Gold Prospecting Trip 68

We came back to Rock Springs in search for more of that yellow metal we saw last time. We now have more equipment and more manpower.

We drove our equipment to and from the site with a Polaris Ranger RZR 4 800. It was very comfortable to ride and handled much better than a quad.

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It took about 45 minutes to get setup and ready. We pumped water from the nearby creek which was about 200 feet away. We used 1.5″ Discharge Hose. This hose is lightweight yet very tough and easy to transport. You can see the low pressure hose and foot valve go into a 5 gallon bucket. I drilled about 250 holes in that bucket to allow enough water to seep in. The purpose of the bucket is to keep the algae from building up too quickly around the foot valve and stopping water flow. We only needed to clean this once per hour versus once every five minutes. This helped a lot.

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The “little pump that could” had no problem pushing the water 200 feet going uphill. We ran it at 90% throttle for about 7 hours and used less than one tank of gas.

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Josh, Brandon and I worked at least 1.5 tons of material. One ton is forty 5 gallon buckets.

There is about two feet of sedimentary deposit lying on top of metamorphosed bedrock. Not sure where the source of gold originated from, but one old timer suggested it was deposited there about 30-35 years ago from a flood. I sampled many places around the bottom of the site and found no gold. It appears to be all in this hard packed sediment on this hill.


It was a clear day and hot. Next time I will suggest using shade cloth over the work site.

I will pan the concentrates later this week to see how much yellow metal was acquired.

Custom Floatable Dredge

Last week Josh and I went with a mining claim owner to a remote location near Bagdad, AZ and were shown a beautiful place where the water flows over exposed bedrock all year round and the potential for gold might still exist. We prefer being near water most of the year because not only is it relaxing, but it makes finding gold easier. The location is a bit far from Phoenix, but its worth the drive.

At one place we drove up with our 4 wheeler onto a herd of burros and took some pictures. As we left, one of the burros chased after us. Maybe it was being playful, but we did not want to find out. We had so much fun driving around.

We wanted to use our 3 inch Keene dredge/highbanker combo in the creek, but it was too deep for it. We decided to make it float and test it out the following weekend. I did some research and found a compatible Keene flotation device for it, but it would cost about $900. I though that was ridiculously high. I took some time to figure out a more affordable design.

It took a few minutes to think of a simplistic design and several hours later (with a little bit of trial and error) it was completed.

For about $110, we had all the supplies needed to make something workable.

My sister had a sewing machine and knew how to use it which saved a lot of time. That was the hardest part of the design.

The nylon fabric provides exterior protection to the boat and it needed to be stitched on skin tight. Without that, the boat would have sunk from being jabbed many times.

After all the stitching the next goal was to make a frame for the highbanker to sit upon. That was the easy part. Its just four boards that stretched across to evenly distribute the weight.

Lastly we needed to mount the motor above the sluice box. It sits perfectly on the metal bar at the tip of the sluice box. I fastened a strip of foam padding across the bar to keep the two metals from clanging together during operation. The motor mount came with the motor and I simply attached a long board on both sides to be used as an additional platform that can be easily adjusted if needed.

Yesterday Josh and I drove out to the claim again and tested our newly created floatation contraption for our 3 inch Keene dredge/highbanker combo. It was a success and was very stable. The Honda motor created nearly no vibration and it was not top-heavy. It looks unstable, but I assure you it was very much the opposite. I shoved it around and could not easily tip it over if I had wanted.

The sluice box was extended by a long green plastic container and affixed with two small bolts. The bottom of the container was cut off with a utility knife. We found it at walmart for only a couple bucks.

When the dredge was in use use it added about 30 more pounds of weight. We estimated it was under 120 pounds in weight. The boat was rated for 370 pounds. We also needed to add two 2×6 boards under the wood platform to distribute the weight even more and bring the entire platform slightly forward. It was then perfectly stable and even.

Most of the tailings from the hopper dropped on the back of the boat and bounced off, but next time I would add a board to direct the tailing off the boat.

The angle of the sluice box is obviously low in these pictures, but it was raised to the correct level later when we started using it. That did not make it top heavy.

We took turns dredging with our snorkel and masks for about 4 hours until we got a little sunburned.

The water was fairly warm, the breeze was cool and it was a good day.