Monday, June 2, 2014

Greetings from Weardale.

Kerith and I arrived on Sunday afternoon. A drive of about 350 miles from Yeovil where we had spent two very nice days with Ian and Diana in East Coker and a good time with Wolfie the lurcher wonder dog.

Weather since we have arrived has mostly been a mix of sunshine and showers favoring threatening cloud cover and little in the way of sunshine or showers. We arrived to find that mining has been at a halt for a week due to internal problems with the Eimco which were diagnosed as most likely being a bearing problem. Jesse, Ian and Dave along with a local fellow who had the right sort of kit were able to finally pull the second wheel off the Eimco, bending his bit of kit in the process.

Monday I was introduced to the problem with Jesse and Ian banging on thin chisels to try and separate the outer butterfly shaped plate until Dave diagnosed the problem as most likely due to a remaining mud covered bolt which when removed allowed all of us a chance to tug, pull, bang and pry on the plate till it finally came off. It was obvious a bearing was the problem as bits of ball bearing were all over the bottom the Eimco. Dave removed some of the gears and then we could see the bad bearing -- still no idea how to extract the outer part of the bad bearing unless it is sawn or spot-welded. We still had no access to one side of the gears due to a spindle, which was jammed into a gear that likely is bound in place by another bad bearing.

Tuesday, or today if you prefer, we got the name of a place in Bishop Auckland that handled bearings. During Monday night's beer at the Blue Bell pub which changed hands last December but, seems to be running true to its good past form, we got some useful information from several people that say there are freeze sprays that are used to make the bearings contract so that they can fit (read be hammered) into place. So we went to the bearing place in Bishop Auckland and they had our bearings on hand (!!) then just down the street we were able to pick up a set of bearing pullers and some -40C freeze spray. Back to Rogerley and an attempt to pull a bearing.

Lo and behold our previous luck held and there was no way we could make the bearing pullers work. Back up the Dale to Dave's house where he was working on making a gear puller based on the plans used on the wheel puller, Dave used his angle grinder to reduce the size of the puller latches unfortunately, our luck running true to form, his angle grinder died with the classic electric smell so he had to resort to his wheel grinder. Finally getting the latches down to a size that would fit inside the bearings and latch behind them with the main screw centered we still had latches slipping off so Dave put a band around the upper portion of the latches and tightened it down, a set of vice grips to stop spinning of the unit and a good sized wrench and within 40 minutes we had all four bearings out.

It proved that two of the four were knackered and ready to break down any time, one was in great shape and one was showing some cracks. At any rate, things are looking up ... not great yet since we have so much yet to accomplish but if we can get all the bearings out and replaced we should have a nearly new unit. In spare time rather than watching.... since much of what has to be done is done by just one or perhaps two people.

I changed the oil, oil filter, got diesel and more hydraulic fluid for the power unit so it is ready to go just as soon as we have minerals that need the application of the saw. Tomorrow is supposed to be wet and windy so any outside efforts will be hampered by the weather.

Cheers from the north,

Cal & Kerith, Jesse and Ian

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