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Putty Road


willedoo
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I was researching my father's WW2 service and came by this old newsreel of the construction of the Putty Road. It has some interesting footage of old cable blade dozers and scrapers from back in the day. My dad did recruit training at Cowra, then on to the 13/33 Battalion AIF at St. Ives, Sydney. In September 1944, they relocated to Singleton via a ten day march from St. Ives along the Putty Road, marching 147 miles. The original route was abandoned because Peat's ferry on the Hawkesbury had broken down. At that stage the 13/33 Battalion was operating as a holding battalion for young soldiers under the age of nineteen years.

 

 

Edited by willedoo
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“Pressure of war” seems the best way to get things done in thus country. Sobering to realise how few roads lead out of Sydney in those days.

 

The Putty was one of my favourite motorcycling roads- until I narrowly missed a dead wombat one night.

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Sixteen years ago, my brother and I took our dad on a trip down to the War Memorial at Canberra. On the way back, we drove the Putty Road. I always remembered him saying that when they were on the march back on the Sydney side of the Putty, they marched past an orange orchard. At the time, there were heaps of women there picking oranges. I forget what they call them, women's land army was it? The troops started giving the girls a bit of cheek and calling out to them to throw them an orange. My dad said they got pelted with oranges and everyone in the battalion got one. That would be a few hundred oranges.

 

In 2015, as we approached the Putty Road from the south, we drove past that same orange orchard; it was still there all those years later.

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This is a great film, and I love watching it. I didn't find it, until just recent times - and I actually spent years looking for it, thinking it was lost. This is because I have a large Britstand Machinery Co catalogue from 1941, which mentions this film.

The film was actually produced by Britstand, the British Standard Machinery Company, who operated from a huge factory in Sydney from 1923 to Oct 1959, when they were taken over by Clyde Industries.

 

The company was started in 1923 by a bloke with the surname of ... wait for it! .... Blackadder!! (shades of Rowan Atkinson here!). But Mr Blackadder was an exceptionally talented engineer and businessman, and he developed Britstand into a massive industrial manufacturing giant, that produced everything from horse-drawn road ploughs right through to motor graders.

 

Britstand built compressors, trailers (including semi-trailers, log jinkers and large low loaders), concrete mixers, dozer blades, root rakes, overloaders (front end loaders that pivoted over the rear of the tractor to unload), bitumen equipment, tool bars for farming, drawn (towed) scrapers (both rubber-tyred and steel-wheeled), scoops comprising of a massive range of sizes, cable control units for blades and loaders, road rollers and towed rollers, rippers, timber winches - and they held agencies for Aveling-Barford equipment, Aveling-Austin graders, Oliver-Cletrac, Shelvoke-Drewry forklifts, Coventry-Climax forklifts, Lansing-Bagnall haulage tractors and forklifts, Warsop jackhammers ("breakers"), Blue Streak chainsaws, Allam vibrators, and McCarthy rockdrills (Peter? - any relations of yours?)

 

Mr Blackadder would gain "licence to build" rights for many products - and the Britsand towed scrapers and the cable control units were built as copies of the American Heil brand. Britstand made a lot of money from acquiring the primary Australian agency for Oliver-Cletrac crawlers, and of course, Britstand built all the accessories and attachments for them!

In the film, you'll see no Caterpillars or Allis Chalmers or International tractors or equipment - it's all Oliver, Cletrac, or Britstand equipment.

BRITSTAND.jpg

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Willie - Yes, that's a Cletrac DD pulling a Britstand/Heil towed scraper. The Oliver and Cletrac tractors came in two track gauges, a narrow gauge and a wide gauge, for better stability on cross-slopes.

The wide gauge option was called the "Hillside" option, H was then added to the model name. So a wide gauge DD was called a DDH.

 

Oliver purchased the Cletrac company on October 31, 1944, and the merged companies structure was renamed the Oliver Corporation.

 

If the tractor was petrol powered, it was called a DG (G for "Gas", "D" for diesel). The "gas" engines were Waukesha (War-keh-shaw) and the diesel engines were Hercules.

It's impossible to buy any Hercules engine parts today (and has been that way for quite a number of years), so a lot of Olivers have been repowered with Perkins and other brands of engines.

I've even seen a Holden red motor powering a little Oliver orchard crawler!

 

Edited by onetrack
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I've only ever driven one cable blade and that was only for a few hours. It was an old D6B. I remember it wasn't very good on stumps when the blade would ride up over it. A lot more lift than hydraulic rams and much faster lift as well. I remember the steering clutches would almost hit me in the chest when I pulled on them. A bit of a learning curve after being on D7G's.

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My dad had an Oliver header which he bought new in the early 60's. Around 61 0r 62. It had a petrol engine, as did the Maple Leaf Chev. He bought the Chev new as well, after the war. It was his first vehicle and he used to drive it to the local dances. I think you could put about six ton on it.

 

 

IMG_0062.jpg

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I cut my teeth at age 16 on a HD-11 (110HP) Allis Chalmers with a cable blade and a LeTourneau model LS, towed "Carryall" scoop.

I levelled the Yealering (W.A.) town oval in October 1965 with that combination, it was one of my first jobs just out of school, and this combination was a great way to shift a lot of dirt in a very quick time.

The LeTourneau "Carryalls" were very well designed and they rolled the dirt in easily. This job was also quite enjoyable, because Lake Yealering adjoins the oval and it made for a very attractive worksite.

 

But steel cables are a right PIA - spikey, dirty, dangerous, extremely difficult to handle (particularly when you had to feed them through sheave blocks!), and they wore out fairly rapidly, even if well greased.

You had to replace cables at the point they started showing spikes from the outer wires wearing out (as compared to cranes, where you have to replace cables when only 10% of the outer wires are flattened).

 

The brother and I only kept the HD11 until Dec 1966 (the brother bought it in Sept 1964), when we traded it in, on a new Cat D6C. The old HD11 was extremely unreliable due to the brother being conned as to it's actual hours (supposed to be 4000 hrs, but actually more like 8000 hrs, we found out later - thanks to an electric hour meter that was easily disconnected!) - and the new D6C with hydraulic controls and powershift transmission was heaven after the old HD11.

 

The old LeTourneau Carryall languished in my possession for years, until, in a period of a very lean time, I had to sell her. The new owner converted her to hydraulics and fitted new wheels and tyres to her, as you can no longer get the special 16.00 x 20 balloon tyres it came with from the factory. The new owner then used her for a number of years, constructing Marron ponds around Donnybrook, W.A.

 

 

HD11-LeTOURNEAU-1.jpg

HD11-LeTOURNEAU.jpg

 

Edited by onetrack
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Cosmick, that's a Ruston-Bucyrus 10-RB fitted with the Face Shovel attachment. These RB machines were a product of a company formed from a Joint Venture between the English Ruston-Hornsby company, and the American Bucyrus company.

The 10-RB would have been powered originally by a 3 cylinder Ruston-Hornsby engine. No sign of it now, and all the cabin is gone, as well as many parts of the Face Shovel mechanism. I think the "10" referred to the machines operating weight in tons.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruston-Bucyrus#/media/File:Ruston-Bucyrus_10-RB.jpg

 

Here's a very complete and highly restorable dragline version from the Beaudesert Shire Council, that came up for auction sale in November 2021.

 

https://www.grays.com/lot/0001-7035022/earth-moving-and-mobile-plant/1950-s-ruston-bucyrus-10-rb-dragline

 

Here's a good video of the 10-RB's bigger brother, a 38-RB, operating with a Face Shovel attachment. As indicated, you operate into a "face" with the Face Shovel attachment, usually swinging around and loading trucks - or sometimes rail trucks, if they had laid a rail line to the material to be moved.

 

They're a right PIA to operate, you're working like a one-armed paper-hanger in a strong wind. They have multiple clutches, winches and gearboxes, and you need to be operating around three levers, plus foot pedals, at any one time. They make flying an aircraft look easy. The big old low-speed diesel engines usually just chug over at about 1000RPM (turn on your sound for the full pleasure effect :cheezy grin:).

 

 

Edited by onetrack
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Nev - Yeah, the bloke on the 38-RB is just playing around, shifting the material from one spot and dumping it a few metres away on the right. Obviously, just a "play session" so people can see a face shovel working.

Ideally, he'd be swinging 90 deg or more, and raising the bucket up to about 3-3.5 metres and dumping into a road truck or rail truck. Dumping accurately is a real skill, too.

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Cosmick, if it was being used by the British prior to the Japanese invasion, the machine was more than likely a civilian machine imported prior to WW2 by a local contractor or Govt/Semi-Govt authority.

The British military would almost certainly have not had machines like this in the East Indies prior to WW2 - nor even during WW2. 

 

Virtually all the earthmoving equipment in the East Indies and nearby islands, and the SW Pacific after January 1942, was supplied by the Americans.

However, some Australian earthmoving equipment was shipped into these regions prior to the Americans arrival - but most of that did not belong to the Australian military, it was commandeered from local councils and contractors, and sent up there.

There are some WW2 photos of the Australian military forces using Harman shovels in the likes of Borneo, similar to the 10-RB - but the Harmans were brought in by the Americans after 1942, and given to the Australians.

 

https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/089702

 

https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C82513

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  • 4 months later...

Just caught up with my big brother and shared some of these posts about Caterpillar and other earthmoving machinery in WWII. He tells me that one of those bulldozers, after it’s work during the Pacific War, was brought to my hometown and did stirling service in the local timber industry. Recently bought by his mate, we expect it will be spruced up like all his other historic machines!

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