British engineer Edward T. Wright left his mark on the road roller industry in the United States.
Wright steam men, from left: Edward T., Frederick W. and patriarch Thomas.
Between 1891 and 1907, Edward T. Wright was granted eight patents related to steam road rollers. His inventions focused on simplicity in design, construction and use. Information on Wright is scarce, but Raymond Drake and Dr. Robert Rhode gave an overview of Wright in the Winter 2008 issue of Steam Traction magazine based on Wright family records: Edward T. Wright was born in 1865 in Lincolnshire, England, the oldest son of Thomas Wright. Thomas worked for Aveling & Porter, and it is thought that Thomas invented the split conical front roller during his time there. Edward worked as an apprentice engineer at Aveling before immigrating to Harrisburg, Pa., where the first American steam rollers were built, in 1889. By 1903, Edward was the superintendent of the American Road Roller Co. (also known as Wright Roller Co.) in Groton, Ct., which became the Monarch Road Roller Co. Edward went on to partner with Charles Longenecker to form Charles Longenecker & Co., which produced the Longenecker roller. In 1909, Edward formed a traffic signal business that prospered for decades. Edward T. Wright died in 1948 at the age of 83.
Patent 466,281: Steam road-roller, granted Dec. 29, 1891.
“The object of my invention is to simplify the constructions heretofore employed in steam-rollers of this character.” (The “constructions” included the fork for supporting the steering wheels, and the location of the supplemental tank and sprinkling device.) “To provide for the necessary movement of the front wheels … to change direction and properly guide or steer the roller, and at the same time permit said wheels to rise and fall at each end independent of the boiler and driving-wheel.”
Patent 518,982: Tender for road engines, granted May 1, 1894.
“The object of my invention is to provide a combined tender and foot-board, which shall provide an economical arrangement for fuel or water supply and at the same time afford the operator the greatest freedom in operation, consistent with said arrangement.”
Patent 524,628: Steam road roller, granted Aug. 14, 1894.
“My invention relates to improvements in steam road rollers, and the object of my invention is to provide a novel construction of the driving and supporting wheels by which the operation of compressing the materials over which the roller passes is improved, and a greater degree of compactness secured under varying circumstances.”
Patent 539,013: Brake for road engines, granted May 7, 1895.
“The object of my invention is to provide a brake device which is simple in its construction, effective in its operation, and of a construction and arrangement which can be applied to road engines of the ordinary type without any material change in their construction.”
Patent 628,977: Winding drum, granted July 18, 1899.
“My object is to construct a drum by means of which the rope or other connecting device used in drawing the said machinery can be evenly and readily wound about the said drum while the scraper, plow, or similar machine is being drawn by the traction-engine or other motive power, the mechanism being so constructed and arranged that the same is adjustable to any desired position in use.”
Patent 864,497: Road scarifier, granted Aug. 27, 1907.
(Patented with Charles Longenecker) “Our invention comprises improvements in road scarifiers.”
Patent 873,975: Road roller, granted Dec. 17, 1907.
(Patented with Charles Longenecker) “This invention comprises improvements in road roller construction … it relates particularly to improvements in the construction of the body portion of a road roller whereby the fuel box is extended forward in such a way as to enlarge the fuel box without encroaching upon the space on the foot board required by the engineer, and also enabling the engineer to enter upon the foot board from either side of the machine with equal facility.” FC
Read more about how Edward T. Wright influenced road rollers in Family Heirloom: The Kelly-Springfield Road Roller.