MACHINERY AS SUBSTITUTE FOR LABORERS IN TRENCH DIGGING
The acute labor troubles experienced by contractors, due to the unprecedented demand for common labor, has resulted in adapting various contractors’ equipment to the laying of water mains. At Canton, Ohio, for instance, Superintendent L. B. Ohlinger has notified the city that water main extensions will be at a standstill if laborers are to be depended upon. At present in that city laborers are paid 35 cents an hour, but even then new men cannot be secured and the old employees are quitting. At Peoria, Ill., too, the same condition arose. The city was urgent in its demand that the Peoria Water Works Company make certain extension of mains within a limited period. Finding it impossible to secure laborers, the company purchased a trenching machine and put it to work. The company laid 600 feet of mains the first day. The machine enables the company to lay as much as 800 feet a day and will take the place ol 30 or 40 men. It can be used even after the ground has frozen. Not only have ditching machines alone b-en employed, but also equipment for back filling, lowering pipe, and removing dirt.
A Wisconsin contractor, according to “Popular Mechanics,” has devised an equipment for use in deep excavating which enables men digging ditches to fill them in as last as they excavate and lay the piping, without handling the dirt a second time. The equipment consists of a set of three wooden horses, 8 feet high and 8 feet long, mounted on wheels. These are placed across the ditch being excavated and support a 50-foot suspended track. Attached to the foremost the three horses is a windlass by which bucket of Pi-yard capacity, suspended from a carriage resembling that used with a hay fork, is raised and lowered at any point along the track. When brought to the surface a loaded bucket runs to the rear end of the track and is emptied into the ditch for back filling. The gang of men shown in the illustrations was able to excavate and back fill at the rate of a cubic yard in five minutes. As the diggers moved forward the horses were rolled forward also. Thus practically no time was lost in shifting machinery.
Back Filling Machine.
A trench filling machine which is now being employed by water departments enables one or two men to do work which only a large gang of men could perform in equal time shoveling by hand. It consists of a gasoline engine mounted on a low truck having broadtired wheels and operating a long derrick and a scraper. By means of cables the scraper is carried to the far side of a pile of dirt and then drawn through it. In this way the dirt is drawn into the ditch rapidly. Where fast work is desired, one man devotes his time to moving the filling machine forward, utilizing the gasoline engine to propel the truck by means of a chain drive, while a second man operates the scraper.
Near Wilmington, Del., a water system was installed on the Du Pont estate. Scarcity of labor threatened to tie up the work of back filling the trenches. The contractors, however, conceived the idea of employing a road grading machine, which proved most satisfactory. The grade was drawn by a caterpillar-type tractor. The scraper bar of the grader was about 8 feet in length and so set that the dirt easily passed from one end to the other. And the reversibility of the bar made it possible to._ deliver dirt to the trench no matter in which direction the machine was running.