The far end of the shelter could now be blocked off
February 2003 provided some uncharacteristically decent
weather and work started on installation of a new headframe to the
dig. Some new scaffolding was obtained and a rather larger setup
built, with the intention of using the spoil buckets in their tipping mode
The winch was set up in its new position at 90 degrees to the old
one. With no further need to run the winch cable through the
shelter, it was decided to block off the outside end and to wall it over
with rocks and spoil, making it rather more effective than previous.
It rapidly became apparent that the winch operator was now facing into the
prevailing south-west wind and would rapidly keel over with
hypothermia. Because of this, a winch cage was also constructed so
that pieces of wood could be added to make a windbreak and/or roof as
These were not permanently installed as to do so would have increased the
visual profile of the dig site unacceptably. In addition, the wind
occasionally turns to come from the north and everything has to be
reversed anyway. Surprisingly, the scaffolding, although large,
blends into the surrounding landscape and is only really visible to the
The new headframe and winch base
The job completed
Easter/May - the flume
The buzzer used for sending hauling signals
There was some digging at Easter, and the end of the
shelter was covered up as planned. There were increasing
difficulties with jamming buckets at the bend in the shaft as the depth
increased. Norman came up with a solution and installed the 'flume'.
This took the form of two pieces of Armco barrier, bolted together in a
'V' configuration and mounted at an angle in the shaft. Buckets
travelling in either an upwards or downwards direction are diverted into
the groove in the flume and successfully sent in the right
direction. A curved attachment to the lower end ensures that
upcoming buckets find their way into the correct alignment.
Norman also provided a simple buzzer kit for sending hauling signals
between the diggers and the winchman as the distance had increased to the
point where voice messages were becoming unreliable.
The dig had once again stopped draining and the May bank holiday session
was preceded by pumping out the excess water in the bottom.
Digging was now once again possible without too many difficulties although
progress was relatively slow due to the nature of the spoil itself.
We had unfortunately run into more of the mud and small pebbly material
that is so difficult to break up and shovel.
out the excess water
Hauling successfully resumed
August - the bank doors
The August session saw the best progress at Babysitters
for a long time. The last of the major engineering items was
installed, modified and then put to work.
For a long time we had been using tipping buckets, but had been unable to
use them to their full effect. The addition of a set of bank doors
over the shaft means that the barrow can now be wheeled out and filled
directly. This in turn means that one less person is required at
the top as the buckets no longer have to be manhandled off the cable and
One or two of the old buckets had exceeded their sell by date and were
replaced with new ones.
The spoil heap was now increasing in size at a rate of knots and it was
decided to call a halt to further vertical development on the right hand
side. Usefully, this coincided with a change down below to more
large rocks with sand infill and walling materials were therefore in good