The ever-adventuring Tom Scott paid a visit to Olds Engineering, a metalwork foundry in Maryborough, Australia. Within the walls of the foundry sits a remarkable self-feeding vertical elevator that lifts bulk materials with the motion of a giant rotating spiral. The vacuum tube around the spiral suppresses dust, which greatly limits the risk of explosion.
Peter Olds, the proprietor of the shop, told Scott that he came up with the idea in 2003 and ran with a power drill at first.
Nothing seemed suitable for the elevation of the sand up to the hopper over the top, over the machine, and I woke one morning, three o’clock in the morning, with this crazy idea and made a sketch of it and went back to bed and went to sleep. And the next day I came to work and I said, I had a thought about making this. Nah, that won’t work, they said and I said well, we’re going to try it. It was only a matter of days or a week and we had the first little machine operating. We drove it with an electric drill. We set about making a decent machine then and we put it in the foundry.