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How fast can you feed a sluice?


Sgt. Dookie

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So I'm still pretty green when it comes to sluicing. I bought a Keene A51 and I love it. I'm confident I'm setting the angle correctly, and depth of water depending on speed of flow and whatnot. I can get those little pebbles dancin'. But I was talking to this fellow prospector the other day at the creek, and he mentioned he can sluice an entire 5 gal bucket of concentrate in 5 minutes, using the same sluice I'm using. Now obviously he may have been exaggerating a bit, but it takes me well over an hour to sluice an entire 5 gal and it got me thinking... maybe I can sluice faster. I read somewhere online that you know your sluice is set correctly when you can feed a handful of material and it takes about 30 seconds to show most of the carpet between riffles. So that's how I've been sluicing ever since... handful of material, it packs up the first two riffles pretty heavily, and I watch the sand dance around for roughly 30 seconds and by then most of the carpet is clear and I feed again. I'm not talking about the carpet immediately behind the riffles, obviously those stay full, but I mean the lower half is clear. Handful by handful, it takes me about an hour and a half to do a full 5 gal confidently. I know overfeeding can cause gold to ride over the top and out the back so I'm pretty paranoid of washing gold out the back of the sluice, which is why I take it slow. I classify to a quarter inch first. Should I, or could I, be feeding it faster without losing any gold?

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I run mine as fast as I can until the Riffles start to Choke up. As long as the material behind the Riffles is Boiling I'm happy.

When it is full with Black sands and Other Heavies behind the Riffles , I clean up.

Every one has there own way with the matiarial they run but that's what I do.

bb-q.gif

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So is it safe to say then, that the "30 second" rule is only a place to start, not a rule? I've set it to process faster before, pretty much as fast as I could feed it, but I got paranoid that I had too much water running through it and I could wash gold out. I guess thats my problem, it's still new enough that I don't completely trust it. I trust it'll catch the bigger pickers, but I'm afraid too much water will push the smaller flakes out before they get a chance to settle behind a riffle!

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Again it goes back to the material your runing.

If you have fine gold, I run the sluice as I said but the water a bit slower.

There is NO SET RULES.

you could always run a catch tub behind your sluice a few times to see if any is blowing through.

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Yea that's something I keep meaning to do. set one of my smaller buckets behind the sluice and see what it's spitting out, I think that'd boost my confidence in it a bit. I think I'll do that, and run it really fast just to see if I lose anything. Most of the gold in the creek I dig is super fine flakes, like sub 50 mesh. So I gotta run it slow. But I'll throw a bucket behind it and push its limits just to see, I might be surprised. They say you're supposed to catch most of your gold in the first two riffles, right? I've heard that, but then I think... well theres a reason they put like 6 riffles in there. I gotta trust those downstream riffles in an overload situation. Thanks for your advice!

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Just in case ya don't know,...

Feed your material back and forth across the top end of your sluice. That will classify the material better and allow you to feed faster.

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Just in case ya don't know,...

Feed your material back and forth across the top end of your sluice. That will classify the material better and allow you to feed faster.

I sure do, that's why I do it by hand. I used to use a garden trowel but the new place I've been digging, the mud is really thick (the sand is super fine), almost like clay but not quite that bad, but if I don't feed it by hand it plops down as a large ball and I'm sure it doesn't break up completely before it reaches the end of the sluice. So I go by hand, squishing it between my fingers to break it up and spreading it evenly across the flare. I'll try feeding it faster next week and see what happens!

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I have a 51 mini too and I feed by "hand" and as long as I can see the tops of the riffles I keep feeding. I classify to 1/4 and use my hand and kinda wriggle my fingers to spread the concentrates. I can run 2/3 of a 5 gallon bucket(who can really carry a full one) in about 10 min and we have a ton of black sand in NC. I have seen allot of very fine gold sit in the mat for the afternoon. If you are in an area with pickers then keep that sluice moving. I have a friend that runs a 52 and when we dig together I process about twice the material through my 51...I get nearly twice the color. He spends allot of time babying it in my opinion. Getting gold in the box is what counts..if its small enough to wash back out then I say forget it. A decent picker is equal to what, say 100 tiny super fine pieces.

I have made a few mods to my 51. I cut the carpet back to the second riffle and added a piece of miners moss to replace the carpet I removed. I also added a piece of v ribbed matting into the blank space in the throat area ( that 6" blank space bothered me). Last week I built a small header box and glued a piece of small ribbed matting into the whole box, the carpet and riffles still fit just fine, but now I can remove the riffles and carpet and in about 5 min and with the addition of a 500 gpm pump and a few buckets I have a recirculating cleanup sluice. I love my 51 but am looking to upgrade to the 52 soon.

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Sounds neat, I bet that extra matting at the top really helps eh? I thought about doing that as well but haven't got around to it. When you say the top of the riffles, you mean the big ones right? not the expanded metal riffles? You make a good point, a picker is worth so much more than all the tiny flakes I'm worried about losing. The nearly hour I save could be spent on another hour of digging. I'll give it a shot.

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Yes I mean the big riffles, I have no worries about seeing the carpet and expanded metal. Out here the gold is quite pure and its so heavy I really think its hard to wash gold back out of the sluice.

But yeah if you have a picker or two in each bucket, get those buckets dug. Its all about moving those cubic yards of dirt. ( in my opinion)

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I am in the camp that you run the sluice as fast as possible. You will have some loss, but you make up for it in volume.

I like to wet classify using a basket of 3/8" expanded with handles that fits into a 5 gallon bucket. Classifying is a quick fill, spin and dump process. You can check your oversize with a detector later.

Once the bucket is about 1/2 full with classified material, I take it to the sluice and feed the slurry through it at a fast rate with a scoop. Once I get towards the bottom of the bucket and can get all the material moving in a slurry, it gets poured through the sluice at a rate that is similar as if it were a dredge.

The black v-ribbed mat at the top end of the sluice can give you a visual assay of the material you are running.

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What ya all talking about Big or Little Riffles?

All mine are 3/4 inch 8, six inches apart?

If you want to keep the small gold why make it easier for it to go down stream?

Fine Fine Gold You even want to keep them the same size to get the Rhythm going on flow.

Keep the Rhythm and they (Small Gold) will be cought by the Riffles or Matt.

A little of Ribbed Matt in the Front will lock down the Chunkers for show. But they would not make it past the First Riffle anyways.

Am I confused or What?

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hahaha yea, you know, the little riffles :) the ones that catch the little gold. I'm glad you explained things in my terms. I'm going out this week for a few days so i'll let you know how the fast-as-possible strategy goes

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