The biggest earth moving machines made by mankind – called bucket wheel excavators used in open-cast mines. In the former DDR near Gorlitz – Germany there’s one open to the public. Have a look at this humongous piece of machinery.
Monster bucket wheel excavator in former DDR
Produced in 1967 by TAKRAF - VEB Schwermachinenbau (heavy machine factory) in the former DDR, this huge bucket wheel excavator is now retired and open to the public;
|Bucket wheel excavator in Görlitz - Germany near the Polish border.
The excavator is explained in great detail by former excavator personnel at the exhibition site. Quite interesting, specially the stories about their working life in this rogue earth crust eating monster.
|Bucket wheel excavator from up close - a huge monster machine from the 60's
A crew of only 5 men operated the bucket wheel excavator round the clock in 3 shifts.
No 365 excavator – coal for electricity in the DDR
Open cast coal mining is an all year activity – specially in winter work at excavator “No 365” was tough business. Working at subzero temperatures in a steel rig was COLD, very cold with limited heating is steel rooms without any kind of isolation. Work was like that in the former DDR – one shouldn’t complain about work conditions.
|Control room in the excavator - already with '90 era controls. Renovated after the iron curtain fall
The excavator control room sits very close to the bucket wheel – glass is not reinforced and easily broken when stones hit the windows. The control room was the worst place to be – extremely loud and dusty at all times. After a day ay the wheel one was covered in coal dust.
|Excavator control room close to the bucket wheel.
The coal scraped from the earth crust by the excavator was transported to fuel the nearby electricity plant. The bucket wheel excavator was pivotal to electricity supply in the region.
Bucket wheel excavator machine parts
Everything on this machine is huge, such as this steel track;
|Huge tracks on the bucket wheel excavator.
The wheel with electricity cable powering the excavator, similar to your home vacuum cleaner;
|The electricity cable roll powering the huge machine
The excavator power cable is relatively modest in size, the inside of the excavator power cable
|The power cable looks so modest for such a huge machine
Work at the excavator in the former DDR
The digger wheel cuts into the earth crust controlled by the operator in the control room
|The bucket wheel in perspective
the earth moves up onto a conveyor belt
|The conveyor belt transporting the earth from the bucket wheel
and falls into the grinder
|The grinder, crushing large chunks of stone. The sound at this area was devastating
cutting large coal pieces into smaller ones
|The loader area, moving the coal into train wagons, a continuous process
then falls onto the loader arm to load the coal train-wagons.
Berzdorfer See near Görlitz – Recreation lake
The open-cast mine is now a huge recreational lake - the Berzdorfer See - with its own harbor for boats. Gorlitz has big plans with this lake – it attracts people from Germany and Poland for recreation in and around the lake.
|Berzedorfer See website - a recreational lake
|Website info about Görlitz and bucket wheel excavators
Other interesting public coal mines in Europe
- The Red hills of Rio Tinto in Spain
- Deep open cast mine Cap Decouverte in France
- Former coal mines converted into recreational lakes in Germany