The book is certainly worth reading, but it makes clear that the engine was never given power development; all the effort was directed at reliability. That thing was a blank piece of paper 10 moths before the race; once they found that 1KHp, all the effort was directed at reliability. No surprise there.
Don't know who at Ilmore loved needle bearings, but those things are death without tolerances in the tenths. If the program continued, I'm guessing that pressure-fed plain bearings would have showed up in several places.
"I was thinking about making a special cylinder head for a pre-war Mercedes engine, and was thinking about valve train geometry along those lines."
I'd love to see what you have in mind! I still fantasize about a wedge-chamber head for 616 engines.
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