Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Greetings from Weardale.

Our spell of almost summer-like weather continues, though I understand that it is predicted to come to an end soon. I’ve certainly enjoyed not having the quarry and mine landing double as a mud bath. The one real anomaly in all this sunny weather is that I have yet to encounter any midges. I’m sure the swarming little buggers are out there somewhere, it is too much to hope that the long winter actually did them in.

Dave and Joe got the face mucked out and some slightly rearranged timber put back into place on Friday morning, letting Ian and I back to the face for more collecting. The fluorite seam was still visible high up on the right (east) side of the face, and after several hour of digging we managed to recover a number of mediocre specimens, but nothing great. The fluorite seam looks to be headed further east, and perhaps remains high up over the tunnel, but it will likely require moving yet more rock to find out for sure.

Cal and Kerith arrived on Saturday, after having a leisurely trip up from the south, visiting friends along the way. Restaurant options here in Weardale are rather limited, so first order of business was another shopping trip to Hexham. That accomplished, the rest of the day was rather lazy for yours truly, as Ian and I really hadn’t had an off day since arriving.

On Sunday we met up with some visitors and toured the mine, which also gave Cal his first chance to look around the mine and see what has happened since our arrival. On the tour were a couple folks from Friends of Killhope and a local North Pennines conservation group who are involved in a project to document the fluorspar mining industry before all of those who were involved are gone. Being the last surviving fluorspar mine (albeit for specimens rather than ore), I guess we qualify. Also along was a fellow from Durham who has recently opened a mineral and fossil shop in the Durham marketplace. The last folks we knew to try and do this in Durham were killed by the crushing commercial rents there, but this fellow says that a stall in the permanent marketplace is much cheaper, and that so far business has been good. We certainly wish him luck.

Two of our portable electric generators have died on us recently, leaving us only one functional. While on a trip to Consett to pick up some carriage bolts for our rail last week I noticed the shop had some that were not expensive. Dave was making a trip to Consett over the weekend so I ask him to pick one up for us. Monday morning I got a call from him saying that he had fired up the generator and it had worked for a total of 10 minutes before the voltage cut out, so my first chore of the day was another drive to Consett to return the thing. Speaking with the shop owner, it came out that the units are so cheap because they are manufactured in India and this sort pf problem is unfortunately somewhat common. Deciding that we were wasting too much time trying to deal with cheap equipment, we then ordered a fairly expensive Honda generator, which should be delivered today.

Attempts to do more collecting at the mine yielded little, so we had Dave timber the face and muck out the remaining debris. The current plan is to begin an eastward crosscut following the fluorite exposure and see what turns up. Dave would like to create a siding near the face where he can park a second muck tub, so if nothing else, this should serve as a start on that project.

As we have nothing new and exciting to show in the way of produce from the mine, today’s photo is of Dave cutting holes for connector plates (known in the business as “fish plates”) in a section of rail.

Stay tuned for more…

Cheers, Jesse, Ian, Cal and Kerith

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Hello All,

Today was overcast and quite cool this morning, perhaps 49F or so when I woke up, later the temperature blazed up to the low 60's F with a heavy threatening cloud cover though the most we got was a few spritzes.

Kerith stayed at Burnbrae to receive four different deliveries while Jesse, Ian and myself with the aid of Dave's voltmeter tried to track down the electrical output problems on our two generators. After several hours of voltage testing and switching rotors and voltage regulator around it turns out the rotors and AVR on one non-working unit had the other unit working nicely --- go figure, we certainly can't. We have another new generator that arrived today and this will give us three working and with luck we can have our back-up working too.

Around bait time Dave blasted the south side of the 'old' Penny's Pocket zone and after lunch we surveyed the damage and today's first picture shows Joe holding up a support beam that had blown out while Dave puts in the other end. The afternoon finished with my getting a chance to do a tad of collecting -- not particularly successful but with luck we might get a few good bits out. Tomorrow Dave starts the moving the tunnel to the east, ostensibly to develop a place to park another tub to speed up the mucking process. The reason for this is that last years attempt to put in a side cut for the tub is picture number two. That tunnel had so much mucky rock that it just expanded to fit the space and now is sort of oozing out.

That's all from Weardale, Cal & Kerith and Jesse & Ian

Getting ready to lay more rail at the face.

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