Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Greetings from Weardale.

Yesterday it remained overcast and cool most of the day, though it never rained much, at least at the mine. While driving up the dale after closing, the clouds seem to vanish and we had a nice clear evening. This morning a heavy overcast is back and the wind is up. If the rain holds off, at least the wind should dry things out a bit.

Virtually no collecting got done yesterday because of the problems at the face. Daveís shot from the previous afternoon had gone well, no additional chunks of the ceiling had come down and none of the timber sets at the face had been blown out. After mucking out the blast debris, Dave drilled and loaded a series of holes near the floor, which were fired at the end of the day. If all went as hoped again, after mucking out again, Dave will have a leveled floor to the face and will be able to construct another set, giving roof support to the face and collecting area.

Usually we are able to do this all in one shot, but we received the wrong detonators with our last order and as a result, must do the blasting in small sections. Dave likes to set the charged holes to go off at various multi-second delays, which has the effect of creating a nice pile of broken rock without having a violent single explosion at the face. The length of the firing delay is controlled by the detonators. The ones we received last week were milli-second rather than multi-second, which for our needs is the same as having no delay at all. This happened once before, a few years back, and Dave tried shooting an entire face at once, without delays. The resulting mess included five blown-out timber sets. I donít blame him for not wanting to chance that again. As a result, however, a process that normally takes us one day has so far taken three. If all goes as planned today, Byron should be back at the face in the afternoon or tomorrow morning at the latest.

My day was spent at various chores, including helping Dave with the mucking and timbering, and spending some time wrapping and binning specimens that Shanade washed for us on Monday. Without much production this week, weíve not got her scheduled to be back until next Monday. Byron and Greg spent much of the day trying to repair the inner, steel-plate door to the mine. The door was originally put in the first year we were here, and uses a couple vertical supports made from steel pipe, put in years ago by Lindsay and Mick as a frame. Over the 10 years since we installed the door the pipes have settled into the floor to the extent that it was becoming impossible to close and lock the door. By installing a new timber column in front of the old pipe one and bringing the latch forward about a foot, Byron was able to get it to lock properly, once again.

Back up dale we met up with Helen and Barry at the Blue Bell and heard about their recent Cornwall trip, complete with details of both local mines visited and local beers consumed. Helen swears she bought a selection to bring back for us to try, but blamed Barry for drinking them all before they got back. A nice thought, but somehow I canít really blame him.

Today Iíll be wrapping and binning more washed specimens, and hopefully Byron will get back to some digging. The daily photo is of the neighborís cat, whom I caught striking a statuesque pose in a cottage window while calling home on my mobile yesterday afternoon.

Until next time,

Jesse & Byron

The neighbors.

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