How Diggers Have Broken Records

One of the backbones of the construction fleet regardless of what you call them, the digger, excavator or backhoe loader is a common fixture of sites.

A digger hire serves a range of roles on a construction site, aided by a range of easily swapped attachments.

However, whilst we have seen them break many buildings in the process of demolition and reconstruction, diggers have broken records as well, and these in themselves have ranged from the obvious to the truly ridiculous.

Here are just some of the records diggers have broken over the years.

The Fastest Digger

Whilst speedy movement is not always the biggest priority on-site, it does need to be said that a construction vehicle should be fast enough to reach the site in a timely matter, which avoids delays to start times and improves efficiency.

With that in mind, the JCB GT does take this conceit a little too far.

Originally designed to pop wheelies in 1988, the JCB GT was taken to Bathurst Airport in Sydney to have enough space to demonstrate its power in the hands of demonstration driver Matthew “The Dig” Lucas.

Record officials at Guinness World Records clocked the JCB GT’s speed at 72.58 mph which exceeds the maximum speed limit on motorways and dual carriages in the UK.

The Longest Journey

As noted above, speed is not the most important part of a digger, even when you are driving it from construction site to construction site. They also need to be hard-wearing and able to tackle incredibly long journeys without breaking down.

One enterprising JCB driver, Norman Bartie, took this a step further and travelled across three states in Australia from Brisbane, through New South Wales, Victoria and on to the capital of Canberra.

The journey was over 3,500 miles in total and took over three months to complete. Mr Bartie said he undertook the journey to help raise awareness and support for children affected by domestic violence and has stated plans to attempt an even longer journey.

The Biggest Soup Spoon

The first two awards were tangentially related to considerations many people looking for diggers would have. However, diggers are so versatile they have been used as part of some rather unusual world records.

Possibly the most outwardly bizarre is the digger used to serve over 12,500 people bowls of soup in eight hours, at The Biggest Imoni Festival in Yamagata, Japan in 2018.

Imoni is a meat stew made with soy sauce, thinly sliced meat, taro root and a dense jelly known as konnyaku and is a regional delicacy in Tohoku, especially around Yamagata.

As a result, the Biggest Imoni Festival is an annual event that serves over 25,000 bowls of soup made in a gigantic pot that measures six metres in diameter.

Two brand new diggers were brought in with specially made buckets and the typical mechanical grease used to lubricate the hydraulic joints was replaced with butter, so as not to spoil the enormous bowl.

Tallest High-Reach Demolition Excavator

Whilst diggers are primarily known for their versatility, there are certain specially designed vehicles designed for very specific construction or demolition purposes.

In this case, a high-reach demolition digger has a gigantic digging arm designed to knock down tall buildings, the tallest of which can destroy buildings up to 90 metres tall, which can be preferable to other, more explosive forms of controlled demolition.

The custom-built machine started life as a Caterpillar 5110B excavator which was heavily modified by Rusch to fit their super long TUHD 90-5 boom. This included extending the body and lengthening the caterpillar tracks by 2.5 metres.

The Biggest Excavator

One of the largest mobile machines ever constructed is technically a dragline excavator rather than using hydraulics. However, it is such an incredible feat of construction engineering that no exploration of diggers is complete without it.

In 1966, Bucyrus Erie Co. started a three-year construction project to make a walking earthmover like no other ever made. Weighing 13,200 tonnes, Big Muskie was made to move vast amounts of hilly terrain to aid coal mining efforts.

So large was this machine that it could not be constructed and shipped the way most construction vehicles are, but instead, every single part had to be shipped to Ohio and constructed on-site.

It took 200,000 man-hours, 260 lorries and 340 rail carriages but it was finally complete in 1969 and during its 22 years of active service moved more earth than the construction efforts needed to create the Panama Canal.

It was finally shut down in 1991 and dismantled in 1999, the only remaining part saved being its iconic bucket that was turned into a display about the machine and its legacy.