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Thread: Oddball Dragline, St.Aidans Open Cast Mine, Swillington, Leeds

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    Default Oddball Dragline, St.Aidans Open Cast Mine, Swillington, Leeds


    Visited 5.2008

    This is an old Dragline called “Oddball” located at the old St Aidans open cast mine in Swillington on the outskirts of Leeds.

    Firstly about the mine. The area were the old open cast mine is today had been extensively deep mined since the 1800’s before an opencast mine was established there in the 1940’s. The open cast mine was then extended in 1981 and was expected to yield 6 million tones of coal over 10 years. The mine is infamous as in March 1988 mining was brought abruptly to a halt by a catastrophic failure of a 70 m deep excavation wall, which then allowed the River Aire to flow into the site from both upstream and downstream sections of the river. There was still much coal to be mined on the site so it the water was drained out and the river and cannel were both re-diverted around the site. The new section of cannel that was built was the first significant section of a cannel to be built in nearly 100 years nationwide. The work was completed in 1995 and the remaining coal from the mine was removed.

    Two Bucyrus Erie 1150B walking draglines were used here when the site was active, they had a top speed of 0.2 miles per hour. Oddball was built in 1948 by the Bucyrus Erie in South Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the USA. It worked there for 4 years before it was dismantled & shipped to England. It's been dismantled 4 times in the U.K as it worked in Pontyprid, South Wales & Cannock and Staffordshire before it was finally moved to the St Aidans in 1972 where it worked until 1983. It is one of only four remaining drag line excavators still in existence. It weighs 1200 tons and is the size of 60 double decker busses and has a bucket capacity of 20 cubic yards.

    It is so called Oddball as with most draglines it was mains powered and ran on a different MHz level than normal British machinery and so certain transformers had to be installed that apparently made various strange noises hence the name Oddball.

    A group called The Friends of the St. Aidens BE 1150 Dragline restored the dragline in 1999 with the help of Beeby Plant Repairs, it walked 49 meters to its final resting place today were it is opened to visitors a few times a year.


    ^ Oddball how she stands today


    ^ In 1999 Oddball made its last journey of 49 meters to its final resting place here.


    ^ This is the business end of the machine were the bucket would be attached


    ^ The sunsets over Oddball




    ^ Note the Bucyrus Erie banner and National Coal Board markings
















    ^You can see Oddballs “feet” and how it would have walked in this picture


    ^ How St.Aidans looks today you can clearly see it proximity to the River Aire.


    ^ Oddball and another dragline in operation at St.Aidans


    ^ The river shortly after the river defenses failed and the mine flooded


    ^ The mine were you can clearly see an old mine tunnel from when the site was deep mined before it became open cast.


    ^ Again another picture from when the mine was flooded


    ^ This shot shows after the river was redirected through the cannel and a new coal loading station was constructed, this picture is before the site was drained and mining continued.


    ^Dragline at St.Aidans

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  3. #2
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    Fantastic research and incredible engineering. Nice one!:)
    Too many roads...Not enough time! [lb=https://www.derelictplaces.co.uk/main/imagehosting/431547ed79b875093.gif]https://www.derelictplaces.co.uk/main...d79b875093.gif[/lb]

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    love the giant walking drag lines :) just a feat of engineering in thier own right

    you could clear a whole street with one

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    Loved your report and photos. Amazing piece of machinery. Cheers. :)
    "...If we lose our spiritual bond with the land they'll be nothing left of us as a nation..." Phil Rickman.

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    Great report, and excellent pictures too

    seem to remember a smaller dragline parked up on the old open cast site at the back of Shotts in Scotland about 4 years ago wonder if its still there?????

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    Default Dragline.


    WOW, one very big bit of kit.

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    Great report. :)

    I may try visiting this machine in the future.

    Thanks for posting.

  9. #8
    BigLoada Guest

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    WOW. Dont know how I missed this report.
    Draglines are the coolest machine ever I think. Those Bucyrus Erie machines were just stunning, I remember playing onn them as a kid when the opencasts were closed for Sundays.

    Good to see the archive shots too, its all fantastic!

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    Cool


    wow nice site.. wonder why they left the draglines!! they worth a bomb, good little explore keep em coming

  11. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonas-Smith View Post
    wow nice site.. wonder why they left the draglines!! they worth a bomb, good little explore keep em coming
    I would think that after 30 odd years hard work, the machinery was becoming time expired. One should also remember that specialised machinery only has a working commercial value, if continued work can be found. Obviously reuse of machine at another site, was not a commercial viability when St. Aidans was worked out. The other factor that would have played a major part in the survival of the dragline, was the price of scrap steel in the early 1980s. China had not started to fuel the present day demand for steel, thus scrap prices were low during that period and the NCB (being a nationalised company ) was never quick at recovering cash from useless assets.


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