There are few neater things than being able to look back into the history of machines through old video. For instance, in this case we get to watch a Ruth Dredging and Trenching Machine in action doing what it was designed to do nd did really successfully for decades. This odd looking contraption was engineered to help farmers keep their irrigation ditches open and flowing freely. It was created on the west coast where silted waters from the Colorado River would gum up the irrigation ditches on large farms and cause headaches. There was no really great or efficient way to keep them flowing freely until this monster came along.
You will see one of the earlier examples of the machine in action at the start of the video. Incredibly the first one was made in 1906 and the design improved from there on out. The action you’ll catch with the later machine really shows the genius of the thing. A group of buckets on a constant loop are set into the drainage ditch and the speed of their rotation is perfectly matched to the tractor itself. As the tractor drives along the buckets are constantly removing material and deposition on the other side of the rig.
These things were the hot ticket for decades, selling successfully through the twenties and early 30s. The company changed hands in the late 1930s and then WWII showed up, basically bringing an end to the production of these monsters. The machines were not sold after WWII.
The most impressive stat is that by the end of their run, the 32hp machines could work at a top speed of 80ft per minute. While that is not exactly Usain Bolt sprinting level impressive, when you think about the manpower needed to do this job, just 80 feet of it in a day you start to see the genius in design and problem solving that this interesting unit delivered. Cool, right?