BLAW KNOX


One the paving road paving machines we used to make at Blaw Knox, or Babcock Construction Equipment as it was then known. When I came, the firm had developed an expanding screed, or paving element at the back called the 'Telescreed' which did not work nearly as well as it should have done.


It turned out nobody had ever discovered how the paving machines actually worked. In order to investigate this, I constructed a 0.75m width of paving screed towed by a second hand tractor I bought from a farmer near Dover. I then had several tons of simulated asphalt made up. The recipe was to mix gravel, sand, fine mineral powder and oil and produce a mix which would behave mechanically. like hot asphalt but which I could then scoop up and lay again. I found that the 'Telescreed' was exerting too high a ground bearing pressure to be supported by 'Hot rolled asphalt wearing course' a mixture only used in the UK as far as I know. We then solved the problem by applying a hydraulic lifting pressure to the screeds to reduce their effective weight. Following destruction of the business by the policies of the Thatcher government and the arrest and subsequent conviction of the directors of the holding company into which Babcock sold us, the business failed in stages and the factory is now a housing estate.


Something else I get involved with, but too late in the day to save it. This was a Muir Hill digging machine called the 'Earthmill' for strip mining and similar applications. Here it is digging over 1,000 tonnes per hour in a chalk pit, now the 'Blue Water' shopping centre in North Kent. It suffered from two typically British problems: a lack of money to perfect it and a total inability to sell it.

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