Friday, September 26, 2008

Roots of Motive Power Steam Up #4: Steam Roller


This vehicle is one of my favorites at the annual Roots Steam Up: the Buffalo Springfield steam roller. As usual, I took so many pictures of it, it was hard to decide which to feature on the blog. Here, you can see the wood-fueled fire that heats the boiler, through the little air vent on the side. Go to my Overflow blog to see full views of this snazzy classic.

Even today, when I see pavement rollers flattening asphalt on roads, I call them steam rollers, although the modern ones have been powered by petroleum for decades. I hear even younger people use the term "to be steam-rolled" as a figure of speech, denoting being crushed under the will of another person or institution, especially in negotiations. I wonder if they even know about the original equipment? The current Wikipedia article takes a British look at the machines.

10 comments:

Wayne said...

I would have been there with bells on if I lived anywhere near Willits.

In all these years I never stopped to wonder where the band Buffalo Springfield lifted it's name but I guess I know now.

I couldn't name one of their hits if my life depended on it.

Thanks Elaine

Bibi said...

They'll always be steam rollers for me, too.

Looks like we both posted vehicles today!

Abraham Lincoln said...

Steam engines are always interesting to me too. This is the first steam powered roller I have seen and it looks like it came out of a museum and never saw much work.

When I was small, some farmers had their fields plowed with steam engines because they could pull four to eight 14-inch wide plows (or ploughs) and get the land plowed much faster than plowing by two horses.

Kym said...

I've never seen a steam powered roller before either. My dad used to operate a petroleum powered one though when I was a kid.

I like how you composed the picture with the rim touching each of the left corners.

Hilda said...

I took a look at the other photos and I think that it actually looks cute! We've always called them steam rollers too, and this is the first time I've seen one that actually uses steam.

That exhibit (?) looks and sounds very educational. I'm sure learning a lot from this series!

Ernie Branscomb said...

God I love old American Iron! I always used to call them steamrollers also, until I got tired of being corrected.

Knoxville Girl said...

I really like this one, especially the little vent with the fire - looks kind of like the radiation warning symbol.
Wayne, I can name one, for what its worth... ;-)

Jules said...

Yeah i say "steam-rolled into doing something" Always wanted to drive one of these -they're real neat!!!!

USelaine said...

Wayne - The story on the internet is that the band members saw one of these near the house they were staying in, and took the name. Stephen Stills and Neil Young were in the band. That's all I got!

Bibi - I still call them that too.

Abraham - I'm very surprised you didn't see these as a younger man! Maybe there wasn't much paving going on in your area. This one was carefully restored and repainted, but it's the real deal and had its days of labor. I think it's owned by the Willits Redwood Company, but is considered part of the Roots of Motive Power collection.

Kym - You should come down to Willits sometime, with your son, for the Steam Up. It's always the weekend after Labor Day.

Hilda - It is cute, and has been marvelously detailed. It's too bad it doesn't have a passenger seat!

Ernie - You should come down next year with Kym.

KG - You know, when I looked at the picture on my computer, I thought about the radiation symbol too! Maybe in the beginning, everyone recognized the image as a heat hazard or similar, from everyday equipment like this.

Jules - It looks like fun to drive, but then, you might end up steamrolling someone!

Thanks everyone!

Dina said...

Seeing the fire really brings home the idea of steam, hot, power, etc.
The steamroller views on your other blog are great too.
Abe's comment, plowing with steamrollers, who knew?!