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Old 12th Feb 2005, 3:53 pm   #1
Nickthedentist
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Default Hunts capacitors - what was the full company name?

Hello everyone,

I've just acquired a 1930s Smiths chiming electric clock - nothing special, but I collect old synchronous clocks.

It's got a plaque inscribed "PRESENTED TO MR CYRIL JONES BY THE STAFF OF E.L.HUNT LTD ON THE OCCASION OF HIS MARRIAGE, 8TH JUNE 1935".

Just a stab in the dark, but does anyone out there know the full name of the company that made the infamous caps? It's probably not the same "Hunt", but it would be fun if it were!

Nick.
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Old 12th Feb 2005, 6:07 pm   #2
mjizycky
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Default Re: Hunts capacitors - what was the full company name?

A. H. Hunt.
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Old 12th Feb 2005, 6:59 pm   #3
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Default Re: Hunts capacitors - what was the full company name?

Aha! I thought as much...

Just out of sheer curiousity, where were they based and what became of them?

Nick.
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Old 12th Feb 2005, 7:52 pm   #4
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Default Re: Hunts capacitors - what was the full company name?

A.H. HUNT (Capacitors) LTD, were based in Wandsworth, London, SW18, Phone, BATtersea 1083-7. according to the July 1953 catalogue , I think they went into hiding some years ago........ .

Regards, Mick.
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Old 12th Feb 2005, 8:32 pm   #5
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Default Re: Hunts capacitors - what was the full company name?

Thanks Mick.

I used to live in Wandsworth, but they were probably gone before I was born!
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Old 12th Feb 2005, 9:08 pm   #6
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Default Re: Hunts capacitors - what was the full company name?

Did a Goggle search and found reference in a legal document referring to a precedent: -

British Celanese v AH Hunt (Capacitors) Ltd [1969] 1 WLR 959

So they were around in 1969, at least they were before the legal action had taken place

I understand British Celanese were / are a plastics company
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Old 12th Feb 2005, 9:28 pm   #7
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Default Re: Hunts capacitors - what was the full company name?

Thanks Chris, I saw that but missed the date.

The only other Google "hit" was an Aussie environmental site, which had a list of PCB-containing caps that couldn't be landfilled, including a fluorescent lighting power factor correction one made by them.
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Old 13th Feb 2005, 9:01 am   #8
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Default Re: Hunts capacitors - what was the full company name?

Maybe British Celanese made dielectric materials for hunts! BC certainly used to make the polymers for Decca LPs which bore the label "Laminated by British Celanese" and they often had crackly surfaces. Maybe they made some iffy dielectrics for Hunts.
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Old 13th Feb 2005, 9:57 am   #9
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Default Re: Hunts capacitors - what was the full company name?

Hello All,

A H Hunt (Capacitors) Ltd, was taken over by Erie Electronics Ltd (of Great Yarmouth) circa 1969. At that time Hunts had factories at Wreham and Wandsworth. Hunts products were then re-branded Erie - I have some in my components "museum".

Erie (UK) was a subsidiary of Erie USA. Erie (UK) was bought by ITT Components Group Europe circa 1975 (they also bought Daly of Weymouth). Another re-branding of former Hunts & Erie products as ITT followed. By the late 1980s, it would appear that the former Hunts plastic film capacitors business was closed down or scaled down drastically and sold off. Certainly the Wandsworth site closed.

When ITT floated their main UK subsidiary Standard Telephones & Cables (STC), as a public company, in the early 1980s, the electrolytic capacitor division was retained by STC and its products re-branded STC. STC sold the electrolytics business to its management and was named BHC Components (still based in Weymouth). BHC was bought by Aerovox (USA) but when Aerovox went bust a few years ago, BHC was sold to Evox-Rifa of Sweden.

The former Erie ceramic capacitor business at Great Yarmouth became Beck Electronics (now owned by Oxley Developments of Cumbria).

Regards,

Dazzlevision
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Old 13th Feb 2005, 11:43 pm   #10
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Default Re: Hunts capacitors - what was the full company name?

Thanks for that Dazzlevision, very comprehensive.

So now we know
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Old 14th Feb 2005, 10:51 pm   #11
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Talking Re: Hunts capacitors - what was the full company name?

Is it true that all the Hunts employees were either short or leaky?!
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Old 21st Feb 2005, 11:51 pm   #12
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Default Re: Hunts capacitors - what was the full company name?

As an 'oldie,' perhaps the following is of information:

When STC Components (particularly Great Yarmouth) devolved themselves, they did indeed become BHC (for the electrolytics), and Beck (now Oxley) for the ceramics. However, Beck was mainly interested in the feedthrough style of ceramics for filtering applications, and indeed was a main competitor to Oxley, with whom they are now 'merged.'

There were two other divisions. The multilayer (standard) ceramic capacitors became Syfer, who are resident in Norwich, and the Special Capacitors Division, using polyester, polypropylene and polycarbonate dielectrics became Norfolk Capacitors Ltd, still resident in Great Yarmouth. NCL is now a world leader in high voltage capacitors for traction, industrial drives and similar applications, well away from the vintage radio world.

Last edited by Megavolt; 21st Feb 2005 at 11:56 pm.
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Old 22nd Feb 2005, 7:12 pm   #13
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Default Re: Hunts capacitors - what was the full company name?

Megatron's email address suggests that he works for this company http://www.alt-powertron.co.uk/ so his "is now a world leader" comment may not be completely impartial. The historic information from someone in-the-know is interesting however.
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Old 24th Feb 2005, 12:35 am   #14
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Default Re: Hunts capacitors - what was the full company name?

Dazzlevision's comments are entirely correct. The STC empire was broken up in 1986.

At the risk of diverging too far from the subject of Hunts Capacitors (the original topic), I have spent the last 25 years in the field of power electronics, mainly involved with film capacitors. Before then I was a component engineer at what is now Smiths Avionics, Cheltenham.

ABB Capacitors, Ellesmere Port, was a major competitor of Norfolk Capacitors, but closed in December 2001. ICW and MFD are still located in Wrexham and produce complementary products for different applications. MPE (Liverpool) are still in existence, as are Hivolt in Northern Ireland, LCR in South Wales, Cambridge Capacitors in Romsey, Hants, (ex RIC), together with Arcotronics (ex Plessey) in Towcester, all serving a variety of market sectors, some of which overlap.

Tantalum capacitors were produced by STC Paignton, but became AVX, and ceramic capacitors from Oxley and Syfer are of course still manufactured. I still remember the old Plessey silver tantalum 'button' capacitors made at Towcester. The old silver cases are now probably worth more than the capacitors!

I hope I haven't left anybody out!

It is interesting to note that over the last 20 or so years, the number of UK capacitor manufacturers has fallen steeply. Such names as BICC, Hunts, Plessey, Daly, Sprague, Ashcroft, Dubilier (for whom I worked for a while), RecSam, Suflex, Wego, RIC, Filmcap, Pye, ITT, STC and now Beck are all names which have disappeared from the list of UK capacitor manufacturers, but some have survived by integration into remaining 'British' companies.


However, BHC (Evox-Rifa) is now Finnish owned, Cambridge Capacitors is effectively Italian (Icar), as is Arcotronics which is also an Italian Company. AVX is Japanese (Kyocera).

Unfortunately, not many all-British companies are now left . . . ?



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Old 20th Mar 2005, 10:06 pm   #15
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Default Re: Hunts capacitors - what was the full company name?

Hello Again.

Megavolt adds some more interesting details about the current state of the British capacitor manufacturing industry. My main interest is in capacitors for low power electronics, so I'm not clued up on power capacitors. However, the following old UK names ended up as detailed below:

Telegraph Condenser Company - TCC - (started by S G Brown and later controlled by BICC) - taken over by Plessey (who already made capacitors) in the early 1960s. They were still making the successor to "Duomolds" in the mid-1970s but after that, Plessey sold its capacitor division to Arcotronics of Italy (which it had previously taken over!). Arcotronics was then taken over by Nissei of Japan and are still going (Nissei Arcotronics). The UK Arcotronic site is at Towcester, Northants (a former Plessey stronghold).

Dubilier - started in the UK in co-operation with a Mr Dubilier (of the USA - the US company is called Cornell-Dubilier - still going, I believe). They seem to have ceased making capacitors themselves in the 1970s - then became simply a distributor of "badged" products made by others. In the 1980s, they were Wimpey-Dubilier at Bicester, Oxon (yes, Wimpey the builders!). Later, as Dubilier, they still had a website a couple of years ago. Dubilier did, at one time, also own Beswicks of Frome (fuses) and Greenpar of Harlow (coaxial connectors).

Hunts - taken over by Erie (UK), who were then bought by ITT. ITT then turned STC (which it had owned for yonks) into a plc and lost control. STC took over the former "ITT Components Group Europe" UK capacitor operations. They soon sold off these capacitor divisions to various buyouts, as listed previously in this thread. STC were then swallowed up by Northern Telecom (Canada) - now called Nortel. I suspect that the old Hunts site in Wandsworth may have been acquired by Keyswitch-Varley (relays).

Daly - maker of electrolytics and based in Weymouth for many years. Bought by ITT/STC and then, when STC divested, became BHC Capacitors, who were taken over by Aerovox (USA) - who went bust - and BHC is now owned by Evox Rifa of Sweden.

SRC - stability Radio Components - taken over in the late 60s/early 70s and basically closed down (by Transitron of the US).

Suflex - of polystyrene capacitors and sleeving fame. Last heard of in South Wales but now seem to be defunct.

LCR, also in South Wales. Not a lot known about them. In the early 1980s they made multi-section HT blocks for colour TV sets and later for valve amplifier enthusiasts in the 1990s but not much happening since then (that I know of).

CCL - appeared in the 1950s and later taken over by Pye (circa 1970, when the CCL logo was replaced by the Pye roundel. They seemed to dry up (parden the pun!) in the late 1970s - possibly when Philips took over complete control of the Pye of Cambridge Group. I have never been able to establish what the initials "CCL" stand for - anyone know? My guess is Cambridge Capacitors Ltd.

British Celanese no longer exists - they had a factory in Bridgwater (Somerset) - near the M5 - it produces that awful stink when you drive near it on the M5 (or go past on the train, as I prefer!). The factory is still there (and profitable), but is US owned and was on the BBC/HTV local news a few weeks ago, as its US parent was thinking of closing it, in order to get some US financial aid for one of its ailing US factories (so much for free trade!). I think British Celanese may have originally made "Cellophane" - a film based on plant material and not plastics (which are made from crude oil). Cellophane is bio-degradable, unlike virtually all plastics.

If anyone can think of any names I've missed, please tell me!

Regards,

Dazzlevision

Last edited by dazzlevision; 20th Mar 2005 at 10:17 pm. Reason: Additional text
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Old 18th Mar 2006, 3:27 pm   #16
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Default Re: Hunts capacitors - what was the full company name?

I joined A.H. Hunt (Capacitors) Ltd. at their Wrexham factory in September 1967, as an "apprentice technologist". They had already been taken over by Erie Electronics Ltd. when I joined. I understood that the takeover was recent, i.e. 1967. The total staffing at Wrexham was about 1250 at the time.

The Wrexham operation was split between two factories. I started work at the "top" factory Aroclor Department, which made impregnated paper and foil capacitors for fluorescent lighting ballast and motor run. It was the Araclor (polychlorinated biphenyl) impregnant that was discovered to be a carcinogen, after years of use as a dielectric and as a substitute transformer oil.

The incident leading to the litigation with British Celanese was the result of loose capacitor foil being blown from outside the Aroclor Dept. on to the main power lines feeding British Celanese, about 400 yards away, disrupting their power for hours. Many of their machines gummed up and had to be dismantled before production could resume. In short, the disruption caused was immense.

A.H. Hunt had a reputation for quality, especially among the Military. Their commitment to QC was extensive.
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Old 18th Mar 2006, 3:44 pm   #17
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Default Re: Hunts capacitors - what was the full company name?

"A.H. Hunt had a reputation for quality, especially among the Military. Their commitment to QC was extensive."


Methinks there are a good few of us who'd disagree with that statement, especially in relation to Mouldseals.
Do we unfairly vilify Hunts?
Should we expect any companies capacitor to be within capacitance & leakage tolerances after 50 years?

Last edited by Neil Purling; 18th Mar 2006 at 3:47 pm. Reason: Quote corrected.
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Old 18th Mar 2006, 3:49 pm   #18
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Default Re: Hunts capacitors - what was the full company name?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Neil Purling
Methinks there are a good few of us who'd disagree with that statement, especially in relation to Mouldseals.
Do we unfairly vilify Hunts?
Should we expect any companies capacitor to be within capacitance & leakage tolerances after 50 years?
Exactly Neil. QC may well have been taken very seriously, but these caps were designed to have been retired decades ago now.
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Old 18th Mar 2006, 7:38 pm   #19
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Default Re: Hunts capacitors - what was the full company name?

I feel that I should expand on the QC statement. It has to be realised that Hunts were making capacitors for both domestic and "professional" markets. Capacitors made for the domestic market had to be at the right price and as a result usually had cheap and cheerful encapsulation, allowing a long term ingress of moisture and other contaminants. However, all the raw materials had the same goods inward QC. QC was also carried out through the production process.

One of the main problems facing the manufacture of capacitors was the prevention of chemical contamination. This was especially important for paper capacitors. After every break, production workers had to wash their hands thoroughly to prevent skin oils and / or food contamination of materials. This was all part of the regime. Supervisors were continually vigilant in making sure that hands stayed clean.

Unfortunately, Erie Electronics, who had little to no experience of wound capacitor production, introduced an American management regime which did away with set breaks and allowed shop floor workers to go to coffee machines (newly installed) when they pleased (theoretically); the affect was to eliminate good cleanliness practice. There was much friction between Hunts management and Erie management over this. It was predicted by the chief engineer (Harvey Rawles) that there would be a steep increase in customer returns of Aroclor capacitors as a result of the new breaks policy. His prediction was correct but the discovery of the potential dangers of polychlorinated biphenyls brought Aroclor production to an end. Production was switched to metallised polypropylene dielectric.
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Old 18th Mar 2006, 7:51 pm   #20
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Default Re: Hunts capacitors - what was the full company name?

Hello,

The information about Hunts (later Erie) at Wrexham is very informative.

Do you know if any of the former "Hunts" plants still survive there? I know that capacitor manufacture is still carried out by at least one manufacturer in Wrexham....

Regards,

Dazzlevision
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