2 0 1 0     S U M M A R Y

  • Initial Depth: 9.8m
  • Final Depth: 9.8m
  • Working Sessions: 206
  • NOTES: A year of preparation. It was obvious that we would have to do some serious engineering works to constrain the fluid fill at the base of the shaft and that this would considerable amounts of steelwork and concrete.
        So, collection of material, building somewhere to store it, resurrection of non-functional power winch, resurrection of non-functional concrete mixer, waterproofing round the shaft-head and construction of a robust headframe. Other things as well, but it gets boring.

2010.206: Thu 23rd Dec

Tony Audsley

Final act of the year; went over to the dig and took some snowy pictures. Well, why not ? It looked pretty.

2010.189-205: Fri 29th Oct - Mon 13th Dec

Tony Audsley

Various fiddly little tasks, which included:-

  • Welding up a bracket to attached the shaft guide cable to the sheave wheel assembly.
  • Fitting the sheave wheel assembly back on the headframe - AGAIN.
  • Finishing off the mechanical signal bell and installing it in the engine house.
  • More fixing of the orange cement mixer engine (Honda).
  • Trying to reactivate a thirty year old digging telephone. This was a waste of time, it wasn't any good.

2010.188: Thu 28th Oct (1430-1545)

Alice Audsley, Tony Audsley

Took the shaft doors over to the dig and popped them on top of the shaft

2010.183-185: Thu 21st Oct - Sat 23rd Oct

Tony Audsley

Started cutting up a bed frame for the door framework then realised that I did not have enough bed frame angle to complete the job, so took the cut lengths over to the dig and measured again and again (and again). Grabbed an extra length of angle iron and a couple of lengths of decking timber from the hut and took it all back to Cheddar.

Welded up the framework and cut some of the decking timber for the doors. Set up the door assembly ready to weld the hinges to the frame, at which point heavy rain stopped further play.

Saturday afternoon - PS: But, later on the sun came out so, seizing the moment with both hands, the hinges were welded to the frame. Four welds per hinge, all done in the twinkling of an eye. The decking now needs bolting to the hinges, with some bits of psychological reinforcement tacked on underneath.

2010.174-180: Sat 9th - Fri 15th Oct

Tony Audsley

All week fighting with mixer engines. Finally gave up on the Honda and started work on a Briggs and Stratton.

2010.172: Thu 7th Oct (1330-1800)

Mike Wilson, Frank Hewlett, Tony Audsley

Collected the cement mixer body from Home Close, then to Uphills to buy four BIG gate hinges for the shaft doors. Took all this to the Belfry and met up with Mike Wilson who had the 'new' replacement engine that he had bought on eBay. The intention was to pop it on, start it up and then live happily ever after.

Unfortunately, these things are never quite that simple. The replacement engine was an earlier type and the mountings and drive did not quite match up. Three attempts and much filing of slots, general bodgery and the uttering of magic words got us somewhere near a working system, but heavy rain reduced the fun element of the exercise, so we packed up and Tony took the mixer back to Cheddar to continue playing with it.

Mike is getting a new piston and ring set for the old engine so that we will have a spare, just in case.

2010.170: Tue 4th Oct

Tony Audsley

Started work on a signal bell for the shaft. This is to be based on a bell in the mock-up coal mine display at Radstock Museum. The bell was made by E.C. Theedam Ltd. of Dudley and dates from the early 1900's. The fact that they have it mounted upside down spoils the effect a bit, but it's still a magnificent object. The Home Close version uses the bottom of a fire extinguisher cylinder for the bell itself, works OK.

2010.167: Thu 30th Sep (1400-1630)

Les Oxborough, Tony Audsley

Finished bolting the ladder to the shaft and cut off the excess studding. Then cut off all the metal steps which were cast into the bottom pipe as the bucket was likely to catch on them.

2010.165: Mon 27th Sep (1000 - 1640)

Tony Audsley, Mike Wilson, Les Oxborough

Tony went over early to remove the engine from the cement mixer with the intention of taking it to Mike Wilson at the Belfry. The removal took much longer than expected. Packed engine into the Land Rover and set off for the Belfry but met Mike on the farm track coming to see what was taking so long. We both went back to the dig where we engaged in long, involved and erudite discussions until it was time for Hunters.

In the afternoon Les came out on his own and fixed galvanised plates over the exhaust pipe hole in the hut and also a cowl plate to keep rain off the silencer.

2010.164: Sun 26th Sep (1030-1645)

Alice Audsley, Tony Audsley

Fitted J-Rat's original 6mm hauling cable to the winch and looped and thimbled the shaft end of this. Then tried a dummy run lowering the bucket to the shaft bottom and hauling it out again!

In the afternoon repeated the process, this time after filling the bucket with rocks. Hauling was OK but it was difficult to achieve a smooth lowering on the brake. Perhaps it will improve with practice. It is also a little difficult to hook on the traverse chain without diving headfirst down the shaft. May need to fit doors to the top of the shaft.

2010.163: Sat 25th Sep (1100-1645)

Les Oxborough, Tony Audsley

Spent an hour in the hut checking over the engine and winch and tightening all the nuts and bolts that had been forgotten.

Fitted the traverse pole and A-frame support to the headframe. Remade the wire bracing on the north side of the headframe (this had been a temporary bodge previously). Found that the drainage sump was full of water to within a quarter inch of the outlet pipe so we seem to have cured the leak for the time being at least. Les started work on the metalwork to seal the hole where the engine exhaust comes out of the hut.

2010.161: Mon 20th Sep (1030-1600)

Les Oxborough, Tony Audsley

Installed the winch engine, cut a hole in the north wall of the hut for the engine exhaust. Cut a hole in the west wall to take a scaff pole connecting the winch to the headframe. Rearranged the headframe to allow the bucket to travel further up into the frame. (The traverse pole was in the way previously).

Sat on the wall, nattered and enjoyed the sunshine.

2010.160: Sun 19th Sep

Jeff Price, Phil Romford, Tony Audsley

Fitted more wire cross bracing to the headframe and set up a scaffolding traverse and 'A' frame to ease handling of the bucket at the top of the shaft.

2010.159: Sat 18th Sep (1130-1630)

Alice Audsley, Les Oxborough, Tony Audsley

Back from holiday, but a slow start with quite a lot of faffing attempting to fix a leak in the drainage sediment trap. This involved drying out the chamber with a blowlamp then tipping in molten bitumen and coating everything liberally with polyvinyl acetate emulsion.

In the afternoon, fixed bracing scaffs from the base of the hut to the top of the headframe and completed the resining of the bolts for the fixed ladder (I think so anyway).

2010.158: Thu 2nd Sep (1220-1400)

Alice Audsley, Tony Audsley

A quick trip over to try to fix resin anchors for the new ladder position. Not 100% successful. Drilled and cleaned four holes and fixed the lowest anchor, but then had a faffing episode during which time the resin set in the only nozzle that we had with us, so the other three did not get done. Better luck next time.

2010.157: Sun 29th Aug

Alice Audsley, Chris Batstone, Sam Batstone, Tony Audsley

In the morning, realigned the winch and cut a hole in the wall of the hut for the winch cable, then put up a shelf along the back(east) wall in a possibly vain attempt to reduce the level of clutter.

In the afternoon realigned the ladder in the shaft, tightened up all the bolts on the headframe and finally removed all the remaining stub brackets from the top of the yellow grill which had made a nuisance of themselves when we were laying planks on the grill. They are no more.

2010.156: Sat 28th Aug (1100-1730)

Alice Audsley, Les Oxborough, Stuart Lindsay, Tony Audsley

Fitted the wire cross-bracing to the north side of the shaft, this is not perfect but it will do for now. Introduced the winch to the hut and built a scaffolding base for it. Stuart stacked gravel behind the wall round the shaft to aid drainage.

2010.154: Sun 22nd Aug (pm)

Alice Audsley, Ian Gregory, Jeff Price, Mike Wheadon, Phil Romford, Tony Audsley

A short afternoon session after Hunters. Phil worked on the headframe fitting two north south scaffs and then the sheave wheel on top (see photograph) while the rest of us sat around and put the world to rights. All in all a particularly fruitful afternoons work.

2010.153: Sat 21st Aug (1030-1530)

Alice Audsley, Les Oxborough, Tony Audsley

Went over to the dig and cut two of the long (6.42m) scaff bars in half, thus making the four legs for the head frame. Fitted these into position then set up a wooden working platform on top of the yellow grill and fitted two top scaff bars (running east-west). Then fitted one temporary north-south scaff and tensioned wire cross bracings on the east and south sides of the head frame.

At this stage, we needed another eight cable clamps to complete the bracing but there was none left because he who bought them from Uphills last Friday could not count. So we packed up and went home - it was raining anyway.

2010.147-150: Mon 9th - Sat14th Aug (on and off)

Tony Audsley

Making up a tipping skip. Because the steel strip was thinner than I would have liked, welded two together back to back. Lots of drilling, filing, grinding and welding.

2010.145: Thu 5th Aug (1100-1430)

Les Oxborough, Tony Audsley

Finished off the wall round the shaft then sat on it and enjoyed the sun. While it is tempting to claim that there was more, there wasn't.

2010.144: Tue 3rd Aug (0930-1330)

Tony Audsley

The problem with the mixer turned out to be a heavily oiled plug, so a quick wash and brush-up and it was as right as it will ever be. Well, at least it started and kept running.

Mixed one load of mortar; extended the first course of block-work and made a start on the second course.

Took some blocks away to cut them into artistic tapering shapes.

2010.143: Mon 2nd Aug (am)

Tony Audsley

Set up for more blockwork. Measured out sand and cement. Set up the mixer; couldn't start it. Tried for about 30 minutes then gave up. Plenty of petrol but didn't have a plug spanner, so could not check the spark. Try again tomorrow.

2010.142: Sun 1st Aug (1500-1730)

Alice Audsley, Ian Gregory, Tony Audsley

Mixed one load of mortar. Filled the stub foundation scaffold 'feet' with mortar to prevent ingress of water and future rustage, rottage and general collapsery. Then started on the first course of blockwork. Scattered a few drain holes artistically about in the blockwork.

Noted that water poured anywhere on the patio area ran neatly along the central channel and plopped down the drain; all very satisfactory, (if not a little surprising).

2010.140: Thu 29th Jul (1030-1645)

Tony Audsley

Spent all day melting bitumen over Slug's stove (sorry Slug, I will clean it) and then filling the expansion joints. Very slow, very tedious, very messy and occasionally painful (put fingers in pool of bitumen).

2010.131: Wed 28th Jul (pm)

Alice Audsley, Les Oxborough, Tony Audsley

Les went over to the dig and did an end-of-contract tidy up of the site and removed his tools. He left his boots in the hut, so hopefully he intends to return.

Alice and Tony went to Seymour Roofing in Weston and bought a keg of bitumen to fill the expansion joints. Made a ladle for molten bitumen out of steel strip and a sweetcorn tin held together with pop rivets - fascinating.

2010.139: Mon 26th Jul (0930-1300 & 1500-1830)

Alice Audsley, Ian Gregory (Slug), Les Oxborough, Tony Audsley

Alice and Tony bought two bags of cement then went out to the hole. Set up the mixer and then were joined by Les and Ian. The last two panels of the patio were completed, 11 mixer loads of concrete. The mixer was struggling, but made it through to the end. One extra person makes all the difference to the work-load, it was almost a pleasure.

After lunch at Hunters, Tony started work on a scaff framework for the winch and got the basic outline completed, cross bracing and suchlike still to do.

2010.137: Sat 24th Jul (0930 - 1400)

Alice Audsley, Les Oxborough, Tony Audsley

Tony and Alice went to the dig via Maunders builders merchants in Cheddar to buy three bags of cement. Arrived at the hole at 0930 and set up the mixer ready for use. Les arrived at 1000 as agreed and we waited about 15 minutes before starting as the weather looked rather uncertain.

It did seem to be clearing so we started on the concreting. Les laying the concrete, Alice measuring out cement and aggregate and Tony carrying buckets, mixing and barrowing. The first sector took four mixer loads and the second took nine and a half. Towards the end of the second batch of mixing the mixer showed serious signs of distress and it only just managed the final mix.

Ate sandwiches at the site then left, taking the mixer back to Cheddar to see if it could be fixed.

(The first attempt at fixing the mixer was not notably successful, will try again tomorrow).

2010.134: Thu 22nd Jul (0930 - 1230)

Alice Audsley, Les Oxborough, Tony Audsley

On Tuesday and Wednesday the Met Office forecast heavy rain so there was no work at the dig (and also no heavy rain). So today we ignored the weather forecast, which was for heavy rain again and wrong again; at least they are consistent.

We had an early start and mixed and poured the first sector, which took about two hours and was fairly straightforward. Finished at 1200, then had some lunch and left the site at 1230.

We have decided on the term 'patio' as a name for the concreted area round the shaft, because it is a perfectly respectable mining term - see extract from Vol II of the Shorter Oxford (Marl to Z and Addenda):-

patio definition

2010.129: Mon 19th Jul

Jeff Price, Les Oxborough, Tony Audsley

(AM) Jeff bought 20 concrete blocks and took them over to Home Close, then went to Hunters'.

(AM) Tony worked at home preparing modified scaffold clamps for cable bracing of the head frame, then went to Hunters'.

(PM) Les went over to Home Close and continued with his preparations for the concreting.

2010.128: Sun 18th Jul (1000-1300)

Tony Audsley

Tony went over in light but persistent rain. Started by putting in some reinforcing bolts in the south wall of the hut where one of the timber panels had started to bulge.

When the rain slackened, checked the alignment of the hut and safety grill, because I didn't quite believe the laser level results from Friday. It's not perfect, but within half an inch or so.

Then went over the positioning of the feet of the head frame, setting them for position and depth and tightening all clamps. Dug out some more from below them so they will be held by a decent mass of concrete.

2010.127: Sat 17th Jul (PM)

Les Oxborough.

Les went over to the hole in the afternoon and prepared the area for concreting the first segment (south-east).

The Winch Monster
Beware the Winch Monster!
The day of digging approaches!

2010.126: Fri 16th Jul (0900-1545)

Alice Audsley, Tony Audsley

I think the time has come for a little bit of explanation about what is going on.

The plan we have been working towards has been to create a concreted working area around the shaft. This concrete pad and its associated pipework would have a secondary function of diverting water draining from the field away from the shaft and into the sump at the centre of the depression.

The shaft is intended to have a 3 metre (ish) high head frame consisting of four vertical scaffold bars fixed outside the concrete ring and braced back by two longer bars running from the headgear back towards the base of the hut. This is the essence, there are all sorts of fripperies and minor irritations still to be attached. The completed head frame should resemble, by some quirk of parallel development, a miniature version of the head frame at Magpie Mine (Derbyshire).

magpie_mine headframe

So much for the plan, reality is much slower. The day started with Tony welding reinforcing pieces to the stub foundations mentioned yesterday.

Then went off to the hole and an attempt to align the yellow cage, (an integral part of the scaffold head frame), with the axis of the hut using a laser level screwed to the side of the hut and bits of white hardboard and rulers and suchlike.

Unfortunately, small brackets which had been left on the bottom of the cage fouled on the concrete and prevented the alignment. Back to Cheddar for angle grinders, generator and Alice; then back to the dig. On went the generator, off came the brackets and down came the rain. Once the cage frame had been aligned, four wet lengths of scaff were clamped inside the corners and a (wet) fabricated foot was fitted to the bottom of each pole.

The next part of the game was to dig a hole under each foot to allow a greater mass of concrete to be cast around them. Task completed, we packed up soggily at 1445.

2010.125: Thu 15th Jul (1030-1700)

Alice Audsley, Les Oxborough, Tony Audsley

In the morning, Les and Tony continued breaking rocks and raising the level of the foundations. Also dug a trench to the shaft from the south west and inserted a 65mm plastic pipe, then reburied it. This is intended to take the 'water main' (hosepipe) under the cement to the shaft, also a convenient route for getting cables, etc to the shaft.

In the afternoon, Alice arrived and, having broken and beaten rock to Les' satisfaction, we started barrowing aggregate from the heap to blind the surface ready for concreting.

In the evening, Tony cut four 15 inch (380mm) lengths of scaffold and welded 'feet' on them. These are to form the 'stub' bases for the head frame, once cast into the concrete.

2010.124: Wed 14th Jul (1200-1630)

Les Oxborough

Les took a sledge hammer over to the dig and had a session of rock bashing to add to and then to consolidate the foundation for the concrete area round the shaft. He also drove in more pegs to better define the required slope to ensure that the area drains properly.

2010.123: Mon 12th Jul (1210-1600)

Les Oxborough, Tony Audsley

Les and Tony reconnected the ladder to its hanging belay, then removed the cage grill from the top of the shaft and took various measurements to define the level of the concrete collar, or possibly concrete apron, that will be cast round the shaft. Whatever it is called it will have a slope so that water will drain to the drain, cunningly placed so that it is at the lowest point. Les produced a calculator and communed with it for some time before announcing that all was well.

Having thus decided on the level and driven in pegs to celebrate this, we started to backfill with rubble until repeated horsefly attacks drove us away.

2010.122: Sun 11th Jul

Les Oxborough, Tony Audsley

Les spent all day bricking up the drainage chamber and fixing the iron picture frame on top. The top of this frame will define the lowest point of the concrete 'collar' which will be cast round the shaft.

Meanwhile, Tony laid more conveyor belting in the hut and screwed three inch wide strips of ply to the inside of the hut to cover the joints between the ply panels. Finished at 1615.

2010.121: Sat 10th Jul (pm)

Les Oxborough

Les went over to the hole and laid a 4 inch thick slab of concrete to form the bottom of the drainage chamber.

2010.119: Fri 9th Jul (0820-1630)

Alice Audsley, Tony Audsley

In the morning, Tony made up a 1ft by 9ins frame for the top of the drainage chamber, a sort of iron picture frame is the best description, lots of ill-fitting mitre joints and spotty welding. Then 'finished' the second guard on the sheave wheel to prevent the haulage cable from jumping out of the pulley groove on the engine side of the wheel.

In the afternoon, Alice and Tony went over to the dig where they dug under the yellow sump bucket and packed the space with gravel, then raised the drainage pipe so that it was level with the sump bucket outflow blue pipes. The whole pipe was then graded to a suitable fall gradient and the trench backfilled.

Had enough of feeding the horseflies; went home.

2010.118: Thu 8th Jul (0910 - 1630)

Alice Audsley, Les Oxborough, Tony Audsley

In the morning, Les went to Home Close and removed the formwork from the top of the shaft and generally tidied the site. Meanwhile at Cheddar, Tony worked on the sheave wheel, fitting guides to prevent a slack cable from jumping out of the wheel groove.

In the afternoon, Alice, Les and Tony worked on the site. Firstly assembling the security grill atop the shaft. Then later, aligning the drainage pipework and digging a hole hear the shaft for a drainage chamber.

Home Close Hole, Wigmore cave dig
The raised and
flattened shaft top
cave digger Les Oxborough
Les fiddling with the pipework
Cave digger Alice Audsley
Alice excavating the
drainage chamber
Home Close Hole cave dig shaft top
The grill on top
of the shaft.

2010.117: Tue 6th Jul

Tony Audsley

A long day (1000 - 1830 hrs) with not a great deal to show for it. Working on the MOAB, increasing the torsional stiffness and fixing a detachable sub-bracket on the top to support the exhaust pipe. The pipe is wired to this to allow some degree of horizontal movement (expansion). Fitted the exhaust pipe and ran the engine to test it; seems OK. Tried the 'silencer' on the end, which makes a bit, but not much difference. Refitted the guard to cover the pull start pulley and made up a new stop to retain it in position as the MOAB interfered with the old arrangement.

Doesn't seem much, but it took all day.

2010.116: Mon 5th Jul

Tony Audsley

Working on the winch in the morning, making up the 'Mother Of All Brackets' to support the exhaust pipe. Because of worries about stressing the very small studs holding the exhaust to the cylinder block, this bracket was made as rigid and vibration proof as possible.

After a lunch time session at Hunters', went over to the dig and continued to work on the drainage trench. This was hindered by the presence of two large blocks which did not want to come out of the trench, a lot of words were exchanged before they were persuaded to come out. Laid the drain-pipes roughly in position and checked the slope - almost OK.

2010.115: Sun 4th Jul

Tony Audsley

Over to the dig at 1000 hrs, removed the sacking from the top of the shaft and found that the concrete was curing nicely. Photographed it to make up for yesterday, then replaced the sacking.

Started to remove the pile of half-bricks near the shaft in preparation for digging a drainage trench, but came across a vole's nest complete with pups. Replaced a few bricks around the nest and left it. Shortly after, the mother started carrying the pups out, taking them into the pile of whole bricks nearby. We don't need to move these, so she should be OK there.

Spent the rest of the morning until 1300 hrs digging a drainage trench from the shaft area to the drainage sump. Returned from Hunters' at about 1415 hrs and did another hours worth of deepening the trench before packing up for the day.

2010.114: Sat 3rd Jul

Alice Audsley, Ian Gregory, Jeff Price, Les Oxborough, Tony Audsley

Imagine Les Oxborough drilling holes - like this
An imaginary Les Oxborough drilling holes in the top of the cement ring

This was quite an important day at the dig, which required the remembering of all sorts of vital stuff. This was OK but I forgot to take a camera ! However, the technology exists to provide you with imaginary (or 'virtual' as computer folk say), images of the days events. Such virtual images also download very quickly, so there is less stress on the infrastructure of the web, but it does require a bit of effort on your part.

A full day (1000 - 1600 Hrs). Eight holes were drilled at 45 degree intervals round the top of the shaft. The top of the shaft was then cleaned carefully using a Hoover 'Dustette' hand vacuum cleaner, which used to belong to my Great Aunt Barbara.

Once all was spotless, the holes were fitted with short lengths of 10mm rebar bent at 90 degrees, these acted as support for a ring of 10mm rebar cunningly bent so that it fitted exactly and correctly along the centreline of the concrete ring. Working to this degree of precision makes one appreciate the difficulties they must have had getting the Large Hadron Collider to a sufficient degree of roundity.

The supports were resin bonded into the holes and the whole assembly wired tightly together.

The BBQ was encouraged to light with some imaginary petrol (don't try this with REAL petrol) and burgers and sausages were produced for consumption at a very satisfactory stage of carbonisation, while Slug vanished behind a vast cloud of smoke.

After this, two and a half mixer loads of cement were produced and rammed carefully home by all except Tony, who was attending to the mixer and taking imaginary photographs. For those ardent cement gricers and readers of 'Cement Weekly', the mix was 1:2:4, cement:sand:14mm aggregate. Proper job; not just your usual half inch to dust rubbish.

2010.111,112: Thu 1st Jul

Les Oxborough, Tony Audsley

Over at the dig, Les finished the formwork for the shaft, so fitting the reinforcing, mixing and pouring is scheduled for this coming Saturday - starting at 1000hrs.

Meanwhile, at Cheddar, Tony found that the exhaust pipe leaked and so rewelded it, producing an incredibly ugly weld, which would not look out of place on a Soviet railway locomotive.

2010.103-110: Fri 25th - Wed 30th Jun

(At various times) Les Oxborough, Tony Audsley

Again, no one session deserves detailed description, but a lot of work has gone on and we are approaching a stage where we can at last see the light at the beginning of the tunnel. OK, it's perhaps not quite as bad as that, but we are nearing the climax (?) of the surface preparations.

Les has worked steadily at the site, preparing the formwork and reinforcing for the extension to the top ring of the shaft. Tony finished off the security grills and took them over to the site, then started making up a sheave wheel and framework to sit on top of the headframe.

This was made up of bits of ex-MOD bed-frame, a wheel (from Andrew Johnston), 25mm stainless bar (Les Oxborough), iron water pipe (Wendy Roberts), bearings (found rusting and neglected behind the Belfry) and, finally wodges of shim steel to make everything fit together. The shim steel was BOUGHT (sorry) many years ago from R.S. Components to align the engine of the N.B. Mendip Digger with the stern gear and kept carefully ever since just in case it might come in useful.

Also prepared some pulley devices, which will come into prominence later, and cut off the top of an old aluminium beer keg for use as a digging bucket.

2010.099 - 102: Tue 22nd - Fri 25th Jun

(At various times) Alice Audsley, Les Oxborough, Tony Audsley

Les Oxborough has finally been dragged out of retirement; his last known activity was the construction of the timber adit at Longwood Valley Sink round about 1982/3 ish. Les has now contracted to raise and level the top of the shaft by casting a low reinforced concrete ring on top.

To give him a clear start, Tony and Alice unbolted the fixed ladder from the shaft, removed the topmost section and hung the remaining ladder out of Les' way down the centre of the shaft supported by a length of rebar.

It is usually best to keep well of of Les' way when he is working, so Tony retired to Cheddar and finished off the grills, then started work on a sheave wheel to go on top of the headframe.

2010.093 - 094: Sat 12th - Tue 15th Jun (Summary)

Tony Audsley

Set up the grills on top of the shaft and found:-

  1. The hinges did not allow the gate to open fully.
  2. As well as this, the bank needed cutting back further to allow the gate to open.

Then did the following in no particular order:-

  • Dug out more material from the bank and used it to fill the 'borrow pit'.
  • Tried anti-horsefly kit made from ScrewFix disposable coverall and Bat Products anti-mosquito headgear. This may well look rather quaint, but it was cool to wear and very effective.
  • Worked on the winch, fitting the control levers, throttle linkage and the main drive pulley.
  • Tested out Slug's stove by making and drinking five cups of coffee. Found it to be entirely satisfactory.
  • Collected the yellow grills from Home Close and took them to Cheddar. They are getting to be well travelled.
  • Made new hinges for the yellow grills and a latch and catch to hold the gate in the open position.
  • Tried to interest Les Oxborough in the dig.

2010.092: Sun 13th Jun

Tony Audsley

I have left out most of the more tedious accounts of working on the winch from the web version of the log book, but this one is included to give an example of hypertedium. Here goes:-

Heading towards final assembly of the winch. Fitted the control levers. Fitted the drive pulley. historical butchery of this had resulted in a somewhat loose fit on the shaft and the pulley boss had been tapped 3/16th inch X 24 TPI, ie Whitworth and a Whitworth Allen screw fitted to fix the wobble.

UNFORTUNATELY, I lost the Whitworth Allen screw and could not find a replacement. SO, took an M6 Allen screw, which is near as dammit 3/16 inch at the root of the threads, lacking a lathe, put the screw in the chuck of the pillar drill, spun it and filed the screw down to the root of the threads. Then ran a 3/16 X 24 TPI die down the resultant stub. Surprisingly, this produced a passable Whit Allen screw. The taper key was also slack on the shaft and had been fitted with two rather manky brass shims; made up a steel shim to replace these.

The pulley was now secure, so fitted the drive belt. This was much too tight so removed the engine, filed the location slots longer, replaced the engine and refitted the belt.

Fitted the throttle control, cable and Governor control spring. Dabbed here and there with green paint. Found the haulage cable and soaked it in hypoid/diesel/paraffin mix, then hung it up and left it to drip.

That was the day gone.

2010.090: Fri 11th Jun (pm)

Tony Audsley

Took the completed grills over to the dig. Dug out the egg-shaped boulder that had been left by Wednesdays quartet. Closer examination of one of their figures showed it to be female, a veritable Venus figurine, so perhaps Wednesdays efforts were partly directed to fertility rites. In which case, considering the four individuals involved, I'm rather glad that I wasn't there.

2010.088: Wed 9th Jun (Evening)

Bill Combley, Henry Bennett, Henry Dawson, Mark Denning

Henry, Henry, Bill and Mark went over to the dig and frittered away their time making little men out of concrete blocks and bricks. One of the figures definitely started out as a man, but by Friday afternoon two thirds of his manhood lay in ruins at his feet - (Butcombe is believed to have this effect if consumed in sufficient quantity).

It is possible that they also did some clearing round the top of the shaft.

2010.080-084: Mon 31st May; Wed 2nd Jun - Sat 5th Jun

(At various times) Ben Selway, Jeff Price, Tony Audsley, Vern Freeman

A veritable crescendo of activity, most of it really rather tedious, involving squares of conveyor belting (removed from the bell-chamber of St Andrew's Church, Cheddar in 2000), ferrying of concrete blocks, fiddling with security grills, more measuring of levels around the shaft (plus a bit of trigonometry) and, inevitably, the accursed winch, this time fitting grease nipples so that the ball races will stand a chance of being lubricated occasionally - hopefully, they will be grateful.

2010.079: Sun 30th May

Alice Audsley, Chris Batstone, Ian Gregory, Nick Winter, Stuart Lindsay, Tony Audsley

First thing, Stuart and Nick cleared the area round the shaft, while Tony dug in the 'borrow pit' and spread clay inside the hut. Later Stuart and Nick did the digging and Tony just did the spreading.

In the afternoon, Alice, Chris and Ian continued digging and Tony continued spreading and levelling. Eventually, the floor was pronounced level and four pallets were dropped into position. Finished off the day with a wittering session on the spoilheap.

The photograph shows Slug digging in the 'borrow pit', supervised by Batspiss.

2010.071: Wed 19th May

Tony Audsley

(I wouldn't normally put in this sort of thing in detail, but considering the number of hours I have wasted on the ruddy thing, here it is).

Spent all of the morning reducing the level of Entropy in "The Black Shed" at Cheddar, in order first to be able to see, then later get to, the winch engine. Having got to it, the carb was fitted with NEW jets and what-have-you and then given a severe talking to, just in case that would help.

Now, the moment of truth - put in a little petrol and checked for leaks; all seemed OK. I didn't think that the engine was entirely to be trusted, so assembled a fire blanket and two extinguishers just to be on the safe side.

Turned on the petrol, tickled the carb and pulled ......

ENGINE STARTED FIRST GO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It ran fairly steadily, seemingly rather rich and it will need some fine adjustment, but WOW, not bad after years of standing idle. Perhaps I am beginning to learn to love it.

NOTE: This sound recording requires an HTML5 capable browser. If you can't see the control box below, then you ain't got one and you are missing a treat.

2010.069: Mon 17th May

Ian Gregory, Jeff Price, Tony Audsley

Jeff and Slug arrived at Cheddar in Jeff's Land Rover with trailer and we loaded bags of sand into the trailer and a few bags and the tools into Tony's Land Rover. We took all this to the dig and stacked the sand by the aggregate pile. Then Tony finished off a bit of detail work on the hut while Slug and Jeff cleared round the shaft and stacked rocks.

2010.068: Sun 16th May

Alice Audsley, Chris Batstone, Ian Gregory (Slug), Jeff Price, Tony Audsley

Alice and Tony fitted the wriggly tin roof then emptied most of a can of foam into the gaps. Slug, Jeff and Chris broke up the last remaining boulder into satisfyingly small bits.

Home Close Hole Digging Hut
The completed hut - well almost.
Home close Hole, Wigmore Cave digging
Jeff & Slug watch Chris attack the boulder
Home Close Hole Cave digging
The boulder hauled out of position
cave digging
The remains of the boulder

2010.067: Sat 15th May

Alice Audsley, Tony Audsley, Ian Gregory (Slug)

John Williams (Tangent)

Took the hut door and cladding panels to the site and fitted them into position.

Tangent visited and went down the shaft to retrieve a carpenter's pencil that had been dropped.

2010.066: 14th May

Alice Audsley, Tony Audsley

Took the framework of the hut over to t'hole. When assembling the base framework we found that two of the concrete block corner supports were considerably in the wrong place. This must have been due to some sort of tectonic movements because they had been measured incredibly carefully. After some work with pick and shovel the offending corner supports were re-sited and the hut framework erected.

2010.065: 13th May

Alice Audsley, Tony Audsley

Dismantled the digging hut. Now ready to move it to the dig.

2010.061-064: 10th - 12th May.

Alice Audsley, Jeff Price, Tony Audsley

At Cheddar, Alice and Tony installed an opening flap or 'window' in the front of the hut, fitted ship-lap timbering over the rest of the front, then dowsed everything in a mixture of creosote and bitumastic. The structure is now complete and ready to be dismantled and transported to the dig.

Meanwhile, over at the dig on Tuesday evening, Jeff drilled ten more holes in 'that' boulder.

2010.057,059: 6th & 7th May.

Jeff Price.

On Thursday, Jeff drilled ten holes in the remains of the last 'shaft boulder', in preparation for smashing it up. He drilled another eight on Friday evening.

2010.056: Tue 4th May

Tony Audsley

Dragged out five large squares of conveyor belting (ex St Andrews Church (Cheddar) bell-tower), which had been hibernating under our compost heap since 2000 in the hope that they would eventually be useful for something. Well, now they have; they will carpet the floor of the new engine house.

Fixed guttering, down-pipe and water butt at the back of the engine house.

2010.055: Mon 3rd May (AM/PM)

Jeff Price, Ian Gregory, Tony Audsley

cave diggers, Home Close Hole, Wigmore
Jeff drilling a boulder by the shaft; Slug checking all is OK.

Mendip digging, Home Close Hole, Wigmore
The boulder split and ready to be removed.

Cave digging, Home Close Hole, Wigmore

Quote from Slug at the beginning of the session "I feel like shit" - he looked like it too.

Another rock breaking session, drilling and hammering a gad into the hole to break up the rocks that had been placed round the shaft when the pit was backfilled in August 2008. At the end of the morning, the Hilti battery was flat and the eastern boulder was no more, so off to Hunters' for beer and battery charging.

In the afternoon, the northern boulder was demolished and the Hilti battery flattened again. This left the large red mudstone block on the north side of the shaft, which had been supporting one of the tripod legs. This was attacked with hammer and chisel and a crack opened up across its whole width. After much furdling and clearing round the boulder, the crack was opened sufficiently to get a strop round the broken part of the boulder. The intention was to use the Jeff's Land Rover winch to pull the rock OUT, but on the first attempt the rock very nearly pulled the Land Rover IN. On the second attempt the rock was hauled out successfully and we smashed it up. Some more still to come out.

Quote from Slug at the end of the day "I quite enjoyed that" - which is strange because he still looked the same.

Cave Diggers, Home Close Hole, Wigmore
Jeff worrying a boulder, (not posed, note the flying stone dust)

Cave digging, Home Close Hole, Wigmore, Mendip
Hauling out the boulder.
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E A S Y !

2010.054: Tue 27th Apr (pm)

Jeff Price

Jeff went over to the dig in the afternoon with his 36V Hilti and drilled 13 16mm holes up to 300mm long in the boulder between the shaft and the stile. He then shook it to pieces with a sledge hammer.

2010.053: Tue 27th Apr (am/pm)

Alice Audsley, Tony Audsley

More clay was needed to level the foundations, so we dug a "borrow pit" near the centre of the depression and barrowed clay from it to the hut foundations. Had lunch of quiche and veg soup cooked over a Primus petrol stove.

2010.052: Mon 26th Apr (am)

Jeff Price, Tony Audsley

A couple of hours spent moving all the remaining Caine Hill clay and rock (except a few rocks which were sheltering a toad) over to the hut foundations and continuing with the levelling.

2010.051: Sat 24th Apr (pm)

Alice Audsley, Rosie Audsley, Tony Audsley

Built up the hut foundations with rock and mud from Caine Hill and built a temporary retaining wall on the south side. Not a very tidy wall so hopefully it will soon be buried and out of sight under our own spoil. Almost (but not quite) reached the finished level.

2010.050: Mon 19th Apr

Ian Gregory (Slug), Tony Audsley

In the morning, Tony and Ian took a load of rocks and bags from Caine Hill to t'hole. Tony did the same in the afternoon.

2010.049: Mon 12th Apr

Tony Audsley

More work on the winch engine. Fitted the new magneto coil, condenser and points to the engine, adjusted and titivated. Then fitted the carburettor and fuel tank and poured in some petrol - MAJOR leaks from the fuel tap and the carb. Gave up yet again.

2010.044-048: March/April (Summary of log entries)

Tony Audsley

It's a bit tedious to go into things in minute detail but eight loads of rock and mud ferried from Caine Hill to the dig, some scrap steelwork was collected, a new magneto coil and ignition components were bought for the winch engine and the hut foundations were built up slightly.

2010.043: Sat 6th Mar (pm)

Alice Audsley, Tony Audsley

Spent a couple of hours levelling and building up the corner concrete block supports for the base of the hut. Later Alice cleaned off bricks and Tony barrowed rocks to build up the hut foundations.


2010.042: Wed 3rd Mar

Tony Audsley

More work on the hateful winch engine. I removed the flywheel, cleaned contacts, etc, but there was no sign of a spark. Checking the magneto secondary showed that it was open circuit, so as an act of desperation, I split open the casing of the coil in the hope that there might be a simple repairable break inside. However the coil inside was a mass of green copper salts and the secondary was badly corroded with lots of breaks in the wire and irrepairable. Need to find if I can get a replacement unit.

2010.041: Tue 2nd Mar

Tony Audsley

Working on the Vile Villiers winch engine - (I really hated it by this stage). I had been told by several people that I was wasting my time and that the engine would never run reliably. By this stage, I was beginning to see why they said that; there were lots of bits missing and the ones that were present were in a mess. Anyway, plodding on, I made up a new ignition cable and fixed it then tried to get a spark - NOTHING. So, need to remove the flywheel to get at the points etc. Do it tomorrow.

2010.023-040: February (Summary of log entries)

Tony Audsley

  • Collected sheets of wriggly tin from Mole Valley Farmers.
  • Took three Land Rover loads of bricks (thanks to Tony Norris)
    from the farmhouse to the dig.
  • Took one load of Caine Hill rock to t'hole.
  • Did more work on the 'flat-pack' digging hut.
  • Spent a day at the dig cleaning up bricks.
  • Started (again!) working on the motorised winch.

2010.003-022: January (Summary of log entries)

Tony Audsley

The rest of January involved a lot of rather boring surface preparation, this was too tedious to record in detail, some "highlights" were:-

  • Started work (at home) on constructing a portable digging hut/engine house/cement store.
  • Collected 12 old bunks - useful for their heavy-gauge angle iron.
  • Made up a telephone system for the dig.
  • Played in the snow.

2010.002: Sun 3rd Jan (pm)

Tony Audsley

Continued shifting rocks for the foundation, then sorted through the timber pile and selected some pieces suitable for the framework of the hut. Took these back to Cheddar.

2010.001: Sat 2nd Jan (pm)

Jeff Price, Tony Audsley

Working on the foundations of the new digging hut using rock from Caine Hill, building up a level area about 8ft square. Very cold.

Created: 11 February 2009