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Edward Turner image immediately above is perhaps more famous for bringing the world the seminal cc Triumph 5T Speed Twin. On the one hand, the Speed Twin has certainly enjoyed a more profound legacy inasmuch as the basic design of the 5T lasted into the s and beyond. But on the other hand, the cc Ariel Square Four unquestionably delivered more impact when it debuted in also at Olympia and went on sale the following year. And unlike the Speed Twin, the Square Four can rightly be called a superbike; not necessarily the first, but certainly one of the greatest.
The design began as a twin-crankshaft, four-cylinder, air-cooled engine with the cylinders grouped in a single block. Within this block, the pistons are arranged two-per-crank. Those pistons rise and fall vertically, one up and one down on each crank journal i. The crankshafts are transversely arranged with one at the front and one immediately behind. A single camshaft, indirectly chain-driven from the right side of the crankshaft, is located in the cylinder head between the front and rear cylinders.
Via another chain, that camshaft also drives the generator and magneto. The oil pump is a gear type. The valves are opened with rocker arms actuated by the camshaft lobes. Conventional valve springs keep those poppets under control in the usual way. A single carburettor feeds all four cylinders and is located between the exhaust header pipes see immediately above which no doubt heavily compromises gas flow.
FOUR SQUARE COURT MANAGEMENT CO. LIMITED - Officers (free information from Companies House)
These early two-pipe 4F engines, like other Fours in the range, are arranged with exhaust ports exiting each side of the engine, whereby each exhaust serves two cylinders; one front, and one rear. The exhaust manifold are cast integrally with the cylinder head. The bore and stroke is, respectively, 56mm x 61mm. The power output is around 23 - 25hp 5,rpm. The clutch is a conventional wet multi-plate unit that transfers the power to a four-speed Burman gearbox.
Gear-changing is by hand. Final drive is via the usual single row chain. The frame is rigid. The front fork is a girder. The rest of the cycle parts are typical of the era, including the well-equipped and attractive "panel" tank.
The wheels are 3. Prototype The prototype Square Four engine, note, differed markedly from the production version see the image immediately above. This cc unit featured overhanging cranks, meaning that there are no "outside" main bearings think bicycle pedals again. The cranks, it appears, were connected via straight-cut gears which would have significantly increased engine noise. It was all a good starting point, but the concept was soon revised largely by the hugely competent Val Page, image immediately above, who did so much for Ariel, BSA and Triumph and never saw production.
To achieve this, the cylinder bores of the engine were opened 5mm, but the stroke remained the same. The extra power was broadly welcomed, not least by "sidecar men", but the engine ran slightly less smooth and slightly hotter.
Nevertheless, it was still a great power unit, and although bike sales were still relatively low at 2, units, the 4F was eagerly received. Gear-shifting, incidentally, was now by foot rather than hand. However, the big news that year was that Ariel had run into financial trouble which necessitated a major restructuring by Sangster.
His strategy was a little brutal, but it worked and the company became more streamlined, albeit smaller. The overhead camshaft was lost, however. With a nominally 1,cc engine, the aluminium housing for the right-side cam chain would have made the engine uncomfortably wide and impractical, so partly for this reason the decision was taken to move to pushrods. With this change, some of the OHC mystique was lost, but given the technical limitations and materials technology of the era, it was a safer solution, and Ariel wanted nothing if not reliability from its product.
A cc version actually cc of this pushrod 4G engine still listed as a 4F , was also available for a while. Two years later, Ariel upgraded the rear suspension from rigid and introduced its optional "Anstey link" see image immediately above.
You can think of this system as something between swinging-arm suspension and plunger. The idea was to maintain constant drive chain tension.
But the penalty is numerous links and pivots that require regular maintenance for optimum performance, and the amount of suspension travel is, at the end of all that, just a couple of inches. It works, but not all Ariel men and women are fans. Post-war saw the end of the girder fork which was replaced by telescopic units.
Four Square Court (TV Series 1952– ) - Release Info - IMDb
The most significant difference was the introduction of an all-aluminium cylinder head and barrel which replaced the cast iron components. Now around 30lbs lighter, the new model cooled a little better, was a little brisker, and certainly sounded different.
Coil ignition was also introduced, and performance was improved slightly at 90mph.