History how the Tunnel Boring Machine Was Born

By  | 

A Tunnel Boring Machine is used to excavate tunnels.  The machine typically uses a circular cross section and makes its way through a wide variety of soil and rock strata.  Tunnel Boring Machines can also be utilized for micro-tunneling and can typically cut through anything from hard rock to sand.  This machines are used in the stead of methods like drilling and blasting.  Tunnel Boring Machines also create the advantage of limited disturbance done to the surrounding ground while at the same time still producing a smooth tunnel wall.

Tunnel Boring Machine-inside

The biggest disadvantage of the Tunnel Boring Machine is the price, however modern Tunnel Boring Machines typically cost less than drilling or blasting in the long run because Tunnel Boring Machines result in more efficient work completed in a shorter amount of time.  Where did these machines, which can cut literally through the walls of the Earth, come from?

Sir Marc Isambad Brunel created the first tunneling shield in 1825 in order to excavate the Thames Tunnel.  This, however, was only the beginning.  The invention only consisted of the concept of a shield and did include the entire tunnel boring machine.  Workers still had to use standard excavation methods for the dig.

The first boring machine that we know about, that is the first reported and recorded and that we can prove, is said to have been Henri-Joseph Maus’s Mountain Slicer.  This machine was commissioned in 1845 by the then King of Sardinia in order to excavate the Frejus Rail tunnel running through the Alps between both France and Italy.

It was built in 1846 and manufacturing took place in an arms factory located near Turin.  The machine consisted of over one hundred percussion drills that were mounted in the front of a large machine.  The machine was powered mechanically from the entrance of the tunnel.

Funding was affected in large part by the Revolutions that took place in 1848; which caused ten years to creep by before the tunnel was completed.  In order to finish the dig, workers had to use less expensive methods such as utilizing pneumatic drills.

The first boring machine in the United States of America was used in 1853. It was used during the construction of what is known as the Hoosac Tunnel.  The machine was made of cast iron and was invented by Charles Wilson.  It became known as Wilson’s Patented Stone-Cutting Machine.  The machine only made it into ten feet of rock before it broke down, but the fact it worked for ten fight was a success.

The Hoosac Tunnel twenty years to complete, using less innovative methods.  Wilson’s Machine was more of a forward glance at modern Tunnel Boring Machines than Maus’s.  This is because it utilized cutting discs that were attached to the rotating head of the machine.  The machine relied on simple metal wheels to apply high pressure that fractured the rock in order to remove rock.

In 1853, Ebenezer Talbot patented a Tunnel Boring Machine.  His machine utilized Wilson’s idea of the cutting discs; except Talbot mounted the discs on rotating arms mounted atop a rotating plate.  John D. Brunton of England built a machine that utilized cutting discs mounted eccentrically on rotating plates in the 1870s.

The cutting discs were mounted on rotating place so that the cutting discs could travel over almost all the rock face that the workers were trying to be removed.

Up until this point, no Tunnel Boring Machine had ever made it a substantial distance.  The first Tunnel Boring Machine to manage this feat was invented in 1863 and further improved in 1875 by a British Army Officer known as Major Frederick Edward Blackett Beaumont.

Major Thomas English further improved the machine in 1880.  This machine was used in the construction of a tunnel that would run under the English Channel and the British Parliament.  The cutting head of this machine consisted of a conical drill bit that was located in front of a pair of opposing arms with cutting discs mounted to them.

The machine tunneled on from June 1882 until March of 1883 without breaking down.  However, the project was abandoned in 1883 due to British military fears of invasion through the tunnels.  In 1883, this machine was used to create a railway ventilation tunnel that ran between Birkenhead and Liverpool in England.

Inventors continued to design, construct, and test Tunnel Boring Machines throughout both the 19th and 18th centuries.  Some Tunnel Boring Machines used rotatingdrills or hammers, while others consisted of rotating drums with metal tins located on the outer surface of the machine.  Some machines had a rotating circular plate that was completely covered with teeth, and others used revolving belts that were covered with metal teeth.

Tunnel Boring Machines were proposed that would resemble, in both appearance and make, giant hole slows.  All of these Tunnel Boring Machines ended up being too expensive or unable to complete the daunting task of excavating rock.  This lead to the decline of interest in developing a successful Tunnel Boring Machine.  Tunnel Boring Machine development rocked on, however, in places consisting of softer rock.

Most modern models of the Tunnel Boring Machine consist of a rotating cutting wheel that is named the cutter head.  After this comes a main bearing and a thrust system.  Trailing support mechanisms are also in place on the mode.  There are different types of Tunnel Boring Machines available, and what you need depends on the geology of your particular project.

I am very comfortable with myself to live with the world around. I have my point of view and I would like others to know that too.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login