Nuts and Bolts of British Cars (Geoff Wheatley)

As you are reading this item I think it’s safe to assume that you own a semi
vintage British Car. Semi vintage being anything that rolled out of the
British Motor Industry between 1945 and 1960.

(Please Note my term not any official designation!)

I am sure that at some time you have skinned your knuckles using a spanner
sorry wrench that looked like it should fit the bolt or nut but did not!
There is a complete range of British nuts and bolts that defy logic when
compared with American or European fittings.  The Morris Empire produced a
range of bolts/ nuts etc. that had no reference to any other in the world. A
metric thread with a British head that might fit one of your collection of
wrenches but don’t count on it.

This came about when Billy Morris purchased the UK branch of the French
Hotchkiss factory located in Coventry, England, in 1923. At one time the
Hoctchkiss UK operation had been a money spinner for the French company when
it produced a successful light car but in the post war years for reason not
quite clear even today, the company turned to the production of super luxury
vehicles. With Rolls Royce at their doorstep their British venture went on
the sales list and Morris purchased it lock stock and whatever else was
included.   As to be expected Hocthkiss used and produced metric fittings
including their own fasteners that Morris decided could be useful in the
production of his range of vehicles. It also was an economical move as he
would no longer need to purchase fasteners from outside suppliers. He took
the same attitude when it came to such items as radiators, breaks, pressed
bodies etc., buying up whatever manufacturer he could find that made such
items. His motto was simple “Keep in the Family; you make more money that
way!”  When you are using metric nuts and bolts you need metric tools and
this could involve a major outlay for the production lines. So why not
retain the threads which are the most difficult part in the production of
your fasteners but put a British size head on the bolt and the same for the
nut. All existing tools would fit, so what we now call an Economy of Scale
was produced. No one ever gave a thought to the fact that this whole process
could and eventually did  hinder future production especially in the post
war years when Britain exported worldwide with Morris being one of the
leading successful companies in the” Export or Die” period.

Just to make the owner of a British vehicle just a touch upset when he or
she wanted to do their own service, the range of threads and sizes simply
boggle the mind. First we have Whitworth introduced by Sir John Whitworth in
1841 when the demand for high tolerance machinery production was starting to
grow with the success if the British Industrial Revolution. It total he
developed no less than four separate ranges of thread:  British Standard
Fine (BSF) British Standard Whitworth (BSW) British Standard Pipe (BSP) with
a sister thread in that same bracket called (BSPT) The tapered version for
high pressure use. All of these can be found on most British vehicles pre or
post war.  Not to be out done we have another thread that you will find in
your classic car called (BA) short for British Association. You will find
these fixtures on the electrical equipment. The most common is known as 2
BA.  That’s the nut that slips out of your fingers while trying to connect
with a BA bolt under the dash, and is never seen again.

Thank goodness after the close of the 1950’s some degree of sanity prevailed
within the British Motor Industry and they, over a given period of time
adopted a unified, interchangeable system that almost matched to the US
thread standards. So today your wrench should fit most of the post war cars
after the 1950’s and if you are really lucky some that were made before that
date.

C/R Geoff Wheatley

May 2011 South Carolina

 

As you are reading this item I think it’s safe to assume that you own a semi

vintage British Car. Semi vintage being anything that rolled out of the

British Motor Industry between 1945 and 1960.

 

(Please Note my term not any official designation!)

 

I am sure that at some time you have skinned your knuckles using a spanner

sorry wrench that looked like it should fit the bolt or nut but did not!

There is a complete range of British nuts and bolts that defy logic when

compared with American or European fittings. The Morris Empire produced a

range of bolts/ nuts etc. that had no reference to any other in the world. A

metric thread with a British head that might fit one of your collection of

wrenches but don’t count on it.

 

This came about when Billy Morris purchased the UK branch of the French

Hotchkiss factory located in Coventry, England, in 1923. At one time the

Hoctchkiss UK operation had been a money spinner for the French company when

it produced a successful light car but in the post war years for reason not

quite clear even today, the company turned to the production of super luxury

vehicles. With Rolls Royce at their doorstep their British venture went on

the sales list and Morris purchased it lock stock and whatever else was

included. As to be expected Hocthkiss used and produced metric fittings

including their own fasteners that Morris decided could be useful in the

production of his range of vehicles. It also was an economical move as he

would no longer need to purchase fasteners from outside suppliers. He took

the same attitude when it came to such items as radiators, breaks, pressed

bodies etc., buying up whatever manufacturer he could find that made such

items. His motto was simple “Keep in the Family; you make more money that

way!” When you are using metric nuts and bolts you need metric tools and

this could involve a major outlay for the production lines. So why not

retain the threads which are the most difficult part in the production of

your fasteners but put a British size head on the bolt and the same for the

nut. All existing tools would fit, so what we now call an Economy of Scale

was produced. No one ever gave a thought to the fact that this whole process

could and eventually did hinder future production especially in the post

war years when Britain exported worldwide with Morris being one of the

leading successful companies in the” Export or Die” period.

 

Just to make the owner of a British vehicle just a touch upset when he or

she wanted to do their own service, the range of threads and sizes simply

boggle the mind. First we have Whitworth introduced by Sir John Whitworth in

1841 when the demand for high tolerance machinery production was starting to

grow with the success if the British Industrial Revolution. It total he

developed no less than four separate ranges of thread: British Standard

Fine (BSF) British Standard Whitworth (BSW) British Standard Pipe (BSP) with

a sister thread in that same bracket called (BSPT) The tapered version for

high pressure use. All of these can be found on most British vehicles pre or

post war. Not to be out done we have another thread that you will find in

your classic car called (BA) short for British Association. You will find

these fixtures on the electrical equipment. The most common is known as 2

BA. That’s the nut that slips out of your fingers while trying to connect

with a BA bolt under the dash, and is never seen again.

 

Thank goodness after the close of the 1950’s some degree of sanity prevailed

within the British Motor Industry and they, over a given period of time

adopted a unified, interchangeable system that almost matched to the US

thread standards. So today your wrench should fit most of the post war cars

after the 1950”s and if you are really lucky some that were made before that

date.

 

C/R Geoff Wheatley

 

May 2011 South Carolina

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