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|INTRODUCTION Shaft sinking represents a relatively small proportion of the activities involved in mine development. Because of this limited utilization, shaft sinking has been one of the most difficult functions to mechanize. Although shaft machines (muckers) were introduced more than 30 years ago, the first machines were low-capacity units, and machines of this type did not gain wide acceptance by the mining industry until the late 1950s. However, the increasing depth of underground mines and the es¬calating costs of labor have increased the benefits obtain¬able from high-speed shaft sinking. The result has been a growing need for high-capacity shaft machines. Most of the machines available at the present time have been developed by modifying existing equipment to increase the payload capacity and performance. AVAILABLE SHAFT MACHINES In general, shaft machines may be classified accord¬ing to the types of digging mechanisms and the mecha¬nisms of operation. The available digging mechanisms include clamshells, cactus grabs, front-end buckets, and backhoes. The mechanisms of operation can be classified as either pneumatic or hydraulic. Selection Criteria For efficient operation, the primary consideration in selecting a shaft machine is its capacity. The minimum capacity of the machine should match the capacity of the hoisting system at the ultimate depth of the shaft. In many cases, two machines may be needed to obtain a sufficient mucking capacity. The shaft dimensions and configuration often dictate the type of machine that may be utilized; for example, an overshot loader does not work well in a circular shaft that has a diameter of less than 5.5 m (18 ft). Similarly, a single Cryderman mucker is not suitable for a large-diameter shaft, nor is it applicable where very high sinking buckets are to be used. Other factors for consideration include the degree of material fragmentation, the abrasiveness of the rock, and the amount of ground water that is inter¬sected. Machine Descriptions Riddell Mucker: The Riddell mucker, illustrated in Fig. 1, was first introduced in 1948. This is one of the most common shaft machines in the medium-capacity range. The Riddell mucker consists of a hoisting and traveling mechanism that operates a clamshell suspended on cables. The early machines operated with a 0.3 m3 (10 cu ft) clamshell and had an hourly capacity of approximately 27 t (30 st). This type of shaft machine has gained wide acceptance throughout North America. Essentially, the Riddell mucker consists of standard components, such as the pneumatic tugger hoists that operate the clamshell. The carriage is suspended on rails that also serve as the blasting set, located immediately below the shaft timbers. To effectively position the clam¬shell in the shaft, the operator controls the carriage travel by means of wheels that are driven by a pneu¬matic motor. The Riddell mucker most commonly is used in rec¬tangular timbered shafts. However, some units have been installed with circular rails, allowing them to work in circular concrete-lined shafts. A popular practice with many Riddell muckers is to increase the capacity through the use of larger clamshells, often ranging up to 0.76 m3 (1.0 cu yd), in conjunction with more powerful tugger hoists. In some large rectangular shafts, two Riddell units have been used side by side to achieve a sufficient capacity. Cryderman Mucker: The Cryderman mucker, illus¬trated in Fig. 2, is another common shaft machine in the low- to medium-capacity range. Developed in the early 1950s, it also has gained wide acceptance throughout North America. Equipped with a 0.3 m3 (10 cu ft) bucket, the Cryderman mucker has an hourly capacity of approximately 23 t (25 st). The Cryderman mucker is operated entirely by means of pneumatic cylinders and a pneumatic telescopic boom. The boom is suspended from a sectional frame¬work that is usually located at one end of the shaft. The framework or headframe can be suspended from an independent hoisting system located either on the sur¬face or in the shaft. In large shafts of either rectangular|