Saturday, June 15, 2013

Greetings from Weardale.

The weather here in the North Pennines for the past several days has been what the local weather forecasters refer to as “unsettled,” in other words, one can expect almost anything at any time. When I first got up this morning it was a sunny summer day. Now, about an hour later, some fairly dark clouds have moved in and we are getting some light rain. Yesterday we went through this cycle along with some strong winds at times. At least it’s too warm for snow.

Thursday afternoon, along with the problems with the jack leg for the drill, we found that our compressor was making some odd noises, and soon figured out that a bearing in the fan was going out. One of the nice things about renting rather than owning the thing is that when it buggers up we just call for service. The service van arrived mid-afternoon and the fellow quickly confirmed our diagnosis, saying he would be back first thing in the morning with a replacement fan assembly. Fortunately, with the rock drill out of action, we were not in immediate need of the compressor.

Yesterday morning he was back as promised, and after some fiddling about had the replacement fan installed. Upon firing the unit up, we found it still making some undesirable noises, so he spent some more time trying to figure out just what was going on. He soon came to the conclusion that the alternator had been torqued by the fan belt when the bearings went, and would also need replacement. The trouble was that he would need to return to the company depot to get a new alternator and the depot is located in Stockton on Tees, about a three hour (or more) round trip on a Friday afternoon. This would mean that he would be back about the time the rest of us would want to be getting cleaned off and heading for the pub. The fellow looked rather relieved when I told him that Monday morning was okay.

As far as our other equipment problems, Dave stopped by mid-day to let us know that he has located a source for the gaskets in the jack legs, and was fairly certain that he could have a couple of them working shortly. On the other hand, Cal spent a bit of time replacing some potentially bad components in our third (and still broken) generator to no obvious effect. All-in-all, it’s been a bit of a “bad equipment” week.

In the positive side, we did get to spend a good part of the day collecting in the newly started crosscut. The shot starting the crosscut went off pretty much perfectly, and we found a nice pile of rock in the drift and no dislodged timbers. Thursday we found the fluorite seam continuing at the newly exposed face, and managed to collect some good (but not great) quality specimens. By the end of the day on Thursday we had exposed what looked like another rather large, fluorite-covered rock on the right side of the new alcove. Fearing the worst, we spent a bit of time in the morning yesterday making new cushions out of our blue plastic bags filled with bubble wrap, and constructing a timber under the rocks in hopes of gently dropping them from the alcove ceiling. The resulting construction is the subject of today’s photo.

After a bit of washing and poking with bars, we happily discovered that the rock was fractured into at least three sections. The first came out without too much effort, but only had a small section of decent quality fluorite on it, which was easily removed using a battery drill and a chisel. The second rock was a bit larger and took a bit more work, but in the end, gave us a rock with the potential to yield several good bits when sawn up. The third section of the rock, at the back of the alcove, appears more firmly attached to the roof, and we may need to drill some holes behind it and use feather and wedges to break it out. But that will need to wait until Dave has resurrected the jack leg for the rock drill.

Stay tuned for more…

Cheers, Jesse, Ian, Cal and Kerith

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Hello All,

All in all not a bad day though our equipment problems are persisting. Weather-wise we had a partly sunny day with the odd spritz but by dinner time we were getting sporadic heavy showers. This Saturday morning dawns much the same though the winds might be less ferocious.

The mechanic from Speedy compressor rental was there from about 10:30a.m. till nearly 3:30p.m. and replaced the busted fan housing which when the bearing died also managed to bang up the alternator so we won't have a working compressor till Monday -- no later we hope. Dave stopped by mid-afternoon on his way to Bishop Auckland to show the nylon seals we need so that we can get the correct ones ordered to put our drill legs back to working order. You can get by drilling down but not drilling up and the next round of blasting will require the use of the drill legs.

We spent a portion of the morning with the new generator parts hoping to get the third Chinese generator working but no go. I have one more question to ask of the Generator Guru to and otherwise the unit is scrapped (you can drop the 's' if you like). Late morning found Jesse and Ian and later myself at the face looking at the exposed fluorite. The only problem was that it appeared that most of the fluorite was on another giant rock.

Scaffolding was built to drop the first chunk of perhaps 100#+ which had a 3" patch of fluorite on it. It came down quite handily but by the time we had moved it into position we realized that the rock was too altered to get a chisel underneath the specimen and 'pop it' off. At this point it was after 1:00p.m. so we broke for bait and decided to go after the piece with the hammer-drill. This worked fairly well and we got our little specimen and consigned the rest of the mass to the muck heap. Next in line, was the big mass of fluorite which unbelievably had developed a crack behind it and after positioning the bubble filled bags (our picture today) it dropped with very little effort. Between the three of us we were able to turn it over so the fluorite was facing up and move it down where it could be man-handled off and later moved to a safe spot. Without a doubt, the easiest a large block has ever moved for us.

Unfortunately the remaining large piece will not give up without a fight. We decided at that point we had earned a pint and broke for the day. We are hoping that the drill legs, or at least one, will be operational on Monday so that a series of holes can be drilled behind the piece and the large feathers and wedges will remove it in once piece or parts.

Dinner was marvelous -- leeks with bacon and cheese, butternut squash with spices, several kinds of sausage and Yorkshire puddings with onion gravy and a pleasant Rhone Valley Liroc.

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

Our challange of the day.

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