IF ANY readers have sufficiently long memories they may tell me that I have slipped up, because the Crossley was covered in No. 5 of this series. Then, however, we were concerned with what went on at Gorton in the late-vintage (1929) period, whereas now we are about to take a look at the same factory as it was in the summer of 1920.
Crossley had had, as it were, a good war, supplying cars and tenders to the armed forces, particularly to the RFC and RAF. In the difficult post-Armistice times, when money was scarce and car production seriously curtailed and delayed by the moulders’ strike, Crossley continued to do well. Indeed, they claimed to have achieved almost their optimum output, of 60 chassis a week, whereas a decade or so later they were down to 35 to 50 a week. This compared to approximately 50 Singers, 45 each of Rover, Standard and Calthorpe and 40 Angus-Sandersons being produced in the same period in 1920, when only the Austin Motor Company at Longbridge was claimed to be doing better, by making their new post-war Twenty at the rate of 100 every week.
To manufacture 3,000 Croasleys a year with a staff of only 3,500 men a degree of mass production was required, although this was a term not uttered at Gorton, in spite of their output being probably third largest in the UK, after Ford and Austin. The machinery was in sections, and controlled electrically, in a works divided into manufacturing and assembly halves, the latter including erecting and fitting. Machined parts were conveyed on small electric wagons with trailers, to be stored in bins and pigeon-holes, eight or ten foot high, in the finished-parts store, a red disc hanging from a bin indicating to the storekeeper that it was empty and required immediate replenishment, from the machine shop.
Crossley still preferred grinding for finishing cylinder bores to rolling or broaching and an unfortunate experience with some cars turned out in 1919/20 with aluminium pistons had caused cast-iron pistons to be standardised. Great care was taken to ensure quiet gearboxes. The boxes were mounted on a bench and electrically driven, after which the pinions were taken out and examined for bright spots, which were removed by hand with a carborundum stone, after which the gearbox was reassembled and run-in with a fine mixture of emery and oil, until unnecessary noise disappeared, whereupon it was cleaned out and assembled in a chassis.
Each Crossley chassis was given a rough test body and driven for 100 miles in the Derbyshire hills, after which the sump was dropped and pistons, valves and con.-rods removed for inspection. After reassembly the chassis was deemed ripe for the body builders. Crossley were ready to meet export orders in Holland and Spain.