Friday, May 31, 2013

Greetings from Weardale.

Yesterday was another overcast, cool, humid, and occasionally rainy day. For much of the day there was virtually no breeze, making for near perfect midge weather. For some reason, I did not encounter any of the swarming little buggers while working outside the mine. Maybe the long cold winter has killed them off. I’ll not count on that, however. This morning, for a change, the sun is out and I can see blue sky. Nice change, but I’ll try not to get use to it.

Yesterday at the mine, my main task was to get the chain saw running. The hydraulic power unit for the thing can be rather fussy, and some years had taken a good bit of fiddling with to get it to start up again after having sat idle over winter. It’s always a moment of great trepidation when, after installing the charged battery, one turns the starter key in hopes that the diesel engine will fire up. I am happy to report that this year it started up almost immediately, and after a bit of fighting with the connectors on the hydraulic cables, I was off and sawing.

We have already accumulated a fair backlog of large specimens that need trimming, so after successfully resurrecting the unit, I spent a fair part of the day slicing and dicing. The chain currently on the saw is fairly worn, which is no surprise after the work it got trimming the matrix on the Giant last August. A worn chain tends to cause the saw to bind up when making deep cuts in rock, so the day’s sawing was a bit of a fight with the thing, but by mid afternoon I had succeeded in reducing most of our monster specimens to a more manageable size. Guess we’ll need to change the chain soon. They’re pretty expensive so we usually try to get as much life out of them as we can.

After our lunch break, Ian had wandered off to resume collecting at the back of the Giant pocket, where fluorite was still showing in the mud. About the time I was finishing up with the sawing, he came out of the mine, completely covered in mud but holding a rather nice specimen. After shutting down the saw, I went back to see what else he had uncovered, and found what looked like a possibly good roof plate beginning to emerge from the mud. The working area in the pocket was rather tight, but after undercutting the think we were able to shove some old carpet scraps under it and drop the plate from the ceiling. The thing was rather heavy, but we managed to get it out of the alcove and into a wheel barrow and out of the mine. I was starting to complain about yet another monster specimen, but as we washed the mud off of it, decided that this one was definitely worth the struggle. Today’s photo is of Ian with his hard-fought prize.

Dave spent much of the day laying a new section of rail at the face, and trying to dislodge some large rocks from the left side of the face. By the end of the day, some of these were still resisting his efforts, so he brought out the rock drill, which will be pressed into service today. After the face is squared up he can then install a new timber set and get ready for the next round of drilling and blasting.

Back up dale for a quick pint at the Blue Bell then some supper. When stopping at the Stanhope Co-Op on the way back from the mine for a few lunch supplies we found a couple fresh Scottish salmon fillets, which did nicely. Feeling rather sore and tired this morning, but at least I won’t need to be slinging the chain saw around again for a few days.

Stay tuned for more…


Jesse & Ian

It was a bloody and muddy fight but he won the day!

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