South Crofty Mine Underground 8: I was so lucky to have so had many South Crofty visits. But it’s only looking back now that I realise that I have no pictures of the miners coming off shift. Many times I rode the cage, but I was usually knackered and the cameras had been packed up. However, maybe just once would have been nice. I guess I always thought Cornwall would have a mine, it’s very sad.
These are the final images of the Diamond Drills and Drillers.
South Crofty Mine Underground 8.1 – This first image was taken in the NPZ drill bay on 400 Fathom South Crofty Mine. John Usoro, geologist about to examine the cores from the drill.
South Crofty Mine Underground 8.2- South Crofty miners. John Wedlake and Nathan Gay diamond drilling.
South Crofty Mine Underground 8.3 – Another image of the pair of miners. The metal drill tubes containing the cores are being removed from the drill hole.
South Crofty Mine Underground 8.4 – On the left of the image is a box containing the circular drill cores.
South Crofty Mine Underground 8.5 – Another pair of miners preparing a Boyles Diamond Drill for use in a sublevel.
South Crofty Mine Underground 8.6 – The air feeds for the drill snake along the floor.
South Crofty Mine Underground 8.7 – The drill is up and running. These would commonly drill to a depth of between 30 and 50m.
South Crofty Mine Underground 8.8 – A final closer image of the Driller and his rig.
On another of my trips with Nick Le Boutillier we went to the Robinson’s Section on 380 Fathoms. This was one of the biggest Diamond Drilling rigs I had seen underground. The geologists were looking for an extension to the No:9 Lode down to 400 fathoms. Sadly the intercepts were weak and the drilling was abandoned. The remaining images are all of the same machine at work. I have printed every image I have of the machine as they are unique. The drill was operated by Paul “Winja” Coppinger whom I still know to this day.
South Crofty Mine 8.9 – This was my first view of this amazing machine. The noise in the confined level was unbearable. Fortunately on every trip I was issued with earplugs.
South Crofty Mine 8.10 – A closer image of the drill. On the left is Diamond Driller Julian North, standing next to him is Nick LeBoutillier.
South Crofty Mine 8.11 – Nick Le Boutillier about to examine the recovered cores. Also in shot are; Julian North (R), Kelvin Gay and Paul “Winja” Coppinger.
South Crofty Mine 8.12 – The drilling was located on a junction. The exhaust from the drill was exiting down the second drive. The miner facing the camera is Kelvin Gay Diamond Drilling Foreman.
South Crofty Mine 8.13 – A closer image of the drill rig. Once again the noise here was unbearable.
South Crofty Mine 8.14 – Diamond driller Paul “Winja” Coppinger controlling the drill. This is the VAG machine (aka The Widow Maker) drilling long holes. The drill is securely braced to the roof of the drive with acro props.
South Crofty Mine 8.15 – A closer front view of the VAG Drill. Underground Miner Paul “Winja” Coppinger looking very efficient. Not exactly a simple piece of machinery to put together, pipes everywhere.
Paul (Winja) has kindly put together a few words for this page about Diamond Drilling using the VAG Drill Rig:
Boyles VAG Diamond Drill. This drill was used to drill 46mm wide holes, in order to gather cores in a steel barrel. This was so the Mine Geologists could establish where the Tin veins were and what values they could expect to get when the area was mined.
South Crofty Mine 8.16 – The VAG Drill from the rear. This amazing piece of machinery could drill holes up to 290m deep.
The drill motor contains plastic veins that are turned by forcing compressed air into them at around 100psi. The motor is lubricated with rock drill oil, these drills are rated to drill up to 290m holes. The core samples are collected in a 3m long barrel where they are then sent to the assay lab for testing for tin content.
South Crofty Mine 8.17 – Another image of Paul “Winja” Coppinger monitoring the machine at work.
During use these machines are extremely noisy. The volume is not too dissimilar to that of jet engine at take off, and it wasn’t uncommon to find that your teeth would chatter together when running at full power. On one occasion the water swivel bearing seized up and my hand was caught in the armoured water hose. I was pulled off the ground and only just managed to free my hand. My glove remained caught in the hose, the drill ripped the top off the water pump and hurled it around the site at frightening speed. I was lucky to escape with just a broken bone in my hand.
Hence forth the VAG became affectionately known as The Widow Maker.
Winja. Diamond Driller South Crofty Mine 1985-1998
South Crofty Mine 8.18 – I often noticed the drillers often held their hands on the machine. This was to detect the first sign of vibrations that may indicate a problem.
South Crofty Mine 8.19 – Paul had no issues about the photographs being taken, so I made the most of the opportunity.
South Crofty Mine 8.20 – My favourite image of Paul on this page. The drill mechanism can be clearly seen.
South Crofty Mine 8.21 – A final image of Paul, the hollow core tube feeds into the hole as it is drilled.
South Crofty Mine 8.22 – The final image on this page, Kelvin Gay with his back to the camera keeping his eye on the drill as it does its work.
I was so pleased with these images. I only ever saw this drill in action once during my visits to the mine..
South Crofty Mine Underground 9