The Meissner Thread

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ZA Perana
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The Meissner Thread

Post by ZA Perana » Fri 14 Dec 2007, 19:22

Thought it was high time we started a dedicated Meissner thread on the forum, in my opinion this is an often overlooked tuner, someone that’s largely been forgotten.

Henry is our resident Meissner enthusiast, so please if I make any errors I apologize in advance!

Looking through the Meissner years it’s hard to pick a highlight so I wont even try, suffice to say that I am going to start this thread with the ultimate of the OHC Meissner cars.

The OHC idea was a great one, in some ways it echoed the idea used on the Viva GT, thought as far as I understand it the original cam was retained to and the “new” overhead cam was driven off the toothed belt, sorry technical areas aren’t my strong point!

In many ways the OHC conversion was designed to breath new life into the 1600 Ford motor that was starting to struggle to stay competitive against the might of Renault and Alfa.

My research seems to indicate the development of the OHC conversion wasn’t all plain sailing, the first few conversions suffering from damaged cams due to a lack of upper lubrication, this problem was subsequently solved by I believe installing a new oil pump of high capacity.

The Power Plus kit consisted of the following
- twin side draught carburetors
- high compression pistons
- new cylinder head
- double valve springs
- oil cooler
- performance exhaust
This was engine cost R1000 meaning that in 1969 it would be considered rather expensive! Though the results were well worth it, 130 bhp and the capability to rev to 7500 and reach a top speed of 110 mph and a 0- 60 mph time of 8.7 seconds, impressive considering this is only a 1600 engine. In basic terms this was a race engine for the road and was marketed as such.

So ends the first part of the Meissner story!
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Re: The Meissner Thread

Post by Railway » Fri 14 Dec 2007, 19:45

This should get Henry to put his work aside for a moment ! The Meisner story although was not in my main interest those years I compare with the legacy of the late Bill Blydenstein and what he did for Vauxhall. Willie Meisner as we have been told especially from persons like the legendry Koos Swannepoel himself, saying the man had genius in him. Just as with Bill Bydenstien. What they touched worked.

The sad thing is that we have not looked after our heritage with regards many classics. Where there are Vauxhall spin-off's of Bill Blydenstein running around or existing in the UK for instance sadly here we hardly see anything Willie Mesner except for the famous race Escort which is being restored, the Loius Powell replica Meisner Escort and that Capri we see posted elsewhere on the forum.

Has anyone thought of building a Meisner Cortina MK2 replica for hsitorics which was a 2 door unlike the 4 door MK2 Perana Cortina or even the V6 Meisener Capri both examples as which Peter Gough raced back then ?

Thoughts ?
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ZA Perana
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Re: The Meissner Thread

Post by ZA Perana » Fri 14 Dec 2007, 20:20

I think it would be a fantastic idea to build a a Meissner Capri race car, or even a 4 door Cortina with the OHC conversion...though finding one of these kits might be difficult, nearly bought a brand new one about a year ago, was going for R3k....
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Re: The Meissner Thread

Post by ZA Perana » Fri 14 Dec 2007, 20:41

Meissner Part 2: the 1968 Peter Gough Meissner Ford

Again largely forgotten but being restored to its former glory.

1968 was the start of the Meissner Esort Project, the basic ingredients being

- FVA Cosworth motor, the first to be fitted to a racing Escort anywhere in the world. This motor produced 220 bhp and revved to 9000 rpm. The engine also boasted dry sump lubrication, the surge tank being mounted in the boot.The engine also used fuel injection, quite novel at the time when most engines were using carbs. Not happy with the std engine, Willie raised the compression ratio from 12.1 to 12.5 to 1 by fitting differant crank and conrods, the eventual capacity being 1.7 liters.
- Gearbox was a farly std item and caused all manner of problems in the 1968 season, there were two sets of ratios to deal with differant tracks. Eventually a rubber cupling was made to try to damp the shock tramsitted to the gearbox.
- A stadard Ford diff, with limited slip and a there were a wide range of ratios to suit dfferant tracks. Half shafts were std items and were apparently replaced frequently. In the highest ratio it could theoretically achieve 260 km/h.
- A Ford Escort GT 2 door body, complete with trim, apparently one of the first produced by Ford in SA.
- Brakes were a mix, Zephyr at the front and Cortina at the rear, harder race spec pads were used.
- Suspension comprised of stiffened stiffened springs at the front and adjustable coil springs at the rear.

Of course the car was rather fast, top speed with 4.4 ratio was around 142 mph or 228 km/h.

Despite reliability issues mainly concerning the gearbox the car managed to win three races on the trot and set new lap records in Cape Town, Kyalami.

And so concludes Part 2..... :D
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Re: The Meissner Thread

Post by henryk » Wed 19 Dec 2007, 10:16

Hi Guys

Busy time of year. Just read the wonderfull recallection of the Meissner era.

Have got a lot to add but no time now. Hopefully things quieten down after Xmas and I will have time to add my few cents worth.

Food for thought. Are you guys aware that Basil Green also marketed his own OHC kit for the X flow Fords. Never saw one but seen pictures in his advert in Motoring Mirror.

Cheers before I get carried away !
Escort's Forever !

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Re: The Meissner Thread

Post by redracer » Wed 19 Dec 2007, 19:22

Nice thread this :P , I have heard a few things over the years about the OHC conversion and all seem to agree that it was a bit of a flop. I know of about 3 people with kits, some still wrapped in plastic as it was bought back in the day 8O . I actually assumed at first that the Meissner Escort ran with the OHC conversion but was later corrected by hearing that it was actually the FVA.

Henry will be looking forward to your input on the matter ;)

CheeRS

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Re: The Meissner Thread

Post by henryk » Thu 20 Dec 2007, 07:56

Will try and add something next week. Should be quiet at work then.

Cheers
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Re: The Meissner Thread

Post by henryk » Fri 21 Dec 2007, 14:42

Hi guys.

Ironic that you would start the thread with one of Willie Meissners less successfull ventures. Yes the OHC conversion was actually a flop, although it carried a full Ford warranty.

Willie's basic idea was brilliant, opening the valves with a belt driven cam situated in a cambox directly above the valves, cutting out the need for pushrods, rockers, rockershaft etc. The original cam was retained but only to drive the distributor and oil pump.

Problems experienced were plenty, and here I talk from heresay. Apparently getting the cambox to seal on top of the cylinder head was a major problem. Also for reasons unknown the lobes would be worn off the cam rather quickly.

Talking to Peter Gough recently he said that Willie sent him up to Jhb with an OHC kitted car on a few occasions to get the reef based motoring magazines to test an OHC equipped car. But he never made it. Inevitably something would go wrong in the middle of the Karoo and they had to return the car to Cape Town.

Quite a few of these kits are still around, probably because few people could get them to work long enough to make it a viable proposition. Remarkable as it's almost 40 years since the kits were produced. One day time permitting I still want to build a show engine with this Meissner OHC kit fitted. But purely for display purposes.

As for the 130 Bhp produced, it sounded a lot but actually was not.

Pity no one ever did a comparative test with a normal 1600 X flow fitted with twin 40mm Webers, high compression pistons, performance exhaust, stage 3 cam, modified head etc. Surely the latter would have been more reliable and probably produced the same horsepower.


To me the major advantage of the OHC kit would have been the lack of valvetrain and tappet noise.

But so ingenious was Willie Meissner's idea that Basil Green immediately copied it and started marketing his own OHC kits.

Some misconceptions exist as to what was a "Meissner" Capri for example.

You could fit an MV1 cam to your V6 Capri and it was a Meissner Capri.

Or you could add modified heads and it would be a Meissner Capri

Then you could add a different intake & 4 barrel carb and it would still be a Meissner Capri.

So there were various stages of tuning equipment manufactured by Meissner for just about every British Ford in the late 60's and early 70's. Yes even the V4 Essex engines.

At the time the main tuning shops in the country were Meissner Motors in Paarden Eiland and Superformance in Jhb. As such these companies also competed on the racetrack. For 1964 Ford S A supplied each of these companies with a newly imported full race 140 bhp Lotus Cortina. This was also the 1st year of the S A Saloon Car Championship. Koos Swanepoel won the championship in the Meissner prepared car. At the end of 1964 Meissner had developed the car to produce 170 bhp. Somewhere at home i've got the tests done by Car magazine on the car at the beginning and end of the 1964 seasons.

More later.
Escort's Forever !

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ZA Perana
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Re: The Meissner Thread

Post by ZA Perana » Fri 21 Dec 2007, 19:47

Great post Henry, I didnt know about the BG OHC conversion, I wonder if that was any more successful......met a guy that worked at Meissner when the OHC conversion was being developed and he told me much the same problem areas as you did.

Will post up more but havent had time this week to go and do some research.....
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Re: The Meissner Thread

Post by ZA Perana » Sun 23 Dec 2007, 18:24

Another interesting thing about the Lotus Cortina that was run by Willie Meissner under Dart Service Station was the fact that he managed to get the troublesome A bracket/arm suspension system to work, Lotus itself abandoned the system as the system put too much stress onto the diff causing the center casing to crack, Willie apparently solved this problem and it was never an issue in SA.

Whats also interesting is that the car itself was not owned by Meissner, at the end of 1963 he said to Ford "give me a car and I will give you the championship", a lofty promise but one he fullfilled and its was arguably at this poiint that the Ford/Meissner relationship started, though it must be said Ford were already well acquainted with Willie from the days when he was a partner in the GSM company.
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