Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Zinc Mining experience

Got a call a few days ago from a lady on the Shullsburg Mining Museum board. She said they had a "working" model of the Eagle Picher Zinc mine donated and wanted to know if I would look at it to see if I could get it up and running again. I said yes and the learning adventure began. As soon as I saw it I knew this was going to be a special treat!

A sign by the model told the story. Arnold Fox was a miner working at the Eagle Picher mine just outside of Shullsburg in the 50' and 60's. After his retirement and the closing of the mine he went to work building this working model of the mine operation from memory! The model is divided into three sections. The lower section represents the mine area below ground where the process starts with large chunks of ore are brought by truck to the Grizzly to be jack hammered down to size. The right half is made up of the Hoisting House and Hoisting Derrick. In the Hoist House there is a chain driven drum that goes forward and reverse. This raises and lowers two Skip Cars that transfer mined ore and the miners.
The skip cars are made of two parts. The top is where miners ride and the bottom half is for zinc ore. In the design the bottom half is dumped automatically as the car is raised to the top of the derrick. The ore is held for further processing in the Holding Hopper.
Ore then goes by conveyor belt from the Holding Hopper into the Primary Jaw for more crushing. Then through a Roll Crusher (more down sizing) to be carried by a Cup Elevator to a Rotary Screen for final sizing. If the ore goes through the screen it goes to the Jig where the heaver zine sinks and water floats the lighter tailings and they go out to an auger for piling. The entire left side is driven by one motor and a series of line shafts and flat belts.  There is also a separate water system with a circulating pump!

I understand that in the 80's Arnold took this model to the local county fairs and ran it. Since it will now be run by summer workers giving tours at the mining museum I decided to leave the water system out, but everything else is now working  just fine. Now it's back to work roofing my house with steel.