June 19, 2000

The weather is still holding, 10 days straight, and it is actually hot. Sunday set a 15 year heat record for England. Now it is starting to feel to much like Southern Calif. and the farmers are complaining about no rain. If it's not one thing it's another.

This morning we finished installing the permanent track around the "S" curve and then leveled it. Since we used the heaviest rail and since they were 18 feet long we couldn't use the mucker to bend the rail and had to use the rail bender. This proved easier since we could bend the right rail on the spot to conform it to the left rail already in place. By 10 AM we had finished and tested it by running the mucker back and forth on it to see if the mucker would jump the tracks, curves are the trickiest to install and have work properly. Hopefully, since the left rail ends right at the face, we won't blow it to hell when we blast again.

Drilling went well except the drill still allows water through every orifice and we are in a cloud of water and oil vapor most of the time. Sometimes so thick that you can't see whether the steel is rotating or not, drilling blind so to speak. But by lunch time we had finished drilling the 16 holes and by the time we finished lunch Jonina had arrived with the explosives.

I'm not sure whether the formation is fractured or our blasting completely fractures the rock but it takes as long to clean and load the holes as it does to drill them. We actually shot the round at 4:30, Jonina got the honor of cranking the machine and pushing the button. Since she doesn't like loud noises it was a bit difficult to push the button and have her hands over her ears at the same time and it really rumbled, throwing rocks out the portal.

After letting the smoke dissipate for a time, we reentered the mine to see how the shot went. The tunnel was full of muck and it appears that the four foot round actually broke about five feet rock. That's good but it also appears that our blasting is bring down the roof in parts of Mick and Lindsay's tunnel just adjacent to our new drift. Dave suggested that we used more delays to reduce the blast effect to minimize the damage. In fact, around 9 PM Dave called and suggested another firing pattern and gave us a list of the delays needed. If all goes well we can muck out the tunnel and shoot another round. Hopefully, now that the tunnel is more or less straight we can drill and blast one round per day. That is, if nothing breaks down.

While Dave and drilled the round Byron removed the injectors from our defunct compressor and wondered how fuel even got through the things at all. After Jonina delivered the explosives she took them and had them rebuilt and was back with clean injectors within a few hours. Tomorrow they will be installed and we can try once again to make the compressor run.

Another accomplished task was installing 4 new cables on the mucker. One broke about a week ago and we have been babying the thing so as not to break another. Now that has been taken care of.

So ends another day in the beautifully green, but turning brown, Northern England.

Till tomorrow, Jim, Byron and Jonina

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