September 4, 2002

Good Morning All:

Yesterday dawned sunny and clear but quickly clouded over. Never got to the point of raining, but sure looked like it by late afternoon. This morning is rather gray so I guess we're in for more of the same.

Started the day off (after coffee, of course) by using the table saw to trim a few specimens I am considering carrying back to California. This process is a real mud bath as the individual doing the sawing must stand in front of the blade and hold the specimen to be trimmed. The blade rotates through a tank of water to provide lubrication to the blade, spraying water over the specimen, and the user. After cutting a few specimens the water turns into a mud slurry, a good portion of which gets deposited on the user. What fun!

After a bit of this I headed off to the mine to join Byron, while Jonina and Sarah went in search of a locksmith to get a new security lock and duplicate keys for our back gate. Seems one has to go all the way to Bishop Auckland to find such services these days. Spent the first part of my day at the mine rounding up specimens from about the mine and wrapping them into tubs. Byron pulled the hydraulic lines for the chain saw into the mine and began the job of sawing out a large calcite-covered plate of fluorite, which is residing in the West Cross Cut area. Almost immediately, I noticed that the power unit was gushing hydraulic fluid out of one of the hose connectors. After a bit if fiddling, Byron discovered that the gasket in the connector had been damaged and would not seal. Fortunately we had another connector and were back in business shortly.

After a couple hours at sawing in the cramped confines of the pocket, it was becoming evident that this was going to be a difficult job. The plate is on the underside of a large mass of solid rock, and dips away from the pocket into the tunnel floor. Byron was using the short bar on the saw as this is the only new chain we have. The short one just doesn't have enough reach though, and Byron was spending a good deal of his time trying to cut back the overhanging rock to get at the specimen. By mid-afternoon he decided to try a long bar and chain even though all the ones we have are seriously worn. This, unfortunately, was to no avail. Byron tried two different bars, both of which jammed immediately because of excessive wear in the sprocket. Frustration having taken its toll, he gave up on the saw and spent the remaining hour or so of the day collecting the area by hand, producing several more tubs of specimens.

After calling it quits, we raced up the Dale to get changed so we could meet John and Marie Land at the Mill Race for dinner. Had a good chat, and discovered that, after attending the Tucson show for the first time last year, they are now ready to head off to Munich, Denver, and any other major show they can manage.

Today will be a mix of chores. I need to mail off a couple boxes of specimens to our German dealer, and David Rennison is suppose to stop by again this morning. Byron will, no doubt, continue to fight with the saw, and I will hopefully make it to the mine in time to find out who has won.

Today's photo is of Byron collecting in the Dipper.


Jesse, Byron and Jonina

Byron on the job.

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