Sunday, July 26, 2015

Greetings from Weardale.

The weather over the past few days has been much the same as described in the last report – cloudy, cool, but only occasional sprinkles of rain. Day time temperatures have not risen to much over 15C (58F) for a while now, leading me to think that this is officially the summer that wasn’t, here in the North. Contrasting this, a correspondent informs me that temperatures in his home town of Grenoble (southern French Alps) have recently been between 32 – 40C (90 – 104F). Personally, I think I’ll stick with what we’ve got here! The cool temperatures here are probably responsible for the poor showing of our wildflowers in the quarry this summer, but we do seem to be growing a decent crop of thistles, which are now starting to bloom. One of them is the subject of today’s photo.

Friday at the mine was largely spent continuing the cleanup at the face. After getting a couple more tubs of muck out of the way, we were able to muscle another set of rails into place and get it leveled and tied to the previous one. After that, Dave spent some time scaling the face and bringing down more loose rock, which then needed to be mucked out. All this should have been fairly routine but for the fact that the loco began acting up again. As before, it has not been holding a charge for very long, forcing us to keep putting it back on the charger between loads out from the face. Dave wanted to check the water levels in the batteries, and after opening up the battery box I soon found one battery that was giving off steam when the caps from the cells were removed. Not a good sign. I rushed off to the garage where we got the last battery, but being Friday afternoon, I got there too late for them to place an order with the supplier. Hopefully, the thing will be here next Tuesday of Wednesday. Until then we’ll be limping along with a poorly charged loco.

And limp along was what we did yesterday. Much of the morning was spent getting the next set of timber installed. Because the roof had pulled much higher than we would have wanted, we needed to gather some large bits of timber to build the roof boards on the timber set up to the ceiling of the tunnel. The only suitable things we had on hand were some old creosote-soaked railroad ties that we have used out on the landing as a platform for chain sawing large rocks, so these were sacrificed for the cause.

The loco had managed the task of getting out one last tub of muck and hauling in the framing and lagging boards for the timber set before giving up the ghost on us. I even had to enlist Dave and Ian to help push it up a bit of a grade to the charging station. While this was going on, Cal managed to cut up three of the railroad ties, and we loaded them onto the flatbed car and, in the absence of a working loco, pushed them to the face. The ties, we were told, originally came from Mozambique many years ago, and were cut from a species of hardwood tree that is now likely endangered if not extinct. I always wondered about whether one could salvage some of the wood from them, but being so full of creosote, holes, and bits of metal, I doubt it. Regardless, they were bloody heavy, and even when cut to bits they took the three of us to lift them up to Dave on top of the lagging boards.

This was finally completed by mid-afternoon. Ian took off back to the cottage to catch an important sports event on the internet, and Cal and I began washing down the face for a closer look at what the latest blast had exposed. The alteration zone appears to be narrowing and initially I had little expectation of finding much. Despite this, we had managed to collect a couple tubs of wholesale-quality bits by day’s end, and exposed a promising looking section of the flats. Unfortunately, there is a very large rock perched in the face directly above the zone of interest, which needs to be dealt with before attacking the face again for specimens. A job for tomorrow.

Stay tuned for more.


Jesse, Ian, Cal & Kerith

At least the thistles seem to be enjoying the weather this summer.

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