Friday, June 19, 2015

Greetings from Weardale.

The summer that wasn’t continues here in the North Pennines. Daily temperatures have been around 10–12C (50-54F) with heavy overcast and strong winds. Yesterday afternoon looking up the dale from the mine landing I saw a continual succession of dark grey clouds racing toward us at a rate that was likely in exccess of the national motorway speed limit, but surprisingly, we got very little rain in the process. This morning things look much the same out the cottage window. The ground looks wet so we obviously got some rain over night, but with the strong winds, I’m sure that things will dry out quickly.

Back at the mine on Wednesday, Cal and I, with the assistance of local friend Dave Lloyd, continued to have at the newly exposed section of flats. Our experience the previous day had been rather disappointing, but things turned in our favor upon our return, and the zone gave up several very nice specimens, along with the usual supply of wholesale quality material. By day’s end we had accumulated seven plastic tubs full of potential specimens, and a number of large bits that will await the diamond chain saw for trimming.

Wednesday was also a bit of a maintenance day at the mine. The steel fabrication guys from Gardiner’s showed up in the morning to take some measurements on the container door that had suffered the recent break-in. They returned a few hours later and installed a long steel bar and mounting brackets, with a lock box at one end. Though it is likely impossible to make the thing completely secure, this will certainly make breaking in a good bit more difficult. Shortly after they finished up, we had a visit from a friend who runs a local auto repair shop to do a load test on our loco’s batteries. One of the eight appeared to be no good, so we have ordered another in hopes of restoring the beast to full power. Considering the amount of lead in these things, it will likely be a joy to get the old one lifted out of the battery box and the new one in.

Yesterday, Dave was away, so Cal and I concentrated on specimen production again. The morning was spent scrubbing specimens that we dug earlier in the week, and then setting the ones acquired the previous day to soak in a detergent bath to loosen the mud. Working outside with water was not the most pleasant chore, given the weather, but at least the wind had the specimens dry in short order. After a quick lunch, we returned to the pocket zone, and managed to collect another good assortment of specimens before the end of the day. Most will, as is usually the case, require trimming to remove damaged bits and excess matrix, but a number of them will potentially be quite nice. Today’s photo is of two that Cal collected from the roof of the pocket zone.

The pocket appears to be pinching down, and the back end is now at the limit of one’s reach. The crumbly layers that we found frustrating on Tuesday are still present on the east side of the face, so today, along with scrubbing yesterday’s take, we plan to spend some time in this area to see if it develops into anything better. After that, I suspect it will be time to have Dave drill and shoot it again.


Cheers, Jesse, Ian, Cal & Kerith

A couple new bits from the mine.

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