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Joplin Brothers was an Australian company who through the course of it's life manufactured jacks, vices, tyre pumps, pipe bending tools (called ‘Plumber’s Mates) and heavy duty jacks usually designed and manufactured for various customers, often for the Dept of Main Roads. Looking for more information on them and their history? Read on...
Mardi Joplin tells me that her father, Fearon, and his brother Max had to leave school in 1923 due to their father's severe financial difficulties. They took up apprenticeships in Sydney and after attending lectures at the Technical College in the evening they would return to Eastwood via steam train - a trip that took a couple of hours. They would then work in their backyard shed to start their business and once it became financially viable they managed to do it full time.
The Daily Telegraph reported on the 24th Aug, 1927, that in the previous July Fearon H. Joplin had passed the examination for Stage III of his Electrical Fitter's trade qualification. It seems that the stages went all the way up to X (10).
The following year (1928), the same paper reported on the 3rd Feb that Maxwell G. Joplin passed his Fitting and Machining examinations for Stage II.
Joplin Brothers Ltd. was registered as a company in NSW on the 27th August 1930 with £2000 capital, as reported by the Daily Commercial News and Shipping List on the 10th September that year. The subscribers were given as F. H. Joplin (Fearon Henry), Linda M. Joplin, M. G. Joplin (Maxwell George), G. C. Joplin, L.F. Watt, T.A. Barry and R. V. Bridekirk (Robert, I believe). The company was described as an "Automobile business in all its branches". There was a T.A. Barry was noted in The Hobart Daily Post in 1912 as being "Alderman T.A. Barry, Grand secretary, Grand Lodge of NSW" - possibly an investor.
The 5th Feb 1931 saw Fearon apply for a patent (2128/31, which was granted the following year) relating to improving the design of small electric motors, such as those used in sewing machines. Patent is here.
The Construction and Real Estate Journal printed on the 28th December 1932 that Joplin Bros. Ltd. were approved to build additions to their workshop at 18 Wentworth Road, Eastwood.
R.V.Bridekirk was involved in the creation of Tec. Art (A'asia) Ltd. in 1934 - so potentially he was an investor rather than being hands-on with Joplin.
The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate reported on the 24th Feb 1936 that Messrs Joplin Bros, of Wentworth-street, Eastwood there was no substance to a community complaint about noise from Joplin's factory. Their working hours were stated to be from 7.45am to 5pm with Saturday work in "urgent cases".
The Cumberland Argus and Fruitgrowers Advocate reported on the 14th Oct 1937 that two factory buildings (of galvanised iron with brick offices) valued at £1800 were to be built by Joplin Brothers Pty. Ltd. in Victoria Road, Rydalmere. Joplin Brothers were stated as being a vice, hand grinder and car lifting jack manufacturer who had an existing factory in Wentworth-street, Eastwood.
There is another reference to Joplin Bros Pty. Ltd. of Eastwood, NSW in 1938 - on the 7th Oct the Sydney Morning Herald ran an advertisement for the Joplin Air-Stream Tyre Pump:
On the 21st September 1939 the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette reported that Joplin had supplied lifting jacks for the Director of Artillery at a cost of £810. (about $71,000AUD in 2020).
Joplin Brothers Pty. Ltd. applied for a patent on the 4th October that year (3403/39) which related to improving car and truck lifting jacks. Their idea was to improve upon the usual type of roadside car lifting jack by having it engage on the wheel rim above the axle cap. Patent is here.
Mardi tells me that the Joplin factory at Rydalmere was operating for the war effort during WWII.
"Construction" printed on 8th November 1944 that Joplin Bros, Ltd., of Euston & South Sts, Rydalmere, succeeded in their tender to supply tools to the NSW Main Roads Department. The tender was worth £250/6/3. The Argus reported on the 28th Jun of that year that R.V.Bridekirk (in the position of secretary) was appointed as one of the directors of Tecnico Ltd., of Sydney, which I think further supports him as not being involved in the day to day of Joplin.
Fearon was married in 1945. Max remained a bachelor all of his life.
The Daily Telegraph ran a "Town Talk" on the 20th March 1947 where their chosen spelling of "vice" was criticised. Seems like they were a known manufacturer of vices at this point...
14th Jan 1948 saw The Sydney Morning Herald report that L.F. Watt had been appointed a director of Tecnico, too.
Mardi tells me that Fearon considered the cast iron vices to not be strong enough, so he sought an alternative. The brothers succeeded in designing a vice which could be pressed out of a sheet of ¼" steel - designing not only the vice but the machines to make them. They were patented and put to market in the late 60s. Incidentally, once the country shifted to the metric system it apparently caused Joplin Bros a good deal of trouble as ¼" steel was no longer available, requiring them to re-tool the machines to accept the new metric sizes. Incidentally, this tidbit might help date some Joplin fabricated vices...
Australian patent number 16,046/62 was lodged with provisional specifications on the 2nd April 1962, and with complete specifications on the 22nd March 1963. Max was listed as the inventor, and the patent was accepted on the 1st July 1965.
The patent documents are here.
The Commonwealth of Australia Gazette reported on the 19th May 1966 that Joplin Brothers Pty. Ltd. had succeeded in their tender to supply hydraulic jacks to the government, to the tune of $400. (NH255/2/12)
Graeme sent in this scan of a 1968 Blackwoods catalogue showing a range of six Joplin fabricated steel vices for sale:
In 1973 Siddons purchased the assets of Joplin Bros Pty. Ltd. (and, incidentally, Dawn). Fearon was apparently not keen on selling it but Max wanted to move on, and Fearon died in 1975.
Fred Williams - who started working at Joplin Bros as an apprentice and had worked there for over 40 years - took over the jack side of the business. I don't have any further information about that at this point.
The Government Gazette of the State of New South Wales stated that on the 25th March 1974 the company elected to be voluntarily wound up. The same gazette reported on the 13th Sept that the final meeting for the company's liquidation was held on the 9th September of that same year.
The ASIC register shows that the company Joplin Brothers Pty. Ltd. was de-registered on the 2nd September 1977.
There's a company called Joplin Jacks Pty Ltd. that appears to have been registered in 1987 (previously AYMPAT PTY LTD) - no idea if it's affiliated with the previous company. It seems to have links with Graham Rubber. Joplin Jacks seems to have been de-registered in 2017. There was also a Joplin Jacks (NSW) PTY LTD (Camela Pty Ltd) registered in 1982, and de-registered in 1992. Can't find anything about that one.
A Siddons catalogue (R4/74, which to me suggests 1974) advertises Sidchrome, Dawn and Joplin products with the following spiel:
Sidchrome, Dawn and Joplin are Divisions of Siddons Pty. Ltd. with manufacturing plants situated at Heidelberg West, CLifton Hill and North Coburg, Victoria and at Rydalmere, New South Wales.
The Joplin factory has manufactured bench vices for more than 30 years, and although steel vices of various makes have been available, they have been too expensive for most users, but as a result of the development of a new construction method the Sidchrome (Joplin) all-steel vice has solved this problem, and made possible a steel vice within the reach of everyone. All Joplin products, which include engineers' and plumbers' tools are constructed from the highest quality material to meet the specifications required by the industrial users of today.
Rigid inspection of manufacturing processes, and sample inspection at all stages, are part of the quality control requirements. Siddons Research Laboratories, adjacent to the Heidelberg West plant, sample test for strength, hardness and finish. This laboratory is installed in an air conditioned building where testing and chemical analysis is carried out under ideal scientific conditions.
The all-steel vice referred to there is a fabricated type.
Graeme sent in a scan of a Paul's 1980 catalogue showing a Sidchrome vice design that appears identical to that shown in the 1968 Blackwoods catalogue:
The 1984 Dunlop-IBC catalogue also shows some similar vices:
If you have any more information on Joplin I'd love to hear from you via the contact page!
Mardi Joplin - the aforementioned daughter of Fearon Joplin - got in touch with me and passed on a few interesting things. She said that there were 10 ton, 500 ton and even perhaps 1,000 ton jacks made by the company and she remembers Fearon telling her that he was asked to build a jack to lift huge cement slabs that had fallen while the Gladesville Bridge in Sydney was being made, and only had a few inches clearance so a jack was designed to lift remotely.
She also mentioned that R.V.Bridekirk was not known to her and was not involved with the running of the company, so it does seem more likely that he was an investor or similar. A few other things she remembers:
Some examples of Joplin vices I have found so far - once I find more information I'll date them as best I can:
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