Big Brutus needs new clothes, and its caretakers are raising money to buy them.

Big Brutus needs new clothes, and its caretakers are raising money to buy them.

The mammoth electric coal shovel, which is on display in West Mineral, was last painted in 1984 when the Pittsburg & Midway Coal Mining Company donated the 16-story shovel to Big Brutus, Inc.

The behemoth’s “house” received a new 900-gallon coat of Omaha Orange paint several years ago, but the A-frame, or shovel structure, interior and “crawlers” all need new coats of the special outdoor industrial paint.

“We have to have it professionally done because of the height and the preparation it takes,” museum manager Betty Becker said.

Big Brutus is a Bucyrus Erie Model 1850B, and is the largest electric shovel still in existence. A slow mover with a top speed of .22 mph, it was the second largest of its type in operation in the 1960s and 1970s. Built for $6.5 million in 1962, it’s boom is 150 feet long and its bucket can carry 150 tons of material, enough to fill three railroad cars. Weighing in at 11 million pounds and standing 16 stories tall — 160 feet — it came in second in size only to the Marion Power Shovel Company’s Model 6360, also known as “The Captain.” Completed in 1965 and weighing 15,000 pounds, it was the heaviest land vehicle ever built — The Captain and it’s sister shovel, the “Big Digger,” were both scrapped in the early 1990s.

The Big Brutus, Inc. Board of Directors started the campaign several years ago, Becker said, and hopes that the cost will be less than the $250,000 estimate quoted by one firm.

“We’re not sure how much it would be today,” Becker said.

According to the museum’s website, painting will require 900 gallons of Omaha Orange and 300 gallons of black for the outside. The inside will require smaller amounts of Vista Green and White.

Becker said Big Brutus, Inc., appreciates the help its members have received and any donations that have already been made to the project. Becker said all donations are tax deductible and that anyone who wants to donate can contact Big Brutus directly at (620)827-6177, or send donations designated to the paint fund at:

Big Brutus, Inc.
P.O. Box 25
West Mineral, KS 66782
To view a Bucyrus Erie Model 1850B in action, visit: