Visited with NickUK and morse "You should see the ones in Germany"
Before setting eyes on this ultra mammoth digger, I had no idea was in the name of cheese a dragline was.
"It's a massive mining thing" Nick duly informed me,
"Like bagger 288??" Morse sounded pretty excited by the prospect, but upon jumping over the gate and casting his eyes upon the 1000 odd tonnes of rusted steel, he hung his head.
"Mate, you should see the ones in Germany…"
"Still pretty good though…"
Whatever, I was impressed.
The Bucyrus Erie 1150B class was a 1000 tonne dragline miner (Oddball is the largest example in Western Europe and the only one of two remaining), used to scrape coal from ground level open cast mines. Built in the states in 1948, Oddball served for 4 years there before being shipped over to Wales in 1952. It has been dismantled and moved a fair few times over the years, and ended its service at Swillington open cast mine, where it now sits rusting away, looking over the new - yet to be opened nature reserve. It is looked after by "Friends of St. Aidan's BE1150 Dragline" who occasionally hold open days, allowing the public to look around it. It get's its name from the irregular electric motors used to power it, which gave it a different sound to the other draglines used in the UK coal mining industry.
The thing that amazed me most about this thing was that it could actually walk, only at about half a mile an hour, but still, thats pretty damn impressive considering it weighs 1k tonnes.
Climbing the thing is pretty sketch.. The jib is at 45 degrees to its normal working position, and as such, all the gantries, ladders and supports are all at a mad angle.
On the way out, we met the warden and his nine greyhounds, who spotted us trying to exit the site via some rather dense bushes. He seemed impressed enough with our snaps and took our word that we weren't pikeys, who'd recently been in and stripped £70,000 worth of copper from its huge electric motors.
After chatting for a bit, we figured it was time to head, off into Leeds to finish on a high note.