Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Big Muskie (Bucyrus-Erie 4250-W) Dragline Crane

I've accumulated enough photos of Big Muskie that it is time for its own set of notes.
In 1966, an exciting project started at the factories of the Bucyrus Erie Co. – the engineering and building of the components of what would be one of the world’s largest earthmoving machines ever built, “Big Muskie.” Central Ohio Coal Co. had chosen this immense machine because the mine property extended over 110,000 acres of hilly terrain and made the use of a dragline versus a shovel to be more profitable at the levels of earth the coal was located in. It also allowed the coal company to better carryout their reclamation plans.
The machine was so large it was necessary to ship the components to the coal mining customer in Ohio and erect the machine on site. It took 340 rail cars and 260 trucks to ship all of the components and 200,000 man hours to construct, but the machine finally went into production in 1969.
Weighing in at over 27,000,000 pounds, it stood nearly 22 stories high and had a 330-foot twin boom and a 220-cubic yard bucket the size of a 12-car garage.
In 1976, “Big Muskie” removed 8,000 yards of overburden for the coal company per operating hour. In its 22 years of service, it removed twice the amount of earth moved during the original construction of the Panama Canal.
Shut down in 1991, “Big Muskie” was finally dismantled for scrap in 1999. The only component saved was the bucket, which was later incorporated into a display about the machine and surface mining and reclamation in Miners Memorial Park in McConnelsville, Ohio. 

It was electrically powered with 13,800 volts. [tractors]
The electricity cost tens of thousands of dollar an hour and explains why the crew of five usually worked at night when power costs were cheaper.
[The video below says it stopped only for 30-min lunch breaks, maintenance, and Christmas Day.]

Modern Draglines
Giant draglines have long since been made obsolete, but dragline excavators are still very much in use. The largest available dragline on the market today is Joy Global’s P&H 9020XPC. The bucket has a capacity of (110yd³ to 160yd³.) Unlike the hydraulic engines and motors of years past, current draglines use digital AC controls.

Bastard rails roads air & water posted
moving [the tub of] BIG MUSKIE using 9 earth scrappers in the front
Manufacturer: Bucyrus-Erie
Weight: 27,000,000 pounds
Height: 222 feet 6 inches
Machine length (boom down):487 feet 6 inches
Mobility: Hydraulically driven walker feet
Eamon Ault I googled more, they're scooting the tub out from beneath it.
Mike Hutchins Dave Hickcox They had more than 1 bucket as they needed hardfacing and other repairs on a rotational basis.

Michael Davis commented on a post
Michael Davis Muskie brand new
Matt Booe Looks like at least 6 swingers

Troy Shane Bratcher posted
Inside the house BE4250w
Notice the man in the middle of the picture.

Bastard rails roads air & water posted
moving the parts of BIG MUSKIE took a violent amount of brutal pulling and pushing power
David Lane In dragline terms, that is the 'tub', the base that the dragline sat and rotated on. The Muskie was the largest dragline ever built(if I remember correctly) Saw these pics many years ago on the old STRIPMINE.ORG. I grew up just northeast of her.

Scott Simcok shared
James Peeler Them 41-B Allis Chalmers were a brute of a machine!!
Eric S Manners I read when they rebuilt the tub, they used 30,000 lbs of welding rods!
Joseph Bonola 2 weeks work just greasing the roller path.

Art Hale posted four photos with the comment: "BE 4250W tub replacement."
Jim Freyensee My shop in Pocatello made that tub.
Brett Clem The size of that machine was nearly mind boggling ! I grew up around BE 2550, 2570 , 3270, 1150 and 1250 and the first time I saw Muskie was amazing.
Caston Haggard Men built that tub welding it all with stick I cant imagine welding all that with stick 7 not because I hate stick it’s just way too slow in that environment they want it done yesterday.
Jim Freyensee Caston Haggard At that time we were using wire.
Caston Haggard There is a video somewhere about how many pounds of rod went into that tub.
Karyl May Anybody know in what year that tub change occurred on Big Muskie?
Art HaleAuthor Karyl May 1982
Mike Colegrove Diameter of tub ?
Art HaleAuthor We had three buckets
Dave Rage Art Hale did they move to the different dump rope fixing because the original arch and central dump rope wasn’t strong enough?
Matt Weyand Dave Rage the original bucket had one dump cable. They eventually went with dual dump cables to reduce stress on the arch..
Art HaleAuthor Dave Rage
That’s correct, it was a job just to change dump ropes. Crane and boom was a must! We knocked the wedges loose with the D9H ground dozers.
Robert Colombo The ingenuity of man. That machine was the King- a monster for sure. I wonder if folks realize that the boom is constructed with two (2) 2570 booms that don't meet until the point sheave assembly and weldment.




Chris Knoxhill commented on a post

Tim Wwichell posted seven photos with the comment: "I haven't seen these images here. Big Muskie during a tub change and a couple others."







Jim Seese posted
Visited this last spring in Ohio. Bucket from Big Musky.
Jim Seese  McConnelsville , Ohio
James Butch Rainey Hard to imagine 220 cubic yards! Amazing every time I see it.
Mike Mccarley James Butch Rainey. I look back at my pictures of the Marion 8200's that I worked on in the 80's. And i thought an 85 yard bucket was big. Damn!
Ray Little commented on Jim's post
Here’s our car next to the bucket on Christmas Day of ‘98.

Troy Shane Bratcher posted
Finally found this size comparison picture of the BE4250w/ Marion 6360.
Charles Jones: When you look at the comparison in the illustration, Big Muskie isn't tremendously larger than the 6360. There was about what, 40 cubic yards difference between the buckets? I've not been around a lot of shovels other than the 5900 at Lynnville. But I have been on a similar size dragline to the 5900. I'll bet it would be a good race to see which machine would make the most advance in one shift. Big Muskie, or The Captain?
Dave Roberts: Yes, only 40 cubic yards difference. Muskie was 220 and The Captain was 180
Jadon Cramer commented on Troy's post
Size comparison

Paul Martin posted
Here is a photo of the 4250-W Big Muskie during erection.

Paul Martin commented on his post
front view 4250W

William Oldani commented on Paul's post

Paul Martin commented on his post
great bucket pic
Mike Brady posted two photos with the comment:
My Dad standing at Big Muskie bucket, it was idle at this time before it was scrapped, at least the bucket was saved. Note the size of the chain link and pin. Best I can remember the wire rope was 5” diameter, Thanks
Nelson Kletzli Jr. My uncle made the chains for the Big Muskie, and many other large draglines.
Thunder Manufacturing in McKees Rocks Pa.I got to help with the last chain built, they were forged, not cast.
Paul E Singer Nelson Kletzli Jr. Some of the chains were built in Glassport PA also
Mike Brady Nelson Kletzli Jr. they have to be the largest chains ever made. I never have seen another chain this size on anything including ship anchor chains. Wonder what just one link weighs ?
Nelson Kletzli Jr. Mike Brady if I remember correctly just over a ton each.
Dave Geis I hauled three of the chain links to the HCEA in Bowling Green Ohio. each link weighed 1000 pounds.

Matt Weyand You are correct. (4) 5” diameter hoist ropes and (4) 5” diameter drag ropes!!
Paul E Singer Matt Weyand 6 inch drag I thought I have a bunch of pictures of me being inside and outside of big musky I was evaluating 260 ton rock trucks and the operator let me walk through it with him pretty cool.
Jay Wilson Paul E Singer No, the drag rope was 5 inch. Some machines today use 5.5 inch rope.
Gene Shepherd Matt Weyand Exactly 5” cables i have a 2’ chunk of the 5” drag cable.

Scooter Redrow Mike your dad looks to be a big man. How big was he for size reference ?
Mike Brady Scooter Redrow 5-10”


Claude Janes commented on Mike's post
Dug a lot of the electric cable up that ran the Muskie putting a well pad in near the bucket

Art Hale posted two images with the comment: "Big Muskie    Central Ohio Coal Company   Early 80’s"


This Facebook info is near the end of the notes so that hopefully the sidebar is empty and the "Original Size" images are readable.
Daniel Foged posted eight images with the comment: "Here some facts about big muskie."



[B-E's South Milwaukee Plant]






Daniel Foged posted
6x D9 is pulling the bucket for big muskie.
Dennis Bertoncelj The bottom of that bucket gets hot.Matty Carey Dennis Bertoncelj try dragging it through rock with 12,000 horsepower 3 or 4 hundred thousand times.
They get a lot hotter. [The video below says it had up to 52,500hp.]Dennis Bertoncelj Matty Carey yeah ive burnsd my hand on a tooth or two.Dennis Bertoncelj Matty Carey the tub gets pretty hot on a long deadhead too

Matt Weyand posted
Question for the group:
Does anyone know if they ever did any roundhousing with Big Muskie? I can’t imagine the forces and stresses that would have been applied if they did. Was just curious if it was ever done.
[Some comments think not. Muskie normally dug at 90 degrees and roundhousing ("360 degrees swinging and dumping on the fly.") makes sense only if digging at 180 degrees. Plus it puts extra strain on the boom, sheaves, etc.]
Wendell Bennett posted
[According to some comments, this was the final resting place for Big Muskie.]

(new window)  Big Muskie (and the captain): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcmGKsHZXZ8
   implosion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vKcKn-cQSRM
Troy Bratcher posted: in action video 5:00,  three photos (photo of pulling out the tub with six earth movers in a comment),  video of inside the house (William Law If I remember right ten swing motors, ten drag motors and eight hoist motors, 1,200 hp each., Jay Wilson Six inch floor under the drag drum, was wrinkled from the power. Stout machine.)

A "Big Muskie - 4250-W Bucyru-Erie" Album with 22 photos and the comment:
The Big Muskie was a model 4250-W Bucyrus-Erie dragline (the only one ever built). With a 220 cubic yards (170 m3) bucket, it was the largest single-bucket digging machine ever created and one of the world's largest mobile earth-moving machines alongside the Illinois-based Marion 6360 stripping shovel called The Captain and the German bucket wheel excavators of the Bagger 288 and Bagger 293 family.[1] It cost $25 million in 1969, the equivalent of $157 million today adjusted for inflation.[2] Its bucket could hold two Greyhound buses side by side. It took over 200,000 man hours to construct over a period of about two years
A share of the Muskie album has some interesting comments including:
Robert Bann Machine was too big, too much down time, to much maintenance. COCC realized that 2 machines designed in the 120 yard range would have out preformed the Big Muskie.
David Kam Hudder Amazing engineering
Robert Bann David Kam Hudder 6 years planning.

Monday, March 30, 2020

C&E: RTA Wilson Avenue Tower and Yard

(HAERSatellite, the yard was on the east side of the tracks between Wilson and Montrose)

The yard burned down in 1996 after RTA had moved maintenance and storage in 1993 to a new Howard yard and shop. It has now been redeveloped. The Howard expansion was part of the plan for switching the south end of the Red Line from Englewood-Jackson Park to Dan Ryan. [chicago-L]

HAER ILL,16-CHIG,107A--1

HAER ILL,16-CHIG,107A--2

HAER ILL,16-CHIG,107A--3

HAER ILL,16-CHIG,107A--4

1938 Aerial Photo from ILHAP

CTA posted
Ivory D. Graham pulls mechanical switch levers at the Wilson Tower to safely route trains through various junctions as CTA’s first female “Towerman.”
Raymond Storey shared
Raymond Storey shared again

Marty Bernard posted
This Interlocking Tower Was 30 Feet Up in the Air
I have always found interesting the "Armstrong" interlocking tower on the Chicago Transit Authority "L" structure at Wilson Ave. on the four-track mainline on Chicago's north side. Among things it protected the north end of the Wilson Yard and Shop. Because it was up on the structure non-CTA employees couldn't get to it and could only see it when riding past on a train. When I worked for the CTA I should have taken the opportunity to get up in it.
A while back I found some pictures on the Library of Congress online photograph site of the tower's inside and mechanism. It's a typical Armstrong plant. The levers were on the second floor of the tower and the mechanism (aka. machine) was in the first floor (remember the tower was already about 30 feet off the ground).
I took this picture of the tower from a passing train in June
Ezequiel Delgadillo: Was it there when that massive fire happened in the mid 90's?
Glen Olbermann: Ezequiel Delgadillo the massive fire was right across it at the famous Wilson St shops. I saw it after it burned down. The CTA had shuttle buses going on the day of the fire and the day after the fire. I remember the new CTA mgmt wanted Wison St shops to close and demolish it but didn't know how. CTA mgmt had the shop set on fire in order to burn the whole place down. I remember that work from Wilson St shops moved to the 61st st shops already. The yellow work trains were already reassigned to 61st St shops then. I had a few friends that worked for the CTA back then and I rode their trains, particularly the Evanston Express and the Ravenswood line and they told me 4 weeks ahead of time that the word was going around that Wilson St shops was gonna be burned down. There were no investigations after the fire and the problem just "went away". I stayed quiet waiting to see what will happen next but nothing.
Marty Bernard shared
Jon Roma: There are still a couple towers that have the mechanical locking frame, but there has been no tower that operates switches, signals, or facing point locks for the last decade when Union Pacific's Ridgely Tower in Springfield, IL closed.
I have an album of photos from this tower on Flickr, unfortunately I did not get to visit the interior.

(new window)

Milwaukee transferred the Chicago & Evanston route north of Wilson to the CTA with the understanding that the CTA would serve the few remaining industries along the track, mostly coal retailers. Milwaukee handed off freight cars to the CTA at Wilson. For an extensive history and description of this freight operation, see L-freight.

Sam Carlson posted
Lou Gerard Wow! At Wilson Yard!
Ralcon Wagner Terrific! The freight loco used to move loads of coal between Milwaukee Road branch and CTA el line at Montrose/Wilson connecting track in Chicago. This image was made between 1960 and 1973. Looks like the loco was freshly painted. Great find!
Lou Gerard According to the info on the back of the print, it is from 1961.

David Daruszka commented on Matt's post
The line was originally built as a commuter line that ran as far north as Wilmette. Commuter service was abandoned in the early 1900's and the Northwestern Elevated assumed operations over the right of way north of Wilson Ave. That line was later elevated. There was a freight exchange yard at Wilson with the CTA, who provided freight service for the remaining businesses that needed it. Slowly but surely freight service south of Wilson diminished as well.
["During the last month of freight service, locomotive S-104 is pushing two empty hopper cars back to Buena Yard on the freight lead in April 1973. The freight train has just passed over Montrose Avenue and is heading north on the elevated connection between Buena Yard and Track 1 at Wilson station, seen looking southwest from the Wilson Shops lunchroom. (Photo by Lou Gerard)" [L-freight]]

Craig Holmberg commented on a post
Joshua Sutherland Lakewood line from the 1870's to 1973, used to switch cars to the CTA for the CTA's freight service that ended in 1973 when Lill coal yard stopped receiving shipments.
Joshua Sutherland Craig Holmberg We have one of those (CTA S104) at the Museum in Union.
[Comments implied there were two of these electric freight locomotives to serve industries on the CTA part because they were named Delores and LaVerne.
"On the last day of CTA freight service, locomotive S-104 is seen shoving the last empty hoppers south down Track 1 back to Buena Yard, passing Berwyn station on April 30, 1973. This would be the last in-service freight run on the "L". (Photo by Lou Gerard)" [L-freight]]
Due to their substantial weight -- about 100,000 pounds -- electric locomotive S-104 and its twin, S-105, were well-suited to snow clearance duty during the winter months when not needed for freight service. Here, S-104 is seen in Lower Wilson Yard with a snowplow attached to its front on February 1, 1939. The four-track North Side Main Line and the elevated Wilson Shops are visible in the background. (Photo by George Krambles, from the Krambles-Peterson Archive) [L-freight]

William Shapotkin posted
A S/B North Shore Line train (operating on the "local" trk) has just passed the Granville 'L' station on Chicago's North Side. Visible at right is the Jacob Best Coal Company (located 6133 N. Broadway) -- which closed circa 1960.
This was one of several coal yards served by CTA. (Technically these coal yards were served by The Milwaukee Road -- CTA (and predecessor CRT) delivered the cars the from Buena Yard (located north of Irving Park Rd).) View looks south.
My thanks to Lou Gerard, Bruce Moffat, David Zornig (and others) in assisting in identifying the name of the coal company (no, this is NOT Lill Coal -- which was located at Berwyn). Photo by the late William Hoffman taken July 29, 1956. Wm Shapotkin Collection.
David Patt The last of the coal yards was at Berwyn and was replaced by a Jewel store..
Jon Roma Flickr album of ten photos of the tower and interlocking  Of note is the photo of the upper level of the yard and shops. There is a yard and shops on the ground level as well.

So how far into Evanston did the Chicago & Evanston branch go?
MWRD posted
Hydraulic bank sloping work on the North Shore Channel, looking slightly northwest from an area north of Central Street in Evanston, Illinois, with the current CTA Purple Line bridge at right, on September 19, 1917

Willilam Shapotkin posted
Just north of Central St (Evanston) on (what is now) the EVANSTON (or "Purple Line") 'L' is a bridge over the North Shore Channel -- over which trns of the North Shore Line (Shoreline Route) once operated. When the 'L' (which at one time operated at grade level) was elevated above the streets in Evanston the bridge was likewise raised to meet the height of the newly-elevated 'L'. This view looks N-N/W in this photo from the Metropolitan Sanitary District dated September 19, 1917.
As I understand it, this bridge was erected by the MILW and the line was later (from approx Wilson Ave (in Chicago) north into WIlmette) leased to the Northwestern Elevated Railroad. It was later purchased outright by successor CTA (in 1954 (?)).

Howard is where most of the trains going past Wilson Avenue terminated. But this "train" is one of them that went on up through Evanston.
Don Wetmore posted
CTA at Howard St on Jan 11, 1980.  Photo by Don Wetmore
Don Wetmore shared