L.W.Riley Pty Ltd is a family business manufacturing sailboat hardware for the marine industry. The Company is wholly Australian owned, employing Australians and using Australian material wherever possible, and only markets its own manufactured products. The company supplies chandleries, rigging contractors and industrial customers, and export orders are welcomed. See our contacts page for details of your local distributor. Riley Marine Fittings has been serving the industry, with the same ownership since 1946, and will continue to offer quality products at competitive prices.
During 1945, interest in sailing was rekindled after its suspension during the hard years of the war. Skiffs on the inshore waterways of Australia had earlier been commandeered or destroyed, and amateur and professional boat-builders resumed building small craft in garages and sheds.
Bill Riley prepared the gear for a 16ft skiff, which his brother and self had built. The only blocks available, were heavy cast brass or large wooden ones both with shallow-grooved sheaves. These came from an unbroken line of maritime designs, untouched by the technical advances of the war years. Bill applied a toolmaker’s skill and innovative spirit to make from sheet material, brass blocks with plastic canvas sheaves, using a lathe and hand tools in his father’s model engineering workshop.
These lightweight jib and sheet blocks were prized by fellow sailors, and Bill satisfied the local demand for them by hand-making similar blocks. As a toolmaker, this hand-making would not do, and a blanking and a forming die were made, and mass production commenced on a small hand screw press. This was a key moment, as excited interest in the product from Sydney’s chandleries led to Bill’s commitment to the project full-time, and a business was born. Brass material gave way to the newly available but scarce stainless-steel, from fortuitous sources, and the world saw the first mass-produced stainless steel pulley blocks.
The business entered a period of steady organic growth, and after 8 years and the addition of two employees, land was bought and a factory built on the present site in Hurstville. The larger and now better equipped business attracted the interest of the automotive manufacturers in Sydney, and the company was engaged to produce parts for British Motor Corporation and General Motors. Bill and the company had earned a reputation for rapidly producing parts to replace shortages of imported units on the auto companies’ production lines. However, the motor companies in Sydney waned, and the business resumed it’s concentration on marine products.
In 1960, the factory was expanded, and the company incorporated, with family proprietorship. The business was maturing. Resources were needed to continue the growth, and the business was vested with enormous intellectual capital when Bill’s brother Len, an experienced toolmaker in the telecommunications industry, joined the company. An important innovative partnership was formed, and the company’s product line rapidly expanded with prodigious effort, to include all rigging and hardware products relevant to skiff and dinghy sailing. The business flourished at a time when sailing as a pastime in Australia reached its zenith.
The company has prospered by building a solid production foundation. Bill and Len worked tirelessly, with home-grown automation, to achieve competitiveness in the production of marine hardware, a position still enjoyed today. The business manufactures all of its products in Sydney, in the face of imports from more cost competitive manufacturing environments.
The private family company consists of persons either active sailors or having close association with the sport as well as with the engineering industry, and so have first hand knowledge of the requirements of our customers.
The company is wholly Australian owned, employing Australians and using Australian material wherever possible, and only markets its own manufactured products.
Since the range of Performance Yacht Fittiings was incorporated within the company we have, withour strong engineering background, been adding to improving and generally tweaking the product range.
Riley Marine Fittings will continue to offer you quality products at competetive prices as for the past 70 years.