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HEALEYS RETURN TO BONNEVILLE

NEWSLETTER

ISSUE 006, JULY 21, 2009

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The clock is ticking and the ship is waiting to take our cars to the Salt. All custom documents are about to be filled out and we hope for a smooth cruise across the Pacific. In the meantime the Event itself is taking shape and the help of local Healey Clubs will help us make Healeys return to Bonneville into a most memorable event. A large quantity of our Newsletter subscribers indicated they will be joining us. We look forward to meeting you all!

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The streamliner body readily painted by Jarrod. The Flash that makes the car move even at standstill will be added as final touch

Dear Healey Enthusiasts,
In this Newsletter we will go into detail on some of the special engine features of the Record cars. That these cars were used for publicity and marketing reasons is known to most of us. They did serve as well as the testing platforms for later special and production cars. The 100M and 100S production cars were based on the developments tested at speed on the race tracks and record

breaking, hence “S” for “Sebring” and M for “le Mans”, but also under the tough conditions of endurance runs and speeds unseen by under 3 litre Sports Cars in 1954. We repeat that replicating the speeds of 1954 is very ambitious, given that the Healey crew back then went with the full factory support of Austin England, USA and Canada, Castrol, Dunlop and Lucas who were present in Bonneville.
Your Bonneville Team.

THE EVENT SCHEDULE SO FAR

12 September 2009 : Miller Motorsportspark :
Display of the record Cars, BBQ,... Admission + BBQ : 15 USD

16 - 19 September 2009 : Bonneville Utah,
World of Speed

See the Healey Endurance Car and the Streamliner in action on the Salt 55 years after the original event. (USFRA Admission : 10 USD per day or 20 USD for the Event.)

More events in the planning will be announced at later stage...

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The Endurance and Streamliner Engines

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Most would know that the Austin-Healey 100 engine has its roots in pre-war Austin engine design and following hostilities it saw service in the Austin 16 in 2.2 litre form. In this form it could be best described as a fairly basic engine with simple design, but serviceable and reliable.
Developing 67bhp when fitted to the Austin A70 range of vehicles it could hardly be called exciting. Even when enlarged to 2,660cc and powering the A90 Atlantic it developed all of 90bhp, still nothing to get excited about. With it all cast iron construction, heavy 3 main bearing crankshaft and long stroke of 111.1 mm it’s no wonder it was hard pressed to rev past 4,800rpm in standard form.

While the A90 Atlantic weighed 2,996lbs the Austin-Healey 100 was 1,904lb which resulted is vastly improved performance. When the Le Mans performance kit was developed after the 24 hour race in 1953 power went up to 110bhp and performance improved again.

The contract between the Donald Healey Motor Company (DHMC) and Austin allowed Donald Healey and his team at Warwick the role of promoting the new Austin-Healey 100 by way of competition and record breaking. So what better place for promoting to the burgeoning US market than record breaking on the salt flats at Utah?

History tells us that a single car was prepared in Warwick for the 1953 event, but while the production 100 was spritely enough for the average motorist, more power was needed for Bonneville.

So what was different with the engine fitted to the 1953 Endurance car?

To achieve the power needed the DHMC sough out the assistance of Harry Weslake at Weslake Engineering, who had originally designed the cylinder head for the A90/AH100.

As with any quest for additional power the first place to look is the cylinder head as the answer was to improve gas flow. Easier said than done, as not only were the inlet and outlet ports located on the same side, but the pushrods were there as well. Something had to give as anyone who has looked an original cylinder head of a 100 will see that the amount of machining that can be done to the inlet/outlet ports is limited by placement of the pushrods.

So Weslake designed a new 8-port cylinder head that incorporated the inlet/outlet ports on the other side or driver’s side of a RHD car. The location of the pushrods, being dictated by the positioning of the camshaft had to stay where they were. The new cylinder head was also designed to be cast in aluminium alloy.

The cylinder head design also meant that some alteration had to be made to the cylinder block and coupled with a higher compression, camshaft and distributor modifications as well as twin 1 inch SU carburetors, the power was up to 132 bhp. Adequate for the 1953 Endurance car, but in the event itself, conrod failure cut short their record attempt. In case you thinking the engine sounds familiar, it was almost the same that went on to be fitted to the 100S.

Donald Healey and the team returned in 1954 with the same car, but modifications to the engine included fully floating conrods, nitrited crankshaft and lighter flywheel. The car itself was now fitted with four-wheel disc brakes and Dunlop peg-drive wheels. The main purpose of the Endurance car was to prove the durability of the Austin-Healeys at high speeds. 24 hours at constant high speed had to do the trick...

As we know, they also returned with another car called the Streamliner, which was as close to a road going 100 as chalk is to cheese. Not only was the bodywork extended forward and rearward, but the cockpit was completely covered save for a Perspex canopy for the driver’s head. It was Donald Healey’s aim to surpass the magical 200mph mark.

Here was a car that not only sported gearing for 200mph, but also looked as if it was doing all of that while standing still. However more than 132bhp was sufficient for the Endurance car it was not for the Streamliner.

Once again they turned their attention to Harry Weslake for a new design that would withstand the calculated required compression ratio of 13:1 and the rigours from using methanol fuel.

For this, Weslake cast another angle faced 100S style cylinder head, but instead of the aluminium used previously returned to cast iron for greater reliability under the strain of the sustained high speeds/revolutions involved in record breaking. Interestingly this cylinder head was designed to be mated to the block without a gasket, which required careful hand lapping. In any high compression engine the head gasket is usually the weak link.

This configuration also meant that any passage of coolant between the head and the top of the cylinder block was eliminated by plugging the water galleries in both the head and block at the faces. Of course the coolant still had to flow between the two and this was achieved by running the coolant externally from the rear of the block to the rear of the cylinder head. A header tank was mounted rear of the engine on the firewall to allow for the bleeding of air in the system.

When breathing through a crankshaft mounted Shorrock supercharger the Streamliner engine produced in excess of 240bhp.

While this was a sizable amount for any engine that started out producing a wheezy 67bhp in the Austin 16, it was unfortunately not enough for Donald Healey to reach his 200mph goal, as he managed to set an average top speed of 192mph. However he did return to the salt the following year with the supercharged 100-Six engined Streamliner, the same cars as in 1954 with a substantially more aerodynamic body, modified from its 1954 guise following further work in the wind tunnel. Sadly, Gerry Coker’s striking finned and memorable shape was no more. It is in this car that Donald Healey set 203.11mph. To this day DMH remains the fastest ever Austin powered Healey driver.

Will he remain so? That remains to be seen, as while the Healeysreturntobonneville team of course have the greatest of respect and affection for the 1954 results of the DHMC it is hoped to equal, but not surpass them in 2009. The engines of both the 2009 Endurance and Streamliner cars had been constructed using techniques as close as possible to the original, but it is hoped that the cars prepared with modern materials such as tires will achieve the required result.

By the way the entire engine used in the 1954 Streamliner still exists and is fitted to a 100M in Queensland, Australia.

Patrick Quinn

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The Streamliner engine ready for assembly. In the back the Endurance Car

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The Streamliner ready for final assembly. Notice the parachute holder
at the back of the body..

WWW.HEALEYSRETURNTOBONNEVILLE.COM

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