Thursday, July 9, 2015

Greetings from Weardale.

The weather here has continued to be cool and rainy. Yesterday the rain started about the time we left for the mine and continued off and on through the day. With a large backlog of specimens needing scrubbing I spent much of the day outside the containers with the water hose and scrub brush. Dressed for the mine in my water-proofs, I managed to stay reasonably dry and warm despite the occasional downpour. Unfortunately, there was little breeze and when the rain stopped, clouds of midges immediately emerged, attacking anything available, such as me. Not the most enjoyable day Iíve spent at the mine, but at least I got a good bit of our recent produce ready for packing Ė provided it will dry out. This morning begins cool but clear, so hopefully the rain is a thing of the past, at least for the moment.

Monday afternoon, while scaling loose rock from the face, Dave dislodged a couple of rocks that appeared to come from the roof of the pocket zone. The smaller of the two was easy enough to pick up and wash off, and there was, indeed, fluorite on the underside. The larger one, however, was close to a meter long, and had (of course) come to rest with the fluorite side down. Toward the end of the day, Cal and I were able to flip it over, and after washing the mud off discovered several patched of fluorite that were worth recovering.

First task Tuesday morning was to get the thing out of the mine and cut up. Dave quickly constructed a platform of timbers and lifted the rock up and onto it with the bucket of the Eimco. Moving the Eimco into the new siding, Joe brought the flatbed cart to the face with the loco and the rock was then slid onto it and driven out. Todayís photo shows Ian pushing the rock and flatbed out of the mine. That done, Dave, Joe and Ian continued mucking and timbering the face, while Cal and I got out the chain saw.

Getting the proper angle with the saw to slice the face off the rock proved to be a difficult task, largely because the saw and cables are rather heavy, and difficult to hold for any length of time unless gravity is working in your favor. We finally worked out an arrangement where we stood the rock on its side, while I stood at one end, on the flatbed, sawing downward while Cal held the hydraulic and water cables to reduce the weight. That done, the remainder of the rock was then unceremoniously sent over the tip, and I went to the face to help Dave finish the timbering while Cal took his lunch.

Ian and I took our lunch about the time Dave and Joe were finished for the day, switching with Cal, who has at collecting at the newly secured face. About the time Ian and I were done with our sandwiches a couple unannounced visitors showed up and I went out to investigate. Evidently, we had two train enthusiasts who had heard about our loco, and wanted to have a quick look and take a few photos. I guess these things, once common in mines and quarries around here, are now pretty rare, so I indulged them while Ian went to join Cal at collecting.

By the time I got to the face, I found Cal and Ian trading off on the water and numerous partially cleaned specimens lying about. Not wanting to interfere with their enthusiasm, I spent some time picking up the scattered bits, washing them, filling our plastic collecting tubs, and loading them onto the loco to be driven out. Late in the afternoon Cal finally decided he was cold and wet enough for the day, and went out to begin closing the mine. I took over at the face for a little while and managed to collect another tubís worth of specimens in short order. After wheeling in the generators and locking the doors, we sent the dayís take down on the gondola and filled the soaking tubs.

Yesterday at the mine I spent much of the day scrubbing the soaked specimens and then refilling the soaking tubs with yet more muddy rocks in hopes of finding decent once they are cleaned of their coating. At one point in the proceedings I noticed a lot of thumping coming from the container, and looking inside, noticed Dave and Joe beating on a section of hose coupling from the Eimco. Evidently the air intake port on the Eimcoís pneumatic motor had broken off, but fortunately Dave was able to find a spare part amongst all the old junk we have stored in the container, and was soon back in business. Another example of why one should never throw anything away!

Rain and midges not withstanding, I was done with the washing chores by mid afternoon and went up to visit Cal and Ian at the face. Despite clearing it out the previous afternoon, the area about the face was once again lined with filled specimen tubs and larger bits in need of washing. The pocket zone at the face has been very productive the past few days, but unfortunately, digging had again undercut the roof of the zone, leaving some dodgy looking rocks hanging over those preoccupied with finding fluorite. Cal noticed one large rock start to move, so everyone quickly moved back while he finished bringing it down with a long bar. The fluorite layer on the underside conveniently came away, sparing us the need to saw up yet another large rock, and gave us a very nice specimen to end the day.

Today at the mine we will need to spend some time examining the face to decide if we can make it secure for more collecting. If not, it will be time to turn it back over to Dave. Regardless of what is decided, there is a lot of material that still needs to be soaked, washed, and packed. If Iím stuck outside again, at least it looks like it wonít be in the rain today. Hopefully the bugs will find someone else to pick on as well.

Stay tuned for more.


Jesse, Ian, Cal & Kerith

Another small specimen.

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