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In An Adelaide Motor Body Building Works
WITH the passing years, the in- <*> dustry has attained an ever- <*> growing importance in the econo- <*> mic organisation of the Common-
wealth, for on its success depends, to s large extent, the welfare of a num ber of concomitants, some vital nation ally. One is the manufacture of steel, another glass- It is in this light that one of the out standing recent developments in the motor body industry is to be noted—its emergence from early years of depen dence on imports into the status of a ?well-nigh self-sufficient Australian in dustry. Attainment of such a position in a comparatively short time is impres sive proof of Australia's industrial de velopment. A few years ago, it was necessary for one of Adelaide's big plants to import more than 50 per cent. of its material. Today, the proportion Is very much less, and it is rHTninisynng at such a rate that the prospect of the Industry obtaining all its requirements of steel directly from the Newcastle, or other Australian mills, and indirectly from the ore of Iron Knob, is becoming ever closer to fulfilment. The ?wood work, and the material for upholstery are of Australian origin; the armor plated glass used in windows and wind shields is made in South Australia, the laminated glass in Sydney. FORMATIVE DAYS \I7AR-TIME restrictions on the im portation of complete motor oars were an important factor in the first expansion of body building in South Australia. The industry was established in a modest way in pre-war yeans by two firms, one having graduated from saddlery manufacture, the other from coachbuilding. During the crucial months of 1916-17, there was en acute shortage of shipping space, and the Commonwealth Government introduced regulations to ensure the limited amount available being reserved solely for essential goods. One prohibited the importation of motor vehicles, although it was amended subsequent to permit the importation of 90 per cent, of chas ?is, and 10 per cent, of complete cars. The edict gave an opportunity which South Australian manufacturers seized o.uickiy. A sample body was made and Submitted to a conference of distribu tors. Convinced of the .??biUty of the local firm i -> m.cr.uf-'.cture bodies in suf ficient nuni'oer and of the des'red qual ity, they i-la^ed the first contract. It was for 12 bodies. Within the last decade, the firm which tcok that mo mentous step has produced 47.000 bodies in a year 5 300 in a month, and, in one period of accelerated output, 200 a day. South Australian bodies are supplied to all the States of the Commonwealth. and l"ye mirkets in South Africa. New Ze?lr.rd S^eaDOre. Java. Soura'cra. Msl-ya. Ir.dia. md the Par East. Their oualit^- ii superior to most overseas pro ductions, and is equalled only by spe cial types from United States, English and Canadian works. MODERN DESIGN THE design of motor bodies has been transformed in the last generation. It Is b-.it a few years ago that the great majorny of cars were of the open type. Thp first sedans were weird, uncom fortable contraptions, unkindly, but not inaptly, di'bbed '?flying bedsteads." Their builr.^rs. apparently, were unab-e to get the idea of the hansom cab out of their minris. with the result that not only was there a dead monotony in design, but the whole vehicle seemed
to be an apology for the absence of the horse. Today, the trend Is predominantly to ward the closed model, sedan or coupe, although Adelaide works still caier for an extensive market for open tourer bodies. Even within the limits of the closed body, the last five years have brought remarkable changes, associated with the application of aero-dynamic principles to design. No longer is the sedan a stiff, upright, motor-driven carriage, creating tremendous wind resistance but a gliding streamlined luxury, bom of the collaboration of scientist and en gineer, and embodying modern appear ance, cleanliness, speed and economy with ample room for passengers and luggage. Its comforts and accessories are innumerable: its buyer practically gets a lounge, a season ticket to every thing that is on the air, and an "all roads" transport pass. Design in Adelaide factories is abreast of the world's best, and one of them recently originated an all-enclosed coupe body which has been received en thusiastically in the United States. Fundamental redesigning has brought the occasional passengers in out of the weather, and has enabled the back seat and the squab to be operated so that all the back seating accommodation may be made available for luggage. Another recent innovation has been the introduction of an all-steel body in which the proportion of woodwork is negligible. Instead of being nailed to a wooden framework, the panels - t are welded to a fabricated steel tkele ton. Tests have proved the resultant body to be remarkably resistant to ac cident damage. Interior fittings have been radically altered, too, the most pronounced chance being in the springing of seats. Springs are made within the factory by a new procsss involving special ma chinery, each set being tempered elec trically to ensure uniform resilience. ASSEMBLY USE In no othsr industry, perhaps, is the] application cf rnnss * production me-: thods capable of such expansion, or the < sphere of machine operation so wide.! So organisation of Adelaide plants has] been carried to a. degree of refinement. Manufacturing processes, extremely complex in the aggregate, are sub divided by skilled engineers into such a multiplicity of tasks that each in it self is a marvel of simplicity, its dis charge involving a dexterity acquired comparatively easily. Consequently, the plant of a modern; body works is amazing in its extent ? and diversity. In the aggregate, Ade-| laide factories have spent" hundreds of thousands of pounds on it. the com ponents ranging from ponderous 500 ton presses able to press sheet steel
established a little more than half a century ago. As a result of the war time restrictions, the first car body was built at their factory in Adelaide in 1916, and the first order followed. Witii remarkable adaptability, workmen who had spent a lifetime in coachbuilding acquired proficiency in the new trade hi a short space. The premises in Grenfell street soon became inadequate, and at the end of 1917 there was a transfer to King Wil liam street south. The first building there was a small galvanissd iron one. and with 10 men. the business of Holden's Motor Body Builders was begun, an independent company of that name having been formed in the meantime. Production in the first year was less than 50 bodies, and, though a four storey brick building was erected with a floor area then unsurpassed in Ade laide, it was outgrown within six years, and 22 acres of land were secured at
[Wocdville. work being carried on there as well as at the city lactory. Gradually ihs WoodviHe property was acded to, until 40 acres were occupied in 1925. FuiLher development of the enter prise can bs appreciated from a com parison of the lolloping figures:— OUTPUT OF BODIES—1917,100; 1935, 25,133. EMPLOYES—I9I7, 21; 1935, 5,570. WAGES—I9I7, £4,500; 1935, £1,012,000. Latest developments in both methods and machines are applied at the fac tory, which has more than 20 depart ments, including the designing and drawing office, pattern and die making section, press shop, panel fabricating department, upholstery fabricating sec tion, assembly line (panelling, fram ing, upholstering, and lacquering), spare parts manufacturing, timber mills, seasoning kilns, and so on. Every body is rigorously tested before leaving the works, hundreds of pro gress inspections being made of the components and their assembly. Tie Wcodville works holds contracts for bodies for Austin, Buick, Chevrolet, Bedford, Graham, La Salle, Maple Leaf, OldsmqbUe, Pontiac, Reo, Vaux hall, and Willys chassis. A factor favor ing the local industry is the concentra tion of English and American srorks on closed cars, which renders it diffi cult to obtain supplies of tourer and roadster types, conditions in some parts of Australia lend themselves to the open body, and in supplying the demand arising from that circum stance, Holden's has built up a plant and organisation which has supplied bodies to New Zealand, India, the Dutch East Indies and neighboring islands, and the Malayan peninsula. The works nave also produced many shock absorbers. The manufacture ol bos shooks is well established, more than 2,000,000 being turned out annu ally. The bulk of them are used for packing fresh and dried fruit, cheese, and other primary products. Nearly all the fruit packing sheds in the South Australian portion of the Murray val ley, and half those in the Milduraarea, are supplied from the Woodville fac tory, which employs an average of 90 men in that branch of its plant. An other 30 or 40 find work in carting or stacking the boxes, or the bulk timber. TWO PLANTS The works of T. J. Richards & Sons also had a modest beginning, the nuc leus in its case having been a carriage building business established at West Mltcham in 1885 by Mr. T. J. Richards, who retired from active participation about 20 years ago. A second busi ness at Hindmarsh square preceded a transfer to Keswick. Motor body build ing was adopted as a subsidiary to coach and carriage building about 30 years ago, but in the course of transition al most as marked es the change from the horse to the mertinical age. the sub sidiary became the chief activity, and in 1916 the building of horse-drawn vehicles was abandoned. In recent ye-srs the 83 acres of plant at Keswick have become Inadequate, and another plant has b?en built on 11 acres at MUe-End. Additions are now beins made to both, for their capacity is taxed. Mo?t of the plant is beln; used continuously in three eight-nour shifts six dnys a -w?ek. The firm fulfils all the Australian re quirements for bodies for Chrysler Cor porption romnrising Chrysler. TJoo'ce. be S^to. Plymouth cars. Dodge trucks, and F'ars'o tircks nnd lorries, as well as tnoj=e for Etudebaker cars. Several Individual contracts are undertaken as well. As a result of recent investfcrptipis on a .loi"T>py overseas. t>>e nwnasins d'rec ror (Mt. Claude Fi'?T|i:!'rf's} introduced Ftpel frame cors'rucf?on for bodies. Until t^ro yers aeo. won>l ws i?."-cd at t*>e far*rmr in tn"Mnir tb? fnme. thp sheet steel n'^el' b^inT fiTed to ilirst base, but.: ss t>e rp?'ilt of tlip. new pro cess more tJian 90 uer cent, of tfcp woodwork bos T*p?n rp^^d hv st??f>l. Sind It !?= flnhnml t>3* t*>stK TIiVP T>rov?d Ihe rp^'Uant hodv tn hp unsnrrowd for safety. One of the local bodies
taken at random from the construction line was sent to Detroit and rlscca on an American chassis. On the testing crcund it was turned completely over as least 50 times while travelling at more tbar 60 mil^s ar. hour, and when it was examined the doors opened and closed perfectly, although the mudguards and exterior fittings were badly damaged. A progressively greater proportion of the material used in construction is of Australian origin. The glass used in windscreens and windows is made in Adelaide or Sydney, and the only material of importance imported by the firm is special panel steel. The rest of the steel is made in Australian mills. Many thousand pounds have been spent at the works in recent months in equipping them with the most modern machinery. In view of the steel con struction bodies, particular attention has been paid to welding devices which contribute to quick and efficient fabri cation.
Part of the continuous assembly line on whi-h the bodfes pass fronsh the works, ?nToachiig rearer to com^Wion as th^y are des't wi^h by es>rh ?'"^art ment. Lotrer—A 509-ton press stamping- ont steel panels.