Many people involved in our industry today may not have heard of American manufacturer, Insley. They are one of the hundreds of old companies that have come and gone over the years, just like our long gone, but not forgotten, British excavator manufacturers, Hymac & Priestman.
The machine in this classic John Laing’s site photo is one of Insleys Skimmer machines. As excavation machines go, these rope controlled excavators were about as basic as you could get! The bucket was attached to a “runner” system on the main boom, and as the name suggests it used to just skim along the surface to the end of the boom or until the bucket was full. Once full the boom would be lifted, and the bucket emptied by releasing a latch, whereby the floor of the bucket would open to allow the depositing of the excavated material.
I have not been able to find any video footage of an Insley skimmer in action, but I have found this clip of another long gone American manufacturer Keystone.
This may have been a Keystone model 4, which is a much earlier machine than the Insley model, but the video gives you an idea of the Skimmer principle. Not surprising really that by the 1950’s skimmers had become virtually obsolete, as newer and quicker excavating machines were becoming available.
As we all sit in our fully air conditioned, comfort cabs today, armed with all manner of digging modes and tools at our disposal, it’s hard to comprehend how those guys must of felt after a tough 12 hour shift on one of those machines, how lucky we are today!