Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Greetings from Weardale.

The weather for the past several days has been a repeated cycle of sun, rain and sun again. Early yesterday morning we had what must have been a torrential downpour, and though it had passed by the time we were up, the quarry was quite a swamp and our waterfall was in full force. Fortunately for us, none of the rainy spells have caught us working outside on the Eimco over the past few days, and this morning the breeze is up, which will help dry things out.

Sunday morning, with little I could do to move the resurrection of the Eimco along, I took a hike up Harthopeburn along the road between St Johnís Chapel and Langdon Beck, in upper Teesdale. The morning started out sunny and pleasant, and on the way I was passed by group of old MGs, Triumphs, Morris Minors and other classic cars out for a drive in the country. A number of the meadows along the way that werenít being grazed by sheep were full of wildflowers, and one it the subject of todayís photo. By the time I got to the top our ever-changing weather had changed again, and as I turned around to head back I got caught in a downpour. Fortunately, it was fairly brief and I was reasonably dry by the time I got back to our cottage.

Monday Dave spent the day in his shop repairing a couple of gear shafts that had been chewed up by the failed bearings. This involved milling the ends of the shafts down to remove the damage, then fabricating sleeves to fit over them. After putting the sleeves on they were then milled down to match the original diameter of the shafts. We are fortunate that Dave has the required machinery in his shop, as if we would have had to send these things out for repair, I donít know how long it would have taken to get them back.

While Dave was busy with that project, Cal and I spent some time trying to figure out how to get the pneumatic motor back onto the Eimco. The thing was easy enough to get off, but getting it back on was proving to be a right pain in the arse. The motor is mounted on the lower side of the gearbox on the opposite side of the gearbox access plate, and weighs a considerable amount. Unfortunately, Dave needed to remove it to get at the last few bearings we needed to replace, and muscling it back in place and getting all the bolt holes properly lined up was proving a difficult task. I hit on the idea of suspending the back of the motor from the upper frame of the unit with a ratchet strap, which would support much of the motorís weight while we adjusted itís position with some wooden wedges. After a bit of practice we got it into a reasonably good position, and left it for the fitterís final approval.

Back Tuesday morning, Cal and I rendezvoused with Brian the fitter around 1000 and got to work on the motor. The strap definitely did its job and after only a little fussing about we had the motor back in place and bolted on. Dave showed up around 1300 with the newly sleeved gears, and the final reassembly began. Cal and I made a trip to Neil Fairlessís yard in Eastgate to get some fresh gearbox oil and upon returning found that the lads had the thing back together and were finishing up on the final bolts. After adding a new charge of oil, Dave went down to start the compressor only to find that the battery had died in the thing. While Dave muttered something about our gremlins moving from one piece of equipment to another, he and Brian got out some jumper cables, hooked it up to Brianís van, and after a bit of fiddling got the compressor running.

Dave then fetch up the air hose and hooked it up to the Eimco. After a brief drum-roll he leaned on the control lever and the thing jumped forward and back on all wheels, as it should. And we got it done before the afternoonís spell of rain arrived! Thereís still one small bit that Dave needs to fabricate to repair the neutral lever on the gearbox, but after that we should be back in the mining business. Learning how to change the bearings in a 60+ year-old piece of heavy machinery has been a learning experience, and I am sure it will look good on my resume, but I really hope we donít have to do this again any time soon!

Forward in all directions.

Jesse, Cal & Kerith

A nice summer day in the North Pennines

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