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Seeking information - Godfrey, Nordec and Marshall


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#1 theotherharv

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Posted 17 January 2016 - 22:59

Ladies and Gents,

 

Having finished my work into Wray superchargers, I have started a mini-research project into the superchargers made by Barry Ekins in Sydney in the late 1960's. Ekins used the Marshall-Nordec supercharger to produce around 400 kits.

 

I am confused though about the relationship between Marshall, Nordec and Godfrey. From what I can see:

 

a) Marshall is a large automotive and aircraft company, which started in the early 1900's and continues to operate today. 

 

b) Nordec started life as L.M. Ballamy, Consulting and Experimental Engineers in the UK in 1939. In 1946 the business was reorganised as North Downs Engineering Co. (Nordec) The company continued supplying supercharging kits (based on the Marshall-Nordec) as well as retaining the rights to some of Ballamy’s patents. I am assuming that Marshall developed the superchargers, and either sold them under license to Nordec, or allowed Nordec to manufacture them under license. In 1947 some of Nordecs engineers, designers and managers departed to form Wade Superchargers.

 

c) I have also seen this type of supercharger referred to as a Godfrey blower, though suspect that a Godfrey is a totally different machine, based on the same Marshall (Roots) design. Sir George Godfrey and Partners supplied Marshall-Roots superchargers, both for aviation service and for automotive use. The company traded from at least the 1930’s. Again, I assume Marshall either sold superchargers to Godfrey for modification, or allowed Godfrey to build superchargers under license.

 

There is however a link between Nordec and Godfrey. Godfrey were taken over by Howden Wade Ltd (who were once Wade Engineering, and now trade as Hadron SR) in 1955. Thus both Nordec’s staff, and Godfrey’s company, ended up with Wade.

 

Any clarity you can provide of the relationship between Godfrey, Marshall and Nordec would be very much appreciated.

 

Regards,

Andrew



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#2 Vitesse2

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Posted 18 January 2016 - 13:09

Some of the story can be found on p73 of the book 'Out in Front: the Leslie Ballamy Story' by Tony Russell (Motor Racing Publications, Croydon, 2004).

 

Towards the end of the war the Ministry of Aircraft Production began to terminate its contracts, and this meant that large quantities of Godfrey Marshall cabin blowers became available. These had been used to maintain cabin pressure in high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft at 8000ft or more and, interestingly, for schnorkel blowing on submarines. When peace broke out, Ballamy spotted a niche market in using these government surplus blowers to supercharge RAF officers' cars; as the Caterham works were very near to the barracks and to Kenley Aerodrome, he had a virtually captive market. Additionally, the RAF chaps were in possession of quite decent gratuities. Although Godfreys disapproved of this somewhat undignified use of their equipment, Ballamy was able to secure the rights to use them as car superchargers.

The book goes on to explain that all the original Ballamy company did was design and manufacture ways of fitting these war surplus blowers to production cars like Ford 8s and 10s, Vauxhall 10s and 12s, MG TCs and even at least one E93a Ford Prefect. They didn't actually build any superchargers and the book describes it as a 'sideline', so perhaps when the supply of ex-MAP equipment ran out, so did the work.

 

The subsequent name change to Nordec and Ballamy's departure, along with several staff, were due to a disagreement between Ballamy and his somewhat shady financial backer Major Sheepshanks.

 

You may or may not have seen this, which covers some of the same ground as the book:

 

http://www.onthewire.co.uk/nordec1.htm

 

Marcus Chambers was also involved with Nordec - there may be something in his autobiography 'With a Little Bit of Luck', but I don't possess a copy.



#3 theotherharv

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Posted 18 January 2016 - 20:50

Thankyou - appreciated, and an excellent information source.

 

Interesting that Nordec didn't build the machines... I guess that makes their product a Marshall-Godfrey-Nordec. I wonder whether Godfrey also didn't build any (instead sourcing them from Marshall and rebuilding/modifying for military use), or whether Godfrey actually built the machines (under license).

 

It looks like there is a fair amount of advertising material from the post-war period, showing Godfrey selling directly automotive superchargers (drawing on their aircraft trade) and Nordec doing similar.

 

Regards,

Andrew



#4 fredeuce

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Posted 18 January 2016 - 21:11

Harv,

Have a look at this link. You will find additional pages available in the side bar on the left. Gives some further insight into the story.

 

https://www.flightgl...945 - 1177.html

 

Good luck with your searches.

 

Fred



#5 theotherharv

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Posted 19 January 2016 - 02:32

Thanks Fred. I'd seen that one before (excellent resource), and it makes it pretty clear that Godfrey were making some major changes to the Marshall design - perhaps modifying Marshalls, perhaps building under license.

 

I may end up having to contact Marshall directly, though I don't like my chances of them remembering 70-odd years of corporate history.

 

Regards,

Andrew



#6 Robin Fairservice

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Posted 19 January 2016 - 05:36

"Have a look at this link. You will find additional pages available in the side bar on the left. Gives some further insight into the story.

 

https://www.flightgl...945 - 1177.html

 

Good luck with your searches".

 

I see in this link that Sir George Godfrey Compressors is referred to as a company using a Marshall compressor as a basis for aircraft pressurisation. Was the term Marshall compressor a generic term for that form of compressor?  In the 1960's and 1970's I designed sewage treatment plants and we specified Godfrey's gas compressors for use in circulating gas through the sludge digestion tanks.  From talking to their sales rep. I understood that their compressors were used quite extensively in the aircraft industry, including cooling super sonic air planes.  I don't recollect that they were involved in any other company.



#7 fredeuce

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Posted 19 January 2016 - 07:07

Was the term Marshall compressor a generic term for that form of compressor?


No. The generic term is "Roots type" blower. Invented in the 1860's for use in blast furnaces.

#8 theotherharv

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Posted 09 February 2016 - 05:40

Hmmm... the plot thickens.

 

 

 

Given Marshall’s (the aviation/automotive company) significant contribution to the WW2 Commonwealth aviation war effort, I had assumed that the Marshall superchargers had been produced by Marshall (the aviation/automotive company) for the aviation (cabin blower) use. However, having read Sir Arthur’s “The Marshall Story”, I am no longer confident that this is correct.

 

 

 

From what I can understand, Sir George Godfrey and Partners supplied Marshall-Roots superchargers, both for aviation service and for automotive use. There is significant aviation advertising literature showing Godfrey undertaking this aviation work (see the links earlier in this post for example). I have also found a limited amount of literature (a single advert from The Sports Car of March 1936, and some similar era journals giving brief reference) which indicates that Marshall superchargers were manufactured by Marshall, Drew & Co., Ltd., of 140, Clarendon Road, North Kensington, W. 10.  (see the advert at http://bluedog-racin...erchargers.html).

 

 

 

I am not certain whether Marshall, Drew and Co originally produced the aviation machines for Godfrey to modify (or allowed Godfrey to produce them under license), or whether Marshalls (the aviation/automotive company) manufactured the blowers. I've sent a request to Marshalls, though appreciate that this draws on some history of more than 70 years ago, and that the story may well have been lost.

 

Strikes me as unusual though that this history is opaque, as the Marshall machines appear to be (relatively) common.

 

 

Cheers,

Andrew



#9 theotherharv

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Posted 09 February 2016 - 09:29

Wow! I got an incredibly quick response from Marshalls:

 

"whilst we were involved in both the aerospace and automotive sectors during the war (as we are today), Marshall has never been involved with the development of or manufacture of superchargers and is not connected in any way to Marshall Drew & Co Ltd.".

 

 Looks like I have more digging to do on Marshall Drew and Co.

 

Regards,

Andrew



#10 Robin Fairservice

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Posted 09 February 2016 - 17:51

Perhaps you should now try and ask Godfreys?



#11 theotherharv

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Posted 09 February 2016 - 20:25

I'll try - Godfrey's are now Hadron SR, and have had a few changes of ownership/merger in the meantime.



#12 theotherharv

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Posted 05 June 2016 - 07:01

Ladies and gents,

 

I have drawn a blank in hunting down the real origins of the Marshall superchargers, despite contacting the companies noted above (including Hadron SR). I’ll post my notes-to-date below, with the hope that it sparks some interest (and that someone can fill me in on the Marshall origin).

 

In my previous Wray supercharger anecdote, I mentioned that in the local (Australian) forced induction field there were numerous people bolting on (or making kits for) imported superchargers in the 50’s and 60’s. Whilst this is a little different to Norman and Wray (who were building superchargers from scratch), the kit builders were both contemporaries and competitors to the Norman supercharger.

 

One such contemporary was Barry Ekins. Barry originally became interested in superchargers when he bought a Marshall-blown 1300cc MG/TA Special around 1959. The car, owned by Alan Tomlinson, had previously won the 1939 Australian Grand Prix in Lobethal, South Australia. Tomlinson, who won the AGP at age 22 and is shown in the event in the photo below, has described the circuit as “bloody dangerous” to drive on.

 

 

 

http://i929.photobuc...zpsaevpd5to.png

 

 

 

Barry operated in the late 1960’s in Sydney, utilising the Marshall-Nordec Roots-type supercharger.

 

http://i929.photobuc...zps2wefcyy8.png

 

 

Marshall is a large UK automotive and aircraft company, which started in the early 1900's and continues to operate today. I have confirmed that this “Marshall” neither manufactured superchargers, nor licensed the design (with thanks to Marshall, who were incredibly helpful). Sir George Godfrey and Partners made Marshall-Roots superchargers, both for aviation service and for automotive use. There are a number of advertisements advertising them doing so:

 

http://www.aviationa...frey & Partners

 

Godfrey traded from at least the 1930’s, until being taken over by Howden Wade Ltd (who were once Wade Engineering, and now trade as Hadron SR) in 1955. I have been unable to trace back the origins of the “Marshall” component of the Marshall-Rootes name for these type of superchargers, despite much hunting.

 

Godfrey supplied the Marshall-Godfrey superchargers for the World War 2 effort, where they were used as high-altitude aircraft cabin blowers and for snorkel blowing on submarines. Following the war, a significant number of these machines were surplus. L.M. Ballamy was able to secure the rights to use these surplus machines for automotive supercharging. Ballamy did not manufacture the superchargers, rather they “kitted” them into post-war vehicles including Ford 8s and 10s, Vauxhall 10s and 12s, MG TCs and even at least one E93a Ford Prefect. Ballamy’s company, L.M. Ballamy, Consulting and Experimental Engineers began in the UK in 1939. In 1946 the business was reorganised as North Downs Engineering Co (Nordec). The company continued supplying supercharging kits (based on the Marshall supercharger) as well as retaining the rights to some of Ballamy’s patents. In 1947 some of Nordecs engineers, designers and managers departed to form Wade Superchargers. Thus both Nordec’s staff, and Godfrey’s company, ended up with Wade. Wade derives from it’s company name from those of the founders, Bryan Winslett and Costin Densham. Wade is familiar to many Aussies for their Rootes-type RO superchargers, including the model RO20 utilized on Peter Brock’s 1970 HDT 186ci LC GTR Torana rallycross vehicle “The Beast”.

 

But I digress J.

 

Barry sourced the superchargers (originally intended for either aircraft cabin pressurisation or industrial service) from Marshall-Nordec in the UK, along with some aircraft repair companies.  A visit to the UK in 1968 saw Barry return with around 150 superchargers. Barry would provide his "tame pattern maker" with manifold mock-ups (two flanges and a piece of bent wire), with the pattern maker delivering to him the finished cast manifolds. Relief valves for the machines (originally intended for air compressors) were manufactured by Clisby, and sourced from McPhersons hardware in the Sydney CBD. Barry used ex-aircraft gauges, plumbed with copper pipe. Whilst the thermostats were removed when fitting an Ekins kit to a Mini, the grey motor kit thermostats were soldered/braised open (Barry found that removing them directed the flow of water at the radiator cap, blowing it off).

 

Barry made kits for around 400 vehicles, including around 25 Holdens and 100 Volkswagens (which largely used the J-75 model Marshall-Nordec). The image below shows the Volkswagen kit:

 

http://i929.photobuc...zpsyrssebqt.png

 

 

The image below shows a typical endplate made by Ekins:

 

http://i929.photobuc...zpshv7l015z.png

 

 

 

Barry’s machines were also used in some historic racers, and some ski boats (Barry was interested in skiing as a hobby). The majority of Barry’s works were done in 1968. Barry remembers supercharging a new Holden Monaro (probably a HG or HT). The customer wanted the largest setup available, and despite Barry’s advice a supercharger and manifold was imported from the US… costing half as much again as the new vehicle price. The kit was removed after one years use due to the high fuel costs. When Barry ceased his supercharger work he pursued his own Volkswagen service business. Most of the manifold moulds have since been destroyed.

 

The “BLOW it Man” article below, from The Australian Hot Rodding Review of November 1968 shows some of Barry’s work.

 

http://i929.photobuc...zpsdqu0rpo5.jpg

 

 

http://i929.photobuc...zpsyzyjm08e.jpg

 

 

http://i929.photobuc...zpsrorbimmn.jpg

 

 

http://i929.photobuc...zpseg7keb2r.jpg

 

 

http://i929.photobuc...zpswf0bcglw.jpg

 

 

Cheers,

Harv



#13 theotherharv

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Posted 12 June 2016 - 04:17

Hmmm.... no bites so far on the background to Marshall.

 

One avenue that might help is discussion with Karl Ludvigsen. I note he was interested some time ago in my Norman supercharger research, and was writing a book on the history of supercharging. I've tried sending him a message through the forum, but many months later it is still unread (he may not use the forum messaging system).

 

Does anyone have direct contact details for Karl please? If not I'll try contacting him via his publishers.

 

Regards,

Andrew



#14 Allan Lupton

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Posted 13 June 2016 - 17:48

PM sent



#15 theotherharv

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Posted 13 June 2016 - 20:34

Thanks Allan - appreciated.



#16 theotherharv

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Posted 17 June 2016 - 00:41

I managed to contact Karl, and had an interesting dialogue.

 

Looks like Karl's research had come to the same place mine had - Marshall superchargers were originally made by Marshall Drew and Co, using the Rootes design. Manufacturing of the superchargers was undertaken by Sir Geoff Godfrey and Partners from 1939, including for aviation use. The war surplus machines were repurposed by L.M. Ballamy, Consulting and Experimental Engineers, who would later become NORDEC. NORDEC continued to repurpose the machines.

 

The words Marshall, Godfrey, NORDEC, and Rootes were used in many combinations when naming the machines (for example Marshall-Nordec supercharger, or Marshall-Rootes supercharger). The machines were also at times referred to by their aviation use (eg a Marshall or Godfrey cabin blower).

 

Cheers,

Andrew



#17 Allan Lupton

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Posted 17 June 2016 - 08:05

Just to be a bit pedantic I'll comment that the Roots blower, on which the Marshall, Godfrey, NORDEC and others are based, was also used in the Commer TS2 and TS3 lorry motors but, although Commer (formerly Tilling-Stevens hence "TS") was part of the Rootes Group, that doesn't make 'em Rootes Blowers.



#18 theotherharv

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Posted 18 June 2016 - 04:06

It's funny how the two types of spelling get mixed up.

 

Rootes was a UK automotive company that was bought by Chrysler and then Peugeot. They made the Commers, including the infamous Knocker blowers.

 

Roots was an American company that was bought by Dresser and then GE. They made superchargers, with their design referred to as Roots-type when used by other companies (like TS).

 

Thus the Knocker huffers were both Rootes and Roots blowers :lol:.