Sunday, June 20, 2010

Greetings from Weardale.

For the past few days we have had both patched of dryness and patches of sunshine here in Weardale. This morning it is sunny and just a little cool. Pretty near perfect for these parts, as far as I can tell.

Friday at the mine was yet another day devoted to dealing with equipment problems. The new electrical sockets for the loco arrived in the post on Thursday, and Dave had them installed and the loco back in operation quickly the next morning. The problems began when we fired up the compressor and pressurized the air hose that we had replaced on Thursday. Within seconds there was a resounding pop as the “new” line ruptured. Brian had the good fortune to be standing nearby and likely had his ears ringing for a bit afterward. After removing the burst section and reattaching the hose to the rest of the air line, I went down to the compressor and opened up the air feed only to have the new piece of hose burst again. This type of flexible 2-inch hose is becoming hard to get, and when someone we were purchasing some drilling equipment from last year offered to throw in a length of it at no additional charge, we were pleased to have it. On Friday we discovered yet another example of the old saying “you get what you pay for” and after the second rupture, the hose was tossed over the side onto the dump, where it remains. Fortunately, we had another piece that was just barely long enough to fit, so by early afternoon we were back in business. I just hope this piece holds for a while as we now have no more spare hose. Today’s photo is of the repair team in action.

After lunch, Dave got to mucking the face and by day’s end had it pretty much cleared out. Looking at the face, we now see heavy ironstone alteration across much of it, which is a good sign, as most of it was unaltered limestone prior to the last blast. Although there are a few small vugs with some fluorite showing, and patches of massive galena, the seams of green that we are looking for were largely absent. Dave has started angling the tunnel to the west, and we decided to continue with another round of drilling and blasting in this direction. If the crushed zone where Byron has been digging for the past month continues northward, the tunnel should intersect it soon. Pulling the tunnel westward is also getting us away from the fracture zone that may have been responsible for the chewed up condition of much of the fluorite we have so far recovered from this area. Hopefully the zone will continue and we will find some less damaged material.

Saturday was largely devoted to showing some guests around the mine, including a mine exploration group from Derbyshire and a couple with young daughter from the US, who were being chauffeured around the country on a mineralogical expedition by Mindat Maestro Jolyon Ralph. The folks from Derbyshire are involved with a mine restoration project themselves, and seemed quite interested to see how we are going about running our operation. Lots of photos were taken and a certain amount of envy was expressed over our loco, as it seems they are still pushing full ore cars around by hand. I, for one, do not miss that experience in the slightest. The young girl from the US seems to be quite interested in minerals and dad is making a good effort to get her hooked by going on field collecting expeditions. With Jolyon’s help, she spent a little bit of time in the Rat Tail pocket and came away with a couple nice bits and a big smile.

Today, we have been invited to a mid-summer garden party of sorts with our friends Jeremy and Phillippa up at their place, Allercleugh Farmhouse. The weather, for a change, looks like it will be cooperating. Tomorrow Byron and Greg leave to attend a week-long family get-together back in the US. Brian and I will be going down to London for a couple days then returning to San Francisco. When Byron returns at the end of the month he will be joined by Cal and Kerith, and the second phase of our summer’s adventure will begin.

Until next time,


Jesse & Crew

The plumbing crew in action.

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