Day 12: Automated
Months to Christmas
leave my hut to be greeted by another beautiful frosty morning. A Kia
is squawking from the top of a tree silhouetted by the glowing mountaintops,
illuminated by the still invisible sun. Kias are supposed to be rare,
but we see and hear plenty of them.
As usual day three
is a terrible rush. Looking down from the high bank it is soon evident
that we have another problem to overcome. The river has changed height
in the night, meaning we have to go through the whole tedious task of
finding a half decent current again, so the first hour of the morning
was pretty much a repeat of the previous afternoon. Bummer! When we do
find a reasonable location for the waterwheel it is even further from
the damn gold. We also have to stick the cradle high up on a large rounded
boulder, which is hardly ideal. This leads to two problems: firstly the
cradle is balanced very precariously and is difficult to rock, but secondly
the pump that I have designed to lift water three feet or so above the
river surface is unable to propel it up to the cradle. The pump is great
at lifting, but once the water poured out of the top it is not under pressure,
so can't be forced up a hose. Because the pump is more or less useless
here we decide to bin it. This is a crying shame because the two tasks
that really need automating - water pumping and digging - are going to
have to be done manually. All that is automated now is the rocking motion
of the cradle, not something we would have needed at all with the old
design of sluice. This is hardly our fault though, because we had no idea
where we were going to put the machine when we were building it. In a
way it is inappropriate technology, much like some of the huge hydro-electric
schemes in developing countries.
the automated system isn't all we hoped that it would be, we really
do think that it would be better at trapping gold, if only because it
is better made and includes some new features – sacking and ribbed
rubber mat. At first even the rocking motion is a bit disappointing. Some
adjustments to the bolt, which attaches the driveshaft (broomstick) to
the waterwheel, and placing some boards under the rockers of the cradle
helps but we are still critically underpowered. Our only other option
is to try to speed up the water current. By using plywood boards and boulders
we manage to channel the water current a little, and by timing how long
each rotation of the waterwheel takes we scientifically work out the best
angles to place all our paraphernalia.
By mid-morning we
still haven't started panning. This is terrible because ‘day'
three always finishes at about 2 pm to allow the filming necessary to
finish the programme. Our main concern is that we won't get more
gold than on programme one. When we eventually do get everything going
the full nature of our failure to make a workable system soon becomes
evident because the work needed to keep our new baby monster fed with
sand and water is pretty intensive. The gold bearing mud is a long way
away so we opt to use large twenty five litre buckets. Digging the stuff
out and carrying it along to the machine where J and Kathy are pouring
the water and sand onto the cradle is seriously hard work and after an
hour or so I am ready to stop.
back at the sawmill Mikey is still struggling to purify tea tree oil.
It's been very tight for all of us. The solvent test of our success,
regardless of how hard the cradle was to ‘feed' is how much
gold we have got. We set ourselves up for the final few pieces of filming.
The filming goes well. We have got more gold, even with only an hour or
two working the cradle at the river. It's a cool ending. I shouldn't
have worried too much. Definitely