Steamroller
Overview
 
A steamroller is a form of road roller
Road roller
A road roller is a compactor type engineering vehicle used to compact soil, gravel, concrete, or asphalt in the construction of roads and foundations, similar rollers are used also at landfills or in agriculture.In some parts of the world, road rollers are still known colloquially as steam...

 – a type of heavy construction machinery used for levelling surfaces, such as roads or airfields – that is powered by a steam engine
Steam engine
A steam engine is a heat engine that performs mechanical work using steam as its working fluid.Steam engines are external combustion engines, where the working fluid is separate from the combustion products. Non-combustion heat sources such as solar power, nuclear power or geothermal energy may be...

. The levelling/flattening action is achieved through a combination of the size and weight of the vehicle and the rolls: the smooth wheels and the large cylinder or drum fitted in place of treaded road wheels.

The majority of steam rollers are outwardly similar to traction engine
Traction engine
A traction engine is a self-propelled steam engine used to move heavy loads on roads, plough ground or to provide power at a chosen location. The name derives from the Latin tractus, meaning 'drawn', since the prime function of any traction engine is to draw a load behind it...

s as many traction engine manufacturers later produced rollers based on their existing designs, and the patents owned by certain roller manufacturers tended to influence the general arrangements used by others.
Encyclopedia
A steamroller is a form of road roller
Road roller
A road roller is a compactor type engineering vehicle used to compact soil, gravel, concrete, or asphalt in the construction of roads and foundations, similar rollers are used also at landfills or in agriculture.In some parts of the world, road rollers are still known colloquially as steam...

 – a type of heavy construction machinery used for levelling surfaces, such as roads or airfields – that is powered by a steam engine
Steam engine
A steam engine is a heat engine that performs mechanical work using steam as its working fluid.Steam engines are external combustion engines, where the working fluid is separate from the combustion products. Non-combustion heat sources such as solar power, nuclear power or geothermal energy may be...

. The levelling/flattening action is achieved through a combination of the size and weight of the vehicle and the rolls: the smooth wheels and the large cylinder or drum fitted in place of treaded road wheels.

The majority of steam rollers are outwardly similar to traction engine
Traction engine
A traction engine is a self-propelled steam engine used to move heavy loads on roads, plough ground or to provide power at a chosen location. The name derives from the Latin tractus, meaning 'drawn', since the prime function of any traction engine is to draw a load behind it...

s as many traction engine manufacturers later produced rollers based on their existing designs, and the patents owned by certain roller manufacturers tended to influence the general arrangements used by others. The key difference between the two vehicles is that on a roller the main roll replaces the front wheels and axle that would be fitted to a traction engine.

In many parts of the world, the term steam roller is still used regardless of the method of propulsion. This typically only applies to the largest examples (used for road-making).

Configurations

The majority of rollers were of the same basic 3-roll configuration, gear-driven, with two large smooth wheels (rolls) at the back and a single wide roll at the front. (Actually, the wide roll usually comprised two narrower rolls on the same axle, to make steering easier.) However, there was also a distinctive variant, the "tandem", which had two wide rolls, one front, one rear. Those made by Robey & Co used their standard steam wagon
Steam wagon
A steam wagon is a steam-powered road vehicle for carrying freight. It was the earliest form of lorry and came in two basic forms: overtype and undertype – the distinction being the position of the engine relative to the boiler...

 engine and pistol boiler
Pistol boiler
A pistol boiler is a design of steam boiler used in light steam tractors and overtype steam wagons. It is noted for the unusual shape of the firebox, a circular design intended to be self-supporting without the use of firebox stays....

 fitted in a girder frame with rolls and a chain drive to produce a quick-reversing roller suitable for modern road surfaces such as tarmacadam and bituminous asphalt
Asphalt
Asphalt or , also known as bitumen, is a sticky, black and highly viscous liquid or semi-solid that is present in most crude petroleums and in some natural deposits, it is a substance classed as a pitch...

. A number of Robey & Co tandem rollers were modified to make a further variant, the tri-tandem, which was a tandem with a third roll, mounted directly behind the rear one. Robey supplied the parts, but the modification was undertaken by Goodes of Royston. Ten tandem and two tri-tandem Robey rollers survive in preservation, and one of the tri-tandems is known to have been used to construct parts of the M1 motorway
M1 motorway
The M1 is a north–south motorway in England primarily connecting London to Leeds, where it joins the A1 near Aberford. While the M1 is considered to be the first inter-urban motorway to be completed in the United Kingdom, the first road to be built to motorway standard in the country was the...

.

A variation of the basic configuration was the "convertible": an engine which could be either a steam roller or a traction engine and could be changed from one form to the other in a relatively short time – i.e., less than half a day. Convertible engines were liked by local authorities, since the same machine could be used for haulage in the winter and road-mending in the summer.

Design features

Although most steam roller designs are derived from traction engines, and were manufactured by the same companies, there are a number of features that set them apart.

Wheels

The most obvious difference is in the wheels. All traction engines were built with large fabricated spoked steel wheels with wide rims. Those intended for road use would have continuous solid rubber tyres bolted around the rims, to improve traction on tarmac. Engines intended for agricultural use would have a series of strakes bolted diagonally across the rims, like the tread on a modern pneumatic tractor tyre, and the wheels were typically wider to spread the load more evenly.

Steam rollers, on the other hand, had smooth rear wheels and a roller at the front. The roller was a single wide cylinder supported at either end. This replaced the separate wheels and axle of a traction engine.

Smokebox

In the conventional arrangement, the front roller is mounted centrally, forward of the chimney. In order to allow enough clearance from the boiler (and hence a larger front roll), the smokebox
Smokebox
A smokebox is one of the major basic parts of a Steam locomotive exhaust system. Smoke and hot gases pass from the firebox through tubes where they pass heat to the surrounding water in the boiler. The smoke then enters the smokebox, and is exhausted to the atmosphere through the chimney .To assist...

 is extended forward substantially at the top to incorporate a support plate on which to mount the bearing for the roller assembly. This gives the distinctive, hooded look to the front of a steam roller. It also necessitates a different design of smokebox door – it has to drop down, rather than opening sideways, due to the limited access available.

Special equipment

The rear rollers were fitted with scraper bars. As the vehicle moved along, these removed any surface material that had become stuck to the roll, to prevent a build-up of material and ensure a flat finish was maintained.

Some steam rollers were fitted with a scarifier mounted on the tender box at the rear. They could be swung down to road level and used to rip up the old surface before a road was remade.

Another accessory was a tar sprayer – a bar mounted on the back of the roller. This was not a common fixture.

Manufacturers

Britain was a large exporter of steam rollers to the world over the years, with the firm of Aveling and Porter
Aveling and Porter
Aveling and Porter was a British agricultural engine and steam roller manufacturer. Thomas Aveling and Richard Thomas Porter entered into partnership in 1862, developed a steam engine three years later in 1865 and produced more steam rollers than all the other British manufacturers combined.-The...

 probably being the most famous and the most prolific.

Many other traction engine manufacturers built steam rollers, but after Aveling and Porter, the most popular were Marshall, Sons & Co.
Marshall, Sons & Co.
-External links:* – at the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, Australia...

, John Fowler & Co.
John Fowler & Co.
thumb|right|John Fowler & Co. [[steam roller]] of 1923John Fowler & Co Engineers of Leathley Road, Hunslet, Leeds, West Yorkshire, England produced traction engines and ploughing implements and equipment, as well as railway equipment. Fowler also produced the Track Marshall tractor which was a...

, and Wallis & Steevens
Wallis & Steevens
Wallis & Steevens of Basingstoke, Hampshire, England produced agricultural equipment, traction engines and steam and diesel road rollers.-History:...

.

In America, the Buffalo-Springfield Roller Company was a large builder. J. I. Case made a roller variant of their famed farm engines, but had a small market share. Other nations had makers including the Czechs, Swiss, Swedes, Germans and Dutch which produced steam rollers.

Usage

In the UK, a number of companies owned fleets of steam rollers and contracted them out to local authorities.

Many were still in use into the 1960s, and part of the M1 motorway
M1 motorway
The M1 is a north–south motorway in England primarily connecting London to Leeds, where it joins the A1 near Aberford. While the M1 is considered to be the first inter-urban motorway to be completed in the United Kingdom, the first road to be built to motorway standard in the country was the...

 was made with the help of steam rollers.

A few steam rollers were still being used for road maintenance in the early 1970s, and this may go some way to explaining why diesel-powered rollers are still colloquially known as steam rollers to this day.

Preservation

Many steam rollers are preserved in working order, and can be seen in operation during special live steam
Live steam
Live steam is steam under pressure, obtained by heating water in a boiler. The steam is used to operate stationary or moving equipment.A live steam machine or device is one powered by steam, but the term is usually reserved for those that are replicas, scale models, toys, or otherwise used for...

 festivals, where operating scale model
Scale model
A scale model is a physical model, a representation or copy of an object that is larger or smaller than the actual size of the object, which seeks to maintain the relative proportions of the physical size of the original object. Very often the scale model is used as a guide to making the object in...

s may also be displayed. At some of the UK steam fairs and rallies, demonstrations of road building using the old techniques, tools and machines are re-enacted by 'Road Gangs' in authentic dress; steam rollers feature prominently in these demonstrations. The annual Great Dorset Steam Fair
Great Dorset Steam Fair
The Great Dorset Steam Fair is an annual show featuring steam-powered vehicles and machinery. It now covers and runs for five days from the Wednesday after the UK August bank holiday...

 has a section dedicated to road-making machinery, including a line-up of working steam rollers.

Popular culture

British steeplejack
Steeplejack
A steeplejack is a craftsman who scales buildings, chimneys and church steeples to carry out repairs or maintenance.Britain's most famous steeplejack was Fred Dibnah, who became a television presenter and minor celebrity as a result of his craft....

 and engineering enthusiast Fred Dibnah
Fred Dibnah
Frederick "Fred" Dibnah MBE , born in Bolton, was an English steeplejack and eccentric with a keen interest in mechanical engineering who became a cult television personality....

 was known as a National Institution in Great Britain for the conservation of steam rollers and traction engines. The first engine he restored to working order was an Aveling & Porter steam roller, registration no. DM3079. Built in 1912, it was a 10 ton slide-valve, single-cylinder, 4-shaft, road roller. Originally named "Allison", after his first wife, Fred renamed the engine "Betsy" (his mother's name) following his divorce – Fred's view being "wives may change but your mother remains your mother!" This roller was featured in many of Fred's early television programmes. It may still be seen at steam rallies in Britain and was in steam at the Great Dorset Steam Fair
Great Dorset Steam Fair
The Great Dorset Steam Fair is an annual show featuring steam-powered vehicles and machinery. It now covers and runs for five days from the Wednesday after the UK August bank holiday...

 in 2011.

Film

Unlike the often-lethal movie roles by their diesel-powered equivalents, the film appearances by steam rollers are relatively benign:

A steam roller was part of the supporting cast in the 1953 British film, The Titfield Thunderbolt
The Titfield Thunderbolt
The Titfield Thunderbolt is a 1953 British comedy film about a group of villagers trying to prevent British Railways from closing the fictional Titfield branch line. The film was written by T.E.B...

which encountered a GWR
Great Western Railway
The Great Western Railway was a British railway company that linked London with the south-west and west of England and most of Wales. It was founded in 1833, received its enabling Act of Parliament in 1835 and ran its first trains in 1838...

 tank locomotive in the film. In the 1971 film Dad's Army
Dad's Army (film)
Dad's Army is a 1971 feature film based on the BBC television sitcom Dad's Army. Directed by Norman Cohen, it was filmed between series three and four and was based upon material from the early episodes of the television series...

, the Walmington-on-Sea platoon are sent on an exercise for Home Guard training. On the way, an incident that disables Jones's van results in Capt. Mainwaring commandeering a passing steam roller to tow the van to the exercise. Unfortunately, on arrival at the training camp, Mainwaring and Jones discover that neither knows how to stop the roller, and they end up flattening their tents and equipment.

On television, both Dad's Army
Dad's Army
Dad's Army is a British sitcom about the Home Guard during the Second World War. It was written by Jimmy Perry and David Croft and broadcast on BBC television between 1968 and 1977. The series ran for 9 series and 80 episodes in total, plus a radio series, a feature film and a stage show...

 and 'Allo 'Allo have used an out-of-control steamroller for comedy.

Literature

Several characters in children's popular fiction have been based on steam rollers. George the Steamroller appears in the Rev W. Awdry's Railway Series
The Railway Series
The Railway Series is a set of story books about a railway system located on the fictional Island of Sodor. There are 42 books in the series, the first being published in 1945. Twenty-six were written by the Rev. W. Awdry, up to 1972. A further 16 were written by his son, Christopher Awdry; 14...

 books and also in the derived television series, Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends
Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends
Thomas and Friends is a British children's television series, first broadcast on the ITV network in September 1984. Until 2003, it was named Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends. This series was shot on 35mm film...

. A member of "The Pack", Buster the Steamroller, has also appeared in the TV series.

Roley is one of the main vehicle characters in the children's books and television series, Bob the Builder
Bob the Builder
Bob the Builder is a British children's animated television show created by Keith Chapman. In the original series Bob appears as a building contractor specialising in masonry in a stop motion animated programme with his colleague Wendy, various neighbours and friends, and their gang of...

. He is a green roller with a cab, enclosed power unit and no chimney, and so is obviously diesel-powered – nevertheless, his official title is Roley the Steamroller. This is an example of how use of the term "steam roller", to describe a modern road roller, still persists in the English language.

Music

Steam rollers have had an influence on popular music, for example, the group Buffalo Springfield
Buffalo Springfield
Buffalo Springfield is a North American folk rock band renown both for its music and as a springboard for the careers of Neil Young, Stephen Stills, Richie Furay and Jim Messina. Among the first wave of North American bands to become popular in the wake of the British invasion, the group combined...

 named themselves after (the manufacturer of) a steam roller parked outside the house. The song Steamroller Blues
Steamroller Blues
"Steamroller Blues", often labelled just "Steamroller", is a song written by James Taylor, that first appeared on his 1970 breakthrough album Sweet Baby James. The song title comes from the first line: "I'm a steamroller baby, I'm bound to roll all over you..."...

was written and performed by James Taylor
James Taylor
James Vernon Taylor is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. A five-time Grammy Award winner, Taylor was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2000....

 in 1970 and subsequently became a favourite of live concerts by Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley
Elvis Aaron Presley was one of the most popular American singers of the 20th century. A cultural icon, he is widely known by the single name Elvis. He is often referred to as the "King of Rock and Roll" or simply "the King"....

.

See also

  • History of steam road vehicles
    History of steam road vehicles
    The history of steam road vehicles describes the development of vehicles powered by a steam engine for use on land and independent of rails; whether for conventional road use, such as the steam car and steam waggon, or for agricultural or heavy haulage work, such as the traction engine.The first...

  • Traction engine
    Traction engine
    A traction engine is a self-propelled steam engine used to move heavy loads on roads, plough ground or to provide power at a chosen location. The name derives from the Latin tractus, meaning 'drawn', since the prime function of any traction engine is to draw a load behind it...

  • Roller (agricultural tool)
    Roller (agricultural tool)
    The roller is an agricultural tool used for flattening land or breaking up large clumps of soil, especially after ploughing. Typically, rollers are pulled by tractors or, prior to mechanisation, a team of animals such as horses or oxen....

     – for farm rollers
  • Roller (disambiguation)
    Roller (disambiguation)
    Roller may mean:In biology:* Roller, family of brightly coloured near passerine birds in the genera Coracias and Eurystomus* Roller , varieties of domestic pigeons that tumble or roll in flight.In industry:...

     – for other types of roller
  • List of steam energy topics
  • Paddys motorbike – nickname for another type of compaction vehicle.
  • Thomas Green & Son
    Thomas Green & Son
    Thomas Green & Son, Ltd. were engineers who manufactured a wide range of products at the Smithfield Foundry, Leeds, United Kingdom.- Introduction :Thomas Green came to Leeds from Carlton-on-Trent near Newark and founded the company in 1835...

    builders of steam rollers, but better known for motor rollers.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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