Posts Tagged ‘Repco RB620 V8’

(HRCCT)

Michael ‘Moose’ Warner, Holden 48-215 leads Tony Edmondson, BMW 1602 Repco at Symmons Plains circa 1974…

Touring Cars (a ‘Sports Sedan’ in this case) are not my thing but that BMW is powered by a Repco Brabham 4.4 litre ‘620 Series’ V8 so by definition it’s of interest!

The Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania continues to post wonderful photographs on its Facebook page- just pop the name into the FB search engine and have a look. Grab a beer before you do so, you cannot do the job properly in less than two or three hours.

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Edmondson, who started racing a Ford Cortina GT with a good deal of pace in his native Tasmania circa 1970 was the latest in a long list of drivers whose career was aided and abetted by Tasmanian businessman Don Elliott- others include Robin Pare, John Walker and Mark McLaughlin.

The pair raced this BMW, then the ex-McCormack Valiant Charger Repco-Holden F5000 V8 and later still the two K&A Engineering built Alfa Romeo Alfetta GTV Chev V8’s- he had a really nasty accident in the first of these at Surfers Paradise.

Later still, in the mid-eighties, they acquired Elfin Sportscars, bless ’em- after Garrie Cooper’s untimely death and built some fantastic FV, ANF2 and one Formula Holden before the economic realities finally caught up with them and the business changed hands to become a builder of road/race cars rather than racing cars. (i’m truncating)

Edmondson and Grice top of The Esses at Baskerville in 1978 looking as though it could turn to tears at any moment’ indeed Grant Twining, but did it!? (K Midgley)

I always admired Edmondson’s aggression, pace and mechanical ability- another guy wasted on Sports Sedans I thought, if he handles 5 litres so well why not jump aboard the ‘real F5000 deal’…

I do recall the BMW, not that I ever saw it race in Victoria- did it ever race on the ‘Big Island’ i wonder? No doubt it did.

The Baskerville photos, circa 1973, are great, particularly Tony’s cavalier disregard for his racegear- perhaps he was ‘just tootling around’ on day one of testing.

I’m very interested to know who did the engine installation- presumably a Borg Warner four-speeder is attached to the back of the RBE V8 but i’m just guessing. Which particular RBE 620 izzit, where did it come from and where is it now? Where is the BMW shell too I guess, although that is of less interest. The Holden ‘was one of the best Humpy’s going around, unfortunately it fell over one day and was binned’ wrote the HRCCT’s Grant Twining.

Lindsay Ross advises Don Elliott is about 90 years old and that Tony Edmondson still works for his ‘Elliots Self Storage’ business in Hobart. He also recalls the ‘Repco 4.4 gave them so much grief with cracking blocks.’

Correspondence welcome!

oldracephotos.com.au/Harrisson)

Top shot above is of Edmondson a few months later with the car now complete at Baskerville, 1973.

Credits…

Historic Racing Car Club of Tasmania, Keith Midgely

Etcetera…

 

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‘Its not too noisy, no cops about, how bout we swing past mums on the way back to Hobart’, or some such. As I say, very interested to find out and publish the fullest technical specifications of this car we can come up with.

Social media suggests the car ended up in Western Australia at some point?

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That’s not Edmondson in the ‘Fastman’ race suit- he is almost fully obscured by blue-cardigan man- who is the other racer?

Tailpiece: Turn-in is real noice…

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‘Hmm, maybe time to put my fire-proofs on’ is perhaps the drivers thoughts. And ‘Shit! This thing gets up and boogies.’

Note the Mawer Engineering wheels and ‘well back’ location of the engine. Intriguing to know the difference in weight between the cast iron block, alloy head BMW four and all alloy Repco V8.

This conversion is a ‘well-travelled path’ in the sense that the 1970 similarly engined Bob Jane Racing, John Sheppard built, Holden Torana GTR-XU1 ‘620’ 4.4 V8 showed just how quick this combination of compact car and very light ‘racing’ V8 could be.

Click here for a piece in part about this car, the Charger Repco and Corvair Chev; https://primotipo.com/2015/06/30/hey-charger-mccormacks-valiant-charger-repco/

Finito…

 

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The Story of the Repco-Brabham V8 Racing Engine as conveyed in Repco Technical News Volume 12 No 2, November 1965…

This gem is from Michael Gasking’s Collection and is reproduced in all of its glory, this is the 1966 Tasman/F1 engine later more commonly referred to as ‘RB620’, its internal Repco Parts Co project code was ‘620’. It will be difficult to read on your ‘phone, a bit easier on a larger device!

We have covered this engine already in primotipo, click on the links at the end of the article for these stories. Just a couple of ‘editorial comments’ or observations.

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RB620 and F1…

No mention is made of the engines F1 application so late in the piece, the new 3 litre F1 began on 1 January 1966. Brabham and Repco were playing their cards, understandably, close to their chest. Remember the RB620 V8 first ran in a car at 3 litres not 2.5, at Goodwood before racing in the non-championship South African GP, at Kyalami on 1 January 1966.

Melbourne motoring journalist Chris de Fraga, well known and respected by generations of Victorian enthusiasts is credited with first reporting Repco’s F1 plans in the Melbourne ‘Age’ in early October 1965, a report denied by Repco at the time. This document dated November 1965 was presumably circulated in that month or the following one.

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Jack’s Lovechild…

Brabham’s parentage of the project is ignored in this largely technical treatise of the engine, Jack’s involvement not ‘front and centre’ in this public document given the need for F1 confidentiality.

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‘The Men’…

The duo credited with the engine in the brochure are Chief Engineer of the Repco Parts Group, Frank Hallam and Project Engineer Phil Irving, the only guy missing, as stated above is Brabham. Its worth musing for a bit about the roles these three men played in the championship winning RB620.

In simple terms Jack was the engines conceptual designer- he pitched the Repco board a simple engine using the F85 Olds block as a base whose completed dimensions were to fit the existing BT19 chassis. Phil designed it, inclusive of its drawings. Jack provided both conceptual design and practical feedback to Phil on regular visits to Irving who was based near Brabhams early in 1964 as he progressed the engines design. All of the ‘RB620’ drawings were done by Phil and signed by him according to ex-Repco engineer and Repco Historian, Nigel Tait who has seen and reviewed them all in the process of archiving them with RMIT University, Melbourne, in recent years. Hallam was Repco Brabham Engines Pty. Ltd. General Manager and Chief Engineer. His role was primarily a management one although he had engineering oversight, his direct design and engineering input into RB620 something Hallam has sought to grab a greater share of down the decades.

After Irving’s death, Hallam in his book ‘Mr Repco Brabham’ comprehensively dumps all over Irving and seeks to take more credit than he is due for the ‘RB620’ engine inclusive of positioning Irving as its ‘draftsman’ – ‘draftsman casual’ in the employee list in his books Appendix. In fact all of the ‘Drawing Office Personnel’ listed are described as ‘draftsman’ despite several being degree qualified engineers. Hallam, on the other hand, formally qualified as a motor mechanic, lists himself as General Manager/Chief Engineer. The positioning he inaccurately seeks to convey is clear. In that context its interesting to see Phil’s title as ‘Project Engineer’ in this Repco publication of the day.

The very well known F1 engine designer and manufacturer John Judd joined the Repco Brabham Engines Maidstone design team at Jack Brabham’s behest in 1966. He pretty much unwittingly walked into a storm in terms of the final breakdown in the progressively declining working relationship between Hallam and Irving. Judds arrival at Maidstone was unannounced by Frank to Phil, the design leader at the time, thereby lighting the fuse for a final confrontation which was becoming increasingly inevitable.

Judd got the ‘rounds of the kitchen’ from Phil when he joined RBE according to both Phil’s autobiography and Frank’s book but Judd has this to say about Irving’s contribution to ‘RB620’ in a recent ‘Vintage Racecar’ magazine interview;

‘When Jack returned (to the UK) from the (1966) Tasman  series, he asked if I could go to Melbourne almost immediately, and work with Repco designing parts toward the next year’s engine. That lasted for about four months and I was back again for six months in 1967 working on the 1968 4-cam engine.’

‘The original 1966 engine had been designed almost 100% by Phil Irving of Velocette and HRD fame with input from Jack and Ron Tauranac, but Phil didn’t fit in well with the Repco corporate structure and fell out with his boss Frank Hallam. My insertion into an already fragile situation led to Phil leaving after I had been there two months or so, and to his replacement by Norm Wilson. Looking back at Jack’s 1966 World Championship winning engine, I believe it was largely the product of one man, Phil Irving, to an extent that is and will remain unique.’

Don’t get me wrong, Hallam played a vastly important role in marshalling Repco corporate resources to assemble the men and modern machines to build World Championship winning engines in 1966 and 1967. He was also a wonderful foil between the demanding requirements of the Repco Board and the daily dramas in Maidstone of building and servicing racing V8 engines so far from Brabham Racing Organisation’s Guildford base. But his contribution is more management than engineering detail of RB620 when objectively looked at in the context of all the published evidence and the views of those there at the time.

The antipathy between Irving and Hallam was and is well known, few Repco people want to go ‘on record’ about the topic, which is both understandable and frustrating at the same time. They, rightfully, recognise the contributions of both men. Irving’s book is respectful of Hallam, Hallam’s of Irving not so and was published well after Phil’s death- the shit-canning of Irving is grubby and un-Australian really. If you are going to ‘have a crack’ do so when the other dude can defend himself. Hallam’s book was contracted by him from Simon Pinder, the author. It is not objective as such (neither is Irving’s autobiography of course) but does add much to fill in the RBE story, the long interview with ’67 RB740 designer Norman Wilson is gold for example,  but the books quality varies from gold to ‘merde’ depending upon the chapter. One needs quite a lot of Repco knowledge to pick the chapters to treasure and those to treat with rather more circumspection.

Nigel Tait told me that Jack Brabham was very angry with a fair bit of the contents of the book- it would have been a good idea for the great man to have read its contents before writing the publications foreword! I will explore the relationship between Irving and Hallam, and Hallam’s claims, in detail, soon. In short, this Repco corporate piece puffs up Hallam’s racing background and downplays Irving’s, ‘twould be interesting to know who ‘signed off’ the content of this document before it’s publication.

Enjoy ‘The Story of The Repco-Brabham V8 Racing Engine’, its sensational. Wish I had it when Rodway Wolfe and I tackled the articles linked below 2 years ago!, having said that we have included a good bit of granular stuff not included in this official publication, so read together are not a bad crack at the ‘RB620’ subject…

Etcetera: Repco RB620 articles…

On the engines design and build

https://primotipo.com/2014/08/07/rb620-v8-building-the-1966-world-championship-winning-engine-rodways-repco-recollections-episode-2/

On the successful 1966 F1 season

https://primotipo.com/2014/11/13/winning-the-1966-world-f1-championships-rodways-repco-recollections-episode-3/

Bibliography…

Repco, ‘Vintage Racecar’ magazine, ‘Mr Repco Brabham’ Simon Pinder

Credits…

Michael Gasking Collection

Tailpiece: Repco Brabham Boys, Longford, March 1966…

Phil Irving, with collar and tie chats to Brabham whilst Frank Hallam at right susses the Brabham BT19’s suspension. Not sure what Roy Billington is up to. Note the long inlet trumpets of the Tasman 2.5 RBE620 V8. Its the engines 3rd race, South African GP then Sandown Tasman the week before Longford. Jack was 3rd with overheating and low fuel, Jackie Stewart won in a BRM P261 from Graham Hill’s sister BRM. Its 6 or 7 March 1966. BT19 was Jack’s F1 championship winning 1966 car, still in Oz owned by Repco (oldracephotos.com/Harold Ellis)