Shibanxi: The Mine

Shibanxi Twilight DVD - now available
includes footage of the Yajiang Mine (10 minutes)

The coal mine served by the steam locos is at Huangcunjin (Qidianzhan). It is in the process of ungrading and was awaiting a safety inspection while I was there 18-24 December 2005. It has changed considerably since Rob Dickinson reported on it. After closure and a change of owner, the old mine is (almost) abandoned but a new mine has been built on the other side of the hill utilising the same loading bins. Much of the old infrastructure is still in use as is the 300 mm system and tubs but the new owner has also introduced 600 mm skips and much of the trackage is dual gauge. This leads to some interesting pointwork (see below). To facilitate the movement of materials up to the mine, a new cable-worked incline has been built from station level to mine level.

First a look at the old. This is the incline from the old mine with the stores and repair works on the right.

The old 300 mm wagons are almost life-expired. Here the chassis of one is seen upside down. Most of them are fitted with foot-operated wooden brakes for both sets of wheels.

The tubs are only held in place at the two points visible and are quickly detachable to convert the chassis to a flat wagon for maintenance work.

The new skips are standard, modern devices. These shown have been newly unloaded at the station and need moving to the incline.

Some of the ones already in use have had foot brakes installed locally.

Much of the track is mixed gauge. Here a 600 mm skip is pushed into the mine by the maintenance crew.

Followed by a 300 mm tub.

The 300 mm tubs have crude bearings and need oiling up regularly.

Despite being designed for riding rather than pushing downhill and with the footbrake at the uphill end to assist, this was the only example of riding the wagons I saw while I was there. It's possible that the 300 mm skips are really not stable enough for this.

Pushing materials into the mine is hard work against the grade. The footholds, handholds and brake for the downhill run are clearly visible here.

This mine has the first dual-gauge push-cart points I have ever seen.

A mine in the same area which also uses 300 mm and 600 mm lines has avoided this by only sharing a centre rail. The 300 mm is only used above ground for maintenance wagons.

Another local 300 mm mine with minimal above ground trackage does have a splendid bridge over the road and river.

Shibanxi: The Railway

Shibanxi: The People

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