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Black & Decker Workmate Bench=Lotus Mechanic


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#1 David Birchall

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Posted 29 July 2008 - 20:56

I have been using one of these recently and remember hearing the story but forget the details--I am sure somebody here knows :cat:

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#2 bradbury west

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Posted 29 July 2008 - 21:06

Think of Mr Hickman
Roger Lund

#3 Gerr

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Posted 29 July 2008 - 21:10

http://findarticles....14/ai_n14469736

#4 Gary C

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Posted 29 July 2008 - 22:03

Calling Mr.Hickman, Mr.Ron Hickman......

#5 Robin Fairservice

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Posted 30 July 2008 - 00:16

There is a Brian Hickman in North Vancouver who is a second or third cousin of Ron. He is a retired Mechanical Engineer and has restored two Lotus Elan's. He swapped the gearboxes for 5 speed Alfa units.

#6 David Birchall

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Posted 30 July 2008 - 05:33

Originally posted by Gerr
http://findarticles....14/ai_n14469736


Thanks Gerry, I suppose calling him a "Mechanic" was overstating his qualifications a bit....

#7 kayemod

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Posted 30 July 2008 - 10:05

Originally posted by Gary C
Calling Mr.Hickman, Mr.Ron Hickman......


Ron Hickman, a really clever guy. He came up with his Workmate idea while still working at Lotus, where his input into the Elan and Europa was huge. He left to set up a business turning out Workmates and sold a few thousand, but when he was offered a licencing deal by Black & Decker he had the sense to grab it, while keeping hold of all his worldwide patents. The B & D deal netted him many millions over the next few years, and Ron made much more by successfully pursuing people all over the world who were infringing his patents. If you have a really good and original idea, patents can be a license to print loads of money, as they were in Ron's case. That's only if you get someone really good to draw up a 100% watertight patent of course, in a great many more cases, patents are worth little more than the paper they're printed on, but he got everything right. I last saw Ron several years ago in Jersey, driving a Duesenberg SJ (I think) around St Helier, so good luck to him. His career closely mirrors my own, work at Lotus, be inspired by Chapman, leave to start up on your own etc, but in Ron's case of course, all the numbers have quite a few more noughts on the end than mine do.

#8 Henk Vasmel

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Posted 30 July 2008 - 23:12

I am not really surprised. Black & Decker is a company with motor Racing in its roots. At least Time and Two Seats mentions this story.

At the Sebring 12 Hours, 1961, two Aston Martins started. Maybe one for Howard Hanna, one or two for David Ash.
#7 was driven by Bob Grossman/Duncan Black. #8 was driven by Robert Bucher/Sherman Decker. Black & Decker are the persons responsible for the now well known company.

Anybody know more details?

Regards,

Henk Vasmel

#9 raceannouncer2003

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Posted 31 July 2008 - 05:35

Originally posted by Henk Vasmel
I am not really surprised. Black & Decker is a company with motor Racing in its roots. At least Time and Two Seats mentions this story.

At the Sebring 12 Hours, 1961, two Aston Martins started. Maybe one for Howard Hanna, one or two for David Ash.
#7 was driven by Bob Grossman/Duncan Black. #8 was driven by Robert Bucher/Sherman Decker. Black & Decker are the persons responsible for the now well known company.

Anybody know more details?

Regards,

Henk Vasmel


Maybe related to the founders or presidents? According this, it started in 1910:

http://en.wikipedia..../Black_&_Decker

Vince H.

#10 f1steveuk

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Posted 31 July 2008 - 07:10

Now that's just plain weird!

When I moved to France four years ago, I was introduced to a nice old lady whose surname was Gordon. She lived/lives, in a huge house and sure enough it turns out she is part of the Gordon's Gin family. I mentioned this to a mate who lives in the next village, and he introduced to a bloke, no names though, who he said, "is now loaded because he invented the Workmate, and Black & Decker still give him 10p per unit to this day". Again, curiously this guy lived/lives about 30 minutes from me, and a further 10 minutes on from Peter Warr. It sounds a little too much for coincedence. I go home tomorrow, guess what I'll be doing!

#11 M bennett

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Posted 31 July 2008 - 08:37

Club Lotus Australia holds an bi-annual meeting, held at Easter, which rotates around the various states. Last year it was South Australia's turn to host the event. It has always been difficult for us to attract an overseas guest to Australia because of the distance/cost. As the leader of the organising committee of the three day national event I thought I would invite Ron Hickman to be our guest of honour.. I had had the occasional contact with Ron over the years so around nine months before the event, by email and phone to his home in Jersey, I suggested that they would /should like to visit Australia. We were delighted when he said yes he would come with his wife Helen. They then put together an exhausting itinerary covering most of Australia, ending their trip with three days in the Barossa Valley as the honoured guests at "Lotus 2007".
Ron and Helen were absolutely marvellous, I let Ron have my Elan DHC to drive around the various events. We had a hillclimb day at Collingrove, and a super sprint event at Mallala. At both we closed the circuits and let Ron loose on the circuits in the new Europa (supplied by Lotus Cars Australia).
Back on 7th February 1963 Derek Jolly, on one of his trips to visit ACBC, recorded a professional 30 minute interview with Ron, who was then Chief Engineer at Lotus having just released the Elan. During the evening dinner on the first night of "Lotus 2007" we were able to play this tape (which had not been played since 1963) to Ron and Helen. The 120 guests listened transfixed to this piece of history and it concluded to round applause.
At the National Motor Museum, Birdwood where we held the Lotus Concours we also held a Concours for "Workmates". Ron had great fun judging all the models, there have been several designs over the years, the winner was an original item with the cast alloy frames. It was totally original including the instruction books.
We had an article in the local paper about Ron's visit prior to his arrival, a local lady, who had emigrated from the UK and who had helped Ron launch the Workmate in the UK more than 40 years ago; approached him and said "Ron remember me?" A lovely touch to the weekend
There has been much written about Ron, his enthusiasm, the heady days at Lotus and his struggles to get the Workmate off the ground. Initially the product was rejected by Stanley and Black and Decker so Ron went it alone and started manufacture and distribution himself. When its promise became obvious B&D stepped in and reputedly paid Ron GBP 1 royalty for each one sold. Ron spent many days in court over the years challenging patent infringements.
Whilst at Lotus another employee/manager suggested to Colin Chapman that "I could do a lot more for you if you gave me the responsibility you have given to Ron". Colin's response was "I didn't give it to him, he just took it"
Ron must have been a whirlwind at Lotus, we thoroughly enjoyed their company. They have lived in Jersey for many years in a house that Ron designed.

#12 kayemod

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Posted 31 July 2008 - 09:10

Originally posted by f1steveuk
Now that's just plain weird!

When I moved to France four years ago, I was introduced to a nice old lady whose surname was Gordon. She lived/lives, in a huge house and sure enough it turns out she is part of the Gordon's Gin family. I mentioned this to a mate who lives in the next village, and he introduced to a bloke, no names though, who he said, "is now loaded because he invented the Workmate, and Black & Decker still give him 10p per unit to this day". Again, curiously this guy lived/lives about 30 minutes from me, and a further 10 minutes on from Peter Warr. It sounds a little too much for coincedence. I go home tomorrow, guess what I'll be doing!


Interesting Steve, but you got the decimal point wrong, M Bennett has the right figure, Ron Hickman was paid £1 per Workmate by Black & Decker, and they sold at least 25 million of them. AFAIK Ron still resides mainly in his Jersey residence, so the French place could be a holiday home.

A friend in the engineering business wanted to patent something he'd invented, so started searching the net for helpful information. He came to me saying "You were at Lotus weren't you? Does the name Ron Hickman mean anything to you?" Apparently Ron's name keeps cropping up on all kinds of patent sites as an example of someone who got the best advice and protected his interests with a near perfect patent, and over 30 years later he's still held up as an example to all.

Chapman didn't think much of patents. I was working on a new fibreglass moulding process that he was particularly interested in. He had his secretary contact a patent agent to search out all existing patents that might be relevant to what we were doing, and dropped a stack of papers on my desk, telling me to read through them all and write a report. After I'd done that, he changed his mind about the whole thing, telling me he'd decided that patenting most things was a waste of time. "You'd just be telling the rest of the world what you're doing," he told me, "Let them all find out the hard way like we do". He also said (some time in the 1970s) that Chapman/Lotus had never patented anything in the Company's history.

#13 f1steveuk

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Posted 31 July 2008 - 13:17

Well when I get home, I shall be asking questions. Lots and lots of questions!

I cannot say I am surprised ACBC didn't patent anything, because there wasn't much Lotus did, in F1 anyway, that was truely original, usually refinements on previous attempts (monocoques, engines as fully stressed members, ground effects etc), or maybe that's just my simpletons view!

#14 D-Type

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Posted 31 July 2008 - 13:48

I vaguely remember seeing that BRM patented the whole car in the case of the H16.

#15 f1steveuk

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Posted 31 July 2008 - 14:16

Originally posted by D-Type
I vaguely remember seeing that BRM patented the whole car in the case of the H16.


Really? Would anyone wanted to have copy it then?!!

#16 kayemod

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Posted 31 July 2008 - 14:22

Originally posted by D-Type
I vaguely remember seeing that BRM patented the whole car in the case of the H16.


I really can't see how that would be possible, surely it would have to be done for each separate assembly or component? It is possible to register a design on the other hand, but that's something quite different from a patent. You did mean the H16 I suppose, and not the rather more groundbreaking (it should have been buried six feet under) V16?

#17 kayemod

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Posted 31 July 2008 - 14:23

Originally posted by f1steveuk
....there wasn't much Lotus did, in F1 anyway, that was truely original, usually refinements on previous attempts (monocoques, engines as fully stressed members, ground effects etc), or maybe that's just my simpletons view!


Wash your mouth out with soap!!!