Saturday, June 7, 2014

Greetings from Weardale.

The weather here has been fairly dismal much of the week, with a fair bit of rain. Wednesday it poured down much of the day, which made trying to work on the Eimco a miserable process. Yesterday it made a complete turn-around and we had a sunny day with temperatures around 20C. We are supposed to have more rain again today, but at the moment the sun is out, so maybe it will miss us.

The past week has been consumed with the task of repairing the Eimco, and progress is being made in a halting fashion. After getting the wheels off and opening up the gearbox, Dave came to the conclusion that it was, in fact, the bearings that were the cause of our problems. The outer plate came away without too much problem, after which he was able to get out the rear gears. Unfortunately, the main gear for the forward drive was stuck in place, so Dave was forced to fashion a custom puller to get it out.

On Tuesday, while Dave was busy in his workshop trying to fabricate the puller, we made a trip to Bishop Auckland to get some new bearings. That accomplished, we then needed to get the old ones out. I found a set of three different sized pullers at a tool shop next door to the bearing shop, and figured that one of them might work. After a bit of “modification” to the smallest one, we were able to get three of the four bearings out of the plate. The fourth had broken and the remaining rim would not allow the puller enough grip to get it out.

The next option seemed to try and beat it out with a large hammer and some hardened steel chisels. Wednesday morning, armed with the best chisels the local hardware shop had to offer, we were back at the remaining bearing in the plate. Unfortunately, the best chisels locally available were not up to the job. Dave had mentioned that these things were often removed with a welder, so it occurred to me to take it to a local metal fabricator, who had constructed the support beams we installed at the portal two years ago. In fairly short order he had the thing out, and I took the plate back to Dave, who took a break from making the puller and pressed the new bearings in to place.

In between all of that, we played host to a couple Japanese tourists who were on an around the world trip to visit a list of mineral locations. Evidently, their goal was to visit these selected places and stay until they were able to get something from each. The Crater of Diamonds in Arkansas was one of these, and they said it took them three months to find some diamonds. Fortunately, our fluorite is not that elusive, and despite the rain they had fun collecting bits from the mind dump.

Back at it on Thursday, Dave arrived at the mine with his puller and after a bit of effort got the remaining gears out. About this time a proper fitter, who the folks at the bearing shop had recommended to us showed up and took over from Dave. After examining the inside of the gearbox he decided that we needed to take the pneumatic motor off the other side of the thing in order to get at all the bearings. Fortunately, this did not require removing the other set of wheels, which would have been a major pain in the ass!

After getting all the remaining bearings out, we realized that there were a few additional ones that we needed, so I was off again to the bearing shop. One of the bearings from the motor was a special “high impact” type that the shop did not stock, so hoping that a regular type might work, I got one of those instead. By the time I got back everyone had left the mine, so it was back up the dale for me.

Back at it yesterday morning, Brian the fitter had all the new bearings installed and when I arrived I found him and Cal trying to muscle the motor back into place. Evidently, getting the thing out was a lot easier than getting it back into place, and they had so far succeeded in only getting themselves covered in grease from the thing. After discussing the high impact bearing situation with Brian, he decided that we should order a proper one and he called it into the bearing shop. With that, work once again ground to a halt, and I went back to the cottage and had a nap. Exciting life here in Weardale!

Dave is away at a bike race this weekend, Ian is off for his trip to Brazil and the World Cup games, and Cal and Kerith need to go into Newcastle today to deal with some problems about their rental car. I’m off shortly for the bearing shop once again to pick up what I hope is the final part we need to complete this job. The sky is now clouding over and the temperature has fallen, so I guess the next rainstorm is approaching. On the bright side, our car could use a wash, which it now might get!

Forward in all directions.

Jesse, Ian, Cal & Kerith

Got it - finally!

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