Groundhog Underground Loader

 Another project for an IVT article. I only had about 4 days to design this and to make sure everything worked. Some things I'm happy with, others I would have done differently if I had more time... The blue text bellow was the final text for the article.

A loader mounted on a turntable is not a new idea – the first time I saw one was as a kid back in the early 70s, when I was given a Kingsize Matchbox replica of a Hatra loader that featured this sort of layout. The difference with my Groundhog Loader concept is that the loader arms are articulated. This allows the machine to rotate the loader assembly 90° to either side and then extend out – now the loader can dig and load rock 180° from one side to the other. The cab rotates 360° so that the operator always has visibility of the work area being excavated, no matter in which direction the loader is digging.
A static counterweight located in the middle of the chassis, and one mounted to the loader turntable, help to maintain the machine’s stability while reaching and digging to either side. A large side-shifting counterweight mounted under the chassis also helps keep the Groundhog stable. When the loader digs and reaches to the left, the counterweight shifts outboard to the right, and vice versa when the machine digs and reaches to the right.

The rotating loader assembly and articulating loader arms on the Groundhog Loader also give the machine a loading versatility underground not seen on other machines. The Groundhog Loader can pull up parallel to a hopper or haul truck, rotate the loader arm assembly 90°, and use the articulating loader arms to reach out to properly center-load the hopper or haul truck dump bed. In addition, because the cab can rotate 360°, the Groundhog Loader can load forwards or to either side of the machine. This could allow for great flexibility in terms of how the mine is set up.

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