Digger Man

Digger Man Blog

by Nick Drew  |  Mon 08 Jul 2024

Exploring “Big Brutus” (Digger Man Blog on Holiday, Post Re-Visits)

Nick's on holiday, so we are looking back at some favourite blog posts from the archives over the coming days.

The Bucyrus-Erie 1850-B electric powered rope-controlled face shovel was the second largest machine of its type back in the 1960’s and 70’s. Rather appropriately nicknamed “Big Brutus” this giant machine now features as the centrepiece at a mining history museum in Kansas, in the outdoor exhibit area.

Exploring “Big Brutus” (Digger Man Blog on Holiday, Post Re-Visits)

This beast of a machine spent most of its working life in West Mineral, Kansas where it was used in an open strip-mining application to reveal the shallow but precious coal seams below, in the traditional way, once the seams were exposed, smaller machines would then be sent into extract the coal and load onto trucks.

Big Brutus which was officially completed by the manufacturer in 1963 was capable of digging from 6.1m to 21m in depth all depending on how deep the coal seams were.

The machine operated at the mine until 1974, when by that time the production of coal at the mine had become unviable. Somewhat unbelievably the machine was just left on the site as it was deemed to big to move and so it stayed on site until 1984.

In that year the Pittsburg & Midway Coal Mining Company donated Big Brutus to the museum which opened the following year in 1985 and has since been designated as a regional historic mechanical engineering landmark.

It’s great to see such items of our excavating heritage is saved for many generations to see in the future.

In this video from the Mobile Instinct You Tube Channel, the commentator gives us a tour around the giant machine with facts and figures and even some archive footage of Big Brutus in action back in the day.


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