Technical Matters - Side Issues

1: The Signal Bell

Signal bell at Radstock Museum (upside down)In May, 2009 I visited the Radstock Museum.   This had a fine section on Somerset mining, part of which was a mock-up of a mine gallery. Mounted on the wall of the gallery was an old signal bell. Unfortunately, it had been mounted upside-down, which spoilt the effect a bit, but it's a fine bell none the less and I was fascinated and rather intrigued by the mechanism's design.

There was a maker's plate on the bell, inscribed E C THEEDAM LTD, DUDLEY. Five minutes 'research' on the internet showed that a company called E C Theedam still exists and continues to be associated with extractive industry, although no longer a manufacturer of signal bells.

Apparently, Edward Charles Theedam started a business in 1850 in Sheffield manufacturing colliery equipment. The business was moved to Dudley in 1886, and became a limited company in 1903. The Radstock bell, therefore, dates from sometime after this.

I am convinced for various reasons of the need for a reliable signalling system at the dig and, moreover, one that can be worked at any point between the digging face and the surface.

Having my head jammed between a truck and a low rock roof while the surface party were heaving on the winch because the truck seemed to be stuck AND an underground telephone that was just out of reach is one such reason.

With hand hauling systems, such an incident might be a bit uncomfortable, but it's hardly likely to cause injury. However, that might not be the case when power haulage is involved

As we intended to have power haulage from the beginning, it seemed a good idea to have a mechanical signalling system, with a shiny red bell. And so, the Home Close Bell, a copy of E C Theedam's device came into being, made up of various bits of scrap and the bottom of a fire extinguisher cylinder as the bell.

The E C THEEDAM signal bell
The E C THEEDAM signal bell
(The right way up)
The Home Close signal bell
The Home Close signal bell

2: The Abacus-like Bucket Counter (ABC)

Bucket counterI had to wait in at home all today (Fri Mar 25 2011) to meet a builder (who didn't turn up).   So had to do something and this is it, a bucket counter (max capacity = 124).

We are trying to follow Tony Jarrat's tradition of meticulous recording of digging statistics. This is not an easy task and, unfortunately, I, for one, have never been very good at meticulousness in any form. I guess we need all the help we can get, so this is an attempt to get the spoil recording off to a good start.

It will be fixed to the wall of the engine house and the engine man will without fail, record each and every bucket of spoil that comes out of the dig (or suffer a dreadful fate).

Created: Fri, 25 Mar 2011