After a rough start we finally concluded a productive work day and I can check two items off our “to do list”.
Bill Gee and a newcomer to the CCC, Shannon Robinson, arrived about 15 minutes before our planned 7:00 AM departure (Bill’s always early). While packing their gear into my truck Bill noticed a low tire so I fired up the air compressor and aired up the tire. We got in and found that the truck would not start. After connecting two vehicles with jumper cables we were eventually able to get my F350 diesel started. We got about a half mile down the road and the truck was running poorly and the check engine light came on. We turned around and limped back to my house and transferred gear to Bill’s truck but since his truck will only hold two people I followed him in my car. On the way down Bill allowed no time for breakfast and we only got a bathroom stop because he needed gas. So we made up a little of the lost time and arrived at about 10:30.
As we passed the schoolhouse it was difficult to recognize the turn to the silo because our new neighbor to the west, Tim Brown, is putting in a new fence along the road and has bulldozed out everything along the road including the trees and the gate. As we pulled off the road our new neighbor to the east, Rusty Clark pulled in behind me and stopped to talk. We’re still working with him on exactly what we may fence and where our access road will be. Later in the day Tim Brown came over to introduce himself. I have talked to him on the phone several times but this was the first time to shake his hand. I gave Tim a cave map and some flyers for the Open House and the Landowner cave trip. He will be a great neighbor (and he has a bulldozer and a backhoe!).
As we were laying out our tools Bruce Archambault, our forth worker pulled in. Bruce and Shannon were ready to work on anything but accepted the challenge of erecting a windbreak from the surplus silo sections. There only mistake was listening to me on the location for the windbreak. After erecting two panels they found that the next panel would intersect the electrical conduit between the power pole and the silo. Having learned not to listen to me they pick their own center spot for the semicircular windbreak. Their spot on slightly higher ground should work better anyway.
While Bruce and Shannon planted the 5’ by 8’ panels in the ground Bill and I started working on the service entrance cable that we installed on the prior work day. The cable needed a better strain relief connection at the silo. I had a wedge connector but it turned out to be too small to fit over the 10-3 cable. So that task will remain on the list. (Now that I am home I am building a clamp for next time.)
Next I moved on to blocking out the safety cable that runs down the center of the ladder to try to improve the operation of our new safety sleeves. Bill temporally left me to go help the ditch diggers. After the prior work day I had collected some hardware and assembled a couple different options to hold the cable out. I rigged a cum-a-long and pulled the cable out and soon selected a 1.5-inch pipe to place between the cable and the culvert. With the support bolted in place I released the cum-a-long and got suited up in my seat harness for a test run. Bill came back to see that I got safely attached to the cable. My trip down the ladder went better than any prior trip down with the old sleeves. The new sleeves are easier to attach to the cable but the main improvement was getting the cable off the rungs of the ladder. I should have done that years ago. I did lock up the sleeve a couple times about half way down when the sleeve hit a rung. This gave me a chance to see how to reset the sleeve after it locks up. The procedure is simply to take a step up the ladder, pulling up on the sleeve until it releases, and is again ready for sliding down the cable. I went all the way to the bottom with tools and materials to block the cable out at the base of the ladder but I found that the cable was already out about 2 inches so it was not necessary to add a block. On the way up the ascender worked flawlessly. Once up I made and adjustment to the 1.5” pipe block to bring the cable out another ½”. That may be enough to solve the middle of the ladder problem. If not we may need to set a new anchor and pull the ladder a little closer to the shaft wall. I think it is bowed out a little at that point. Bill then experimented with getting on and off the cable as we thought about the safest and most fool proof way to operate. Bill also experimented with extending the distance between him and the cable sleeve by using a second carabiner. With two carabiners he could lean back farther without locking up the sleeve. We will need a little more testing before finalizing a procedure.
The new safety sleeves are intended to provide a way to get non-vertical cavers into Carroll but rappelling in will remain an option.
We ran out of time before we could get to some badly needed electrical work and there is still an essentially infinite supply of firewood to cut.
It was great meeting Shannon and Bruce and they (and Bill) were excellent help!
PS – After two new batteries the truck is running just fine.