Auto Roller celebrate 100 years: Auto-Roller – the world famous cricket roller is celebrating its 100 year anniversary, the first design finalised in 1921, manufactured and delivered all over the world ever since. An iconic design that still continues to be the choice of the world’s top groundsmen, from village cricket clubs to international grounds.
Auto-Roller began its life as a product of the Auto-Mower Company (of Norton St.Philip, Bath, Somerset) founded by G Grist in 1920 upon leaving the army in 1918.
Auto Roller celebrate 100 years
Back in the 1920’s the first Auto-Rollers were made from castings (supplied by Dennings of Chard) and bolted together, the design (finalised in 1921) has somewhat evolved since. The earliest Auto-Rollers can be identified by looking at the hand of the steering worm spur gears as these were used to get the steering to work the right way! The original engines were water cooled petrol engines, mainly JA Prestwich Engines.
A variety of rollers were manufactured for a number of applications, including hockey pitches, and as modified tractors rolling airfields.
Following on from this the Mower manufacturing rights were bought in 1946 by Ransome, Sims and Jefferies and the remainder of the business (including The Auto-Roller) was sold to TH White, Devizes in 1968.
At their time at TH White (Frome, Somerset) several types of engines were used; Briggs and Stratton petrol Engines or a Lister diesel Engines, eventually evolving to using a Kubota air cooled Engine (OC95) with just one fitted with power steering.
In 1995 Autoguide Equipment purchased the Auto-Roller Business from TH White thus keeping the Auto-Roller manufacturing and its history in Wiltshire. The traditions set by Auto Mower and followed by TH White are still being followed by us to this day.
The Auto-Rollers history with Autoguide from 1995:
- We have always manufactured the Auto-Rollers with power steering and hydrostatic transmission
- Due to some locations having a number of pitches some distance apart, we designed the roller to include a Twin Cylinder water cooled diesel engine, this made the journey that much faster.
- USB Socket has been added (for the modern world)
- The ECB guidelines for rolling pitches show that our standard rollers achieve the optimum mass/width factor for all pitch performance levels and we supply the Auto-Roller worldwide to Test Wickets as well as at County and Club level.
- All Auto-Rollers now use precision ball bearings, which keep power requirement and maintenance to a minimum. The rolls are fully machined from 20mm thick steel, ensuring perfect concentricity and allowing the optimum radius at the roll edges.
- Auto-Rollers as old as 1948 can have our repower kit fitted. This is effectively a ‘heart transplant’, giving them a new lease of life.
At Autoguide it is in our nature to always strive to look at ways we can improve design and engineering across all of our products. We have been working on concepts for our new ‘Green’ Auto-Roller which we endeavour to share with you soon!
Fully Hydrostatic Transmission
Up to 5mph Forward and Reverse
Tiltable steering wheel for best visibility
Liquid cooled low emission Kubota 2 cylinder diesel engine
Smooth, quiet operation
Pre-lubricated bearings on roller shafts and precision machined rolls
Perfect pitch preparation
Full hydrostatic transmission and power steering, fully contained and run on biodegradable oil
Simple, safe and easy use
Air-cooled low emission Hatz diesel engine
Smaller 3ft roll width, with no compromise to pitch preparation or ease of use
Cost effective option
Lower weight, with option of additional water ballast when in use
Towable by suitable commercial vehicles
Our Re-Power Kit – Bringing the more mature rollers back to life!
The Re-Power Kit is an Auto-Roller specific bolt-in kit to update your existing machine. Having removed the existing engine, transmission and steering linkage, the Re-Power Kit (Hatz Diesel 9hp) simply bolts in.
The Re-power Kit can be installed by your own workshop or local engineer. Alternatively we offer a fitting service at our Wiltshire factory with the option of a complete refurbishment with shotblasting and respray of the old Roller.
Auto-Rollers are exported to wickets all over the world. We have rollers on many of the Caribbean islands, In Bangladesh, and this year we shipped a gold one in our container shipment of Auto-Rollers to Australia!
There was a time when we shipped a roller to the Caribbean, bought through the foreign commonwealth office. We received a fax from the governor’s office explaining that the roller would stop after an hour’s use. We thought this could be due to the heat. It transpired that the back roll kept going round but the front roll stopped. After a series of fax exchanges we suggested that they jack up the rollers front rolls and put some grease in the grease nipples in the end of the roll shaft and roll the rolls. They hadn’t greased it for 18 months and the rolls had seized as they warmed up! That prompted us to change the design of the front rolls so they had lubricated for life ball bearings in them, which they still have to this day.
Auto-Roller travelling: a local college has multiple pitches of which are accessed via grass slopes. The brakes were notorious for not working, this called for a redesign on the brake (whilst the hydrostatic transmission would enable control of the roller on hills) if the engine stops and the transmission fails the brake was then able to stop the roller.
In Jamaica they had to postpone a test match as they were unable to get the ground even using a single roll, they decided to buy an AutoRoller to rectify the problem – the roller was air freighted to Jamaica to arrive in the soonest possible time and to this day it would have been the fastest travelling Auto-Roller!
We are proud that the Auto-Roller is the first choice of Test Cricket and were delighted that Edgbaston chose to have their new roller in gold and are the first ground in the UK to have received one. Gary Barwell is a pleasure to work with, we enjoyed meeting the fantastic grounds team who work incredibly hard to keep the grounds pitch perfect.
It was a privilege to able to retake a photo of the same member of the team 20 years on, first on Edgbaston’s blue roller (only recently refurbished) and then on their new gold roller 20 years later.
Edgbaston have been a long standing customer of ours and we love nothing more than to see our Auto-Rollers at home on the grounds.
As part of our centenary celebrations we are offering to paint our newly manufactured rollers in gold at no extra charge, as well as returning back to the original front plaque on all of our rollers. Due to the personality that evolves with the life of the Auto-Rollers each roller is now named.
There will be various competitions opening up on our twitter page (@autoroller) so please follow to keep up to date with the latest information.
There is a beauty in the heritage of our Auto-Rollers, we are very proud of the prestige and design that has evolved over the years. We hold a book of serial numbers dating back to the 1940s, some rollers are still continuing to roll with our re-power kits, bringing the more mature rollers back to life.
We are holding various competitions on our twitter page @autoroller to celebrate. And if a new roller – gold or green – is of interest please don’t hesitate to get in touch 01380 850885 – www.cricketroller.co.uk
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