Gerry Risbridger – 6th April 1929 – 27th February 2023
I am sad to be writing this on what would have been my father’s 94th birthday. Gerry Risbridger was surrounded by family on his last day. He had spent several weeks in hospital, with failing health, before happily returning home for the last ten days of his extraordinary life.
Following on from his father William, and the second generation leading our company, Gerry made a huge contribution to the safety and efficiency of both industries in which we work. He strongly believed that well-designed products and modern manufacturing methods would enable our industries to be world beating.
During his working life Gerry continuously updated his own knowledge and ensured that our company invested in new and better systems. He was an innovator in everything he did, including working on and training others to use the first computer numeric controlled machine tools and accounting systems in the 1980’s.
Case Histories – Just a few of the Forecourt Products designed by Gerry.
Suction Plate Deflectors: A simple device to prevent debris from the bottom of fuel tanks being sucked up and contaminating fuel dispensed to customers fuel tanks.
Angle Check valves: designed and manufactured in angle and horizontal formats, these were the early forerunner to under dispenser check valves, sited on the storage tank top. They allowed the suction lines to remain primed, saving time in dispensing fuels. They were sold all over the world, and then were mostly replaced by Under Pump Valves, again Gerry was involved in their design, as well as the Shut-off Valves which were designed to replace the tank top angle check valves and help in testing the suction and vent lines.
Under pump Valves: originally a triangular valve to fit to the pumping unit triangular fittings. They also allowed the suction lines to retain prime, but this time by holding the fuel under the valve by vacuum. This allowed loss of prime to be a signal that there may be a leak in the suction line, whilst also preventing loss of product into the ground.
Flame Arrestors: These were originally designed by Gerry for Esso Petroleum, installed in the fill lines and there to prevent the possibility of ignition of vapour in the fill lines.
Lever Nozzles: Gerry designed a lever nozzle, mainly used on commercial not retail installations They were made and sold for many years until copied, made abroad and we were unable to compete.
Swing Arms: A clever way to allow petrol hoses at street-side dispensers to be swung out for filling of vehicles and swung neatly back to the wall of the building for storage.
De-watering Tubes: Ingenious way of pumping water out of the bottom of fuel storage tanks to prevent it being dispensed as fuel!
Gerry was heavily involved in working with Rolls-Royce, British Airways and many others in developing our Aircraft Ground Servicing equipment. This came about by one of our customers in Shell, putting his colleague in Aircraft Lubricants in touch. They needed a fool proof way of getting their ‘super clean’ lubricants into aircraft systems. After producing the ‘super clean’ fluids and carefully canning them, they found that maintenance engineers were opening them with a rusty screwdriver and tipping the then contaminated fluid into reservoirs.
At home, Gerry carried on using his engineering skills, enjoying renovating tractors, and horse trailers, and making hay in the paddocks. He often helped others in the area with similar tasks.
When my sister and I were in our twenties, Gerry and his tractor were, on more than one occasion, called upon to drag our petrol-head friends’ cars from ditches when they spilled off country lanes! Luckily no one was hurt, only the drivers pride!
Gerry worked at and in Risbridger for over 65 years. He was a great mathematician and brilliant engineer. Even the night before he died, he was making diagrams to explain a concept to us.
Working for many years with his brother Barry, Gerry made so many contributions to innovation and improvements in the forecourt industry. He was justly recognised with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the APEA conference and dinner in 2022.
Gerry Risbridger will be sorely missed by his family, staff, and friends. A modest and quiet man he would be humbled to know that his impact and legacy will live on.
Annie Risbridger Hind