Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Greensboro Man Invents Road Machine That Will Take Place of 15 Workers, 1914

“Invents Road Machine” from the Aug. 13, 1914, issue of The High Point Review.

Greensboro—George W. Pritchett of this city is the inventor of a new road machine which is being given a try-out here. It is claimed for it that the machine will do the work of 15 to 20 men. It is designed to repair the surface of macadam roads and streets. It automatically places soil, gravel or crushed rock in the holes and then packs it be means of three small trip hammers, which are operated from the machine. Mr. Pritchett is a practical mechanic and believes that he has a good thing.


“A New Power Tamping Machine” from the Municipal Journal & Public Works, Volume 37. Click on the link to see a photograph of the machine which pictures someone, perhaps George Pritchett himself, at the controls.,+Greensboro,+NC&source=bl&ots=Zqp6Jg6hOy&sig=d0pJ2S9gXnCnye5d_0eUgD6BdZQ&hl=en&sa=X&ei=A9bgU8mbOc6kyASlwIDwAw&ved=0CCgQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=George%20W.%20Pritchett%2C%20Greensboro%2C%20NC&f=false

Three independent tamping heads are the principal feature of a new power tamping machine invented by George W. Pritchett, 805 Ashkow street, Greensboro, N.C. this allows tamping at various levels at the same time as, for instance, one head may be in a ditch while the other two may be tamping on the surface. Each head weighs 100 pounds and is lifted, vertically to any height up to 20 inches, and automatically dropped 30 times per minute. These heads are 8 inches in diameter and are carried on an auto truck which is either two-wheeled or four-wheeled, depending on the size of the machine. The control of operations is from the driver’s seat, which is about in the center of the truck, the tractor has a speed either forward or backward of three miles per hour. When the heads are four inches off the ground the machine may be regulated to move the width of the heads. It is claimed that this machine will damp dirt in ditches at any depth up to 10 feet, the machine traveling outside the ditch, and that for backfilling the tamper will take the place of 15 men.

For repairing macadam roads, sand-clay roads and streets, a load of material may be tied on to the machine and taken to the job. For tamping cobble stones, bricks, bases of sidewalks and other concrete work, trenches for conduit and pipe the machine should be effective.


If you find all of this interesting, the Greensboro Historical Museum has George Pritchett’s papers. George Pritchett, 1899-1937, “was an inventor, salesman, member of the Greensboro Fire Department and self-taught engineer…. Educated in the ‘district school’ until the age of 17, Pritchett quit school before graduating to work as a rodman for the Cape Fear and Yadkin Valley Railroad. He subsequently was engaged in various surveying and engineering projects over the next 14 years before becoming a salesman of mechanical equipment. In 1910 Pritchett was awarded a U.S. patent for the invention of a tamping mechanism, which was employed in a machine used for firmly and evenly pack materials onto roads and into ditches and holes. Shortly after receiving the patent, he incorporated the Universal Machine Company, which built and sold machines using his invention; it does not appear that this business evolved into a successful enterprise.” To read more about George Pritchett and to learn about the collection at the museum, go to

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