News: Changes in Methods & Machinery
Contact: Tiffiney Hill


Thirty rods of the road by John Speich’s farm used to be a corduroy of Pine logs laid crosswise to travel on and were for many years. About 1887 the Town decided to Turnpike that piece and I took the job. With a yoke of oxen we waded the mud and slush, hauled the logs out and piled them at the side here they lay for several years and then burned. By using a hand scraper (slusher) we dragged that mud into the center of the roadway, made ditches to drain the water off, and time it became hard enough to be traveled on.

Ten years later, I think in October 1897, I took a job to Turnpike a piece on the Town line between Warner and Eaton. The town furnished an up-to-date road grader on wheels, with all the latest improvements. The operator rode on a platform at the rear. There were hand wheels in geared rods, one to raise and lower each end of the blade, one to swing the blade to different angles, one to adjust the perpendicular position of the blade, one to move the frame to either end of the rear axle. Yes, it was a great machine.

I used 8 horses on it, tow strings of four abreast, one on the pole and one on the lead. It usually took four men and a boy to drive such a team and I drove them all myself. I was real proud of my ability to handle such a team on such rough ground. It was full of deep stump holes where big pine stumps had been taken out. It was so rough that Fred Schwarze who rode the rear was thrown off several times, but we made a road and it is now part of County Trunk G, 2 miles west of Greenwood. I presume that the grader weighed about 1,800 pounds and cost $300.

Now in 1937, we see Mr. McChuda’s more improved Admas Grader, weighing about 6,000 pounds and costs $2,200 drawn by a ten ton Allis Chalmers Caterpillar Tractor that can cut deeper and move more dirt in one trip than that old one could in 3 or 10 trips.

This new grader is almost automatic in operation. A small gas engine at the operators’ feet controls all the adjustments. Just by touching a small hand or foot lever the blade is set at any height or angle and even guides it to the right or left of the power that draws it. The blade can be set at any angle to cut the slope of the bank or ditch.

Four pneumatic rubber tires costing $70 each, about the cost of the old machine. (The 8 horses could just about haul the empty grader.)

The caterpillar they use is 70 h.p., shod with steel belts that give it perfect traction. But I do not believe it could have followed the oxen through that mud at John Speichs place. It would have sunk out of sight. Now it does travel over that dirt we piled up and it has piled more on top of it to a fine high grade and next year I expect to see it covered with paving. Quite some changed in 50 years.

Chas. A Varney



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