Scrappy Collector Rescues, Restores Vintage Equipment in YouTube Videos

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Updated Apr 26, 2024
1950 lorain 820 cable shovel loading Euclid 57 truck
Sam Descutner's 1950 Lorain 820 shovel loading a Euclid S-7 truck at the National Pike Steam, Gas and Horse Association show in 2022.
Sam Descutner

Sam Descutner has been operating vintage cable shovels since he was 8 years old.

In eighth grade, he began his first restoration project, a 1960 Bucyrus Erie 22-B, which he finished at age 15.

Now at 31, the mechanical engineer in McDonald, Pennsylvania, still maintains his love of vintage construction equipment as a hobby. He especially likes the friction cable cranes, the predecessors to the hydraulic excavator.

“They have a neat feel to them,” he says. “They just sort of flow. I feel like every machine has its own rhythm, and once you're in that rhythm, you're not fighting the machine. You're letting it do its thing.”

As he goes in search of rundown machinery to rescue, he videos his travels and restoration projects. His YouTube channel “Scrappy Industries” has more than 60,000 followers. Some of his videos have over 500,000 views.

His followers also help him on his searches.

“When you have the YouTube audience and you start having more people looking for you, they'll point things your way, which can be awesome,” he says. “You kind of have this army of people out looking too.”

Runs in the Family

sam descutner at a young age in a Bucyrus Erie 30-B cable shovelSam Descutner at a young age in a Bucyrus Erie 30-B cable shovel.San DescutnerSam traces his love of the old cable shovels to his grandfather, Lou McMaster. Sam would stay at his farm in Hickory during summers when he was growing up.

McMaster was an earthmoving contractor between the 1960s and 1980s, mostly doing site work with Cat 631 scrapers and D8 and D9 dozers. He also was the 2004 Man of the Year for the Antique Caterpillar Machinery Owners Club and a past director of the Historical Construction Equipment Association and the National Pike Steam, Gas and Horse Association.

“He always collected equipment, a lot of old Cats and the shovels, too,” Sam says. “Growing up, I was helping him work on stuff pretty much every chance I got.”

When his grandfather obtained a 1960 Bucyrus Erie 22-B cable shovel from contractor Mashuda Corp., Sam went to work restoring it, starting when he was in eighth grade.

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The 22-B had a crane boom on it and had been used as a drop ball. His grandfather had a shovel front lying in a field from another 22-B he had bought and sold.

“I started putting the shovel front on it and pretty much tearing it apart,” Sam says of the 22-B.

He pulled the cab off with a Bucyrus 15-B crane. The 22-B’s Cat D318 engine needed a valve job, which a local machine shop did. Sam pulled out the clutches and brakes to realign them. He sandblasted and painted the 22-B and put it all back together.

After two summers’ work, the 22-B made its way to the National Pike Steam, Gas and Horse Association in 2008. Based in Brownsville, Pennsylvania, the association was hosting the Historical Construction Equipment Association’s international convention that year.

Sam was 15 and operated the 22-B at the show – and he’s operated it every show there since.

“I don't think I've missed the show there since I was 8 years old,” he says.

1960 bucyrus erie cable shovel 2008Sam Descutner's debut of his restored 1960 22-B cable shovel in 2008 at age 15.Sam Descutner

The Big Lorain

His favorite piece in his collection is a 1950 Lorain 820 cable shovel that was given to his grandfather around 20 years ago by Pittsburgh contractor Frank Bryan.

Sam still has the original sales documents from Frank Bryan when it was bought new. The big shovel played a part in Pittsburgh’s history, working on the approaches to the Fort Pitt Bridge that opened in 1956 and digging the foundation for the engineering department building at the University of Pittsburgh.

The old Lorain was past its prime, though, when Sam, his grandfather and others went to pick up the more than 100,000-pound machine.

“It was over in kind of a bad neighborhood sitting under a bridge,” he recalls. “Kids had thrown rocks through the radiator.”

To get it running to load on the trailer, they had to keep buckets of water coming from a nearby house because water was leaking out of the radiator almost as fast as it was going in. They eventually got it on the trailer and hauled it off to the National Pike association grounds in Brownsville where it stays with Sam’s 22-B.

“It's a big machine,” Sam says. “It was a four-axle tractor and a five-axle trailer to get it up there.”

1950 Lorain 820 cable shovel before being paintedSam Descutner's 1950 Lorain 820 before he sandblasted and painted it in 2022.Sam Descutner

Scrappy Hobby

After studying mechanical engineering at Penn State, he joined his father, David Descutner, at Atlantis Technologies LLC where they design and build automated chemical feed systems for industrial water treatment.

He continues to maintain his hobby of finding and fixing old equipment and has turned it into a side business, called Scrappy Industries, by selling some of the equipment he restores. And, of course, keeping his YouTube posts coming.

He gets some help from his friend Matt of the Diesel Creek YouTube channel, as they often team up on rescue ventures.

“It's always been my hobby, working on that stuff,” Sam says. “That's not my full-time job at all. It just continued on into being able to buy and sell machines on the side, sometimes to make a buck. And obviously, you keep some things around.”

Both his Lorain and his 22-B are two of those keepers. He still runs them for the crowds at the Brownsville shows and keeps them in good operating condition.

“It's a good hobby that people can get into that are interested in turning wrenches and working on stuff,” he says.

“And then you go to a show like Brownsville. To me, it's not fun just to line something up and sit there. You’ve got to go work it, get it in the dirt and play with it.”

Videos and Photos

Two years ago, Sam sandblasted and painted his 1950 Lorain 820 – all of which he posted on YouTube:

He also recently posted a video showing how to operate the Bucyrus Erie 22-B:

sam descutner with newly painted 1950 lorain 820 cable shovelSam Descutner with his newly painted 1950 Lorain 820.Sam Descutner

1960 lorain 820 name plateSam Descutner

Sam Descutner at 15 with restored 1960 Bucyrus 22BAt 15 with his newly restored 1960 Bucyrus Erie 22-BSam Descutner

Sam Descutner grandfather Lou McMaster in front of Bucyrus Erie 10-B cable shovelSam Descutner with grandfather Lou McMaster in front of a Bucyrus Erie 10-B cable shovel on its way to the National Pike Steam, Gas and Horse Association in 2011. Sam was hauling his first solo load with his new CDL license to the show in Brownsville, Pennsylvania.Sam Descutner