Road Rollers

A Book Review

Wallis & Stevens Simplicity roller

Wallis & Stevens Simplicity roller, built 1929. 3 NHP, No. 7981.

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'Oron,' 11 Avenue Road Chelmsford, CM2 9TY England

Steam rollers first appeared in 1865 and were a familiar sight in Britain for over 100 years. They were joined thirty or so years later by motor rollers, and both are now the objects of affection and nostalgia by very many collectors.

It is not often that a new book devoted solely to road rollers be comes available, and therefore, when it happens it is eagerly acquired by enthusiasts.

Such a book, entitled Road Rollers, has recently been published, written by Derek Rayner, Archivist of the Road Roller Association of Great Britain. Derek is the author of a book on the life and work of Thomas Aveling (the father of the steam roller) and he is an authority on rollers, propelled either by steam or the internal combustion engine.

Although only a small book, there is a terrific amount of information packed into Road Rollers, supplemented by over forty photographs and illustrations. A chapter, 'Pioneering Developments,' takes the reader from the first steam roller, built in 1863, through many of the various changes evolved by different manufacturers, on to the advent, in the late 1890s, of the motor roller. The chapter also gives reasons why internal combustion engines were gradually preferred to steam power.

In a separate chapter on motor rollers, mention is made of the two distinct lines of initial thought as to what form the development might take: whether to have the single-cylinder slow running engine, or a multi-cylinder high speed engine.

Road making and road makers are discussed, with photographs of different types of rollers at work on traditional tarring, chipping, and patching of roads.

Many interesting rollers are de scribed and illustrated under 'Unconventional Rollers,' including two powered by humans. One, built in 1889, had a crew of two who traveled on it, turning a wheel or crank handle, which through a series of gears propelled the 5 ton machine along, albeit very slowly. The other, made in 1912 by a Mr. Robinson, was operated by pedal power, and an illustration shows the inventor sitting over the rear roll as he steered it over his lawn.

Finally, a list of over 100 roller manufacturers is given, which includes a dozen or so American and Canadian firms.

The post free price is 1.95 (one pound 95 pence), which can be paid by U.S. dollar cheque or by sending details of a Visa or MasterCard to Shire Publications Ltd., Cromwell House, Church St., Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire, Eng., HP17 9AJ (Phone UK 084444301).