Interview: Chris Hale, the owner of the steamroller


Who made the steamroller?

The engine (No.7886) was built in 1926 by Wallis and Steevens of Basingstoke and sold to Portsmouth admiralty. It stayed there until 1950 before it was sold to a plant contractor for rolling the track down into a sandpit in Rogate.

How long have you owned the steamroller?

I purchased it in 2010. It was sitting in the sandpit in pieces since the 1960s.

Why do you like steamrollers?

I am interested in anything mechanical and how it works. A steam engine is just a fantastic display of mechanics in motion.

How long did it take you to restore it?

I rebuilt it over a year.

How many litres of water does it use up in a day?

It will use about 80 gallons of water to do 10 miles.

How many bags of coal does it use a day?

It will use about 1 tonne of coal to do 60 miles.

Have you done anything like this before?

Nope, I haven't intentionally ran over something.

What is the fastest speed it goes?

It will average about 5mph.

You said that you sometimes cook roast dinners – how does that work?

You can cook all sorts in the smoke box like a normal oven (before the heat goes up and out of the chimney).

Does it have gears?

Yes. Two – forwards and reverse.

Do you own any other vintage machines?

I have quite a few other vintage machines. I have a Marshall traction engine that I am restoring at the moment, a 1957 Latil timber tractor and a a 1940s Aec matador.

Help take the steamroller on a printing tour by supporting the Big Steam Print project on Art Happens.

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