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Steam Shovel History

Origins and development of Steam Shovel

The steam shovel was invented by William Otis around the 1920s. It was much later on with its widespread use and acceptance that the Otis family gained patent control over the invention. Known as ‘partial-swing’, the first machines would not permit the boom to rotate a complete 360 degrees. These were built on a railway chassis. The boiler and the engines were mounted on this chassis. At one end of the chassis one would see the driving engines and the shovel arm mounted and this would be the reason behind the limitations in swinging.

Flanged wheeled bogies were fitted on to the wheels and power was taken here through a chain drive to the axles. Workers used to lay down temporary rail tracks where the shovel worked. It was then repositioned as and when required.

How It Grew From Time To Time

It was during the latter half of the nineteenth century that the steam shovels gained more popularity. Initially, chain hoists were used to configure the steam shovels but around the 1870s came the steel cable. This made rigging easier. Later on, caterpillar tracks came with the machines, making obvious the need for rails.

In the year 1884, the first full-swing steam shovel was invented in England. The expansion of railway tracks in both the United States of America and the United Kingdom, led to the rise in the demand for steam shovels. Companies like the Marion Steam Shovel Company, founded in 1884, and Bucyrus-Erie Shovel Companies became big names. These shovels were used to dig the foundations for the topmost cities of North America.

Significant instances Where Steam Shovel Is Used

The Panama Canal is one of the most significant instances of the use of the steam shovel. Iron mines, copper mines, placer mines and more were created with immense use of these shovels. Around the world, the steam shovel was used to dig coal mines, to create more space for urban expansion, road work, construction and the like. State highways in North America were all built using steam shovels. With the arrival of the smaller, cheaper and diesel powered shovels, steam shovels began to lose out. Robust, high-pressure hydraulic hoses ruled over cable hoisting shovels after the Second World War.

Steam shovels continued to serve in developing nations. During the cable-lift shovel revolution, the world saw the advent of the multi-ton mining shovels. Huge striping shovels were built Marion Shovel around the 1950s and 1960s. Some of the most notable models of shovels are Marion 360, Marion 6360 The Captain, the Big Brutus, etc. However, these were more power shovels than steam shovels since they made use of electricity.

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