Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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British Salmson Aero Engines

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1915. 135-hp water-cooled radial aero engine. Exhibit at London Science Museum.
1930. Ref AA below
October 1933.
December 1937.
April 1943.

Engine, car and motorcycle makers, of Raynes Park, London, SW20

The French Salmson company had started a British branch company, Moteurs Salmson, as an aero engine maker for the British Empire market. Formerly these engines were made under licence by the Dudbridge Iron Works for Willans and Robinson.

1930 This was taken over by British owners in 1930 and renamed British Salmson Aero Engines Ltd at Raynes Park, London, to make engines for light aircraft.

1933 Manufacturers of radial aero engines. Head office and works: New Malden, Surrey.[1]

1934 They do not appear to have been very successful in getting orders and in 1934 started making the French Salmson S4C car under licence. The British S4C had the same twin overhead camshaft, 1,471 cc, four cylinder engine and chassis as its French parent but the gearbox was updated to include synchromesh on the top two ratios. The coachwork was British designed and was available in four door saloon, sports saloon, open tourer and drophead coupé versions bought in from Ranalah or Newns. Two engines were offered - the single carburettor 12/55 and the tuned, twin carburettor 12/70. The latter was claimed to take the car to 80 mph (130 km/h). About 230 are estimated to have been made.

In 1937 the engine was enlarged to 1596 cc and the car became the S4D or 20/90, which had no French equivalent. The engine was a six cylinder unit of 2580 cc, still with twin overhead cams. Hydraulic brakes and transverse spring independent front suspension were fitted. The new car was heavier than the superseded S4C and, in spite of the larger engine, there was no significant increase in performance. A maximum speed of nearly 90 mph was claimed. Bendix cable brakes were fitted to the first few cars but later ones had Lockheed hydraulics. A curved back saloon Sports Saloon or drophead coupé were offered. About 75 were made, production ended in 1938/9.

1937 Aero engines.[2]

With the outbreak of World War II the company turned to general engineering.

Car production did not re-start after the war but a few small 31 cc engines for converting bicycles were made.

1950 - 55 The Cyclaid motorcycle was produced from 1950 to 1955 by British Salmson at Raynes Park, London. It was a 31cc two-stroke, clip-on engine that sat over the rear wheel of a bicycle, which was driven by belt. The unit was all-alloy with horizontal cylinder, flywheel magneto and the petrol tank fitted above. The engine drove a counter-shaft carrying the belt pulley and the whole unit was spring loaded to maintain belt tension. It remained on the market for as long as the fashion dictated and worked well.

The company eventually moved to Glasgow where they made printing machinery.

Britsh Salmson : Cars

See Also


Sources of Information

  • The British Motorcycle Directory - Over 1,100 Marques from 1888 - by Roy Bacon and Ken Hallworth. Pub: The Crowood Press 2004 ISBN 1 86126 674 X
  • [[1]] Wikipedia
  • AA. [2] Image courtesy of Aviation Ancestry