From what we know so far there are many theorys about which dredge is the one mencioned in Skeleton Creek, but first some info about dredges (tape starts rolling)
"Dragline excavation systems are heavy equipment used in civil engineering and surface mining. In civil engineering the smaller types are used for road and port construction. The larger types are used in strip-mining operations to move overburden above coal, and for tar-sand mining. Draglines are amongst the largest mobile equipment (not water-borne), and weigh in the vicinity of 2000 metric tonnes, though specimens weighing up to 13,000 metric tonnes have also been constructed.
A dragline bucket system consists of a large bucket which is suspended from a boom (a large truss-like structure) with wire ropes. The bucket is manoeuvred by means of a number of ropes and chains. The hoist rope, powered by large diesel or electric motors, supports the bucket and hoist-coupler assembly from the boom. The dragrope is used to draw the bucket assembly horizontally. By skillful manoeuvre of the hoist and the dragropes the bucket is controlled for various operations. A schematic of a large dragline bucket system is shown below.
The dragline was invented in 1904 by John W. Page of Page Schnable Contracting for use digging the Chicago Canal. In 1912 it became the Page Engineering Company, and a walking mechanism was developed a few years later, providing draglines with mobility. Page also invented the arched dragline bucket, a design still commonly used today by draglines from many other manufacturers, and in the 1960s pioneered an archless bucket design.
In 1910 Bucyrus International entered the dragline market with the purchase of manufacturing rights for the Heyworth-Newman dragline excavator. Their "Class 14" dragline was introduced in 1911 as the first crawler mounted dragline. In 1912 Bucyrus helped pioneer the use of electricity as a power source for large stripping shovels and draglines used in mining.
In 1914 Harnischfeger Corporation, (established as P&H Mining in 1884 by Alonzo Pawling and Henry Harnischfeger), introduced the world's first gasoline engine-powered dragline. An Italian company, Fiorentini, produced dragline excavators from 1919 licensed by Bucyrus.
In 1939 the Marion Steam Shovel Dredge Company (established in 1880) built its first walking dragline. The company changed its name to the Marion Power Shovel Company in 1946 and was acquired by Bucyrus in 1997. In 1988 Page was acquired by the Harnischfeger Corp., makers of the P&H line of shovels, draglines, and cranes.
In a typical cycle of excavation, the bucket is positioned above the material to be excavated. The bucket is then lowered and the dragrope is then drawn so that the bucket is dragged along the surface of the material. The bucket is then lifted by using the hoist rope. A swing operation is then performed to move the bucket to the place where the material is to be dumped. The dragrope is then released causing the bucket to tilt and empty. This is called a dump operation.
The bucket can also be 'thrown' by winding up to the jib and then releasing a clutch on the drag cable. This would then swing the bucket like a pendulum. Once the bucket had passed the vertical, the hoist cable would be released thus throwing the bucket. On smaller draglines, a skilled operator could make the bucket land about one-half the length of the jib further away than if it had just been dropped. On larger draglines, only a few extra metres may be reached.
Draglines have different cutting sequences. The first is the side cast method using offset benches; this involves throwing the overburden sideways onto blasted material to make a bench. The second is a key pass. This pass cuts a key at the toe of the new highwall and also shifts the bench further towards the low-wall. This may also require a chop pass if the wall is blocky. A chop pass involves the bucket being dropped down onto an angled highwall to scale the surface. The next sequence is the slowest operation, the blocks pass. However, this pass moves most of the material. It involves using the key to access to bottom of the material to lift it up to spoil or to an elevated bench level. The final cut if required is a pull back, pulling material back further to the low-wall side.
Dragline at the Curragh Coal MineA large dragline system used in the open pit mining industry costs approximately US$50-100 million. A typical bucket has a volume ranging from 30 to 60 cubic metres, though extremely large buckets have ranged up to 168 cubic metres. The length of the boom ranges from 45 to 100 metres. In a single cycle it can move up to 450 metric tonnes of material.
Most mining draglines are not diesel-powered like most other mining equipment. Their power consumption is so great that they have a direct connection to the high-voltage grid at voltages of between 6.6 to 22 kV. A typical dragline, with a 55 cubic metre bucket, can use up to 6 megawatts during normal digging operations. Because of this, many (possibly apocryphal) stories have been told about the blackout-causing effects of mining draglines. For instance, there is a long-lived story that, back in the 1970s, if all seven draglines at Peak Downs Mine (a very large BHP coal mine in central Queensland, Australia) turned simultaneously, they would black out all of North Queensland. However even now, if they have been shutdown they are always restarted one at a time due to the immense power requirements of startup.
In all but the smallest of draglines, movement is accomplished by "walking" using feet or pontoons, as caterpillar tracks place too much pressure on the ground, and have great difficulty under the immense weight of the dragline. Maximum speed is only at most a few metres per minute since the feet must be repositioned for each step. If travelling medium distances, (about 30-100 km), a special dragline carrier can be brought in to transport the dragline. Above this distance, disassembly is generally required. But mining draglines due to their reach can work a large area from one position and do not need to constantly move along the face like smaller machines.
The primary limitations of draglines are their boom height and boom length, which limits where the dragline can dump the waste material. Another primary limitation is their dig depth, which is limited by the length of rope the dragline can utilize. Inherent with their construction, a dragline is most efficient excavating material below the level of their base. While a dragline can dig above itself, it does so inefficiently and is not suitable to load piled up material (as a rope shovel can).
Despite their limitations, and their extremely high capital cost, draglines remain popular with many mines, due to their reliability, and extremely low waste removal cost.
The Walking Mechanism on a preserved Bucyrus-Erie 1150 dragline in the UKThe coal mining dragline known as Big Muskie, owned by the Central Ohio Coal Company (a division of American Electric Power), was the world's largest mobile earth-moving machine, weighing nearly 13,000 metric tons and standing nearly 22 stories tall. It operated in Guernsey County, in the U.S. state of Ohio from 1969 to 1991, and was powered by 13,800 volts of electricity. It was scrapped in 1999.
The British firm of Ransomes & Rapier produced a few large (1400-1800 ton) excavators, the largest in Europe at the time (1960s). Power was from internal combustion engines driving electric generators. One, named SUNDEW, was used in a quarry from 1957 to 1974. After its working life at the first site in Rutland was finished it walked 13 miles to a new life at Corby; the walk took 9 weeks.
Smaller draglines were also commonly used before hydraulic excavators came into common use, the smaller draglines are now rarely used other than on river and gravel pit works. The small machines were of a mechanical drive with clutches. Firms such as Ruston and Bucyrus made models such as the RB10 which were popular for small building works and drainage work. Several of these can still be seen in the English Fens of Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire and parts of Norfolk. Ruston's are a company also associated with drainage pumping engines. Electric drive systems were only used on the larger mining machines, most modern machines use a diesel-hydraulic drive, as machines are seldom in one location long enough to justify the cost of installing a substation and supply cables.
Draglines, unlike most equipment used in earth-moving, have remained relatively unchanged in design and control systems for almost 100 years. Over the last few years, some advances in dragline systems and methodologies have occurred.
Since draglines are typically large, complicated and very expensive, training new operators can be a tricky process. In the same way that flight simulators have developed to train pilots, mining simulator software has been developed to assist new operators in learning how to control the machines.
UDD stands for Universal-Dig-Dump. It represents the first fundamental change to draglines for almost a century, since the invention of the 'miracle hitch'. Instead of using two ropes (the hoist rope and the drag rope) to manipulate the bucket, a UDD machine uses three ropes, two hoist and one drag. This allows the dragline operator to have much greater selectivity in when to pick up the bucket, and in how the bucket may be dumped. UDD machines generally have higher productivity than a standard dragline, but often have greater mechanical issues. Within the mining industry, there is still much debate as to whether UDD improvements justify their costs."
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