Friday, May 23, 2014

Greetings from Weardale.

The weather here has been marvelously summer-like since I arrived – sunny, light breeze, temperatures up to around 18C/66F. Completely unlike the winter hangover that greeted us last year. All that changed yesterday morning. Rain began around 0700 and was soon a steady downpour. The rain let up in the afternoon but it remained cloudy and cold for the rest of the day. This morning begins much the same. The rain seems to have held off overnight but I see a few raindrop splatters on the window, so could be back soon.

Wednesday morning I needed to hang out at the cottage for the telephone repairman so ended up in at the mine around noon. Telephone is now back in service, but the internet is still a bit dodgy. Sometimes we can get online and sometimes the service is so slow that it just times out before we can get anywhere. At least there’s good access in the pub now, but for better or worse, that must happen over a pint at the end of the day rather than over coffee in the morning.

Much of the day at the mine was spent mucking out the face and getting it ready for the first blast. At the end of the summer last year Dave installed a set of rail points at the face so we could split the track. To the west side he is planning a siding where we can park a second muck tub, which will speed up the mucking process. The east spur will angle back toward the mineralized zone that we have been working by hand through the crosscut. Joe is still away at university so until he arrives I usually get to drive the loco during the mucking sessions (the official title for this job is a “trammer”). I’ve gotten pretty good at it and usually manage to avoid too many derailments now. There was one spot just outside the portal on a tight curve in the track where I managed to jump the loco three times during the afternoon, however. The loco is a heavy bugger and not the easiest thing to get back on track, so this was getting a little frustrating by the end of the day. The track at that spot was getting a bit bouncy, likely because of settling of the tip that it runs over. Guess we add this to the list of things to work on this summer.

Along with the rain, yesterday began rather abruptly when I received a phone call from a driver saying that our explosive delivery was waiting for us at the site where we store. I had been told by their office that delivery would be on Friday, and as a result had not yet retrieved our logbook from storage at the mine. A quick dash down dale to the mine, and then to our store ensued. At least we are fully provisioned now and can drive tunnel.

After completing that adventure, I spent much of the day helping Dave lay some new rail at the face, and then begin drilling for our first shot of the season. Today’s photo is of Dave cutting a section of rail with our acetylene torch. Ian, being an engineer, decided to take on the job of stabilizing the track outside the portal and by late afternoon had managed to drive a number of wooden planks under the rail at strategic points. The assembly no longer bounces up and down as it did, so hopefully we won’t be derailing the loco anymore. At least not at that spot. We are planning to fire the first round at the face today, which will naturally lead to another round of mucking, so I guess we’ll find out soon.

Stay tuned for more.


Jesse & Ian

Sparks fly!

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