In 2019 I decided to make more complex works of art. This piece is an 1890’s gold mine as might be found in the B.C. Cariboo or the Yukon Klondike gold rush areas.
The piece is predominantly cast from silicon bronze. Some parts such as the crusher gears are cast in yellow brass. All of the bronze metal remains in a natural heat patina colour state from casting.
The sculpture is designed to be an operating piece of art. The ore crusher, a heavy metal ball, is raised by a water wheel to a sufficient height whereupon it falls upon the rock in the crushing box to break it into smaller pieces. The water wheel is powered from water stored in a water tower. Water actually flows and a recirculating system pumps the water back to the tower for reuse.
The ore crusher is externally geared down to provide enough power to raise the heavy crushing ball. The crusher operates with a period cycle of about one crush every 40 seconds. The external gears can be seen to turn when the sculpture is operating.
The actual mechanism to power the mine is maintained in the mine office building. A 6V 5Ah sealed lead acid battery powers the necessary motors and pumps. The battery can be charged with a 9V solar panel or an auxiliary CC/CV power supply. The roof lifts off the mine office for access to the electronics and motors.
The mine office has an external chimney. This chimney was designed to periodically show smoke. A smoke generator that uses glycerine as a fuel and an electronic heating coil generates the smoke. The chimney operates on a timed cycle. Smoke will show for about 40 seconds every 5 minutes.
Update August 2021 – the smoke feature is being redesigned as it was unreliable.
The crusher operation and the smoke operation can be each independently activated with manual switches. Optionally, timed programmed operation on a recurring daily basis or other periodic basis is also possible. Electronic control circuits and switches located within the mine office are used to program this type of operation.
The mine office door can be opened as can the lids to the two ore boxes set near the mine office. The top cover to the water tower can also be removed to add water to the system and service the float safety switch found within.
The sculpture is securely mounted on a marble slab set within an oak box. The oak has a dark cherry oil finish.
Full operating instructions are provided.
The silicon bronze contains 95% Cu, 4% Si, 1% Mn. The yellow brass has 63% copper, 1% lead, and various amounts of zinc and tin.
Height: 31 cm
Width: 65 cm
Depth: 40 cm
Weight: 22 kg