My MGB Moves On To A New Life In New York State

Saturday was a big day in our house – we said goodbye to our 1978 MGB.  It had sat, largely ignored, in our garage since 2008.  I had driven the MGB daily for about three years when I parked it in the garage in 2008 to fix the brakes.  To give me something to drive while I fixed the MGB, I bought a 1988 Merkur XR4Ti.  I loved driving the Merkur with its turbocharged power and so the MGB repairs began to slip further and further down the project list.

The final straw came when about three years ago I bought a Mercedes-Benz 230SLK.  This gave me a little two-seat, convertible sports car that I could just jump in and go.  The need to fix another little two-seat convertible sports car became an even lower priority and I knew in my mind that I would never fix the MGB, although in my heart wished that I would.

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The MGB Saw The Sun For The First Time In Seven Years

Over the years there had been some near-deals for the MGB, but no money ever changed hands.  Recently, Bill Pellenz made a post on a MGB forum that I occasionally look at saying that he was looking for a hardtop for a MGB.  I responded to his post saying that I had a hardtop for a MGB that I would sell, but the buyer would have to take the MGB car that was attached to it.  Bill was interested and we agreed on a deal and Bill with his partner Barbra showed up on Saturday with a trailer to pick up the MGB.

The car was sold on an “as is, where is” basis, with the guarantee that if the car breaks into two pieces, then Bill owns both pieces.

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Bill and Barbra Are The MGB’s New Owners

The tires were down a little but they held air with when we filled them up.  It turns out that three of the four wheels still rotated.  The fourth wheel eventually began to roll after we used a come-a-long to get the car out of the garage.  With some effort we got the car onto Bill’s trailer.

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It Will Need Some Work To Get The MGB Back On The Road

The car will need considerable work to get it in top condition.  I am not exactly sure what the new owners will do with the car, but they appear to be very appreciative and knowledgable about MGB cars.

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And Away It Goes To A New Life In New York State

I told Bill that I was going to hold onto the MGB service manuals that I have because you never know if I might buy another one someday …. I saw a nice MGB GT V8 during my recent trip to Germany.

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The Langwell Rally Odometer

Recently I bought a Langwell rally odometer.  Or at least I have what I believe to be a Langwell rally odometer, but I think that I have an early model of the Langwell rally odometer. There are no distinguishing markings that identifies the brand of the odometer.  The Langwell rally odometer was a Canadian rally odometer based on a modification to a Halda odometer.  It appears that my version of the Langwell is still in large measure a Halda odometer.

Haldex first entered the rally market in the mid-1950s with the introduction of the Halda Speedpilot.  The first Halda Speedpilot was a 4-knob model that was an odometer and an average speed calculator.  The advertisement below from Road & Track in 1957 shows that the Halda Speedpilot was new to America at that time.

Early Halda Speedpilot Ad

An Advertisement In Road & Track Magazine In 1957

While the above advertisement is from Nisonger Corporation, one of the other early marketers of Halda products was John Burns through Burns Industries.  Later Bob Radford started selling Halda equipment also, under his company “Bob Radford Enterprises”.  He captured some market share due to his association with SCCA.  Later Vilhem B. Haan, in California, also started importing Halda and Heuer.

I do not know when the Halda Speedpilot was first used in major car rallies, but I have found a mention in Sheila van Damm’s book “No Excuses” that she along with navigator Anne Hall had won the ladies’ class of the Norwegian Viking Rally in 1955 using the Halda Speedpilot.  As a result of that success, the entire Sunbeam Team used the Halda Speedpilot during the 1956 Monte Carlo rally.

Sunbeam Team Monte 1956

The Sunbeam Team At The 1956 Monte Carlo Rally

It is somewhat surprising that the Halda Speedpilot, with all its complexity, predated the familiar and less complex Halda Tripmaster and the Halda Twinmaster.  The Halda Tripmaster and Halda Twinmaster were first made available in Canada in 1964.  The following advertisement announcing the Tripmaster and the Twinmaster appeared in Canada Track & Traffic in 1964.

Halda Ad Dec 1964 CTT

Advertisement From Canada Track & Traffic 1964

Before the Tripmaster and the Twinmaster, Halda made an odometer that was used in cars to measure distance, primarily for commercial drivers.  These early Halda odometers are sometimes referred to as the Halda Tripmeter.  One of these units is shown below.

Early Halda

A Halda Tripmeter

The following is a photo of the Langwell rally odometer that I have.  The display numbers are quite large which makes the odometer very easy to read.

Langwell Rally Odometer (1)

My Langwell Rally Odometer

My Langwell rally odometer looks like it is relatively simple addition/modification to the base Halda Tripmeter.  The knob on the right side of my unit controls the direction of the odometer display rotation.  Leaving the knob pushed in will cause the odometer display values to increase with progress of the car.  Pulling the knob all the way out will cause the displayed value to decrease with progress of the car.  This feature is useful for recovering from off-course excursions.  There is a mid-position that disengages the odometer display from the odometer drive gears and therefore allows the navigator to adjust the value shown in the odometer display.

The “wing-nut” knob on the left side of the Langwell odometer can rotated to reduce the odometer display to zero.  This cannot be done instantaneously and navigators should allow 3 to 7 seconds to re-zero the odometer.

The knob on the lower right with the yellow notching is used to calibrate the Langwell rally odometer.  I will have more on this further in this post.

If I rotate the Langwell rally odometer, then the original Halda tripmeter can be more clearly seen.

 Langwell Rally Odometer (2)

The Base Halda Tripmeter Can Be Clearly Seen

If you look back at the original Halda tripmeter and compare that with my Langwell, it can be seen that the original white knob and its function is not used on the Langwell unit.

By twisting the unit around the original stamping from Haldex can be seen in the photo below.  The official Haldex Type is not clear because of the hole drilled in the unit.  It appears to be a Type NR, HR, or RR.  Perhaps someone can identify the proper type description.  It is interesting to note that it looks like the original Halda serial number has been ground off at some point in the odometer’s history.

Langwell Rally Odometer (4)

Original Halda Stamping

The Langwell rally odometer calibration dial can be seen by looking at the bottom of the unit as shown below.

Langwell Rally Odometer (3)

Langwell Rally Odometer Calibration Dial

The Langwell rally odometer is calibrated by selecting the correct calibration number from the calibration dial.  The selected value can be adjusted by rotating the yellow notched knob on the front of the unit.  The calibration approach is similar to the Halda Speedpilot which eliminates the need for navigator to carry around a set of gears as is needed for the Halda Tripmaster or the Halda Twinmaster.  Also this approach can allow for fine tuning of the calibration to suit current conditions.

This calibration method is the real strength of the Langwell odometer.  The Halda Tripmaster and Halda Twinmaster have discrete calibration steps based on the number of teeth on the calibration gears.  The Langwell odometer has a continuous calibration method which will allow Langwell odometers to be fine tuned to be “dead-on” calibrated.  This continuous calibration capability was eventually added to the Halda Speedpilot.  My Halda Speedpilot Mark V has a knob in upper right position which allows for the continuous fine tuning of the unit’s calibration.  Some say that this modification to the Halda Speedpilot came from seeing what the Langwell odometer could do.

The brass fitting shown on the left side of the image above shows how the drive cable is connected to the Langwell rally computer.

Walt Kammer of the Buffalo area of New York State has a Langwell rally odometer, but his is much different from mine.  Walt’s Langwell, shown below, appears to be a much more finished design and I suspect that it is a much later version of the Langwell rally computer.

Langwell Walt Kammer

Walt Kammer’s Well-Used Langwell Rally Odometer

The knob on the right front controls forward, no-count, reverse function.

The knob on the left front is the calibration adjustment knob for factor.  Walt used to intentionally remove the knob from that shaft to lower the odds of it getting shifted with a pant leg or something or being grabbed by accident instead of using the forward/reverse knob.  The left adjust knob rotates only.  The right function knob when pushed in like in the photo is counting normally causing the displayed odometer value to increase, pulling the knob out one position is neutral, and pulling it all of the way out is reverse.

The round plastic knob on the right side is to add or remove miles manually.  The wing nut when rotated will zero the unit.

Walt’s unit has some internal lighting, but my unit does not have any self lighting capability.

Walt’s unit has a fully developed, integrated look to it, while my Langwell has the look of two joined separate pieces of equipment.  Functionally the two units are similar, except that my unit has a five-digit display as compared to Walt’s four-digit display.

I found an article in the March 1966 issue of Canada Track & Traffic about Lloyd Howell one of the developers of the Langwell rally odometer.  This article is shown below.

Lloyd Howell

Article From Canada Track & Traffic March 1966

Walt Kammer did not recall and has never seen a “manual” or any documentation for the Langwell rally odometer.  Frank Langdon and Lloyd Howell basically built them to order and most times they had one or two sitting on the shelf in the shop mostly to respond to competitor rush deals when someone broke the one they had.  Walt said that they were both cool guys and fun to have on events since they were both characters, although with dramatically different personalities.

Thanks to Walt Kammer for his input into this post about the Langwell odometer.  I look forward to using my Langwell odometer sometime.  If anyone can add to or correct the information here about the Langwell, then I would welcome hearing from you.  You can contact me via email at: shanna12 at comcast dot net

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Kawasaki W1 – An Early British-Themed Japanese Motorcycle

Recently there have been a couple of comments on my website that mentioned the Kawasaki W1.  This was an early Kawasaki motorcycle, introduced in 1966, exported to the USA and other counties that was based on a design based on the British motorcycles of that era.

Kawasaki W1 (2)

An Early Kawasaki W1

Kawasaki began to produce small engines that were used in other motorcycles in the early 1950s.  Eventually, by 1961, Kawasaki was making its own motorcycle and they subsequently joined up with Meguro Manufacturing, who was also making motorcycles, to make what eventually became the Kawasaki motorcycles line.  Kawasaki began to market motorcycles in the USA in 1964 following the successful lead of Honda.

In 1966 Kawasaki introduced the W1 with a vertical  2-cylinder 624cc engine.  This motorcycle had the largest engine in any Japanese motorcycle at that time.  The design of the motorcycle and the engine were based on existing BSA motorcycle designs.

The engine had a single Mikuni carburetor and was coupled to a 4-speed transmission.  The shifter is located on the right side of the motorcycle which was the style for British motorcycles of that time.  Nowadays all shifters are located on the left side of the motorcycle.

The Kawasaki W1 shown below is a later model which is distinguished from the earlier models as the later models had the gauges integral with the headlight bezel.

Kawasaki W1

The British Design On The Kawasaski W1 Influence Is Substantial

A somewhat updated model, the W2SS was introduced in 1968.  The W2SS was a little more sporty design, but still had the same 624cc engine, but with two carburetors.

Kawasaki W2 Advertisement

Kawasaki W2 SS Advertisement

The Kawasaki W2SS was also available with upswept exhaust in addition to the “pea-shooter” exhaust shown here.  This model was known as the W2TT.   As noted, the Kawasaki W2SS had two Mikuni carburetors.  The original Kawasaki W1 was dropped after 1968, but there was a followup model known as the W1SS.

Kawasaki W2SS

A Kawasaki W2SS

The Kawasaki W1 and its derivatives were not particularly commercially successful.  The line was dropped after 1971.  Most people decided they would rather have a real BSA motorcycle as compared to a Japanese bike that looked like a BSA.  This was a time when the Japanese reputation for build quality was just being established and the British idiotic self-destruction of their motorcycle industry had not yet been fully discovered by the outside world.

I don’t recall seeing a Kawasaki W1 in person and I don’t think that there are many still running in the USA.  The images and information used in this post came from the following sources:

  • The Illustrative Motorcycle Legends: Kawasaki by Roy Bacon
  • Pictorial History Of Japanese Motorcycles by Cornelis Vanderheuvel
  • Standard Catalog Of Japanese Motorcycles 1959 – 2007 by Doug Mitchel
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The 2016 Paris-Vienna Rally Looks Like A Good One

Last week I got a booklet from the Rally Round folks with the entry information for the Paris-Vienna Rally which will be held from June 13 to June 18, 2016.  Obviously the route starts in Paris and ends 5 days and 1,950 kilometers later in Vienna.  This rally is inspired by the initial Paris to Vienna rally held in 1902.

The categories of car classes in this rally is quite broad and there is a place for cars made up to 1968.  There is a Pioneer Class for cars made prior to 1906, Veteran Class for models in production between 1906 and 1919, Vintage – 1920 to 1929; Pre-War – 1930 to 1940; and Post-War – 1945 to 1968.

Paris Vienna 2016

Below is a map of the route of the 2016 Paris-Vienna rally.  The Rally Round folks have selected some interesting nightly stops and the route looks good.  Overall, it looks like it will be a great rally.

Paris Vienna 2016 Route

The Route Of The 2016 Paris-Vienna Rally

If you want more information on this rally I can provide some information by contacting me via email (shanna12 at comcast dot net) or you can contact the Rally Round folks via email at the following address: info@rallyround.co.uk

You can also check out their website at www.rallyround.co.uk

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Random Photos From My Trip To Germany

I was looking at some of the photos that I took during my recent trip to Germany and thought that I would pick out some photos related to some of the things that we did during the trip rather than some of the more straight forward car photos that I usually post.

Part of Harald von Langsdorff’s purpose for going to Germany was that he was doing a European delivery of a 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA AMG car.  This is a smaller Mercedes-Benz with 4-wheel drive and a 2-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with 355 horsepower making it accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 4.8 seconds.  The low miles on the engine kept us from opening this car up.  Once it is broken in, this car will be a quite a ride.

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Harald & Gil von Langsdorff With Their New Mercedes-Benz GLA AMG

Because Harald was picking the car up in Germany, the Mercedes-Benz folks organized a tour for us of the Mercedes-Benz factory in Rastatt.  They had a nice customer welcome center and treated us very well.  In the welcome center they had a Mercedes-Benz Formula 1 car on display.  It was nice to get a close look at one of the Silver Arrows.

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Mercedes-Benz Formula 1 Car

After the tour, the folks from Mercedes-Benz wanted to see Harald’s 1958 220S Cabriolet and get a photo of it along with his new GLA AMG.

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Harald’s 220S and GLA AMG and Our Group At The M-B Factory in Rastatt

In the picture above, our group included from left to right, Klaus (a classmate of Harald’s from engineering school), Harald, Gil, their son Sebastian, Peter Spitzer, and John Geist.  Peter and John are members of the Toronto Section of the Mercedes-Benz Club of America, where Harald is the president.

In preparation for the rally Harald and I got his 220S car scrutinized for use in the Baden Classic rally at the local soccer club facility in Michelbach.  At that facility they had a restaurant where Harald and I thought that we would get some food and a beer.  I decided to get an American-style hamburger.  They had three sizes – a 200mm diameter, a 280mm diameter, and a 350mm diameter burger.  I decided to get the small hamburger as shown below. I never bothered to ask if they served fries with that.  Even though it was the small size, it was the biggest burger that I had ever seen!

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The Hamburger Was 8-inches Across!

The hamburger had bacon on it, but because of the size of the burger, it had about 6 or 8 strips of bacon on it!  For comparison purposes, I placed my Swiss Army Knife beside the plate.

Much of the route of the Baden Classic rally was through the Black Forest area of Germany.  I was generally too busy navigating to take photos of the route, but in one place we had a rather straight-forward route instruction where I was able to get my camera out and get some quick photos.

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Some Scenery Along The Rally Route

The roads were quite good and usually had lots of curves.  All of the roads were paved and many of the roads were narrower than the road shown below.

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View Out The Windshield During The Baden Classic Rally

After the rally was over, Gil, John, and Peter, as well as others were there to greet us in Michelbach as shown below.

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Scene At The End Of The Rally

While we were in Germany we stayed in a castle – a real castle, the Alte Schloss in Baden-Baden.  The front door of the castle is shown below.

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The View Out The Front Door Of Our “Castle”

For a couple of nights we had the whole place to ourselves!

These were a few of the non directly related car photos that I took during the trip.  It was a great trip especially when combined with taking part in a car rally.  Later I will have pictures of the rally, our trip to the Jim Clark Historic Revival at Hockenheim, and our visit to Carl Benz’ original workshop.

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Our Baden Classic Teammates Share Victory

As I noted in a recent post, in this year’s Baden Classic rally Harald von Langsdorff and I were part of a three car team that won first place in the Overall team category.  In that brief post I did not mention the other team members that contributed to our combined victory.  The other team members were the teams of Anton & Rosemarie Singler and the team of Wolfgang Stracke & Fabian Mohr.

Anton & Rosemarie are regular competitors in the Baden Classic and usually have finished near the top of the class.  They drive a light green Renault R8 that wore number 37 in this year’s event.  The Renault R8 is a car with successful rally history.

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Anton & Rosemarie Singler’s 1965 Renault R8

These rear engine cars handle well and have disc brakes on all wheels.

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The Singler R8 Is A Regular Competitor In The Baden Classic

Our other teammate was the Mercedes-Benz 450SLC of Wolfgand Stracke/Fabian Mohr.  These fellows won the Sporting Class in 2014 as evidenced by being designated as Car #1 for this year’s Baden Classic.

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Wolfgang Stracke’s And His 1980 Mercedes-Benz 450SLC

I particularly like the look of this car as it has an overall look that looks very appropriate for a dedicated Mercedes-Benz rally car.

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The Wolfgang Stacke/Fabian Mohr Mercedes-Benz Looks Great!

Many thanks to these teammates for letting us be part of the team and congratulations on having great finishes!

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North American Entries In The 2015 Mille Miglia

The organizers of the 2015 Mille Miglia have announced the provisional starting list for this wonderful car rally.  There are still a large number of blank spaces in the provisional starting list so I expect that additional names will be revealed at a later date.  Many North Americans were fortunate enough to have been selected from the hundreds of entries to take part in this prestigious event.  This is quite an honor.

The following is an initial listing of the 2015 American and Canadian entrants, based on the provisional starting list.

 North American Entries

Number              Driver                                     Navigator                           Car

54 David Eichenbaum Scott Crater 1929 Chrysler 75
58 Jim Swartbaugh Gregory Dillon 1929 Chrysler LeMans
61 Pablo Stalman Fernando Sanchez 1929 Buggatti T40
62 Richard Lisman Clifton Fink 1929 Aston Martin Le Mans
79 Marzio Villa Maria Cristina Abello 1931 Ford Model A Roadster
93 Oriol Vilanova Shawn Till 1933 8V Spider
99 William Binnie Heather Binnie 1933 Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 Monza
116 Tom Kazamek Debra Kazamek 1935 Delahaye 135 Sport
158 Thomas Smith 1947 Healey Elliot
200 Luca Pascolini Joe Bastianich 1950 Healey Silverstone
225 Spencer Croul Thomas Rofles 1951 Lancia Aurelia B20
227 Sylvia Maria Antonietta Oberti 1951 S.I.A.T.A. 300 BC
240 Gerald Woodward 1952 S.I.A.T.A.
266 David Cecchele Charles Andrew Beam 1953 Fiat 1100
272 James Taylor 1953 Jaguar C-Type
274 Jeff Urbina John Recca 1953 Alfa Romeo 1900
303 Bradley Tank 1954 Lancia Aurelia B20
317 Jeff Lotman Brian Grozer 1954 Lincoln Capri Sport Coupe
318 Kim McCollough Mitch McCollough 1954 Jaguar XK120 OTS Roadster
328 Theo Bean Ann Coffey Bean 1954 Ferrari 500 Spider
358 Jean Claude Chalhoub Margherita 1955 Porsche 356 1500
360 John Karubian 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL
362 Jonathan Savage Julia Savage 1955 MG A
364 Kenneth Roath William Story 1955 Ferrari 250GT
367 Mark Behaegel Lorraine Rosenblum 1955 Fiat 8V Zagato
371 Nicholas Brayshaw Warwick Bond 1955 Austin Healey 100S
405 William Warner Frank Campanale 1956 Studebaker Golden Hawk
420 John Devine Westley Pietz 1956 Ferrari 500 Spider
439 Carl Gustav Magnusson Jay Loren Cross 1957 Abarth Fiat 750
448 Peter Fodor Mory Ejabat 1957 Alfa Romeo 1900

If any of the North American entrants want to ensure that their car gets pictured along the route and that they can track down a photographer, then let me know and I can put you in touch with an Italian photographer.

The 2015 Mille Miglia route and the arrival times of the first car are shown on the following image.

roadmaporariv2.pdf2015 Route And Lead Car Timing

For more information about this rally please check out their website at: www.1000miglia.eu

I think that it is every car enthusiast’s dream to be able to compete in the Mille Miglia at least once.  I will have more about this rally in the upcoming weeks.

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