BMC-Leyland in Australia

Three models of P76 (Station Wagon, Sedan and Force 7V) outside Engineering Services - c1975

Part 3 - Engineering Services

Words by Craig Watson, Photos by various

Engineering Services was established when Leyland was looking forward to the future, but it was to become the last bastion of the Empire.

Australian Design Rules (ADRs) became effective from 1 June 1969, and all cars manufactured in Australia, or imported from overseas, had to meet these rules before going on sale from 1 January 1970.

While the first ADRs (for the design of seatbelts and seatbelt anchorage points) were fairly simple to meet, it was clear right from the start that continuing to meet ever-stricter rules would require a full-time establishment solely focused on that goal.

While many of the mechanical changes to meet ADR requirements could be carried out in the normal engineering department, there was a growing emphasis being put on exhaust emissions, which in turn would require specialist testing facilities.

The first ADR governing emissions (ADR26) was introduced in January 1972, with ADR27 being introduced from January 1974. It was also well known that these rules would be tightened signifi cantly with the introduction of ADR27A from July 1976.

Although early ADR testing and compliance had been carried out at Zetland/Waterloo, Leyland Australia knew a dedicated facility was required.

With P76 production in full swing (and expected P82 production to shortly follow), this became an immediate priority, and in 1973 Leyland invested substantially on a new Emission Control Centre at Heathcote Rd, Moorebank, near Liverpool in Sydney’s west (and often simply referred to as Liverpool).

When Leyland bought the Pressed Metal Corporation at Enfi eld in 1968 (see Issue 16) they moved production of MGB and J2/J4 van to the main plant at Waterloo. To make room for this additional production, the Parts and Accessories building was taken over and converted into Car Assembly Building 3 (CAB3), with P&A moving out to an expansive new building at Moorebank, on the corner of Church St and Heathcote Rd. It was on land adjacent to P&A that the new Emission Control Centre was built.

With the closure of the Waterloo factory (see Issue 16 for full details) in December 1974, the remainder of the Product Engineering department was moved out to the ECC at Moorebank, under the management of Kjell Eriksen – and restructured under a new department, Engineering Services, but still within the Leyland company.

Engineering Services was much smaller than the combined engineering departments at Waterloo and ECC at Moorebank. As a result, many engineering and emissions staff from the two plants were retrenched, with a total of only 38 personnel being retained at Engineering Services.

The transfer to Moorebank was organised by Peter Davis, Administrative Manager for Product Engineering at Waterloo, later to become second in charge to Eriksen at Moorebank, and eventually succeeding him to be manager of Engineering Services in 1976.

“I was too honest”, Peter recalls. “When Waterloo closed in ’74, I was left to look after engineering. The security guards were lax, shall we say, and I’d just sign a voucher for a truckload of stuff to go to Moorebank…and what we needed was taken, and what was left was thrown into the garbage. I kick myself for not signing a P76 2-door out to myself.”

Peter Davis - 2008
One of the promotional 1275LS Minis in Kings Cross - 1978.

“We crushed them (Force 7s) at Waterloo with a 13ton die-press. We took the engines out and the seats out. The seats and trim were sold as a job-lot in the auction they had at the end (9 of the Force 7s were also sold at auction, and all still survive). Experimental had a whole series of engines for various tasks, so when we went out to Engineering Services at Moorebank, I said take all the engines (and the ones removed from the Force 7s), and we just stored them. Then if one of our cars broke down for any reason, I said don’t rebuild the engine, just throw a new one in them. That was still going when I left (in 1978).”

As Peter explained, the responsibilities of Engineering Services were essentially the same as Product Engineering at Waterloo, but on a smaller scale, and contained fi ve facilities: Design, Testing, Garage, Workshop, and Sub-Contract work.

Previously unpublished photos of the first 4WD Moke prototype undergoing tests in bushland at the back of Engineering Services.

Design Facility: Responsible for the design function for the whole Leyland product range, from Mini and Moke, through Land Rover and Jaguar, and later to truck, bus and tractor production. Part of this included making sure designs met ADR compliance.

Test Facility: Design of any equipment required for ADR testing, as well as carrying out all such testing. Vehicles not only had to meet ADRs, but also State Pollution Control Commission (SPCC) requirements, which varied from state to state, and from ADRs.

Garage Facility: Responsible for the fl eet of company vehicles used at Moorebank, including pre-delivery and servicing, as well as ordering all parts required. Also responsible for prototype vehicles and storing complete vehicles (both CBU from overseas and assembled locally).

The large paddock area between the Parts & Accessories building and Engineering Services was used for storing vehicles, and it was here that some Minis, Triumphs, Rovers and Land Rovers were damaged in a hailstorm, as we detailed in Issue 15.

The garage was also responsible for the receipt, damage assessment and rectifi cation of marine-damaged CBU vehicles. Further responsibilities included the ADR compliance for CBU vehicles, including fitting seatbelts and seatbelt anchorage points, and meeting emission requirements. The garage also built prototype vehicles, such as the 1275LS Mini and the 4WD Moke, and looked after the Engineering Services warehouse.

Workshop Facility: Manufactured equipment required by the other facilities, as well as parts required for prototype vehicles, and responsible for Engineering Services plant maintenance.

If you would like to read the rest of this story, order your copy of Issue 17 of The Mini Experience. <plumshop>23</plumshop> 

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