Saturday, May 31, 2014

Greetings from Weardale.

The weather for much of the week has been cold and overcast, though the only heavy rain was on Wednesday – when we were working outside on the Eimco. Besides making our day a fairly miserable one, the rain has recharged the pond in our quarry, and the family of ducks that are currently inhabiting it seem quite happy with the result. This morning I can see a bit of sun and some patches of blue sky outside, so maybe things are looking up for us as well.

Wednesday morning Dave arrived at the mine with the hydraulic ram he had borrowed from a friend in Hexham and we set about constructing a frame to turn it into a puller, which hopefully, would pop the wheels off the Eimco. By the middle of the afternoon everyone was cold and wet, and we had succeeded in seriously bending our frame with the force of the ram, but the wheels remained firmly in place. Time for Plan B – find a real heavy-duty puller.

Easier said than done, it seems. After spending Thursday morning searching the internet for tool hire companies, I failed to find one that had a puller sufficient for our needs. Dave told me he found one, but it was in America. Not much good to us here. We then moved on to trying to contact some of the old fitters Dave knew from his time in the mines around here. These devices were once fairly common in the mines and industrial plants around here, but that was a good number of years ago, now. The folks we managed to get hold of were mostly full of useful advice but no one seemed to know where one of these pullers was any more.

Back at the mine yesterday, we spent the morning engaged in some “work therapy” by hand mucking the face, while pondering our dilemma. With the Eimco we can usually get 15 or more tubs of mud and rock out in a day’s work. By lunchtime we had done two by hand and I was discovering muscles that are rarely touched by my other job of running a computer. Needless to say, hand mucking is not a viable option for a productive summer of mining.

After lunch we went to visit Neil Fairless, another former fitter from the mines around here, who runs a building supply and plant operations business. His opinion of the problem with the Eimco was the same as other folks we have spoken with – that it’s likely a collapsed bearing in the drive assembly, which should be straightforward to fix once we can get at it. Unfortunately, the puller that he had wasn’t up to the job in Dave’s opinion, so now it was on to Plan C.

Plan C involves having a proper cage for the hydraulic ram constructed from high-tension steal. Through his years of working on his racing motorcycles, Fortunately, Dave knows a number of steal fabricators in the area who could do the job. By the end of the day we had come up with what sounded like a reasonable design for the thing, and Dave thinks it will only take a couple days to get the parts made. Last night after supper, I got a call from him saying he had spoken with another fellow who works as a fitter in a quarry over in Cumbria. Evidently he thinks he can do the job for us, so maybe we’re back to Plan B. Dave and this fellow are supposed to be looking at the Eimco this morning, so we’ll know more soon.

Stay tuned for more.


Jesse & Ian

Just singing in the rain - well, almost!

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