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Article 11  


Pick the right tool for the job.

   Today we are discussing how to classify heavy materials and Gold from large amounts of dirt in a shorter time. Now that you have found somewhere to prospect and you have material to work, how do you separate the heavy materials and the Gold from the dirt?

  At the end of the day, it all comes down to a pan to do the final separation of your gold from the black sands. It can take a long time to pan through a 5 gallon bucket of dirt. Most modern prospectors today use tools to run their dirt and collect all of the heavy minerals from many buckets worth of dirt. Then run this smaller amount of material through their pan later. It is a fact that the more dirt you can process in a hour, the more gold you will find in the same hour. Here are a few names and descriptions of the tools that have been designed to help the modern prospector in classifying heavy materials from large amounts of dirt in a shorter time.

  The River Sluice.
  The River Sluice consists of a box designed to direct the flow of water provided by a running stream over a set of riffles that lets the heavies settle and become trap under the riffles in the carpet or mat. After several buckets of dirt, the River Sluice is removed from the stream and the heavies are removed for panning later.

  The High Banker.
  The High Banker was developed to place a sluice closer to the hole you are digging. It works the same as a River Sluice but, it has hoses and a pump that can take water from a stream or pond and run it through the sluice box set next to the place you are working. That way you don’t need to carry your dirt all the way down to the river and can let you run more dirt in the same amount of time. After several hours of running material, the riffles are removed from the sluice box and the heavies are saved for panning later.

  The Dredge.
  The Dredge is a floating sluice with a water vacuum to collect material from the bottom of water filled places. Until the invention of the dredge, it was impossible to get to the gold that had been trapped in the bedrock cracks and under the larger rocks that where submerged under water. By placing a sluice box between two pontoons and using a water flow directional device called a venturi to create a vacuum to pull gold bearing material from under the water line up to the riffles in the sluice. They could now get the gold from places inaccessible before. Still, after several hours of running material, the riffles are removed from the sluice box and the heavies are saved for panning later.

  The Dry Washer.
  The Dry Washer is the idea that brought the first waterless riffled machines to the desert. Using puffs of air to move the lighter material over the riffles, they hold the gold in the tray just like a water tool. The air is provided by a gas powered leaf blower or in some cases a 12 volt motor or a hand cranked bellows. Still, after several hours of running material, the riffles are removed from the riffle box and the heavies are saved for panning later.

  The Recirculating Sluice.
  The Recirculating Sluice was designed to work like a high banker in places where the water is too far away to run a hose or where there is no water at all. The Recirculating Sluice runs off a tub or bucket of water with the pump and sluice completing a loop. The water is picked up by the pump and ran through the riffle tray back into the bucket. By working with a single tub or bucket of water recirculating through the sluice, the Standard Recirculating Sluice can be used far from the closest water supply, if you bring the amount of water it takes to fill the tub or bucket you can even run a Recirculating Sluice in places that have no water at all. After several hours of running material, the riffles are removed from the sluice box and the heavies are saved for panning later.

  Spiral Wheels and Bowls.
  Spiral Wheels and Bowls work great to help a prospector with cleaning up a days concentrates but, in my opinion don't move enough dirt to be a prospectors primary field tool. You know the old saying, the right tool for the job. I leave my Spiral Wheels and Bowls at home for my final clean up.

  Trommels.
  A trommel is the most effective way to separate and classify smaller material from larger rock and roots. The tumbling action of the revolving screen uses the rocks in the material your running to scrub against each other releasing trapped gold from root balls, clay and cracks in rocks. This makes the powered classifying screen of a trommel the most efficient way to process gold barring gravels.
  There are two types of trommels being sold today. In my opinion, the best is the classic paddle trommel that uses paddles inside the drum to stir the material. The other is the reverse helix style that uses a reverse screw inside the drum to carry the heavy material back to the top of the drum.

About the author:
Bowser is one of the founding members of Find Free Gold™.

With years of gold prospecting experience, Bowser is a great help with designing and testing new equipment for our company
Find Free Gold™.

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Bowser says,
I use a FFG trommel.
Better classification
equals more gold.


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