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    Bentley in bits / #1937 / #Bentley-4¼ Robert Coucher / #Bentley / #Bentley-4¼-litre

    On my last trip to Cape Town I enjoyed cruising about in my late father’s 1988 Mercedes-Benz 560SEC. It had just been gone through by my brother-in-law, Dieter Noli, and is now running like new. I’d hoped to drive the 1937 4¼-litre Derby Bentley, too, but I couldn’t because Dieter had removed the carburettors. As with the big-block Merc, Dieter has spent the last couple of years getting the Bentley back into shape after it has languished unused in the garage. This included rebuilding the dragging brakes, fixing the thermostatically controlled radiator vents, fitting new tyres and tuning the engine to start with the merest touch of the large button on the dash.

    The really big job was attending to the differential, which had too much slop. With the attentions of ex-aerospace toolmaker Michael von Zelewski, the diff was stripped, cleaned, its mesh checked with engineer’s blue and reset to original tolerances. Back in the car it is now working correctly.

    But Dieter was not happy with the Bentley’s engine, which was running rich. He adjusted the twin SU carburettors but could not get the mixtures across all six cylinders to match. So he stripped the carbs and, with the help of local Bentley enthusiast, racer and expert Dave Alexander, they are on the bench of racer and engineer Dickon Dagget. Between them (Dickon rebuilt a vintage Bugatti a while ago in his workshop in Hout Bay) the Derby’s carburettors should soon be in fine fettle.

    Clockwise from above. Brother-in-law Dieter is thwarted by recalcitrant carburettors; differential gearwheels needed adjustment to their mesh; crownwheel, halfshafts and casing await differential gears’ return.
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    Robert Coucher
    Robert Coucher updated the group cover
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    Robert Coucher
    Robert Coucher updated the group picture
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    Robert Coucher
    Robert Coucher created a new group Bentley 3½-litre and 4¼-litre
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