History Su Chapter 5

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Miss Beatrice Shilling, Tilly to her friends, was born 1909. To give an insight into her life, she was awarded a Gold Star in the 1930s for lapping Brooklands on her Norton 500 motorcycle at over 100mph. Starting her career as an electrician, with an engineering degree gained at Manchester University, Tilly was recruited as a Scientific Officer by the Royal Aircraft Establishment where she remained until her retirement in 1969.

Beatrice is credited with a quick and interim fix for an issue with the Merlin engine when under negative G. When entering into a steep dive the engine suffered a ‘fluff’ caused by the fuel level at the jets momentarily being thrown to the top of the float chamber, starving the jet of fuel for 1.5 seconds. Despite this being a potentially disastrous situation, the carburetters were able to function normally after the floats had regained control.

The solution credited to Tilly was a restrictor (or orifice plate) with a calibrated aperture in the centre that was fitted to the fuel line before the carburetter. It limited the fuel flow to a volume only slightly less than the engine demanded at full power and while it did not stop the momentary weak hesitation, it did prevent the 1.5 second rich cut.

Beatrice was awarded an OBE in 1948, raced a 1935 Lagonda at Silverstone and took part in sportscar races at Goodwood in the 1950s. She died in 1990 aged 81.

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