Tuesday July 22, 2008

Greetings All,

Yesterday was overcast for much of the day but no rain or drizzle, lots of gusty winds whipping around which help dry the washed fluorite specimens. By day's end it was actually getting warm and required the shedding of all but the inner layer -- something of a rarity this year.

Yesterday was something of a frustrating but still successful day. We've been building up a large backlog of specimens requiring sawing so Byron attached the new hydraulic hose and set up the hydraulic unit and..... it would not start. I was down below washing specimens so I got the job of disconnecting the Peugeot's battery and hiking it up the stairs with the jumper cables to get things going. Got the unit started but the new hose started bucking around so we checked the hydraulic reservoir which, of course, was now empty. Back down with the battery, reattach battery to the Peugeot and drive over to Fairless' to get some fluid. Neil was in Cumbria but Christine called him and learned he was leaving immediately and so I wait. About an hour later Neil is back but the hydraulic fluid drum is empty and the new one has to be tapped and moved to a stand where we can draw 5 gallons. Back to the mine, up the stairs with 5 gallons of fluid and ... the unit won't start again. Back down, get the battery and jumper cables again and start up the hydraulic unit. Everything work's perfectly for about 20 minutes when the sprocket on the chainsaw bar freezes up. After disassembling the saw and putting it back together several times we give up and go get another bar. Finally about 2:30 in the afternoon, after dinking around for about 6 hours everything finally works and we get most of the backlog of specimens sawn up. Some lovely pieces come out of this. Almost all need further trimming and cleaning back home but most weigh a fraction of what they once did. We also discovered that the big rocks are incredibly hard and silicified, making sawing a two man alternate job due to the constant strain on the shoulders and back.

We finally arrive back at Burnbrae around 6:30. Due to have dinner with Don and Jane Edwards who are spending the night but not there yet. Kerith stops me from going up stairs for a hot shower and sends me over to the pub to talk to a local chap who had heard I was looking for an alternative crane man since the first bid was way expensive. I had expected it to be around 500 Pounds but the quote was so much higher it was shocking. At any rate, the fellow is due by early this morning to look at the situation and give a price quote. Don and Jane will be up there at the mine, and the sales representative for the company that makes the diamond chainsaws later in the afternoon. I also have an appointment at the County Council buildings this morning at 10:00 a.m. over planning permission for the mine. This giant monolithic building in Durham City is a tribute to all the worst in 60's architecture, and I am sure it was modelled after a former Soviet police headquarters.

Hopefully we will solve the problem of moving the loco from the quarry floor up onto the landing at a fee closer to what I think is reasonable. Hopefully we can also put some stabilizing posts in at the face to hold up a couple of the big rocks so that they can be drilled and blasted next week. One of today's pictures is of the loco that was delivered on Monday.

Regards, Cal, Kerith & Byron

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