June 14, 2000

Greetings from the Great Wet North. Yesterday was one of those rare sunny days in Weardale, and it actually seemed summer-like at the quarry. There was a good breeze most of the day, so things dried out a bit. This morning we appear to be returning to normal, however. The wind has died and the clouds hover over the moors.

Yesterday I spent the day at the mine with Jim, Byron, and Dave, while Jonina made a powder run to Kendal in the morning, and worked on specimens in the afternoon. Byron and I stopped by Neil Fairless's on the way in. The CO2 tank and regulator for the air abrasive unit was in, and Neil's wife Christine told us that the elusive rock oil would be delivered that day. She also said that our compressor fuel pump should be back to us by the end of the day, at a cost of 220 UKP for a complete re-build. Jim and Byron aren't looking forward to the job of putting it back on and getting the unit running. Evidently there are no visible timing marks to help one line up the cam which operates the pump with the motor. Getting it back on correctly looks like it will be accomplished using the sophisticated technique known as trial and error. Hopefully Mick will have some suggestions.

Once at the mine, the crew finished the job of mucking out the back of the tunnel, while I spent some time inside the GBH with the hose, washing out enormous amounts of mud and exposing the pocket further. The cavity is now around 10 feet long, and appears to continue on. I exposed what looks like another huge "lump" of purple crystals, laying on the floor of the far right-hand side of the pocket. To get it out intact I think we will need to drive the main tunnel forward and take out the side of the pocket. The material in the pocket has shown a remarkable consistency of character, and we literally have a ton of this stuff already, so I suggested to the crew that we forget about the rest of the GBH for now and spend our efforts getting back into the green flats. Everyone agrees, but I can tell that Byron has a hard time ignoring an exposed, specimen-containing pocket. Every time there is a break in activity he is back there with his long bar. As I sat there in the mud washing out the pocket I could hear the mucker running in the tunnel outside. Soon, I felt the rock I had a foot on disappear, and decided it was time to come out.

Drilled a set of holes to begin angling our new tunnel to the west so that it will run parallel to the old one. Jim and I did our string and protractor survey and, upon plotting it out on paper got similar results to what we had with the brunton - after we discovered our "magnetic anomalies". Dave tells me that these steel arches are common in British mines. I wonder how they ever did any mine surveys with all that iron around. Maybe they didn't do surveys. We also drilled the face of the tunnel in order to level the floor and open up the pockets. This gave a few problems because it is right on the mineralized vein, and the rock is mostly fractured, making it hard to drill in. Jonina showed up with the powder at around 1400 and by 1500 we had shot both faces.

Dave had his van with him and offered to pick up the CO2 cylinder and deliver it to Little Allercleugh. The rest of us went in search of a blacksmith Byron and Jonina had met last year. In order to run rail into the new tunnel, we have to cut the existing rail and install a swiveling "point" which will direct the mucker and car either way. this will have to be custom-made, of course. The smith use to be in Wolsingham, but had moved his shop to Frosterley. Evidently his family has been in the business for many generations and still has an old shop in Wolsingham that dates from the mid 18th century. Byron says we all need to see it sometime. Back to see Neil Fairless again. the rock oil had finally materialized, but there appears too be some hang-up with the fuel pump. Christine said that the fellow doing the work needed to speak with us, but didn't know about what. Unfortunately, he had already knocked off for the day, so this job will spill over into another day. I hope we can get this thing running soon so we can sell it and recover some of our money. I don't want another incident like our bobcat adventure last year, and given the age of our compressor, I fear the worst.

Back at LA, I cooked dinner while Jonina and Byron fussed about in the lab, mostly with the air abrasive unit. Needs a fitting to connect the unit to the regulator (of course!) which someone will have to go in search of today. Byron also washed a load of our rubberized gloves and hung them out to dry. Unfortunately, the clouds came in over night so this probably didn't happen. The weather was clear, so after dinner I sat out on the "veranda" and watched the shadows grow long. There were a couple of hares chasing about out in the field. I would have called then March Hares, but it's now June, and "June Hares" just doesn't have the same ring. "Anyone care for tea?" said the mad hatter.

We used up our current store of powder yesterday, but Jonina got another order in with Mick, and he says that it should be at the bunker by mid day today. This being the case, we should be able to muck, drill, and blast again today, if everything goes according to plan. How often does that happen, though? If we can get through this routine for two consecutive days, it will be a first for the season.


Jesse, Jim, Byron, and Jonina

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