Babysitters Dig Update - August 3rd. 1996

Progress at Babysitters' during Clwb50

by Chris Grimmett

Graham Christian with his winch

All pictures on this page are clickable for better, but larger, copies.

July 27th. to August 4th. saw Clwb50, the 50th. Anniversary of South Wales Caving Club and many members were in attendance for the whole week.

During this period, great progress was made with Babysitters' Dig, assisted to a considerable extent by the availability of Graham Christian's newly constructed bucket hauling winch. Several days of digging, with 5 people per day on average, resulted in the extraction of several tons of material and further landscaping of the spoil heaps on the surface beside the dig.

The winch is based around a 95cc Suffolk Punch lawnmower engine, driving through the original centrifugal clutch then via various chains and sprockets to give a 30:1 reduction ratio onto a 6" diameter drum holding 50 metres of 4 mm stainless steel cable. A Mini brake drum and ratchet mechanism protects against unscheduled dropping of full bucketloads on the unsuspecting diggers at the shaft base and spoil is emptied from a tipping bucket into a wheelbarrow for disposal.

The winch and our chairman, Fred Levett, undergoing trials.

The winch was tested at SWCC headquarters in Penwyllt to a lifting capacity of 100 kg, at which point clutch slip prevented heavier loads from being handled.

With further work on replacing the clutch material, it is hoped to increase this capacity as at 100 kg the engine power of 1� h.p. was not the limiting factor. On one day, a rock weighing in excess of 120 kg was shifted out of the shaft by giving the winch cable some manual help.

On the best day and over a 7 hour period, the team removed 90 buckets, each containing 40 litres with an estimated total weight of at least 5 tonnes. This was at the expense of only just over 2 pints of petrol and generally agreed to be very good value indeed.

Sam looking like he's entered the World Jenga finals.

Sam Moore provided engineering expertise and installed some new timber and metal work to protect diggers working in the rapidly expanding right hand rift which is believed to be the way on. If this proves to be the case, the timbering will be used to stack spoil and the rift opened up below this point only.

Simon Amatt proved once again how useful can be the judicious use of a sledge, although due to a mis-hit, he is now looking for a new shaft to the 14lb. hammer.

The dig continues to attract the local wildlife although there is evidence that its arrival at the shaft base is somewhat unintentional. The Clwb 50 week score was 3 frogs and a dung beetle.

The other wildlife recorded in the dig during the week included Andy Amatt, Simon Amatt, Phil Buckberry, Graham Christian, Chris Grimmett and Sam Moore. Others came just to wonder.

Some of the main players Graham and Fred

Graham and Phil Simon in digging clothes, (1996 fashion).

Simon at working face

Sam and pick
Over the August Bank Holiday weekend, further progress was made despite inclement weather and a large quantity of spoil was once again winched out. The floor level in the shaft was taken down by about three feet and the major discovery was the apparent closing down of the rift at the right hand side of the shaft.

Since the left hand side has already done the same, the way on seems quite definitely to be down. During the digging, a small hole appeared in the centre of the floor and it was possible to lose buckets of water down between loosely packed rocks and mud.

As the rain increased on day two however, the conditions at the shaft base became muddier and any holes down were blocked.

When the rate of water coming in from above and through several side fissures exceeded the rate at which buckets could be removed, the diggers removed themselves instead.

The next major assault is planned for the November 5th. fireworks weekend. (2nd and 3rd of November).