I read Simon Walker’s article on raiseboring (Speed and Safety: Raiseboring Provides the Solution, E&MJ April 2011, p. 32-36) with great interest. The article mentioned James Robbins, but neglected to mention my father Robert Cannon, the original designer and inventor of the Raise Boring Machine. The idea of the machine stemmed from a fire at the Homer-Wauseca mine in Michigan in 1962. Robert Cannon was calling on the mine at the time, in his capacity as mining sales manager for Dresser Industries that supplied bits for a drill at the mine. His idea was to weld a hole-opener, upside down to a drill pipe extended into the area of the fire and then ream back up, creating a hole 22 inches in diameter. This then allowed a large volume of sand to be poured on the fire to extinguish the fire.
When presented with the option of manufacturing a machine to create larger holes in underground mines, Dresser declined and gave permission to Robert Cannon to work with another company in the development of the machine. At the time, Doug Winberg, a childhood friend of Robert Cannon was the chief engineer of the Robbins Co.
The first machine was designed by Robert Cannon and Doug Winberg and manufactured by James Robbins. The first machine was delivered to the Homer-Wauseca mine in a little over four months from the initial design and is still working. The next six raise boring machines were purchased by the Bawden-Cannon Co., a contracting company that contracted for raise boring in mines throughout the U.S. and Canada.
Robert Cannon went on to design a number of other drilling machines including another mining staple, the down-the-hole hammer drill used for larger bore holes in underground mining.
Jim Cannon, International Marketing Consultants