By Anthony Donovan

Draglines have long been considered the lowest cost per ton method for overburden removal in coal mine applications, and Bucyrus has been a leading force in the evolution of these majestic excavators. Entering this area of the earthmoving business in 1910, Bucyrus has since developed first-rate proficiency in the design, manufacture, relocation, and repair of draglines. Today, there are more than 300 Bucyrus draglines in operation, accounting for a significant portion of the world’s overburden removal at major coal mines across the globe.

Despite the advantages offered by the latest dragline models, the initial capital outlay and time it takes to build a new machine can lead mine owners to explore other alternatives. A leading coal producer and power generator, Luminant, found itself in a similar scenario during the planning phase of its new mine, located near Kosse, Texas. They wanted to use draglines for overburden removal, but they were looking for less capital intensive alternatives that could also reduce the required manufacturing time to acquire a new dragline. The agreed-upon solution became the purchase of two pre-owned draglines, a Bucyrus 8200 model and a Bucyrus 1570W model. Both would require complete rebuilds and they would have to be transported great distances. Wanting to ensure that both machines would again operate as reliably and productively as they did upon their original commissioning in the 1970s, Luminant solicited the expertise of the draglines’ original equipment manufacturer (OEM), Bucyrus, to manage the complex projects.

Moving and Refurbishing the 8200

The Bucyrus 8200 model currently owned and operated by Luminant was originally commissioned at a now inactive coal mine, located near the West Virginia border in Pigeon Roost, Ky. The machine needed to be transported more than 1,100 miles to its new home in Texas and it would require substantial electrical and mechanical upgrades. This project would be no small feat, even for Bucyrus.

The move required approximately 120 truck loads, most of which were designated as oversize and/or overweight loads, to transport the behemoth excavator. The disassembly commenced with the lowering of the boom and mast, which were then cut into large sections to facilitate economical shipping. Next, the ballast was removed, totaling 1.1 million lb for this particular Bucyrus 8200 dragline. Weather sensitive components, consisting of the motors and generator sets, were removed and secured as well.  This enabled the roof and wall sections of the machinery house to be detached, allowing easy access to the remaining components.

The A-leg structure, hoist and drag drums, gear cases, shoes, walking cams, and additional deck positioned hardware were then removed from the machine. Once all deck installed components were removed, the machine was “separated,” meaning the revolving frame was lifted up, creating a 5 ft space between the tub and the revolving frame, allowing for the removal of the dragline’s racks, rails and rollers. The revolving frame was then cut into the largest economically viable pieces for shipping purposes. Concluding the disassembly process, every dragline piece was sand-blasted, primed, and painted. The total time to disassemble and relocate the Bucyrus 8200 dragline to the designated field assembly site in Kosse was four months.

Once on site, Bucyrus began a comprehensive upgrade to bring the dragline to top operating condition. The Bucyrus field services crew, with their expert knowledge of dragline components, systems, and structure performed structural repair and added 6-ft deck extensions to both sides of the dragline’s revolving frame. A new and larger tub (base) was also manufactured and provided by the Bucyrus facility in Kilgore, Texas, which is located about 150 miles from Kosse. Lastly, Bucyrus performed a complete electrical upgrade on the 8200 dragline, including all necessary rewiring. The Bucyrus 8200 dragline was completely refurbished and given new life, with the expectation of many more years of operation. 

Moving the 1570W
The Bucyrus 1570W model dragline was smaller than the Bucyrus 8200 model and was originally commissioned at a coal mine in Kellerman, Ala., which is about 650 miles from Kosse. Despite the size and distance differences, the 1570W dragline relocation would again require precise project management as well as cooperation between Bucyrus field services and Luminant personnel.
Bucyrus field services performed minor structural repair on the 1570W, repositioned the boom, and added propel deck extensions on both sides of the machine’s back end. All electrical components were stripped from the 1570W, and new motors and MG sets were purchased by Luminant.

The Bucyrus 1570W dragline relocation and refurbishment commenced during November 2007 and it too required approximately four months to dismantle and ship the various components of the machine.  The disassembled Bucyrus 1570W was staged at the Kosse field assembly site while awaiting the completion of the Bucyrus 8200 reassembly.  The decision was made early in the planning process to use the same construction site for the reassembly of both Bucyrus draglines. Doing so provided significant cost savings for Luminant, requiring only one of the large machines to walk to their point of operation.  Once fully assembled, the Bucyrus 1570W dragline would begin operations at the assembly site, opening a second pit on the south side of Texas State Highway 7. The project was completed and the machine began operating last month (October 2009).

Dragline Moves and Overhauls

While Bucyrus has established a strong legacy as a high-quality manufacturer of ultra-class draglines, rope shovels, and rotary blasthole drills, performing top-notch overhaul and relocation services for mining equipment are also fundamental pieces of the Bucyrus portfolio. In fact, the ability to offer a vertically integrated solution of dragline parts, service, and local facility, coupled with the company’s legacy of engineering expertise, were important factors in Luminant’s decision to partner with Bucyrus on the relocation and refurbishment of the two pre-owned legacy draglines. “Bucyrus not only provided us a cost-effective mining solution, they saw it through from beginning to end,” said George Boudreau, director of maintenance support services, Luminant. “We’re pleased with the end result, and we look forward to many years of productive mining at our Kosse mine.”

The complexity of this particular project required Bucyrus field services to coordinate a cross-regional effort, whereby the Bucyrus eastern region conducted both machine tear-downs and transports, and the Bucyrus southwest region handled the reassembly of each machine. Doing so required experienced project leadership and coordination efforts by the Bucyrus team, as well as open lines of communication between the regional groups.  Addressing these unique challenges helped to facilitate the completion of this extensive project, and serve to substantiate the project management aptitude of Bucyrus as it pertains to major dragline overhauls and relocations. “Our experienced team of Bucyrus tradesmen and supervisors, working in-step with Henry Postell, Luminant’s heavy equipment project manager, and his team, were able to accomplish these dragline moves and upgrades in a safe, timely, and cost efficient manner; a feat everyone involved can be proud of,” said Jimmy Derry, construction project manager, Bucyrus. [Derry led the project on the Bucyrus side.]

The Bucyrus perspective is that OEM expertise does not only apply to the manufacturing of new machines, but it also provides value in every facet of the services and support the company provides to their customers. “Bucyrus has the resources and the contacts to offer and coordinate complex projects, such as dragline moves and overhauls, and the company looks to continue providing these top-notch services to our customers for the foreseeable future,” said Mike Lisowski, general manager of projects, Bucyrus.

“The benefit of using the OEM for dragline moves and overhauls is that it is one-stop shopping for the customer,” said Jason Scott, project manager, Bucyrus. “Bucyrus has a knowledgeable and experienced service group to plan and execute a relocation, a dedicated sales team to ensure the customer has all necessary replacement parts and materials, and first-hand engineering support to offer not only solutions to existing concerns, but also to offer upgrades to enhance the performance and longevity of the machines.” While the company recognizes that competition in the dragline relocation and overhaul space is abundant, the intangibles offered by the OEM validates the company’s strategic focus on this area of their business, Scott explained.

Donovan is responsible for project marketing at Bucyrus. He can be reached at 414-768-5143 (or E-mail: adonovan@bucyrus.com)