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Manual V.S. Machine


TheNew CatFish

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I've noticed these prospecting websites feature alot of pictures of guys working sluice boxes, shakers and other various machines and inventions to get at the gold. Others seem to favor using a trench tool, some classification screens, a couple of platic buckets and a gold pan. Obviously, the manual method of panning would be the most PRECISE way to get the gold out of any small quantity of dirt. But wouldn't be practical on a large scale operation, would it ? That is, unless panning is such an "art-form" only a talented and experienced individual would have any chance of making it work.

Is a green-horn with a pan the equivalent of giving a chimpanzee a paint brush and a piece of canvass and expecting to produce a great painting worth thousands of dollars ? I'm asking because i am the "green-horn". Should i try to master the panning method first, or , rely on some mechanical device and a bigger quantity of material to yeild a respectable result ? What do YOU think ???

Hopelessly Ignorant,

CATFISH

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A pan is great for testing an area to find a rewarding spot. It is also good for cleaning up. You arent going to wash much gravel with it. Most gravel is worth $3 a cubic yard or less.

If all you want is to find a few colors a gold pan is great. Once you find a spot that has some good color you are going to want a machine to run the gravel.

You are going to be prospecting someone else's claims. Most fellows will allow a pan with no hesitation. If you plan on using a larger machine you will meet with resistance from the claim holders, especially on a valuable gold claim.

Also, each machine is specific to an area. Some need lots of clean water, others recycle. Some classify, some dont. Some are great for fine gold some arent. It is a matter of engineering which machine is suitable to which placer area you hapen to be working.

Most placers in New Mexico are miles from the nearest drop of water. We generally use a drywasher here. Very few use a sluice or water recovery system as you are going to have trouble finding gold near water and then when you do you are going to have to get permitted. And where gold is near water the benches are generaly richer than the stream anyway. A drywasher is great for high dry benches.

Dry operators concentrating less than 2 cy dont need permits. Otherwise you need to insure that you are following the rules ESPECIALLY on any spot on the Gila or in the NF. Outside the various National Forests on BLM land you probably wont get any flak at all from the officials. Keep in mind that all land within 10 miles of any gold is probably under claim and you will have to comply with the State and Federal laws as well as the claim owner's wishes. Best to design your recovery sytem around all of these variables.

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In general I do not see a pan getting better recovery than a sluice or drywasher.

Recovery though is tied to the amount ofmaterial you can proccess.

I have 1 spot I know has $40,000 worth of gold. The amount is very consistant and per bucket when I was last there was about 8 cents per bucket.

Gold wise $40,000 is not a lot but the amount I can process in a day would get me between $2-4 each day.

I'm kinda lazy. But the point is more that you process the more you can make or find...

For my location I'm processing material that was removed and just refilling an existing hole.

But in most places your going to need to dig and refill your hole.

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I've noticed these prospecting websites feature alot of pictures of guys working sluice boxes, shakers and other various machines and inventions to get at the gold. Others seem to favor using a trench tool, some classification screens, a couple of platic buckets and a gold pan. Obviously, the manual method of panning would be the most PRECISE way to get the gold out of any small quantity of dirt. But wouldn't be practical on a large scale operation, would it ? That is, unless panning is such an "art-form" only a talented and experienced individual would have any chance of making it work.

Is a green-horn with a pan the equivalent of giving a chimpanzee a paint brush and a piece of canvass and expecting to produce a great painting worth thousands of dollars ? I'm asking because i am the "green-horn". Should i try to master the panning method first, or , rely on some mechanical device and a bigger quantity of material to yeild a respectable result ? What do YOU think ???

Hopelessly Ignorant,

CATFISH

YES! You should learn how to pan Catfish. That is one of the first skills to learn. It really is NOT difficult, just tedius. Even if you are using a drywasher or recirculating sluice, you still need to pan out your "concentrates." Get some dirt and gravel, and some lead birdshot, and practice panning out the shot. You should pick it up in less than an hour - Terry

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