January 15, 1986
Memories of a few of the creations of H.B. (Barney) Oldfield, the most loyal friend a person could have.
In the 1930’s his creations were numerous and very cleverly conceived.
One of his early designs was the small farm tractor which employed a Ford truck, 2 speed ruckstel axle, a four cylinder auto engine, and an automotive front axle which was installed upside down for clearance.
A considerable number of these were built as others copied his design.
Another excellent creation was the small portable welder, mounted on a small single axle trailer and very easily towed.  These machines employed two or three starter-generator combination units which were used on the old four cylinder Dodge engines, modified to produce welding current and gave many years of trouble free service.
They were protected from the elements by a small streamlined metal body, neatly fitted around the unit.  While different engines were used, the unit built for our company made use of a small four cylinder engine made by the Every tractor company, for use in their small farm tractor.
The Copley Brothers, Frank & Norm were an innovative pair who operated through the thirties serving the public with a wide variety of equipment.
It occurred to them one day that there must be a better way to excavate basements for housing units than by horse and scraper, so they commissioned the Oldfield shop to design and construct an attachment with controls, to be fitted to an old crawler tractor.  This became the first machine to excavate basements for housing in Victoria, and a forerunner of the modern bulldozer.
This achievement was followed by a long association with the Copley Brothers whereby Barney built special equipment for almost anything imaginable in this field of endeavor.
Over the years, many special tools were designed to facilitate rebuild and repair of heavy equipment, on the job, in many cases with minimum disassembly.
In 1938 the idea of a tear drop design automobile was conceived and preparation began with the chassis, motor position, front and rear suspension, etc.  The result was a most brilliant achievement, surpassing, I believe, anything in today’s auto industry relating to weight and balance and tracture effort, except of course cars built for the race track.
The rolled aluminium body on which construction began in 1940 with completion in 1942 was also a masterpiece.
In the winter of 1946-47 the Victoria Flying Club had commercial operations at the then Patricia Bay Airport and the aviation bug bit many locals including Barney, who diligently applied himself to this new interest as he had to all his mechanical designs.
Not only did he excel in this field, but the knowledge he was able to impart to students studying mechanical, navigation and instrument flight courses was of tremendous benefit to the students and flying club, as well.
In 1948 our company was heavily involved in the sale of appliances, television etc. and as the signal from Seattle was not only beyond the visual horizon, but very low power, we decided to probe for reflected and diffracted signal and called on the Oldfield shop to make a telescopic mast to support an antenna, mounted on a small trailer.  This performed extremely well and found antenna positions for many customers until higher power stations were provided and the advent of cable vision.
About this time our company was able to take advantage of light tandem highway trucks that Barney had designed, some of these had been sold to Copley Brothers as well.  These performed extremely well and were operated until the major producers improved their products.
Toward the end of the 1940’s, only one firm in Victoria was in a position to offer customers the delivery of mixed concrete, and most concrete was mixed on site.  One other firm was washing aggregate for this purpose and others were becoming interested.
As we were contemplating entering the ready mixed concrete business, we called on Barney again to construct for us a barrel type aggregate washer, plus a number of screens etc. for this purpose.  He later built a much larger one for our Duncan facility.
Following our entry into the ready mixed concrete business in 1952, we found it difficult to deliver heavy loads over soft ground to housing sites and it was decided to build a one cubic yard dump bucket which would be mounted on a medium sized articulated four wheel drive log skidder.
A visit to the Garret Company, located in Enumclaw, Washington U.S.A. produced the skidder, and the dump box which would mount on hydraulic lift arms was designed on a serviette while having lunch.  This design was given to Barney and the first concrete buggy to operate on soft or rough terrain was developed.
This machine operated very well until the concrete pump was introduced to the market.
Our company had been engaged in logging for some thirty years and consideration had been given to the development of large four axle log haulers to improve long haul efficiency.
The first of these units was built in the Oldfield shop and was very successful, being the forerunner of three more larger units.
The larger units operated very well for our company with a capacity of two hundred and thirty tons pay load, when a four axle trailer was attached.
Unfortunately these units proved too large for most roads and bridges over which most long established companies operate.
Claude Butler