Richard Joseph (Dick) Ifield

THE RILEY CAR COMPANY - DECEMBER 1935 TO MARCH 1938


DICK'S PERSONAL STORY - THE RILEY CAR COMPANY - DECEMBER 1935 TO MARCH 1938.

Although Rileys were the first to sponsor Dick's inventions, they drove him to desperation for several months, by requesting repeat interviews at about weekly intervals, seemingly without progress. Dick's interviews were with Stanley Riley, who wasted most of the time in talking about gardens, racing cars and any topic other than a contract. Dick later learned that this was common practice in England; the purpose being to assess the qualities of the person being interviewed, before entering into any Agreement.

In desperation, Dick sought the advice of Monty Toombs, who was the Technical Editor of 'The Autocar'. He asked if he though Rileys, was in fact interested, and he said "They probably are interested and you must learn to be patient with us slow thinking Englishmen". He asked to see Dick's drawings. He showed him the transmission drawing and also the scheme for his restricted ration differential which he had not shown to Rileys. Monty Toombs was most enthusiastic about Dick's differential, saying that Rileys would be particularly interested, because this would give them an advantage in their efforts to gain War Office contracts for staff cars.

On Monty Toombs advice, Dick showed his restricted ratio differential to Stanley Riley, who called other engineers to look at it. Within a few days, the Chairman, Victor Riley, asked him to sign an Agreement to the following terms:
1. Dick was to provide all drawings for the manufacture of his inventions and Rileys were to pay him a retaining fee equivalent to a designer's salary.
2. Rileys would make, develop and exploit Dick's inventions to their mutual advantage.
3. Rileys would pay Dick 5% of all income from Royalties and Licence fees arising from his inventions and would pay similar Royalties on units they produced.

Dick learned later that this was a standard form of agreement between Companies and freelance inventors seeking sponsorship, apart from the fact that they should have paid him an option fee of 100 pound for each inventions included in the contract and this would have been particularly welcome at that time.

Rileys were a family Company, whose founder William Riley had retired and the Chief Executives were all Riley brothers as follows: Group Chairman - Victor Riley. Chief Engineer, Riley (Coventry) Limited - Stanley Riley. General Manager, Riley Engine Company - Percy Riley. General Manager, Riley Motor Body Company - Allen Riley. Sales Manager, Ted Riley. Competition Manager - Rupert Riley, a cousin of the brothers. He was given the responsibility for testing and demonstrating Dick's differential.

In Dick's work, he was concerned only with Victor, Stanley and Rupert, but he discussed design details with Rush (the Chief Designer) and he made lasting friendships with three designers, Ted Jones and the brothers Frank and Leslie Freeman.

Dick's work with Rileys began in December 1935 and the family then moved into a furnished house for several months, before furnishing a rented house, where their second and third sons Kenneth John and Francis Edward were born.

The differential prototypes, made to Dick's drawings, were completeled successfully, without any development being necessary and a Riley car so fitted gave an outstanding demonstration in competition with army staff cars at Farnborough. The War Office officials were very impressed and they placed an order for the conversion of some of their existing staff cars for further testing, with the expectation that this would lead to the standardisation of Dick's differential on all their wheeled vehicles. Dick was jubilant, but this was of no help to the Rileys in selling their cars. Dick designed the differential as ordered, but it was never made.

On Riley's liquidation, they were taken over by the Nuffield Group, but Victor Riley said that Dick's Agreement was with him and he asked Dick to continue his design work at Beans Industries, of which he was the major shareholder. He assured Dick that Beans would take action to fulfil the War Office order and would pursue the development and exploitation of this and Dick's other inventions.

During the slow train journeys between Coventry and Tipton, where Beans Industries were located, Dick evolved improvements to his peculiar brand of mathematics, based on 'Ifield Magic Numbers' and on an 'octal' system of numbers, as now employed for modern computers. Dick once said that "I am afraid I caused some waste of time among the Beans Industries technical staff, who became very interested in my system of mathematics, including Cecil Bianchi, the General Manager, until eventually he said "Ifield you are like a breath of fresh air from outer space, but we have work to do, so please stop showing us these things"."

Captain George Eyston's 3000 horsepower record breaking car 'Thunderbolt' was built by Beans Industries while Dick was there and he contributed by showing how the excessively heavy clutch pedal loadings could be greatly reduced.

Although he enjoyed talking to Dick about his ideas and was very friendly towards Dick, Cecil Bianchi refused to spend Company money for the development of his inventions, from which his Company would gain no benefit, so no action was taken by that Company. It was obvious that Victor Riley was using Beans Industries to hold Dick 'on ice', until he was ready to personally profit from his inventions. Dick therefore reviewed his position.

While working at Beans Industries, Dick had prepared coloured drawings of several useful inventions and he had begun to develop a design for a hydrostatic transmission which appeared to be very attractive for motor cars. He had learned that his name was known to the Chief Engineers of several vehicle manufacturers, as the result of the successful demonstration of his differential, so he was far better prepared for seeking a new sponsor, than was the case when he first arrived in England.

Dick believed that Rileys had invalidated their Agreement and he confirmed this with a Solicitor, who obtained Victor Riley's reluctant consent to release him from this Agreement.

Cecil Bianchi introduced Dick to Stephen Guy, of Guy Motors, who produced two wheel drive 'Guy Ant' vehicles and four wheel drive 'Guy Quad Ant' vehicles for the army. Stephen Guy was aware of the successful tests on Dick's differential and was anxious to employ his differentials for their vehicles, but he said that the differentials should be produced by a Company not concerned with vehicle manufacture. He said that Bendix Brakes Limited (a subsidiary of Joseph Lucas Limited) were looking for such a new product and their General Manager, Captain Irving, was a very good friend of his. He telephoned Irving and made an appointment for Dick the same day.

Oliver Lucas engaged Irving as General Manager and Chief Engineer of Bendix, to restore the profitability of that Company. Bendix brakes were in decreasing demand and most cars were being equipped with the superior Girling brakes, so Irving was looking for a product to replace the failing brake business. In fact Lucas later took over Girling Limited and the name Bendix Brakes Limited was abandoned.

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