South Crofty Mine Underground 6: There were some amazing memories. On one occasion at South Crofty the Dry Manager told me there was a pasty run and did I want one. It was after one of my weeks where I was underground every day. It was a little thing but I felt it was a form of acceptance. I always dropped off a few prints in the dry for the miners to help themselves to, it was just my way of giving a bit back.
This is the first of three pages which cover Diamond Drilling at South Crofty. This was an ongoing project to find new reserves and to prove known lodes in the mine. The drill pipe was basically hollow with its head being encrusted with industrial diamonds. Water forced down the tube would reduce heat and friction whilst washing out the smaller rock particles.
Once the drill hole was complete the tube would be removed from the hole. Held within would be a circular section of rock which was removed and arranged in wooden core boxes. These would than be marked and transported to the surface where they would be analysed for their mineral content. This was an expensive operation which the mine carried out to try to ensure its future.
The main air powered diamond drill used at South Crofty was the Boyles Bazooka. This was modified by South Crofty to produce the ‘Superbazooka’ which was once used to drill a massive 197m but more typically up to 80 or 90m. The ordinary Bazooka was good for 30 – 50m but struggled after that. Thanks to Roger Wedlake for the Drill information.
The next set of images are probably one of the stranger Diamond Drills I saw working at South Crofty. Only on one occasion did I see this one in action.
Paul “Winja” Coppinger South Crofty Diamond Driller has some comments about the drill: “Looks like a Diamec 360. So called because it could drill 360 degrees around. It was electro hydraulic. If I remember correctly, this one was a bit of a pig in a poke”.
Diamond drilling was hard work for the operators. They had to drill the hole exactly as directed, if they went off course it could cost a great deal of money. Also this was often carried out in the end of a drive, the noise and vapour in the air was a challenge for the miners.
The remaining images on this page are of a pair of miners drilling for No:9 Lode from the NPZ drill bay on 400 Fathom South Crofty. Reeve’s Lode (1-1.5m of solid green fluorite) cutting across the bay marked by Nick Le Boutillier in paint on the walls. Reeve’s Lode is the major caunter lode of the district and runs E-W for over 2 miles. It stretches from surface to 400 Fathom (the lowest point it was ever seen).
Near surface, it lies just under the road at Pool roundabout. It was fabulously rich in copper and made huge sums for the adventurers of Pool Adit in the 18th Century. Deeper down it also carried a lot of zinc, but this was never exploited; below 250 Fathom it became barren and was composed of fluorite and quartz.
The remaining images were taken when the drill has started to work again, also the camera had started to steam up.