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|INTRODUCTION In the early 1950s, underground miners and tunnel¬ing contractors were experimenting with ways to supple¬ment or eliminate track-bound loading and hauling equipment. Diesel-powered crawler and rubber-tire mounted front-end loaders and trucks designed for use on the surface were being modified and tried with limited but encouraging success. Miners began working with interested manufacturers to explore the develop¬ment of vehicles specifically designed to meet the de¬mands and constraints of underground material han¬dling. By the mid 1960s, load-haul-dump (LHD) vehicles were firmly established as a fundamental part of what has become known as the "trackless" mining concept, used in many mines and many countries around the world. The flexibility, mobility, and versatility of these units have given the industry a useful tool and have added new dimensions to mine development and produc¬tion. Many old mines have been redesigned to accom¬modate these trackless vehicles, and few new mining plans have failed to find some use for the concept during some phase of development and production. By 1977, several manufacturers in several different countries were producing a variety of LHD vehicles to meet the growing worldwide demand. GENERAL DESCRIPTION LHD vehicles combine certain characteristics of conventional front-end loaders and dump trucks, spe¬cifically designed for materials handling in underground mining and tunneling. The design intent is to provide one vehicle with one man, with the vehicle loading itself, hauling the load over level or inclined haulageways, and dumping the load. A typical production cycle of the most popular units has the operator driving the vehicle forward, forcing the bucket into the muck at or near floor level, and using the tractive effort of the vehicle and the prying action of the bucket to roll out and tilt back the load as shown in Fig. 1. With the bucket rolled back into the carrying position on the boom and the boom resting on the main frame of the vehicle, the load is hauled (trammed) to the dump point as shown in Fig. 2. At the dump point, the boom is raised, the bucket is rolled forward, and the load slides out as shown in Fig. 3. After dumping, the bucket is rolled back to the carrying position, the boom is returned to rest on the main frame, and the unit is driven back to the loading point for another load. There are two other types of LHD units that are slightly different in the cycles that they perform. One uses a hopper arrangement carried on the front of the machine, with a small bucket mounted ahead of the hopper. Several passes with the small bucket load the hopper, which is dumped by opening its floor. Al¬though this concept is several years old, it has gained less than 0.5% of the total market. The most recent LHD concept differs in that it has one bucket nesting inside another. The smaller inner bucket is loaded first, and it is then tilted back and above the larger bucket. When the larger bucket has been loaded, it is rolled back, and the total load is trammed to the dumping point. The dumping operation tilts the buckets in the reverse order from that of the loading operation. The impact of this new concept on the mining industry has not been measured yet. This chapter concentrates on the LHD vehicles employing the cycle described by Figs. 1 through 3, since these LHD units constitute an estimated 99% of the units in current use. MAIN VEHICLE FEATURES In general, the LHD vehicles available from most manufacturers share the same basic features.|