Tales From The Archive of The Lock Man - Jaguar Or Imp?
Peter Weston, CMM’s The Lock Man sadly died January 2017, and will be much-missed. He had been in the motor industry all his life and spent over 20 years with a major manufacturer of locks and handles. This month we reproduce his column for CMM, first published September 2011...
IN MY FEBRUARY (2011) COLUMN I wrote about the Waso gearbox lock for the Hillman Imp, one of the many add-on items for these cars that the Rootes service organisation offered in the mid-sixties.
A few weeks later on eBay I spotted another accessory from the range, this time a lockable bonnet-release for the Imp, still boxed. Does it look familiar?
I thought so too, and I simply had to have it because it promised to solve a mystery which had bothered me for years, something which went right back to 1984 when I stumbled across a dusty box of cables among the wreckage of Wilmot Breeden.
They looked like regular Bowden throttle cables but with a funny little key operated ‘T’ handle on the end, painted grey with a simple locking ring. I had no idea what they were, so sold them on my autojumble stand to some smooth-talking character for a couple of pounds each and was glad to be rid of them. Until, too late, I discovered they were internal bootreleases for the E-Type Jaguar. If only I’d known what they were really worth!
I should also have taken one apart. By identifying the lock barrel in the handle I might have been able to make up a complete matched lock set for the E-Type, something which would really be popular! Ever since I’ve wondered what that barrel could have been.
Now was my chance to find out.
And not by paying some inflated price for one of the current re-manufactured E-Type cables either, because that Imp accessory looked as if it was exactly the same thing! Amazingly, back in the early sixties someone at Rootes realised the Jaguar part could be used on the Imp. Or maybe it was the other way round?
Unfortunately the barrel turned out not to be the one I’d hoped but something else entirely, a peculiar little number I’d never seen before. My matched lock set is as far away as ever, but at least I have an E-Type boot release for my autojumble stand again, and this time I can promise it will be priced a bit more realistically!
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CLIFF ELLIS WRITES: “A few years ago I purchased a 1936 BSA model R4 in a very dilapidated state and spent the next two years restoring it to nearly original condition.
“The two tool boxes on the sides of the rear mudguard (known as ‘Hovis Loaves’ due to their shape) were rusted away beyond repair. Fortunately, at a Kempton Park autojumble I met a guy who was making them, and the pair he supplied were superb. As I was unable to get the correct locks I fitted them with wire clips of the type found on preserving jars which at least enabled me to get the bike finished and in use.
“About two years ago an article in The Old Bike Mart mentioned someone who was making these locks today, which I can only describe as being the type that would have been fitted to a brief case. Stupidly I didn’t make a note of the contact details and I’m now trying to trace this information. I realise that this is not a car question but maybe this type of lock was fitted to outside toolboxes on cars? Can you give me any help in locating them?”
Yes Cliff, these are ‘Cheney locks’, named after the original manufacturer who once had a rather grand factory in Birmingham’s Soho district. I visited it about 15 years ago, just before the end, and it was like boarding the Marie Celeste.
There was a huge, empty work-space with room for a thousand, with tools neatly laid out on the benches as if they’d stopped work only five minutes earlier. But all those people had gone years before, leaving just a small huddle up one corner. The company had died the death of a thousand cuts because it’s almost impossible to manufacture these small fittings in Britain when imports are so cheap.
The remains of the business were acquired soon after by F.H. Tompkins of Walsall, and their website shows a range of locks which should suit those ‘Hovis Loaves’. Failing that, contact Protex of Redditch - they’re the experts for over centre fasteners.
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MORE ON WASO, where Andrew McAdam asks: “Can I get spare keys for Waso locking petrol caps? Years ago I fitted one of their pentagonshaped stainless caps onto a filler pipe, and I’ve lost the key. I don’t know the number, so what can I do?”
Well, at least it sounds as if it’s not actually on a car, Andrew, or you’d really be in trouble! That’s the problem with any locking cap – lose the key you’re stuck. And it wouldn’t help if you did know the number because Waso imported their caps from Sweden and never stocked replacement keys. The name of their game was ‘if you break it, buy another’.
My advice is to take the whole thing to a good locksmith who should be able to pick the lock in thirty seconds flat. He might not be able to find a key for the cap but at least you’ll have an undamaged filler pipe!
from p. 20 of issue July 2017
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