I have tried to ask some dragline questions here. I don't believe we have an operator that posts. (But I could definitely be wrong.)
Have you tried posting on the Heavy Equipment forum?
I have three dragline ponds on my property, but I believe they are 90 years old. They capture water very well, but they leak because the sides were not sealed during construction. They are essentially "groundwater" ponds at this time.
Yeah I tried some of the heavy equipment forums it was somewhat amusing. I either got all kinds of advice from people that have never even sat in one or union crane operators that wondered when my 1950s crane last had a safety inspection and if my crane operators license was up to date. 😆 They were not impressed that I straightend the bent lattice with a bottle jack and sledge hammer. I really need to find a farmer or old operator that ran the old basic cable machines, but I think most have passed by now.
My search for dragline advice almost exactly matched your experience!
One of the recurring posts on Pond Boss is old ponds that have filled in with muck over the decades. They are very difficult to clean out, even with the capabilities of modern excavators.
I think a good operator on an aged dragline could clean out those old ponds with greater efficiency than just about any other method.
If you are forced to put some significant money into your dragline for repairs, then maybe you could make it back by getting a little work on your neighbor's ponds. (Especially since you will be an "experienced" operator after excavating your own pond!)
DaveS Not far from me the city/county/state worked together to preserve a fairly large area of land into a park system (Millenium Park). The plan was to continue to add to it until it offered quite a bit of opportunity for recreation. The area was dotted with gravel pits and to my knowledge all the pits were dug with a dragline system. The man who originally owned and operated the gravel operation and ran the dragline passed in 2009 at age 93. His son lives down the road from me and his crane is sitting in his yard yet. Now, how much experience the son has with those systems I don't know but there is a good chance he would know enough to either answer your questions or might still know someone else in the area who could.
A few tidbits from his obituary that I found online: "George was born January 21, 1916 the third child and first son of Dutch immigrants, and as a child of the Great Depression, he regretfully had to end his formal education after the 8th grade to help support his family. At age 19, George joined the Civilian Conservation Corps. where he helped carve out Bewabic State Park from the virgin forest of the UP near Crystal Falls, MI. George proudly served his country for 4.5 years in WWII in the 3rd Army of the 90th Infantry under General Patton. As a leader in the transportation unit, it was his job to keep vehicles moving as the army fought their way across Europe to the Czech Border. After V-E Day, he spent months on Occupation Duty on the German border near Weiden. Following his Honorable Discharge, he rejoined his faithful wife and their two young daughters, and with determination and hard work, they established Sietsema Brothers Excavating where he worked until age 92. George enjoyed reading and good humor and believed in starting each day with a goal. He cherished time with his family and weekends at his lake cabin where he enjoyed water skiing, horse shoes, and campfires."
Private message me if you think this is worth chasing down and I can try to figure out how to connect you to his son who lives on the SW side of Grand Rapids.
I have definitely thought about that, I love running it, it is calming/soothing. I really lucked out with mine, it is really in great shape for its age. Once I get the 1/4 acre pond done I am going to go through it and try to tighten it up a bit to get it more responsive. It really is amazing how much work it can do and relatively quickly. My biggest issue with the digging part is getting it to bite into the hard pack clay bottom. Once I get down about 10ft under water it kinda just scrapes along the bottom without digging in. If I let the hard clay sit a day of two it soaks up the water and I'm able to peel a few more inches out, just slow going now.
I,ve been doing excavating for many years but I have never even seen a dragline in operation, they intrigue me, Modern hydraulics I am assuming have made them obsolete but I know that coal mines used them up to not that long ago, which I guess could be 40 yrs, come to think of it, I know some old time operators but not aware of any that may have dragline experience. there used to be a small old one sitting just up the road from me that I have taken a look at a few times but it looked pretty daunting with rotten cables sorta made me step back from it, other then that I know where there are several old giants from the coal mines sitting on the side of the road as conversation pieces, here in central MO and in central AL. Interesting thread!
All the really good ideas I've ever had came to me while I was milking a cow.
In my recollection, there were actually a few good dragline operating videos on youtube (years ago).
I also think most of the modern dragline operations are moving gravel or sand in a water environment. A free-swinging bucket just cannot generate any significant break-out force except for a straight drag - which I believe would be the least efficient way to break out a scoop of clay.
I think the advantage of DaveS's machine would still be to muck out ponds. How far can you reach out horizontally with your bucket? Compare that to the massive HP and cost of a long-reach excavator that could reach the equivalent distance.
My dragline ponds are in the shape of a U. The two sides of the "U" are significantly higher than the dam (the bottom of the "U"). I assume the operator constructed the dam first at "design" height and then built the sides by dragging perpendicular to the long-axis of the pond. I guess theoretically my ponds could have been 60' wide and hundreds of feet long based upon that pattern.
The boom is 40 ft, I can cast it about 50' if i get it right. It will be great for mucking out a pond. I think I could add another 10ft section to the boom without much trouble. The ideal setup would be to also have a large frontend loader to shuttle the material around. That is next on my list, for now i have just used this and a John deere 990 40hp with loader. I use the crane to relay the material away from the dig site and then finish things off with the tractor. Not super efficient but I used all my good husband points to buy the old dragline, going to take awhile to earn enough for the loader.
Looking to chat with a fellow dragline operator on a couple items.
Interesting thread. Out of curiosity, I reached to two friends who I thought might know someone that could be helpful. One is a 30 year equipment operator who did not know anyone who ran a dragline and said that was "serious old school" and the other runs a coal mining equipment fabrication and repair company and he does not know anyone either. Sorry to come up empty.
Have you ever had anyone take video of you running your rig? That would be really interesting to see. (I was going to ask if you had any dragline footage and then make a humorous comment clarifying that I meant the heavy machinery variety and not the cross-dressing sort, but I didn't want my buddy TeeJaeh57 moderating me! LOL!)
Wow CC, that video is bad assed, that operator has done that a day or two, playing with clutches and cables is a whole different ball game then hydraulics and levers, my neighbor way back when I was a kid had an old cable operated dozer and that thing was a trick to operate but obviously would be a piece of cake compared to that dragline. when Dave S gets that much skill operating one I wanna see some videos!
All the really good ideas I've ever had came to me while I was milking a cow.
The only thing I know about draglines is the monstrous one that we used to climb on as kids that was left in a sand pit near Irondequoit Bay. Never grew big enough nuggets to climb all the way up the arm like some kids would. It did have a dizzying array of controls in the thing if I recall. The entire machine is now buried under a condo complex.
As an aside, this is the very area where Denonville took his troops to give the Seneca Indians a bad day. It was neck-deep poison oak in there except for the narrow trails. You fall off your bike? Get ready for some serious rashes. Denonville wrote about the sun burns and poison ivy rashes and how miserable they all were.