A Road Roller Duo

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Above: The black upholstered seat is original, as is the unit’s exterior gray paint. The roller was apparently never used. “When I bought the little roller in 1999, the oil on the dipstick was as clean as new,” says Chuck Shalks. “In fact, I believe it was new.”
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Below left: Chuck Shalks won’t sneak up on anyone while operating this vintage piece: The metal rollers make quite a racket going over asphalt and gravel!
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Left: Chuck Shalk’s unusual roller had long been forgotten in this old industrial building on Chicago’s south side.
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Left: One of Chuck’s rollers as “rediscovered” in 1999.

Chuck Shalks has acquired duplicates of a very
unusual piece of equipment: matching rollers equipped with
International U2 engines. The units are believed to have been
designed to roll foundations tight and flat before cinder blocks
were laid for streets and driveways.

Chuck, who lives in Lowell, Ind., discovered the pair by
accident. He was digging through an old building on the south side
of Chicago, looking for another piece of equipment, when he came
upon the road roller. Each was covered with debris accumulated over
many years in storage. The previous owner of the site told Chuck
that the rollers were manufactured in the 1940s at the Chicago
building where Chuck found them more than half a century later.

At the same site, he also found new crank handles, carburetors,
fans, manifolds, electrical parts and more, all related to the
rollers. He even found original manuals for the U2 engine. The real
prize, though, got away: “One thing that slipped away from me was a
new engine, in the crate, like the ones used in these rollers,” he
says. “A friend of mine purchased the engine before I could get
it.”

Gordon Rice of Rice Equipment Inc., Clarion, Pa., says Chuck’s
rollers could represent the end of a short line. “That building in
Chicago possibly was a small manufacturing facility, and this was
the last of the inventory of a small manufacturing enterprise,” he
says. “The International engines might have been purchased from
International Harvester and used in these custom-built rollers. IH
engines were used in hundreds of different projects, such as road
rollers, highway equipment of all kinds and special equipment
limited only by the inventor’s ability to adapt to the
situation.”

Gordon grew up surrounded by International Harvester. His father
was in business with IH for years, beginning in 1935; Gordon has
managed the dealership since 1954. He’s seen a lot over the years,
but Chuck’s rollers are new to him.

The roller Chuck shows is powered by a 4-cylinder, water-cooled
engine. The engine serial number is UAAM12279G; the IH serial
number is UAA-12590. The piece has a chain-drive transmission with
one forward and one reverse gear. It weighs about 3,000 pounds
(with rollers filled with water for added weight) and is 10 feet
long. The front roller consists of two pieces, each 16 inches wide,
with a 24-inch diameter; the rear roller is 32 inches wide (29-inch
diameter).

The front roller was constructed of two pieces to avoid scarfing
the ground while in operation. The outer section turns faster, thus
helping eliminate damage to the compressed surface. “Since they
were in such nice, original condition, I don’t know if I should
restore them or not,” Chuck says. “When I found the first unit, it
was terribly dusty and dirty, but it was in great mechanical shape.
Over the years, as I’ve taken it to shows, it’s put some visible
wear on the finish.”

The International engines might have been purchased from
International Harvester for use in these custom-built rollers. IH
engines were used in hundreds of different projects, such as road
rollers, highway equipment of all kinds and special equipment
limited only by the inventor’s ability to adapt to the
situation.

Chuck has exhibited the roller at several antique farm equipment
shows, hoping to learn more about the unusual piece. So far, he’s
struck out. If you know anything about this roller, get in touch
with him!

For more information: Chuck Shalks, Lowell, Ind.; (708)
250-5386
.

Bob Crowell, and his wife, Linda, represent Farm
Collector, Gas Engine Magazine
and Steam
Traction
, and visit several antique farm equipment shows
each summer. The Crowells may be reached at P.O. Box 103,
Batesville, IN 47006; (812) 934-4364; e-mail:
vintageequipmags@yahoo.com

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