The History of the Petter Engine
(Page 4 of 5)
Within two years of that event, both twins died, and in 1955, Capt. Dick Petter retired. Other members of the Petter family - there were 15 brothers and sisters - were involved in the firm at different times. Most notable among these extremely inventive engineering siblings were Guy, who invented the Sumbock Adding Machine, Harry and Hugh Petter.
In the late 1950s, the Staines plant was at its most productive. New engines were rolling off the line to meet high demand in building, civil engineering, marine and electrical applications, and two new engines were introduced. They were the PAZ1, probably the most successful diesel ever made for small cement mixers, and the AA1, advertised as the smallest lightweight diesel in the world and quickly copied by the Japanese.
The Petter-McLaren Service Division also was expert in taking over the service and supply of parts of other companies' engines. In addition to Fetters and McLarens engines, those made by Wishaw, Armstrong, Siddeley of Brockworth, Fowlers of Leeds and Cobona of Letchworth also were handled. Doing this work, the service division outgrew its space in Staines, and in 1959, it moved to the larger Armstrong Whitworth Factory at Hamble, near Southampton on the south coast.
This move took place as a consequence of a major takeover of the company in 1957 by the Hawker-Siddeley firm. Reorganized, the business was called the Hawker-Siddeley Brush Group.
The move to Hamble also marked the beginning of the "modern era" for these engine manufacturers. Petter Staines continued to mass-produce small engines and Hamble was split into four divisions: Petter Generator Divisions, Petter Marine Division, Petter Service Division and the Thermo-King Division, which made refrigeration units under license from Thermo-King of Minneapolis, Minn.
At Staines, new engines included the B-type, water-cooled diesel, up to 4 cylinders; the PD and PDV horizontal diesel engines, 2-to-8 cylinders; the PH and PHW, already mentioned; the PJ and PJW diesels, 1-to-4 cylinders; and then the lightweight "A" range aluminum engines - the AA1, AB1, AC1, AC2, BA1 and BA2.
In the 1970s, sales of small engines were down worldwide because of over production. The situation adversely affected Hawker-Siddeley Brush and its main competitor, Lister. The upshot was that Hawker-Siddeley took over Lister and in 1984 merged Petter and Lister to form the Lister-Petter Co. Ltd. The Petter Service Division, which had remained in Staines with the headquarters' offices, was moved to Hamble, and all the other Petter divisions were phased out.
At this time, I was living near Hamble and traveling Britain and Europe as distribution manager, with a string of agents. It was decided that I would work from home, and continue commuting.
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