In­ven­tor with cre­ative flair

Colum­boola’s Bill Ryall had knack for solv­ing prob­lems on the farm

Chinchilla News - - LIFE / LOCAL LEGENDS - Janette Jenyns

WHEN a young neigh­bour bogged his truck on a back road of his prop­erty, he headed straight for Bill Ryall’s shed.

“Get out that Go Devil of yours,” he called to Bill.

“Let’s see if it can get me out of this hole.”

And so Bill’s barely com­pleted con­trap­tion was given the name it was to be know by for the next 50 years.

Bill al­ways en­joyed man­u­fac­tur­ing tools and equip­ment, much like his grand­fa­ther be­fore him.

In his youth he built many labour-sav­ing de­vices for use on the fam­ily farm, Ken­tucky, at Colum­boola.

His grand­fa­ther, Wil­liam Ryall, had been a mas­ter black­smith and Bill in­her­ited not only his skills but his cre­ative flair.

It was a mat­ter of ne­ces­sity be­ing the mother of in­ven­tion when in the early 1950s Bill Ryall con­verted his 1942 short­wheel based Blitz truck into a grader.

It was a three-ton truck with a side valve Ford V8 en­gine, known as a “flat head” Ford.

Bill’s fa­ther Al­fred was still check­ing the 17 miles of bound­ary net­ting on a horse in those days, and Bill’s idea was to grade a track along the fence so a ve­hi­cle could be used in­stead.

His first at­tempt used a squared off log bolted to rail­way line.

Dragged be­hind the Blitz, it graded a track 10 foot wide.

It worked pretty well but, when­ever the grader blade hit a stump, it in­vari­ably speared into the net­ting fence.

Bill de­cided if there was enough power to pull the 10-foot blade, then there was enough to push one 8–9 foot wide. He stripped the body and cab from the Blitz truck, leav­ing only the chas­sis, axles and en­gine.

Arms piv­ot­ing from a king-pin on the back axles sup­ported the front blade, and a steel-framed canopy pro­tected the driver.

The blade was cable driven from a rear-mounted winch which op­er­ated through a small snap-over cen­tre clutch, fash­ioned from an army mo­tor­bike clutch with a “live drive” off the front of the en­gine.

Bill’s only tools for com­plet­ing the job were an oxy welder and an elec­tric welder. The steel for the blade was 5/16th check­er­plate, cut from the floor plate of an­other Blitz truck.

The Go Devil, as it was so aptly named, proved to be a ver­sa­tile ma­chine, so much so Bill used it for far more ap­pli­ca­tions than just grad­ing tracks through his heav­ily-tim­bered coun­try.

With the ad­di­tion of a half yard ca­pac­ity Tum­bling Tommy scoop, the Go Devil was ex­tremely use­ful for fil­ing pot­holes, mak­ing creek cross­ings and build­ing foun­da­tions for sheds.

The suc­cess of this ap­pli­ca­tion was mainly due to the ef­fi­ciency of the cable wind­ing mech­a­nism.

A rear-mounted el­e­vated snig pole pro­vided a high lift with 3/4 ton ca­pac­ity for snig­ging logs out of the forestry, and even­tu­ally a mid-mounted grader blade proved to be even more ef­fi­cient than the pre­vi­ous two, with left or right hand tilt to al­low the driver to crown the road.

All in all, this in­ge­nious ma­chine pro­vided Bill with more push­ing power than a Ford­son trac­tor and drove at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour.

Bill had ac­tu­ally bought very lit­tle in the build­ing of the Go Devil. His main pur­chase was a trans­fer case in good con­di­tion, which came from a Blitz truck found in a lo­cal clear­ing sale.

Although his first de­sign had proved to be ver­sa­tile and ef­fi­cient, the cost of petrol was a con­cern.

Go Devil 2 was built on sim­i­lar prin­ci­pals but was fit­ted with a P6 Perkins Diesel which made it fuel ef­fi­cient and gave more pulling power.

The build­ing of the Mark 2 added up to only a few weeks’ work and, for his trou­ble, Bill had a ma­chine with full hy­draulic power he could use to clear tracks through the tim­ber, as­sist in Cypress pine har­vest­ing, clear load­ing pads for tim­ber, and load tim­ber onto trucks and trail­ers with forks fit­ted to the front blade. Bill’s won­der­ful in­ven­tions now lie rust­ing in a pad­dock; their days of ser­vice be­hind them.

In their time they made life eas­ier for a hard-work­ing sawmiller and proved you are lim­ited only by your imag­i­na­tion.

❝ It was a mat­ter of ne­ces­sity be­ing the mother of in­ven­tion...


CLEVER CRAFTS­MAN: Bill on his first in­ven­tion, a grader with front blade and pro­tec­tion canopy.

Bill's Go-Devil 2 proved use­ful for load­ing tim­ber.

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