By Paul Schwartz
Originally published in the Austin-Healey Magazine, June 1992
The Al-Fin brake drum is unknown by some Healey owners and sought the world over by others. Those who would trade in their spouse for a set of these drums are attracted in part by its obscurity; also any factory authorized accessory for the first big Healey is always desirable.
The Al-Fin brake drum was produced by a company in England called Wellworthy. The exact location of which I am not aware as the company went out of business years ago. Anyone out there have any information about this? ed.
There were two, possibly three, different types of drums produced for the LeMans cars. The earliest species of Al-Fin drum was illustrated and bestowed a part number 7H. 1719 in the Special Equipment and Tuning Instructions for the Austin-Healey Hundred (Model BN- 1) booklet. This booklet has been beautifully reproduced in Healey Highlights, Volume 16, No. 9. Call or write the Back Issues Director if you care to have this issue.
The drum was produced for 1-3/4 inch brakes. Apparently road tests revealed a poor union between the inner steel brake lining and the aluminum body causing the lining to tear away and spin on itself inside the drum. Wellworthy, therefore, redesigned the drum. As I know of no factory illustration of this drum, I have included a picture of the piece. It is also a 1-3/4 inch brake drum and has 60 fins running at right angles to the drum. They were offered in the Parts List for the Austin-Healey Hundred under Rear Axle and Rear Brakes section as optional extra equipment given part number 7H. 1825.
By written communication with John Wheatley, a pair of these "Turbo Fin" type drums cost 16 Pounds Sterling in 1955. This was very expensive when you consider that a salary in those days of 20 Pounds per week gross was very good pay.
Now comes the intrigue. It is reported that somewhere out there is a2-1/4 inch Al-Fin drum made for the larger BN-2 brakes. There is no part number or illustration of this piece either. However the front drum has inscribed -WELLWORTHY- AL-FIN G.D. and internally NOWOG. The drums are not interchangeable as there are four fixing stud holes on the front drums and five on the back.
I, nor anyone I have contacted, has ever seen such a drum. Because no part number is available, I have to question its existence. Any information about "THE LOST DRUM" would be fascinating. If such a drum is ever found, with no part number, how do we prove that it is a factory option? Seems like good material for a new mystery thriller.
The turbo fin Alfin Drum has markings
Late Alfin drum
Early Alfin drum
Steel brake lining bonded to the alu drum. This would break away on the earlier drums
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