June 8, 2000
Greetings from the Great Wet North. It didn't rain (or at least not much). That's about the only thing that went right yesterday. The day started bright and sunny, and we all took this as a good sign. We soon had a call from Dave, who had just been informed by his doctor that he has a chest infection that could turn into pneumonia. Antibiotics and no work for the rest of the week. Jim and Byron left for the mine to begin mucking, and I went to Mark Watson's to pick up the barrel of off road diesel. Jonina stayed at the cottage to begin sample preparation. Tim was at the quarry when I showed up with the 55 gal. drum of fuel, and we transferred it into the compressor and hydraulic unit, and pretty much emptied the barrel, which I returned to Mark for another filling. First off, we discovered that a large rock had come off the hill above the landing during the night, and rearranged a portion of the radiator on the hydraulic unit, rendering it temporarily inoperable. The only bright side to this is that we shouldn't need the chain saw for a bit.
I returned the empty drum to Mark for refilling, and came back to the quarry. As I was walking in the compressor cut off, and I heard a fair amount of loud inquisition from Jim. Couldn't get it restarted. Wore down the battery. I drove the Peugeot around from the back into the quarry so we could jump the compressor. Still couldn't restart it. Jim took off the fuel filter and noticed that there was more water than diesel inside it. Time to drain and clean out the fuel system on the compressor. Fortunately, we didn't have to drain the entire fuel tank, as we had just filled it that morning. While disassembling the fuel pump, Jim found a filter screen that was covered in black muck. I had no idea that algae would grow in something as foul-smelling as diesel, but Jim reassures me that this is the case. After a couple of hours of fussing over it, Jim fires up the unit and it hums right along. He gets his diesel mechanic merit badge for this one.
Byron had opened up another pocket at the face by this time, and was busy washing and extracting specimens. The cavity is located lower on the face, and to the right of the GBH. Looks like it extends to the right, behind last year's Weasel Pocket. Fluorites are a pale green - not top color, but many have good form. They are typically on that coarse druzy quartz that we've found previously in this area, and are associated with cube-octahedral galena crystals, some of which are up to several cm in size. they are, of course, coated with a thin alteration layer of anglesite/cerussite (I'm not sure which one this white crud actually is). If the quartz cleans up white and sparkly, they should make nice specimens. We can't tell how far this cavity goes, but Byron thinks it continues a ways. This part of the mine is looking like a Swiss cheese. To commemorate our "bad technology" day, this one has been named the "Dead Compressor Pocket".
Byron continued to dig, and Jim and I got to mucking the tunnel. Jim seems able to whip the little Eimco 12B around like a sports car, but says that it really isn't working very well. Evidently mucking on a curve in the track is a trick. He also says that in order for the thing to really perform, we need a higher capacity compressor. The current system we have doesn't give it enough power to muck with the ore cart attached, as it was designed to be, so we had to block the cart into position in the tunnel with a large steel pipe to keep it in place when we dumped rock into it. Soon after getting under way, the pressure cut out. More problems. The compressor was still purring along (if a large diesel motor is capable of purring), and we soon found that our vintage air hose had split. Fortunately, this was near the take-off on the compressor so Jim was able to splice it back together quickly. Back to work with Jim on the Eimco and me shoveling rock into the track so he could scoop it up. We put a big dent in the pile, but didn't get it all done. As we had driven the company car into the quarry, we had to be out before the saw mill closed.
Jim and Byron stopped at the pub for a beer, and to pick up our grocery order which Jonina places through the fellow who supplies them. I went up to Little Allercleugh to get Jonina, and was greeted like I had just entered a troll's cave. Evidently she had had a day similar to ours, and was understandably a little grumpy by that point. When I left in the morning, she had disassembled the Italian (230v) water gun, and cleaned out all the passageways. She even made a water filter from some old stockings for it, but it plugged up again in short order. Perhaps we will get a small auto fuel filter and see if we can install it onto the water take-up tube on the thing. True to it's Italian heritage, this unit appears quite temperamental. Well, she decided, if I can't get along with the Italians today, let's try the Swiss. The Krebs gun has a long siphon for drawing water out of a bucket, and despite repeated primings, would not draw water. Perhaps there's a hole in the tube somewhere. After giving up on the guns, she loaded up the sonicator, which quit working in short order as well. The unit is getting power to the control panel, but the transducers don't want to do their thing. Hoping that the problem may be just some moisture in the control panel (which is one of these modern "touch sensitive" things) she set it aside, and we will try it again today. At least the crockpots worked as they should, so the cleaning process has begun.
Returned to the pub with Jonina, and upon entering, encountered the fragrant aroma of diesel. Both Jim and Byron were saturated, and I only noticed the smell after being away for a while. I'm sure glad they like us there at the Golden Lion. While having a beer to wash away the frustration of the day, David Rennison walks in. Said he spotted our company car, and stopped to see if it was us. Had a good chat, and it sounds like he is very eager for more material. He said that last year he was being rather cautious in his buying, and is now kicking himself because he sold the entire lot within weeks. He also seems to have discovered there is a market for faceted fluorite, and that dinged up crystals, if clear, may have little value to collectors, but as cut stones can bring good money. He showed around a couple very clean, but dinged up yellow fluorites he had dug from the dumps at Hilton. Says he is going back on Monday, and invited us along. Unfortunately, I think we will have to work. I invited him up to see what we had found so far, and it sounds like he will want more specimens as soon as we can get theme cleaned and ready to go.
Jim says that this has been a "typical" day in mining. If so, perhaps this explains, at least partially, why most mining operations don't make any money. I hope we can manage to be atypical, or failing that, there's enough fluorite in the Rogerley that it doesn't matter. Jim and Byron are planning on finishing mucking, and if equipment cooperates, drill another round so we can blast at the end of the day. I guess Jonina and I are going to Kendal again.
Jesse, Jim, Byron, and the pre-awakened Jonina