hit counter
british anzani archive:
next next previous previous
in 1958, and derivations of it kept me employed for the rest of my working life! The most successful variant was undoubtedly the Dolphin Yacht Auxiliary, which was produced in quite large quantities for several decades, and continues to this day, in Bodmin. (See website - http://www.dolphinengines.co.uk/history.htm). The one which pleased me the most however was the Hoganrood hydroplane engine, which won the British ‘C’ Class National Hydroplane Championship’s in 1960 and 1961. The Hoganrood engine was a joint venture with fellow RCA director, Benny Rood. Fitted with special water cooled cylinders with fancy porting, and running on methanol, power output was raised to 45 bhp @ 8,500 rpm. There is a perverse pleasure in beating your old boss (Charles Harrison - Ed) at his own game! What was the Anzani factory like to work in? I can best describe the factory as a large walled compound, containing a variety of very old and sprawling buildings. These had been extensively altered and added to over the years. The outside wall was a truly substantial brick affair, and when the equally massive gates were closed and locked there would be little chance of breaking in. Once through the gates one passed, (on ones right), a house like building which was the reception, general and drawing offices and Charles Harrison’s office too. There was a substantial open space in front of the factory proper. The factory originally took the form of two long, low buildings arranged to the left and extreme right of the compound. The large cobbled yard between these two buildings (together with the space just mentioned) had once been used to provide room for fairground roundabouts and rides to be assembled, out in the open air. Long before I arrived, however, the yard had been roofed over with a tall, mainly glass single story pitched roof, and it was into this brightly lit central section that you would have entered the factory. Looking to the right you would now see the outer walls of the original building, although this had openings cut in it to provide access to what was now, the machine shop. It was an extremely well equipped department although the machinery was old. Many machines still displayed plates proclaiming them to be the ‘Property of HM Government-On Loan For the Duration of the War’ and that referred to the 1914/1918 unpleasantness! Many were flat belt driven from lineshafts, and the general impression was not pleasant. The whole section stank of cutting oil, and the noise was appalling. The most unpleasant noise came from the cylinder honing machine which produced a shriek which was almost painful to hear! There were, of course no CNC machines in those days, but I can’t remember anything at all that was the current state-of-the-art either, although some of the capstan and turret lathes were quite nice. Nevertheless, all the machines were
in good shape and very well maintained, and in the hands of capable staff, could and did turn out first rate components. Looking left, you would have been shocked by what looked like a film set depicting Hell. This phenomenon was created because the whole of the outer wall of the original long building had been removed on this side, and you would now be looking directly into the assembly shop. A very long, double sided work bench ran up and down the shop, and this was plumbed in for gas. Every bench station had its own ‘fan tail’ burner, which was intended to warm components such as pistons, to make them expand and so facilitate assembly. These were all kept burning throughout the day, and when viewed from the nice, bright, central shop it was impossible to see beyond this wall of flames. The assembly shop being quite gloomy by comparison, it was only just about possible to make out vague, shadowy figures moving about beyond the flames! The effect was gruesome! On the left side of the assembly shop were firstly, a small area sometimes used as a sort of showroom, and later used by Richard Christoforides, then the ‘Repairs’ bench. Next came the Millwright’s workshop, and then my Test House and ‘Inspection’. Outside the test house were two horse shoe shaped bench areas. Of these, the one on the left was where three fitters built the Super Singles. In the other the Pilots were built. This was also the bench of the assembly shop foreman, Jock Edwards. All other work was carried out on the main benches (with the gas burners!) Across the far end and closing in the central area, was the Stores, and beyond and behind that, the Carpenters Shop. Here worked an artist in wood. Apprenticed as a coffin maker, he would build a hydroplane for Charles, or an export crate for engines, with equal ease. The whole factory was enhanced by his splendid benches, duck boards, cupboards or whatever. Beyond his shop was a bit of wasteland leading up to the back wall. The central section of the factory was curious in as much as bits that should be ‘outside’, were often inside (gutters, drains etc). In the floorspace the Astra car was assembled, as was the Iron Horse and Motor Hoe. Usually most of the space was empty. High under the roof the finished engines were stored. They had to be laboriously hauled up, on a special hoist. There was a sort of catwalk and a wide platform too (accessible by iron steps) but it was hard work. Harrison maintained that this was justified as the finished motors were stored in the warmest, driest place in the factory, and they would never get damaged up there! I have known occasions when many hundreds of engines were stowed up there, as deliveries tended to be seasonal, whilst production remained constant. How big a company was it in those days? Some 45 people were employed at that time. They were required to promise
The Hoganrood engine photographed at Bedfont Lake in 1961