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The History of Heavy Equipment

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Every day, construction crews require the capabilities of the large, heavy vehicles that are referred to as heavy equipment, Used most often in earthmoving endeavors, these immense machines are commonplace today, so much so that people rarely consider their history. That neglect is unfortunate, for the lift a person sees at work on a construction site is only the most recent in a line of construction inventions that dates back thousands of years.

Ancient Origin

In the first century BCE, Marcus Vitruvius Pollio, more commonly known as simply Vitruvius was alive and at work in Ancient Rome. This architect and civil engineer, among other occupations, wrote De architectura, as a guide for building projects, which he dedicated to Caesar Augustus for his patronage. Long regarded as the first text on architectural theory, it includes the author?s descriptions of heavy equipment and cranes in use on Roman building projects.

Engine Technology

The history of heavy equipment is most easily broken down by the technology powering them. Most of their long history involved either men or animals moving them into place, only in the 19th century were portable steam-powered engines finally employed. Even with this new technology, in the early 20th century it was still possible to find horse-drawn models still in use. Soon, internal combustion engines took over, but they did not use gasoline at all. Kerosene and ethanol engines were also created to power heavy equipment before diesel engines came to dominate the field. Interestingly, one company from this time period remains as a relic of the past. Caterpillar Inc, an iconic name in the construction equipment industry, was created during this time but were called Holt Manufacturing Company.

Technology For Construction and War

The year 1901 saw the first commercial machine that employed a continuous track, the Lombard Steam Log Hauler. However, it was World War I that made this technology truly take hold. The tanks that were the source of fear for many ran on continuous tracks in order to move their great bulk. After the battles were over, the same invention could be widely found on commercial vehicles as well, such as bulldozers.
The lift, crane, and other machines that enable so much work to be done were vital to the building projects of many ages. Perhaps this knowledge will make the traffic caused by the work of the same lift and crane slightly easier to tolerate.

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