Most Powerful Heavy Machines Of The World
Here are the most powerful heavy machines in the world!Technology
As an advanced society, we’ve created a lot of very heavy problems that need solutions. 200 years ago, if you’d asked someone how to move several thousand pounds of Earth in an afternoon, they’d think you were insane. These days, though, there are entire industries built around doing just that, and the engines driving them are just as huge, literally!
From the vehicles that carry spaceships to the world’s largest waterwheels, let's explore some of the most powerful heavy machines in the world.
The picture below isn’t of a plane made in photoshop. It’s a real aircraft called the Stratolaunch, and its job is out of this world.
Don’t feel silly if you think this monster looks like two smaller planes duct-taped together, because it is! Maybe not duct-taped, but the machine is largely made up of two decommissioned Boeing 747’s.
As you can probably guess, this makes its wingspan nearly double that of a Boeing 747’s, coming in at a whopping 385 feet. That’s longer than a standard football field, and more than enough to put smaller passenger craft to shame!
What’s more, in order to safely take-off and land, this behemoth is outfitted with 28 wheels, which puts most long-haul trucks to shame! Weighing in at an insane 580 tons, five times the weight of a Blue Whale, it’s amazing to think this thing can fly at all!
In order to carry all that weight, the Stratolaunch is equipped with six powerful jet engines along its wings, while most commercial planes typically have two or four. The Stratolaunch only requires one pilot and co-pilot, who sit in the right fuselage.
So, what’s the purpose of this super-plane? Well, you can think of the Stratolaunch as a cabbie, but instead of confused tourists who somehow can’t find the Eiffel Tower, it’s transporting shuttles into outer space. The Stratolaunch is designed to carry a space shuttle on its underside to an altitude of around 243,500 feet.
At this point, the shuttle can take off from the Stratolaunch itself. Though it’s still just being tested, this launch method has a few benefits over the traditional ‘blast off from the ground’ tactic. Firstly, the Stratolaunch is able to take off in worse weather than space shuttles.
Additionally, hitching a ride on the plane also means the shuttles have to carry less volatile fuel themselves. At its top end, the Stratolaunch is able to carry a mind-boggling 550,000 pounds. That’s enough to carry an entire double-decker bus.
Big Bertha Bores
What’s the most boring thing you can think of? Being stuck in traffic? Watching TV adverts? A Star Wars prequels-triple bill? Well, whatever your answer, it probably doesn’t bore as much as our next entry: Big Bertha, the world’s biggest boring machine.
Boring machines are like giant, spiky drills that spin through the Earth, creating tunnels as they go. Bertha’s job was to create the Route 99 State tunnel in Seattle, which spans two miles and connects SoDo to South Lake Union.
As you can imagine, moving that much dirt takes muscle. And when it comes to size and weight, it’s hard to get more impressive than Bertha. Measuring in at 326-feet long and 57-feet in diameter, Bertha is as long as Big Ben and two busses wide!
What’s more, Bertha weighed in at an inconceivable 6700 tons, nearly ten times as heavy as the Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil. It also makes Bertha more than twice as big as other tunnel boring machines like the wonderfully named Emerald Mole.
Of course, all this Bertha didn’t come cheap; it’s estimated the old girl cost around $80 million to construct. The machine was so large and complex, the pieces were constructed in a specialist factory in Japan before being shipped in 41 parts to Seattle.
As maneuverability wasn’t exactly her forte, Bertha was constructed facing the direction she had to bore. She got to work in 2013, but despite her size it still took her four long years to complete.
This is because the giant cutter head bolted onto Bertha’s front rotated at roughly one revolution per minute, grinding the earth in front down before transporting it on a conveyor system through the rest of the rig and out of the way.
As it gradually ground forward, huge cement ring segments lined the tunnel Bertha left behind, and a series of hydraulic cisterns then pushed off the new ring section to propel the whole operation forwards!
The reason it was done so slowly was to prevent sudden movements from sending shock waves through Seattle above; so slow and steady really was the name of the boring game here!
By 2017, some 9,270 ft and 1.5 million tons of dirt later, Bertha broke through. It’s estimated the Route 99 tunnel can accommodate 110,000 vehicles a day, and they each owe Bertha for the privilege.
You’ll notice that Bertha is being referred to in the past-tense. This is because, tragically, Bertha was disassembled and melted down after completing the 99 tunnels. Her metal was re-used for other machines, so in a way, she lives on.
The Big Wind Fire Extinguisher
Ever wish watering your yard took a little less time? Allow me to introduce the Big Wind, which could water your lawn in seconds and probably destroy your driveway in the process.
This incredible sprinkler-tank is used to fight fires that would otherwise be impossible to put out. These include fires caused by extremely flammable chemicals spills, that without the Big Wind would have burned so hot the only option would be to leave them until they went out on their own.
The Big Wind wasn’t actually designed to fight fires, though, it was built to clean out tanks. Specifically, Soviet-era tanks that had been contaminated by chemical weapon attacks, whose trace components could remain dangerous for years. This gunk can be stubborn, though, so plenty of muscle was required to get the job done.
The Big Wind’s chassis is comprised of an old T34 tank, the immense weight of which provides plenty of stability for what’s on top: two jet turbines, originally stationed on the classic MiG-21 fighter jet.
These massive engines can be swiveled and positioned just like the turret they replaced, and offer an impressive amount of precision considering how powerful the water blast is. After testing the Big Wind out and even after limiting the engine’s power to just 70% of the maximum capability, the machine was still too powerful for the purpose it was designed for.
Currently, the Big Wind is able to blast 220 gallons of water per second. So, in just one minute, this thing can blast out more than 1000 beer kegs worth of water! Not only that but, as its name implies, the Big Wind also expels a huge amount of air when operating, which is perfect for clearing out smoke as well as flames.
Caterpillar Mining Trucks
Have you ever needed to take a monster dump or plop down a massive load? Well, Caterpillar are the manufacturer for you. They build some of the best dump trucks in the world. While their 797 line have been around since 1998, their 2009 F-model was their greatest achievement yet.
This behemoth of an Earthmover is a whopping 49 feet tall and 47 feet wide, which makes it one enormous cube of a vehicle. The purpose of this dino-dumper is the loading, transportation, and dumping of earth, rocks, and minerals.
As you can imagine, the 797F is particularly useful on construction sites, which tend to feature dirt and minerals in spades. The 797F has a payload capacity of 400 short tons, or 800,000 pounds, which is enough to be able to give 60 elephants a lift, though it would be a cramped ride.
This capacity is a full 20 tons higher than the previous 797B model, which was a massive mover in its own right. What’s more, the 797F itself weighs 1,375,000 pounds. This means the total weight of the truck with a full payload is nearly 2,175,000 pounds. In order to move this incredible weight, the Caterpillar requires an incredible engine.
The 797F is fitted with an absolutely monstrous 4000 horsepower engine. This means that, even with a full payload, the 797F is still able to reach speeds of up to 42mph. While that may not sound that fast, keep in mind that combined weight is equal to six and a half houses, it’s a herculean task to move it at all, let alone within your local speed limit!
Because the 797F is so large and heavy, it can’t be assembled in a single factory. Instead, different vehicle components are built in one of six different factories across North America. These enormous parts are then transported to the client, which can require 12 or 13 semi-trailers to deliver.
Kobelco the Destroyer
Imagine someone challenged you to a duel: what weapon would you pick? A shotgun is a safe bet. Maybe a rapier if you’re feeling fancy. Well, now imagine it wasn’t a person that challenged you to a duel, but a building. Suddenly those puny weapons aren’t looking so useful!
This is where you’d call in the Kobelco SK3500D. This mammoth machine is designed to rip apart the foundations of skyscrapers due to be demolished. You know you’re dealing with a seriously hardcore piece of machinery when its preferred prey is a skyscraper.
Tearing apart buildings requires a lot of force, and the 3500D can be equipped with a number of claws or nibblers with a top cutting force of up to 2,716 kilonewtons, which is like being squeezed with more than 610,500 pounds of force.
What’s more, the Kobelco SK3500D entered the Guinness Book of World Records in 2005 as the machine with the tallest working height at a stomach-churning 213 feet. That’s tall enough that it could grab onto the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It’s strong enough it could probably finally straighten the thing out.
As you can imagine, this giant destroyer is heavy, weighing in at around 327 tons. Unsurprisingly then, it isn’t the speediest piece of tech, with a top speed of just 0.7 miles per hour.
It doesn’t need to be that fast, though; the 3500D is designed with a number of detachable hydraulic pins in critical areas. This means that, as gargantuan as the machine is, it can be handily taken apart when it’s done working and put back together in the location of its next job.
If a 213-foot tall, 330-ton piece of heavy machinery can fit through tight spaces, there’s really no excuse you can’t fit into your pants from last year.
The Falkirk Wheel
The Falkirk Wheel might look a bit like Dr. Doom is going to use it to power some sort of death-ray. But despite the fact it won’t fire a laser once it spins fast enough, it is still a remarkable piece of engineering.
The Falkirk wheel resides inside Scotland’s Union canal, which was originally built to connect the country’s two largest cities: Glasgow and Edinburgh. The Union Canal rests at the top of a hill, while the Forth and Clyde is along the bottom.
Before the construction of the Falkirk Wheel, getting from one canal to the other was a nightmare. Boats had to rely on an extended series of locks, which are devices that move boats by raising or lowering the water levels inside different chambers. This was a long, arduous process, and the locks frequently broke down and required maintenance.
In 1998 Scotland launched the £84 million Millennium Link Project, at the center of which was the striking Falkirk Wheel, the world’s largest rotating boat lift. The way it works is that a boat enters one end of the lift, while the other end is filled with water.
All the Wheel then needs to do is provide enough force to begin spinning the lift, like one big push, and inertia does the rest, delivering the boat to the other canal. This unique design uses a shockingly small amount of energy. This is because most boat lifts use motors, carrying heavy boats their entire journey.
In order for a conventional boat lift to raise 500 tons of water 79 feet in the air, they would need to expend 32 kilowatt hours of energy. That’s an entire day’s worth of power used by an American household spent on a two-minute journey. By contrast, the incredible Falkirk Wheel uses just 1.5 kilowatt hours of energy, less than a twentieth of a conventional boat lift!
If you’re in the need to get down and dirty, look no further than the Case IH’s STX Steiger line. These tractors are primarily used on American farms for plowing and turning up soil so seeds can be planted.
Case IH manufacture a wide range of STX tractors, from the 405 series to the 682. These numbers refer to the horsepower of the vehicle, and considering how chunky these machines can get, those are some impressive numbers. The wheels of these beasts on their own are some 82 inches across and weigh in at 740 lbs each!
In fact, they’re even more impressive when you consider the larger models can be outfitted with tracks rather than wheels. These help with stability, but also turn these machines into speedy farm tanks.
These powerful engines mean the tractors are able to drag and pull some serious weight, like this massive 18-wheel stick rake, which is used for mowing and clearing debris.
Case IH put their powerful tractors to the test in 2005 when the STX 500 set a world record by plowing 321 hectares in just 24 hours. That was 70 hectares more than the previous world record, and 112 more than the previous STX record.
Currently, the most powerful commercially available tractor in this line is the Cast STX Steiger 620. This big beaut can weigh up to 60,145 pounds, but can handily carry more than its own weight with a maximum capacity of 64,000 pounds. Of course, a beefy boy like this doesn’t come cheap; the 620 regularly sells for over $600,000.
The Amazing Spider-Legs!
The machine below may look like a robotic spider from an upcoming Marvel movie but it’s Timberjack’s Walking Harvester. Although it does still seem like something out of a comic book.
Timberjack has been working on walking technology as far back as the 1980s, starting with a simple walking platform. Since then, advancements and innovations in the technology have allowed for the creation of their incredible walking harvester.
The fancy piece of tech is controlled entirely through a single joystick, and the pilot is kept stable and steady in a gyroscopically-sound cockpit. Remarkably, sensors in the walkers feet are able to scan the soil beneath them, and adjust the gait and pressure of the machine’s steps accordingly.
The length of each step can be between 12 and 35 inches, and though the walker weighs a hefty 28,860 pounds, which is more than a standard school bus, its six legs evenly disperse that weight.
So besides being generally futuristic, what benefits do legs offer over wheels? For starters, they make navigating hilly or bumpy terrain easier. A machine with wheels might have to waste time driving around a log while a sextrapedal machine can simply step over it.
Legs also allow machines to rotate on the spot, walk in any direction without turning, and remain more stable in difficult terrain. Wheeled machines also tend to have a greater impact on their surroundings, tires disturb more soil than legs, and can more easily knock over trees.
If a tired-machine is heavy enough, the grooves it leaves behind in the earth tend to pool and funnel rainwater, which can lead to soil erosion over time. Despite all these benefits and the original harvester being prototyped over 10 years ago, walkers still have a long way to go before they replace wheels entirely.
John Deere, who purchased Timberjack in 2000, are confident that with more refinement, we can expect to see more walking machines in the future. In fact, they already have walking tractors, loggers, and canal dredgers in the works!
Two heads may be better than one, but this next machine raises the bar by asking; are three wheels better than two? This weird little alien is Combilift’s straddle-carrier, and its main purpose is transporting heavy containers around dockyards and ships.
The machine features three wheels on a chassis that really makes it look like the thing has legs. Powerful grips at the top of the chassis are able to grab onto containers, like the machine is straddling them, before it whizzes away.
While this peculiar little vehicle may not look that tough, you shouldn’t be fooled; the SC3 Straddle Carrier is powerful enough to lift a total weight of 35 tons. That’s strong enough to carry fifteen rhinos and is even more impressive when you consider the carrier itself is only 17 tons.
The support beams of the SC3 are adjustable and can extend to more than twice their compacted size. This means it can carry a container as short as 20 feet or as long as 45 and can extend as high as 32 feet. Imagine those fifteen rhinos dangling 30-feet above you!
The extent of this reach could potentially be even greater, as Combilift reportedly custom builds 98% of their machines to better suit the needs of their clients. This includes creating machines that can be operated entirely via remote control.
Large cranes and reach-stackers are much bulkier and harder to maneuver than the straddle-carrier, which can move about cramped dockyards and operate in incredibly narrow areas with ease. Additionally, the comparatively light-weight straddle-carrier is more fuel efficient than heavier cranes.
If I asked you to move the Eiffel Tower in an hour, and fling it several hundred feet away, you’d probably call me crazy. However, if that Eiffel Tower were made of snow, it might not be as impossible as it sounds.
The Overaasen TV-2200 is the most powerful self-propelled snowblower in the world. It’s specialty is removing snow from airport runways, and machines designed to do that are always fun to watch.
Snowblowers work in two stages. First, a rotating auger at the front of the machine scoops up the snow, which is then fed into an impeller. This is akin to a powerful fan, and the TV-2200’s is super powerful, with it able to yeet the snow more than 110 ft away!
So why is such a powerful machine needed for this job? As you can imagine, a lot of snow tends to pile up on airport runways; they are big, flat strips of land with nothing to shield them from the elements.
As such, the Overaasen requires a pretty beefy engine, 2200 horsepower, to be exact. It utilizes this power amazingly well and is able to clear up to 12,000 tons of snow an hour. In pure weight, that’s like spraying over an Eiffel Tower’s worth of snow an hour.
Consider the fact that all this snow can be shot over 110 feet away and the Overaasen seems less like a piece of airport equipment and more like some kind of long-distance, snow-based assault weapon.
I hope you were amazed by the most powerful heavy machines in the world! Thanks for reading.