Traction Engines a brief introduction CLICK HERE

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The first self-mobile agricultural engine was built by Ransomes and May, Ipswich in 1842 A vertical boiler produced so little power it could only move itself. In 1849 an engine was built in Leeds which could move. If fitted with a governor, it could do stationary work. Working for Burrell’s of Thetford, James Boydell produced the first road haulage engines in 1854 (using “railway” wheels) which could handle loads up to 50 tons. In 1862 Thomas Aveling (of Aveling & Porter, Rochester, Kent) established the basic pattern for these machines. Traction engines were the only form of machine power for land or light industrial use but with limitations: range was limited by the amount of water carried – about 5 miles; driving downhill shifted the water level in the boiler exposing the firebox to potential overheating (whilst the driver was occupied – with no brakes – shutting off steam or throwing the engine into reverse whilst maintaining coal in the firebox). Their heyday was the first decade of the 20th Century when John Fowler of Leeds reached its record in 1912. The death knell for steam engines was sounded in 1917 when the Government invited Henry Ford to start manufacture of his standard paraffin tractor in the UK.

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