Well! We Did It

A tale of chasing the clock with a BSA Three-Wheeler.

This is all about Ray, Brenda and Lorna Waters and their sporting achievements


I feel privileged to be able to bring this story to our website, I’ve known Ray as trusted friend and clubmate now for nearly fifty years, he was always there through good times and bad, and the following story illustrates his tenacity and dogged perseverance in achieving success against all the odds.
Was there life before the three-wheeler?, well this picture seems to say an emphatic YES!, it certainly is a rare shot of Ray on four wheels in a driving test at a Brooklands reunion meet way back in 1967

Peter Bowler

How it all started.

Ray’s association with front wheel drive BSAs started in the late 1950s when one day his mother said to his father. “Why don`t you let Raymond and Gordon put the BSA back together?, naturaly Raymond senior, having fond memories of driving the BSA was enthusiastic about the idea and so Ray and his school friend Gordon Hughes laboured for two years under his father’s sometime less than patient guidance to rebuild the Series 3 Scout. When the job was finished Gordon taught Ray to drive in it (great cheers went up every time the ‘double de-clutching’ was successful. Early in the 1960s Ray joined the BSA FWD Club, and learned of the involvement of BSA Three-Wheelers in MCC Long Distance Trials and Morgan Three-Wheeler Club Sprints. So by the mid-1960s a 1934 BSA V-twin trike had been acquired and fitted with a 4-cylinder engine. This vehicle then became the second outlet to Ray’s competition aspirations, (the first being a few driving tests with the Scout). As time went on he also branched out into rallying an Austin Healey Sprite and then a couple of Cortina engined Ford Anglias.
Marriage, in 1977, and a family, found him channelling his efforts into supporting them by a career in the British electronics manufacturing industry.

Ray’s Dream.

Reading the Motoring publications of the day including “Motor Sport” it became clear that neither Jenkinson or Boddy had a good word to say about front wheel drive BSAs. Never the less their brilliant articles spawned the idea of a BSA competing in Vintage events. But what sort of event would be chosen?, Ray had participated in MCC events without a great deal of success, but with a great deal of bad luck and parental rescue.
Setting of on an MCC trial in the ’70s
The trials such as
Morgan Sprint 1969
the MCC “Land’s end” required such a high level of preparation and support that the resultant rewards made it impracticable, Also he was sure that the cut and thrust of pure racing was beyond his nerve, and would underline a BSA’s embarrassing lack of performance. So the dream became participation in speed hill climbs, sprints and driving tests.
There were, however, problems with this vision. Firstly the only Club to support such events was the Vintage Sports Car Club (VSCC); and front wheel drive BSA’s were not among the list of 1931 to 1940 ‘Post Vintage Thoroughbreds’ which they considered acceptable to their Vintage ethos. Secondly the performance of the Scout and T9 probably made them non-starters in any speed events. So the dream remained a dream throughout the 1970s, although Morgan Three-wheeler club sprints provided an interim outlet for enthusiastic participation.
Another Morgan sprint, with lowered body

By around 1980 a series of circumstances arose which meant that perhaps there was an opportunity. It all started when Ray realised that the VSCC had decided to accept vintage (that is made before January 1931) three-wheelers into their events.
As an aside it is probable that the VSCC had vintage, two speed, Morgan Three-Wheelers in mind when they wrote this rule.
Hence, to this day, the regulations for Driving Tests state that ‘vehicles without reverse gear may employ two ‘pushers’ on the parts of the course where backwards motion is required’. Now his thinking was that the weight of the three-wheeler (around eight hundredweight) would give it better performance than its heavier four wheeled ‘brethren’. Add to this the fact that he had collected a complete set of odds and ends of parts to build some sort of 1930 BSA Three-Wheeler Special; and ‘maybe, just maybe’ it was worth starting to consider having a go.
Careful approaches were made to the VSCC; and yes, they would accept his version of a vintage BSA Three-Wheeler Special.
So now all he had to do was to build the vehicle. It would take more than 15 years and a true family effort before they finally ‘hit the road’.

‘A Special’??

(This is now quoting from Ray’s booklet “Well we did it“)
It might be an idea if I started by outlining my vision of the special we were trying to assemble. Engine-wise All 1930 BSA three-wheelers had V-Twin engines, and this air-cooled motor would fit well with my concept of the body arrangement.
Bodywise: Similarly, it seemed reasonable that the general outline would look like a pre-1932, long scuttle, fabric bodied Three-Wheeler. That is with ‘non-cut away doors’ and a vertical bonnet back edge. Nevertheless I was trying to build a ‘sporting special’ so there would be some differences. the picture shows what we came up with.
Under starter’s orders–
Firstly: I was, at one time, the only ‘trike owning’ member of the BSA Front Wheel Drive Club committee who had not turned over…as this account progresses you will realise just how close I came to losing this distinction! So I was desperate to lower the centre of gravity as much as possible. Therefore I decided to use the same lowered body arrangement I’d employed on the later versions of our 1934 Three-Wheeler Special. It was this vehicle that had been derisively nickname ‘The Brooklands Special’ This set up involved suspending the body floor from under the chassis, so lowering the bonnet line, and thence the body’s centre of gravity, by some four to five inches..of course, as I now sat ‘next to’ rather than ‘on’ the chassis, the heaviest single item in the car (me) was also lowered by the same amount! An added bonus from this arrangement was that it left the barrels sticking out of the top of the bonnet, which would improve cooling.
Secondly: I did not fancy the doors flying open when I hit a bump, or twisted the body during enthusiastic cornering, so the tail section was braced to the scuttle by metal rods…As I’ve commented before, it really is great to watch the tail come up into place as you pull the nuts up on the threaded rods. This inevitably led to a doorless body into which the driver and passenger had to climb.
Thirdly: as far as I’m concerned, any special has to have aero screens. So this became another design criteria. The only problem was that if you mount aeroscreens directly onto a BSA trike’s scuttle they keep the wind off your chest not your face. At Brenda’s suggestion we both enrolled in the Colchester College’s Classic Car Restoration Classes and made curved scuttle contours like the MG ‘P’ and ‘T’ series cars. The only difference, as can be seen in the photos, was that the ‘bumps’ were convex where as those on MG’s are concave. In the following 5 year interlude, under the patient eye of our lecturer Tony Fairweather, we made the bonnet and a new rear wheel cover. Then I assisted Brenda in the manufacture of magnificently upholstered seats plus a tonneau cover with it’s own carrying bag.

Speed Events…….Four Sprints and One Hill climb

Lorna rushes through a gate at Whitfield

…..Curborough 1999.. a first attempt.

On May 2nd my younger daughter and I entered our first sprint at Curborough Circuit, near Lichfield. The trike was in our horse box towed by a hired Transit Van. Inevitably, a speed event held new terrors, the first of which was scrutineering. Fortunately we had no technical problems, and there was even some banter along the lines of: “ Do I really have to lay on the wet grass to check the rear wheel?” “ I wouldn`t let my daughter drive unless I was happy it was safe,” came my reply. The format of most speed events is the same. You do two practice runs in the morning and then two official competitive runs in the afternoon. By dint of having a lower competition number Lorna was first away. Did this mean she was the first person to drive in a VSCC speed event with a front wheel drive BSA? Much to her father`s relief she returned safely to the paddock in a time of 66.06 secs, her second practice time was 64.04 secs. Meanwhile I did 61.36 secs and 58.95 secs. By lunch time Brenda had arrived; and there was much family hilarity as, on her first practice run, Lorna had taken the wrong course after crossing the finishing line and found herself heading straight towards the start line where the next competitor was waiting for the ‘off’.
Me at Curborough in 1999.
After lunch my official runs were only a slight improvement on practice, I clocked 58.20secs. and then 58.77secs. when I missed top gear coming down the finishing straight. However before Lorna’s final run we had a family discussion about which gear to use where. It transpired that, because you had to hold the trike in second gear, Lorna was staying in top gear for the series of slower bends while I was taking them in second gear. We persuaded a less than enthusiastic Lorna to try second gear, and she knocked three seconds off her time to finish on 60.84secs.a 6sec improvement over the day.but still a respectful distance behind `the old man’for the only time! So ended our first competitive event, we`d all had great fun but, as they say, we had: “hardly troubled the scorer.” You see the only class available to our Special was that for ‘Special, Hydrid, all Supercharged Sports cars up to 1500cc’. Unsurprisingly our best time, around the 58secs mark, didn’t compare with the class winner’s 45secs!

….The second 1999 sprint:

Whitfield sprint 1999
This event, on July 8th, was a Sprint organised as part of the VSCC’s, week long, 65th Anniversary celebrations. It was run at a place called Whitfield, near Malvern. The half mile course wound through a country estate with a steady climb; plus a cattle grid, through a gate. Just like my old rallying days! The paddock was a sloping field of long grass, so I was glad that we were towing the horse trailer with our recently acquired Landrover. As is inevitable at events like this, the queue for the first practice run always stretches right through the paddock; and it was so sunny that I was reduced to wearing our crash helmet cloth bag over my head! Lorna and I recorded practice times within a second of each other (she’d clearly given up following the ‘old man’ at a respectful distance!). It didn`t matter to us that our times were towards the bottom of our class; we had ourselves, and each other, to compete against. An interesting afternoon was in view, First time around I did 44.12secs and Lorna did 44.25secs. Then I improved to 43.54 for my second run. ‘that should show her’, I muttered. Never the less I watched the spectator’s clock intently as my daughter made her final climb in the late afternoon sunshine43.69secs.phew, so 35 years of trike driving experience was worth 0.15secs! We headed home tired, but happy; and when we received the results there was an added bonus. Lorna had won the Handicap award for our class. To explain; the VSCC, in true Brooklands fashion, recognise that not all cars are equal. So they give each competitor a target time based upon their previous form. The person who achieves the greatest improvement wins the handicap. Based on our times at Curborough, a few weeks before, Lorna’s target time was 46 secs, and mine was 44secs. And so Lorna won the largest tankard on our very small shelf for winning the class handicap. …..

Performance and Driving.

Before ploughing on with a description of our next event, it’s worth considering what things were like behind the wheel. The start was just like the old Mog sprint days, loads of wheel spin and not much else! This is because bottom gear is too low for this sort of event; and you’ve starting on virgin tarmac. An ex-hill climb champion once suggested that care should be taken, when positioning one’s car on the start line, to make sure your wheels were nicely in the middle of the rubber left behind by previous competitors. This advice was of little use to the only front wheel drive car in the event!

….’Nuffin is for nuffin’, a sick engine:

Although we were elated at the fun we’d had at Whitfield, there was a cloud on the horizon. When we loaded the trike back into the horse trailer
Lorna drives our BSA three wheeler across the
finishing line at the VSCC Whitfield Sprint in 1999
we noticed the engine had developed a fearful rattle. So the only thing to do was to change the engine. This is not quite such an onerous task as it sounds because one of the design criteria of the ‘Special’ was that there should be sufficient clearance behind the engine to remove it without dismantling the front suspension/transmission. To facilitate this the fuel tank, a two gallon petrol can, is fitted in the tail.

…..A straight line sprint.sadly the clock doesn`t lie:

We were now ready for the VSCC Dudley Gahagan Memorial Speed Trials which was a straight line, quarter mile sprint at Brooklands on October 2nd 1999. The venue is the closest to Colchester so it should have been a relaxed ‘doddle’. Also we`d have a chance to measure the trike’s performance against a known criteria. To my knowledge the best BSA V-Twin engined three-wheeler time, over the standing quarter mile is 21.5secs(by Ian Pinkney of course)so, with our
Limping back to the paddock on one cylinder
high compression pistons etc., I had high hopes of beating Ian’s record. I should have known better, absolutely nothing went right. First, it absolutely threw it down with rain as we threaded our way through the early morning weekend traffic on the M25. Then the passenger’s aero screen jammed ‘half up and half down’. In my efforts to remedy this the glass broke and I had to take the whole aeroscreen off. Neither of us did very well, the best practice time for the trike being Lorna’s 21.98secs. I made excuses about her weight advantage! Although the weather held off neither of us beat this time on our first official runs; and then, half way through my second run, the engine went onto one cylinder. A brief look under the bonnet revealed nothing obvious, so I convinced myself we had ignition trouble and frantically swapped from twin to single coil ignition. The officials kindly allowed Lorna to do the last run of the day, but there was no improvement and she recorded 29.48secs. Even then our troubles weren’t over; the trike couldn`t even struggle back up the ramp into the horse trailer. Luckily Barry Baker and friends were around to give us a shove..Not a good day, The post mortem revealed that the nearside inlet rocker adjusting screw had come loose and fallen out Unfortunately.

…Curborough 2001….the horizon at 45 degrees!

An enjoyable event..Especially Lorna!!!!!
I was always a little nervous when Lorna was driving because of the BSA three wheeler’s fearsome reputation for turning over. My advice, no doubt repeated far too often, was: “Remember, if you brake before the bend and then accelerate round nothing can go wrong, the worse that can happen is that the inside front wheel will lift and scream a bit. And if you think you`ve arrived into a corner too quickly just hit the brakes and go straight on.” The first piece of advice seemed to work for me; as I often took bends at 50mph, holding second gear in, and listening to the music from said inside front wheel. The second bit of advice was pure rubbish.
As ever Lorna had to be dispatched, this time to persuade a scrutineer to cross the hallowed tarmac of the paddock and look at our car. Our best practice runs were 55.4secs for me and 55.95 secs for Lorna. This compared with our best times, two years earlier, of 58.2secs for me and 60.84secs for Lorna. I’d improved by nearly 3.0 secs and Lorna by almost 5 secs. Now I can explain some of Lorna’s improvement if she was gradually getting more familiar with the Three-Wheeler; but me? I`m just not sure, if anything I reckon I drove worse than before. I simply could not raise the nerve to keep my foot down on the first sweeping bend. So was it the different camshaft in the replacement engine (same barrels and pistons don`t forget), or maybe one inlet valve had always been bent? I`m afraid this will probably remain one of life’s eternal mysteries..anyway it was far nicer to `find’ three seconds than to `lose’ them. On our timed runs I got down to 54.94secs and Lorna to 53.10secs! (mutter mutter). My best run could have been a completely different story. For some reason I got in a muddle and didn`t brake, or change down into second gear, before the tight bends. So I was through the bends and, as the title of this section suggests, up on two wheels before I realised it. Now I`ve always told Lorna: “If the front wheel starts to come seriously off the ground, turn the front wheels back straight, brake, and run off the track. My problem was I had completed the corner and was going along dead straight on two wheels; what was odd was how quiet it was, I`m sure I heard the crowd gasp. There I sat and waited; fortunately the whole thing fell, with a crash, back onto three wheels. So I rammed the gearbox into second and pressed on. Amazingly, this was my fastest run! Despite a massive improvement in times Lorna didn`t win the class handicap. But once again we thoroughly enjoyed the event
Me at Whitfield

….Gear changes and precious seconds gained by a daughter….

Until the 2001 Curborough Sprint I had always succeeded in keeping Lorna just a little bit behind me in speed events. Analysis revealed that in fact my dear daughter had well and truly ‘put one over on me’ when it came to downward gear changing..So much for my view that 40 years of double declutching would be an advantage! You see Curborough starts with a long straight and sweeping bend, so that you are well and truly in top gear when you arrive at a series of slower bends. My years of experience makes it natural for me to brake, double declutch into second, and take the bends. Not so Lorna! She had developed the simple technique of just planting her right foot on the brake and throttle at the same time, dabbing the clutch, and heaving the gearlever into second gear. And of course our special was ideal for this, the lowered floor, and lack of pedal space, meant that the throttle was above, and just a little to the right of, the footbrake. Hmmah well, that’s life!
A crafty daughter chuckles to herself!

….The storm breaks, Loton Park September 2001.

Our only speed hill climb was something I`d always dreamt of. So, although it was obvious I was ill (heart infection), I was absolutely determined we would compete at whatever the cost. And so we competed in the VSCC hillclimb at Loton Park some 200 miles from Colchester. The fact that we made it there and back was mainly due to our friend Rob Muir. He came with us and drove the Landrover for about three quarters of the way there and back (while I slept). Lorna, Rob and I left at 1am. We drove through the night to arrive at the hill climb by 7.30am. For me the most salutary moment came when I realised I simply couldn`t keep up with the others when we ‘walked’ the steep course, I said nothing. I’d looked forward to this day for too long. The relaxed atmosphere of morning practice was emphasised when everything stopped for an hour so as not to interfere with the nearby local church service. During this hour our trike sat resplendent on the start line as Lorna had been the next in the queue to practice.
Not sitting on the start line, but still ‘respendant’..
When things started up again Lorna’s best practice time was101.28secs and mine 98.35secs. Loton Park is great fun because there are downhill as well as steep uphill sections; and over lunch there was much banter when Rob pointed out my brake lights were coming on at a bend where everyone else was simply accelerating round. Despite protesting my innocence I took note and improved to a best timed run of 94.2 secs. Lorna, as usual, looked on quietly and her last run was 94.73secs; six seconds better than her practice time. All very satisfactory; although the fastest time in our class was 73.7secs, by a Morgan Super Aero..never the less we weren`t the slowest. And in fact I got an award for coming second in our class handicap. So I`ve got two cups to Lorna’s one; but her cup is bigger because it’s for winning something (a class handicap)! When it comes down to it we could both have probably marginally improved our times with practice; but most time is lost on a long uphill climb at near max. revs. (about 50mph) in second gear. Unfortunately the engine isn`t powerful enough to accelerate if you try changing into top gear. At the top of this climb there’s a long sweeping left hand bend, taken still in second gear. I was pleased to be able to keep both hands on the steering wheel thanks to the clip arrangement I`d made to stop the gearlever jumping out of second.
The infamous 2nd gear lever holding clip. (Don`t
try this on your pride and joy!) Yes!
It’s a water pipe clip.

2003, the end in view:

Early retirement, due to ill health, might have been the signal for a more vigorous campaign with our Three-Wheeler special; but it was not to be. I did put a considerable amount of effort into preparing the trike for the 2003 Curborough Sprint; however we were totally shattered when both Lorna and my entries were turned down. The problem was, and is, that the event is now well oversubscribed, and caters for more and more for exotic racing cars. Also my `non start’ the previous year cannot have helped either. As a `knee jerk reaction’ we both promptly offered to marshal, because people who marshal sometimes get entries in oversubscribed events. In fact our marshalling had the opposite effect on me. We now had the opportunity to watch, and analyse the event at leisure. I soon realised how slow we were compared even with relatively standard Austin Seven specials and Ulsters. Given the ever increasing quality, and speed, of competitors; getting regular entries seemed unlikely to me at the time.

VSCC Driving Tests:

Lorna on the Brooklands test hill
Most of the events we entered took place at Westcott, in Buckinghamshire, during December or at Brooklands in January. The format is that competitors visit twelve different tests which are laid out at various places around the venue. All tests are against the clock, and the course is marked out with cones. As well as scoring one point for each second taken you can get further penalties for taking the wrong route or straying onto the grass. With this scoring system ‘the lower your final score the better’. In all we entered 8 such events, I`ve listed the highlights with appropriate comments:

Westcott 1998:

This was Brenda and my very first VSCC event. ‘Somehow I`d expected a series of cones arranged on a nice flat piece of tarmac, not a bit of it, the test appeared to be set out on a piece of scrubland. And, despite Brenda drawing my attention to a cone craftily hiding in a patch of long grass, I still did the wrong route. Worse than that I backed over a cone (yes you have to go backwards as well as forwards) and got it stuck under the car!’. ‘The surfaces for all the tests ranged from grass, to stones, to broken up concrete or tarmac, to clinker. The one thing they all had in common was water and mud. So Sunday was spent carefully cleaning up the three-wheeler we`d so proudly polished before setting out. Worse still,
As any Beeza trialist will tell you:
a trike with cycle wings which don`t
turn with the wheels is a sure
recipe for a dirty car and driver
the aeroscreens had not prevented flying mud entering the cockpit.

Brooklands 1999:

Two days before the event poor Lorna, who was entered to drive, went down with tonsillitis.and when Lorna gets tonsillitis she does it in style! I phoned the VSCC Competition Secretary, to withdraw her entry.’.. ‘Amazingly, our entry fee was returned; this helpful, generous attitude turned out to be the `norm’ for the VSCC’.

Westcott 1999:…a real highpoint.

Lorna and I both got entries for this event. ‘which was a great help because two heads are better than one. What we did was to have a careful look at a few other competitors before attempting each test, and then take it in turns to go first. Inevitably, as I explained earlier, the advantage of working together was spiced with a little family rivalry.’ The first test was a slalom up and down a line of cones. Lorna went first and did well. But of course her father had to show her how it was done. This demonstration was ruined when I underestimating the looseness of the surface and shot past the first cone with the wheels locked up. However matters were recovered and I completed the test OK. My next few tests went reasonably well with Lorna’s help. Then came the long test out on a vast clinker surface. Buoyed up by having got things right so far, I decided this was the ideal opportunity to try using the handbrake on sharp turns. The surface was ideal, the `handbraking’ went well, plus I had a really great time. Lorna’s reaction was one of amazement.the “Old Boy” had a few tricks up his sleeve yet. So we progressed through the day and, with Lorna’s help, I arrived at the last test having completed all the tests correctly and not incurred any penalties for hitting cones or going onto the grass. So I made sure I didn`t make any mistakes. My thinking was that not losing points for taking a wrong route was the first requirement to get an award. Penalties are incurred for mistakes plus one point for every second taken to complete the test. Obviously the lowest scorer wins the class, but the VSCC also awards first to third class awards for those who do fairly well. Add to this a bonus of a percentage points reduction for those who only have two wheel brakes (that was us) and I just about scraped in for a third class award. I was delighted, but wouldn`t have done it without my daughter’s advice; and we`d never have been there in the first place without Brenda’s support.
A quick committee meeting before a test, actually at Brooklands 2003

Westcott 2000….Both just below the ‘cut’

‘This was our only event in 2000, and as the title implies, neither of us were good enough to get an award. My problem was taking two `wrong courses; but we got what we went for, a lot of fun!’

Brooklands 2001: Lorna finally gets there.

After non-starts in 1999 and 2000 we finally made it to Brooklands; and with only one driver allowed, it had to be Lorna, with both her parents spectating. Lorna had a good time, but suffered from a number of collisions with cones particularly when backing. This was probably because, being a little shorter than me, she could not see properly over the boot lid mounted spare wheel. Even sitting her on a cushion didn`t help. On one test, which could be best described as `twice round the rubbish skips and through the mud holes’
Lorna rushes across the
`hallowed Brooklands banking
(hardly the Brooklands image), the holes were so deep that the car leapt in the air and dislodged the cushion. In the confusion the poor girl did a `wrong course’, so once again it was fun but no award at the end of the day. However, a week later a nice certificate arrived announcing Lorna Waters had ascended the Brooklands Test Hill in her BSA. me? Jealous, perish the thought!.
Let me explain the spare wheel on the tail by saying: “In my view: ‘my head is one thing, but Lorna’s is quite another!” You will have gathered that turning over, and the Three-Wheeler’s doubtful reputation when reversing quickly, were uppermost in my mind when first preparing the car for Lorna’s use in driving tests (at Westcott in 2000). So…. as you are allowed to carry a spare wheel on driving tests, I mounted it on the luggage rack. The idea was that anything behind the driver’s head might provide some form of protection should the unthinkable happen. Thankfully the strength of the boot lid upon which the spare wheel was mounted was never `quite’ tested!’
The spare wheel cover at the
top of the Brooklands test hill

Brooklands 2003…A story of handbrakes and front wheels in the air.

Before recounting the event let me explain: ‘The limited room in the vehicle, plus my idea of a `sporting appearance’, led to the decision to have a cable operated external handbrake. This device was constructed from a trike’s handbrake lever and a BSA Scout ratchet. The whole thing was attached to the outside of the body well within the driver’s reach. On a number of occasions we were lucky enough to get ‘double entries’ for Lorna and I. This inevitably led to some mild competition between father and daughter. My years of driving trikes tended to be cancelled out by Lorna’s youthful ability to remember the tests, so I was on the look out for another ‘advantage’ to give me ‘an edge’ over her. Now, when you’re weaving your way between complicated patterns of cones, the BSA’s lack of steering lock is a real disadvantage. And I’ve already mentioned that the surfaces at Westcott airfield were very broken up. Hence the solution seemed obvious handbrake turns; these would save me precious seconds against the clock. The handbrake operated only on the rear wheel so, along with front wheel drive, this made `handbraking’ quite easy. I never actually spun the car round, but you could certainly
On the banking at Brooklands, the driver’s
hand is on the handbrake!
change direction with no problem. With this new weapon in my armoury I even got a third class award one year at the Westcott Winter Driving Tests.all very gratifying..but, as they say: “pride comes before a fall” and my undoing was the VSCC’s other Driving Test venue at the old Brooklands circuit. At first all went well, until I came to a test which entailed going up and down a series of lines of cones. The sharp turn at the end of each line of cones just cried out for `handbraking’; and the concrete was covered with damp moss that seemed quite slippery. It is best left to Brenda to describe what happened next: “Well, you came down one side of the first line of cones, `handbraked’ around the end and the inside front wheel came up about a couple of inches. Back down the second line of cones and you `handbraked’ again; this time the front wheel was about a foot off the ground. I thought, he must have noticed; he’ll ease off for the next turn. But not a bit of it, the next thing I saw was the three-wheeler well and truly up on two wheels and you with your hand firmly planted on the ground.”
The lady herself, Brenda that is, in the
pink hat keeping our
place in the queue while Lorna and I watch the next test.
Suffice it to say that I hadn’t noticed any problem and was much relieved when my prayers were answered and the trike fell back onto three wheels. .the rest of the test was completed at a more leisurely pace without the use of the handbrake! Somewhat chastened I continued the tests but neither of us got an award; I made too many route mistakes and Lorna again collected too many bollards probably thanks to not being able to see clearly where she was going when backing. This time I got one of the Brooklands Test Hill Certificates which I had so coveted; and can honestly say I did get wheel spin all the way up the hill.. “Well it was a very frosty morning!” But I prefer to think it was engine power thanks to having left all the tuning bits on the engine.’


The Brooklands 2003 Driving Tests were our last competitive event and, having failed to get an entry at in the Curborough 2003 Sprint, I decided ‘enough was enough’. ‘Many of the parts from our `Special’ were used to resurrect my original 1934 Trike. This vehicle was subsequently sold to finance the purchase of the BSA T9 reg. No. RB9237. Meanwhile, much to her parent’s pride, you will find that one Lorna Waters became the regular Chief Paddock Marshal at the VSCC’s Curborough sprint for a number of years.’..which meant that she probably would have got the odd entry elsewhere if we’d had a suitable vehicle which we didn`t. And that is almost the conclusion of the tale of how our `BSA Three-Wheeler Special’ competed, in a very minor way, in vintage speed events and driving tests. The entire adventure remains a tribute to ‘Three Waters Ladies’: First, and foremost, to Brenda with whom I built the car; and without whose unswerving support the whole venture would never have got off the ground or for that matter ‘lifted a front wheel’! (Hmmm) Then my mother who directed me towards the hobby of playing with FWD BSAs. And finally my daughter, Lorna, who provided the catalyst to get the show on the road. In terms of results we didn`t achieve anything great, but at least we can say:

“Well, we did it.”

My interest all started with my reading
of the magazine ‘Motor Sport’
So it is fitting to
entitle this pictire `Tailpiece’

And Finally:

I could not finish without paying tribute to the two clubs involved. We would never have got anywhere without all the friends we have within the BSA Front Wheel Drive Club. Their advice, and support, contributed greatly to a tale which would also not have happened without the Vintage Sports Car Club. I know that their refusal (at the time) to automatically `accept’ all front wheel drive BSA’s made us look a little askew at them. But we have never found them anything but friendly and helpful at all levels. Copyright c Ray Waters August 2007


1.After the time when we competed, the VSCC decided to add Front Wheel Drive BSAs to their list of ‘accepted’ …Vintage thoroughbreds.
2.I have dealt with… the construction of our special, however to complete the picture I should perhaps say a little about the engine and it’s tuning.. Since neither driving tests nor sprints/hillclimbs call for sustained exertion, the bottom end was left as standard other than the ‘Scott-Coomber mod. off blanking the oil feed to one barrel and drilling out the feed to the other barrel to get the oil to where it’s needed. Both engines I used also had the modification introduced by BSA which split the oil feed from the pump and used a pipe through the back of the crankcase to squirt oil at the big end as it went passed. To improve performance I used Standard Vanguard pistons, which raised the compression ratio to around 7 : 1; and twin SU carburettors without dampers. The SUs were used because they were all I had; they gave about 12mpg, but for the type of event we did this wasn`t a problem.

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