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GMF Electric Motors company history and information

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GMF Electric Motors was an Australian company making - surprise - electric motors and related hardware. You will occasionally see GMF bench grinders come up for sale - that's how I came across the company first. Here's what I can find on the company history and as much about their products as I can find.


Wed 31st Jan 1940 The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Durst Electric Motors Pty. Ltd. was formed with 20,000 pounds of capital in 1 pound shares. The company objects were to carry on the business of engineers, founders, smiths and machinists. The first directors were John Durst, George M. Fasal and Robert Glesinger. Registered office was Sydney. So who were the directors?

John Durst appears to have come to Australia from Switzerland in 1910 having spent four years at Bale University where he gained his diploma of electrical engineering. He was employed by a city council until 1918 where he resigned and started his own business venture, where he manufactured metal separators of his own (patented) design. More on his other designs here - they included rotary converters for the then-fledgling film industry, DC to AC converters, trasnformers and slide projectors. He died in his private laboratory in Lagonda Avenue, Killara in 1952 age 64 and was survived by his son Albert who was also an electrical engineer and a daughter whose name I cannot find. The company John started is still running today - see here - it seems to be a separate entity from the one started in 1940.

George Martin Fasal (reported as Fassal elsewhere) - more info here - born in Czechoslovakia.

Robert Glesinger appears to also be Czechoslovakian and was an employee of Skoda, arriving with his wife in Australia as a representative of that company in 1938.

Name Change

Tue 8th April 1941 the Sydney Daily Telegraph reported that Durst Electric Motors Pty. Ltd. changed it's name to GMF Electric Motors Pty. Ltd. George M Fassal's initials - coincidence? Probably not...

December 1942 - Supreme Court listed Crothers v. Durst Electric Motors Pty. Ltd. as being heard - can't find out any more info on that so far.

Fri 5th October 1945 GMF advertised for boys under 18, wanted for the motor winding department - no experience necessary. 5 day work week at 90 Layton Street, Camperdown.

Mon 5th November 1945 saw an advertisement in the Rockhampton Morning Bulletin for G.M.F. Electric Motor Driven D.E. grinders.

New factory in Arncliffe

The Trove website has a photo from September 1951 of the GMF factory at Arncliffe - file number FL2071329. Copyright apparently expired in 2001. There are some aerial photos that are still in copyright from 1961 here.

Here is a photo of the GMF Electric Motor Company factory in Arncliffe, NSW in September 1951. Found on the Trove website - copyright apparently expired in 2001.

Jan 1951 - GMF advertised in the Hurstville Propeller looking for first-class machinists/turners to work in their new, modern factory on Bonar St. Arncliffe. 7 mins walk from Arncliffe station.

One 22 year old man (Oscar Tievgalis) was killed in an explosion at the GMF Electric Motors Pty Ltd. factory on Bonar Street in Arncliffe. Happened Mon 19th Feb 1951.

30th September 1955, Mn. Campbell & Co. Pty. Ltd. advertised in the Muswellbrook Chronicle the following:

The multi-saw was claimed to be two saws in one - a portable saw, for portable drill or flexible shaft drive, or a bench saw. Came complete with a depth gauge, rip fence and dodo (sp?) gauge.

1956 advertisements have the multi-mower as being £35/17/6, which seemed comparable for the day - there's also a Tecnico electric mower for 34/14/- and a Qualcast petrol mower for 55/-/-.

The Multi-Shop does bench, angle and compound sawing, grooving, rabbeting, mitreing, doweling, disc sanding, mortising. The 1/4 horsepower power unit detaches and quickly converts with no tools to the multi-mower. The multi-mower was advertised as being suitable for tall parspalum, tough woody weeds and smooth lawns.

Had four blades - which it could sharpen itself - didn't burn out if stalled and didn't cause radio interference. Grinding wheels were a pound extra. Much of the advertising had women pushing the motor.

A 1972 advertisement stated that Ajax Pumps Works was a large customer of GMF, and that their product line was exported to "the whole of South-east Asia, the Middle East (Kuwait and other Arabian Gulf countries), Ceylon, Africa (South Africa in particular), South America (Bolivia, Ecuador and Chile are big customers), Malta and Canada."

November 1977 saw an advertisement in the PNG Post-Courier listing the following as being GMF products:

The same ad also mentions the GMF Metric integral horsepower series electric motors, ranging from 0.75kW to 75kW (1 to 100hp). There is also mention of single- and three-phase coolant suds pumps with rapid startup and high volume continuous flow.

Boge Dorsoski sent in photos of a 150mm Handy Grinder:

Here is a photo of the GMF 150mm Handy Grinder, sent in by Boge Dorsoski. Thanks Boge!

Here is a photo of the GMF 150mm Handy Grinder, sent in by Boge Dorsoski. Thanks Boge!

I have found a photo of the faceplate of a 250mm Maxi Industrial - 1100W, 380/415V 3 phase, 50Hz, 2850RPM, Int. RTG (?). That was serial no. 919649 and had Betts Electrical Motors at the bottom of the plate.

One curious tool that isn't pictured is the GMF tap disintegrator - supposedly used for fast and simple removal of broken taps, drills, hardened pins and set screws from castings/machined components and dies. Apparently no special skills are needed to operate the tap disintegtrator and removal of the broken item is achieved without damaging the hole/thread or the temper of the workpiece.

Company purchase by Betts

In the early 1980s - anyone know exactly when? - the electrical motors division of James N. Kirby Pty. Ltd known as Betts Electric Motors bought out GMF. Not long after that Kirby also purchased Crompton Parkinson, making Betts the largest manufacturer of fractional horsepower electric motors in Australia.

At some point in the 1980s or 1990s some or all of GMF grinders moved to being a Taiwanese-made imported unit - anyone got more info on when that occured?

The early 1990s saw Kirby sell Betts to Fasco (prev. F.A.Smith Mfg.) from the USA, and sometime around the turn of the century it was sold again to Lennox Interational USA.

So how old is your GMF grinder? The earliest ones I have found had the most squared-off motor body casings, such as this brochure image from 1955:

Here is the earliest picture of a GMF bench grinder that I can find.

Brian sent in some photos from his late father Laurie Pomroy of a grinder which echoes that earlier shape:

Photos of a 1950s era GMF Australian-made bench grinder and stand by Laurie Pomroy.

Photos of a 1950s era GMF Australian-made bench grinder and stand by Laurie Pomroy.

Photos of a 1950s era GMF Australian-made bench grinder and stand by Laurie Pomroy.

Later ones (say sometime in the 60s) had more rounded off motor body casings. Power Farming Technical Annual from the 60s or 70s should have some writeups on the contemporary GMF grinders.

Some of the variants I have seen so far have included:

GMF 8" Heavy Duty Grinder - Mark 5, found in yellow. 1.0HP, 380/440V, adjustable tool rests and eye guards. No date.

GMF 8" Heavy Duty Grinder - Mark 3, found in grey/green, 1/2hp, 220/250v, found with wire wheel on left and linishing attachment on right.

GMF 7"quot; Industrial Grinder - 240V, 2850RPM, marked as G.M.F. Electric Motors Pty. Ltd - Sydney, Australia. Found in light green.

GMF 150mm Tradesman Grinder - Has "Approved By Energy Authority Of N.S.W. Certificate No. CS2430N., then under that Brook Crompton Betts Pty. Ltd. - 240v.

GMF 200mm Tradesman Grinder - Has "Approved By Energy Authority Of N.S.W. Certificate No. CS2430N. Underneath - Betts Electric Motors, A Division Of James N Kirby Pty Ltd. 23358. On back - 185 Watts, Int. Duty, 240 volts single phase 50Hz. 1.5amps, 2800rpm. Made In Taiwan. Yellow.

GMF 200mm Tradesman Grinder - Has "Approved By Energy Authority Of N.S.W. Certificate No. CS2430N. Underneath - Betts Electric Motors, A Division Of James N Kirby Pty Ltd. On back - 560 Watts, Int. Duty, 240 Volts, 1 Ph, 50Hz, 3.5 Amps, 2870RPM, Made In Taiwan. Yellow.

GMF 200mm Handy Grinder - 220/240V, single phase, marked with G.M.F. Electric Motors Pty. Ltd. Sydney Australia. E-20935-1. I'm guessing 1970s-1980s. Found in a light green akin to Abbott and Ashby.

If anyone has any more photos of grinders or info, let me know via the contact page!

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