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Anglo Traction

Vintage Oil Can

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I've been looking for a decent Oil Can that will serve my elderly Myford ML7 for some time. New quality pump oilers are not cheap, have unsuitable nozzles, or too big.

Much sought after, old quality ones like Braimes or some Westcos would do, but I stumbled over a little gem a few days ago and saved it from the bin.


I like to delve into history of items that I find and to my surprise, I find loads of it, so I'll include some here in case some may also be interested.

This is the Joseph Lucas Ltd No 40. 1/4 pint Oiler-




The pics are after I had to fully clean it out to a dry state due to joint damage/leaks around the Plunger - Body collar and the base of the spout.

Joints were cleaned out and re soldered.

This Oiler version is shown in a 1924 Advertisement that describes it's purpose as tool for use on small Cars and Cyclecars and sold for 7 shillings and 6 pence (37.1/2 new pence today).

There was also a bracket which you could purchase at the cost of 1 shilling (5 pence) to fit on the under bonnet (hood) bulkhead, or in the toolbox of the car to stow the Oiler safely.

Noted that some examples sold at Auto Auctioneers were claimed to be part of the Toolkit for Bentley, Rolls Royce etc!, but I suspect they would have been nickel plated if supplied to them.

The makers name is that of the Automotive Electrical suppliers of dynamos, lights, relays etc of recent years.


With the joint repairs done and cleaned up, I gave it just a light clean over the rest of it and had no intention of attempting to remove, clean the age scarring or dents.

The only real damage was the broken off threaded tip of the spout where, according to Lucas' info, it had a little cap screwed on the tip for whe not in use.

The tip being broken was not usable like this, so I managed to identify the thread form from the 2 remaining full threads and established it to be 1/8" Whitworth (40 threads per inch).

Spookily, Whitworth is the basis of the creation of the 'Model Engineer Series' thread form in 1909 and I have a set of those Taps and Dies, so sorted that issue.

Took some measurements and some hard Brass and made the parts as close to the original as poss, but not fussed with accuracy-



Soldered the tip in place-




So there it is. Even the original leather washers are still fine.

I'm always impressed with things that were made then, for example this can has the number 428 stamped on the handle as a production number and the base has a 'G' stamped in representing the individual who checked it for quality over 90 years ago.




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Thanks gents, It was a challenge to clean and sweat the leaking joint areas without 'wicking out' the original solder, plus someone's previous attempts.

I'm impressed with how efficient it is at producing a single drop or a greater volume into the most awkward of Lathe points (even works upside down without leaking).

They're not common and worth a few quid now, but I won't part with it-


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Thought I'd add another find to this old Topic. Acquired another pressure feed 'Oiler' for a 'Fiver' (uk£5.) It was amongst a box of bits from a shed clearance. It was in a bit of mess, seized and badly beaten-










Initial clean up to see what I had revealed it was another Lucas Oiler from the 1920s. Diameter is 1. 1/2" (38mm) to give you an idea of size. All I could do was bite the bullet and desolder it all and reduce to constituant parts and see if I could clean it out and repair it back to working order. After a few days work, I had reduced it to this-




I managed to remove some serious dents to improve appearance, but will always have the scars of use/misuse to show it's age. 

I had to overcome a problem with reassembly due to not being able to solder some internal joints and ensure they held in the right place and soldered/sealed together.

So I hard soldered some parts and so able to ensure it all went ok when 'Closing up' the 5 other soft soldered parts/joints all at the same time .

The bronze 3/8" dia ball is a replacement, as the original steel one looked more like a large lump of weld spatter. So I lapped the new one to it's seat for a good non-return seal.

New leather washers made for the plunger and filler-




As usual, the end cap and threaded section was missing, so I reproduced a nozzle and cap. The cap having a leather pad in it to seal it when screwed on.




After several flushes with acid, soapy water and dried out, it had the plunger sealing washer greased, piston oiled/primed and filled.

No leaks and can now deliver a single drop or stream under pressure at any angle. The fine nozzle can displace the small ball in oil nipples to lubricate, rather than have a cumbersome Grease gun type nozzle which is useless in confined places on machines.




So that's the Lucas Oiler No 36 given a new life and will have a copper 'Holster' to safely stow it on the Lathe or Mill in the workshop.


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