Sunday, July 27, 2014

Good Morning from Weardale.

The weather for much of the past week has been very summer-like, with temperatures in the upper 20s to low 30s C. With the high humidity it brought back painful memories of summers spent living near Washington DC when I was young. Fortunately, those of us with a mine were able to retreat underground to cool off. Yesterday afternoon some high clouds moved in and things have now cooled off a bit.

With Dave and Joe back, the past couple days have been occupied with another cycle of driving tunnel. Produce from the new pocket had dried up to a trickle by mid-week, so we decided it was time for another blast around the pocket, to see if there is anything further ahead. First order of business on Friday was to finish mucking out the face and install a new set of timbers. Once in place, Dave set to drilling a series of holes around the opening to our hand-excavated crawl space into the pocket, and the shot was fired around 1630. Todayís photo is of Dave preparing for another round of drilling.

Back up dale, we met up with everyone who had been away to the Penrith pottery festival. Cal had found a ceramic wall hanging that looked very much like the sort of geological cross-sections we all remember from university textbooks, which he was very taken with, and will soon be adorning his house in California. A few pints were then had at the pub, and dinner was served outside on the lawn once again.

Back at the mine yesterday, I served as an assistant to Dave and Joe, while Cal played host to a visiting group of folks from the Northern Mines Research Society. First order of business was to get the face mucked out. The blast had gone off about as well as could be hoped for. All timbering was intact and there was a nice pile of rocks and mud filling the space in between. The only difficulty came from the fact that we were now at the end of the rail extenders and the Eimco could not get at all the muck. As a result, some of it needed to be shifted by hand into the main drift so the Eimco could get at it. Fortunately, Dave had thought to lay a blast plate in the floor in front of the pocket before the shot, which made shoveling a little easier on the back.

By lunch time we had shifted enough of the muck out of the pocket to allow space for a new section of rail. Dave decided that rather than continue to abuse ourselves with the hack and shovel, it was time to lay the rail and let the Eimco finish the mucking. Unfortunately, we need to curve the tunnel northward again to follow the pocket zone, so another bend in the track was required. The bends in the track are fairly tight in this area, and sharp curves tend to make the Eimco jump track all too often. To help with this Dave selected a fairly heavy gauge set of rail for the curve. Bending the rail is done by hand with a U-shaped device that hooks over the rail. In the middle is a screw piston that is tightened onto the rail by hand using a long bar, slowly bending it. Heavy gauge rail takes a lot of pushing on the bar to bend it, but by the end of the day we had the rail set properly bent and laid in place. The pocket zone still needed mucking but everyone was so knackered we decided that it could wait until Monday.

Back up dale no one felt like cooking so we went over the hill to Langdon Beck for supper. A lovely summer evening out, but I think I was too tired to really appreciate it very much. Today will be the first day away from the mine in about two weeks, and I need to catch up on some accounting chores that have been sorely neglected. Otherwise, perhaps Iíll take a nap. Exciting bunch, arenít we?

Stay tuned for more.

Cheers, Jesse, Ian, Cal & Kerith

Getting ready to drill and shoot the face.

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