The second is an Austin road roller built around 1914 and
weighing about 15 tons. It is powered by
a large single cylinder engine equipped with huge 5-1/2 foot diameter flywheels
intended to smooth out the power to the wheels.
It was eventually replaced with a roller using a two-cylinder engine and
smaller flywheels, a combination that could be better balanced and therefore
have less tendency to leave ripples in the asphalt. It is a work in progress and I am now
planning to fit it with it’s
emergency brake and an a compressed air starting system.
Finally the third is a Northwest crane, built in the 1930’s and capable of being used not only as a crane, but to move dirt and rocks when equipped with a drag line or clamshell bucket, or rigged as a power shovel. I have the buckets but unfortunately I am missing a winch and a clutch necessary to rig it as a power shovel, but I will eventually find (or make) them.
The crane is a particularly interesting machine because of the mechanical gadgetry necessary to get all of the necessary motions (front and back travel and turns, boom swing and position, winch functions) out of a single engine. It depends on a complicated collection of gears, clutches, and brakes, and operating it requires many more levers and foot pedals than the operator has hands and feet. It is particularly challenging to work on, not only because of its complexity, but also because most of the parts seem to be slightly heavier than I can lift. In a sense the older steam powered machines were mechanically simpler because they utilized a single boiler that fed steam to separate engines that powered the necessary motions. But my gasoline engine does not require heating up, cooling down, or cleaning out when I operate it.
Why do I do this kind of stuff? I love old heavy machinery, and for me, finding it, learning about it, restoring it, and fiddling with it has always been a terrific balance to being a professor. I am better at thinking esoteric thoughts if my fingernails are dirty. I suspect Marian sometimes thinks I am weird for doing this sort of thing, but I suspect she knows how really weird I would be if I didn’t.