Thursday, June 13, 2013

Greetings from Weardale.

The weather appears to have returned to a more normal state over the past few days. Cool, breezy, and generally cloudy, with both occasional rain and sunshine. For a short while late yesterday afternoon, we had both at the same time.

After our “bad generator day” on Tuesday, we resorted to that modern-day convenience, the internet, in search of some information about the things, and found a self-help website complete with videos showing how to diagnose and fix common generator problems. Wednesday morning, armed with a voltmeter and a set of spanners, we tore into the two of them and after several hours of fiddling and swapping various components, got one working again. The other will likely require some new bits, which we have ordered.

While we were busy performing surgery on the generators, Dave and Joe drilled and shot a section of last year’s alcove where we recovered the Giant, adjacent to an untouched section of the fluorite seam that held the possibility of a few more specimens. The zone of interest is thick with our infamous mud, but also partially cemented together with a late-stage calcite, which acts like a cement. Collecting was slow, but we managed to recover at least one fairly nice piece.

Yesterday morning Ian, Cal and I had at this area again, and over the course of the day managed to recover a few tubs of smaller specimens, along with getting thoroughly covered in mud. Nothing really great came out, but useful wholesale material with quite good color. We also recovered some sizeable chunks of massive white calcite, which has a nice layered structure. It would likely make excellent carving material, but when I queried the assembled party, most seemed more interested in going to the pub for a pint after a hard day at the mine, rather than spending the evening learning new lapidary skills. Today’s photo is of Cal having at the mud and calcite in search of fame and fortune.

Dave and Joe spent the day drilling and timbering at the face to begin our new eastward crosscut. Half way through the drilling process I noticed them heading out the tunnel and upon inquiring found that the jack leg for the drill had buggered up on them. We have a couple other jack legs but they are all either too long or too short to comfortably drill an entire face in our tunnel. Fortunately, Dave was drilling low down to start our crosscut, so the short one, though not in great condition, served to finish the job. I just hope he can get the regular one working again before we need to drill a full face.

At the end of the day the shot went off as planned. This morning we will witness the results. Hopefully we won’t find a pile of rearranged timbers.

Stay tuned for more…

Cheers, Jesse, Ian, Cal and Kerith

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Hello All,

A cool, overcast and very windy day. We did get a few spells of sunshine but they were brief because of the windy conditions. As I write this at nearly 7:00p.m. the skies are absolutely clear and sunny but the wind has really ramped up to gusts over 40mph.

It is official this is the worst week we have ever had for equipment breakdowns. Earlier in the week two of our cheap Chinese generators quite working within hours of each other. Jesse, Ian and I took an internet tutorial by the 'Generator Guru' and spent several hours the following day swapping out parts and finally got one more up and running. Two are absolutely necessary as one is dedicated to the fan and the other to charging the batteries for the loco. Late on Wednesday we were able to get a blast off, but just barely.

All of our Holman drill legs have decided to die this week. Today before Dave could get the face cleared a devil of a racket was going on with out compressor and it threw a fan bearing, taking it off line. So, at present, we cannot drill, cannot muck and are only hopeful that the two cheapo Chinese generators continue to run.

On the plus side yesterday evening's blast exposed a pocket of fluorite on the east side of the tunnel so Jesse and Ian spent the morning working in the pocket while I got us caught up on the packing side of things. Afternoon saw Dave and Joe load all the old drill legs into the van and take them to his workshop, later the mechanic from Speedy showed up to confirm Dave's assessment and will be back tomorrow with either the parts or another compressor.

Sadly we are in an area once again of large specimens and the clay we are encountering is getting tougher to deal with. Jesse and I suspect that as we get farther into the hill the clays are much drier and approach an almost leather-like consistency, which makes removal or even wetting the clay a phenomenally tedious chore.

In today's mail a tiny box arrived with various spare parts for the generators, with luck we can get one more up and running which would give us lights in the second container for packing. Beyond that, tomorrow we will attempt to drop a few very large fluorite covered specimens but will need to fill some bags with bubble wrap of something soft for them to fall onto. Nobody is volunteering to stand under a 200# block of moving rock.

That's all from the North. Cal & Kerith, Jesse & Ian

Another fun day in the mud.

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