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Running parallel to the haulage compartments where the cages run in the main shaft, is the ladderway. The ladderway will not only be used by visitors throughout parts of the new tour but, should anything happen to the cage while anyone is underground, the ladders are the other option to exit the mine, so it was imperative that we made sure the ladders are in excellent condition.
The previous ladders, which had been in place since the early 1980s, were made of timber and the landings made of Ironbark and Redgum. Due to the damp nature underground the ladders and landings had deteriorated to a point of disrepair and had to be completely replaced. In total, 31 ladders were replaced and 31 landings between level 9 (228m underground) and Level 3, the section from level 3 to the surface having already been done. The new ladders were manufactured in our workshop and are made of galvanized steel, these have a life expectancy of at least 30 years.
The ladders range in size from 3-6 meters long and were transported underground by raising the cage above the surface, attaching them to the bottom of the cage and then lowering them down to level 9 or level 6. As level 9 and level 6 have the largest plats, all of the ladders were stored here and installation started from these levels up. Each ladder was then winched from level 9 and 6 up to its required position.
All compressed air and water services have been relocated in the ladderway to allow the correct amount of room between them and the ladders.
One of the biggest obstacles faced during the ladderway project was time and space! The ladders were extremely difficult to remove and install due to the space constraints encountered, the compartment that houses the ladderway is about 1.2m x 1.2m and can be very wet. A lot more difficult than we originally envisaged!
What is a Winder Driver and what will their role be in the new tour?
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