Bottle, engine oil, glass / steel, made by Castrol Limited, New South Wales, Australia, 1960-1968
The Castrol oil bottle or oil dispenser was a common sight at Australian service stations until at least the early 1980s, housed in a special multi-tiered rack. The bottles were ready at hand for use by station attendants to pour into car engines after it was found, by the measurement on the dipstick, that a car was low on engine oil. The bottles were replaced by all steel or plastic containers during the 1980s but even these have now disappeared from service stations due to the fact that modern car engines no longer burn oil.
Car engines were far less sophisticated, not as well built and engine component tolerances not as great as they are today. Consequently, more oil would be burnt necessitating the oil level being regularly topped up at garages between oil changes. By comparison cars from about the 1990s were virtually maintenance free with joints pre-packed with grease and sealed, spark plugs having a longer life, electronic ignition, and the only oil required to be added was during an oil change. As well as this, oil has developed over the years and it too has become more sophisticated, with various viscosity ratings and the introduction of multi-grade oil.
The lubrication specialist company, Castrol was founded in England on 9 March 1899 by Charles Cheers Wakefield as CC Wakefield & Co. Ltd. Wakefield had the farsighted vision to concentrate on developing lubricants for the internal combustion engine.
The graphic design of the raised writing "Castrol" on the oil bottle enables it to be dated between 1958 and 1968. This date can further be refined by the fact that CC Wakefield & Co. changed its name to Castrol Limited in August 1960.
Assistant Curator, Transport
The Castrol oil bottle was made by Castrol Limited in New South Wales, Australia between 1960-1968. The graphic design of the raised writing 'Castrol' on the oil bottle enables it to be dated between 1958 and 1968. This date can further be refined by the fact that CC Wakefield & Co. changed its name to Castrol Limited in August 1960.
The Castrol oil bottle or dispenser was made by the lubrication specialist company Castrol Ltd which was founded in England on 9 March 1899 by Charles Cheers Wakefield with nine workmen as CC Wakefield & Co. Ltd. Wakefield left the Vacuum Oil company (later Mobil Oil) where he had worked for the previous 15 years to establish his own firm which later became Castrol. He had the far sighted vision to concentrate on developing lubricants for the internal combustion engine and by 1910 the firm comprised besides its London office, a Dublin branch, works in Liverpool, as well as Manchester and Glasgow offices and agents in Paris, Brussels, Geneva, Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban.
The 1920s saw a massive increase in private motoring. In Britain alone, the number of cars on the road rose from 100,000 to 1 million during that decade. During the 1930s the firm consolidated its successes, and by then was the world's foremost international lubrication company. Castrol-sponsored drivers, riders and aviators provided high-profile publicity, as they went faster, higher and farther. Using the knowledge and experience gained from seeing its lubricants tested under extreme conditions, Wakefield's research department worked on improving existing products and creating new ones.
Castrol's founder, Charles Wakefield died in 1941 and during the 1950s the firm planned a strategy of international expansions as well as diversifying into subsidiary companies. Research continued to grow and new products launched but problems arose from the large, powerful petrol companies who refused to allow Castrol to be stocked at their 'tied' petrol stations.
On 2 August 1960, at the Annual General Meeting of CC Wakefield & Co. the name of the company was changed to Castrol Limited. Despite the prominence of the large petrol companies, during the 1960s Castrol motor oils lubricated almost 50 percent of the cars on the road in the UK alone, and were stocked by nine out of ten garages. The firm was taken over by Burmah Oil Co. Ltd in 1966 while during the 1980s more new products were launched.
Today Castrol continues to be the world leader in providing lubrication solutions for every application. It now employs over 12,000 people in more than 130 countries. As well as developing motor oils, the company is involved in mining, gas and electricity production, transport industries, construction and earth moving vehicles, refrigeration, metalworking and plastics. The company manufactures in local plants and markets and distributes through operating units in over 70 countries, and an agency network covering over 100 others. Each Castrol unit concentrates on its own market.
Castrol Australia employees about 450 people with offices in all states, Area Account Managers in most major centres and a corporate office in Sydney. Castrol carries out its own research and development in laboratories around the world, co-ordinated from its principal research and development facility located at Pangbourne in the UK.
Oil is needed as all mechanical devices require lubrication. When any two solid surfaces move in contact with each other, the friction created generates heat and wear. In order to prevent over-heating and premature engine wear, oil is used to lubricate, protect, cool, clean and seal a car engine. Specifically, engine oil is required to keep a car engine in good condition by reducing friction and wear which in turn prolongs the life the engine. It also removes heat from the engine to prevent if from overheating, keeps it clean by preventing deposits and corrosion and contributes to energy saving and clean combustion.
Glass Castrol oil bottles were a familiar site at garages until the early 1980s. They were located in a stand at the service station for motorists to top up the oil in their engines. The amount of engine oil was measured from the engine dipstick and the required amount added on the spot in the service station. Both 1 quart and 1 pint bottles were available. The bottles were filled with engine oil by the service station attendant, usually pumped out from a bulk tin in the lube bay. The bulk tin was refilled by a visiting oil tanker. Larger quantities were purchased by the gallon tin for an oil change at home and could be refilled at the service station.
The glass oil bottles were superseded by steel tins and later plastic bottles and containers of 4 and 5 litres. These can now also be purchased from the auto sections of large stores such as K-Mart and Big W.