Archive for the '"Robey Tri-tandem' Category


On a journey to London, soon after the war, I saw a strange steam roller working on a strip of the Westway. It was a Robey Tri-Tandem with three rolls of the same width, one behind each other. I stopped and had a few words with the driver. “It’s worth its weight in gold” he said, and from that moment I decided to make a smaller version of it for use on my tennis-court-sized and very uneven lawn. I would drive it by a small petrol engine and with water-fillable rolls it would weigh up to half a ton. I had visions of supplying the roller to cricked clubs, bowling clubs, tennis clubs – perhaps even Wimbledon!

I had some luck almost at once. A firm in Wycombe made a twin-roll roller powered by a Tecomsi 3hp engine, so all I had to do was to add another roll to it to get what I wanted. Then I had to consider the matter of steering it. It would be perfect for straight runs. The Wycombe twin-roll roller was easily turned by bearing down on the long controlling arm which raised the front roll clear of the ground. With 3 rolls and being a ride-on machine one does not have this option. So the extra roll would have to do the steering and be able to change its height as well. Compensated by a spring this made its operation easy by a simple lever. It was time to get it made. The ever-co-operative blacksmith in Lane End, Meakes, made just what I wanted and my tri-tandem roller was born. It performed well and I lent it to many friends, but the engine was its weak spot. I ought to have scrapped the Tecomsi and fitted a Honda. Finally the water-filled rolls rusted and the roller was scrapped. But it had lasted many years and was fun to drive. Final improvements would be a canopy over the driver to encourage him to use it when it was raining – ie under the best conditions for rolling, and a self-starter.

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