Last week I started the “Amazing!” series off with one of the tiniest beasties nature has to offer so it seemed fair that I give this week to one of most impressive and gigantic mechanical monsters mankind has imposed on our little blue-green marble.
Pictures of this machine has been floating around the net for years and often gets written off as a well made Photoshop creation. The sheer scale and massive “saw” blade on the arm do make it look like a work of mechanical fantasy but it is quite real. It’s not a one of a kind either as the ‘288’ is part of a fleet of 21 such excavators operated by RWE Germany. The ‘288’ is the largest but several smaller versions are quite common in the industry.
Completed by ThyssenKrupp Fördertechnik [Krupp] in the mid 1970’s the afore mentioned German mining firm, at a cost of $100 million dollars U.S. (that would be roughly $6.3 billion today), the Bagger 288 is the worlds largest bucket-wheel excavator.
~ Bucket what? ~
As the name implies the large ‘blade’ isn’t a saw but a wheel, covered with 18 excavation buckets similar to those on common construction equipment, with each bucket able to hold 7.9 yd³ of material. In February of 2001 the ‘288’ completed it’s orginal goal of removing surface material from at an open air coal mine and made a 3 week, 14 mile trek across the German countryside to another mine where it resides today. Though the tank-like treads are useless on site, it was deemed more cost effective to make the machine mobile as opposed to moving it piece by piece. These 3.8 meter wide treads allow it to cross grass and loose gravel without leaving much of a significant track.
~ Nifty facts ~
- 240m long, 96m high, weighing 45,500 tons
- Top speed of 10m/minute
- Operating crew of 5
- Requires an external electrical feed of 16.56 megawatts to operate
- Minimum turning radius of 100m (when moved in 2001 crews had to remove power lines and set up special pipe bridges to cross waterways)
- Can move 76,000m³ rock, coal and soil a da (filling 2400 coal wagons daily)
Numbers are numbers…just how big is this thing? Well, here’s two pictures taken after it accidently scooped up a bulldozer. Click to enbiggen:
It’s also easily visible on Google Earth’s satellite maps
An awesome panaromic picture courtesy of Wikipedia (be sure to zoom in).
The site “Dark Roasted Blend: Wierd and Wonderful Things” has a nice gallery of shots as well.