Thursday, October 1, 2015

Barber-Greene Ditching Machine

How many of these have you seen? For me not one until the 12th Annual F.A.P.A.N.C. Power Show back in May. Although It immediately grabbed my attention I had no idea how rare this 1951 model Barber-Greene Run About Ditching Machine owned by Max Miller of Conover, NC must be. You can usually find something posted on the web about almost anything but with the exception of a very brief video clip on you tube I've turned up zero about this machine.

There are a number of sites with histories of the company, an assortment of advertisements for used equipment, other types of ditching and excavating machines but nothing about the 51 Run About. If you can add some information about this machine or know of a source please leave a comment.

What I did learn is that the company was founded by Harry Barber and William Greene in 1916. While both were graduated from the University of Illinois with degrees in engineering, it was Barber who designed the equipment while Greene managed the sales and business aspects of their venture. Both men were employed by a company that produced material handling equipment and belt conveyors for factories when they decided to strike out on their own. Their plan was to apply the principles of mechanized production to jobs of a smaller scale. The first sale of the new firm was a belt conveyor for loading coal at a nearby coal yard. The second product they developed was a bucket loader for a cement company.

Since dirt is just another material to be moved it's not surprising that Barber-Greene developed a ditching machine for mounting on the back of a bucket loader in 1922. Hey, it's a conveyor belt mounting a bunch of little shovels.

During the 1930's Barber developed machinery for laying asphalt roads that made the company's fortune and became the foundation for the paving equipment that is in use today. Barber-Greene was well positioned to profit from the huge demand for roads and runways created by WW 2.

Barber's 1930 patent for a "machine for processing and laying roads" continued to serve the company well in the years following the war as America's love for the automobile continued to expand the demand for more roads and the machines to build them. The 50's and 60's proved to be very good years for Barber-Greene. The firm continued under the B-G mark until 1987 when it was acquired by Astec Industries, a major player in the paving industry. Astec sold it's interest in B-G to Caterpillar Inc. in 1991.

Monograph by Dr. Richard E. Hatwick for the American National Business Hall of Fame at

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