Author Topic: Firsky's in the early days, a reminice from Alan Hitchcock  (Read 7075 times)

Stuart Cyphus

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Firsky's in the early days, a reminice from Alan Hitchcock
« on: January 06, 2010, 02:16:22 PM »
 From the big man himself, an intresting viewpoint of the beginings of Frisky production....   ;D

Frisky Production and my Father

  I noted while skimming the forum the mention of Gordon Bedson. My father worked with/for him at Vickers at some point. I am not sure if he was one of the Hersley Park boys, which seemed to be the place where the best engineers went. My father went from aeroplane construction in the war to design and therefore did his time in the drawing office with such as, David Trim, journo and historic rally organiser Malcolm MacKay’s father and Ted Hart who rose to be chief engineer on the Concord project among others. These clever men new each other professionally if not personally.

  My father moved to Vickers South Marston factory in 1956, which is why the family is based in Faringdon. During the early years of jobbing round projects in the huge works before he settled into the nuclear division he came in touch with Gordon Bedson. Like many large factory there was always a problem in keeping the skilled workforce busy between lucrative contracts so Vickers management looked at many products and contract engineering jobs to occupy the work force. Bedson arrived with several, presumably prototype, cars having convinced the Vickers management to consider taking on the production of the car. The fact he was an ex-employee might have helped.

  Now it is a fact of life that engineers have a pecking order. Top are the experimental, nuclear, aero-based high-flyers. Bottom were those graduates who went to British Rail. Automotive engineering was not high flying. I can only report what my father said about the Friskys they had to drive and evaluate. He said they were appalling and the Vickers engineers reported back to the head office that in their opinion the machine needed a radical redesigning before it had a chance of being marketed successfully. In this case the heads of department must have agreed as no contract to manufacture the Frisky at South Marston was sought. I think Bedson was probably a bit upset at the total rejection of his piers and it will be interesting to know if he made any record of the affair. As if to underline the rejection the works produced the Stanley Kubrik 2001 space station wheel for the film studios so they would turn their hand to most things to keep the plant employed.

 Big Al

marcus

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Re: Firsky's in the early days, a reminice from Alan Hitchcock
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2010, 02:23:33 PM »
Interesting. Vickers also made the extraordinary German "flying wing" plane for Raiders of the Lost Ark, the one which goes round and round on the ground then decapitates a baddie with its props. It was a combination of various experimental plane designs, designed to look as "Nazi" as possible.
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john Meadows

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Re: Firsky's in the early days, a reminice from Alan Hitchcock
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2010, 07:55:35 PM »
Its good to see The Frisky being discussed on the Forum and get the opportunity to unravel further bits of its history

Gordon Bedson worked for Vickers from 1950 to 1951 when he joined Kieft and designed many now well known racing cars, the most famous being that driven by Stirling Moss
.
Four years later in 1954 when Kieft was sold, he joined Meadows as Export Sales Manager selling Meadows engines around the globe. Raymond Flower bought the concept of a “small peoples car” to Meadows in 1956. and upon taking it up Meadows moved Gordon Bedson
onto the Frisky project to take advantage of his previous experience. He had had no involvement with it prior to that.

The very first prototype chassis (nicknamed the Bug) was registered in December 1956  following its testing at Oulton Park and  Michelotti  was commissioned by Raymond Flower to design the body. Road testing commenced in 1957, and Mike Worthington-Williams recalled having a lift in it back to Shawbury RAF Camp in early 1957 .The Gull winged Frisky its self was finally launched at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1957.

The Gull wing design proved to expensive to produce and so a total redesign took place resulting in the launch of “Meadows FriskySport” at Earls Court in October 1957

The Frisky Alan refers to is I believe The Frisky Sprint prototype which was exhibited in October 1958 Motor show to a great” roll of drums” saying it would be built by Vickers-Armstrong (Aircraft) Ltd at South Marston. It was a stunning little car and Bedson’s own design, No Michelotti involvement at all

The Sprint never went into production , which was a great pity and  Gordon Bedson left Meadows the following spring to join Lightburn in Australia a to develop the Zeta Sports, but that as they say is another story.

John


marcus

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Re: Firsky's in the early days, a reminice from Alan Hitchcock
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2010, 08:04:47 PM »
John, you may be interested in this: when I made a demonstration model of a Newcomen atmospheric engine it was filmed at the Black Country Living Museum at Dudley, pretty much on the exact spot of Newcomen's 1712 engine, the world's first self-governing reciprocating machine.

 It is a great place, with indoor and outdoor exhibits and activities. In the main indoor hall are many products from that area, including a Frisky (Family 3?) and a Kieft junior racing car, as well as a scooter. There are various other cars, cycles, trams and buses. I have photos of the Frisky and Kieft "somewhere". well worth a visit, especially in reasonable weather!
Just remember: as one door closes behind you, another slams in your face

john Meadows

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Re: Firsky's in the early days, a reminice from Alan Hitchcock
« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2010, 09:27:22 PM »
Thanks Marcus for letting me know.

I did have a look a that Frisky a couple of years ago, it used to belong to a friend of mine but has obviously been through hard times  since as it is now very much a "bitsa". It will take a lot to get it right, lets hope the BCLM will one day put in the resources to make it a worthy exhibit

Once again thanks for letting me know

John

Bob Purton

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Re: Firsky's in the early days, a reminice from Alan Hitchcock
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2010, 10:10:31 PM »
Hi Marcus. Talking of demonstration models, I don't know if you watch Cranford on BBC1, second series episode 2 was shown Sunday before last featured a waywiser replica that I made especially for the drama series, it only had to look like one but I went the extra mile and made a working example. Not exactly a microcar but it least it has a wheel! :D

Jim Janecek

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Re: Firsky's in the early days, a reminice from Alan Hitchcock
« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2010, 02:22:19 AM »
OK here is a Frisky question; who -if anyone- could be attributed with the following "review" of the car:
"like being dragged around with your arse on a shovel"

I thought this was originally attributed to Henry Meadows but I can't find anything to confirm that.

perhaps elsewhere or I got my quotes mixed up someplace whilst drinking heavily at a Kleinwagentreffen?

marcus

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Re: Firsky's in the early days, a reminice from Alan Hitchcock
« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2010, 08:25:03 AM »
Jim, I like the quote but no idea who said it.
Bob, you know the rules: let's see a photo! NOW!
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Bob Purton

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Re: Firsky's in the early days, a reminice from Alan Hitchcock
« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2010, 10:24:22 AM »
Jim. I like the quote too but I think it better describes driving a Messerschmitt than a Frisky, they are quite refined by comparison.

Marcus, as one prop maker to another how could I refuse such a demand. I took great care in the painting of the waywiser and was shocked to see it on its return to the props dept covered in white stuff. When I watched the prog I realised why, it was used to push the railway through a salt quarry!


marcus

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Re: Firsky's in the early days, a reminice from Alan Hitchcock
« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2010, 10:45:11 AM »
You forgot the pedals, oh it's not a unicycle?!
Seriously though, very nice, did you make the gauge too or was it something you already had?
Just remember: as one door closes behind you, another slams in your face

blob

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Re: Firsky's in the early days, a reminice from Alan Hitchcock
« Reply #10 on: January 07, 2010, 11:25:54 AM »
Quote
"like being dragged around with your arse on a shovel"

I too have read this quote but can't remember where  ???

john Meadows

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Re: Firsky's in the early days, a reminice from Alan Hitchcock
« Reply #11 on: January 07, 2010, 01:23:03 PM »
After the war Meadows made engines for almost everthing but cars, so as a young bloke (I was once!) I was not that interested in engines, but now Meadows was building a car my interest suddenly picked up so I asked my father, Henry Meadows, "Dad whats it like to go in?"

My father who at that time had a 3.8 Jag (Morse Type) which probably affected his judgement a little, replied

"Its like being  dragged along the road, on your arse, on a shovel"

As you can see he had a way with words!!!!

The quote has been cleaned up a bit by the more sensitive reviewers, but that's the original.

So now you know           John   (Henry J Meadows)     

marcus

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Re: Firsky's in the early days, a reminice from Alan Hitchcock
« Reply #12 on: January 07, 2010, 01:26:33 PM »
Thanks John, I thought you might be the one to shed light on this! Judging by Jim's question I think he might have been thinking along those lines too!
(I wonder if he ever had a go in a 'schmitt)
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Bob Purton

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Re: Firsky's in the early days, a reminice from Alan Hitchcock
« Reply #13 on: January 07, 2010, 03:16:20 PM »
Marcus, the gauge is an old revolution counter I had knocking about, it looked very similar to the one I was asked to copy. In the end it didn't matter much because the main shot was a guy wheeling it across the salt quarry at a reasonable distance away, then another shot of it thrown over the guys shoulder with dial out of site.
 My memory of driving the Frisky that's now in the Bruce wiener museum was that it was very "Frisky"! It had a twin villiers engine that smoked like billio, the ride was good, so was the steering but the brakes were dangerously oversensitive, it must have either had the wrong brake cylinders fitted or else a design fault, incorrect fulcrum point or something, the gentlest of touches almost put you through the windscreen! I wish I had kept it.

john Meadows

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Re: Firsky's in the early days, a reminice from Alan Hitchcock
« Reply #14 on: January 07, 2010, 06:31:50 PM »
All Friskys had "good" brakes in fact the original brakes were re designed to reduce its rather sharpe action.

That car would be a bit more Frisky as it was fitted with a Villiers 3T originaly it had the smaller 9E when it was registered in September 1959.

This original Mark 1 Family three did not have rear seats. These were tried out in the Mk2 with the longer chassis and the engine was moved back out of the cabin.
Unfortunatly they were soon dropped as there was not enough room in the back to fit your children in unless you cut their legs off which didn't prove too popular

Is this Frisky week in Rum Cars ? Great Fun!!

John