Marina Gearbox Production

Lowhill Lane Factory-8

To produce the Marina gearbox,a new design with synchromesh on all four forward gears,a factory was built on the corner of Lowhill Lane and Groveley Lane, Longbridge, costing over £7m.

In an area once known as the Flight Shed and now designated the Lowhill Lane factory, Unit 4, there is a capacity for the production of 6,600 gearboxes each week. Some of the capacity will be used to supply units to the Triumph Motor Co. in the Specialist Car Division of British Leyland.

The Flight Shed—so called because aircraft were produced there during the war—had a covered area of approximately 100,000 sq. ft. before conversion. Its vast, single span roof is said to be something of a historical curiosity, being the sole survivor of several of its kind built by the Ministry of Aircraft Production.

Coverage now extends over 168,000 sq. ft. on a total area of 184,500 sq. ft. The extra 68,000 sq. ft. comprises an extension on two floors. These are added to the South East side on a site once used partly as a reception area for vehicles awaiting attention in the Service Department then in the Flight Shed.

Equipping the Lowhill Lane factory called for 419 machine tools, including three transfer lines which incorporated 18 machines and 12 linked lines with a total of 312 machines.

There are three main assembly tracks with integral washing machines on the first floor of the new extension.

On the ground floor is a heat treatment plant with the most modern equipment of its type in the European motor industry. Receiving and despatch bays are also on this lower ground level.

Even the roof of the new extension has a role to play. It is linked by a steel girder frame bridge with the higher ground to the North East where the CAB car park is situated. The roof thus becomes an extension to the car park.

Mechanical handling needs have been carefully studied. An overhead conveyor network feeds rough castings to the transfer lines and takes the finished machined components on to the assembly area. A similar network transports part finished gears to the heat treatment section, returns them for grinding, and finally delivers them to the assembly area.

A power and services building has been constructed near on the North East corner of the new extension. It houses an oil-fired boiler, two compressors and three transformers. People matter in the production of the Marina gear-box. Expert eyes scan display tubes as gear components are mated and sound tested; inspection workers place main shafts into electronic gauging units; and, on the first floor of the extension, the manual skills are adequately demonstrated as assembly line workers select and build up components to produce the final, all-synchromesh gearbox.

People do indeed matter and, whilst the machines demand power, air and lubrication, the Lowhill Lane factory personnel have been provided with a pleasant working environment, first-rate lighting and heating, modern cloakroom facilities, and a completely new Ambulance room.

Lowhill Lane Factory-A
After a mainshaft assembly is built up by hand, assembler Frank Molley
uses a power press to locate the mainsheet and bearings in the gearbox

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm Lowhill Lane Factory-2
Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm A selector fork component goes through a gauge receiver check,
Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmwith inspector John Rotherham reading off the gauge dials.

Lowhill Lane Factory-7
Machine control Ken Swann, working on part of the fully automatic laygear link line.
In this operation laygear hobbing is carried out.

MmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmLowhill Lane Factory-9
mmmmmmmmmmmmmAnother Marina gearbox nearly ready - and with a
mmmmmmmmmmmmmmulti air tool Peter Swallow tightens the top cover.
Lowhill Lane Factory-4Edward Till puts a newly built Marina pier unit
mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm through its paces in East Works engine test.

Lowhill Lane Factory-3
The ambulance room is ready should accidents happen. Its nothing serious, but demonstrator John Hope
called in for attention from Sister Jean Wikes in the new facilities at Lowhill Lane.