Andre Hartford Dampers

This forum is for non members to ask questions to the ATDC Members. Members should use the private forums for any and all Member to Member conversations.
Post Reply
Old Bertie
Posts: 8
Joined: Fri Feb 14, 2020 2:01 pm

Andre Hartford Dampers

Post by Old Bertie » Fri Feb 14, 2020 2:56 pm

The rear axle on my 1935 Austin 10 Lichfield has Andre Hartford dampers 502 fitted. I have no idea if this is correct as the front axle dampers were replaced by Rotoflex units in the mid 1950's and I don't know what was fitted previously. Also on the A/H dampers on the rear have different arm lengths, 5.5" and 7" with 3.5" centres and 3/8 Silentbloc mountings. Does anybody know the correct sizes/ items which should have been fitted. I think the A/H units fitted may be past repairing and certainly beyond my limited skills.

Does anybody know someone who can repair/ refurbish these cheaply

User avatar
stephen_voller
Posts: 150
Joined: Wed Nov 20, 2019 3:49 pm
Location: Polegate.

Re: Andre Hartford Dampers

Post by stephen_voller » Sat Feb 15, 2020 7:48 pm

Depending on when in 1935 your Lichfield is manufactured will dictate whether you should have Hartford friction dampers or Luvax rotary hydraulic dampers.
My Lichfield is a late '35 manufacture, registered early '36 and has the Luvax.
Cars made earlier '35 will have friction Hartfords.

The club has some spares for the Hartford such as the wooden discs and silent block bushes, however, Paul Beck Vintage car spares has a good selection of spares and complete units.

https://www.vintagecarparts.co.uk/search?query=hartford

Another useful site for reference purposes is Jim Butterworths who has a site detailing what he did to restore his Lichfield including some info on the Hartfords.
http://jimbutterworth.co.uk/1dampers.htm

Regards, Steve.

Old Bertie
Posts: 8
Joined: Fri Feb 14, 2020 2:01 pm

Re: Andre Hartford Dampers

Post by Old Bertie » Mon Feb 17, 2020 2:04 pm

My car was first registered in February 1935. My question was are the arms on the friction dampers the same length and if they are what is the correct length. The ones fitted to my car sometime in the past are different on either side of the car. Can somebody out there take 5 minutes to measure the dampers on their car please

User avatar
stephen_voller
Posts: 150
Joined: Wed Nov 20, 2019 3:49 pm
Location: Polegate.

Re: Andre Hartford Dampers

Post by stephen_voller » Mon Feb 17, 2020 7:25 pm

Front ones the arms are equal length, on the rear pair one arm is longer that the other.
If you are a club member there is a technical fact sheet about them.
Steve.

Old Bertie
Posts: 8
Joined: Fri Feb 14, 2020 2:01 pm

Re: Andre Hartford Dampers

Post by Old Bertie » Sat Sep 12, 2020 2:51 am

Sorry about the delay in this conversation but ill-health intervened (Not the virus thank goodness) and I have only just now finished repairs to the dampers on my January 1935 Lichfield the results of which may interest some readers. My 10/4 was originally fitted with Andre-Hartford type 503 friction dampers on both axles (front and back) Some time in the early 1950's the dampers on the front axle failed and the then owner replaced them with Rotaflex brand dampers. These look similar to the Luvax/Girling oil filled dampers but are smaller and require additional mounting plates to fix them to the chassis mountings of the 10/4 Lichfield. They cannot be repaired if they fail and essentially the activating arm is moulded into a rubber block contained within the Mazak casing of the damper unit. Suprisingly they work quite well and may have been the inspiration for Alex Moulton's rubber cone suspension on early Mini's. The "hardness" of the suspension can be adjusted by turning a nut on the actuating arm of the Rotaflex damper which compresses the rubber block inside the unit. They work quite well and improve the stability of the car when turning sharply for example on roundabouts but as I have said when the rubber cores decompose as a result of age or oil contamination they cannot be repaired.

When I replaced the Rotaflex units on my car I was fortunate to obtain a pair of original Luvax dampers which i had refurbished, expertly renewed and repaired. I did not replace with A/H friction dampers as I did not wish to loose the improved road handling. I also considered fitting modern Telescopic hydraulic dampers as I know some owners local to me have already done but I considered this a step too far as they can easily be seen when viewing the car from the front and are not hidden beneath the coachwork like the dampers at the rear.

Now we come to replacing the dampers on the rear. Here the choice was once again to replace the A/H 503 friction dampers with either Luvax/ Girling or modern telescopic units. I was tempted to use the modern units and simply fit Silentbloc mountings to each end but I decieded that although this might improve the directional stability of the car reducing the tendency to tilt and the axle hop it would be a step too far. I also discovered that the A/H friction units on my car were not the ones fitted by Austin but actually came from a mid 1930's Standard 9 and hence the reason for the uneven length actuating arms. The top mounting pins had been moved/ welded about 2" further along the chassis to locate the longer arms. Even so when encountering modern pot holes or sleeping policemen the arm and centre adjustment of the damper could come into contact with the wooden floor of the car under the rear seat producing the hollow thump that I have been trying to trace for years previously to no effect. The result was a very easy fix as I had an old pair of 503 dampers in my collection of parts and on purchasing renewable spares and some considerable time cleaning fitted them to the car. I also took the precaution of having the actuating arms powder coated first. The improvement in road-holding is significant and I wonder how many other Austins are in use every day with the wrong or defective dampers fitted?

Rod
Posts: 27
Joined: Sun Nov 24, 2019 9:44 am

Re: Andre Hartford Dampers

Post by Rod » Mon Sep 14, 2020 9:05 am

You say *Rotaflex* in your post, but from your description I think this is a typo for RotoFlo/Rotoflow.
These are/were very well regarded by the US hotrod guys and at one time at least one individual was offering a service to repair them, so if yours do clap out there might still be someone willing to repair them.
The explanation given to me of their method of operation was a vane moving in a cylindrical housing nearly full of uncured natural rubber and the adjuster reduces the amount of clearance space. Obviously equal damping on bounce and rebound. The ones I had experience with a few decades ago did not have any internal stops and the operating arm could be rotated a full 360 deg so I suspect this explanation is correct.
Judging from the articles I have seen the biggest issue is obtaining the correct 'goo' to fill them as the original stuff deteriorates with time/use.

Post Reply