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Harold Frost was siphoned off directly from the United States Army Research Corps in early 2075. Frost welcomed the private sector job, with little oversight and reporting required as long as he showed results. The project made headway at first and Frost was confident he could deliver a prototype within months.
However, the optimism was unfounded. As the Excavator was intended for mining, not combat, durability issues manifested quickly. The extra punishment the arm units took when boring into bedrock caused micro-stress fractures and sheared gear assemblies. By September 2075, the research team settled on using black titanium, native to Appalachia. The material had the necessary tensile strength to keep the arm components from tearing themselves apart. Although too expensive for the T-45 power armor due to the expense of the mining process, it was considered an acceptable choice for a corporate design. Although using titanium solved the durability issues, the suit's extra weight made a more efficient reactor necessary. Although the team continued to experiment with new solutions as late as May 2076, they were already way past specifications on the repurposed T-45 reactor, causing overheating and stability issues. After two months of fruitless experiments, Frost's team had to go for broke.
The solution was to go with an ultracite reactor. Although it took trial and error - including slagged reactors and a near-meltdown - Garrahan Mining Co. believed it necessary, as it had the power output and radiation signature necessary for the project. In exchange, they had to make a decade-long commitment to AMS technology. It wasn't the kind of gift the company wanted to receive on Christmas 2076. However, the choice proved prudent, as it allowed the team to complete the project in February 2077, three months ahead of schedule, hastened by AMS' reveal of Watoga and Hornwright Mining Co. launching the Auto-Miner industrial robot line. The crunch time was almost unbearable, with the research team lead going by on coffee, cigarettes, and stale donuts.
By April 3, three complete Excavator units were operational and proved to be a terrific tool. Not only did they have a spotless maintenance record, with nary a single breakdown over two months of constant use, they were already breaking records for the amounts of ore extracted in a single day. Vivian Garrahan decided to play va banque, challenging Hornwright Mining to a duel where the Excavators and Auto-Miners would compete to mine the most ore in a pre-set amount of time. The challenge was a calculated risk, aiming to raise the profile of the company and the project, while securing lucrative contracts in the increasingly automation-obsessed Appalachia.
It was the decisive battle of the Hornwright/Garrahan war: 24 hours of non-stop mining. The challenge started on October 18 and lasted the whole day, with Auto-Miners and Excavators effortlessly chewing through the rock at their designated sites. They were a match for one another and by the end of the day, Hornwright won by a thin margin, just 1.85 tons - less than a single truckload - and stood supreme. Hornwright Mining seized on this tenuous victory as an example of machine's superiority to man.
Harold Frost is only mentiond in Fallout 76.
- Garrahan Mining Headquarters terminals: "It's only been a few weeks since Vivian pulled me out of the U.S. Army's Research Corps and I'm settling in well at Garrahan. One thing's for certain, working in the private sector has its advantages. Nobody constantly looking over my shoulder, no daily reports submitted in triplicate, no accounting for every last penny. As long as I show results, I'm left alone to do what I do best. Component testing for the EX-17 Excavator Project are proceeding ahead of schedule and hopefully the team will have a prototype up and running within a few months."
- Garrahan Mining Headquarters terminals: "We're running into durability issues with the Excavator's chassis. The extra punishment the arm units take when boring into bedrock is causing micro-stress fractures and sheared gear assemblies. Bryce suggested we look into black titanium as an alternative, since it's native to the area and might provide the tensile strength needed to keep the arm components from tearing themselves apart. I wish we had access to the ore when we were designing the T-45, but I don't think the Army would have wanted to foot the bill for the refinement process. As soon as Vivian gives us her stamp of approval, we'll cast new dies and get the parts molded."
- Garrahan Mining Headquarters terminals: "We're two months in the hole, and have nothing to show for it. Vivian's breathing down my neck for results and we keep hitting roadblocks. Right after we casted all the parts in black titanium, we realized the suit's extra weight would require a more efficient reactor. We're already way passed spec with the repurposed T-45 reactor, and we keep suffering overheating and stability issues. We're going to need something else to give the power plant more punch. I think I may have found a solution, but I'm hesitant to log my results until I'm sure the Garrahans will go along with the plan."
- Garrahan Mining Headquarters terminals: "After a few slagged reactors and a near meltdown, we finally have Ultracite powering the Excavator. Vivian wasn't exactly thrilled making the ten-year commitment AMS was demanding for their patented ore, but it had exactly the power output and radiation signature we needed. All that remains now is mounting the Ultracite-fired reactor into the chassis and see if we can get this beast to move some rock."
- Garrahan Mining Headquarters terminals: "Show and tell day is here, and I'm nervous as hell. We're unveiling the Excavator to the press almost three months ahead of schedule. Between AMS unveiling Watoga and Hornwright stepping up their game with their Auto-Miners, the pressure's been on to get the unit field ready. I've had my team working around the clock for almost a month straight. As for myself, I've barely been getting by on a steady diet of coffee, cigarettes and stale donuts. If the Excavator performs even close to our expectations, we're guaranteed to give both AMS and Hornwright a run for their money. Fingers crossed."
- Garrahan Mining Headquarters terminals: "The third Excavator just rolled off of our assembly line, and I couldn't be happier. The first two units have been up and running for almost a month now and we haven't had a single serious breakdown or maintenance issue. Everyone on the mining team wants to get their hands on these suits. Bryce has been continually piloting one of the Excavators... he's already shattered Garrahan's record for amount of ore extracted in a single day. Vivian surprised us all by rolling out a huge ad campaign, pitching our suits taking on Hornwright's Auto-Miners like a friday night boxing match. To say that this project has been a success is an understatement. I think it might be time to take that vacation before things heat up again around here."
- Charleston Herald - Man vs. Machine
- Charleston Herald - Hornwright Wins!