Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Greetings from Weardale.

The weather this week has been a bit more Weardale-like than what we have had through much of July. Some rain has returned, though mostly at night and days have been breezy and mostly sunny, with temperatures in the low 20s C (around 70F).

Dave was away on Monday helping his eldest daughter with her move to the big city in Manchester, So the three of us had at the Northeast Crosscut once again. Despite several rounds of mucking out the cavity and removing rocks from the floor in recent days, it is still a tight space to work in. The eastern side of the cavity appears to be a fairly solid wall of rock, and the northern end is showing little fluorite at the moment. Cal, being left-handed had some success in excavating a mud seam showing on the west (left) side of the pocket, while Ian and I alternated between mucking duty and attempts to work in the cavity in a left-handed position. Though nothing as spectacular as our finds of early last week came to light, we did manage to recover a fair amount of good quality wholesale material. Toward the end of the day I managed to uncover a fairly large rock at the face that had a cluster of fluorite on the bottom of it. After shoving some padding under it, I crawled out of the cavity as the rock was far to large to catch when it came loose from the mud. After a bit of prying with a long bar, Cal got it loose and as expected, it rolled over and came to rest exactly where I would have been lying. It was far to heavy for anyone to pick up so we wrestled it out of the cavity and into the crosscut and called it a day.

Tuesday, Dave and Joe set to drilling the main face and by early afternoon had it drilled for the next blast. While they were at that, Cal, Ian and I spent some time working at the south side of the flats exposed at the head of the crosscut. On Saturday Ian and I had spent a bit of time digging there and turned up a number of specimens, though most were fairly etched. After dislodging a few large rocks we got back into collecting the fluorite and managed to get several tubs worth of specimens from the spot, though most were somewhat etched as before.

After lunch, Cal decided to try a “field trim” on the large rock we pulled out the previous afternoon, and with the aid of a large hammer was able to reduce the rock to a size that could be lifted into a wheelbarrow and carted out of the mine. That accomplished, he fired up the chainsaw and tackled the job of further trimming it, along with a number of other large bits that had accumulated over the past few days. Today’s photo is of the specimen portion of the large rock after trimming.

While Cal was busy with the saw, Dave and I went into the crosscut to discuss strategy. It was obvious that we needed to do some sort of blast in the roof of the pocket zone in order to get better access to the collecting area. Dave decided that the easiest thing to do was drill several long holes into the limestone layer directly above our hand-excavated cavity and do a light blast. The hope is that we can keep the passage narrow enough that the roof will hold without the need of timbering. Drilling in the narrow confines of the crosscut was a bit of a task, but by day’s end he had several 5-foot holes drilled, charged, and fired along with the main face.

This morning we will find out whether things went according to plan. If so, we will then have a large load of rock and mud to shift before more collecting gets done.

Stay tuned for more…

Cheers, Jesse, Ian, Cal and Kerith




Good Morning,

Tuesday started a bit drizzly and overcast but quickly cleared up and we had an beautiful day up at the mine with temperatures about 22C or 73F. The skies were deep blue with fast moving scattered white cumulus clouds.

Kerith and I went in about 9:30 a.m. to open up the mine. We got her settled in the sunlight and she started to sort the stack of riddles full of crystals. After finishing the riddles full of crystals she went for a shop in Barnard Castle. I started packing specimens into the blue bins and by 11:30a.m. had three more leaving us one shy of another pallet. Jesse and Ian had made a run to our store for explosives and got in about 11:00a.m. Dave and Joe arrived around 10:00a.m. and immediately changed and set to finishing the drilling of the holes at the face. Jesse and Ian changed into our clown outfits and went up to the cross-cut to work on the south side. I joined them around noon after finishing with the blue bins and found Jesse finding some very nicely formed fluorite clusters on the south side of the Bluebirds pocket. Sadly these were mostly etched and since many of the crystals were 3cm or more on edge it just made you feel that mother nature was toying with us again.

Dave and Joe left for bait around 1:30p.m. and we followed about 20 minutes later and the three of us humped the big block gotten out on Monday into the haulage tunnel and smacked it around a bit to drop about 40# from it then it was maneuvered into a wheel barrow driven up to the Eimco, then it and the wheelbarrow were picked up and moved to the other side of the Eimco and wheeled down by Jesse only to be stopped at the charging station and the specimen again humped around and taken out to the landing.

Post bait I set up all the gear for the chainsaw and it started right up. Got the big bit down to a nice specimen, albeit fairly large but 30# is a far cry from its 200#+ in the cross-cut. After doing three or four big ones I turned the hydraulic unit off and took a break to bring out some more bits. Started up again and cut them up and again shut the unit down but found that somehow we had totally discharged the battery in the process and the hydraulic unit would not start. Grrrrr. We had the entire wiring harness and solenoid replaced about a week ago and all had tested well but somewhere we have a ground fault so today I will take the battery out and bring it home along with the charging unit and give it an overnight charge for the next time we saw.

The balance of the afternoon was spent garnering more etched large singles and bits from the south side of the Bluebirds pocket. By late afternoon Dave and Joe had finished the drilling and loading of the face then drilled some holes above the north side of the Bluebirds pocket and we had what sounded like a very successful blast, packed it in for the day.

Dinned was a joint effort by Jesse and Kerith. She prepared some excellent brown rice with vegetables and Jesse did a smacking good job on fresh salmon steaks and grilled asparagus. By then it was 8:30p.m. and I was beginning to fade so I went upstairs to read, Kerith watch a program on the telly and Jesse over to the pub for a pint or two and Ian watched the streaming of soccer game between Cardiff and an opponent.

That is all from the north,

Cheers, Cal & Kerith, Jesse & Ian



The large bit now made slightly smaller.

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