Bucyrus Erie BE1150
The largest preserved walking dragline excavator in Western Europe.
Dragline excavators are among the largest mobile machines in the world, the real life equivilent of giant Gundam robots. Essentially a giant scoop, the operators drag (hence the drag-line) the bucket along the surface and then pick it up and dump it elsewhere
These massive machines were also made to move. Because of their immense weight, treads could not be used as they couldn’t handle the pressure. Instead giant “feet” are attached and the mechanical monsters “walk” from one location to another.
Oddball, so named because it ran on an unusual voltage and made strange noises, is a US-made Bucyrus Erie 1150, and worked the open cast coal mine at St Aidan’s, Swillington, near Leeds, until 1983. This 1200 ton machine walked, backwards, at up to a blazing maximum speed of 0.2 miles per hour.While most dragline excavators are dismantled after being retired, this one was saved by the Friends of St. Aidan’s BE1150 Dragline and turned in to a local attraction. Unfortunately the machine cannot currently be operated due to the lack of a suitable power source and the theft of some parts when it was first decommissioned. Admission free on a limited number of open days per year. See http://www.iarecordings.org/dragline/ for details. Well worth a visit for adults and kids alike.
Know Before You Go
St.Aidan's opencast coal site, Swillington, Leeds. (Signposted)
Postcode LS26 8AL - Grid Ref. SE 398 287
The preservation of the Dragline is a memorial or “landmark” recognising the achievements of opencast mine workers or “Sunshine Miners” who worked alongside their deepmine colleagues to produce coal when it was needed.
The site on which the machine (or “Oddball”, as it has been called by its maintainers over the years although “she” was originally christened “Clinchfield” ) stands has been conveyed by UK Coal to Leeds City Council who will use funds from the Trust to help maintain the site and the machine.
The land is now leased by the RSPB and turned into a Nature reserve and Country Park
As you can see it was a very dull and wet morning but it did fine up later. Hope this is of interest to some people. and I can recomend a visit and look round when it is next an open day, You get a guided and very informative tour of the machine it's self, the kids love it, plus lots of pictures of it in working progress and a working model showing how it was used.
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