Landscape (UK) - - History And Heritage -

The story of steam­rollers be­gins with the de­vel­op­ment of as­phalt as a road sur­face in the 1830s. To com­pact it, a heavy roller was needed. Initially, this was done by drag­ging such a roller be­hind a trac­tion en­gine. Thomas Avel­ing of the trac­tion en­gine man­u­fac­tur­ers Avel­ing and Porter is be­lieved to have been watch­ing this sys­tem in 1865. He no­ticed that the broad wheels of the en­gine were do­ing a bet­ter job than the roller it was pulling. As a re­sult, he de­cided to build a pow­ered roller. The main prob­lem was that early en­gines had dif­fi­cul­ties with steer­ing. At that time, the best so­lu­tion was to have a small wheel in front of the main en­gine, that could be eas­ily steered. This would not have worked on soft as­phalt, so in­stead he de­signed a new sys­tem. This was the chain ar­range­ment seen to­day on the Hur­leys’ en­gine. It was so suc­cess­ful that not only was it used for all fu­ture rollers, but for vir­tu­ally ev­ery other trac­tion en­gine as well.

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