August 4, 2000

There was a cold wind ablowin' today but at least no rain, it just threatened to rain the entire day. It feels like the weather we had in June just after we arrived here, definitely sweater time again.

We had a professional photographer due in today so we mucked out both tunnels and cleaned up the faces by washing them down. Dave and I started cleaning Mick and Lindsay's tunnel first to give Byron time to wrap and move the specimens that lined the wall of the new drift. With the Eimco Air Shovel, it doesn't take long to move the muck and we were finished in no time and then moved into the new drift. In there, there was a large boulder with one side covered with fluorite and galena sitting on druzzy quartz that needed to be trimmed with the chain saw. I had barred it out of the face several days ago and it was in our way. So, with the mucker, we moved it outside to be trimmed and finished cleaning the face.

As we finished mucking the new drift a gentleman from Germany arrived to take pictures, not the photographer we expected, but a Geology teacher gathering pictures for his classes touring around England's various mines. He finished around lunch time and Byron went to unlock the gate for him to leave just as the professional photographer arrived. He and his 2 assistants spent several hours taking pictures with us in different posses. Photography is not his profession but a hobby, he is a mine surveyor and engineer. He gave us several pamphlets on different mines in England that he had photographed and his is photos are incredibly sharp and show good depth of field, really impressive. During the 90s he said he took 11,000 pictures, underground, in different mines and natural caves around the UK. They were finished by 3 PM and we went back to work.

In Mick and Lindsay's tunnel it appeared that we had enough room to lay in a permanent set of track with a slight curve in it to the right. With the straight set of sliders in we weren't able to completely muck out the right side and after laying in an eighteen foot section of track realized the piece wouldn't fit without mucking some more. We were also concerned not only about the condition of the roof but also the right hand wall that is various size rocks with mud holding them together, not what you would call a stable environment. The discussion turned from laying track to tunnel support and whether wooden timber or steel arches were best to use. In this section we decided to use the steel arches since they give wall support without the use of floor kickers. This is hard to picture unless you've done it before. Generally, with timbers you use three pieces, two posts and one cap and you nail a 2x6 piece of wood between the posts against the cap preventing the posts from kicking out from under the cap. This is for roof support and will prevent a downward movement of the rock. For additional wall support you must add a timber across the floor to prevent the posts from kicking out near the floor level, sort of a reversed cap. With a steel arch, pressure from the walls is supported form the entire arch since it is essentially one piece spanning from floor to ceiling to floor without the use of a floor kicker. (I hope that explains it sufficiently.)

While we were discussing this topic I continued scaling the wall and in no time had several "tub" full of rock waiting to be mucked out. It looks as if drilling and blasting won't be necessary for a while.

Byron, meanwhile, continued pulling out beautiful specimens form the cavity on the left side of the New Drift. The openings had been boarded up to prevent damage from blasting as we tunneled through the "flats" but we opened them up for the photographers and it's hard not to dig there when you see all the beautiful fluorite hanging from the ceiling. We may stop drifting north through the "flats" and start moving toward Byron's pocket from last year to get production. Originally, we planned to start closer of the mine Sept. 1st and that is only 3 weeks away! Time flies when you're having fun!

Tomorrow, I'm taking the day off since my girlfriend arrived form Calif. to go site seeing with her. Byron and Dave plan to dig and wrap specimens. I'll fill you all in on what they found tomorrow.

Till then, Cheers, Jim

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