Film ID:
NEFA 19827



Visitor Tabs


A promotional film produced by Turners Film Productions film for Ruston Bucyrus documenting the construction and capabilities of the Big Geordie dragline excavator. The excavator was built by Ruston Bucyrus for Derek Crouch, contractors for the National Coal Board, at their open cast coal mine Radar North on the Northumberland coast near Ashington.

The film begins with a workman pressing a button on detonator. The resulting explosion brings down a rock face at the Radar North open cast mine.

A shot follows of a large drag line and bucket gathering up fallen rock. A long shot in profile shows the largest dragline in Western Europe and is named  'Big Geordie'. Derek Crouch, the contractor's name also appears in large letters on the side of the machine.

According to the commentary 'Big Geordie' can shift its own weight of 3000 tons in shale and rock in 35 minutes. The dragline gathers up a load in it's bucket and turns 180 degrees from right to left to dump its load, an action which, for such a large machine takes 65 seconds. The bucket is deployed again, gathering up a load of 100 tons at a time. The commentator says the machine's official name is a Bucyrus-Erie walking drag line, type 1550W.

Title: 'Big Geordie'

General view of the 'Big Geordie' at work. It dwarfs the other mechanical shovels and trucks working nearby. A smaller excavator loads a truck with coal.

Another large machine, a rotary bucket excavator, removes sticky clay known as glacial drift. This 'overburden', material which needs to be removed in order to get to the coal, is carried off on conveyor belts. Power shovels remove other types of overburden. Smaller 40 ton capacity draglines are seen in operation.

A close up shows 'Big Geordie' in action, the bucket capacity twice that of the two existing drag lines at the mine, which makes for a more efficient and faster method of extraction.

The film cuts to show the site at the mine used to assemble 'Big Geordie'. Views follow showing a special platform being constructed and steel castings being assembled in preparation for the building of the giant drag line.

A general view shows steel fabrication works and other parts being brought to the site to assemble the machine. A 55 feet diameter base for the rotating section is carefully assembled. Cranes hoist large toothed rings into position. Steel box sections which will also form part of the rotating section are also hoisted into position.

General views follows of some of the upper construction including an 'A' frame, rising above the revolving section below. A large part of the dragline's construction is the huge machine house. A worker cleans the teeth of a huge gear wheel. Large fans set into the back of the machine house keep internal temperatures constant.

The film cuts to a view of the drivers cab where a technician assembles some of the controls the driver will use. Behind the cab another technician works on wiring circuits and switchgear. In the machine house another electrician works on electric generators.

A close up follows of the exterior of the excavator showing one of the 56 feet long walking shoes which allows the dragline to manoeuvre.

A high angle shot shows the size of the boom which will have to cope with lifting heavy loads is 65 feet long. A panning shot from left to right shows the length of the boom. Technicians weld tubular sections of the boom. Two men in lab coats test the welds with ultrasonic testing equipment.

More items are hoisted onto the giant drag line for assembly. A low angle shot shows arc welding on the dragline bucket. The boom is aligned to the main machine for assembly. The forward mast is lifted into position, then the boom is raised to it's forty degree working angle. A long shot shows the dragline with the raised boom. As part of a safety procedure nitrogen gas is pumped into the tubular steel structure, leakages will be detected if there is any failing in welds.

The cables which will be used for lifting are taken from large drums then onto the crane and secured in position.

'Big Geordie' is started up, and moves, using its mechanical feet, to another location at the mine to begin a series of tests.

Two men go underneath the vast bulk of the machine house to check the automatic lubrication system on the rotating deck.

From the top of the boom an overhead shot shows the mine area and the landscape beyond. The two mechanics seen earlier check the cables that run across the guide wheels at the top of the dragline. General high angle shots show the tubular assembly of the boom. The two mechanics tighten up suspension ropes. The giant bucket is lifted into position.

A view in the driver's cab shows the driver in spacious surroundings controlling the movements of the giant machine. A general shot shows the electric motors running in the machine room, where a technician runs tests.

All tests are completed and 'Big Geordie' is formally handed over to the client, Derek Crouch contractors.

Lord Robens, the chairman of the National Coal Board, is one of the officials who climbs up to the driver's cab to do an unveiling of the name of the dragline. A large sheet covers the name  'Big Geordie' which is mounted on the side of the machine. Lord Robens releases the sheet revealing the name. Guests and workers applaud.

The camera zooms out of the cab area where the unveiling party is still standing. The giant feet move position. A close up follows of the 'feet' and gearing which allows the huge machine to manoeuvre. Ahead of the drag line a tractor tows a trailing cable which provides the 11000 volt electrical supply to the drag line.

A driver's eye view from one of the control cabs shows the huge bucket. In the following shot the bucket is dragged through tons of rock. A close up of the driver follows as he adjusts the controls. General views show the bucket gathering another load of rock and close ups of the winch gear inside the machine house.

The film ends with an entertaining sequence of general views heralded by the statement "Big Geordie - A King among Draglines", showing the machine at work to the accompaniment of a Viennese waltz.

Title: 1550-W design and supply of main machinery unit by Bucyrus-Erie Company, South Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

Title: Major steel castings and fabricated units by E.H. Lloyd, Wednesbury, Staffs, England

Title: Acknowledgements: Derek Crouch (Contractors) Ltd, National Coal Board Opencast Executive

End Credit: Produced by Turners Film Productions, Newcastle upon Tyne, England

End Credit: For Ruston-Bucryus Ltd, Lincoln, England

Title: Ruston-Bucyrus logo