1958 Backhoe cables undergo a 7-year restoration process


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A post on an online forum appeared on the Historical Construction Equipment Association’s website, stating “Excavator unit for sale.” “It works fine.” “And that’s all it says,” Cliff Bridgeford recalls of the publication that came out about 20 years ago. “I didn’t really care about that.” Six months or so ago, Cliff was at a vintage motor show in Connecticut when a collector arrived with a 617 5/8-yard unit with a rear germanium attachment, also called a trencher, shovel or shovel. “I’ve always wanted one of these, since I was a kid,” Cliff told his friend Ed. Ed replied, “I know this guy who has two of them. I don’t have his name with me, but I’ll get back to you.” Cable shovels in the late 1950s were a common sight when they grew up in New Hampshire, before hydraulic equipment started to take over. He remembers getting a shovel from Unit 357 as a boy. “It came with a shell, lever hook, and lever,” he says. “And I ended up making all the different attachments with my mounting kit.” Unit shovels can trace their history back to Henry Ford’s brother William, who founded the Wilford Shovel Company in Detroit in 1925. It became the Universal Power Shovel Company in 1927. A year later, Universal was acquired by Universal. The shovel portion of the company was sold in 1937 and continued as Unit Crane & Shovel Corporation. Two units for the price of one A few months after Cliff spoke with Ed, Ed called back the unit owner’s phone number. When Cliff called, he learned that the machines had already been sold out. A few months later, he was at the HCEA forum when the unit’s rear bucket column showed up. After Cliff rejected the post, another person joined the forum. “You know,” the post read, “It would be a lot easier to sell your backhoe for your unit if you told us where the thing is.” The owner then responded with contact information, and several months later, Cliff was in New York taking a look at the machines. Turns out the same unit machines that his friend Ed had told him about were now with the owner in New York – a 1955 Unit 357 shovel and a 1958 Unit 614 bulldozer. Cliff recalls “So this was the guy who bought the machines from the guy Ed talked to, and he was really cool.” Somewhat”. The Unit 357 shovel will not start, but the Unit 614 rear shovel will start. “It wasn’t good at all,” Cliff says. The owner gave Cliff a reasonable price for the 614 bucket, but Cliff wasn’t sure about that. He really wanted the 357th unit shovel. He said he’d think about it, and began to leave, and the owner said, “Wait a minute.” “I’ll tell you what. If you really want the shovel, I’ll sell you both machines for the price of one.” Kanzan I “When the units were delivered to his home in Litchfield, New Hampshire, he focused on restoring Unit 614 backhoe, since it was still working. “I basically removed almost everything from the machine that I could lift,” he says. He overhauled the engine, a Detroit Diesel 2-71 2-cylinder, and made new control links and bushings. He fixed the clutches. Performed all welding, machining and mechanical repairs. He drew and painted it. He got it back over seven years, after work, on weekends and on holidays. “Not too bad to get one man back.” It debuted at the 2007 National Exhibition of the Historical Building Equipment Society at the Zagray Farm Museum in Connecticut. A working expert friend taught him how to operate it. 614 still reside in the museum, where Cliff puts it on three shows a year, Cliff Bridgeford brought back his 1958 backhoe himself over seven years, introduced by Cliff Bridgeford, and learning how to operate it took some time. He ran equipment as a teen for a residential contractor. He later graduated from the School of Diesel Engine Mechanics. He was drafted and worked as a mechanic in Vietnam during the war. After the war, he opened his own auto transmission business, which he ran for 45 years, and “I never lost my fondness for construction equipment,” he says, but has never operated cable machines. The Model 614 has a half-yard fixed-angle bucket. The machine weighs about 15 tons. A pull cable is used to pull the bucket for digging. The winch cable raises the boom and bucket. This is controlled by two clutches and brakes. The swingarm clutch is used to swing left and right, and “It’s a very fast and efficient machine,” says Cliff. “It’s actually faster than any 1958 hydraulic excavator.” Over the years, Cliff has learned to operate the 614 efficiently, but he does not consider himself an expert. “The hydraulic excavator is a lot easier to operate,” he says. “If you’re running a hydraulic excavator, and all of a sudden you get confused and let go of all your controls, the thing will stop right where it was. The bucket will stay in the air.” In the cable machine.” Cliff Bridgeford with his shovel 1955 Unit 357 at his home in New Hampshire. Submitted by Cliff Bridgeford


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