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The Silver Spade Stripping Shovel

Consolidation Coal Company's (CONSOL) first Bucyrus-Erie 1950-B stripping shovel was "The Silver Spade", which started working in November 1965. The name commemorates the 25th anniversary of the Hanna Coal Company, a division of the CONSOL group. It was the first stripper on which Bucyrus-Erie utilized the knee-action crowd front end design, which helped eliminate all torsional and bending stresses from the main boom. This allowed the machine's boom to be of a lighter construction than the earlier, two-piece BE designs. The Spade is shown operating at Mahoning Valley Mine No. 36, in Cadiz, Ohio, in May 1994.

The Silver Spade started life painted in the Hanna Coal Company's white and red color scheme. But before the new CONSOL paint job was finished, the shovel was idled on October 1, 1982. It would spend the next six years sitting in the pit were it had last worked. The decision was made to resurrect the Spade, though at the cost of its sister machine, the GEM. Parts removed from the GEM were used in the restoration of the other shovel, and on April 8, 1989, the Spade returned to service. It is currently scheduled to work until the end of the decade, unless some unforeseen mechanical mishap or financial fluctuations in the coal market make it uneconomical to operate.

"The Spade" stands 220ft tall and is equipped with a boom 200ft in length, as compared to the GEM's 170ft version. It also had a longer dipper handle of 122ft compared to the GEM's 102ft handle. This allowed the Spade to have a greater working range and operate in deeper digging conditions than the GEM.

The bucket capacity of the Bucyrus-Erie 1950-B Silver Spade is rated at 105cu-yd, with an approximate 160ton load limit. This was smaller than its sister shovel, the 195O-B GEM, which was rated at 130cu-yd.

Bucyrus-Erie 1950-B Like all major stripping shovels, the Bucyrus-Erie 1950-B Silver Spade rides on four crawler sets. Each crawler-track is 34ft long and 8ft high. Pictured here is the newer design of the tracks. The earlier versions used a finer, multi-link pad design, and they were constantly breaking. As these tracks wore out, they were replaced with the updated pad versions. The crawlers on the Spade were of the same design as that of the GEM. In fact, one set, saved from the scrapped GEM, was used recently to replace one of the Spade's units. The shovels travel movement is controlled by the ground crew, from a lower platform between the crawler sets, not from the operator's cab. The weight carried by the huge crawlers of both 1950-B was the same: 14,000,0001b (7,000ton).

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