Road Burner

Midlothian Council is resurfacing the steep hill through Auchendinny, a village just south of Edinburgh. It’s causing minor chaos. These days they don’t burn off the surface, they use a mechanical planer (for the mechanically minded, the cutters were developed from mining and rock tunnelling technology – video here. Note: the vid is NOT of Auchendinny!). Not only do these planers cause less pollution than their gas- or oil-burning ancestors, they are also much safer. The fire-breathing versions had a tendency to set fire to things, unsurprising considering that the burner resembled an inverted blast-furnace aimed down at the road.

I used to be fascinated by those burners. I saw one stuck on a hill much steeper than the road through Auchendinny. The roadmen were more concerned with the vehicle being stuck than with the effect the burner was having on its surroundings. Not satisfied with merely melting the tarred road, the machine set then set fire to it. Dense black smoke billowed into the street, so dense that the machine’s operator was unable to reach the valves that controlled the fuel. Had the hill been in open countryside it might not have mattered. But it wasn’t. It was in a residential street lined with houses with small front gardens, their front doors quite close to the road. Have you ever used a blowlamp? I mean a real one, one of those pump-up things made of brass that burn paraffin and strip paint off doors. The noise they make and the heat they produce is awsome. This road burner was like a million of those and it stripped the paint from three front doors and several front windows that looked onto the street.

So, residents of Auchendinny. You think you have problems?

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