Orange Spring and Suspension Repairs’ Story

 

In 1921 Robert Wescott Edge established Edges Coachworks attached to Collins Foundry situated where Woolworths now stands in Anson street. The business, which as a stage coach building business, moved with technology and with the introduction of motor cars, branched onto repairing springs in trucks and coaches while using the old fashioned wood furnace and sledge hammer method. Robert Wescott Edge learnt the coach building trade at Neville in the early 1900’s before moving to Orange to work with Charles Collier and Co (where Best & Less stands today), Collier and Co manufactured 35 sulkies a week. Most of the years Mr Edge spent with Colliers, he was foreman of the company.

 Robert’s son Jack Edge joined the business around 1939, prior to the second world war as a carpenter. Jack took over the business shortly after the war and moved to the laneway off Sale Street, behind Summer Street in Orange. Jack Edge had a very interesting history of experience…there’s a whole book he wrote on it actually, of his inventions and experiments during the war and the many mechanical advancements he was able to make in the middle of unknown countries with very little to work with!

 Jack’s brother Carl Edge also came to work with the family after he was injured in a rugby match. He suffered from his injuries and was unable to complete his studies to become a priest. He worked for Jack for many years until his health got the better of him and he was admitted to a nursing home in Cowra. He loved to sing and was greatly admired by the staff of the nursing home. 

 John Johnson and his son Ray took over the lease of the sheds and eventually the business during a transition period from around 1985. John Johnson had experience with spring repairs in modern coaches and trucks for many years and worked with the Ford Company in England. He assisted in building Thames trucks in Britain. John also has a very interesting history but he refuses to ever put it in writing!

 Jack and John were also singers and both members of the Orpheus Choir. John married his wife Barbara in 1956 and didn’t have anywhere to live. Jack had lost his first wife and had a flat that was vacant and needed finishing (paint, fireplace etc.). Jack gave the flat to John and Barbara rent free until it was finished, he gave the newlyweds quite a bit of help to get on their feet and in return John helped out in the workshop and worked weekends and weeknights after his truck run. Jack Edge was diagnosed with cancer and his health and business were suffering so John said he would give up his truck run and come and work for Jack full time. Jack asked that John come and take it over instead and as they say the rest is history! 

 It is hard to put the closeness of these two families on paper, really there is no blood relation. As a small child growing up I always thought of the Edge’s as extended family. I knew Ray and his sister were close with Jack’s kids growing up and that John and Jack had a friendship that extended many years and many hardships. Their family was always at my grandparents’ house on Easter and Christmas morning. I think the connection is one that is not easily understood in today’s society a true gentleman’s friendship of old. 

 Johns and Ray Johnson gave the business another huge transition in 1994, moving the business to the new Leewood Industrial Estate and renaming the business Orange Spring & Suspension Repairs. This move saw huge expansion in technology and warehousing, they moved from a wood to a gas furnace, friction screw press to reset leaf springs rather than various sledge hammers, hoists in place of a pit, and in a few years saw the move also into laser wheel alignment.

 In 1996 John moved to retirement, leaving Ray to operate the business on his own with a couple of employees. During this time, Ray did an impressive job of running the office and workshop with only a few hands for help.

 In 2008 Chad Brindley, Ray’s soon to be son in law joined the business as an employee bringing a new modern twist to the vast knowledge of the business. Chad had an extensive list of experience working for a local dealership in various roles, working on modern cars, 4wd’s and heavy commercial vehicles. Chad also has a tremendous passion for 4WDS, having spent most of his life travelling the country with his family in various Landover’s. Chad’s father is also a blacksmith so Chad also has various skills in both sides of the business.

 In 2009 Angie Johnson-Brindley, Ray’s daughter, also came to join the team. She also had a passion for cars and business growing up but Ray told her to ‘go out and learn what you can from others before you could come and joint the business’. Angie is a qualified spare parts interpreter, having worked in retail outlets, truck dealership, and forklift dealership.

 In July 2013, Chad and Angie joined Ray as partners in the business to start to transition for Ray to retire over the coming years.

 In recent years we have spent some time and money updating our tools, building, offices and equipment. We have re-branded and moved our workshop and offices into the modern technological age of computers. We have purchased a state of the art 3D wheel alignment system, upgraded hoists and built up the workshop to be usually booked out for 2-4 weeks and with substantial parts sales outside of the workshop. Allicia (Ray’s niece) and Angie are happy to use their skills to source any hard to find parts not limited to suspension and steering products.

 2012 we also had Allicia Richards join the team as a trainee spare parts interpreter, she gained her full qualification 2016 and now oversees most of the day to day operations, booking workshop appointments, ordering and organising parts etc. Allicia is our new ‘Officer in charge of first impressions’ while Angie is working part time or from home raising a new family.

 As one of very few workshops left in Australia to still successfully reset leaf springs, we try to hold dearly our manufacturing history. This style of blacksmithing is an old art that is becoming endangered. We also try to keep the business busy but small to maintain our personal approach to our customers. We like to customise each vehicle to each application and provide a face to face personal service in each and everything we do.

 Day to day we offer a huge range of parts available in stock or quickly procured as the need arises. In house we manufacture u-bolts, reset leaf springs, offer full workshop fitting and repairs services along with thorough wheel alignment and balancing technology services. We also complete GVM upgrades on various vehicles before and after registration (in consultation with an outsourced engineer as required). We offer full consultation services and free inspections where required before bookings or quotes are finalised to make sure the customer is well aware of their options before making any decisions. Above all else we love what we do and we love to make your car into your dream car!