Sunday, March 23, 2014

NWGPA-CC Highbankers Rendevous

Northwest Gold Prospectors Association - Clearwater Chapter held their annual public outting on the Clearwater River this weekend. Wall-To-Wall highbankers everywhere.
Even with nearly 100 machines running, there was nary a sign of turbidity...simply amazing!
I did run into a Freddy Dodge look alike while I was there. What do you think? He may have a future as a stunt double for Freddy.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

More Rocker Box Mods

I was recently in my shop, bored, staring at my rocker box. I remembered using it last summer and visualized the little center hold-down rod trying it's best to slosh water back to the other side of the box. A futile effort at best.
So now I'm back to the present, still staring at my rocker box and I can picture some pinball flippers :^)
Fired up my computer and designed up what I imagined a static pinball flipper would look like.
Sent the cut info to my vinyl plotter and made a pattern. Transferred that to some aluminum and cut and bent the first flipper.
First one was a little too large so I re-designed and cut and bent another. Much better.
They tuck under the 1" angle iron and are held securely when the center rod is tightened down.
Reasoning for the flippers:
With the pump only giving me ½ gallon per stroke, there really isn't enough water to properly get the expanded working like it should, especially when the pay dirt has a disproportionate amount of black sands. Spread a half gallon across the width of the sluice and that's a pretty thin layer of water. Black sands clog the expanded metal.

I have a choice of slower feeding and waiting for the expanded to begin clearing OR  use the flippers to concentrate the water several times on it's way down the sluice. Force the water into a narrow channel temporarily...more water = cleaner expanded.

Also did a mod to my ¼"classifier.
I wanted to get all the material falling through to the head of my primary collection plate, exposing the gravels to as much expanded metal prior to dumping onto the second collection plate.  I glued some carpet to a piece of aluminum and mounted it as seen in the pic. 

Not only will it force material to fall at the head of the primary collection plate (highlighted in white), but I'll also be able so see in an instant how rich my pay gravels are.

Back to the shop to see what other trouble I can get into !

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Destination Bedrock - Mission Accomplished

Three months have passed since I deployed in "Destination Bedrock". My mission statement was to recover the gold held captive by the enemy: Bedrock & Overburden. There were a few setbacks to overcome. A thunderstorm one evening swelled the creek to nearly flood stage and that kept us off the water for at least 4 days. A sudden wind storm one afternoon nearly prevented us from getting back to camp due to three large fir trees that fell, blocking the ATV trail. With no chain saw, I was able to use the ATV's winch to snap the top off one tree, allowing me a difficult but safer passage over the other two.
Within the last week, the water temps fell making it quite uncomfortable for a 5 mil wetsuit, requiring us to don our neoprene chest waders. We still managed to get wet every time we reached to the bottom of our diggings to sweep and clean the bedrock with a stiff bristle brush. Shoulder length gauntlet gloves came off within minutes as they would fill with water when our reach exceeded their length.
Despite these minor setbacks, "Destination Bedrock" proved to be a worthy mission. I did take a few days off every 10 days so my efforts wouldn't feel like a real job. Keeping it fun was very important.

Adult refreshments kept a smile on our faces after a long day of busting bedrock
And now the money shots from Destination Bedrock - Mission Accomplished.
Right Click > Open New Tab to have a close up view of these amazing quartz-gold pieces. Now before you comment about how we are close to the source...we've been to the source and discovered Chinese tailings. Why they neglected to work the creek as meticulously as they did the source just baffles me...but they did.
Right Click > Open New Tab to view 35 grams of beautiful Idaho gold. Besides all the chunky pieces, the 'fines' all have a bit of character.
Right Click > Open New Tab to see this 35 gram pile. Keep in mind that all this gold was recovered using only hand tools. The most modern piece of equipment we own is one of Alan Trees' Rocking Gold Grabbers which is a 21st Century upgrade from the old Rocker Box.
Ok, turn your volume up as you're going to enjoy hearing this 'hail storm of gold'.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

A High Grade Deposit

Working a creek that has been drag lined in the past, the opportunity to find 'Virgin Ground' is scarce. However, I have a friend that has a gift of reading the creek. Prior to his departure to elk camp, we walked the creek and he pointed to some shallow and exposed bedrock. After working a hole upstream, my wife and I ventured down to the area of exposed bedrock. Armed with my viewing box, I investigated the surface of the bedrock and found it quite smooth lacking any cracks or crevices. However, on the near shore, where the land based drag line's bucket would be removed from the water for dumping into the floating wash plant, a different type structure caught my eye.Very symmetrical cracks gave the appearance of building blocks, both horizontal and vertical.
A putty knife modified with a hooked end was all that was needed to relieve the cracks of small pebbles in order to get the point of a pry bar into each crack. As each 'block' was removed, my wife would use one of our DeserDog sucker tubes to extract the pay dirt from the newly created socket.
Here's a one pan sample of the gold retrieved with the DeserDog sucker tube.A shovel or scoop would have left these pieces behind but there's no escape from the vacuum power of a DeserDog sucker tube...PERIOD.
While gently sweeping the material from the top of the next 'block' to be removed, I noticed these three pieces of gold. One more sweep with my cropped 4" paint brush would have sent these into the nearby crack.
Here's another interesting looking piece retrieved from the bedrock surface.
And another...
And another.
Here's the rewards for one day of dismantling the bedrock building blocks. Two point four grams of nice chunky gold...some with quartz still attached. Total area worked was less than 3 square feet. We figure there's still a week or more of work available at this site before we move on in search of another High Grade Deposit.  (Right Click > Open in New Tab) to view larger pics.

Pay It Forward

Several years ago I worked a high grade placer claim.The claim owner found my blog and sent me an email with an invite for the July 4th weekend. Fast forward to July 2013...I met a miner (Mike H.) who had purchased a claim off eBay. He camped next to my RV so I had someone to socialize with after a day on the water. After a week or so I visited his claim to see what potential he had for reaching bedrock. The creek was boulder bound with tightly packed cobble. The gravels were almost cemented in place like tooth tartar. Upon further investigation with some old local miners, we learned that bedrock would be nearly 6-10' deep. Not being allowed to use any motorized equipment to further assist his effort to reach bedrock, Mike grew discouraged and contemplated packing it in and heading home. To add insult to injury, he received a letter from BLM that this claim he purchased from a "Mining Engineer" had errors on the location notice and that he had 30 days to file an amended location notice or loose his claim. I offered to file an amended location notice for him that would meet the requirements requested by BLM. A few days after recording the amended location notice and sending it off to BLM, I invited Mike to come work one of my claims.
I put him a hole I had started a week prior to his arrival and within a few days, he had a nice pool dug.
Now Mike is 6'2" and there wasn't much of him showing when he was standing in the hole. I named this picture 'Otter Mike' as a few minutes prior to taking this picture he was clacking two rocks together much the same way an otter would smack two river mussels.
The pool area played out so Mike moved downstream of my current diggings. He found some bedrock that had pockets and voids that were impacted with a very coarse clay type material. It wasn't the greasy clay but rather a grainy semi-clay that crumbled easily. He had some rocks that were carrying over an inch of this material and he'd scrape each rock until they were clean. This semi-clay was classified to ¼" and then fed through his sluice.
Here is Mike's reward for his efforts.
All I ask of Mike is that some day in the future, if he sees an opportunity, Pay It Forward.
(Right Click > Open New Tab) to view larger pics.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Worry the Bedrock

After removing shovel after shovel of overburden and broken chunks of bedrock, a unique bedrock structure started to appear. Three point two grams of gold came from the material sitting atop what is pictured above.

Upon further investigation and a little more gravel removal, a pocket appeared on the downstream end of a five foot long chunk of bedrock. This chunk is over 16" thick so it probably weighs in at close to a half ton or more, A five foot pry bar would just start to bend before the piece showed any sign of moving. A few more hours of material removal around and under one end should give space for a strap for the come-along. This chunk of bedrock better be worried if it's hiding any gold underneath !
Here's a nice .4 gram piece that appeared when cleaning up the Rockin Gold Grabber. This came from the same spot pictured above.
Here's a piece I named 'Heads or Tails'. When I spotted it in my pan at cleanup, I noticed a glimpse of gold buried in the black sand but when I used my finger to drag it out, I felt a larger piece following the one spec of gold I saw in the pan.
Here's the flip it Heads or Tails but no noticeable quarts is visible.

A few days off back home and then it's back to the claim to 'Worry the Bedrock'.
(right click > Open in New Tab) to view larger pictures.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Highlights from June

Our camp is set up on "Rainbow Ridge" with a near constant breeze...the perfect little spot.

Meanwhile, back on the claim, my wife and I set up our Rockin Gold Grabber. She would feed the hopper while I kept rhythm on the pump handle.

After 4 buckets we did a visual on the upper collection area. Some nice gold was starting to show.
While readying an area for my DeserDog sucker tube, I pulled a chunk of Mica Schist and noticed a nice little picker stuck to it. I imagine that was his home for quite a few years. He currently resides in my vial.

My wife thought she'd be cute and skip all that tedious panning and just transfer gold directly from bedrock to her sucker bottle. She repeated this quite frequently.

 Here's a nice piece that was picked up directly from the bedrock.Weight was .2 gram.
This one still has some host rock attached. Weight was .2 gram.

I won't be showing any 'money shots' until later in the season. I hope you're patient cause I guarantee it will be worth the wait.
Two days off getting rejuvenated at home and then it's back to the claim for another go at the bedrock.
(Right Click>Open New Tab) to view larger pics.