Farm Collector

Road Rollers

‘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

  • Published on Jan 1, 1993
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