The Evolution of the Skooper

The Koehring Skooper is considered the first heavy-duty hydraulic front shovel machine in the American market, but where did the idea come from?

A Koehring 205 Skooper used cables for hoisting and hydraulics for bucket reach, breakout and dump.
A Koehring 205 Skooper used cables for hoisting and hydraulics for bucket reach, breakout and dump.

The Skooper line originated in 1957 with the model 205. Rated at two yards capacity, it was substantially larger than other such machines of the time, and its 1957 introduction made it the first American-made hydraulic shovel.

That said, it wasn’t a true hydraulic machine, as only the crowd and dump were hydraulically powered with all other functions operated by cable. The hydraulic crowd gave it the capability to dig on a level plane from a fixed position up to 7 feet across a 7-foot range.

The combination of horizontal crowd and a full-revolving excavator resulted in several advantages over competing products. It had the level digging plane and breakout of a crawler or wheel loader, and its ability to dig and dump from a fixed position rather than continually cycling from cut to dump reduced fuel costs and eliminated wear or transmission and tracks or tires while reducing operator fatigue. The only real drawback was that when it did need to be repositioned, its travel speed was much lower than that of a crawler or wheel loader, and it didn’t have either machine’s ability to work from a variety of positions in the pit over a short time if needed.

The cable/hydraulic Skooper had another advantage that its all-hydraulic successors did not enjoy. By using the cable hoist works of a standard 205 cable excavator, it could be converted to a cable-operated shovel, crane, clamshell, backhoe or – ironically – conventional shovel.

The 505 Skooper (read more, The first American hydraulic excavator) was first introduced in 1960 as a similar cable/hydraulic machine, and was redesigned two years later as the first all-hydraulic shovel made in America.

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