'Cutting Edge Conversations' by E.J. 'Ted' Cutting, C.Eng.F.I.Mech.E.
Published 2012. 268 pages. A limited edition, in hardback, with DVD included in the back cover.
The text covers the eight decades of Ted's life and includes a DVD of the 2003 lecture 'Racing Astons'. Much of the book is in interview format, hence its title. Publication came shortly after Ted's death in early 2012, but he was able to approve the final version of the book.
E.J. 'Ted' Cutting, a modest English Design Engineer, reveals his story and the background to the global impact of his work in a fascinating career that began before WW2 and developed during the golden years of motor-racing which then flowed throughout the globalisation of the automotive industry. One of the defining moments in automobile racing history was when the Aston Martin Team took on the world at the 1959 Le Mans 24 hour race and triumphed with an outright win for Britain. The DBR1s came in first and second and their overall success was in part due to the creative genius in design and advanced engineering by the Aston Martin Race Car Chief Engineer - Ted Cutting.
A review by Andy Chapman. AAE.TechEng. AMIMI (reprinted from AM News No.769 April 2014, p.46)
Having recently read the book "Cutting Edge Conversations" produced as a compilation of the life and work of Ted Cutting, I found it (especially as an automotive engineer and long standing Aston enthusiast) so enjoyable, even 'the warts and all', as they say. He came across as an truly independent thinker using his experience with KLG, Glacier Bearings and the RAF to design those special 1950s / 1960s Aston Martin race cars. One eye opener for me was the design of an 8000 rpm engine which was really pushing the boundaries for Astons. Another was introducing and working direct with a pattern maker to modify patterns which speeded up manufacture of castings during that frantic period. I was fortunate as Ted came to see DP 215 when we rebuilt the engine and chassis much later at Chapman-Spooner. His recall from the 1960s on this car was incredible. I felt he lived and breathed for the race cars, a fact that comes over in the book. He was the right man in the right place at the right time. Many thanks to fellow enthusiast Stuart Bailey for his overall attention to detail in producing this book for Ted.
PS: my 96 year old Auntie Ruth may have met Ted on the crossing to USA on the Queen Elizabeth in war time, but you would have to read the book to find a tentative connection.
A review by Richard Loveys, AMHT Trustee (reprinted from AMQ 47.199 Summer 2013, p.78)
We lost a very talented engineer when Ted Cutting died in 2012. He played a pivotal role in the history of the David Brown era of Aston Martin and is perhaps best remembered for designing the DBR series of racing cars, one of which (the DBR1) achieved the company's goal of winnig at Le Mans in 1959. In the same year the company gained the World Sports Car Championship. Ted Cutting was, as Tony Brooks put it, 'very modest and retiring by nature' and so his achievements are not as well known as they should be. This book goeas a long way to restoring the balance and should be of great interest to anyone who follows the fortunes of Aston Martin.
The book is a little unusual in that much of it is a record of a series of conversations - rather than interviews - that Ted Cutting had with Club Members Stuart Bailey and Brian Joscelyne.A few explanatory notes were added to clarify details; the results were edited and then finally approved by Ted Cutting who had been involved with the whole process. While you read the book the feeling is almost that you are listening to the discussion between friends. There are, as you might expect, some parts which cover detailed engineering matters to do with car and engine design, but there are also comments on broader topics such as the relative merits of diesel and petrol engines, a comparison of disc and drum brakes, and comments about unleaded petrol.
The book starts with a foreword by Viscountess Downe who, with her late husband, was involved with Ted Cutting when they owned and raced Project 212.The points are made that the book will not only be enjoyed by all who read it but that it might also encourage younger readers to follow a career in engineering. A short introduction by Stuart Bailey then outlines how the book came to be produced.
The conversations start at the beginning of Ted Cutting's career and follow it through in chronological order, with several interesting diversions on the way. His first job was as a junior draughtsman with the KLG spark plug company. The war then intervened when he joined the Fleet Air Arm in 1944 and he was training to be a pilot at the point the war ended. After being demobbed he had jobs with two refridgeration companies which did not quite meet his needs. The next job was with the Allard Motor Company until early in 1949 where he worked as a draughtsman designing cars made mainly from Ford components.
A vacancy became avaialble at Aston Martin and Ted Cutting was employed as a draughtsman. Some of his ealiest work was on the Claude Hill designed DB2 racing cars. He then worked on all the DB era racing cars, gaining steady promotion over the years.The design process of the DBR1 is covered from the initial briefing, through the design and testing, to the final development of the cars.There is a lot of information about racing engines as these took a lot of his time. The last car that he designed for Aston Martin was Project 215.
After his time with Aston Martin Ted Cutting worked for the Glacier bearing Company, mainly involved with components for very large engines such as power station turbines.This was followed by time with Ford, where he worked on numerous road cars such as the Capri, the Granada and the Corsair. Finally he worked on a consultancy basis for Aston Martin when it was being run by Victor Gauntlett and this included involvement with the AMR1 programme.
The second half of the book comprises a series of articles, mainly written by Ted Cutting, some of which appeared in 'AM Quarterly' or its predecessors.Two are about the Project cars, one is on the Formula 1 DBR4, with others on camshaft design and the DBR1. In addition there is one from 'Motorsport' about the Mercedes 300 SLR. Next is the record of a discussion in 2010 comparing DBR1/1 as it was then, with its original design. These are followed by some papers relating to te Institute of Mechanical Engineers, written by Ted Cutting. The papers cover such topics as his professional training, and exhaust emissions.The final document is a detailed and interesting report prepared for Aston Martin and Proteus Technologies about different engine designs to be considered for the 1991 Group C racing car; it recommended a 3500cc V12 engine, but the ideas were never used as the AMR1 programme was closed in 1990.
The book is attractively presented and contains a great number of pictures, many of which have not been published before. A table of contents would have been helpful. The book is clearly printed on good quality paper and comes in a full colour and informative dust jacket. The final treat in store with this book is the DVD, which is attached to the inside of the back cover. It is a recording of the lecture given by Ted Cutting to the Institute of Mechanical Engineers on 16th April 2003; it starts with a brief introduction and is then devoted to the design and development of the DBR1. The lecture lasts about an hour and a quarter and includes numerous interesting slides. This is followed by half an hour of questions and answers, and finally a brief discussion next to DBR1/2.
The book and the DVD are not to be missed - buy a copy now before they are all sold.