The National Traction Engine Trust

Fowler Z1 ploughing engine 5873 has featured in previous posts. Around 1912 it was modified with the removal of the winding drum and the drive from the crankshaft.

 It appears the wheels were also removed and altered to Dreadnought Wheels, the invention of Frank Bottrill. These wheels resemble those developed by James Boydell in the 1850’s but were much smaller with a double row of ‘feet’ for each wheel attached by cables. Bottrill carried out many experiments in Australia with both steam and i/c engines. Fowlers took up his ideas, possibly influenced by the modifications to 5873. Fowlers fitted a R3 road loco with what they now called Botrail wheels and in 1913 carried out tests on Redcar Sands in North Yorkshire.

 Once work on 5873 was completed it was used for clearing scrub so settlers could cultivate the land. A big log was attached to the front of the engine similar to a bulldozer blade and three 6ft diameter steel or iron rollers were hauled through the scrub. It was claimed the engine could flatten strips of scrub 20 metres wide and 3 kilometre long per hour! The working day usually started at 4 am and finished at 9 pm so vast acreages must have been cleared in a short space of time

13 Nov 2010