Lionel Otto Instruments - Workshop Profile

By: Guy Allen, Photography by: Guy Allen

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Iconic Brisbane-based repairer Lionel Lotto Instruments celebrates 70 years

Wandering into as easily accidentally wandered into a watchmaker (remember them?) or hobbyist workshop. For much of the work this 70-year-old firm does, you would be spot-on. In fact some of the people who have been there over the years came from those backgrounds.

Owner John Robertson took over the firm 14 years ago and still seems enthused with what he does, and is instantly able to rattle off a potted history of vehicle instruments. These days the company will tackle pretty much anything, from clockwork units built in the early 1900s, right through to current digital clusters.

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And yes, the crew has a favourite generation to work on, which is the typical high-end chronometrics from companies such as Smiths. Why? "They’re made and designed to be worked on. A lot of gauges are held together with resin and you’re not meant to pull them apart. But the Smiths stuff is held together with brass screws and rivets. The principal back then wasn’t to keep the repair person out – they were designed to be fixed."

As a general principle, he suggests that when you decide to get an instrument worked on, consider doing the whole lot. He reckons what often happens is owners go to all the effort of removing and reinstalling one dial, only to realise it suddenly makes the others look shabby! Plus, if you see trouble, get on to it early.

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It often makes sense to do the whole cluster

Speedos that start whining for example should be disconnected, before the internal damage gets worse. And no, a quick squirt of lubricant down the back will not fix it. That may well make things worse, as well.

It seems there is little the company won’t tackle, so it’s worth a call if your dash starts looking dodgy, no matter what era it is.

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Lionel Otto Instruments

124 Evans Rd,
Salisbury QLD 4107

Phone: (07) 3277 3888

Email: info@ottoinstruments.com.au

 

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