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How To Build Your Own Home Made Gold Dredge

By [http://ezinearticles.com/?expert=Chris_Ralph]Chris Ralph

No question that many folks interested in prospecting for gold would love to own a dredge. No question that dredges are very cool pieces of prospecting equipment, but the prices for new ones are really high. You could easily spend many thousands of dollars on such a purchase, and that is more than many can afford. Don't forget however, that in the earliest days of dredging, there were no manufacturers, and all small suction gold dredges were handcrafted units made in someone's garage. There's no doubt that a good dredge can be built by the home craftsman, and I know you can save some significant money doing it, because I've done it myself.

For those who might ask, a suction gold dredge is basically a device which is designed to suck gravel underwater from the bottom of a river, pull it up through a hose and run it over a sluice box. In the sluice box, any gold which is present becomes trapped and the lighter materials such as sand and gravel move down and out of the sluice box and back into the river. The operator guides to the nozzle of the hose to suck the rocks and gravel which he desires to process off the river bottom. A small "lawn mower" type of engine is used to pump water which creates the suction that pulls the sand and gravel up through a hose and into the sluice box. The gravel does not go through the pump, the suction in the hose is actually created through a Venturi effect by pumping high pressure water through a jet. The fast-moving water creates the suction in the jet. This way the sand and gravel does not actually go through the pump, which would quickly wear it down.

In addition to pumping water, the small engine also produces compressed air for the diver to use while working underwater. In cases where the water is shallow, the gold diver may simply use a snorkel.

Most modern dredges are made to float on the surface of the water, allowing the operator the greatest level of flexibility to move from place to place while working small gold deposits. Most flotation systems are made of rigid plastic pontoons, but there are still a number of units in use that employ other flotation systems such as truck inner tubes.

Building a dredge is a big project with a lot of plans and decisions to be made. Take your time and think about what you really want to build. Think about what materials you have on hand or what you could easily acquire, then build a list of what you need to construct your dredge.

Unfortunately, a simple set of dredge plans that would work for all sizes of suction dredges is just impossible, so I've not tried to prepare any such thing. However, you can do it for your project. If you really sit down and think about things, and use measurements taken from the commercial dredge makers you can design your own set of plans for your specific dredge project.

Of course you will be building on the cheap, but you don't want to shortchange yourself too much. You don't want your dredge to be rickety, or to fall apart, or to fail to function. Dredges need to be functional, durable and sturdy. The time you spend sorting through design concepts, deciding what you will build and how you will build it will be well spent. Think about what you want and what you need then weigh those together with what you can afford. Do up some drawings and lists. Perhaps the best thing I can suggest is that you study the designs of the well-known dredge makers like Keene and Pro-line. These manufacturers have done quite a bit of research studying their products, they have tested different options and have developed efficient pieces of equipment that do the job well. Check out their web sites as most have good photos of their dredges and the individual components that make up these dredges - you can get a lot of information from their web sites.

If your local prospecting shop has a dredge set up, take a close look and even measurements or photos if you can. Another great possibility is to join a prospecting club whose members actively dredge, and then go out to the claims and check out the members while they are dredging. Take some pictures of the dredges while they're in operation. The club members may even let you have a few minutes behind the nozzle so that you can get a feel for the whole experience. The more general knowledge you have about dredges before you begin your design, the better your construction plans will be.

I have found that the junk yard / recycling yard can provide some important pieces that you may use at low prices. I suggest that one you have good plans for the dredge you want to build, take your purchase list and go look through the local scrap yards - you can get stuff there a whole lot cheaper than you would at someplace like Home Depot. You may even find a suitable used engine there.
I suggest that once you have assembled all the pieces you need, the next step is to put your new dredge all together and test it. I suggest that you test it with a couple dozen pieces of small lead shot. Flatten them, and paint them red or some other bright color. Then suck up some gravel from the nearest gold bearing stream and put the shot in with the gravel you are processing. Be sure to take in a good bit of gravel both before and after you've sucked up the shot. When you clean up the sluice, count how many of the shot you have recovered and compare that to the number you started with. You should not lose more than one or two at the most. If you lose more than three or four you need to adjust your dredge or make some changes to improve it so you can be confident you are not loosing gold.

For more detailed information on building a gold dredge, including photographs of how to do it and the author�s finished home crafted dredge, check out the authors web page on building your own dredge at: http://nevada-outback-gems.com/design_plans/DIY_dredge/Homemade_dredge.htm
For more basic information on how to operate a gold dredge, with photos, check out the authors web page on gold dredging at: http://nevada-outback-gems.com/basic_prospecting/Dredging.htm
Chris Ralph writes on small scale mining and prospecting for the ICMJ Mining Journal. He has a degree in Mining Engineering from the Mackay School of Mines in Reno. He has continued his interest in mining as an individual prospector. His information page on prospecting for gold can be viewed at: http://nevada-outback-gems.com/prospect/chris_prospect.htm

Article Source: [http://EzineArticles.com/?How-To-Build-Your-Own-Home-Made-Gold-Dredge&id=605002] How To Build Your Own Home Made Gold Dredge

How to build a home made sluice box

Build Your Own Homemade Gold Sluice Box
By [http://ezinearticles.com/?expert=Chris_Ralph]Chris Ralph

Have you ever thought of going prospecting for gold? Using a sluice box may help you find more of that beautiful yellow stuff. Here how you can plan and build your own gold sluice box. These do it your self projects are popular with lots of folks, and fun to think about even if you just end up buying a store bought product. Here are some thoughts on how to build your own do It Yourself, hand fed Gold Sluice Box - I think it's a great project for beginners. A wooden sluice like this was the first piece of prospecting equipment I ever built.

A sluice box lined with riffles is one of the oldest forms of gravity separation devices still being used today. They are simple and have been in use all across the world for thousands of years. A sluice is really nothing more than an artificial channel lined with devices to catch gold through which water flows, moving the lighter materials such as clay, sands and gravels out of the sluice. They heavier materials remain behind, trapped by the riffles. For many years, most sluice boxes were home made affairs designed and built in the gold prospector himself. To this day, in the gold bearing regions of third world countries, prospectors design and build sluice boxes out the most unusual items - sometimes whatever materials are available locally. You don't really need any special sluice box plans - the exact size is really not all that critical.

Making your own gold sluice is actually a very good beginning project for new prospectors in my opinion. Just take a close look at the sluices being offered by the manufacturers, and that will show you how to build your own sluice box. It won't be difficult to get some ideas to make your own plans. Sluice boxes can be made out of wood, aluminum, plastic or steel. Injection molded plastic is not really an option easily available to the do-it-yourself prospector, and steel has a tendency to rust, so wood and aluminum are the preferred options.

In developing plans for a homemade sluice box, the more time you spend thinking about your design, the better. You don't want to have to buy parts you don't need, but on the other hand your slice box needs to work and catch the gold efficiently. A good plan and a good understanding of how a sluice box traps gold are important to your design. I think using miners moss underneath your riffles is a real important item for capturing that fine gold. That is why miners moss is used in the sluices of nearly all commercial suction gold dredges. Having a liner underneath the riffles is an important aid in catching small gold dust, and is very worthwhile. I went with miners moss under all the riffles in my sluice, and I strongly recommend it for you.

The typical wooden homemade sluice is made of boards and varies in width from 8 to 18 inches, usually with a depth of 6 inches to a foot. A typical length would be in the three to 6 foot range. Riffles can be made from half inch square dowel nailed about every 6 inches down the length of the sluice. The section without riffles in the top of the box about a foot long is often left for the spot where material shoveled in. This type of sluice box does catch gold, and is easy to build, but is hard to clean out at the end of the day. In addition, the gravel will beat up the wooden riffles over time. It is also possible to create steel riffles that fit inside a wooden sluice, and in that case you can also use miners Moss or some similar material to line the bottom of the sluice underneath the metal riffles.
Homemade sluices can also be made from lightweight aluminum. Wooden sluices tend to become waterlogged in increased greatly in weight after they have been in the water for time. This gives aluminum quite an advantage and it is certainly preferred in the construction of the homemade sluice. The trough of the sluice, whether aluminum or wood, is usually roughly about the same size.

For those interested in making their own home made hand fed sluice box from aluminum with steel riffles as a do it yourself type of project, I can say if you have any metal fabrication skills, you will find this an easy project. A little welding, a little metal folding and the project is done. If you purchase fairly thin aluminum sheet it will be possible to bend it yourself into the trough shape as a single piece (just don't go too thin). More information and detail can be found on the authors website.

For more information about building your own gold sluice, check out the authors web page on the topic at: http://nevada-outback-gems.com/design_plans/DIY_hand_sluice/hand_sluice.htm

Basic information on Prospecting for gold, including how to get started, can be found at: http://nevada-outback-gems.com/basic_prospecting/Basic_placer.htm

Chris Ralph writes on small scale mining and prospecting for the ICMJ Mining Journal. He has a degree in Mining Engineering from the Mackay School of Mines in Reno, and has worked for precious metal mining companies conducting both surface and underground operations. After working in the mining industry, he has continued his interest in mining as an individual prospector. He can be reached at P.O. Box 3104 Reno, Nevada 89505. His information page on prospecting for gold can be viewed at: http://nevada-outback-gems.com/prospect/chris_prospect.htm

Article Source: [http://EzineArticles.com/?Build-Your-Own-Homemade-Gold-Sluice-Box&id=584454] Build Your Own Homemade Gold Sluice Box

How to pan for gold
How To Pan For Gold
By [http://ezinearticles.com/?expert=Graham_Armitage]Graham Armitage

You have all your new shiny prospecting gear. Pan, shovels, buckets, and most importantly the "gold fever". You bundle the kids in the van and head to the hills to find your fortune. Having no idea what you're doing, you think to yourself, "how hard can this be?". Well, when first handling a gold pan, it's a little trickier than you may think.

I suggest you start in your back yard. All you need is a large plastic tub with some water and some gravel. You can purchase gold bearing gravel, which actually contains a few small pieces of real gold. These can be great as a learning tool. By starting with the plastic tub, you won't lose any of the gold while learning. Personally I like to teach panning by using small pieces of lead. Cut up some split-shot used for fishing, into tiny pieces. Gold is about double the density of lead, so if you can pan out a piece of lead, you will be more than able to recover gold. You can even paint the lead with gold paint to make it look real.

As gold is so heavy, it sinks much faster than stones or gravel, which are made of rock minerals many times less dense than gold. The gold pan is nothing more than a means to sort material based on it's density. By agitating the gravel while under water, the heavy material sinks to the bottom of the pan, and the lighter material rises. By continually swirling the material and discarding the top, lighter material, you end up with only the heavier particles, including the gold in your pan.

Back to the practicing. Make sure your tub is large enough to work the pan inside of it. Also have enough water to completely submerge the pan. Place a handful of gravel into your pan. It is best to start with a small amount at first and then progress to a full pan later on. Next drop in one or two lead flakes. Add water from the tub to the pan so that it more than covers the gravel. Tilting the pan slightly forward while gripping it on the sides, swirl it in one direction by making small circular rotations with your hands. The gravel should move enough that you see some sorting start to take place. While doing this, the lead is sinking to the bottom. After a few seconds or swirling, submerge the front of the pan into the water, tilting it a little further forward. Now wash water gently into the pan so that as it flows out, the top layer of gravel is washed out of the pan. After doing this a couple of times, remove the pan from the water and tilt it back again. Continue swirling again to settle the lead some more. Then wash off the top layer again.

Repeat this process until you have only a small amount of heavy material along the bottom of the pan. Your lead or gold should now be in this remaining gravel. Now with just a little water in the pan, gently wash the water in a circular motion around the bottom of the pan. In so doing you wash the lighter of the remaining gravel to the back of the pan, while the heavy gold or lead remains in the front. You can now suck up the flakes with your sniffer bottle. Another way to pick up flakes of gold from the bottom of the pan is to tip the pan backwards so the water is not covering the gold, then lick your finger and touch the gold flake. The flake will stick to your sticky finger. Then touch it against the top of the water in your vial and it will fall to the bottom.

If you do not see your lead in the pan after you have finished, it means it got washed out. There are two main reasons this can occur. The first is that you never settled the lead enough and it wasn't on the bottom of the pan when you washed the lighter material out. The second, and more common mistake made by beginners, is that the washing of the lighter material out of the pan is too vigorous. This is the part that takes practice.

Repeat this panning exercise, and try and do it faster and faster to see at which point you lose the lead. You will be surprised how difficult it actually is to discard it by accident. Now when you venture to the gold bearing stream, you will feel confident that you aren't dumping any gold nuggets out of your pan.

The modern plastic gold pans have riffles on one side of the pan. If you have settled the material properly, these riffles will help prevent the gold from being accidentally washed out. They certainly make it easier to learn to pan with. When panning in a stream, you should usually be ending up with a layer of black sands. This is called magnetite and is commonly found with gold. If you are not seeing black sands at the end of your panning, it may indicate you are in the wrong spot and need to try elsewhere.

With a little practice you will quickly become proficient with the pan. The more time you spend in the stream, the more confident you will feel. The hard part is not keeping the gold in your pan - it's getting it in the pan in the first place! Knowing where to dig is the key, and that just takes experience.

Good luck and have fun.

About The Author

Graham Armitage, is founder of the family outdoor website, Georec. The site allows anyone to discover new outdoor places and invites you to review and comment on outdoor locations. To access all the free hiking, fishing, paddling and other information available, or to add your own content, visit http://www.georec.com

Copyright 2006 - georec.com. All Rights reserved WorldWide. Reprint rights - you may reprint this article as long as you leave all of the links active, and do not edit the article in any way, and give credit to the author.

Article Source: [http://EzineArticles.com/?How-To-Pan-For-Gold&id=477952] How To Pan For Gold

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