John Cobb- Crusader/Railton Special

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Pullman99
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Re: John Cobb and Crusader

Post by Pullman99 » Wed Nov 24, 2010 5:49 pm

malcolm uk wrote: Once we are out of recession it might be the time to get displays 'sorted out'. Malcolm
Thanks for your contribution Malcolm and I share your sentiments about the relationship with the Midlands' manufacturing base. In terms of its construction, the Railton is an obvious candidate for Brooklands too.

On the recession front, I suspect that there may be further difficulties looming for museums and already the cuts being imposed by local authorities are starting to bite the heritage world. I would suggest that the ones that are either directly funded, or heavily supported, by local authorities are likely to face these issues more than the "attractions" such as Beaulieu. Even in recession, visitor numbers in holiday areas tend not to shrink as much as is often predicted. But a city centre museum that is primarily orientated towards the education market and with a high adult admission price may very well do. I would also think that Coventry Transport Museum - that has free admission - could face similar pressures. It is unfortunate that what thinktank appears to have done (or been required to do) is make the best of a building that may be well suited to educational needs but which makes display of large objects, and even small ones in any number, very difficult. Presumably a museum designer was used for all of this, given the budget that they must have had at the time, but the results are, in my opinion, very disappointing. For Birmingham, re-displaying the ground floor - without the Railton - would allow at least a more comprehensive display of Birmingham made vehicles and would create a better link with the story of its industrial growth since the time of Boulton and Watt.

Anyway. Here's some more pics!

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Ian Robinson
Bluebird K7 - the restoration project of the Century.

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Pullman99
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Re: John Cobb and Crusader

Post by Pullman99 » Wed Nov 24, 2010 5:51 pm

f1steveuk wrote: One curious note, it appears to have been retro-re-fitted with the anti-stall system, wonder why?
Hi Steve!

Thanks for your comments. Do explain about the anti-stall!!!!
Ian Robinson
Bluebird K7 - the restoration project of the Century.

Terminator
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Re: John Cobb and Crusader

Post by Terminator » Wed Nov 24, 2010 9:32 pm

Hi Ian great pictures and lovely to see the Railton Mobile Special being displayed in a far better fashion than she once was at the science Museum at Newhall street. It was a disgrace to see the car back then stood in a poorly lit area covering in dust etc. It looks great from what I can see and far better displayed than it once was. Although Malcolm is quite correct in saying that The Donnington collection or rather Kevin Wheatcroft is the man responsible for the cars current condition having given it the treatment he bestows on all the collection at Donnington. The seat was an embarrassment due to it being all moldy and in an awful condition having just been left untouched for years, they would not let Kevin have the seat because they were so embarrassed and it was locked away in their backroom! The display boardings that Paul Hannaford and Myself helped out with proof reading etc has not come with the car after all the expense and work put in to them is a great shame. Kevin would have liked to have retained the R.M.S at Donnington back then and who could have blamed him given the state it was in. I can't blame him if he would not release the display boarding etc as it will not have been cheap and the company doing it whom i cannot recall would have coat also. Anyway it looks really nice and in better shape. Oh that reminds me the body was made of some exotic material which we never managed to discover what it was actually made up off' Any ideas Steve?

Novie
"Never ride faster than your Angel can fly"

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Renegadenemo
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Re: John Cobb and Crusader

Post by Renegadenemo » Thu Nov 25, 2010 12:44 am

Yes, once again, so much dead machinery when a couple of days on the spanners could have it running. When will they learn...
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Re: John Cobb- Crusader/Railton Special

Post by f1steveuk » Thu Nov 25, 2010 11:23 am

Can't remember if I put what spec' ali' was used for the bodyshell in "Leap", but it wasn't standard stuff.

The anti stall was fitted after the tendancy for the engines to cut out during gear changes (same as the R type, no flywheel), and can be seen in the front view to right (as you look at the car) as a large pulley that was connected to the top of the centre bank (Ithink) of the Lion. Railton came up with it as a stop gap. By the time of the last record, Railton's journals/notes state that it was removed because a better and permanent system had been fitted. Yet, there in the museum, the pulley and belt is fitted!! (the later system took a drive off the rear axle). I was just curious as to why it had found it's way back!!
Steve Holter, UK and France, and sometimes reality....................

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huszarail
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Re: John Cobb- Crusader/Railton Special

Post by huszarail » Thu Nov 25, 2010 2:41 pm

Ian,
I have to also echo your comments about 'Think Tank'. probably the worst industrial museum display I've been to.
The place has more in common with an amusement arcade. A forum for cotemplation of mechanical genius.... I don't think so.
I would like to see the Railton in better surroundings, Coventry Transport Museum would be ideal and still retain its midlands links however slim.
Better to have a running and roaring record holder though. :)
I'm only a man from Del Monte..........

polo
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Re: John Cobb- Crusader/Railton Special

Post by polo » Thu Nov 25, 2010 7:42 pm

Novie, I note you called the fab machine -- Railton mobilE [my capital] special, I visited her a few years ago in the old museum and had row with the curator re the way she was being displayed and a caption for 'Bluebird' next to her! I wrote a complaint in the museum day book. I got a reply from the curator and the council using the same spelling as yours [not having a go mate!] and replied with another complaint that they didn't even know the correct name of the car and the letter proved it!
I again visited her in the new museum at the request of John May an American modeller, I was surprisingly allowed to go in the exhibition ropes and get into all the inaccessible bits to get photos. With me was a friend who happened to be a metallurgist, he informed me that the car was starting to disintergrate and the alli outer was badly hardened[aluminium and its alloys have a habit of doing that] and was starting to crack. He said that she would probably go to dust if work wasn't carried out on her. We told the museum but have no idea if anything was done.
If it hasn't been done by now, if she fired up she would literally fall apart, sad end for the first car to achieve 400mph on land.

For the purists John Rhodes Cobb was the first man to achieve 400mph on land AND 200mph on water! :o

As I have said to Steve 'what a brave Man', look at the photos, he was sat next to open wheels whizzing round and holes through the floof where they went to the ground, the noise must have been unbearable.

Let us also remember this great man set DC on the record breaking path...and also Richard Noble.

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Re: John Cobb- Crusader/Railton Special

Post by kneeslider » Fri Nov 26, 2010 12:48 am

polo wrote:With me was a friend who happened to be a metallurgist, he informed me that the car was starting to disintergrate and the alli outer was badly hardened[aluminium and its alloys have a habit of doing that] and was starting to crack. He said that she would probably go to dust if work wasn't carried out on her. We told the museum but have no idea if anything was done.
If it hasn't been done by now, if she fired up she would literally fall apart, sad end for the first car to achieve 400mph on land.
Given this information, you have to wonder what the purpose of keeping anything in a museum must be.

Yes, the Railton Mobil Special is a fabulous artifact, but without an actual purpose, it is only ever that an ARTefact. Maybe I have stumbled upon that elusive definition of what 'art' is, when cleverer folk than I have been trying to pin it down for millenia?

I know that it's an old chestnut on these boards, 'Should anything be restored, and if so, then should it run?' but surely when it comes to one off items, such as former land speed record holders, if they aren't maintained in running condition (and lets face it, none are, and how expensive would that be?) then they will inevitably deteriorate to the point where they collapse into a heap of corrosion, and that is the end of that.

I fall firmly into the 'oily rags and engineering' camp, rather than the 'polish it and put it on a plinth' school of thought.

I was at the York railway museum recently and was a little dismayed to see the Duchess of Hamilton. Yes, she does look fabulous in her new streamlining, but under all of that is an engine which should be made to work. I remember not so long ago standing on the footplate at Carlisle station, gazing into the cavernous firebox with glowing embers in the grate. I know which memory is the most evocative!

Dead metal is only art, in much the same way that adventure without risk is Disneyland!

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Renegadenemo
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Re: John Cobb- Crusader/Railton Special

Post by Renegadenemo » Fri Nov 26, 2010 2:09 am

the car was starting to disintergrate and the alli outer was badly hardened[aluminium and its alloys have a habit of doing that] and was starting to crack. He said that she would probably go to dust if work wasn't carried out on her
Aluminium alloys, like any other metal, will work-harden. You can try this one at home by straightening a wire coat hanger then, whilst gripping either end, bending it into an inverted 'V' shape. Then, without moving your hands, try to straighten it again. You end up with a 'W' because the bit you bent first work-hardened so the material then bends either side when you try to bend it back. Work-hardening, as the name suggests, needs some work so that wouldn't happen sat in a museum.
Some alloys will also age-harden. They have a crystalline structure and as the crystals grow the metal gets harder. This can be reversed with heat treatment but natural age-hardening starts again once the material cools. This would make the metal hard but wouldn't make it crack unless it vibrated or was worked in some way.
If the material is cracked then it's most likely original cracks from vibration and fatigue when the car was running.

What the material does not do is crack of its own free will in a climate controlled museum environment and turn to dust.
I'm only a plumber from Cannock...

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Pullman99
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Re: John Cobb and Crusader

Post by Pullman99 » Fri Nov 26, 2010 9:01 am

Terminator wrote:Railton being displayed in a far better fashion than she once was at the science Museum at Newhall street. It was a disgrace to see the car back then stood in a poorly lit area covering in dust etc. It looks great from what I can see and far better displayed than it once was. Novie
Hi Novie!

Thanks very much for your comments. I didn't manage to get to see the car when it was displayed at Donington and I would have liked to have seen the display panels too. Do you have any pics from that time?

On the current display condition, I agree with you that it is now better kept than when it was in Newhall Street. A lot of their other machinery was certainly dusty too but the great charm of the place lay, perhaps, in its old fashioned appearnce dictated largely by the museum occupying a former industrial building. When they set out to move to Millennium Point as "thinktank" they had the opportunity to create something very special but in reality they have failed to do so. At best, it's a series of disconnected interpretive science exhibits which are individually quite well done but of limited interest to the casual visitor. Where I believe the major failure to be, however, is in the ability of the museum to present the story of Biringham's industry in context. That is why I do not believe the Railton is in an appropriate location. It was acceptable in Newhall Street because there was no "theme" to consider and it is difficult to think of another location avaialble in the UK at that time.

In terms of conservation, I have noted Bill's comments and would also endorse his view that there is likely to be ony limited deterioration over a signifacantly long period. The fabrics and rubber materials would have suffered - as indicated by your remarks on the seat cushions - whilst it was on display previously and that includes the exhibition use by Dunlop themselves.

An interesting and lively debate. Does anyone have any pics of the car at The Festival of Britain in 1951 or at any other event?
Ian Robinson
Bluebird K7 - the restoration project of the Century.

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