Western Gold Mine 5


The mine office and crusher and water wheel are now mostly complete.

The water wheel gear assembly went through a few iterations of development. I couldn’t find metal drive gears of the proper size so I thought that plastic drive belts could be used for the gearing. However, I abandoned this plan when I realized that any failure or seizure of the gear train would strip the belts. The motor torque would be too strong and the belt toggles would be ripped off.

I had to return to my plan to use metal gears. That way, if the crusher gears were stopped or seized all that would do is increase current until the motor reached its saturation level. As I couldn’t find commercial gears at the proper size I cast my own gears and gear housing. I used a 1:2 gear ratio so my water wheel will now turn at 6 RPM.

The mechanism is mounted on a piece of 1/8 inch thick sheet aluminum. I extended the width of the mine office by a half an inch to provide more interior room. This had the added benefit of enabling a detachable mine office interior. Although the front of the office will be set up against the back, the office is intended to come apart so the electronics and mechanics can be serviced.

I cast the roof to fit the expanded size. The roof is also removable.

One addition that I have made to my plans is to add a fireplace and a chimney to the mine office. Of course, if there is a chimney there should be smoke coming out of the chimney. One way to generate smoke is to use an electric element and burn glycerine as is done in e-cigarettes. My smoke generator is built along these lines and will use a small air pump to blow the smoke up the chimney.

My smoke generator uses a Kangor dual replacement coil e-cigarette element. I have designed the device so that they can be replaced if they burn out. The smoke element will also require replacement glycerine. Glycerine is poured inside the element container around the element. The element wick will saturate and the glycerine will burn when the element is hot.

I am using a 1.8 ohm element and plan to run it at 3 volts.

For my overall power I am using a 5 Ah sealed lead-acid battery. I expect this will gave enough current to drive the water wheel motor and water pump and smoke air motor and the smoke element for a period of time, but I am not exactly sure of the long term power requirements.

I plan to use a solar charge controller to charge the battery. This charge controller will pass through excess power to the load if it available.

The water wheel external gearing will attach to the water wheel main shaft and housing. When I first put this together I planned to use bearings on the water wheel shaft. However, I had trouble managing to press the bearings onto the shaft and after a few attempts where bearings were destroyed I abandoned the idea. The shaft is 3/16 inch in diameter and the rotation is sufficiently slow that it can easily rest on holes drilled into the mounting support brackets. This is working quite satisfactorily.

I have created a flow valve for the water tower. I am using an adjustable screw to restrict the water coming out of the tower. The tower has a float valve inside to control the water pump so that the level cannot over fill.

I had originally planned to have the water wheel lever press down on a fulcrum to raise the crusher ball. However, when I realized that this would take a fair bit of space, I revised my plan to have the water wheel lever pull back on a sliding arm. The arm would attach to a chain that through a series of pulleys would raise the crusher ball.

Subsequently, it became clear that lever gear required a permanent bearing between the lever arm and the gear. The gear required support on both sides for consistent operation. New gears were cast and a second support arm was fabricated for the lever gear.

The sculpture is coming together.