The works of Sakubei Yamamoto
Transport (outside the mine), Coal Sorting

Refuse Heap and Skip
October 1965

Botayama to Botabako, Sukippu
[Refuse Heap and Skip]
38.0 x 53.8 cm Painting in Watercolors and Ink

Text on the Right Side
During the Showa era (1926-1989), pyramid-shaped heaps or mounds began to appear in the Chikuho region. Debris or rock refuse from coal pits (yama) was called bota and it bothered miners. In the past, miners filled hollows with the debris to flatten them and build their row houses called nayas (barns) or other facilities on the flattened ground (the way was called the Mitsui way or hirauchi). However, as rock refuse was sorted out through coal washers in increasing quantities, it had to be piled.
The refuse heap contained unpicked coal and soot dust from boilers, and spontaneous fires broke out on them frequently. Those fires also bothered miners very much because they could not dump debris or refuse on the heap without first mitigating the fires. They sent water up to the top of a burning refuse heap to let the water into the transverse furrows made beforehand and tried to control the fire. Once a refuse heap started burning, it was impossible to put out the fire until the flammable contents in the heap completely burned out. Ties (sleepers: makuragi surippa) and signal posts used on refuse heaps had to be made of steel.
The above inset shows the skip used at Nittetsu Inatsuki Coal Pit in the beginning of the Showa era. It was made of steel, 5 feet (1.52 meters) in height and width, and 6 feet (1.83 meters) in length, having the maximum load of 3.5 tons. Its hatches on both sides opened separately. (The wheels were 45 cm and the wheel axes were 10 cm in diameter.)

Text at the Left End
The gauge of a track using rails weighing about 60 lb (27 kg)/yd was 3 feet (0.91 m). Some coal pits had skips whose hatches opened automatically, but most of these automatic devices had frequent failures at productive mines because they inevitably produced a lot of debris. Therefore, a transport man (saodori) was posted on the top of the refuse heap in such a coal pit to control the skip hatches.
At the top of the track, a 10-meter-long [10.94-yard-long] rail with a unit weight of 100 lb [45.4 kg]/yd was fixed on the bottom of the rail on each side and the stacked rails on both sides were linked together with iron bars. The sheave pulley shown was about 1 meter in diameter. When extending the track, miners tilted the wooden frame like a torii [in Japanese shrines] upward and pulled it up toward the top by a chain block (chinbrukku) before inserting new rails in the space made and attaching them.

Text at the Bottom Left
Botayama yo! Nanji jinsei no gotoshi.
Sakan-naru toki wa koe futorishi ni,
yama yande hibi yasehosori, aruiwa sugata o kesu mo ari.
Ah, aware kanashiki kagiri nari.

Bota mounds! Your lives look just like our own.
You grew up when coal mining was prosperous,
but wasted away day by day after mining stopped.
Ah, for you my deepest pity.
Yamamoto Sakubei

Words at the Bottom Center
There is a pocket for about 100 tons of debris or refuse.

Words on the Roof of the Winch House
150-horsepower winch

Chinese Character on the Side of the Skip in the Right Inset
soko: bottom [Translator's Notes: The broken line shows the sloping bottom inside the skip.]

Translation Assisted by Mr. Nathan Johndro

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