The History of Filton - the 1960's
Wednesday 16th March 2022
This year we are celebrating 80 years in manufacturing. Today's blog looks at how our product line expanded throughout the 1960's.
This decade saw a steady increase in business, which led to Filton expanding their workforce and hiring some apprentices. The 1960’s also brought a project within the soap industry, where animal waste from the meat industry was rendered down to extract the fats for further use. This process involved a Rotary Cooker which required 2 Rotary Unions. Over the years many Rotary Unions have been supplied for Rotary Cookers.
During this decade Filton products were introduced to even more industries. An enquiry from the floor tile industry was one of the first. This application was to supply water and brine to a special calender roll which needed five different flow channels. The original design included six Filton bellows seals and bronze bearings. The rotary spindle was manufactured from mild steel, hard chromed on the bearing surfaces and cadmium plated. The body was made in three sections from cast iron. The resulting Rotary Union had a diameter of 432mm and an overall length of 1130mm and weighed around half a tonne.
In 1966 an unusual application for a Rotary Union occurred. The specification came from a well known pharmaceutical company and was for a vaccine blender. Although the design was basically standard the surface had to be highly polished to avoid crevices in fluid contact areas.
The pneumatics industry had been a small user up until the mid 1960’s when this changed as a ‘Fast Rotating Joint’ was required. Filton’s first prototype was accepted and production contracts ran for many years on an exclusive basis.
The Laundry industry was then added to Filton’s growing list of industries. The first application involved steam being supplied to two pairs of platens on twin rapid presses. The majority of the machines used 3/8” Rotary Unions for the steam supply and condensate removal to the two sets of platens, one pair of platens pressed the laundered or dry cleaned clothes whilst the other was loaded/unloaded. Whilst these machines are no longer in production there are still many in service throughout the world, with on-going replacements and spares requirements.
The laundry industry also brought a second application, again for sealing a steam/condensate service. The application was for Ironers made by Manlove & Alliott and subsequently D J Tullis Ltd.
The cosmetic industry was another unexpected source as there was a need for transferring hot and cold water to a lipstick making machine. The fluid transfer was not so simple as the hot and cold water had to be automatically sequenced during rotation. Stainless steel Rotary Unions were also used to pass perfume into a rotary blender for talcum powder production.
An unexpected enquiry came in which involved onions! Initially kept under wraps due to pending patents it was later discovered that the application was required for an onion peeling machine. The top and tail of the onion are cut off and the skin slit, the onion was then dropped into a rotating drum. As the drum turned, compressed air was applied through the valve on the Filton Rotary Union to blow the skin off the onion.
The plastic industry also started to show a considerable interest in Filton Rotary Unions. The first application was for extruder screws which were threaded with 2mm pitch metric threads instead of the usual British Standard Pipe. At the time Filton’s competitors were not keen on developing ‘Specials’ this meant that Filton’s policy of being flexible and in tune with a customer’s needs paid off considerably. This approach continues today.
Business also developed with other machines such as spinning frames and blow moulders, often requiring special designs. Flanged connections became the norm as the machinery was being designed as standard to cope with the highest working conditions and highest temperatures.
These applications were followed closely by an application for water cooling on take off rollers for the paper industry. This involved changes in rotational speed occurring over about 20 minutes- as the roll of paper was fed into the machine at a constant velocity the rotational speed of the paper reel and the paper roll reduced.
Although Rotary Unions continued as Filton’s main product line, the applications for Swivel Joints increased. One of the first interesting special Swivel Joints was for use on a cancer treatment machine. The Swivel Joint handled cooling water to and from the generator anode. A high quality water system was used, meaning the Swivel Joint was constructed of bronze with stainless steel fasteners.
In the mid to late 1960’s Mr Murray revisited his quest for a new factory. He began to look at the development of the Sydenham Farm Estate. In 1967 a final specification was agreed and the build began! Part of the factory was then occupied in 1969 but the assembly continued at the Wharf Works until an additional bay was added to the new factory for assembly and one for the machine shop. A new era began ….
Next month – the 1970’s.
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