1909 – “Iron Man” Walking Platform – Piercy (British)
New York Times 25 Aug 1910
LIKE AN IRON MAN
Legs Take It to Work on Land or Sea, Carrying Tons at a Load.
INVENTION HAS BEEN TRIED
One of Its Uses is to Give Landing Stages, Doing Away with Necessity of Building Piers.
Charles Guest Norris, a prominent English engineer, now stopping at the Engineers' Club in West Fortieth Street, has invented an " iron man " which walks with equal ease on land or in water, carrying on its back or shoulders dozens of tons of engines, sea dredges, steam shovels, rock breakers, diving bells, and anything else desirable for working purposes.
The "iron man," as it is called by Mr. Norris, because of its ability to "walk" to work in the morning and walk back the same evening if necessary, consists of two separate frameworks, one within the other. Each framework has four legs, or spuds, and though the two skeletons operate together so as to present a single level stage or platform from which work may be done, the two frameworks are so adjustable that one can move forward On the other. When walking Is to be done the legs of the inner frame are raised and the whole inner frame is sent forward as far as the play on the runners will permit. The legs are then let down, becoming the support of the entire stage, and the legs of the outer frame are lifted and advanced. This process can be kept up indefinitely and rapidly, with the result that the entire stage, with all on it. transports itself wherever it is desired.
Mr. Norris has so worked out his plan that his "Iron man" walks as well on uneven surfaces as on even. This is due to the fact that each leg is lifted or lowered by an individual winch, so that when the stage is used for work in the sea or rivers each leg can be sent down until it rests on firm bottom. while the platform itself stays as level as a floor.
Engineers here say the machine is novel In many respects, and Mr. Norris points out that twenty-one claims have just been allowed in the first United States application. The pending United States second application Is also about to be allowed. No objections to the claims have been made in Canada, and as further proof of the novelty of the invention it is said that the two equivalent German patents have also been practically allowed, only formal details remaining to be observed before the issue of the patents.
Mr. Norris is showing the "iron man" to engineers in his offices in the Engineering Society Building, and though in its first development it was invented two years ago, this is the first time it, or anything like it, engineers say, has been seen on this side of the Atlantic. It was first tried out at Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, the centre of the Scotch fishing industry, where it was used to remove 10,000 tons of granite from the harbor mouth to allow vessels to come in at any state of the tide. In this instance it walked out into water twenty or more feet in depth, and after the completion of the work of blasting and lifting the granite from the bottom of the harbor it walked back to land.
Since the model has been put on exhibition here prominent engineers have declared that it supplies a want long felt among construction workers. It is said to enable a great saving to be made in the cost of temporary staging or false- work for marine or river works, and to a considerable extent, also, can take the place of expensive floating plants required for carrying appliances used in such work. It just shoulders the appliances and walks out to where the work is to be done, even turning corners where necessary, and edging up to new work as fast as the old is completed. Though so mobile, Mr. Norris says it is perfectly rigid and safe under all conditions of weather, and is neither affected lay heavy waves, strong tidal or other currents, nor by the rise and fall of the tide. Blasting beneath it, or other disturbances seem to have no effect on it. This stability is accounted for in that when not "walking," it stands on all eight spuds, each contributing to the support of the stage.
Mr. Norris says there are but three stages in existence so far. They are at Peterhead, Dover, and Whitby, England. However, they have been tried, he says, and found thoroughly adaptable for dredging and excavating, boring, and blasting, rock breaking, diving bells, pile driving, breakwaters, piers, and lighthouses. raising wrecks, and in affording landing stages without the necessity of building piers.
Update June 2013: Although the above article attributes this walker to Charles Guest Norris, it appears to have been actually invented by another Brit, Robert Alwyn Arnold Stephen Piercy, as pointed out to me by Piercy's grandson.
Piercy's invention is titled "Staging or Support for Submarine boring, blasting, pile-driving, block-setting and Like Operations".
In searching a various patent databases, although I can find Norris as an inventor, his inventions were not related to the Staging Platform.
Here are the US patent numbers for this invention and its improved versions:
Patent number: US968975
Filing date: Feb 15, 1909
Issue date: Aug 30, 1910, 21 claims
Patent number: US1128039
Filing date: Nov 27, 1909
Issue date: Feb 9, 1915 , 8 claims
Patent number: US1127507
Filing date: Apr 10, 1912
Issue date: Feb 9, 1915 , 3 claims
As the article mentions a Canadian patent, here are the only ones I could find for Piercy and none for Norris:
Patent: CA 119490
English Title: SUPPORT FOR SUBMARINE BORING BLASTING, ETC.
Inventors (Country): PIERCY, ROBERT ALWYN ARNOLD STEPHEN (United Kingdom)
Owners (Country): PIERCY, ROBERT ALWYN ARNOLD STEPHEN (United Kingdom)
Filed Date: 1909-02-15
Patent: CA 144381
English Title: STAGING FOR SUBMARINE BORING, BLASTING, ETC.
Inventors (Country): PIERCY, ROBERT A.A.S. (United Kingdom)
Owners (Country): PIERCY, ROBERT A.A.S. (United Kingdom)
Filed Date: 1912-04-15
I feel that this confirms that Norris, but Piercy is the actual inventor of the "Iron Man". To date, it is not clear how or why Norris gets attributed in the above press article.
Washington Post 25 Feb 1912
HERE'S A WALKING MACHINE
At Whitby, in Yorkshire, may be seen an ingenious device specially designed for carrying out marine work. It is nothing less than a traveling stage, so devised that it can be made to walk out to its work and return to shore again when desired. It is now being used for the construction of concrete breakwaters, and is the invention of the engineers carrying out this work, Messrs W. Hill & Co. Like many other contrivances, it is absurdly simple, and the wonder is that the idea has never been conceived before. The machine has eight legs and feet, four of which are used at a time when in motion. There are two massive steel framework structures, one inside the other, the outer being square and the inner rectangular, the latter being somewhat smaller than the other. The legs, comprising stout members, which can be moved up and down verticatly for a considerable distance, are fitted at the corners of each stage and are polated at the lower end to secure a firm grip upon the rocky seabed.
The walking action is secured as follows: The outer frame has its front legs lowered until the spuds or feet secure a grip upon the seabed. The legs of the inner stage are then raised to clear all obstructions when the stage is moved forward the full extent of its travel, which brings it against the forward end of the outer stage, when its legs are lowered to the ground. The legs of the other stage are now elevated vertically so that the latter rests upon the former. The outer stage is now moved forward, until the inner stage is brought into contact with the rear end of the outer stage. The legs of the last named are then lowered, those of the inner stage raised, and the same cycle of operations is repeated. By this alternate movement of the inner and outer stages the machine proceeds to its work, and when the site of operations is at last gained the whole of the eight feet are caused to rest upon the seabed to hold the structure rigid. The "walking man" is quite a massive affair. The outer frame is 48 1-3 feet square, and it stands 33 feet high from the bottom of the spuds to the working deck level. The inner stage is 29 1-2 feet by 40 1-4 feet. The result is that the machine can make a forward stride of about 10 feet, while the inner stage can move sideways for about 3 feet. The feet are raised and lowered by screw gearing driven by electric motors. A complete movement forward can be effected in fifteen minutes.
It has been found that with this traveling stage work can be continued in the roughest weather. Indeed, it was heavy seas experienced at Peterhead that led to its invention. One is now working for the admiralty at Dover and has experienced some very heavy seas.