A Placer Mining Show-and-Tell

As appearing in The Gold Nugget, November 2006
by Paul Nagy

Periodically, club members are invited to bring in and demonstrate some of their gold placering equipment. In that way we can exchange ideas for the benefit of all. Always there is something new and wondrous, or at least clever, and everyone goes away saying, "Well, that solves part of my problem." This evening's program was no exception.

Don Dixon featured a rocker box which can be operated in still water. This is no small deal in the arid western U.S. where water is often at a premium. The device oscillates pendulum-style while partly submerged. The reject material is cast off at the limit of each swing and the gold is retained by small riffles and carpeting. The device is ideal for those situations where we find a pay streak and then groan "Oh, if there were only more water!" Another big advantage is that it can be operated by one person. Also, the operation is easier than the standard rocker where each hand is doing something different. A truly novel idea!

Paul Nagy also prefers manual rather than motorized placering. He had two home-made sluice boxes. One was a plywood design copied from a publication in the club library. The other was a personal idea using furnace duct sheet metal as the trough and water deflector. The advantage of a home-made sluice is that the innards can be easily modified for different conditions. Of course, lower cost and greater creative satisfaction are factors, too. He also had a version of bucket classifier which he calls a "Barker Bucket" after Ken Barker, who suggested the idea to him. It is a far easier method of rejecting oversize material before panning or sluicing. Also, red flagging tape tied to your hand tools will help keep you from losing them.

Aligning a sluice is always a chore, but Allen Mershon demonstrated that by using a hand level and a marker pen, you can put reference marks on the walls of the sluice which will shorten your set-up time. When the water level in the sluice aligns with the marks, then you have the right depth and angle. Allen proves that it is often the most obvious which eludes us.

Jeff Mosteller demonstrated his roof gutter clean-up sluice. He showed that even very fine gold can be separated from impurities. A battery powered bilge pump supplied an even water flow through the sluice. The reject material is captured in a bucket so that if you screw up you can recycle the stuff. Jeff shows again that home-made gear is often better than the store-bought "engineered" variety. Nice going, Jeff!

Gary Hawley had a battery powered spiral gold-wheel. Now there are often cases where the equipment is just fine--except not easily transportable to where you need it. Gary had this down pat. The gear broke down into pieces which could easily be accomodated by a special backpack which he bought and customized for the purpose. That is using the old noodle! A nice feature of this gold wheel is that it can be operated manually for those times when the bunny rabbit does NOT keep going and going.

Allen Mershon had the King Kong version of gold wheel. With a capacity of 500 pounds per hour, this is big league! Feeding that to capacity requires a lot of ambition, or a lot of friends, or a lot of enemies (at gunpoint).

We see from all this that club members have very different ideas about pursuit of the yellow metal. Some go at it hammer-and-tongs and move tons of material every time out. Others are pleased to sit on a rock in a gentle stream and manipulate a gold pan. Others are in between. It has been said that the gold is a perk. We think that the club has succeeded because there is something for everyone!

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© 2006 Gold Prospectors of the Rockies