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The Little Machine That Could…

Published June 27, 2024 by
Joe Kannapell
Joe Kannapell

An ingenious machine that is used in nearly every truss plant has been reborn 40 years after its introduction. It could fit in the back of a pickup truck, it sold for less than $5000, and it made an immediate impact. Yet, few would know the inventor, Donald Bowser, and know that his technology is powering a House of Design robotic floor machine today.

I first saw Bowser’s brand new Roll Splicer in 1984, when a salesman towed one into our truss plant for a demo. When he managed to churn out dozens of perfectly spliced chords in record time, we handed him a check and kept it. We never looked inside the guts of the machine to discover the mechanism that seated truss plates better than our vertical presses or our rollers, which Bowser’s patent described as follows:

“…employing two pairs of longitudinally spaced vertical axis semi-cylindrical rolls… with the engaging portion of the rear rollers timed slightly ahead of the lead rollers to drive the trailing end into positive abutting engagement before splicing takes place upon passing through the lead rollers.”

We know very little about Donald Bowser, only that he is from Barrie, Canada, about an hour north of Toronto, and that he apparently was a customer of Truswal, to whom he assigned his patent. He also invented two machines to manufacture metal web trusses, one of which was widely used in both Canada and the U.S.

After the Roll Splicer’s patent expired in 1999, others manufactured nearly identical machines, and they became the standard splicer of the truss industry. Then, not surprisingly, House of Design employed the same mechanics in their robotic truss machine, quite a complement to the genius of Mr. Bowser’s invention.

Simply stated, there is no better way to fully seat truss plates than the Bowser method.