Ah, yes, Joseph Lucas, the "Man that invented Darkness"...
I used to have a soft spot for English cars, but was finally cured of this affliction by Lucas electrics, Smiths gages and Stromberg carburetors...
A high school friend with a '64 Spitfire once installed a cassette deck in his car. Unfamiliar with English cars in general and the concept 'positive earth' in particular, he got quite the surprise upon inserting his first tape and watching the 'magic smoke' escape from the deck!
One of the more entertaining stories I've heard about Lucas 'quality' was printed in Road & Track magazine. In the '90's, many of the automotive manufacturers were vexed by the sale of poor quality counterfeit parts packaged as genuine. A gentleman in Connecticut was making and selling counterfeit Lucas components. These components, however, turned out to be of higher quality than the genuine article, so instead of prosecuting, Lucas hired him as a subcontractor!
My daily driver is a 1978 Spitfire. I have owned two other Spitfires in the past.
I can assure you that the Prince of Darkness IS alive and well. I just lost my Lucas Alternator last week. I see a Delco replacement in my future. Anybody know the most reliable series of Delco alternators available?
This quote has been attributed to Lord Lucas: "A gentleman does not motor around after dark". This has been given as the reason that he was less than enthused about reliability in the electrical products he developed for the infant auto market.
Along with Lucas refrigerators being the reason that the Brits drink beer is a greater fear... Lucas makes pacemakers! Think about that for a moment.
Sorry to be so late; was on vacation with limited Web time! As soon as I saw "MGB" and "engine" in the lede, the magic word "Lucas" popped up, associated with "ignition issues." I've had several vehicles with this plague (and have already posted on my "final solution" for my 1968 River 2000TC). As most of these (and my 1960 Volve PV544) also had SU carbs, I also remember all the hours spent synchronizing the twins; I still have the tools in my "automotive" toolbox!
Yes, I just recently discovered what the WD meant. I've used it for years as a lubricant. It works great partly because the spray can reach places you can't get to with drip oil. I understand the "40" indicates which draft of the product finally met the criteria they were trying to reach.
Many piston aircraft engines still use carburators and almost all have "carb heat" knobs that you pull when you throttle back for a landing. Warmer air being less dense, they will reduce the wide open throttle power output by around 15%. Carb heat is usually checked before takeoff, but usually not recommended for use on the takeoff roll for obvious reasons.
During normal operations in cruise, it is sometimes necessary to use a bit of carb heat on particularly humid days (or when flying IFR in clouds) when the outside air temperature are between just above freezing to as much as 70 degrees F in some extreme situations (though typical temperatures where this happens are around 40 to 50 degrees F).
Retro-TV (available here in Santa Barbara as a secondary program on the digital transmitter of the local ABC affiliate) is currently running daily episodes of the old detective show "The Saint" (starring a young Roger Moore). Simon Templar (the Saint) drives a Volvo P1800 coupe. A very good looking vehicle, which was a cross between the Volvo Amazon sedan and a Lotus undercarriage. I was told by an old friend who once owned one, that in the mix, they unfortunately chose to let Lucas provide most of the electrical system, giving this Swedish sports car all the charm and excitement of its British cousins. My friend also used the "prince of darkness" nickname for Lucas.
Getting a 1963 MG to turn over is a touch and go experience even if it's 70 degrees and sunny out. Rob Lewis's earlier about Lucas electrics is also apropos and should bring a smile to the faces of all English car afficionados.
Carburetor icing does occur in ground vehicles, but not commonly unless there's a malfunction. Carb icing requires humid air, usually at temperatures in the 30s. Sub-freezing air is already dry enough the futher cooling in the carburetor is not likely to condense any moisture out of it. My first encounter with carburetor icing was when I took my new (to me) 1952 Tucker Sno-Cat out for its first big drive on a warmish winter day. The route involved going up-hill for about 10 miles with the throttle wide open, and then turning around and coming back down. The engine was a Chrysler 230 flat-head with a ver y simple 1-barrel carburetor. In deep snow, the machine takes a lot of power, and the engine is barely up to the task when also climbing a hill.
When I first started down, between the combination of going downhill and driving in my old tracks, I was able to get up to maximum speed (15 mph) so I backed off on the throttle. About half way down I began to lose power, and soon I had the throttle wide open and was still barely making progress even in my old tracks. The engine ran smoothly so I couldn't imagine what was wrong. When I got back and opened the hood, it was obvious -- the carburetor bas was covered with iced and the ventury was narrowed down to a small diameter. Apparently going uphill under full load generated enough heat in the engine compartment to keep the carburetor thawed, but once I cut back to partial throttle, the ice buildup began. This engine has a manual heat riser used on industrial and military 230s rather than the thermostatic ones used on cars and light trucks, and it was set to the "summer" position.
I can't imagine why anyone would set the heat riser on a snow machine to "Summer", but someone had done so and done it a long time ago because the only way to set it back was to take the manifolds off, separate, them, break the shaft loose from the rust, and clean out a large accumulation of carbon that had blocked the heat riser passages. Once the heat riser was cleaned, re-assembled, and set to the "winter" position, the machine has never iced up. I've thought about putting a manual control cable on it so I could adjust "carb heat" from inside the cab, but I suspect it's not necessary on a snow machine.
The MGB presumably had Lucas electrics, right? There's a reason Mr. Lucas was affectionately known as the Prince of Darkness.
On carburetor icing: pilots of small planes are trained to be on the lookout for this, but I'd never heard of it happening in ground-based vehicles. In the air, it's most likely to happen in humid (and not exceptionally cold) conditions during part-throttle operation. Planes have a Carb Heat knob on the dash that selects preheated intake air from the exhaust manifold. If you don't wait too long before pulling it you can avoid an engine failure. You're taught to turn on Carb Heat when you reduce power for deceleration to a landing.
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