Monday, April 5, 2021

Bucyrus-Erie Co.

Bucyrus was founded in Bucyrus, OH, by Daniel P. Eells in 1880. By 1898 it was producing 24 shovels per year and its #10 model was claimed to be "the largest and most powerful steam shovel ever built in this country." (So someone was building bigger shovels somewhere else in the world?) "Production innovations such as a new steel foundry, the use of special-alloy steels, and the adoption of new heat-treating techniques began to enhance Bucyrus's reputation as a manufacturer of high-quality steel excavating equipment. Significant technological advances enabled Bucyrus to introduce such innovations as the first 180-degree revolving steam shovel; the first back-acting shovel, which could dig below its own level and toward the cab; and, in 1910-11, the first Bucyrus dragline machines, the first Bucyrus tank-tread-style 'crawler' shovels and draglines, and the first Bucyrus machines powered by an internal combustion gasoline engine. By the early years of the new decade heavy-duty railroad shovels were accounting for 62 percent of Bucyrus's output, dredges 29 percent, and railroad wrecking cranes and pile drivers nine percent." [company-histories]

Bucyrus entered the small revolving steam shovel market by purchasing Vulcan Steam Shovel and building a new factory in Evansville in 1911 and by purchasing the Atlantic Equipment Co. But its small shovel sales lagged so it bought Erie Steam Shovel in 1929. Since Erie was the largest U.S. producer of small excavating machines, that purchase catapulted it to the top of the small shovel industry. In 1931, it entered the walking dragline market by purchasing Monighan Manufacturing of Chicago. The 1970s were boom years and things were looking good for their 100th anniversary in 1980. But a mature market was causing sales to decline. A leveraged buyout hurt everyone except the investment bankers, Goldman, Sacks and Co. who charged a hefty fee for executing the LBO. New foreign markets did allow it to grow itself back to health and out of bankruptcy in May 1996. [company-histories]

The Milwaukee Plant went operational in April 1893 and was bought by Caterpillar in 2011. The Evansville Plant was built in 1911 and sold in 1981 and closed in 1983. 

Bucyrus-Erie made the Big Muskie.
Caterpillar via DeBruler

They also made the Sliver Spade.
OEMoffHighway via DeBruler

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