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Note: This is a sub-section of 1927 Institution of Mechanical Engineers
Visits to Works (Excursions) in the Midlands area
MESSRS. JAMES ARCHDALE AND COMPANY, BIRMINGHAM.
James Archdale and Co
This machine-tool business was founded in 1868 and in addition to the main works in Ledsam Street, occupies a new branch works at Blackpole, Worcester. The Birmingham works are in three blocks equipped with modern machines necessary for the production of accurate work, and there are a foundry and pattern shop a short distance away. The works are driven electrically from the Birmingham Corporation high-tension mains through a rotary converter. Both group and individual drives are employed for the machines. The manufacture of medium-size radial and vertical drilling machines and milling machines has been carried on as a speciality, and recently multi-spindle and gang drilling machines have been developed to meet the demand which has arisen with the growth of the automotive industries. All standard machines are built to specified limits of accuracy, and a running test is recorded before dispatch.
THE AUSTIN MOTOR COMPANY, LONGBRIDGE.
The first Austin car was produced in 1906; to-day the manufacture of the firm's four distinct chassis, namely the 20 h.p. six-cylinder, the 20 h.p. four-cylinder, the 12 h.p. four-cylinder, and the 7 h.p. four-cylinder chassis, employs over 10,000 workpeople and staff, and consumes 162,100 tom of material a year.
Machine Shops. — These have been arranged to deal with the separate main units of the chassis in assembling as well as machining. Thus, in No. 1 Machine Shop the front- and rear-axle details are machined in line from north to south, and are erected at the end of this line from west to east. The units, completely assembled and ready for the chassis, are transported by a slat conveyor underneath the roadway to a second conveyor at right-angles to it and so to the erecting shop. The tool room includes several modern jig-boring machines and under the same roof are the machine-tool repair department and die-sinking and press-tool plant. No. 2 Machine Shop is principally devoted to engines and gear-boxes. It is divided into two main shops. Materials are brought in at the east end for gear-boxes. Through a gangway which divides the gear-box section from the engine section the gear-box details converge to the assembly line and are transported by slat conveyors to the erecting shop. All the line processes for each unit progress from east to west. The machine lines are so arranged that finished details arrive on the erecting tracks in their proper sequence. Gravity conveyors from machine to machine are used, and a continuous overhead chain conveyor transports connecting-rods, pistons, etc. In this shop there are modern Gisholt crank-balancing machines, hydraulically operated Landis crank grinders, Cincinnati centreless grinders and multi-cut lathes.
Erecting Shop. — All details which do not belong to the main units are machined in this shop. After painting and drying, the front and rear axles are deposited from a chain conveyor on to a tramway track and moved to their proper positions for erection. The engines from No. 2 shop are diverted by overhead runways for testing and are then conveyed to an hydraulically raised platform on which the gear-boxes are attached. The complete unit is then transported by overhead runway to the chassis, which moves from east to west as the various details are added.
Press Shop. — This is at the east end of the works, and contains the latest types of English and American presses.
Stamp Shop. — The stamp shop deals with 250 tons of stampings each week. Continuous heat-treatment furnaces are in process of construction.
Carriage Shop. — The most up-to-date practice in cellulose painting can be seen in these shops. Bodies are moved by bars actuated by air-cylinders and levers. An overhead conveyor transports the bodies to the chassis.
Power. — Power is supplied by three 1,500 kw. B.T.H. turbines and generators. To meet increased output, frequency transformers have been added by which a further 1,250 kw. is available from the Birmingham Corporation's mains. A 750 kw. pass-out turbine is being installed in the South Works to use the steam brought over heating before it is reduced to the lower pressure required for that purpose. There is a mechanical coal-handling plant which deals with about 78,000 tons of coal, coke and slack per annum.
MESSRS. W. AND T. AVERY, SOHO FOUNDRY, SMETHWICK.
W. and T. Avery
When James Watt left Glasgow to enter into partnership with Matthew Boulton, he settled at Soho, and there experimented and built his first steam-engine; ordered by John Wilkinson to "blow the bellows of his ironworks at Broseley." As the possibilities of this engine became known, the demand for it was so great that further extensions to the works were necessary and the partners decided to build the Soho Foundry. So the works now devoted to the manufacture of weighing, counting and testing machines have acquired great historical interest since they were opened in 1796.
Though a few of the old buildings have been demolished and replaced by more modern structures, and a great portion of the land then used as gardens built upon, many of the original James Watt workshops are still occupied at the present time. The shop used for erecting the "cumbrous engines" is still in use as an erecting shop and contains some of the old machinery installed by Messrs. Boulton and Watt. There is a wall planer, supposed to be the first ever built, and on a shelf at the side of this machine is a long screw which has been in readiness for nearly forty years to replace the screw at present in the machine. The old coining mint is now used as a smithy, but still possesses arched windows barricaded by iron bars to prevent plunderers from entering. In 1913, when making foundations for new machinery, old coining blanks were found. In Foundry Drive there remain a number of cottages built in 1796 in one of which dwelt William Murdock in 1817. Standing in the Soho grounds is the first gas-holder ever constructed, from which pipes were laid across the meadow land to Murdock's house. Under a portion of the works there are large subterranean passages leading in various directions. These passages are well built and are extraordinarily dry, but their use in the old days is unknown. One of the literary treasures in the works is a book made out previous to the year 1830, giving prices of various castings used in the productions of Boulton and Watt. Amongst the old machinery and tools in the possession of Messrs. W. and T. Avery are a 24-inch straight-edge which has been in use for nearly a century - and an old drilling machine with wooden teeth.
Orders are still received by Messrs. Avery for the repair of some of the old types of engine. In 1909 an engine built in 1864 was repaired, and new wheels were cast from the old patterns. The present products of these works, which employ 3,000 workers, are of great variety of size and are manufactured to the exceptional degree of accuracy necessary in weighing and measuring machines. A range of testing machines, for example, is constructed to measure stresses from a fraction of an ounce to many hundreds of tons.
MESSRS. BELLISS AND MORCOM, BIRMINGHAM.
Belliss and Morcom
Mr. G. E. Belliss established his first works in 1852 in Broad Street. In 1872 they were moved to the present site of the Ledsam Street works, and in 1884 Mr. A. Morcom joined the firm. Expansion of business resulted in the addition of the Icknield Square works in 1899. The two works are about 300 yards apart, and normally employ about 1,600 men. Both have their own power station in which are installed interesting combinations of the company's products. At Ledsam Street the main units are a 150 kw. Diesel engine, and a 250 kw. triple-expansion pass-out engine. During the winter months the pass-out steam-engine carries the load. The steam extracted is used to heat the works and offices on the vacuum system. In the summer the load is taken by the Diesel engine, assisted by a small steam-set, or alternatively the pass-out engine can be run as a plain triple-expansion condensing set. There is also a paraffin-engine set for night and office-lighting loads. Of very special interest is "No. 1" self-lubricating engine, now disused after a working life of twenty-nine years; it was the first engine designed for forced lubrication and was built in 1890, when Messrs. Belliss and Morcom introduced their original patent. The system made the double-acting high-speed engine possible, and has, of course, since been universally applied to all kinds of machinery. At the Icknield Square works, a 400 kw. triple-expansion steam-engine exhausts either direct or through a 250 kw. low-pressure turbine to a condenser, providing a very flexible and economical unit. A 400 kw. Diesel engine of the new high-efficiency type is being installed.
The works comprise light and heavy machine shops, large fitting and erecting bays, which are approximately 300 feet long and are fully equipped with modern machine-tools and cranes up to 20 tons in capacity, and a large iron foundry where castings up to 25 tons in weight are made. All the materials used are under scientific supervision and test, and complete records are available of the toughness and composition of every cylinder cast. At both works there is a well-equipped test-house.
The company manufacture steam-engines, and reciprocating air- and gas-compressors of the quick-revolution type, fitted with light plate valves of the Rogler-Hoerbiger pattern, high-efficiency oil-engines of the four-stroke air-injection Diesel type, high-pressure compressors for auxiliary Diesel engine work and for very high pressures for special processes, rotary compressors of the single-casing type, steam-turbines and condensing plant of the surface and jet types with steam-jet air-extraction pumps, and paraffin-engines. They have constructed nearly 8,000 steam-engines of their well-known quick-revolution, forced-lubricated type, representing 2,300,000 horse-power, of which a large proportion have been supplied to operate on the combined power and heating system.
THE BIRMINGHAM ALUMINIUM CASTING COMPANY, SMETHWICK.
Birmingham Aluminium Casting Co
The works of this company; which are the largest of their kind in Europe, are engaged almost entirely in the manufacture of castings for the automobile industry. The aluminium casting is done both in sand and in metal moulds, in the latter case by the Cothias process of die-casting, the dies being kept hot by gas. The buildings cover seven acres and 2,000 men are employed. The main casting shop consists of seven bays, each 300 feet long and 54 feet wide: this shop is built and equipped on modern lines, and is a model foundry. About 65,000 die-cast articles ranging in weight from ½-oz. to 34 lb., and 7,000 sand castings ranging from 1 oz. to 800 lb. are made each week. Attached to the works are laboratories, testing rooms and metal stores.
CITY OF BIRMINGHAM ELECTRIC SUPPLY DEPARTMENT, PRINCE'S GENERATING STATION, NECHELLS.
Prince's Generating Station
The erection of this power station was commenced in 1914. Work was suspended during the War and a temporary generating station adjoining the Nechells site, with a capacity of 22,000 kw. was built. In 1918 work was resumed on the larger station and the last section is approaching completion. Its total normal capacity will be 105,000 kw. with a continuous maximum overload rating of approximately 130,000 kw. The generating plant comprises seven 15,000 kw. turbo-alternator sets.
Buildings. — Owing to the nature of the surface soil on the site, it was decided to carry the whole weight of the buildings, foundations, cooling towers and reservoirs, canal basin, etc. on ferro-concrete piles which are driven down to an average depth of about 17 feet below the ground level into a bed of hard sandstone. These piles are driven in groups where the loads are heavy and singly in other places, and are coupled together by means of ferro-concrete beams on which the walls and floors are built.
Boiler-House. — The boiler equipment consists of twenty-one Babcock and Wilcox cross-drum marine-type boilers, with superheaters, economizers and chain-grate stokers; and six Vickers-Spearing cross-drum water-tube boilers with superheaters, four of which also have economizers and two have air-heaters. These six boilers are fired with pulverized fuel on the Lopulco system and the furnaces are equipped with Foster radiant-type superheaters in addition to the water-tube screens. All twelve boilers are fitted with Davidson cyclone grit catchers. Each boiler is designed for an evaporation of 35,000 lb. of steam per hour at normal load with an overload capacity of 42,000 lb. of steam per hour. The working steam-pressure is 320 lb. per sq. inch; the steam has a final temperature of 700°F., and the feed-water inlet temperature to the economizer is 180°F. under full-load conditions. Each pair of boilers has one chimney fitted with induced-draught fans of the Prat type. Forced-draught fans are fitted for supplying air to the ash-pits of the chain-grate stokers, the draught being arranged on the balanced system. In the case of the pulverized-fuel boilers, the forced draught is supplied by means of separate primary and secondary air fans. The feed-water supply is maintained by Weir turbo feed-pumps and direct-acting pumps. A closed feed system is arranged, with steam evaporators for "make-up" water and ejector heaters and direct-contact heaters. The final feed-water inlet temperature is controlled by means of a thermostat. Pulverized fuel is prepared in a separate building on the far side of the canal basin, the equipment consisting of steam-driers and Raymond pulverizing mills. For the final equipment of the boiler-house four double Stirling boilers evaporating 150,000 lb. of water per hour are being installed, which are also to be fired with pulverized fuel.
Turbine House. — The seven turbo-alternator sets, built by the British Thomson-Houston Company and the General Electric Company, run at 1,500 r.p.m. Each alternator has a capacity of 22,500 k.v.a. at 0.66 power factor and generates three-phase current at 25 cycles per second with a voltage between phases of 5,250. There are two house turbine sets, each of 1,500 kw. capacity, supplying direct-current at 440 volts, consisting of high- and low-pressure Belliss and Morcom steam-turbines coupled through gearing to the generators.
Cooling Towers. — Owing to the absence of a sufficient supply of natural cooling water in the Birmingham district, the opportunity was taken to utilize the purified sewage effluent from the adjacent sewage disposal works of the city for circulating water for the condensers. This water is used as make-up for the evaporation that takes place in the cooling towers, forty-five of which have been installed over the storage reservoir. The reservoir is sectionalized into separate ponds, to facilitate periodical cleaning.
The station was designed for an operating thermal efficiency of 16 per cent and in actual practice it is found that this is slightly exceeded, the efficiency being about 17 per cent. The use of pulverized fuel has proved to be of great benefit as it enables a very cheap class of fuel to be utilized and at the same time perfect combustion can be obtained. During the Coal Strike in 1926, it was found possible to burn large quantities of pit-mound refuse coal in the pulverized-fuel boilers and to obtain full duty from them with this material. It was impossible to burn the same material on the chain-grate stokers unless mixed with better coal, as the poor material had not sufficient heat in it to keep the furnace arches incandescent, and the fires were continually going out.
CITY OF BIRMINGHAM GAS DEPARTMENT.
Birmingham Gas Works
The gas undertaking of the City of Birmingham was purchased by the Corporation in 1875 from the Birmingham Gas Light and Coke Company and the Birmingham and Staffordshire Gas Light Company, and is to-day the largest provincial concern manufacturing and distributing gas in the United Kingdom. The Department has five gas works, situated at Saltley, Nechells, Windsor Street, Adderley Street, and Swan Village, and in addition there is a complete coal-testing plant which in itself is equal to providing a small town with gas throughout the year. The joint capacity of the five works (which occupy an area of 96 acres), including coal-gas and water-gas, is approximately 62½ million cubic feet per day, and there is a total storage capacity of approximately 49 million cubic feet. Two gas-holders of a joint capacity of 12 million cubic feet and a boosting plant have been installed at a new works at Washwood Heath.
Realizing the importance of the industrial load, the Gas Committee some years ago established the Industrial Research Laboratories, Industrial Show Rooms and Heat-Treatment Foundry, where manufacturers have an opportunity of inspecting the latest types of gas-furnaces, of seeing actual tests under working conditions, and of obtaining the fullest information with regard to the use of gas in practically every industry.
Industrial Research Laboratories. — The Industrial Research Laboratories at the Council House, Edmund Street, and the Industrial Heating Section consist of:-
(1) A chemical and metallurgical laboratory where research work is conducted in connexion with the manufacture and treatment of the various metals and alloys used by the industries in the City.
(2) A strength of materials and physical testing laboratory, which includes a 100-ton tensile testing machine, a 25-ton combined tensile, bending, torsion, and shear-testing machine, a 5-ton tensile testing machine, Brinell and Scleroscope hardness testing machines, an Izod impact testing machine, and equipment for testing cement and concrete.
(3) An electrical laboratory, which contains a complete set of standardized electrical instruments, including those for use in the calibration of temperature-measuring apparatus.
(4) A metallographical laboratory, which has recently been equipped with modern apparatus for the microscopic examination of metals, non-metals, alloys, and other material. Associated with the laboratory is a photographic section, photographic methods being employed for illustrating reports on furnace and other tests.
(5) Heat-treatment shops. An experimental foundry and hardening shops have been installed at the Windsor Street works of the Department, and are used for the preparation, heat-treatment, and melting of metals and alloys. The plant enables full-scale tests to be carried out in connexion with annealing, carburizing, reheating and quenching, hardening and tempering of fine tools, gauges, cutters, etc. and a separate plant has been installed for special investigations.
(6) Experimental laboratories and industrial showrooms. Extensive showrooms for furnaces and other industrial appliances were opened two or three years ago in a building in the centre of the city, which have enabled a large number of manufacturers to take advantage of the facilities afforded for the inspection and demonstration under practical working conditions, of the furnaces and apparatus designed for their particular requirements.
Saltley Gas Works. — The carbonizing plant at Saltley consists of a battery of 66 "Koppers" type ovens, which was installed in two sections between the years 1912 and 1914, and an installation of Woodall-Duckham vertical retorts, capable of carbonizing 425 tons of coal and producing 7,000,000 cubic feet of gas a day, at present in course of construction. There are also two ranges of inclined retorts having a carbonizing capacity of 200 tons of coal per day. The coke-oven plant is distinctive as it is the only plant of its kind in this country producing gas which is utilized solely for town purposes. The coke produced from the ovens is very dense and is specially suited for blast-furnace and foundry work. In connexion with the works there is an artesian deep-well water-pumping plant which raises 20,000 gallons of water per hour by means of compressed air. A benzol plant is capable of producing approximately 1,000 gallons of crude benzol a day.
Nechells Gas Works. — Nechells Gas Works were reconstructed three or four years ago. The principal carbonizing plant consists of 120 Woodall-Duckham continuous vertical retorts producing 12,000,000 cubic feet of gas a day. Coal is unloaded by means of two combined tippler hoists, is crushed and distributed to the various portions of the plant by 100-ton gravity-bucket and tipping- tray conveyors. Provision is made for putting coal to stock and picking up from stock by means of a band conveyor and a 4-ton grabbing crane of 110 feet radius. The coke is discharged into 3-ton skips, which travel on electrically-driven chassis, and is conveyed from underneath the retorts to an electrically-driven traverser which hoists the skips to the coke-screening plant. Four waste-heat boilers have been installed in connexion with this plant raising 28,000 lb. of steam per hour, which supplies the whole of the plant and provides a surplus for general works requirements. There are also at Nechells thirty-two beds of eight horizontal retorts each. This plant was erected in 1916, and has a productive capacity of 4,500,000 cubic feet of gas per day from about 350 tons of coal. These horizontal retorts are charged and discharged simultaneously with Fiddes-Aldridge machines.
The water-gas plant at Nechells consists of six sets of Humphreys and Glasgow machines, with a total nominal capacity of 9,000,000 cubic feet of gas per day. Four of the sets are capable of producing either carburetted or blue water-gas, and the other two sets are designed for blue water-gas only. Two of the machines are fitted with waste-heat boilers which are capable of raising sufficient steam for their respective units. The remaining steam-raising plant consists of six Lancashire boilers. Condensing, scrubbing and purifying plant, of the most up-to-date kind, has been installed.
The steam-generating plant for the coal-gas section consists of four Lancashire boilers and two Babcock and Wilcox dust-burning boilers. The electrical power supply for Nechells works may be taken either from Saltley Gas Works power station or from the city mains. An 18-inch bore artesian well, a little over 700 feet in depth, was completed a few years ago, and the necessary air-lift plant installed. This machinery is capable of lifting 25,000 gallons of water per hour by means of compressed air.
Coal Test Works. — This plant (situated at the Nechells Gas Works and under the control of the chief chemist) comprises various horizontal and vertical carbonizing units, having a total throughput of 60 tons per day. The scrubbing and purifying plant, together with the wet meter are capable of dealing with gas from each unit separately. Contract coals are regularly tested on this plant, and before a new coal is purchased consignments of 50 to 100 tons of the material offered are sent forward to the coal test works, with a view to ascertaining the suitability of the coal for use on the larger works. Experimental work has also been carried out at these works.
Each of the five gas works has its own routine laboratory and there is also a central laboratory where special investigations and analyses are conducted.
Windsor Street Gas Works. — Woodall-Duckham continuous vertical retorts are used for carbonization purposes at Windsor Street, where are the largest works owned by the Corporation. The installation is capable of carbonizing 1,300 tons of coal a day, producing 20 million cubic feet of gas, and consists of six rows of retorts, in five of which the retorts are each of 5 tons capacity, and in the sixth, of 7 tons capacity. Heating is carried out by one furnace to each four retorts, except in the case of the 7-ton retorts, which are heated by end producer furnaces. The waste heat from the settings is utilized for the generation of steam, part of which is, in turn, passed into the retorts for the manufacture of water-gas.
The remaining steam is utilized for the generation of electrical power and for general purposes on the works. A tar dehydrating plant is installed which is capable of producing 20 tons of refined tar per day. The material is supplied for road-spraying operations within the city. At Windsor Street works are also the Department's meter and stove-repairing shops.
THE BIRMINGHAM SMALL ARMS COMPANY, SMALL HEATH, BIRMINGHAM.
Birmingham Small Arms Co
The Birmingham Small Arms Company was established in 1861 for the manufacture of military rifles. The firm has since absorbed a number of other businesses and the character of its productions has greatly changed. The company are now the largest producers of motor cycles in the world and the manufacture of guns is of relatively minor importance. The Small Heath works consist of three main portions, the East Factory, the Middle Factory and the West Factory. Most of the buildings of the East Factory were originally erected for gun manufacture; those in the Middle Factory were largely built during the development of the cycle industry; and the West Factory (as well as a few additions to the other two) is a war-time erection.
The East Factory contains the chief administration offices, the gun machine shops, the barrel mill, the steam-power plant, the smithy, wood-working shops, drawing office, laboratory and canteens. The barrel mill contains much highly specialized machinery for boring and rifling, which is now also used, however, for the boring of cycle hubs, motor-car rear-axle tubes and motor-cycle components. Adjacent is the browning plant for colouring the barrel and other parts of the gun. The smithy houses a very comprehensive forging plant and adjacent to it are heat-treatment, die-sinking, tool-making and repair shops. The wood-working shops were primarily designed for producing rifle stocks, etc., but on account of the diminished gun trade the greater part of these shops has been taken over for the production of sidecar bodies and wireless receiver cabinets.
The Middle Factory is largely devoted to the finishing of the rough forgings produced in the smithy and contains a trimming shop, heat-treatment shops, and welding and cleaning shops. In addition the assembly of rifles and guns, cycles and motor-cycles is carried out in separate buildings and the factory also includes the polishing and plating department (which has recently been rearranged and equipped with a modern dust-extracting apparatus), a repair section, rifle range, experimental department and extensive warehouses and stores.
The West Factory contains the principal machine shops, which are equipped with a large proportion of fully automatic machines. Generally, the machines engaged on any particular component are grouped together to allow the components to progress from machine to machine in a continuous cycle. The factory contains three main buildings, each of four stories, connected by cross-wings and a number of subsidiary buildings. In addition to machine shops, the first building also contains an enamelling section with a 200-ft. continuous drying stove, and a chain assembly and testing section. The middle block contains assembly shops, view rooms and stores, a tool room and grinding section, and a press shop which produces over one and a half million components a week. The third building, nearest Armoury Road, contains machine shops, millwrights' shops, material stores, and the brazing and frame assembly and filing shops. The brazing shop is equipped with a series of sand-blast chambers for removing scale and flux and contains machinery for polishing the completed parts after brazing and sand-blasting. The work is of importance as there are considerable stresses on the brazed joints in cycle frames.
MESSRS. B.S.A. TOOLS, SPARKBROOK, BIRMINGHAM.
The oldest portion of the premises occupied by this company was acquired by the Birmingham Small Arms Company in 1906, and was used for the manufacture of B.S.A. cars until this work was transferred to the Daimler Company in 1911. The works were subsequently used for the manufacture of jigs and tools for the production of gun and rifle components and, after the War, of cycles, motor-cycles and sporting rifles. The present company was founded in 1919 and has developed the manufacture of centreless grinding machines, lapping machines, semi-automatic lathes, bar-grinding machines, automatic screwing machines, chucking automatic machines and several types of multi-spindle drilling machines.
The factory is divided into two portions, One of which is devoted to the manufacture of small tools and the other to the machine-tools described. The hardening shop contains both gas and electric furnaces, an electric high-speed hardening furnace being of special interest. The tap and die section is probably the largest of its kind in the country and has sufficient plant for manufacturing 10,000 taps and dies a week. Most of the operations are performed on special machinery designed and built at this factory. There is a special section devoted to the production of accurate gauges and master tools. The cutter section produces 2,000 cutters and reamers a week in addition to a range of self-centering chucks. In the marking department the engraving machines and the marking of hardened work are of special interest. The drill section is equipped with machines capable of producing 20,000 drills a week. On the B.S.A. centreless grinding machines straight-shank drills, as small as 1/16-inch diameter are rapidly and accurately finish-ground by unskilled labour. The manufacture of jobber and taper-shank drills is separated, each part of the section having a separate inspection department and progress stores.
In the machine-tool section the large planing machines and the accurate boring machines are of interest. Running along the entire length of the shop on one side, are the progress stores, which arrange for the issue and progress of each machine part through the various manufacturing operations, and the inspection department in which the various parts are examined before being assembled.
MESSRS. CADBURY BROTHERS, BOURNVILLE.
The history of Cadbury Brothers began in the "Thirties" of last century, when John Cadbury, who was a tea and coffee dealer and spice merchant in Bull Street, Birmingham, commenced the manufacture of cocoa and chocolate by hand, in a warehouse in Crooked Lane. With his brother, Benjamin Head Cadbury, he subsequently removed that part of his business to Bridge Street, and in 1853 Cadbury Brothers were appointed Makers to the Queen. In 1861 the Bull Street business was taken over by John Cadbury's nephew, Richard Cadbury Barrow, and the cocoa and chocolate manufactory by his sons, Richard and George. In 1879 the factory was removed from Bridge Street to a site about four miles from Birmingham in what were then completely rural surroundings. It was christened Bournville from the name of the stream which flows through the factory grounds. Adjoining land was subsequently purchased, and despite the growth of Birmingham (Bournville was absorbed in 1911) it still remains "The Factory in a Garden." In 1861 fourteen people were employed; on the removal to Bournville, 230; ten years later, 1,193; and the personnel is now over 11,000.
Not only has the factory itself increased enormously in size, but subsidiary factories have been opened to supply cut timber, condensed milk, etc. to the parent works, and offices and depots have been established in London, the large provincial cities, and abroad. The initial processes of manufacture are common to both cocoa and chocolate. The beans are sorted, cleaned, separated from the shell, roasted and ground; but whereas in the case of cocoa the fat or "cocoa butter" of which the beans largely consist is partially expressed, in the case of chocolate, which consists essentially of cocoa mixed with sugar (together with milk solids in the case of milk chocolate), further "butter" is added. There are automatic machines for moulding chocolate centres in flour, for wrapping chocolates and labelling tins, and much of the machinery on cocoa and chocolate process work is of interest to engineers. The new power station contains four Babcock and Wilcox water-tube boilers, each capable of generating 20,000 lb. of steam per hour. These supply steam to two Belliss and Morcom generating sets, each of 500 kw. capacity. These engines work against a back pressure of 30 lb. per sq. inch, and steam at this pressure is discharged into a heating main and used for process work throughout the factory. In the summer, the lack of a heating load is balanced by the demand for steam by the ammonia absorption refrigerators. A large steel-frame factory is in course of erection and other building extensions are in progress.
With the business has grown up a body of social experiments, all of which have gradually developed from small beginnings. The most significant are the works councils, through which the employees share in the administration of the factory, particularly in regard to the matters which concern their own health and welfare, and the education system with its many ramifications, adult and junior, cultural and vocational. The measures adopted for the care of the health of the personnel, and the recreational facilities are also of interest.
Bournville Village. — Mr. George Cadbury devoted a large portion of the land adjoining the factory to the establishment of a housing scheme. He was convinced that many of the evils of poverty and of industrial life were due to bad housing conditions. He commenced building in 1895, and in 1900 handed over the whole estate to a Trust, renouncing on behalf of himself and his family all pecuniary interest. In the Trust Deed he laid down certain guiding principles for the development of the estate, which anticipated not only modern house design but town-planning legislation, e.g. that each house should occupy not more than one-fourth of its plot.
THE DUNLOP RUBBER COMPANY, FORT DUNLOP, ERDINGTON.
Dunlop Rubber Co
Fort Dunlop, the principal plant of the Dunlop Rubber Company, is a modern factory recently erected and mainly of single-story construction. Apart from raw material production, it is almost completely self-contained. The factory is equipped throughout with the most up-to-date machinery and appliances for tyre manufacture, and there are extensive research, chemical and physical laboratories, a highly trained technical staff, an engineering staff, and some 12,000 contented workers.
The power plant consists of twelve double-drum Babcock and Wilcox boilers and steam-turbine plant with a total capacity of 22,000 horse-power, equivalent to 4 horse-power per operator in the manufacturing departments. The water supply is from artesian wells on the site. The factory is equipped with an extensive sprinkler fire-prevention system and has its own fire brigade.
The machine-tool shop is complete and modern and is engaged upon the production of moulds and tools used in tyre manufacture. Many tools and much of the machinery used at Fort Dunlop are of the company's own design, and are manufactured on the premises. The finished products are warehoused in a gigantic eight-story building which has an area of 600,000 sq. feet, and is thought to be the largest building in the world used purely as a store. The company handles, in connexion with its wired tyres, about 1,200 miles of wire in a normal week. Internal transport is conducted by means of steam-locomotives, and a large fleet of electric trucks for inter-departmental work, the latter having an operating capacity of 100 ton-miles per hour. The test-house is equipped with specially designed plant for the purpose of ensuring that a high quality is maintained in the products of the factory.
MESSRS. ELKINGTON AND COMPANY, BIRMINGHAM.
Elkington and Co
It is not generally known that the late Mr. G. R. Elkington, the founder in 1838 of the firm that bears his name, was the originator of the electro-plating industry. To-day a great deal of plate is manufactured, but there are no Government standard marks. The firm have therefore a registered trade-mark, "Elkington Plate."
Members who visited the factory were able to see the actual deposition of the silver on the articles in the vats. When they emerge they have a white coating which is known as "frost" or "bloom." This is later removed by wire brushes, which also thoroughly test the solidity of the plating. In the burnishing room the articles are subjected to vigorous rubbing by steel tools, which not only detects any possible faults in plating, but hardens the silver and increases its wearing capacity. The final polishing is performed and the article is then ready for use.
In the firm's showrooms there are on view fine specimens of silver and plate. Of special interest to ladies were the cooking utensils with linings of seamless pure nickel, impervious to food acids and therefore of great hygienic value.
MESSRS. ELLIOTT'S METAL COMPANY, SELLY OAK.
Elliotts Metal Co
The works of this firm are now devoted entirely to the manufacture of copper and brass plates, sheets and wire. Copper plates of every description for locomotive fireboxes are the chief product of the rolling mill and the machining of tube-plates is of special interest, hammering having been entirely superseded. Copper wire is manufactured for telegraphs, telephones, cables and all electrical purposes, and for rivets, belt-fastenings and other miscellaneous purposes; copper trolley wire for tramways and copper tape for lightning conductors are also products of this department. Thin brass and copper sheets are rolled; and condenser plates and brass wire for shoe rivets, pins, screws, etc. are also made.
MESSRS. ALLEN EVERITT AND SONS, KINGSTON METAL WORKS, SMETHWICK.
Allen Everitt and Sons
From a modest foundation, laid as far back as 1769, Messrs. Everitt have built up a modern factory covering sixteen acres of ground for the production of non-ferrous metals, and especially tubes for every purpose to which non-ferrous tubes can be applied. Since the War their tube mills have been rebuilt and are now equipped with the most recent appliances for economic production. They have also rebuilt and refurnished their research department and installed melting and heating furnaces of the latest designs. The firm was the first in this country to employ electrically heated furnaces for the production of tube castings. Within recent years they have made a speciality of cupro-nickel condenser tubes, and these have been so successful in resisting the attacks of corrosion and erosion that they are now installed in several important power stations in different parts of the world.
THE GEAR GRINDING COMPANY, HANDSWORTH.
Gear Grinding Co
Established in 1912 by Mr. H. F. L. Orcutt, the works of this company are devoted wholly to the process of grinding the teeth of spur-gears with straight teeth only. They are equipped with special patented tooth-grinding machines for finishing the teeth of gears from 1 1/4 inches to 36 inches diameter, from 12 to 2 1/2 diametral pitch, and they are the largest works solely devoted to this highly specialized operation. The machines used are the company's own patents and have not yet been marketed for use by others. The process employed is the so-called formed-wheel grinding. The abrasive wheel is kept to correct shape by trimming diamonds. This shape reproduces the tooth space accurately to a maximum error of 0.0002 inch in both soft and hard gears. The process can be seen in operation as applied to thousands of gears, principally used in motor-car gear-boxes, but also in machine-tools, aeroplanes, and in connexion with electrical and railway work. The gears are sent to the company's works completely prepared by the customer.
The product gives silent running with dimensions for a specified load smaller than those for any other gear. The material from which they can be made may be of an alloy degree of hardness, thus imparting long life to the gear. There can be seen at the works spur-gearing with a maximum theoretical efficiency which is impossible to obtain except by means of the abrasive wheel.
THE GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY, WITTON WORKS.
Witton Works comprise the following individual factories: the main engineering works, the standard motor works, the small motor and fan works, the transformer works, the switch-gear works, the carbon works, the lampblack works, the battery works, the moulded insulation works, and the tool and hoist works. These, together with the foundry, development department, power house, testing department, plating and enamelling shops, mica shop, and finally the administration buildings, occupy over thirty-five of the 120 acres to which the Witton site extends.
The main engineering works are centrally situated, immediately adjacent to the foundry. They consist of a series of bays 400 feet in length and are devoted to the construction of heavy electrical machinery. The northern bay is reserved for winding, its equipment including all necessary insulating and impregnating plant. Immediately adjoining is the turbo-alternator bay. The following details relating to two of the machine-tools sufficiently indicate the class of work which has to be handled. The first of these tools is a boring mill, of a total weight of 72 tons, which can accommodate a casting 12 feet 6 inches in diameter, and has an effective boring depth of 9 feet 6 inches. The other tool is a lathe for turning solid steel rotor forgings. The length of its bed-plate is 38 feet, and it is capable of accommodating between centres a length of 26 feet, and of swinging between centres a diameter of 56 inches. The remaining bays of the main engineering works also contain several massive machine-tools. A special section of one of these bays is reserved for commutator building.
The standard motor works lie immediately to the south of the main engineering works. They are laid out for the production of standard "Witton" motors of outputs up to approximately 100 h.p. There are three 300-ft. bays. One of these contains a comprehensive range of machine-tools, while in the other bays the various component parts are fitted and assembled, passing thence to the test at the ends of the assembly bays. One of the assembly bays is entirely occupied with the building of traction motors.
On the north side of the main engineering works are the small motor and fan works, in which are made fractional h.p. motors and fans. These require considerable quantities of small standardized parts, and in consequence a large section of these works contains automatic machinery for the rapid execution of the processes involved in their production. In spite of the highly standardized nature of the tiny units produced in these works, each motor is subjected to a rigid series of tests just as are the large machines.
The transformer works are divided into sections for coil-winding, fitting, assembly and testing, and contain an impregnation plant and an oil-purifying plant.
The lay-out of the switch-gear works presents several interesting features. It is divided into seven bays. Of these Nos. 3 and 4 are occupied by the stores, which are thus centrally situated. Four of the other bays are for switchboard erection, and the production of starter and controlling gear, ironclad switch-gear, and contactor gear respectively. The seventh is the machine-tool bay. Along one side of the works and forming a part of them, is situated a complete range of process shops for buffing, plating, enamelling, slate drilling, etc. These shops render the switch-gear works entirely self-contained.
The carbon works produce carbons chiefly for searchlights and kinematograph projector lamps. They are the only works of their kind in the British Empire.
The foundry covers approximately two acres and is capable of producing all the castings required in the works. The cupola equipment consists of five units with a combined capacity for melting pig-iron at the rate of 28 tons per hour. The fullest possible use is made of automatic foundry machines, and there are pneumatic jolt-ramming machines, jarring and turnover moulders, and core-making machines.
The development department is housed in its own building, at some distance from the rest of the works. It is equipped with the necessary instruments and apparatus for the investigation of all works problems. Its separate sections include an electrical laboratory, a mechanical laboratory, a chemical laboratory, a substation, a dark room and photometric room, and an extensive workshop containing machine-tool equipment for the production of working models.
MESSRS. JOSEPH GILLOTT AND SONS, VICTORIA WORKS, BIRMINGHAM.
Joseph Gillott and Sons
The first Joseph Gillott commenced to make steel pens in 1820. Much of the machinery now used was afterwards invented and perfected by him. The process of manufacture to be seen at these works is as follows:-
The metal appears as sheet steel, and is sheared into strips of sufficient breadth to allow two pens to be cut out of it end to end, the points slightly overlapping each other. After annealing and removal of the scale, it is rolled and cross-rolled to the proper gauge. The cutters, who are female workers, sit before a small press in which is fixed a die and a hole the exact shape of the pen. The press is worked with the right hand, the strips of steel being fed through the press with the left hand. The die, exactly fitting this hole, descends and cuts out the pen-blank. Power presses are also used for this purpose. The blanks are taken to the piercing room where the small ornamental holes are cut out and thence pass on to the marking room, where the name of the maker or the distinctive appellation of the pattern is stamped. The blanks are annealed prior to the next stage, which is "raising" or bending the pen into the shape required. After this the hardening and subsequent scouring are performed. The next process, tempering, requires delicate handling. In tempering, the dark blue stage of temperature in the metal is the one which gives the necessary elasticity to the steel pen. After the pens are scoured and polished, they are glazed and slit, the latter process being performed by a cutter consisting of two blades with sharp corners. Some pens are then browned to improve their appearance; others are coloured blue, and some are plated with copper and gilt.
In another department of the factory cardboard boxes for the pens are made. Girls work here in sets, passing from one operation to another with considerable rapidity. In the wood penholder-making department, all the dust from the wood is extracted by powerful fans. Rosewood is used for the best holders, cedar for the majority of holders, and birch for common sorts. Varnishing and French-polishing complete the process of manufacture. The number of workpeople employed is from 350 to 400.
MESSRS. JOHN HANDS AND SONS, CARDIGAN WORKS, BIRMINGHAM.
John Hands and Sons
These works are mainly engaged in the manufacture of power presses and shearing machines, but a great variety of special machinery and general engineering work is undertaken. They comprise a large foundry, machine and erecting shops, and a separate department trading under the name of "Guest's Brass Stamping Company," which produces pressings in brass, copper and yellow metals. In this department some of the firm's power presses can be seen under actual working conditions.
MESSRS. HOLLINGS AND GUEST, BIRMINGHAM.
Hollings and Guest
This firm, which was founded in 1899 for the manufacture of hydraulic presses of all types, possesses a factory well-equipped with modern mechanical, electrical, pneumatic and hydraulic machines and tools. The firm was responsible for the introduction of the two- and four-column steel-girder frames into hydraulic press construction, in place of heavy castings and forged-steel columns. These steel girder frames are specially suitable for baling presses and tyre presses, for they are light for transport and practically unbreakable. Hydraulic machines are also made for steel plate bending, scrap metal bundling, leather embossing, riveting, shearing, punching and stamping. A large number of presses have been built fitted with steam-heated platens for the manufacture of moulded products in bakelite, etc. The firm has also a department for the production of moulded pressings.
MESSRS. THE HUGHES-JOHNSON STAMPINGS, LANGLEY GREEN.
Established in 1877 by James Hughes and Edward Johnson, two of Messrs. Tangyes' foremen, this company started as pump, steam-engine and hydraulic testing-machine makers. The works are now concerned solely with the manufacture of drop-forgings. The plant, entirely electrically driven, has a wide range of hammers, their falling weight varying from 8 cwt. to 4 tons. The heating of materials is variously carried out by coal, coke, gas- and oil-fired furnaces. The productions are drop-forgings in any forgeable material from a few ounces in weight to as many cwt. A sand-blast plant is provided and the heat-treatment plant and testing arrangements are complete and modern.
MESSRS. KYNOCH, LION WORKS, WITTON.
In early manhood Mr. George Kynoch became interested in the business of percussion cap manufacture carried on by Messrs. Pursall Phillips and Son of Birmingham. In 1861 he decided to remove to Witton, and from a small start of one or two sheds with half a dozen workers, the business has grown until it now covers 200 acres, and employs over 3,000 people. In 1918 Messrs. Kynoch with others were amalgamated under the name of Nobel Industries. During 1926 the latter company was in turn merged into the Imperial Chemical Industries.
The articles manufactured by Messrs. Kynoch may be divided into three principal classes: (1) Non-ferrous metals, such as copper and its alloys, in the form of sheet, strip, wire, rod, coins, radiator tubes, etc. (2) Ammunition for military and naval purposes, including small arms ammunition for rifles of all calibres and revolver ammunition. Cases for quick-firing ammunition are also made but not loaded here. (3) Sporting ammunition.
Power Station. — All the electric energy used for lighting and for power in the works is generated in the factory power station. The capacity of the station is at present 7,350 kw., generated by one 3,200 kw. and three 1,000 kw. Brush Ljungstrom turbines, and some small reciprocating sets. The company have always realized the great benefits associated with cheap electric power and by the use of modern turbo-generators of high efficiency, together with marine boilers of the water-tube type, energy is generated at the low cost of 0.456d. per unit.
Hot Water Heating Station. — The heating station is adjacent to the power house, and supplies sufficient heat to keep over 4,000,000 cubic feet of space in buildings at a temperature of from 60 to 65° F. during the winter. This heat is supplied from the exhaust steam of the reciprocating engines. It is most economical to run turbines as far as possible during the summer months, but during the heating season to substitute reciprocating engines for as much heat as may be required. The exhaust steam for heating passes through a common exhaust main into the heating station, and before entering the calorifier passes through a grease separator. The water is delivered into the heating mains at about 190° F., and returns at 165° F. Under these conditions the efficiency of the reciprocating engines instead of being only 10.4 per cent is brought up to 69 per cent.
Rolling Mill. — All metal used by the company is cast and rolled and worked up to its final form at these works. Electric furnaces are used for melting, thus securing more scientific control over the constituents of the furnace charge and, with current at a low price, greater economy. The rolling plant at Witton produces cartridge strip which varies only by about 0.0005 inch in thickness throughout.
Cupping Shop. — In this shop the first processes are carried out on the metal strip in working it up into cartridge cases, heads for sporting cartridges, radiator tubes, etc. Disks are punched out from the strip, and in a succeeding operation are made into a cup-shaped product which is later drawn to its final form in other shops.
Military Ammunition. — A feature of the equipment of the shops devoted to the manufacture of small arms ammunition is the large number of delicate weighing and gauging machines, entirely automatic in operation.
Sporting Ammunition. — It is remarkable that although there are 120 distinct operations in the manufacture of the ordinary shotgun cartridge, its price to the public is about the same as that of a lead pencil of inferior quality.
Lightning Fastener Department. — The "lightning fastener" was invented by Mr. G. Sundbach, a Swedish engineer, and the machines on which it is made are most intricate and ingenious.
Printing Press. — Wrappers, printed matter of an advertising nature, and a considerable volume of high-class work for outside concerns are printed by the company.
THE LANCHESTER MOTOR COMPANY, ARMOURER MILLS, BIRMINGHAM.
Lanchester Motor Co
One of the first English engineers to recognize the possibilities of the petrol-engine for light locomotion was Dr. F. W. Lanchester, and a syndicate was formed early in 1895 for the purpose of building cars to his designs; in 1896 the first Lanchester car took the road. This was originally a five-seat tiller-steered phaeton, fitted with a 5 h.p. air-cooled engine, and was chain driven; it had epicyclic change-speed gears, tangent-spoke wire wheels with pneumatic tyres, and a wick carburettor, and was the first four-wheel petrol-driven car built entirely in the British Isles. The original car was so successful that in 1897 a two-seat phaeton was constructed, fitted with an 8 h.p. vibrationless two-cylinder air-cooled engine, live axle, worm drive, wire wheels, tiller steering, wick carburettor, magneto ignition, and epicyclic gear.
In December 1899 the Lanchester Engine Company was founded and a factory was equipped for the manufacture of the new 10 h.p. air-cooled engine. In this car were embodied all the best features of the experimental cars, and the now well-known Lanchester suspension was introduced. An interesting fact is that a number of the cars manufactured at this date are still roadworthy. A 12 h.p. water-cooled car appeared in 1904, and in that year the company was reconstructed as the Lanchester Motor Company. The advancement of the company has been continuous, various additions having been made to the factory from time to time and a separate body-building and repair works established.
THE LONDON ALUMINIUM COMPANY, WITTON, BIRMINGHAM.
London Aluminium Co
This firm originally carried on the manufacture of aluminium in a small way at works in London founded in 1897. The rapid growth in the use of aluminium resulted in the establishment and subsequent extension of the Birmingham works. The manufacturing section, which is probably the largest of its kind in the country, is equipped with powerful double-action drawing, and single-action power-driven presses; trimming, cropping, beading and planishing machines; spinning lathes, capable of taking blanks from two inches up to six feet in diameter; hand presses in variety; polishing spindles; sun-raying machines; drop stamps; a comprehensive range of units for general sheet-metal work, including welding equipment; a large dipping or frosting house; wood-working machinery; and an up-to-date tool room. All the power presses are directly driven by electricity. The press-tool equipment comprises over four thousand items.
Manufacturing and industrial plant is an important adjunct to the business. Steam-jacketed boiling pans, fermenting and evaporating pans, vacuum heads, culture cabinets, curing trays, oil-tanks, and pipe-lines represent a small selection of the apparatus that can be made. The works are divided into separate departments for each process and include stores and an inspection department.
MESSRS. JOSEPH LUCAS, BIRMINGHAM.
The business was commenced in the year 1870 for the purpose of manufacturing hand-lamps and lanterns, and a special type of ship's lamp invented by Mr. Joseph Lucas, its founder. Attention was quickly turned in the early days of the bicycle and tricycle to the manufacture of cycle lamps.
The buildings are divided into two main blocks, the whole of the machining operations, together with the entire magneto manufacture, being carried out in the larger block, while the smaller block is used for assembly of the dynamos, starters and switchboards constituting the lighting and starting equipment. The machined parts pass into a final view room, and as fast as they are viewed in small batches they are loaded on a continuous, moving chain-conveyor which connects the whole of the machine shop, view rooms, stores and assembly shops. A few minutes later they are removed at their destination, and within a very short time are travelling along a slow-moving track, at each side of which sit or stand operators trained for their specific job. At the end of the assembly track a completed machine is dropped in a jig on a mechanical testing conveyor along which it slowly travels, and without human aid passes through its various testing operations. At the end of the testing conveyor the machine, if satisfactory, is booked out, boxed and fed through a chute to the loading dock, where vans are being loaded all day with equipment for dispatch by road to the car manufacturers or distributing depots. A portable gravity conveyor carries the article right into the van, practically to the spot where it is stacked for the journey. The machine shops are equipped with the latest labour saving machinery, and one shop alone turns out 750,000 small turned parts per week.
The Lucas works employ over 7,000 people, whose welfare is not overlooked. A well-equipped surgery is provided, and the flat roof of the larger building is laid out as a recreation ground, where music and light refreshments are provided during meal times for the benefit of the women employees whenever the weather permits.
Power is supplied from the Birmingham Corporation mains to two separate sub-stations. These are equipped with Metropolitan-Vickers transformers, General Electric Company cubicle switch-gear and Helsby condensers maintaining the extraordinary power factor of 0.95.
Approximately 400 departmental offices of the four works of the company are interconnected by means of the Siemens automatic telephone system utilizing one main and two sub-exchanges. This is the largest privately-owned industrial automatic exchange in the country. An interesting feature of the transport system is the adoption of two-speed goods lifts for conveying one ton at 200 feet per minute, or alternatively five tons at 60 feet per minute, the whole conversion taking only thirty minutes. These have proved very useful for the handling of heavy machinery.
Another interesting system is in use for supplying cutting oil to all the main machine shops. Pipes are installed, and each machine shop is provided with one or more sinks where new oil can be drawn from the tap, and used oil poured down a waste-pipe. In the basement the waste oil passes through a "Vickcen" separator which removes all foreign matter and it is then forced by compressed air into the main storage tank on the roof of the building. The whole system is automatic, and the storekeeper's duty consists only of supplementing reclaimed oil with new oil from barrels to make up for evaporation loss, and periodically removing foreign matter from the separator. Not only does this result in considerable saving of oil, but helps towards cleanliness in the automatic machine shops.
THE METROPOLITAN CARRIAGE, WAGON AND FINANCE COMPANY, SALTLEY WORKS, BIRMINGHAM.
Metropolitan Carriage, Wagon and Finance Co
These works were established during the railway boom by Joseph Wright, a coach-builder, in 1845, to meet the demand for the supply of the simple wooden four-wheeled carriages and wagons then in use. Since that date, the works have expanded in proportion to the growing demands of the railways, and now cover about fifty acres. Owing to the increasing scarcity of the best quality timber, steel and aluminium are being used for body construction, the body-framing being sometimes of wood covered with steel panels, sometimes of metal throughout, but more often a steel framework finished internally with wood. A special feature of the carriages built for the tube railways in this country is that all the timber is fireproof, and the cars are usually lined with sound and heat insulation.
To meet world-wide competition, the works have concentrated on speed of production. Two examples of this are the delivery of 200 Indian four-wheeled steel-covered goods wagons in eight weeks, and 500 forty-ton steel bogie grain-wagons for South Africa in twenty weeks. Such achievements necessitate a most extensive plant, and the shops are arranged for the progressive passage of a great variety of vehicles through the works. The drawing office contains a staff of over a hundred draughtsmen. In designing, great attention is now being given to the reduction of weight, while at the same time securing adequate strength. Another aid to the rapidity of construction is the extensive range of bushed drilling templates and tools provided for each order. This ensures interchangeability of parts, as that a complete vehicle can be quickly assembled from pieces taken at random.
The raw materials enter the works at the outer end, and are distributed by a cross-gantry, steel and iron being dealt with on the left, and timber on the right. The sections and plates are straightened and machined, assembled and riveted in large shops equipped with overhead cranes. Adjoining is the smithy, and it will be noticed that the waste heat from the coal-fired furnaces is used to generate steam for the steam-hammers and the power house. In the saw-mill over 30,000 cubic feet of timber are dealt with per month. After machining and sanding, the wood parts are delivered to the finishing and body shops for assembly.
The final, and one of the most important stages of production, is painting. Here great skill and the very best materials are required to withstand corrosion and the heat of foreign climates. Numerous coats of paint have to be applied, and a specially heated and dust-free shop is provided for this purpose. The majority of coaches which are manufactured for export have now to be completely dismantled and packed, but certain coaches are shipped complete. In almost every case these coaches foul the English loading gauge; consequently, special tranship bogies have to be constructed with screw-gear, to give lateral movement, and all transport to the port of shipment is done over the week-end. It is only by close cooperation with the railway authorities that it is possible to overcome the difficulties of such transport. It is estimated that, in conjunction with the other works controlled by the Metropolitan Carriage Company, an annual output up to 15,000 wagons and 600 coaches can be effected.
THE MIDLAND RAILWAY-CARRIAGE AND WAGON COMPANY, MIDLAND WORKS, WASHWOOD HEATH.
Midland Railway-Carriage and Wagon Company
This is one of the oldest railway rolling-stock firms in the kingdom, having been established in 1853. The present works were completed in 1912 and are up-to-date in lay-out and equipment. The establishment on the iron side includes wheel forge, general forge, smithy, and press shop, die shop, foundry, machine shop, steel erection shop, and power station; these together cover an area of nearly nine acres. The buildings on the wood side comprise a timber shed and gantry, saw-mill, wood wagon-building shops, carriage body-building shop, coach finishing shop, paint shop, polishing and trimming shop, and general stores, which occupy an area of about eight acres.
The saw-mill has a very complete equipment, including a sixty-spindle drill for drilling all holes in wagon sole-bars simultaneously, and double-ended tenoning machines, one of which is specially designed to include trenching in its operations. All scrap, sawdust and shavings are collected underground and conveyed to the power house boilers. The latest types of timber-drying plant are installed. The wagon shop is capable of dealing with 120 standard coal wagons a week, all components being made to jigs and templates. Electrical power is distributed by a three-wire direct-current system at 440 volts. Steam is generated at 175 lb. per sq. inch pressure with 150° of superheat, and is taken from the power house through a reducing-valve at 100 lb. per sq. inch pressure into the forge and smithy. The exhaust from the hammers and drop-stamps is returned to a steam-accumulator and finally passes through mixed-pressure turbines to the condensers. There are also vertical high- pressure reciprocating engines which can work in series with the turbines, either alone or in parallel with the smithy, or else can exhaust direct to the condensers. These arrangements reduce to a minimum the chance of total failure.
MESSRS. RUDGE-WHITWORTH, BEARING WORKS, BIRMINGHAM.
The factory is devoted to the production of ball- and roller-bearings, steel balls and rollers, and detachable wire wheels. The ball-bearing rings are machined from chrome-steel bars and tubes on automatic machines, and are heated in gas muffles and quenched in oil. The grinding department represents modern practice and some interesting chucking and gauging methods are in use. Very careful viewing operations are undertaken to maintain the extreme accuracy necessary. The control of all gauging tools and hardening is exercised from a well-equipped laboratory. The ball-bearing cages are machined from bars in automatic capstan lathes and the drilling and riveting machines are of special design.
The manufacture of rollers and balls is undertaken in a separate department. Both balls and rollers are headed up from chrome-steel wire. The ball is automatically cut off and formed into the sphere in one operation, but the roller presents more difficulties because of the exact relative position of the corner radius. Both rollers and balls are hardened in machines similar to those used in ring hardening. The grinding of balls, which is maintained within very fine tolerances, is carried out in a separate grinding department in machines of special design, which have been built principally with a view to ensuring sphericity within very small limits. Rollers are ground by the more usual centreless grinding methods. Both rollers and balls are submitted to very minute inspection, both for size and for surface defects.
The detachable wire wheels are built in another separate department. They consist of a light hub shell connected to the tyre rim by screwed spokes and nipples. The lacing of wheels is done by hand. The drive from the axle is taken through small teeth formed in the body of the shell and produced by drifts consisting of numerous cutters carried on a central shaft. The inner hub is machined on Gridley automatics and a remarkable number of dimensions are obtained in a single setting of the machine. The corresponding teeth in this part are produced on hobbing machines, and the large threads which engage the wheel lock-nut are cut by thread milling.
MESSRS. WILLIAM MILLS, BIRMINGHAM.
William Mills (of Birmingham)
Sir William Mills established a small foundry about thirty-five years ago in order to produce castings in the then very new material, aluminium. The original foundry still exists but has been greatly added to and now has a heavy annual production of castings in eight or nine modern light alloys. The actual works are typical of hundreds to be seen in Birmingham, all of which have grown in such directions as time and space have made possible. The lay-out happens to suit the policy of the company, however, in that little attempt is made to handle large running contracts to a few patterns. Their policy is rather to cater for the varying requirements of general engineering, and on the average they work continually on 1,500 to 2,000 different patterns, from each of which only ten or a dozen castings may be required.
The foundry has its own well-equipped pattern shop, its own laboratory for the control of the metallurgical side, an up-to-date melting and moulding plant, and a modern permanent mould department. It is wholly controlled by skilled metallurgists, in charge of Dr. N. F. Budgen, the Works Superintendent, and the foundry may be regarded as a practical laboratory on a large scale for the British Aluminium Company. In no foundry in this country is a visitor likely to gain more authoritative information as to what can or cannot be done with aluminium, and why.
MESSRS. WALTER SOMERS, HAYWOOD FORGE, HALESOWEN.
Haywood Forge was founded in 1866 by the late Mr. Walter Somers. The works cover an area of over fifteen acres, and consist of forges and machine shops. The old forge is equipped with twelve steam-hammers ranging from 10 cwt. to 12 tons. The large forge is equipped with hydraulic presses ranging from 600 to 3,600 tons. The presses are served by electric overhead travelling cranes which enable forgings up to 100 tons in weight to be dealt with. The machine shops are equipped with the most up-to-date machine-tools, and are capable of machining the heaviest forgings made including shafts up to 120 ft. in length. The heat-treatment department, laboratory, and power station also have modern equipments. Materials are handled by rail and canal, the latter running through the works.
THE UNIVERSITY, EDGBASTON, BIRMINGHAM.
The equipment of the Applied Science department of the University of Birmingham includes a heat laboratory, power station, mechanical workshops, machine shop, fitting shop, pattern shop, foundry, smithy and precision work-room. The power station contains every type of engine in commercial use and an ammonia refrigerating plant. There is in course of erection a small experimental turbine, by Messrs. Belliss and Morcom, designed purely for instructional and research purposes. The whole of the plant can be used for experimental purposes but also serves the purpose of generating electric current for the University.
The electrical department, situated in the main building, consists of two floors, the lower floor bearing the heavy machinery and the upper the light, and contains examples of almost all modern electrical machinery.
The civil engineering department, which includes the strength of materials laboratory, contains a 300-ton testing machine, a 100-ton machine, and a 50-ton machine, together with smaller appliances. There is also a hydraulic tank fitted with apparatus for measuring the flow of water in channels and for the study of water-turbines.
In the metallurgical department there is, in addition to chemical equipment, a complete plant for the study of the heat-treatment of metals. The mining department, recently enlarged by the addition of a coal-treatment plant, represents the most advanced installation of machinery for the treatment of coal at the pit-head. The departments of chemistry, physics and oil engineering also contain a great deal of interest in modern scientific treatment and research.
MESSRS. H. W. WARD AND COMPANY, SELLY OAK, BIRMINGHAM.
H. W. Ward and Co
When first established in 1889 this firm built nearly every type of machine-tool, but in 1912 the exclusive manufacture of capstan and turret lathes was decided upon. This policy was so far justified that removal to the present large modern factory at Selly Oak became necessary. The works are entirely on the ground-floor level and cover about three acres.
The general machine shop is separate from the erecting bays, but the heavy planing and boring machines are placed at the end of the erection shop, which consists of three large bays fitted with electric cranes.
A complete range of capstan and turret lathes is built. The smallest is a wire-feed capstan lathe dealing with bars up to ½ inch in diameter, and weighs 6½ cwt. The largest is a combination turret lathe, 13 inches height of centre, and deals with large chucking work and with bars up to 6½ inches diameter. This lathe weighs 7½ tons. Certain of the intermediate sizes are specially designed for working on bars, but most of them are equally suitable for bar or chuck work. There is a separate department which has been in operation for about six years, in which repetition parts are produced for outside firms. Most of the machines are lathes of the firm's manufacture, and an opportunity is thus afforded for observation to be made of these machines under conditions of long continued stress and rapidity of operation. The manufacture of broaching machines has recently been taken up, only one size at present being made. The whole of the plant is electrically driven, current being taken from the Corporation mains and transformed to a low voltage at the works.
WATT ENGINES. BIRMINGHAM CANAL NAVIGATIONS.
Ocker Hill, Tipton. — What is claimed to be the oldest condensing engine in the world is erected at the works of the Birmingham Canal Navigations at Ocker Hill, Tipton, Staffordshire. It is the remaining one of two made by Boulton and Watt in the year 1777, under patents granted to James Watt in the reign of King George III. The engine was not only designed by Watt but the drawings were prepared by him, and the engine constructed under his supervision. It was originally erected about the year 1778 at Rolfe Street, Smethwick, in the neighbourhood of the site of the famous Soho Works, where it was made, and probably frequent visits were made by Watt, when in doubt or anxiety, to conduct experiments on the engine. Although historical data do not say exactly when engineers and others visited the engine, it is certain that such distinguished men as Boulton, Rennie, Telford, Smeaton and Murdock did so, in the company of Watt. In the year 1898 this remarkable engine, having been at work regularly for 120 years, was re-erected at the works of the Canal Company at Ocker Hill and preserved as a relic, but when supplied with a breath of steam the old warrior willingly toils away as a "drawer of water."
The following are the particulars of the engine and pump when they worked at Smethwick, and it is interesting to note that, although constructed nearly 150 years ago, this engine would at the present time be considered a large one and outside the capacity of many engineering firms of to-day:—
|Size of steam-cylinder||32 in. diameter.|
|Length of stroke||96 in.|
|Piston or Pump speed||208 ft. per minute.|
|Steam pressure||10 lb. per sq. in.|
|Vacuum obtained .||27 in.|
|Size of pump bucket||29 in.|
|Length of travel||96 in.|
|Capacity per minute .||2,900 gallons.|
|Height of lift .||21 ft.|
|Water horse-power .||18.4|
|Indicated horse-power .||25|
In striking contrast to this ancestral engine are the three fine sets of triple-expansion, Corliss type, surface-condensing pumping engines at present working, which together can raise 20,250,000 gallons of water to a height of 66 feet every 24 hours.
Ashted Engine, Lawley Street. — This engine was constructed by Boulton and Watt at the Soho Works, Smethwick, from drawings made in 1811. It is of the single-acting type, having a steam-cylinder 36 in. diameter with a length of stroke of 84 in., and works with a steam pressure of 10 lb. per sq. inch, at the rate of 12 strokes per minute. Originally steam was obtained from two wagon type boilers (one is still at the station and used as a water-tank). These were replaced fifty-seven years ago by two 6 ft. 6 in. x20 ft. Cornish boilers, made from iron plates and it is remarkable that they are still in use. The pump has a capacity of raising 2,592,000 gallons of water in 24 hours, to a height of 46 ft.
The general arrangement of the engine is similar to the original Watt engine at Ocker Hill, except that a cast-iron beam with double flitches supersedes the wooden one, and is carried on round trunnions, housed in plummer blocks, instead of knife-edges on concave steels, and that the ingenious parallel motion is included, superseding the arc quadrants and chains common to the earlier type.
WARWICK AND BIRMINGHAM CANAL NAVIGATION.
Watt Engine, Bowyer Street. — This engine was constructed in 1796 and set to work in August of that year. It was used on the Canal for raising about 600 tons of water per hour from a depth of 42 feet, worked at a steam pressure of 5 lb. per sq. inch, and was rated at 45 horse-power. There are copies of the original drawings by James Watt at Bowyer Street. There has been very little alteration from the original design and the engine-house is as originally built. The beam of the engine is of oak, having arcs on each end, in the manner in which Watt contrived his first parallel motion. The first boilers were of the wagon type. The condenser is of the jet type and the air-pump was operated from the pit end of the beam instead of from the cylinder end, as was subsequent practice. The engine ceased to be worked about 1854.
MESSRS. WRIGHT'S ROPES. UNIVERSE ROPE WORKS, BIRMINGHAM.
Established as early as 1770, these works now rank amongst the largest rope-works in the country. In them are manufactured the heaviest wire ropes and fine aeroplane cables, the largest hemp and manila ropes and the finest cords and twines.
The present works are in two portions. There are the Garrison Street works, which, like the original ropewalk, are of great length. They include the main building, which is a modern three-story structure. On the ground floor are the heavy machine shops of the wire rope department and its auxiliary sections, such as the wire stores. The main bay is served by a special overhead travelling crane, and the shop has occasionally manufactured ropes of 58 tons' weight in one piece. The first floor is occupied by manila spinning machinery, and on the top floor is housed manila rope and cord-making machinery. In another building the hemp-spinning machinery is situated. It produces yarns of every type for ropes and twines and the manufacture of twines is also carried on. Visitors are struck by the size of the manila and hemp fibre store-houses and by the great length of the ropewalk, which is of modern type.
In the new works at Fawdry Street there is a fine battery of locked-coil machines. There are also extensive machine shops for the manufacture of wire ropes and cords and a spacious and well-equipped splicing department. Electric drive is used throughout the works. All departments have a testing section. The wire rope department is equipped with tensile, torsion, hardness and bending machines and there is also a testing machine for complete ropes in a separate testing department.
All the ordinary types of rope and many special types are manufactured, and a high degree of complexity and technical skill is exhibited in the various processes of modern ropecraft.
MESSRS. ALFRED HICKMAN, STAFFORDSHIRE STEEL AND INGOT IRON WORKS, BILSTON.
This business was founded in 1866 and was first registered as a company in 1882. In 1920 practically the whole of the share capital was acquired by Messrs. Stewarts and Lloyds; in 1925 the business went into voluntary liquidation, and has since operated as a branch of that company. The works are situated at Ettingshall and occupy an area of approximately 25 acres. The plant consists of five blast furnaces, two mixers of 500 tons and 150 tons capacity respectively, three 12-ton Bessemer converters and one 60-ton and three 80-ton open-hearth Siemens basic steel furnaces. There are also 35- and 36-inch cogging mills, 28-inch, 24-inch and 15-inch bar mills and a 12-inch Morgan continuous strip mill. The capacity of the plant is approximately 4,500 tons of pig iron, 3,500 tons of Siemens-Martin ingots and 3,500 tons of Bessemer ingots per week. The principal products are basic pig-iron, ingots (Siemens and Bessemer basic), blooms and slabs, billets, sheet-bars, rounds, squares and sections, blooms for cold-drawn tubes, strip for tubes, and automobile chassis frames.
THE EARL OF DUDLEY'S ROUND OAK WORKS, BRIERLEY HILL.
Round Oak Works
The Round Oak Works were built in 1855 as a private undertaking of the late Earl of Dudley, and for many years were engaged on the production of wrought iron of high quality. In 1889, in order to find an additional outlet for bar-iron, the company embarked on the manufacture of ships' cables. The steel works were commenced in 1893, and the first cast made in August, 1894. They consisted of three 17-ton open-hearth basic furnaces, one 30-inch cogging mill, driven by a pair of engines with 42-in. x 48-in. cylinders by Galloway, and one roughing and finishing mill, driven by a similar pair of engines. Since that time considerable developments have taken place. There have been added a slag-grinding plant for the utilization of basic slag as a fertilizer, a 250-ton gas-heated mixer for storing molten pig-iron between the blast furnaces and the steel works, and large gas-heated soaking pits which replaced the old furnaces previously used. Considerable changes have also been effected in the older part of the works, which to-day forms a modern and efficient plant. At the present time the steel works comprise one 90-ton tilting furnace, two 50-ton and three 40-ton fixed open-hearth furnaces, one 30-inch cogging mill and one 28-inch finishing mill. The open-hearth furnaces, regenerative soaking pits and wash-heating furnaces for these mills are all supplied with gas from a central battery of modern gas machines. The two hot-blast furnaces have been in existence since the early " Fifties," but have not been in operation since 1921. The two cold-blast furnaces are now in operation. The present capacity of the works enables between 2,500 and 3,000 tons of steel sections of great variety to be produced weekly.
MESSRS. ARMSTRONG SIDDELEY MOTORS, COVENTRY.
Armstrong Siddeley Motors
These works, which are devoted to the manufacture of high-class automobiles, air-cooled aviation engines and air-cooled engines for military purposes are under the direction of Mr. J. D. Siddeley, C.B.E. They are laid out so that the movement of material from the raw to the finished state is always in the direction of the erecting department, the movement being facilitated by an electric runway. The visitor passes the various departments of the works in the order in which they are described below.
On leaving the main offices and walking along the roadway through the works, one passes on the right the tool room and experimental department, and on the left various offices connected with the works administration. Also on the left are the lower machine shop, which is equipped with machinery for the production of light and medium components, and the grinding department. Proceeding, there are on the right the heat-treatment department, and the nickel-plating and polishing departments, and in the vicinity the sand-blasting and cosletizing departments. The main roadway then passes through the central machine shop, which is devoted to the machining and assembly of various units for car and aviation engines. It includes machinery for cutting spiral bevel-gears, and grinding machines for finishing the involute profiles of spur-gears after the teeth have been hardened. Further on the left is the tin and coppersmiths' department; in the coppersmiths' section may be seen some unusual and interesting pipe work in connexion with aviation engines. In the heavy machine shop, which is next reached, cylinder blocks and heads, aero-engine crank-cases, and all crankshafts and pistons are machined. Of special interest are the two sections where the 18 h.p. and 14 h.p. cylinder blocks are machined. These sections are laid right across the shops, the rough casting being received at one end and delivered finished and enamelled at the other.
This shop opens into the erecting department, which is arranged so that chassis erection is carried on down the middle, whilst the stores for assembled units are on the left and engine erecting is done on the right. The erection of aero-engines is carried out at the far left-hand of the erecting shop. To the right is a large automatic enamelling plant for wings, valances, etc., and beyond that lie the engine-testing shops which are equipped with modern dynamometers. The chassis are afterwards fitted with their power units and transmission gear, and then run into a section of the test shop equipped with specially designed dynamometers for measuring the power output at the rear axle. The chassis-frame erecting shop is also in the vicinity of the erecting shop.
The visitor next crosses Puma Road (which is so named after the famous Siddeley "Puma" engine) to the Burlington Works of the company. These works contain the saw-mills, and body-making, painting, upholstery and trimming departments. Here the cars are finished and passed to the adjacent running sheds for their final tests. Situated behind the Burlington Works are test-sheds for the aero-engines, where are carried out the exhaustive and rigorous tests and experiments necessary in the case of this highly developed power unit.
MESSRS. J. AND J. CASH, KINGFIELD WORKS, COVENTRY.
J. and J. Cash
The firm of J. and J. Cash has been established in Coventry for about eighty years. The first partners were John and Josiah Cash who carried on business as manufacturers of silk ribbons. In 1895 a private limited liability company was formed, and in 1925 the firm became a public company.
Kingfield Works date from 1856 and, while all the original buildings still stand and are in use to-day, there are extensive modern additions. The buildings themselves cover an area of nearly five acres and contain over 500 looms and 1,870 winding spindles, together with carpenters' and mechanics' shops, dye-house and box-making departments. The offices and warehouse are also situated at Kingfield. The works are driven throughout by electricity and the new power house containing two steam-generators and a motor-converter is thoroughly modern as regards structure and equipment. The looms are for the most part operated on the Jacquard principle, although there are a number of plain looms and dobbies. Most of the loom construction work is done on the premises.
The principal products of the firm are woven names and initials for marking household linen and personal clothing, woven garment labels for the shirt, hosiery and clothing trade, hatbands and badges for clubs and colleges, and ribbons and trimmings of all descriptions. The number of employees is about 700.
MESSRS. ALFRED HERBERT, COVENTRY.
The present sole governing director, Sir Alfred Herbert, K.B.E., established this business (which now employs about 2,500 people) in 1889. The firm specializes in capstan lathes, combination turret lathes for chuck work, hexagon turret lathes for bar work, automatic screw machines, auto-lathes for chuck work, horizontal and vertical milling machines and ball-bearing drilling machines. The tool equipment for these machines is manufactured in a large building specially equipped for this work. The well-known Coventry self-opening dieheads and dies, and the Coventry chuck are made in a separate factory at Edgwick. The business is at present carried on in two large works, the chief works, in the Butts close to Coventry railway station, and the foundry and branch works at Edgwick, about three miles away. Plans are now well advanced to consolidate both the works at Edgwick, where ample land is available.
All machines built are put through in batches, the fullest use being made of jigs, fixtures and special tools. The arrangement of both fitting and machine-shops gives the fullest opportunity for obtaining the advantages of specialization. Fitting is sub-divided, one gang dealing with headstocks, another with gear-boxes and so on, and each unit is completed and tested before being handed over for final assembly. Piece-work is employed throughout; a separate price is fixed for each operation, and the work is inspected before passing to the next operation.
In the machine shop machines are grouped according to their type — milling machines, turret lathes, grinding machines and so on - each group being in charge of a foreman and constituting a self-contained department with its own jig and tool store. A speciality is made of supplying machines, complete with jigs, fixtures and special tools, for producing work to guaranteed production times. The production tests are carried out on the customers' own samples before delivery is made, so that many interesting applications of labour-saving tools can nearly always be seen in the testing department.
The factory at Edgwick is equipped for the quantity production of Coventry dieheads and dies, ball-bearing drilling machines and Coventry chucks and certain components of the machines made at the head works and at Edgwick, such as screws, bolts, collars, and bushes. In this factory there is a large installation of auto-lathes and automatic screw machines. A number of auto-lathes are also running in the turret-lathe department at the head works and give a very good idea of the versatility of these machines and the close limits of accuracy in the work which they produce. The use in the Edgwick factory of a vertical projector for examining the threads on work produced by the Coventry diehead is an interesting example of optical testing.
At the Edgwick works a new coal-pulverizing machine is being developed. This is the "Atritor," which operates on the unit system, pulverizing, drying and blowing the powdered coal direct into the combustion chamber of the furnace. A machine may be seen in operation firing a Babcock and Wilcox boiler. In the new power station at Edgwick all boilers will be similarly fired by Atritors. About 250 Atritors have been supplied all over the world for firing cement kilns, steam-raising in water-tube boilers and for the firing of furnaces for many different processes.
MESSRS. MORRIS MOTORS, ENGINES BRANCH, COVENTRY.
This factory is employed on the manufacture of power units for the 11.9 Morris-Cowley, 13.9 Morris-Oxford, 13.9 Morris 1-ton truck and 11.9 Morris 12-cwt. truck. 2,500 operatives are employed and the full capacity of the factory is approximately 2,000 engines and gear-boxes per week. The buildings are chiefly of the multi-story type, with a ground-floor area for the heavy machining, assembling and test departments. Chief interest lies in the special automatic machines of an entirely original character, the electric testing plant, which is one of the largest in existence, and the method of handling and conveying the heavier materials. The works cover an effective floor area of 23,700 sq. yards, on a ground area of 16,097 sq. yards, and this engine factory, from the point of view of output, is the largest in Europe.
The works were originally founded by Messrs. Hotchkiss et Cie, in 1916, for the manufacture of machine guns. Eventually the factory was converted for the manufacture of automobile engines, and the first Morris engine was delivered on 7th June 1919. Mr. Morris purchased the factory on 1st January 1923, at which time 300 engines per week were being produced. The factory is now two-and-a-half times its original size and produces over six times as many engines.
MESSRS. TRIUMPH CYCLE COMPANY, COVENTRY.
Triumph Cycle Co
The Triumph motor-cycle is an example of a high-class engineering product manufactured in large quantities and sold at an exceptionally low price. The price of the standard 4.94 horse-power machine is actually 35 per cent less than that of the corresponding pre-war cycle, and from the point of view of efficient production the works are of special interest. Every part of the motor-cycle is manufactured in these works, and the organization of the machine shops has received particular attention. There is, for instance, a shop entirely devoted to the machining of cylinders, and this contains a number of special multiple-operation and grinding machines. Originally founded in 1885 for the manufacture of pedal cycles, the company listed their first motor cycle in 1902. In 1906 the output was 500 machines; at the present time the annual output exceeds 30,000.
MESSRS. WEBSTER AND BENNETT, NORTHEY ROAD WORKS, COVENTRY.
Webster and Bennett
Established in 1887, as general engineers, to meet local requirements, Messrs. Webster and Bennett soon afterwards commenced the manufacture of machine-tools to meet the demands of the cycle industry, then in its early stages. Since those days the development of high-grade machine-tools has become a necessity and the firm eventually selected the vertical boring and turning mill as a particular line for specialization. This type of machine is essentially a British development and the firm is generally recognized as the originator of the duplex-table type.
MESSRS. AITON AND COMPANY, DERBY.
Aiton and Co
This firm was established at Willesden in 1897 by the present Governing Director, Mr. J. Arthur Aiton, C.B.E., J.P., and was removed to Derby in 1907, as increasing business had made the older premises too small. Since then the premises have been extended considerably and plans have been prepared for further increasing the output of pipes. The firm has specialized in the manufacture of pipe-work and accessories, and in its operations uses welding to a very large extent. It also has a well-equipped foundry and a machine shop, both of which are laid out for the economic production of high-class pipe-work.
MESSRS. BODEN AND COMPANY, DERBY.
Boden and Co
The bobbin net machine was invented in 1809 by Heathcoat, and seven years later he was joined in partnership by John Boden at Tiverton. The foundations of the Derby business were laid in 1821. The machines used are all of metal and weigh up to ten tons. The motions, which are obtained from steel cams, are very accurately timed to prevent breakage of the delicate threads, of which there are from 10 to 150 miles to the pound. The finest web that has been made contained 1,550 holes per sq. inch, but the net normally manufactured varies from 70 to 1,000 meshes per sq. inch. The machinery used for making the finer qualities is built by the company. The net is used for mosquito netting, curtains, dress material and embroidery, and ninety per cent of it is exported. The company have several branch works, notably at Chard, Somerset, and employ in all over three thousand people.
MESSRS. WILLIAM FLETCHER AND SONS, CHADDESDEN WORKS, DERBY.
William Fletcher and Sons
These lace-making works were established in 1898 by the late Mr. William Fletcher, who had been in business himself at Long Eaton and Derby since the early "Seventies." The plant comprises forty-seven modern "go-through" machines for the making of dress and millinery laces, forty-six plain net machines engaged on bobbin and mosquito nets, silk tulles, etc., and a large modern doubling plant for the production of the yarn required for the lace-making section. The last consists of twenty doubling frames of approximately 7,000 spindles. The firm employs at present three to four hundred workers.
THE HASLAM FOUNDRY AND ENGINEERING COMPANY, UNION FOUNDRY, DERBY.
Haslam Foundry and Engineering Co
The Union Foundry was established in 1824 and was acquired by the late Sir Alfred Seale Haslam in 1868. In 1892 the old-established business of Messrs. Pontifex and Wood of London was incorporated. The works occupy an area of four-and-a-quarter acres with a frontage of 730 feet, and a centre block of offices, and extend from City Road to the banks of the river Derwent, the frontage being composed of three extensive machine and erecting shops. These have an average span of 70 feet, and cranes enable loads of up to 30 tons to be dealt with. The machine-tools are of the highest class and include modern labour-saving devices, all electrically driven. A department has also been added for the manufacture of all kinds of pipe-coils and grids on a large scale. This is equipped with pipe-welding plants on the electric and oxygen-acetylene systems, and improved pipe-coiling and bending devices.
The firm is almost exclusively engaged in the manufacture of refrigerating machinery, and originally established its reputation by the perfection, by the late Sir Alfred Haslam, of the compressed-air machine. As long ago as 1881 the s.s. "Orient" arrived in the Thames with the first cargo of frozen meat from Australia, refrigerated by Haslam's system. The machines now manufactured operate on the ammonia and carbonic-anhydride systems. The firm is at present completing a contract for fitting out four of the largest and most up-to-date meat boats afloat, each capable of carrying between 5,000 and 6,000 tons of frozen or chilled meat. The great popularity of small refrigerating plants has been met with a simple and efficient machine, of which large numbers have been installed, and the works are now organized for the mass production of domestic refrigerating plants, the demand for which has greatly increased owing to the restrictions imposed on the artificial preservation of food.
MESSRS. LEY'S MALLEABLE CASTINGS COMPANY, VULCAN IRONWORKS, DERBY.
Leys Malleable Castings Co
The building of Ley's Malleable Iron Foundries was commenced at Derby in 1874 by the late Sir Francis Ley, Baronet, the founder of the firm. The present capacity of the plant exceeds 1,000 tons of malleable castings per month. It covers an area of 30 acres, and is the largest malleable-iron foundry in Europe. There is a well-equipped laboratory for chemical analyses and physical tests, in charge of the works metallurgist.
Ley's works are fully equipped throughout with modern machinery for the mass production of malleable castings to the accurate limits required by present-day practice in machine shops. In 1926 a new moulding shop was erected covering nearly one-and-a half acres, and equipped with cranes, runways, and moulding machines of the latest types. An interesting feature is the waste-heat boiler (Stirling type) connected with the two melting furnaces. The steam from this boiler passes to a steam-turbine and is used to generate electric current for driving pulverized-coal plant and other sections of the works. The pulverized-coal plant is the largest industrial unit of its kind in this country; it has a capacity of 400 tons a week, and not only supplies the melting and annealing furnaces but also the boilers, with fuel.
The firm specializes in the production of "Black Heart" malleable-iron castings for automobile, agricultural, textile, and electrical engineers, and for shipbuilders, railway-carriage and tramcar builders. A large business is also done in malleable-iron chains and buckets in connexion with conveying and elevating machinery, and power transmission.
LONDON, MIDLAND AND SCOTTISH RAILWAY COMPANY, CHIEF MECHANICAL ENGINEER'S DEPARTMENT'S WORKS, DERBY.
These works are mainly concerned with the building and repairing of the 3,000 locomotives in service on the Midland Division of the London Midland and Scottish Railway, and occupy an area of eighty acres, of which about twenty are covered by shops, stores and offices. When fully occupied 4,500 men and youths are employed. Some of the shops have been in existence since 1839. A particularly interesting one of this period is No. 1 Round Shed, where light boiler repairs are now carried out; this was built in 1839, and was the first engine-shed to be constructed with a central turntable and with radiating tracks. The works have been added to from time to time, the largest extension taking place in 1874, and consequently the lay-out is not an ideal one. An important feature of the shops is the progress system, whereby the position of various components is shown on cards which are conspicuously displayed. These show daily the progress of the work and indicate when it should be completed.
A central power station provides power and light to the Chief Mechanical Engineer's, the Carriage and Wagon, and the Signal departments. The installation consists of one 2,000 k.v.a. and two 1,500 k.v.a. generators and turbines and one 600-900 k.v.a. mixed-pressure turbine (the latter being driven chiefly by the exhaust steam from the forge and smithy) and two Willans central-valve engines, as a standby for light loads. Steam is provided by five Stirling water-tube boilers, two working at 210 lb. per sq. inch and three at 170 lb. per sq. inch, superheated to 640° F. and 520° F. respectively. Four of these boilers supply 24,000 and one 16,000 lb. of steam per hour. The heavier machines in the works are driven by separate motors, and the lighter ones are run in groups from short lengths of shafting.
The smithy and forge are equipped with steam- and drop-hammers. The brass foundry has four Morgan furnaces, fired by oil-gas tar, a by-product from the oil-gas works; each of these furnaces has a capacity of 600 lb. There are also two pit-type crucible furnaces. The total capacity is from 25 to 30 tons per week, and of this output about 75 per cent of the castings are machine-moulded. A chair foundry has two cupolas, used on alternate days, each giving an output of 250 tons per week, and produces about 12,000 chairs per week for the permanent way of the Midland Division. The iron foundry has two cupolas, also used on alternate days, each having a capacity of 150 tons per week. Jolt-rammers and moulding machines are installed.
The wheel and axle shops do all the machining necessary for wheel-centres, tyres, crank-pins, straight axles and both solid and built-up crank-axles. An interesting machine is the wheel-press; its ram can exert a force of 200 tons, and an automatic recorder indicates the pressure at any position of the wheel as it is being forced on to the axle. The boiler shops are provided with furnaces gas-fired from a gas-producer plant, and two hydraulic presses of 550 and 260 tons capacity for flanging boiler plates. A particularly good example of this work is the throat-plate which connects the Belpaire firebox to the boiler barrel. The tender tanks are made in this shop, and in their construction angle-iron work has been almost entirely superseded by flanging the plates and stays. The splashers for the wheels of goods locomotives are now also pressed out of a flat sheet instead of being built up from plates and angles. Two vertical drilling machines are installed in a pit for drilling an assembled boiler shell and firebox in any direction. A single vertical roller bending press, with an hydraulically operated pressure-bar is used for bending the outer steel wrapper plates of Belpaire fireboxes; this is specially adaptable for the sharp bends in the upper corners of the plate. There are also hydraulic riveters and large forging presses, the latter bending, setting, and welding foundation rings. The plant in these shops is capable of making seven new boilers and dealing with heavy repairs to sixteen boilers per week. In the boiler mounting shop the position of the mountings is located by templates temporarily attached to the boiler.
The machine and fitting shops, built in 1874, are well-lighted buildings and contain a large range of modern machine-tools, a few of the principal being a frame-slotting machine capable of making four cuts simultaneously through a set of twenty engine frames, each one inch in thickness; a drilling and tapping machine for cylinders; a machine which can bore simultaneously the cylinder and piston-valve chest, the boring-bar for the latter being capable of adjustment to any angle relative to the cylinder axis; an all electrically-driven planing machine; heavy milling machines, and a series of automatic and semi-automatic lathes. The lay-out of these tools is arranged with special regard to the sequence of the machining operations. From the marking-out tables the work flows along regular paths, until it enters the erecting shop. The tool room is a special feature of the machine shop. To it is attached a standard room in which are kept all types of gauges, measuring machines, and a shadow projector for screw-threads.
The erecting shop has three bays and can accommodate seventy-two locomotives on six longitudinal pits. Twelve of these pits (at the ends of two of the bays) are reserved for the examination of engines prior to repair; an additional central road in each bay is used for wheeling the engines and carrying them in and out of the shop. The output from this shop is twenty-two engines each full week, including two new locomotives and twenty heavily repaired or rebuilt ones. In the paint shop the engines are completed ready for the road. There are a large staff of millwrights with their own shop, an electrical shop in which is manufactured and maintained the electrical plant required in the works and elsewhere, ambulance and mess rooms, a photographic department and well-equipped test rooms and chemical laboratories.
LONDON, MIDLAND AND SCOTTISH RAILWAY COMPANY, CARRIAGE AND WAGON WORKS, DERBY.
Derby Carriage and Wagon Works
The works were originally laid out in 1876 and have been added to from time to time. The lifting and stamping shops, which are the most recent, were built in 1910. The general lay-out is as follows: wood-working shops are on the west side of the main sidings, iron-working shops on the east side and painting shops at the south end. The whole of the plant is electrically driven. Hydraulic power is also supplied at 750 and 1,200 lb. per sq. inch and compressed air at 100 lb. per sq. inch.
Saw-mill. — Timber is purchased as trees, square logs and scantlings, and is obtained as far as possible from Empire sources. Some is bought dry, the rest is subsequently dried either naturally in stack, or artificially by the moist air process (Erith's). The stacks for natural drying are arranged on the "pigeon-hole" principle, i.e. gaps between the edges of the scantlings, etc. but no gaps between rows. No marking-out is done; the timber is worked to stops and templates. All articles are finished to final size and the tolerance allowed is ± 0.002 inch. The machines are grouped according to operation and not by type as was usually the case in British practice.
Wagon Building Shop. — Each man is engaged on a particular part of the work, and each operation is carried out at a fixed point, the work being moved to the man. No fitting or finishing is necessary, and all parts are delivered to the point required, and mainly to the height required, so as to avoid all unnecessary lifting. Only one road in the shop is actually used for erection, instead of ten roads under the old methods. Each of the main operations (of which there are ten) takes approximately the same time, and a wagon is turned out every thirty minutes. Simultaneously with the completion of the tenth operation, the wagon is ready for moving away for painting and lettering. Hydraulic power is used for cramping operations, and pneumatic power for boring and nut-tightening. All screws are driven by machines.
Carriage Building Shop. — In this case there are nineteen positions for erection, finishing and painting. The end-framing, seat-framing and doors are placed in power cramps, and screws are put in by automatic screw-driving machines before pressure is released. The steel underframe is delivered complete on its own bogies to the carriage building shop. At the first operation the wooden floor is fitted and upon this the ends, quarters, partitions, etc. are erected, including the complete jig-made roof. The time taken for the actual assembly on the carriage underframe is twenty-two minutes.
Carriage Finishing Shop. — This shop deals with the construction of sliding doors, partition frames, photograph frames, door-lights, etc. These articles are put together in cramps, after which they are taken to the triple-drum sander and a good surface prepared for polishing. They are then taken to the polishing shop.
Carriage Polishing Shop. — The first operation here is staining, and the second filling, after which the articles are spray-polished or spray-varnished. The articles which have been spray-varnished are put into a special drying room at a humid temperature of 95° F. The spray-polished work is rubbed down by flatting machines. When the work is completed on these machines it is taken to the benches for the final polish.
Painting Shop. — No lead is used in painting carriages and wagons. There are for inspection in this shop a kitchen car with steel panelling and "Decolite" floor, and a third-class corridor brake.
Lifting Shop. — This shop was built in 1910 on modern lines. There are no pits for examination purposes, as the vehicles are lifted by two electrically driven cranes on to trestles, at a convenient height for working underneath. The bogies are dealt with by 5-ton floor-operated cranes. Whilst the bogies and frames are being cleaned and any necessary replacements of worn parts made, the wheels are dealt with in the turning shop. Seventy-nine carriages and one hundred wagons are lifted each week. In the underframe, bogie, and steel-frame erecting bay, operation timings are adopted in the same way as in the erection of carriages and wagons. The component parts are assembled on jigs and afterwards built as a complete underframe or bogie. Hydraulic and pneumatic riveters are employed, and two machines are utilized for electrically heating the rivets.
Turning Shop. — Axles, tyres and wheel-centres are bought in the rough state and machined and assembled on modern machines. Wheels are pressed on to the axles by hydraulic pressure, fifty to sixty tons being used for wheels without tyres, and sixty to seventy tons for wheels fitted with tyres. Wheels are condemned when the tyres are worn to less than one-inch thickness.
MESSRS. ROLLS-ROYCE, DERBY.
The Rolls-Royce works were opened in 1907, the 40-50 h.p. chassis then being the only manufacture. The shops at that time covered about one-and-a-quarter acres; at the present time they cover 26¾ acres, the manufactures comprising the 20 h.p. and "New Phantom" chassis, and the "Condor," "Eagle" and "Falcon" aero-engines. The number of employees exceeds 4,000.
The foundries for aluminium, bronze and cast iron are capable of dealing with the whole of the firm's requirements, and work in conjunction with a well-equipped material testing department and metallurgical laboratories. The forge shop produces a large percentage of the total forgings required, which are made from steel obtained to definite specifications from the steel makers, each vital component having its own test-piece forged with it. Heat-treatment is carried out in a special department, nearly every metal component passing through the department at some stage or other of its manufacture.
The machine shops are equipped with a large number of up-to-date and special machines, which, in conjunction with carefully designed jigs and tools, are capable of producing finished parts to a very high degree of accuracy. A strict system of fine limits is worked to; in a number of cases the limit is as fine as 0.0001 inch, the progress of the parts being assisted by rigid inspection and checking between each series of operations. The finished parts are erected into units under specialized supervision, and thoroughly tested before being fitted to the main unit. The various main units, engine, gear-box, and axle, are then run in and tested separately before finally erecting into a complete chassis, on specially constructed test-beds. Each complete chassis is then again tested on a brake dynamometer by which the power actually available at the road wheels is measured. A minimum standard of performance is fixed for all these tests, and rigidly adhered to. The complete chassis is then tested on the road.
An extensive and fully-equipped experimental department is maintained, which enables Mr. Royce to have his designs strenuously tested, before they pass into production. It may be mentioned in this connexion that every part, however small, having any bearing on the reliability of the car, is tested for a minimum of 10,000 miles at high speeds over indifferent roads in France. The chassis, even after having been dispatched from the works is kept under observation, and tested after the body is fitted, by specially trained men, to ensure that the combination of chassis and body as a complete car is in every way satisfactory.
THE ROYAL CROWN DERBY PORCELAIN COMPANY, DERBY.
Royal Crown Derby
Porcelain was first produced in Derby very soon after its introduction into Europe. Although it was not until the early part of the eighteenth century that John Bottger, the German pioneer of the ceramic art, made his important discovery, a china factory was established in 1750 at Derby by William Duesbury, who acquired the right to use the royal crown to distinguish his wares, and his factory became the most celebrated of its kind in the kingdom. However, in 1848, after passing through various hands, the works were closed and shortly afterwards demolished. Thirty years later a new company was formed to revive the industry, and in 1890 Queen Victoria granted to it a warrant of appointment as porcelain manufacturers to Her Majesty at Derby. Many of the original old Derby patterns have been revived, and the company's craftsmen have always been in the front rank of their profession.
MESSRS. N. HINGLEY AND SONS, NETHERTON IRONWORKS, DUDLEY.
N. Hingley and Sons
Primarily makers of puddled wrought iron, Messrs. Hingley are the largest makers of ships' cables and chains in the country. The first ironworks were established at Netherton in 1855 and at Old Hill in 1882. They have undergone frequent changes and remodelling, and at present consist of four puddling forges and four mills devoted to the production of wrought-iron bars and sections. A large variety of qualities is produced, including the old-established marked-bar qualities and all those called for by the British Standard Specifications. The sizes range from 6 inches round or its equivalent, and down to 3/16-inch. In these works have been made the cables and anchors for nearly all the largest liners at present in commission, and cables are in regular production with links made of iron four inches in diameter.
THE EARL OF DUDLEY'S BAGGERIDGE COLLIERY (SURFACE WORKS), SEDGLEY, NR. DUDLEY.
The winding plant deals with a large output from a depth of 650 yards. At the main shaft (downcast), which is 17 ft. 6 in. in diameter, and in which two double-deck cages work, there is a lattice-steel girder-frame 90 feet high, with pulleys 17 ft. 6 in. in diameter. The engines working this shaft are of the tandem compound type by Fraser and Chalmers, with 26-inch high-pressure cylinders and 45-inch low-pressure cylinders; and there is a parallel drum 18 feet in diameter. The engines are equipped with overwind prevention and steam reversing-gear. The ropes are of the locked- coil type, 1⅝ inches diameter, and each is approximately 830 yards long.
At the upcast shaft, which is 12 feet in diameter, and in which at present only one cage operates, there is a very substantial steel girder-frame 52 feet high. The engines at this shaft comprise a pair of high-pressure cylinders 28 inches in diameter and are equipped with overwind prevention and steam reversing-gear and are capable of developing approximately half the power of the main winding engines. The rope at this shaft is 1 inch in diameter and of the locked-coil type.
The plant in the power house provides current for the running of the surface plant, and for haulage, machine cutters, pumps, and lighting underground. There are two 500 kw. 550-volt 3-phase generator sets, the supply being transformed to 3,300 volts for transmission. The boiler-house contains six Lancashire boilers equipped with mechanical stokers and superheaters and there is also a water-softening plant with a capacity of 2,000 gallons per hour.
The screening plant is of the shaker type, with bar belts, and deals with over 1,000 tons of coal a day, in five grades. The loaded tubs gravitate to this plant, and, after passing the tipplers which feed the screens, are run by gravity to the creeper which lifts them to the two decking levels, whence they run to the back of the pit.
The usual fitting shops, blacksmiths', carpenters', tub-building and repair shops, are conveniently arranged on the bank, together with saw-mill and general stores. The lamp room stocks over 1,000 miners' safety-lamps of the inner combustion-tube type. These are dismantled, cleaned and reassembled by machinery, and lit by electric battery.
MESSRS. HENRY MILWARD AND SONS, WASHFORD MILLS, REDDITCH.
Henry Milward and Sons
Needles and fish-hooks are articles of great antiquity, and it is believed that iron needles were manufactured in the Redditch district as long ago as the thirteenth century. John Milward was manufacturing needles before 1730 at Studley, Warwickshire, and business was commenced in buildings on the site of the present mills early in the nineteenth century. The firm is associated with several other companies and together they produce about 600 million needles a year. The making of a hand sewing-needle involves sixteen distinct operations, some being entirely mechanical and automatic while others depend entirely on hand labour and individual skill. The whole process is a very interesting combination of delicate and accurate machinery and manipulative skill. The latter is in many cases hereditary, successive generations of the same families having worked at the trade. The smallest needles used are made from wire 8½ thousandths of an inch in diameter, 1,000 weighing under a quarter of an ounce, and the smallest fish-hooks weigh little more than one-tenth of an ounce per 1,000. Amongst other articles manufactured are machine needles, needle cases, crochet hooks, knitting pins, small parts for textile machines, fishing tackle of all kinds, and sprayers for horticultural purposes and for motor-car washing.
MESSRS. S. THOMAS AND SONS, BRITISH MILLS, REDDITCH.
S. Thomas and Sons
This firm was established in 1830 and manufactures needles of every description. All the operations of manufacture are open to inspection by members.
THE BRITISH THOMSON-HOUSTON COMPANY. RUGBY WORKS.
Although occupying an area of over ninety acres the Rugby works do not deal with the manufacture of all B.T.H. products. In a well-appointed showroom at the Rugby works representative examples of the products of all the various factories may, however, be inspected. At Rugby the electric lamp and radio valve factories are situated, but of particular interest are the turbine factory, large electrical machine shop, and motor control-gear factory. The pattern shop, tool room, punch shop, and foundry are all excellently laid out and contain much equipment of interest. The foundry is equipped on the ground floor with the most modern appliances, including a sand slinger and sand handling plant, for turning out heavy castings up to about 45 tons in weight, while the first and second floors are allocated to the making of small ferrous and non-ferrous castings, many of which are machine-moulded in large quantities.
The turbine department is a building 1,000 feet in length with smaller bays on each side. The raw and partially finished material is received at the south end of the building, and the finished product is delivered at the north end. The department is particularly well equipped with tools and is capable of dealing with material for turbines and generators of the largest output that railway facilities in the country are capable of handling. At the south end of the main bay there are situated the heavy class of boring mills, planers and lathes, and there are boring mills and lathes of rather smaller capacity in a smaller parallel bay, also at the south end of the department. A large floor-plate with a full complement of movable tools is also provided at this end of the bay, so that machining operations may be carried out on heavy pieces of machinery in situ. A very interesting example of heavy milling is to be seen near the south end of the main bay. Here a machine mills two slots simultaneously on the opposite sides of large electrical rotors of the solid forged type.
The assembling and lining-out of turbo-generators is carried out towards the north end of the main bay, and the completed rotors for both turbines and alternators undergo a dynamic balancing test on special machines situated near the middle of the department. There are two machines, of which the smaller is capable of balancing rotors up to two tons in weight, and the larger up to twenty tons.
The testing of completed machines is carried out in the middle of the main bay on bases provided with condensers capable of dealing with 35,000 to 40,000 lb. of steam per hour. High- and low-pressure steam supplies are available at pressures up to 250 lb. per sq. inch. and any required superheat up to 750° F. can be obtained by means of a separately fired superheater. On either side of the main bay are smaller bays provided with galleries. In these are carried out such operations as the winding of generator coils, the machining of small parts and of blades for turbine wheels, and the fixing of the blades in the disks. The winding of the stators and rotors of turbo-alternators is carried out at the north end of the main bay, and this section is provided with a very complete installation of impregnating plant. The completed machines are dismantled after testing, inspected, and packed and placed on rail at the north end of the department. The travelling cranes, of which five are available in the department, have a capacity ranging from 25 to 60 tons, and it is interesting to note that all the large machine-tools are provided with remote control by means of a push-button system of operation. Next to the turbine department is another wide building 1,000 feet in length, with ample stores accommodation adjacent to the castings conditioning-ground. In this building, which may be referred to as the large electrical machine shop, are manufactured electric motors, slow-speed generators, rotary converters, motor- converters, motor-generators, and transformers. The general arrangement of the plant is somewhat similar to that in the turbine bay, work on each machine progressing as far as possible continuously from one end to the other, and being thoroughly tested on load in the test department situated about the middle of the shop. In the case of d.c. generators for turbo-generator sets, however, the generators are transferred to the turbine bay by means of special trucks. In connexion with the manufacture of rotary converters and motor-converters, it may be mentioned that some of the methods of construction and types of windings, which are the exclusive property of this company, are of particular interest.
Another important factory forming part of the Rugby works is the control-gear factory. Of the four floors three are devoted to the manufacture of automatic and non-automatic equipments of all kinds and for every service. The complete individual automatic sub-station equipments so far built by this company range in single units from 250 to 4,500 kw. at 400 to 3,000 volts d.c., and comprise single rotary converters, two rotary converters in series, and synchronous motor-generator sets. An interesting item is the range of high-speed circuit-breakers with ratings up to 3,000 amperes and over (continuous) and pressures up to 3,000 volts. Other equipments include those for effecting complete control from a distant point and complete automatic devices to control mercury-arc rectifiers. The locomotive and multiple-unit coach equipments manufactured include motors and complete control apparatus for railways and tramways by manual, magnetic, or pneumatic operation. Control-gear is also manufactured for use on board ship.
Electric power requirements at the Rugby works are met from the company's power house, containing generating plant of 4,000 kw. capacity, and converting plant for obtaining an additional supply from the high-tension mains of the Warwickshire and Leicestershire Electric Power Company.
The British Thomson-Houston Company accept no premiums for apprenticeships, but boys are taken from elementary schools, technical colleges and universities for training in accordance with special courses designed to make the most efficient men for the engineering industry.
THE ENGLISH ELECTRIC COMPANY, WILLANS WORKS, RUGBY.
English Electric Co
The original firm, Messrs. Willans and Robinson, who transferred their business to Rugby from Thames Ditton in 1897, specialized in the manufacture of a small high-speed marine steam-engine in conjunction with steam-launches and boilers. The advent of electric lighting and the suitability of the engine for the direct driving of dynamos resulted in the development by P. W. Willans of the well-known central-valve engine.
Not long after the removal to Rugby a demand for steam units of larger sizes than those previously manufactured became steadily more urgent. The difficulty of the problems in the design of reciprocating engines to which this demand led, gave impetus to the development for land purposes of steam-turbines, which had by that time been tried with complete success for marine propulsion. In consequence of this trend of affairs, the company undertook the manufacture of steam-turbines in 1903, and this new development, which met with immediate success, laid the foundations for the extensive manufacture of this type of machine ever since carried on at Rugby. Having become accustomed to the production of small high-grade castings, the company also developed the manufacture of condensers and air-pumps and undertook the supply of small iron castings for the automobile industry. The manufacture of Diesel engines and, more recently, of the Fullagar two-cycle, opposed-piston engine for land purposes and of water-turbines has also been developed.
The works buildings have been extended and improved from time to time. These extensions have been carried out in conformity with the original plans, in which, from the outset, provision was made for systematic development as occasion might require in the future. From the first, also, the questions of railway siding accommodation, loading, storage, and the orderly progression of material from stage to stage have been very carefully kept in view. The result is that the works buildings to-day, which have been nearly trebled in area since first established, and now cover about seven acres under roof, are in every respect conveniently disposed for the economical handling of the products, and present the same compact and symmetrical appearance as in the original project.
The main block of buildings, comprising the machine and erecting shops, is constructed in bays running north and south, divided in some cases by brick piers and arches, but generally by lattice-steel stanchions which carry the traveller girders. At the west end of the main block is the foundry, with a total floor area of 58,700 sq. feet, of which 11,700 sq. feet are devoted to brass founding. Completely detached from the foundry are the pattern shop and pattern stores. All the shops are well lighted and ventilated and are provided with efficient modern machine-tool equipment. Included in the tools most recently installed are a heavy internal grinding machine suitable for dealing with large internal-combustion engine cylinders, and a heavy crank-grinder; both these machines are amongst the largest of their type in use in the country. There is also a well-equipped chemical and metallurgical laboratory. Current is generated in the power house for works lighting and power purposes by oil-engine-driven sets. A battery of water-tube steam-boilers also adjoins the power house for supplying steam for turbine testing.
It is interesting at this time to recall that the principle of payment by results has been operative in these works, including the pattern shop and foundry, for nearly thirty years, the introduction of the scheme having been made before the removal of the business from Thames Ditton. In a report made to the House of Commons by the Labour Department of the Board of Trade in 1895 on "Gain Sharing," the system then in operation in the Willans shops was specially described.
MESSRS. BEAN CARS, TIPTON.
The Tipton works were acquired by Messrs. Bean in 1918, and contain the foundries, pattern shops and stores, heavy and light machine shops, erecting and assembly departments, and research department and laboratory engaged on the production of Bean motor-cars. There are foundries for iron, aluminium and non-ferrous alloy castings, and where possible metal patterns are used, the pattern shop therefore differing substantially from usual practice. When in full capacity the foundries have an output of about 2,000 tons of miscellaneous castings a week. The extensive and well-lighted machine shops include equipment for cutting bevel- and spur-gears, and are so arranged that the progress of each part through successive operations is in a continuous straight line. Gravity and roller-type conveyors and trucks running on rails are used to the fullest extent to minimize labour. Almost all the steel used in the works is manufactured by Messrs. Hadfields of Sheffield, who hold a controlling interest in the firm.
MESSRS. BRITISH ROLLING MILLS, BRYMILL STEEL WORKS, TIPTON.
British Rolling Mills
This business is a modern one, founded in 1913 and reconstituted with additional capital in 1919. The works were originally in Birmingham, but were moved to their present position a few years ago. The present site was formerly occupied by Barrow's ironworks. The works are chiefly occupied in the production of bright steel, specialities being in case-hardening, long-boring and deep-stamping qualities. There are two distinct departments dealing with strips and bars respectively. Adjoining the strip mill are the heat-treatment furnaces. The whole works are controlled by the laboratory and analysis and testing departments. The machinery is electrically driven, the supply of power being taken from the Corporation mains, but the company is considering the installation of its own power station.
THE HORSELEY BRIDGE AND ENGINEERING COMPANY, TIPTON.
Horseley Bridge and Engineering Co
With a very long history, this firm can claim association with many of the most noteworthy engineering works of the age. In 1822 Mr. Manby, who had control of the firm, constructed to his own patent, the first iron vessel propelled by steam, the "Aaron Manby" at Tipton. One or two other iron steam-boats were also built in these pioneer days, but not unnaturally the company could not follow up this branch of engineering manufacture in a situation so far from the sea. It is also on record that steam-locomotives were once built at the works, but since that time, the company have devoted themselves chiefly to the construction of a long succession of famous bridges and steel structures. The works comprise the usual range of shops, but the structural machine shops of eight bays and the hydraulic press shops are conspicuous. The latter contain many fine presses, one of which is capable of bending plates up to 35 feet in length at one heat.
MESSRS. F. H. LLOYD AND COMPANY, JAMES BRIDGE STEEL FOUNDRIES, WEDNESBURY.
F. H. Lloyd and Co
There are two separate foundry units, one devoted to the production of castings up to 20 tons in weight and the other to lighter work. The larger foundry is fed from a 20-ton Siemens-Martin furnace, supplemented by two 30-cwt. converters which are occasionally brought into use. This foundry has ample head room so that castings of very large dimensions can be executed. The lighter foundry is fed from two 30-cwt. Tropenas converters, so that the process of pouring castings is practically continuous throughout the day. This foundry deals mainly with repetition work. A large amount of compressed air is utilized for moulding, fettling and sand-blasting throughout the works. The works are equipped with a pattern shop, machine shop and laboratory. It is of interest to note that the employees themselves hold capital to the amount of of £13,500 and also control a superannuation fund.
THE PATENT SHAFT AND AXLETREE COMPANY, WEDNESBURY.
Patent Shaft and Axletree Co
The company are associated with Messrs. Vickers through the parent firm, The Metropolitan Carriage, Wagon and Finance Company, of Birmingham. The title is derived from the original wrought-iron faggotted axle for railway vehicles, of which the company were the sole makers. The works under normal conditions employ over 5,000 persons. The activities of the company are varied, chief amongst its products being: Siemens-Martin open-hearth steel (acid and basic processes) in the form of ingots, blooms, slabs, plates, sheets, bars and sections of all descriptions; railway-carriage and wagon axles; iron bars and sections; railway wheels and axles; bridges and various other forms of structural work; turntables; switches and crossings; pressed-steel carriage and wagon bodies, underframes, bogies and other spare parts; iron and steel rivets. Many important bridge contracts have been executed at the company's Old Park works, where the first all-steel bridge, the Benares Bridge over the River Ganges (length approximately three-quarters of a mile), was constructed.
The plant to-day includes modern Siemens-Martin open-hearth smelting furnaces, with cogging, and heavy plate and bar mills, merchant bar and guide mills, sheet mills, iron forge, axle forge, etc.; rivet manufactory, railway wheel and axle manufactory, bridge and structural yard, heavy hot-pressing shops, etc. The productive capacity of the works is approximately 125,000 to 150,000 tons per annum. The estate of the company covers an area of about 1,000 acres.
MESSRS. GEORGE SALTER AND COMPANY, TYPEWRITER DEPARTMENT, WEST BROMWICH.
George Salter and Co
The firm has been established for nearly 170 years, and the West Bromwich works for more than 130 years; for most of this period the manufacture of spring balances and springs has been carried on. These are made in a great variety, and special mention may be made of the crane weigher to weigh 100 tons which measures only 69½ inches X 29 inches, of the specially prepared steel valve-springs, and of the steam pressure-gauges.
The manufacture of typewriters was commenced towards the end of last century, but was suspended during the War. A new factory has since been built where the present model known as the "British Empire" typewriter is made. This factory consists of a main single-story building of steel construction, and single-story annex buildings of brick. The inspection department is an ordinary two-story building. There are the usual machine shops which include one or two small special precision lathes for fine work, a comprehensive group of grinding machines, and, in the tool department, a special filing and sawing machine for cutting press-tool dies. The press section performs a wide variety of operations from plain blanking and piercing to deep drawing and raising. In this department there are also electric welders of the spot-welding type. Inspection is carried out on component parts and the finished machines are subjected to careful tests.
THE CLYNO ENGINEERING COMPANY, WOLVERHAMPTON.
Clyno Engineering Co
The Clyno car was until recently manufactured at the company's Pelham Street works. About eighteen months ago a new site was acquired at Bushbury and new works erected. The machine shops have not yet been removed from Pelham Street, and are now engaged upon machining parts for the complete chassis, with the exception of the engine. The assembly shop at the Pelham Street works has been converted into an efficient service station. The Bushbury works comprise an up-to-date machine shop, and an assembly shop where the component parts and chassis are erected on conveyors. The bodies are also mounted and the cars are finished complete. There is also a modern Carrier enamelling plant.
THE ELECTRIC CONSTRUCTION COMPANY, BUSHBURY ENGINEERING WORKS, WOLVERHAMPTON.
Electric Construction Co
This firm is forty-five years old and formerly bore the name Elwell-Parker. The Bushbury works, however, were established in 1892. They occupy a site of twenty-three acres, about one-third of which is built upon. The works are self-contained, practically everything in connexion with an electrical machine being manufactured on the premises, which include a large iron foundry and core-stamping department. The main factory covers 200,000 sq. feet and is entirely under one roof and on one floor. The company's power station contains four Babcock and Wilcox water-tube boilers with chain-grate stokers. The main power. units consist of two 720 b.h.p. Belliss and Morcom high-speed vertical, triple-expansion engines, each coupled to tandem generators. In addition there are a number of rotary converters, motor-generators and transformers, to meet the varied requirements of the test-plate. The machine-tools in the factory are up-to-date in every respect and are electrically driven, mainly by d.c. motors but in a few cases by a.c. machines. The complete process of manufacture of an electrical machine may be seen. In a separate department (but still under the same roof) all kinds of generator and motor control-gear are manufactured.
THE REES ROTURBO MANUFACTURING COMPANY, WOLVERHAMPTON.
Rees Roturbo Manufacturing Co
The company carry on the business founded by Messrs. Thomas Parker in 1894 and are chiefly concerned with the manufacture of d.c. dynamos and motors and pumps of both single and multi-stage types. They have gained varied experience in dealing with the pumping of such liquids as sewage, chemical liquids, sugar juice, syrups, oils, etc., and build deep-well and bore-hole pumps, auxiliary steam-turbines for process steam, rotary jet condensers and air-pumps.
THE STAR ENGINEERING COMPANY, WOLVERHAMPTON.
Star Engineering Co
Among the pioneers of the British motor industry, the Star Motor Company (as the firm was then called) was formed by Mr. E. Lisle in 1898. The works are equipped with modern machinery. The machine shop is of special interest, as attention to the use of the right machine-tools for the right jobs has given an excellent production for a comparatively small shop. In the milling section there is a large battery of Fellows gear-shapers, and such is the excellence of the gears that no grinding process is used afterwards. Several Lees-Bradner, and Barber and Colman hobbers are successfully employed for spline cutting. The grinding includes surface, external and internal grinding machinery. The main portion of the machine shop is equipped with semi-automatic and fully automatic machines and includes a number of Lapointe broaching machines. The hardening section and the system of inspection have been very carefully planned and are of particular interest.
THE SUNBEAM MOTOR CAR COMPANY, MOORFIELD WORKS, WOLVERHAMPTON.
Sunbeam Motor Car Co
The first Sunbeam motor-car was built in 1899 by Messrs. John Marston, and the present firm was formed in 1904. The company have made great progress and have been responsible for many notable developments in the design of motor-car and aircraft engines, their most recent achievement being the giant two-engined car of 1,000 h.p. which attained a speed of over 200 miles per hour.
The company also produce high-efficiency racing motor-boat engines. The works cover an area of over sixty acres, of which nearly thirty acres are floor space. Concentrating on the production of motorcars of the highest quality, the company have avoided any suggestion of mass production methods in the various departments. There is a foundry equipped on modern lines for the production of non-ferrous castings and high-grade motor cylinders. The number of workers exceeds 4,000.
MESSRS. JOHN THOMPSON WATER TUBE BOILERS, WOLVERHAMPTON.
John Thompson Water Tube Boilers
The business was established in 1840 at Highfield Works, Bilston, and was removed to Wolverhampton in 1870. The Wolverhampton works employ about 2,000 persons, and are devoted to the manufacture of water-tube boilers of standard, vertical and horizontal tube types, dish-ended Lancashire and Cornish boilers, economic dry-back boilers, marine boilers, vertical boilers, and complete boiler-house plants from foundations to turbine stop- valves. The company were pioneers of the dish-end Lancashire boiler, of which there are now many thousands at work. The flues of these are made of one or more corrugated sections which are heated by water-gas and welded in hydraulic roller machines.