Hoisting … getting the dirt from underground to aboveground
Until the 1960s hoisting dirt up the shaft of a mine was done by a miner winding a windlass handle.
In the early 1960s a few miners made and used a simple kind of powered hoist, which was common in the building industry at the time. A small engine drove a winding drum which could raise or lower a cable and a drum in the shaft. The jib of the hoist could be swung around a pole to move the rope and bucket away from the shaft collar before emptying the dirt out of the bucket.
Eric Catterall was a long-time miner who had contracted polio as a child and lost the use of his legs. Around 1960, he invented a tractor-powered dump hoist which he could control from underground by pulling on ropes to send a bucket up the shaft and turn it over to tip the dirt into a chute which fed it into a rumbler.
The design of the dump hoist was refined by Bob Davidson and many ‘self tipper’ hoists were made at his business Rural Welding.
In 1967 Knud Nexo and Allan Vroom modified the earlier designs to make a fully automatic hoist.
Special Purpose Autohoists
Miners who wanted to stockpile material excavated from their mines developed hoists which carried the dirt further away and higher than the first autohoists, which were designed to tip dirt into a truck. David Douglas (born Drago Lipnik) built several ‘big hoists’, known as long throw hoists, in the 1980s, similar to the one he built which now stands in front of the Walk In Mine.
‘Superhoists’ were developed in the 1990s to hoist much larger quantities of dirt than the earlier autohoists. This was to match the capacities of the new diggers and boggers which were bringing much more dirt to the shaft to be hoisted to the surface.