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Mine Exploration Forum

Author Bwlch Glas
royfellows

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Joined: 13/06/2007
Location: Great Wyrley near Walsall

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Bwlch Glas
Posted: 03/12/2012 10:20:08
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Please be advised that the top ladder of the first pitch is in a dangerous state. Although sound it has broken away at the bottom and is currently against the rock face. The top of the second ladder is unsupported.
The top of the detached ladder appears to be breaking away as well, and my fear is that if this happens it will pitch forward below the top platform and come away completely and fall.

I have located a heavy timber which is currently drying out in the main adit with the intention of fitting it across the shaft in a way as to support the top of the second ladder (which will be secured with timber dogs) and also provide support for the first. I shall probably develop this further into a proper platform.

I also want to do something with the final ladder which is entirely timber and appears rather flimsy.

If the ladderway could be refurbished to a standard where it could be considered inherently safe to use it would reduce the burden of tackle that has to be carried into the mine.


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Whatever you find difficult do more not less, then it become easy.
IP: 78.148.241.79
royfellows

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Joined: 13/06/2007
Location: Great Wyrley near Walsall

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Bwlch Glas
Posted: 10/12/2012 10:26:11
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This work is now almost completed, the main ladders are secure and there only remains the short wooden ladder with wooden rungs at the bottom of the man way. Please remain aware that the final descent to deep adit is a 60 foot free hanging SRT, and as an exploration party will be equipped for this, a lifeline for the laddered man way is entirely logical.

Anyway, its remarkable how much time I had to spend on so small a job, about 6 or 7 hours this Saturday followed by about 4 hours on the Sunday.

The situation appears that when the ladders were originally installed a miscalculation resulted in the top ladder being a few inches short of the top platform, so a short section was sort of ‘tacked on’ at the top. Below this is the main top ladder and the one below, the main top being seated on top of the next one down and secured with timber joining pieces, as was the top ladder and its short extension. I have never liked this, indeed I have seen ladder ways were iron straps have been used to join sections of ladder, a much better arrangement. Anyway, the one in question has lasted about a century, so it could not have been that bad!

What had happened was that the joining pieces had failed allowing the bottom of the main top ladder to swing in and rest on the side of the shaft. At the top it had actually moved outwards twisting the short top piece on a cant.

This situation was very dangerous in my view, obviously in respect of anyone using the ladders but also to anyone making a descent of the shaft on SRT whereby in the event of the top ladder coming away the consequences would have been serious.
There are only two ways to remedy this situation; one is to strip out the ladders completely making the pitch into an SRT pitch, or to repair the ladder way. In my opinion the former should be solution of last resort because the ladders constitute an important mine artefact.

My first task was to secure the top of the top ladder with rope so it was impossible for it to fall down the shaft (on top of me). Then I descended the shaft and levered the bottom of it clear of the top of the next ladder and wedged it there.
The plan was to position a very heavy timber across the shaft to secure the bottom of the top ladder, and top of the next one down. The issue was my thoughts on manoeuvring this into position while swinging on a rope!
After chiselling out a recess on the far side of the shaft, (there was a ‘natural’ one on the ladder side) I fitted a light timber at 90 degrees to the bladders across the far side. The purpose of this was to arrest the downward descent of the heavy timber, the intention being to lower it on a rope using friction brakes through a gap in the top platform on that side of the shaft.

A friend who was helping me managed this with little effort, while I swung about below calling instructions. I easily got it into position, but found it a tad too long, thus followed about an hour of chiselling, hammering and swearing to get it where I wanted it.
Once accomplished I used 6 inch nails to secure another piece of timber, actually a sleeper out of the adit crosscut, to make up the gap between my main timber and the ladder relocated in its original position.
This drew Saturdays work to a close and I left the mine for the comfort of my friends home picking up a Chinese takeaway from Aber.

Sunday I returned to the mine and set about levering the ladders into their original position at the top. To ensure that would never move I again used 6 inch nails to secure another sleeper to the bottom of the platform cross timber, and another sleeper off the wall to support the top of the little piece at the very top.
I had found 2 timber dogs in a side level and I used these to secure the bottom of the main top ladder to my heavy timberwork, also the top of the next ladder down.
The platforms were all sounded and appear solid.

I am now quite happy and satisfied with the man way, but will need to return to do something with the bottom ladder which is of all timber construction. It appears basically sound, but has 2 rungs missing and flexes somewhat with my weight on it. There are a lot of people around heavier than me!

As I have already stated, regardless of the current soundness of the ladders and a comment that I made in my previous posting, I feel a lifeline is mandatory as the upper ladders are somewhat exposed and as we all know conditions underground can change dramatically in a short space of time.
Its worth mentioning that the last section of man way down through the stope has been swept away by rock fall, its was not down to the timbers rotting.

Slightly off thread, some of the sleepers that I ‘recycled’ when cut showed a sort of blue colour in my LED lamp and I had a devils own game driving nails through them. I have noticed this effect before, whereby timbers left soaking in water for years become sort of ‘pickled’. I doubt that they will rot!
Anybody out there know anything about this?
I had the same thing once with some fence posts.

Mr James Cartwrights picture below shows the head of the manway.


(click image to open full size image in new window)

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Whatever you find difficult do more not less, then it become easy.
IP: 78.148.241.79 Edited: 10/12/2012 10:28:55 by royfellows
John Mason

Joined: 22/09/2008

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Bwlch Glas
Posted: 10/12/2012 20:16:54
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Good piece of work Roy. I remember years and years ago happily going up and down that ladderway solo, but since the early 1990s wouldn't do it without a lifeline 'just in case'!

The ab down into the deep adit is fine - it's coming back up that's the killer. The first time I did it (1984 ish) was just with two prussik loops, which is OK until you get to the bulge near the top (which also has a waterfall coming over it quite often). Nearly failed to get back to Talybont for last orders and was very tired and wet through. Three jumars are a distinct advantage at this point!
IP: 86.142.189.42
davel

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Joined: 24/07/2007
Location: Gwynedd

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Bwlch Glas
Posted: 10/12/2012 22:14:31
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John Mason wrote:

The ab down into the deep adit is fine - it's coming back up that's the killer. The first time I did it (1984 ish) was just with two prussik loops, which is OK until you get to the bulge near the top ... Three jumars are a distinct advantage at this point!

Some kind person has installed a bolt for a deviation in the wall opposite the 'bulge' which makes things much easier. You prussik up until your feet are on the bulge then unclip the deviation and carry on up into the intermediate level.

Dave
IP: 195.137.87.110
John Mason

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Bwlch Glas
Posted: 10/12/2012 22:25:09
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That is most considerate! I may well pay another visit to the headframe in that case! IP: 86.142.189.42
royfellows

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Bwlch Glas
Posted: 11/12/2012 12:18:33
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I want to get back to finish off with the bottom ladder.
Once I start a job I like to get it finished.
Maybe the government should put me in charge of road repairs.
Laugh

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Whatever you find difficult do more not less, then it become easy.
IP: 78.148.241.79
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