Up 'Schmitt Creek

Another fine mess...

Running Repairs

Bernard Beeston's KR175Bernard Beeston's KR175

e live in a throw-away world. On modern cars (well, modern manufactured goods in general) the philosophy is not to repair but to replace, and modern manufacturing seems geared to frustrating anyone daft enough to actually consider repairing stuff for themselves. So many parts are now sealed units, pressed together never to come apart. Flaky DVD player? Chuck it — get a new one. Broken washing machine? Nah, that's "beyond economical repair". Endlessly repurchasing the same stuff every couple of years doesn't fit my definition of economical.

And what are you supposed to do when the 55 year old ignition switch on your KR175 suffers an internal failure? Well, I had a visit the other day from Bernard Beeston bearing the article on just this subject that appears later in this issue, and in his case, you carefully open the thing up and replace the failed component with an enhanced design that will probably last for another 55 years.

Now that vehicle technology has moved on so far it's easy to look at 'schmitts with the sentimental eye of a collector where once they were viewed purely as a functional possesion with a job to do. Bernard's car, 855 EMY is a perfect example of a machine simply doing the job for which it was designed and it carries several modifications (including KR200 wings) made for strictly practical reasons borne out of necessity and its owner's many years of experience. The details of many of these modifications have appeared in Take Off over the years.

Now it might well be that few of us will have to deal with a duff 175 ignition switch ourselves, but that's not the point — we'll certainly have to fix some component that was never intended to be fixed, and there's a lot of satisfaction to be had in getting more good service out of things that are "beyond economical repair".


Looking back through Take Off in recent years I have to admit that the KR175 has somehow had very limited coverage. Surely this is unjust. It's exterior styling is, to many, even more elegant than its successors. It's construction is fascinating, particularly for those familiar with the KR200 as it is in many respects a completely different design which yields almost the same appearance.

One example of this design evolution is the front suspension. Where the KR200 (and TG500 in slightly modified form) use the rubber torsion spring, the KR175 has a simple hinged arm attached to which is a right-angled plate that presents a vertical face parallel to to vertical surface of the inner wing. As the suspension hinges upwards so the plate and the inner wing surfaces come closer together — and an ingenious rubber ball placed between the two surfaces acts as a compression spring.

Although elegant I can only assume that it proved excessively complicated to manufacture and owing to the very limited travel in the system resulted in the 175's famously firm ride.

The relationship between rarity and value is a funny thing — it's the combination of scarcity and demand that sets monetary value. While it can't be argued that 175s are indeed rare there is, somehow, less demand for them than other 'schmitts which seems surprising.

You do not have access to view this node

Published in Take Off, May 2011, Volume 2011, No. 2