August 18, 2000

It was raining when I got up this morning. You know it's raining hard when you can hear it bouncing off the stone tiles on the roof. It didn't last long though and it was bright and sunny for the rest of the day.

Dave and I had to fix the tracks that he and Byron installed a couple of weeks ago. They said it was a bit wide in one spot and it hasn't been a problem with the mucker since it is a wee bit wider than the "tub". But as we worked our way up to the face with the mucker with tub close behind, the tub fell between the tracks. Putting it back on the tracks was easy, we just pushed it backwards with the mucker and onto the tracks it went. There were two ways to fix the problem, the first way is to dig the entire length of the track out of the mud, loosen the sleepers and set the track with the track gage and retighten the bolts on the sleepers. Or, we could just loosen two of the bolts on the sleepers, not dig out the track but force a piece of wood from the wall against the track and close the gap. We chose the latter.

We drilled four holes at the face in Mick and Lindsay's tunnel, three on the right side to widen the floor area a bit and one in the ceiling on the left side on the lower side of the fault to gain some height. The shots went off fine with minimal damage to our timbering. From the muck pile, Dave and I installed a timber across the roof much like the way we did in the New Drift, although, we will also add posts to them after we muck out the debris. To be able to work safely, we temporarily cribbed the cap to the ceiling to add more support until another cap can be place 4 feet further down the tunnel. Then we will completely lag the ceiling from the steel arches to our last cap. We will repeat this all along the tunnel as we mine through this faulted, broken up area.

The muck pile was actually quit large and we ended up with 5 tub fulls. More debris kept adding to the pile, every time we undercut a large rock in the face it fell out, easy mining but somewhat unnerving.

At lunch time Jonina brought more visitors from Killhope and she gave them a tour through the mine.

Byron kept digging out specimens from the cavity and Vitek trimmed the large pieces outside on the platform. Vitek has been a great help these last few days but he is leaving early in the morning for a week or so with his family in the south of England and then heading to Tsumeb, Namibia for 6 months. We wish him luck.

Near the ends of the day we transported 4 tubs of wrapped specimens and numerous larger pieces to the container via our gondola. It's a great device and works fine.

Tomorrow, we should drill some holes in Mick and Lindsay's tunnel but we can't get access to the explosives on the weekend. We will see what we can do by hand with a bar.

More on our mining saga tomorrow. Until then, Cheers, Jim

Part 2

Hi All,

Yesterday, started very nicely but began to cloud up around 1:00 p.m. and about 20 minutes later we had a deluge for about half-an-hour then it cleared up again for the rest of the day. This morning we have a heavy cloud cover and it appears to be getting ready to rain. Temperatures have been on the cool side in the morning but getting quite pleasant by the afternoons.

About 8:30 a.m. yesterday I drove up to Little Allercleugh to begin doing some bead blasting and sawing, a routine I have gotten into the last week or so. Jonina was already gone getting powder and caps for a blast in the old tunnel. It appears we probably have enough dynamite for the balance of the summer -- about 40 sticks and since we will use very little in the new tunnel except small amounts as lifters in the pocket to clear the way for Byron's chainsaw collecting it should last.

Progress in the old tunnel is still slow though the worst of the ground has now been supported and the tunnel curved off and narrowing of it begun. About an hour after I got there I had a handful of specimens I wanted to water gun and set up the system and when I turned on the gun the plastic fitting that pushed into the water gun broke and effectively ended the use of the water gun, I switched over to the one Jesse kindly mailed over and finished what I had begun. I readied the saw for use and about then Jonina showed up -- she had already made four or more stops that morning and it was barely 10 a.m. Happily we had a few spare parts for the Wagner water gun and were able to put it back into operation. I began sawing and Jonina began wrapping specimens and readying the crock pots for another load of dithionite and fluorite.

About 11 a.m. she gets the call she is expecting (not from Bill) and goes down to meet the shop manager from Killhope and a few friends for a brief mine tour. I continue sawing till about 1:00 p.m. and go home for lunch -- hot pasties. Kerith has been slow in getting up, her muscles ached severely after spending the previous afternoon up at the Rogerley mine going through the screen for crystals and hunched down over it. No word as of 1:00 p.m. from Stan Esbenshade who is flying in from Tucson to spend a few days and is a potential year around seller of the wholesale end. I think we have already discovered the problem of trying to move wholesale material back and forth - effectively - and having a quantity with someone in that end of the business makes good marketing sense, assuming we can work out the details.

After lunch I returned to Little Allercleugh, weather began clearing and NATO began low level maneuvers in the valley flying a supersonic speed below the level of Little Allercleugh -- I saw Danish, Pakistani and Italian jets of various makes all having a grand time buzzing through the dale. I continued with my sawing but the saw (or me) was having lots of problems, one notable failure where a good crystal -glassy twin just died when we went to trim the specimen after sawing as far as was possible, the silver liner there was it was gem and Byron has two fine flawless pieces that will cut a couple of stones in the 8-10 carat range, a bummer, I hate killing good minerals. Several notable success stories too but overall everything was more difficult yesterday. About 4:00 p.m. the saw starting acting weird and Jonina and I took the belt off and discovered that the pulley attached to the shaft that goes into the motor had split in two, a possible reason for all the trouble I had been having the past couple of days on the saw. It took us nearly 40 minutes to saw it off since the piece had spun out of the locking groove and pushed the hex screw out of place and warped the remainder of the pulley. When we finally got it off Jonina rushed off to Fairless' yard to see if she could find a replacement and I cleaned up the shop and went home to prepare to have dinner with Ian and Pam Forbes in Westgate. Still not sign of Stan E. but Kerith had heard that her weaving was finished and is excited to go and see it and pick it up. I showered and cleaned up and went down to the Golden Lion to let Vitek know that I would pick him up about 7 a.m. this morning to take him to the train station in Darlington. While there Jonina showed up with an address in Bishop Auckland -- Bearing Traders -- that might have a replacement pulley but are only open till noon today so will try and find my way out of Darlington and into Bishop Auckland on a mission of - if not mercy for the saw, at least kindness to it. The boys seem to have had a better day than I, good thing. I went back to the Drapery and Stan E. was there but zonked from the flight, train ride and drive up from Darlington in one day -- gave him a beer and put him to bed. We took off for a wonderful dinner with the Forbes', theirs is a farm home from the 1760's that has taken about 5 years to put it into livable condition -- when they purchased it there was no plumbing, no water and no electricity, house had one room for the family upstairs and several large rooms downstairs for the cattle and sheep (must have made for a very pleasant odor emanating from below) and barns etc. attached to that, now it is all living space but is like topsy the way you go either up or down to every room in the house and it is on at least four levels, we entered the front door, went up steps, a flight of stairs walked a ways, steps up and more stairs up and then went out on ground level at the back of the house. The hill there is 22 % grade and the house follows the contours. We got back about 10 p.m. and went right to bed. I think I heard Jonina way late come in from the ladies night out down at the Kings Head below us - last night was an exotic male stripper. Will learn more later.

Well that is about it from this place a way north of Lake Woebegone. Cal



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