Picking up were part one left off, another Dr. Merritt design was the ‘Slimline’ torque wrench mechanism. Prior to the ‘Slimline’, all Norbar torque wrenches used an external, break-back mechanism. The ‘Slimline’ was the first Norbar design to completely contain the mechanism within the body tube of the wrench, hence the ‘Slim’ reference. The ‘Slimline’ torque wrench was launched in 1963 and some models remain in production today. Variations in this mechanism underpin most of Norbar’s current torque wrenches.
Norbar has manufactured torque testers for almost as long as they have manufactured wrenches. The earliest types employed a simple spring balance attached to a pivoted bar. The next evolution was to utilise a hydraulic cell and hydraulically activated gauge. The ‘Static Torque Meter’ was much more compact than the earlier versions and were easier to use because this system avoided the needle fluctuations of the spring balance type. This product enjoyed a near 50 year life span before finally being rendered obsolete by electronic measurement methods. The first reference to a Norbar electronic torque analyser is dated 1967. The display unit, incorporating an analogue gauge similar to a Voltmeter, was attached by a cable to a separate, strain gauged torque transducer. Forty five years later, this essentially remains the method of measuring torque although the electronics are now based on single-board computer technology with such features as colour display and touch sensitive screen.
1969 was a landmark year and saw the company’s first address change bringing with it the official change in name from ‘The North Bar Tool Company’ to ‘Norbar’ (which had previously been used as a telegraphic address). The new premises on Swan Close, Banbury, were originally 9,000 sq.ft but were extended twice before being outgrown and Norbar moved again to Beaumont Road, Banbury in 1984. A major extension to this site in 1989 took the floor area to 45,000 sq.ft and further extensions and mezzanine work give a current day total of 52,000 sq.ft of production and office space.
In November 1989, Norbar became the first torque tool manufacturer in the United Kingdom to have a torque laboratory accredited by the governmental, third party body ‘NAMAS’ (National Measurement Accreditation Service). In 1995 the non-profit distributing private company UKAS or United Kingdom Accreditation Service was formed and took over this accreditation role. Norbar’s laboratory, number 0256, has an accredited calibration scope from 0.005 Nּm to 108,500 Nּm. We recently blogged on our calibration laboratory here.
Since 1996 Norbar has been establishing overseas offices for the purpose of product distribution and service. Norbar Torque Tools Pty. Ltd in Australia was the first and was then followed by the United States, New Zealand, Singapore and China. On 1 January 2012, Norbar’s wholly owned trading and service company opened for business in Mumbai, India. The companies in Australia, USA, Singapore and China each have a calibration laboratory with a similar scope of ability to the UKAS accredited laboratory in the United Kingdom. Each of these laboratories has accreditation by a local third party body; NATA in the case of Australia, NVLAP for USA, SAC-SINGLAS for Singapore and TAF for China.
And this concludes our potted history so far, the rest they say is history.
By Neil Brodey, Managing Director of Norbar Torque