Friday, June 5, 2015

Greetings from Weardale.

Wednesday was another cool, windy day, again, with the occasional outbreaks of sunshine, but little rain. Yesterday began much the same, but by mid-afternoon it had warmed up to around 19C (66F), and we had a nice, sunny finish to the day. This was much appreciated by all as we were working outside on some equipment maintenance. All too many times we’ve done that sort of thing in the rain. This morning begins dark and cloudy, so perhaps our sunny day was a one-off.

Thursday morning, after looking over the exposures at the face, we decided to try and move a bit of rock on the left side of the face, which would allow us a bit more access to the visible fluorite seams. By early afternoon we got back to collecting, and though the zone remained tight, we managed to recover a decent number of specimens, including a few fairly good ones. The zone currently shows several seams of fluorite interlayered by dense, hard ironstone, which required a lot of beating and barring to dislodge. The fluorite seams are generally rather thin, and a lot of specimens come out with contact damage. Given this, I am surprised at how many good pieces we have found from this zone.

Late in the afternoon a friend who is a local auto mechanic arrived to have a look at our loco. The thing has not been taking a full charge on the batteries lately, and we were hoping to get a load test done on them to see if any were going bad. After looking at our beast, he suggested cleaning all the wiring contacts and battery terminals, and putting it back on charge before doing the tests. Hopefully this will make a difference, as the batteries cost around £100 each, and there are eight of them.

First thing yesterday, we had a meeting with the local constable who issues our explosives permit to discuss some new EU regulations that could possibly make it more difficult for us to operate. Being with the local authority, he had so far received very little guidance from above on this, but was quite helpful on explaining what would be required should we find it necessary to establish our own magazine as part of the process. We are not yet sure if we will need to do this, but if so, I am sure it will be expensive!

That accomplished, we then started in with the loco batteries. A friend had suggested that Coca-Cola makes an excellent battery contact cleaner, so armed with a bottle, a wire brush, and assorted spanners, we had at it, while Dave continued to get the face ready for the next round of blasting. Fortunately, we had a nice day for it, as working on an electrical system in the rain would not have been a good idea. The cola-cleaner, true to promise, worked well, and we had it back together and on charge by mid-afternoon. We still have half a bottle of the stuff, which no one seems anxious to drink, so maybe we’ll need to do our car batteries, as well. Today’s photo is of the service technicians at work.

At the end of the day I gave the loco a quick spin around the block (well, not really, just a run to the face and back), and it seemed a good bit more lively. I guess the real test will come when we need to haul out a few tubs of muck. If all goes according to plan, that should be tomorrow. Before closing up for the day Cal had a bit more of a dig and turned up a few more pieces, including a very cute miniature. Again, I am amazed that such things survived the jumble of rock and mud that they are pulled from!

Stay tuned for more.


Cheers, Jesse, Ian, Cal & Kerith

Our on-site service technicians at work.

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