the car between rallies.

The double watch mount is 4-4/8″ x 3-1/8″ x 3/32″ is not pre-drilled which provides for the maximum flexibility to the driver for mounting options.  David provided some Velcro with the mounts.  This double mount includes real size decal images of a Heuer Master Time Clock and a Heuer Monte Carlo stopwatch.  I have a Heuer Monte Carlo stopwatch, but I do not have a Heuer Master Time time-of-day clock.

Clock Mount Double

Double Clock Mount

I have not yet decided on the final use for these clock mounts, but I have several clock that could use these mounts, therefore I know they will be used.

The package from David Scothorn also included a very nice Chronos Classic time-of-day clock.  The battery-powered clock has a 43mm diameter face which is big enough to be easily read in the cockpit of a car, yet small enough to be easily located.  And it looks great!

Chronos Clock

Chronos Time-Of-Day Clock

The Chronos Classic clock needed a mount.  I wanted a mount with a flat back that the Chronos clock would fit into, so I fabbed something up with some pieces of Lexan that I had on hand and some hand tools.  The result is shown below.  I will likely rebuild this mount in the future with better materials and fewer pieces to improve the quality, but I have established my basic approach.

Chronos Clock In Mount

Chronos Clock In Mount

The clock is set into the homemade mount using Velcro.  This way I will be able to easily remove the clock to access the crown stem in order to synchronize the clock with the event clock.  I also added Velcro to the back of the mount so that I can locate the mount by using either longer screws or the Velcro to a car’s dash or on my rally board.  As I navigate in rallies in various cars and circumstances, mounting flexibility is very important to me.

I like the idea that this is a battery-powered clock as it keeps time a little better than a wind-up clock.  I am pleased that I have this clock.

For David’s contact information refer to my post about the Smiths Rally Clock on September 21, 2015.

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The Original Rally “Poti”?

A few years ago I was looking for a magnified map reading light that I could use in an upcoming rally.  I ended up buying a map reading light that apparently was used by Royal Air Force bomber navigators during World War II.  This map reading light is shown below.

Navigator Light (3)

World War II RAF Bomber Navigator’s Map Reading Light

It is an interesting piece of equipment to have in my navigator’s toolbox, however I only have used it in one rally.  I now have a modified “poti” that I prefer to use in rallies where it is necessary to follow a course shown on a map.

The map reader has a rotating switch at one end that can be used to turn on and modulate the intensity of the light in the reading lens.  Holding this map is very much like holding on to a typical flashlight.

I have wondered if these bomber navigator lights were the inspiration for famed English rally navigator Don Barrow who has successfully developed, marketed and I believe named the classic English “poti”, which is a rally staple for many English navigators.

Navigator Light (9)

The Map Reading Light Is Powered By “D” Batteries

This reading light has an 80mm (3 inch) diameter magnified lens with a slight magnification, say a two times magnification.  The light has several concentric circles or rings each separated by 1 centimeter.  These rings can be used to estimate distances.

Navigator Light (12)

The Rings Are Used For Measuring Distance

Recently I have been collecting Michelin maps for the Rallye Monte Carlo Historique.  These maps have a scale of 1:150,000.  As the space between the circular rings is 1 centimeter, then the distance on the map between each line is 1.50 kilometres, or just under 1 mile.  The image below shows one of these Michelin maps of an area north and west of Monaco as seen through the RAF navigators map reader.

Navigator Light (15)

The Light Is Very Useful For Map Reading And Estimating Distances

As can be seen in the above image, the map reader makes it rather easy to see the map and estimate distances.  The light has a slight orange tint to it, but I think that this results from a bulb and electronics from 70 years ago.

As I stated earlier, it is an interesting and useful piece of equipment to have on hand that might have inspired the “poti”.

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2015 Mercedes-Benz Day At Larz Anderson Museum

Last Sunday two organizations that I belong to – the Mercedes-Benz Club of America and the Larz Anderson Museum of Transportation held a Mercedes Day at the Larz Anderson Museum in Brookline, Massachusetts.  I had the pleasure of attending this event.

Mercedes Benz Day Poster 2015

There was a wide range of Mercedes-Benz cars there, all from the post-war era.  I have picked out a few photos of the some of the more sporty cars from among the gathered cars.

The 170S Cabriolet shown below was the sporty version of the modest Mercedes-Benz 170 line of the late 1940s and early 1950s, but it only had 52 horsepower.  This car retained a lot of the elegance of the pre-war Mercedes-Benz cars.  The suicide doors are a nice design style on this car.

M-B 170S (1)

Early 1950s Sporty Mercedes-Benz 170S Cabriolet

While the Mercedes-Benz 300SL cars get most of the attention, the more modest Mercedes-Benz 190SL, as shown below, was the Mercedes-Benz sports car in the 1950s for the masses.  In recent years these 2-seat sports cars have significantly increased value as the more desirable but visually similar Mercedes-Benz 300SL cars have reached prices only affordable to hedge fund managers.

M-B 190SL (1)

Mercedes-Benz 190SL

In the 1960s Mercedes-Benz updated the SL range to the 230SL, the 250SL, and finally the 280SL.  I have shown a picture of a 280SL that was at the Larz Anderson show.  All of these cars had in-line 6-cylinder engines that with each model got a little bigger.  The 280SL which was produced from 1968 to 1971 had a 2.8 litre engine that produced 170 horsepower.  These cars have a very stylish look to them.

M-B 280SL (1)

Mercedes-Benz 280SL

The Mercedes-Benz 280SE from the early 1970s shown below looked great with the coupe design.  This car had a 3.5 litre V8 engine that produced 200 horsepower which provides reasonable performance for full size car.

M-B 280SE (1)

Mercedes-Benz 280SE

In the 1980s Mercedes-Benz modified the SL model line and this culminated in the Mercedes-Benz 560SL as shown below.  I have fond memories of the Mercedes-Benz 560SL cars as Harald von Langsdorff and I won our class in two Northeast Rally Club rallies with Harald’s 560SL.  The 560SL had a 5.6 litre V8 engine which produced 227 horsepower.

M-B 560SL (1)

Mercedes-Benz 560SL

There were some modern Mercedes-Benz sports cars at the Mercedes Day as well.  The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG shown below clearly takes design cues from the older Mercedes-Benz sports cars. The SLS AMG is capable of accelerating from 0 to 62 mph in 3.8 seconds, and can reach a top speed of over 190 miles per hour. The SLS AMG can also post a quarter-mile time of 11.7 seconds at 125 mph.


Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG

As a Mercedes-Benz owner I found the Mercedes Day to be very interesting and a little inspiring.  It also was a demonstration that Mercedes-Benz has been making good cars for a long time.  As Mercedes-Benz founder, Gottlieb Daimler, reportedly wrote: “The best or nothing at all.”

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Sebastien Loeb To Compete In 2016 Dakar Rally

During the 2014 Dakar rally I predicted on this website that 9-time World Rally Champion, Sebastien Loeb, would be competing in the 2015 Dakar Rally.  Well I was wrong, and at the start of the 2015 Dakar Rally, I admitted to my mistake.  It now turns out that I was only wrong by one year, as it has been announced that Sebastien Loeb will be competing in the 2016 Dakar with the Red Bull Racing Team driving a Peugeot.  This something of a surprise because Loeb has driven Citroens almost exclusively since he started his WRC career.

Seb Loeb In Dakar

Sebastien Loeb Will Compete In The 2016 Dakar Rally

Sebastien Loeb will join Peugeot’s other three drivers from this year’s Dakar Rally – his former Citroen WRC teammate Carlos Sainz, 11-time Dakar winner Stephane Peterhansel and Cyril Despres, a five-time champion of the motorbike category who converted to four wheels for last year’s Dakar.  In last year’s Dakar Rally Peugeot had a rather poor showing with Peterhansel taking the marque’s best finish in 11th, while Despres had a 34th place finish and Sainz retired.  Loeb will give Peugeot a very experienced driver who I think will be able to quickly adapt to the Dakar Rally.

Loeb will also see another former WRC competitor in the Dakar who will also be competing at Dakar for the first time.  Mikko Hirvonen will be driving a Mini in the 2016 Dakar Rally.

Mikko Hirvonen Dakar

Mikko Hirvonen Will Be In a Mini At The 2016 Dakar Rally

The event will mark the cross-country rally debut for the 34-year-old Finn, who walked away from his 13-year WRC career after the 2014 season, having finished runner-up in the drivers’ championship four times and recorded 15 rally wins.

There is a long history of former WRC drivers competing in the Dakar Rally and most of them have done quite well.  I expect nothing less from Loeb and Hirvonen.

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Frank Jenkins Is Selling His Sunbeam Alpine At The Upcoming Hershey Auction

Frank Jenkins of Massachusetts is going to be putting his 1954 Sunbeam-Talbot Alpine Mk. I Special up for sale at the upcoming RM Sotheby’s Action in Hershey, Pennsylvania on October 8 & 9, 2015.  I have seen this car up close and have made several posts about this car over the years as it is a special car.  The following is the description of the car that accompanies the listing.  The car has a stock number of HF15_r161.

To be OFFERED AT AUCTION WITHOUT RESERVE at RM Sotheby’s Hershey event, October 8-9, 2015.Estimate:$ 45,000 – $ 60,000 US97.5 bhp, 2,267 cc OHV inline four-cylinder engine with a twin-choke Solex carburetor, four-speed column-shift manual transmission with overdrive, torsion-bar front suspension with coil springs, rigid rear axle with semi-elliptical leaf springs, and four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 97.5 in.

  • Rare “Special” model, of which less than 100 were built
  • The only example painted black by the factory
  • Formerly owned by noted rally driver Patrick Vanson
  • Thoroughly restored and documented; just 43,000 original miles

Hemmings 50231784-770-0
Frank Jenkins’ 1954 Sunbeam Alpine

In 1935, the Rootes Group acquired Sunbeam-Talbot-Darracq, which produced the Sunbeam-Talbot automobiles. In 1953, at the urging of George Hartwell, a Sunbeam-Talbot dealer, the company introduced the Alpine, a one-off rally car designed to compete at the Monte Carlo and Alpine rallies in Europe. These cars consistently won with legendary drivers such as Stirling Moss, Sheila van Damm, and G. Murray Frame behind the wheel. The Alpine Special was fitted with a 2,267-cubic centimeter Mk I engine, albeit with an enhanced 8.0:1 compression ratio to deliver higher output. It included an alloy rocker cover and Siamese exhaust ports, along with a special induction manifold fitted with a twin-choke Solex carburetor. It made approximately 98 horsepower. Just 1,582 Alpines were produced between 1953 and 1955, of which 921 were exported to the United States and Canada. According to the consigner, less than 100 examples were equipped with the specially modified “Special” engines, and of those, 42 were produced with left-hand drive. Each car was hand-built in the U.K. by Thrupp & Maberly.In the mid-1950s, the Rootes Group shipped a fleet of Sunbeam Alpines to the United States to participate in the Great American Mountain Rally created in the Catskills to mirror the success of the European rallies. This car was shipped to the United States on March 22, 1954, and according to Patrick Vanson, a successful rally driver in Europe, this Alpine was likely part of that endeavor, although this car was never raced. Vanson then purchased the car, which he called “Black Beauty,” in 1955 and drove it on a 6,000-mile tour of the United States. He then sold the car before returning to Europe the following year. Included with the car is correspondence with Vanson as well as a copy of the factory production manifest, which shows that this is the only Alpine painted black at the factory, as standard Alpine colors included Alpine Mist, Coronation Red, Ivory, and Sapphire Blue. In 1961, this Sunbeam Alpine was acquired by Bill Landefeld for his daughter to commute to college. The current owner was a farmhand on the Landefeld family farm in Unionville, Pennsylvania. In 1970, the Alpine was stored in a barn since it was no longer being used. There it sat until 2000, when it was decided to restore the car for the daughter’s 50th birthday. The restoration, a full, body-off project, was performed by Steve Cota of Lyme Pond Restoration in Barnard, Vermont. Photo documentation and detailed invoices are included on file. According to the consigner, the engine has 43,000 original miles and still runs strong and smooth. It retains the original four-speed column shifter with overdrive. The interior and top have been completely redone with original-style leather upholstery and mohair top. Since restoration, the Alpine has been shown at the 2007 Lars Anderson British Automobile Show, earning 1st place, and at the 2007 British Invasion Show in Stowe, Vermont, earning 2nd place in the Concours d’Elegance division. To Catch a Thief, starring Grace Kelly and Cary Grant, featured an Alpine gracefully maneuvering through the French Alps. Just imagine recreating your own such tour in this spritely Sunbeam-Talbot! To view this car and others currently consigned to this auction, please visit the RM website at

Good luck to Frank at the auction!

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New Dakar 2016 Route Announced

Just a few weeks ago the government of Peru announced that it would no longer be part of the 2016 Dakar.  As a result of Peru’s withdrawal, the Dakar organizers had to quickly come up with a new route that did not include Peru.  The event starts just after the new year on January 3, 2016.

The organizers have now come up with a revised route for 2016.  This new route, completely within the countries of Argentina and Bolivia is shown below.

Dakar Route 2016 Revised

Revised 2016 Dakar Route

The organizers are to be congratulated for coming up with a new route so quickly.  Given the characteristics of land used for the Dakar I am confident that the revised 2016 Dakar will be as challenging as all of the previous Dakar events.

For more information on the 2016 Dakar check out the event’s website:


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