Roland Cross, whilst still at school, was appointed Secretary and Treasurer of the Bath Model Aeroplane Club. On leaving school Roland secured an apprenticeship with the Arrol Johnson Motor Works in Dundee.
The Story begins.....
Roland joined the British and Colonial Aeroplane Company in Bristol where he designed parts for the Bristol Fighter biplane. After the war he moved to Vickers Aeron to increase his engineering experience.
Roland Cross returned to Bath to set up an engineering design consultancy in the building formally used by Patrick Alexander to construct his gas balloons.
Cross Rotary Valve Engine invented
Roland designed his innovative rotary valve engine which proved to be superior in power output and torque to the conventional poppet valve equivalent. The first Cross company was set up to develop the concept.
Rotary Valve Engine development continued whilst finance to fund the project was gained from other design work.
A Landmark innovation
Because poor quality cast piston rings failed when stressed by the additional power of the Rotary Valve Engine, Roland designed and manufactured piston rings made from drawn carbon steel wire.
The liner-less aluminium cylinder block
Roland also demonstrated the advantages of using a liner-less aluminium cylinder block, the benefits of which were enhanced when used with drawn wire piston rings.
Record breaking performance
Roland was contracted to manufacture a liner-less aluminium cylinder block, piston and rings for a record attempt at Brooklands by a 250cc Cotton motor bike. The bike broke 12 world records in October 1935.
Engines for sports cars
A 4 cylinder Rotary Valve Engine was developed for Aston Martin sports cars. In 1937 the Halford Cross Rotary Sports Car was launched with a 1.5 litre, 4 cylinder Rotary Valve Engine.
The Cross Manufacturing Company (1938) Ltd. was established, combining the activities of earlier companies.
The Move to Manufacturing
The drawn wire ring making process was recognised as a problem solver in many applications. Cross began to grow with manufacturing work for the aircraft industry.
The Centaurus Rings
Immensely powerful and widely used Centaurus and Hercules sleeve valve engines suffered from excessive oil consumption. The Cross Sleeve Contracting Ring solved this problem and over 300,000 were eventually manufactured.
Manufacturing capacity was dramatically increased with new Ring and Winding Shops built to provide essential additional workspace.
New products, in large quantities
The well-known Cross Wire Thread Insert range was produced in large quantities. Other new products included Spring Washers, Retaining Rings and Circlips.
New alloys, higher temperatures
As new Nickel and Cobalt alloys became available, high temperature sealing rings were developed for aerospace industry gas turbines.
Second factory opens
The expansion of the company continued with the opening of a second factory in the nearby town of Devizes.
Rings for iconic British aircraft
Sealing ring manufacturing included four-foot diameter aluminium rings designed for Concorde and seals that were critically important for the performance of the ground-breaking Harrier jump-jet.
A great engineer passes on
Roland Cross died at the end of the decade, having seen his innovation and endeavours grow into a market-leading international engineering company.
Brush Seals introduced
In Devizes the first brush seals for gas and steam turbines were developed and manufactured, introducing an innovative design with significant efficiency improvements over traditional labyrinth seals.
The Automotive industry
Automotive industry activity became more important, beginning with the manufacture of piston rings for Formula One racing cars, followed by high temperature sealing rings for the new breed of turbocharged cars.
Turbo Rings in mass production
Mass production of turbo rings began, driven by the burgeoning demand from the automobile industry.
Aerospace activity ....
Aerospace activity increased to encompass virtually all of the world's major aero engine manufacturers.
Brush Seals approved
Cross Brush Seals received certification for use on gas and steam turbines.
Brand new Devizes factory
The Devizes factory relocated to a brand new facility, driven by increasing demand for turbo rings, which increased to 10 million a year by the end of the decade.
Business in China
Product development included six foot diameter seals for power generation in China.
Turbo Ring production begins to soar
Whilst aerospace activity includes innovative seals for the next generation of gas turbines, annual Turbo Ring production reaches 30 million by the end of the decade.
A second factory in Devizes
A second factory was opened in Devizes to separate Aerospace and Automotive industry products, as annual turbo ring production climbed to 60 million.
Cross is a world leading manufacturer of precision engineered high temperature metallic seals and retaining rings for aircraft engines, gas and steam turbines, vehicle turbochargers, control valves and many other challenging environments.