Oil !

Car engines have been modified to run on fuels other than petrol, but one and all, two or four-stroke, poppet, sleeve or rotary valve, blown or unblown, they require oil for lubrication, and will only work for a very short time without it. So it occurs to us that readers may care to know something of the leading oil companies and the brands they supply, hence this special article, prepared with the close cooperation of the oil companies concerned. There is space only to deal with engine oils,although the companies described manufacture a wide range of lubricants, such as gear oils, axle oils, brake and damper oils, upper cylinder lubricants, transmission fluid, heavy-duty or high-pressure oils and greases, machine-oil, etc. Details of such products, and the publications listed, are obtainable on application, mentioning Motor Sport. Garage charts are intended for trade users.


By 1855, Price’s Patent Candle Company, who manufacture BP Energol, had adapted their processes to the treatment of petroleum from Burma, making paraffin wax, burning oil and lubricating oil. This wax was the long-desired, cheap candle-making material, and the lubricating oil founded Price’s lubricating business. Mixed with some of the animal oil from their original manufactures, the mineral oil proved to be an efficient lubricant.

This production of light lubricating oils during 1857-59 was of outstanding historical interest for it was claimed as being the first large-scale development of petroleum lubricating oil distillation in the world. And in the very year that Colonel Drake made the oil “strike” in Titusville that was to change the course of history— in 1859—Price’s Patent Candle Co were shipping 10,000 gallons of paraffin lamp oil to New York!

By 1870 paraffin wax from petroleum or oil shale had displaced stearine as Price’s most important candle-making material. By 1877 lengthy experimental work with Crossley Bros led to the development of “Price’s Oil for Gas Engines.” By 1881 there was a notable impetus in technology with the advent from the Scottish shale oil industry of a former manager of Young’s Paraffin Light and Mineral Oil Co. Much fruitful research followed in methods of testing and selection of lubricants; one was a greatly improved apparatus which was to become the still renowned Redwood Viscometer.

The company was developing lubricating oils for petrol engines very early in the history of motoring. The company’s motor car oil, like its highly successful gas engine oils, was compounded from a refined mineral oil and a stable fatty oil. In the first Motor Cycle Tourist Trophy Race in 1907 the winning Norton machine used Price’s oil, as also did the winning cars in several early RAC Trophy Races. In 1906 Rolls-Royce, winners of the TT Race in that year, began to recommend Price’s oils, and they have done so ever since. The distribution of lubricating oils and greases remained an integral part of the parent company until separated for administrative reasons in 1937 under the style of Price’s Lubricants Ltd.

As time goes on, more and more racing and trials enthusiasts are using Price’s BP Energol in their cars and motor-cycles, thus carrying on the traditions of these early pioneers.

Publications.—”Maintenance Log Book,” “Car Manual,” etc. Address.—Price’s Lubricants Ltd., Belmont Works, Battersea, London, SW11 (Battersea 2000).

Works.—Battersea. Publicity Manager.—RL Richardson,

Competition Managers.—LEP Wright and RL Richardson.


Castrol is made by CC Wakefield Ltd. This company was founded on March 19th, 1899, by the late Charles Cheers Wakefield. The offices of the new firm consisted of three small rooms on the top floor of 27 Cannon Street, London, and the staff numbered nine. For the first eight years of the new company’s life, sales were confined to industrial oils and lubricators but, in 1907, the first order was received to supply oil for the then new-fangled petrol engine. Two years later, in 1909, Castrol motor oil was introduced and, by a remarkable series of racing successes, soon achieved the position it still holds as one of Britain’s leading motor lubricants. During the years between the wars Castrol was associated with the triumphs of a galaxy of world-famous figures—Woolf Barnato, Birkin, Campbell, Caraeciola, Chiron, Dixon, Kaye Don, Edge, Eyston, Lee Guinness, Nuvolari, Parry-Thomas and Segrave, to name but a few. In the air, Castrol was used by Paulhan in winning the London-Manchester race in 1910, Hamel in winning the first Aerial Derby in 1912, Pegoud in performing the first loop, in the R34, for the first England-Australia and first Atlantic crossing by aeroplane, by Cobham, Hinkler, Amy Mollison, Jim Mollison, Jean Batten, etc.—see “Achievements,” free on application. [And well worth having !—Ed] From 1914/18, too, all Food Production Department Fordson tractors were Agricastrol lubricated.

In 1935, an event occurred which was to prove of profound significance in the development of motor lubricants. A Castrol research team, headed by Air-Commodore W Helmore, now a technical director of the company, discovered and introduced the first additives to combat oxidation and corrosion and to act as detergents cleaning the engine itself. Castrol was the first oil in the world to contain these agents—more than ten years before they became generally popular.

In 1941, 42 years after founding the company which bore his name, Viscount Wakefield died. Once described as the “last of the merchant princes,” Lord Wakefield had been a great figure in the world of motoring and record breaking. Many were the speed and endurance record attempts which he had directly supported. Many more had received his personal encouragement. After Lord Wakefield’s death, his firm became a public company under the chairmanship of Leslie W Farrow, with HY Blades, WH Senneck and A Limb as joint managing directors. In 1952, with the retirement of his colleagues, Alonzo Limb became the sole managing director. GET Eyston, OBE, MC, is also a director.

Publications.—”Car Care,” “Achievements-1951,” etc. Address.—CC Wakefield & Company Ltd, 46 Grosvenor Street, London, W1 (Mayfair 9232).

Works.—Hayes, Middlesex, and Stanlow, Cheshire.

Publicity Manager.—AA Barr.

Competitions Manager.—GB Williams.


Alexander Duckham & Co Ltd, have been Lubrication Technologists for over 50 years. The company was founded by Alexander Duckham (1877-1945) who numbered SF Edge amongst his friends and who bought his first car in 1899. Edge used to call at Duckharn’e works at Millwall almost weekly to have the sump of his engine drained and filled with fresh oil [trade relationship !—Ed] and Duckham used to accompany him to Brooklands.

The business expanded rapidly and in 1922 Duckham’s New Process oils were introduced, the feature of which was a marked reduction in carbon formation. Within a year more than 60 British car manufacturers specified this new oil and special grades were evolved to meet the difficult lubrication problems presented by the air-cooled Rover Eight and fast Vauxhall cars. In 1931, Morris selected a grade of Duckham’s New Process oil, known as Morrisol “Sirrom,” as their recommendation for Morris and Wolseley vehicles.

In the early 1930s Duckham’s tackled the problem of wear caused by the acid products of combustion, introducing Adcoids, tablets to drop into the petrol, originally called “Wear Cure Tablets.” Ire 1945 Duckham Nol oils superseded “Morrisol” as the recommendation of the Nuffield organisation.

Publications.—Various lubrication booklets.

Address.—Alexander Duckham & Co Ltd, 346 Kensington High Street, W14.

Works.—Hammersmith & Birmingham.

Publicity Manager.—H Banham.