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 1926 Cluley

1926 Cluley

 David Brooke seated on the Cluely chassis during the tests observed by friends Andrew Beamish (left) and John Reeve.

 

We rolled the Cluley into the Big Top and stripped her down. The engine was seized, so we removed the cylinder head, placed a piece of apple wood (according to the experts it had to be apple wood) on one of the pistons, and thumped while pulling on the starting handle. It was disappointingly easy to free the engine, and within a few minutes it was reassembled and running smoothly and quite silently.

At this stage appeared David Brooke, an engineering undergraduate who wanted to buy the Cluley; furthermore, he and his friends undertook the reassembly, but not without snags. For instance, the rear axle was completely symmetrical, and as the parts lay in fearful symmetry they put it together with the crown-wheel on the wrong side of the pinion, and got one very slow forward speed and three increasingly faster in reverse.

After correcting this, we popped the body back and were all ready for the open road. It was a Sunday afternoon, and we decided to visit the Norfolk Broads. We took it in turns driving, sitting in the dickey seat, etc. But on the outskirts of Wroxham our hasty preparations came home to roost. A policeman stepped out (with his back to us) to usher a crocodile of children across the road. The brakes were not too good - rear wheels only, of course - and David pushed the pedal floorwards with all his might. The rim of the steering wheel sprang off its spokes and the front seat, which had not been properly fastened, tipped over backwards. John Reeve, in the passenger's seat, had of course been pushing hard on the floor in sympathy with David, which made the fall much harder. Would the policeman turn round? The crocodile seemed thankfully endless as we clawed the seat upright again and tried to reassemble the steering wheel.

'Let's get out of here' was our only thought. The kindly policeman looked over his shoulder and waved us on. David had been unable thus far to spring the rim of the steering wheel back into position, so he steered by the spokes, supporting the detached rim on his wrists. We drove round a corner out of sight, parked, and dissolved into uncontrollable laughter as we put everything together properly ...

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