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The minecart or mine cart (also known as a mine trolley) is a type of rolling stock found on a mine railway, used for moving ore and materials procured in the process of traditional mining. Minecarts are seldom used in modern operations, having largely been superseded in underground operations (especially coal mines) by more efficient belt conveyor systems that allow machines such as longwall shearers and continuous miners to operate at their full capacity, and above ground by large dumpers.
Design and operation
Minecarts range in size and usage, and are usually made of steel for hauling ore. Shaped like large, rectangular buckets, minecarts ride on metal tracks and were originally pushed or pulled by men and animals (supplemented later by rope-haulage systems). They were generally introduced in early modern time, replacing containers carried by men. Originally, they didn't run on a real "rail", where the wheels would have a rim to fit into the tracks, but with plain wheels on a wooden plank way, hold in track by a pin fitting into a guide groove, or by the underside of the cart itself which was lower than the wheels and fitted between the planks ("Hungarian system").[better source needed]
As mines increased in size and output, the aforementioned methods became impractical because of the distances and quantities of material involved, so larger carts would be used, hauled by narrow gauge diesel and electric locomotives (in coal mining operations, where gas that is flammable would present a problem, the locomotives would be flameproof or battery powered). These were also used to pull trains transporting miners to the workfaces.
Mining cart shown in De Re Metallica (1556). The guide pin fits in a groove between two wooden planks.
Throughout the world, there are different titles for such carts. In South Africa, for instance, a minecart is referred to as a cocopan, in German it is called Hund (alternative spelling "Hunt"), a homonym to "Hund" = "Dog". In Wales, UK, minecarts are known as drams. In the U.S. and elsewhere the term skip is used.
Minecarts in popular culture
Minecarts have been depicted as a type of thrill ride; for instance Indiana Jones uses one in an escape scene. There are also real roller coasters whose design depict a mine cart track. Minecart levels, a term used for levels in which the player character takes a high-speed ride in a minecart, are one of the most common level types in video games, especially side-scrolling video games. A minecart is also featured in Hoodwinked. Minecarts and tracks can be crafted by the player in Minecraft and used for transportation. They are also found in abandoned mineshafts that generate naturally as a part of the game's procedural generation.
In Great Britain, restored mine carts (known as "tubs") containing floral displays can commonly be seen on village greens and outside pubs in former coal mining areas such as Northumberland and County Durham.
- Periscope Film (2008). Mining Haulage: The Classic Mine Technology Book From 1907. Lulu.com. pp. 1–51. ISBN 098165262X. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
- Rakes, Paul H. (2012). "Coal Mine Mechanization." The West Virginia Encyclopedia. West Virginia Humanities Council, Charleston, WV.
- Media related to Mining carts at Wikimedia Commons