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Articles

Rawlfast - Ground Breaking Structural Fasteners

Robert John Hadaway (IAWA) 1974

 

 (Photo G Heslop)

How it works 

Drill a hole, hammer it in... Done. If you need to remove it, just unscrew it...  Out! 

 

Bob Hadaway's story

 

I became aware of the need for a better way of fixing to masonry in the late 1960s. The few items available were mainly from the British "Rawlplug" company, owned by Burmah Oil and I found them inadequate for my purpose. As it turns out, the new fastening I created, became a staple Rawlplug product. Here is my story.

 

At the time, Rawlplug's main item was asbestos string! Rawlplug's product range also included a variety of simple, hollow, plastic plugs, which are to be inserted into a prepared hole in the masonry etc.

In carrying out repairs to my house, I found that my carport has its trusses secured to the walls of the house with wood screws inserted into wooden dowels; the screws had rusted and split the dowels, which had also shrunk due to weathering.

As a quick fix, I replaced all the dowels with machined bolts with a wrap of plastic insulation tape, then newly available. This worked remarkably well, as the plastic tape compressed into the disfigured wall holes which has housed the wooden dowels.

Later when installing a metal balustrade to my front verandah, I experimented with bolts and screws after having a variety of plastic coatings applied. At that time, Nylon 11 was being used to coat crayfish pots to resist rust; this turned out to be the most satisfactory material available at that time. The coatings of Nylon 11 simulated a sleeve and acted in the same way as a screw entering a sleeve, when the assembly was being tapped in.

With my position in a local authority town planning office I had regular contact with building tradesmen. After I had secured an Australian patent calling my invention the "Hammer In Masonry Fixing,"  I gave out samples of my experimental fasteners for trial.

I then approached a local plastics manufacturer and had a few batches of different sized fasteners made. The initial items were somewhat amateurish, being heated and dipped into plastic when red-hot.  This action was performed by a metal plate some 50 cm square with about 200 holes regularly spaced.

Good reports came back from the tradesmen I had given samples to. A builder was very helpful and financed a fairly large batch paying me handsomely and promoting them through his own building company.

At this time, the TV programme "The Inventors" had broadcast for a short while. After a demonstration at my builder friend's factory, I was accepted as a contestant on "The Inventors." Following on my appearance on the TV show, I received a very good response from a number of manufacturers. At this time, most fasteners were expanding metal items generally known as "brick breakers."

The local representative of the Rawlplug company in WA contacted me and interviewed me on the following day. Shortly after the interview, I received a phone call from a Rawlplug official in London, England, who arranged an air flight for me to travel to London and talk about a contract and payment! Fortunately, I had a current passport.

After a short discussion with my patent attorney, he pointed out that the 5% I was thinking about was unrealistic. This rate would have only been appropriate for a low volume item. As it eventuated I accepted 1.5% of the wholesale price, if I was still being paid royalties like copyright owners do, this would amount to $ billions!

Whilst in the UK, I was taken to Thornlie, a suburb of Glasgow in Scotland where the main Rawlplug factory was.  I spent several days with the staff, showing them all my associated ideas. A wonderful experience.

The Rawlplug company then took out patents in my name at their expense in nine countries and over the next 15 years, I assisted them with a further five inventions. These were not all successful but the process was very satisfying!

Patents for Building Fasteners Made by Rawlplug, renamed Rawlfast

Country Patent Number Date Granted
Australia 474 650 25 April 1974
United Kingdom 1 453 904 30 July 1974
France 7 511 641 15 April 1975
Italy 1 089 489 29 October 1977
(re-issued 1985)
Spain 231 678 14 April 1978
South Africa 776 347 3 October 1979
Belgium 860 621 1 March 1978

 

You can look up the patent numbers by searching a relevant patent database such as WIPO, USPTO, EspaceNet, AusPat or Google Patents.

About The Inventor

Robert John Hadaway (Bob) was born in Perth in 1934 and spent the war years in an orphanage at Byford, WA. He was educated in Western Australia and was initially trained as a mine surveyor in Kalgoorlie. After his National Service training he re-trained as a mechanical engineer and gained a diploma in engineering. During this period he worked as a cartographic draftsman, and then worked for some years in town planning.

A man with a fertile inventive mind, Bob applied for his first patent at the age of 16, and over the years has had over 30 patents in his name. The Rawlfast is probably his most successful. He joined the Inventors Association in the 1970s and was President in 1972. He is still an active member of the association, assisting in the confidential Invention Assessments, in invention shows and has given the association several talks. Bob Hadaway is a Life Member of the Inventors Association of Western Australia Inc.

He has a wide range of interests, ranging from model cars - he has a large collection of scale model cars, veteran car racing (he has one of those too), and vintage guns.

He now lives in retirement in Perth and still works on his inventions, the latest being a crankshaft-less stationary engine.


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