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DavidB

Highbanker vs Drywasher advice request

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For San Domingo wash GPAA claims (near Wickenburg, AZ) which would you use

and why?

What brand/model?

The area is easily accessed desert wash, quite open, flat and pretty easy to transport

water for a recirculating type sluice.

If money were no object, what would you recommend?

Recent rains mean wet ground now, but not for long.

Thank you.

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My partner has a Reverse Helix Trommel by New Age and I have a Keene 151 drywasher. Between the two we can operate under most conditions. There is considerably more labor and time involved with the recirc sys for the trommel. Hauling water, changing water, cleaning the water tubs, etc. It takes approx 50-60 gals of water to run 20-25 buckets of 1/2" classified material. Digging and running 20-25 buckets just about makes a day of it. Make sure you have a large enough pump on any recirc system and a way to prevent the vegation from clogging stuff up. We also go through a lot of Jet Dry and find it very helpful. The pump on the trommel is 120V that we run with a genset. Our trommel set up is not very portable like a high banker would be. We also run the cons from the drywasher thru the trommel to eliminate 95% of the cleanup issues. We were out today and it is very wet and will be for at least week or longer IMO. I have been pleasantly surprised by how well the 151 recovers gold. My first experience with a dry washer was this year. I love processing wet instead of dry.

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I can run 10 yards a day through my Gold King drywasher. You could not haul enough water in a pickup to get ten yards of dirt wet much less concentrate it.

Hands down a drywasher will process a bunch more material than any wet system out there.

Of course volume might not be your strategy and a recirc system may suit you fine. But you are not going to shovel a rich paysteak through it without an inordinate amount of labor hauling water.

Just my two cents. Not knocking a highbanker but in my neck of the woods you just won't see one being used successfully.

I am unaware of any cleanup issues with a drywasher. I pick 90% Off the table directly with a shake and a blow. All day running produces a couple pan fulls of cons that can be washed in five minutes with a couple gallons of water. If there is a faster or more efficient way to clean up I have never seen it.

My puffer will get it all and clean up with no water at all. If there is a lot of fine gold I just take a handfull of cons back in a sample bag to wet pan. Most of the time I can get it ALL in just a few seconds with a shake and a blow and just pick it up with my fingers.

So in the desert dry is better.

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Constant flow offset elliptical vibration drywasher,a decent keene will work just fine. Setup in 5 minutes and off ya go. Mandates much work to keep up with them and with a vibrator adjusted right your recovery is great and MUCH easier,lighter and cheaper too-John

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There will be extended periods when it is too wet to drywash in the LSD area.

A dry washer will definitely process more material in a given time that most recirc highbankers with less hassle. But I have no interest in manually running 10yds/day of material through any processing equipment. I will leave that adventure to the gentleman from NM and those much younger than me. I also need some lessons on running the 151 so that all I have to do is hand pick the gold from the riffle tray at the end of the day,

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There will be extended periods when it is too wet to drywash in the LSD area.

A dry washer will definitely process more material in a given time that most recirc highbankers with less hassle. But I have no interest in manually running 10yds/day of material through any processing equipment. I will leave that adventure to the gentleman from NM and those much younger than me. I also need some lessons on running the 151 so that all I have to do is hand pick the gold from the riffle tray at the end of the day,

If you fiddle with shaking the cons down into the corner of the tray and then use a little toss to spread it across the cloth all the gold will be in a pile behind each riffle. Then just blow gently to.carry away the black sand and viola! Your gold is seperated and you can just pick it up.

It is just like dry panning. It takes a little practice but you can get it down in no time. It all but eliminates clean up and you will hardly miss a speck. Sure there may be a few cents worth of fine gold but you can always leave it in the cons and just run some more material.

Damp material is a problem in the Mojave, thus the name Mojave. No cure for that except a wet system. Sometimes two passes over the drywasher gets it. As soon as you start hauling water your effort goes way up and production plummets. The key to placer is to get more with less effort. So the water hauling scene just looks like dead work to me.

I remove overburden, clean bedrock and test gravel when it is wet. I use a little rocker box over a #0 wash tub to test and block out wet gravel. I can do a 2 cubic foot test in about ten minutes and recirculate the water. I process it when it is dry.

There is so much work to be done mining placer that does not require dry dirt. I schedule the prospecting, testing and digging when it is wet and the concentrating when it is dry. This allows me to work constantly in any weather.

Most guys just hit the shallow spots for the minute pockets so for that strategy any small system will work. If you want to fill up a vial you are going to have to find a volume of good gravel to run and that is usually down against bedrock covered with at least a couple feet of dirt. So that really rules out a wet system and requires a few hours dead work removing overburden. It also means you must produce a few yards a day to realize a profit for your time invested.

Either way you look at it you have more potential for gold with a dry system unless there is plenty of water available with little effort. If you must concentrate every time you go out and you go out when the gravel is damp then your options are limited. A wet system would be the only way you could be guaranteed a recovery when the gravel is damp. From a gold getting standpoint that would be a severe limitation to production and would force hauling water and washing gravel at a snails pace on days you could be shoveling it through a drywasher as fast as you could.

Either way is fine as long as you are having a good time. I personally have a better time when I run. a lot of good gravel and get a lot of gold.But if running only the shallow crevices and sweepings are your gig then a highbanker and a barrel of water may be perfect. The placer and your strategy should dictate the system you use. But remember if your system has limitations it may dictate how you are able to work.

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A lot of guys just dig in and do no prospecting for rich spots. They sweep and crevice what is shallow and wind up doing what was done last year.

Almost all of my time is spent prospecting for a rich spot to run. Not a good crack or a hot pocket but an expanse of paying gravel. That is where your payday is at. I would much rather find a place where I can run 20 yards of gravel at $20 Per yard as a $20 nugget or one bucket of fantastic sweepings at $50 per bucket.

Placer is often DECONCENTRATED in the desert because water action varies creating several enriched horizons rather than a single paystreak stratified against bedrock. You simply cannot extract it without knowing where it starts and stops and which layers are worth running.

Consequently you spend a bunch more time prospecting and finding a spot worth running than actually running it.

I have found a few good spots that do well sweeping, specking and running small volumes. But the overwhelming amount of gold is found distributed in layers of gravel that are buried under overburden. Ten hours spent running steady gravel will net much more gold than ten hours running average gravel looking for it.

Never set up on gravel that does not pay wages. Spend time prospecting for gravel that does and process material that pays. It is not about bringing home a little each time or even how much gold in each bucket. It is about gold recovered compared to hours spent. You will do so much better if you spend time finding good gold than settling for the gravel that is easy or dry or has limited potential.

It is just like working for a living. Guys who keep steady work at a living wage do better than those who chase around for the high paying jobs that don't last.

You gotta work smarter and not harder with placer. It is too much work to process gravel in hopes of finding a paystrek. You must find a paystreak and THEN process gravel. And paystreaks are generally a run of gravel that is 3-5x richer than average and hold out long enough to be worth the effort.

I think that right there is the difference between prospecting and small mining.

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Drywasher for me as well, tried wet many times and just to much work for small gain in the desert. I can move many times the material through my drywasher than when recirculating.

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Being the large scale miner I am, I too like the Dry Washer. Even in Sort of Damp Dirt. If it's too damp, I just Set he Drop angle low and run the Dry washer in known goodie spots and take home anything that goes Black.

As most say, Run Material and get the most you can. Run it slow, Run it Long and if it's there it will be in the Black .

10 Yards of Dirt is a Pile more then I and a few friends And I can't do that in a day of Fun.

I can't remember moving more then a Yard and a Half any place I have been and was more then happy after the clean up.

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If you run ten yards you will be ten times happier than running one yard. You will also have ten times the gold!

I don't take anything home to process. Just more work. The only thing worth packing out is the gold IMHO. If you can get it all in ten minutes and dump the tray on the ground why not?

Back when I worried about losing gold. I would labor over a few specks and spend an hour cleaning three cents worth from black sand and days re running dirt to extract every piece. An old miner told me "It is not what you miss on the first pass that counts. It is what you GET that matters!"

That really sunk in with me. If I can get $10 an hour from bench gravel it is not worth spending an hour cleaning up black sand with $9 Left in it. I will dump it and make an extra dollar to save myself the effort.

Same with the second pass. As long as I am getting more than 50% recovery it does not make sense to run it twice...I can get more gold per day letting it slide down the tailings. Let someone else run those tailings as long as you can do better in first run gravel.

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Yeah, 10 yards a day is 500 full buckets.......

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I don't believe I have ever found a run of rich gravel more than a few buckets that did not require shoveling at least as much off as I ran. Most gravel in Hillsboro or Caballos is buried under a couple feet (at least) of overburden. The idea that a person could hit a paystreak and not shovel off several yards of gravel to get to it is unheard of.

Sure a guy can focus on a limited amount of gravel and be happy. Happy is for the weekend prospector. If you want to get paid instead of happy you are going to have to dig down to bedrock and uncover some gravel to run. The more the merrier IMHO.

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10 yards over the table is eight hours running solid. I don't measure volume in buckets but a 5 Gallon bucket is somewhere around 2/3 of a cubic foot so yeah, about 500 Buckets of bench run gravel if it all fit in a bucket and had no boulders or cobbles in it.That is probably the outside limit that the machine could run if it all went through the screen and over the riffles in one eight hour period. About a cubic foot per minute give or take...Or a bucket every 40 seconds if you prefer. Another way of looking at it is 1.4 cubic yards per hour. I like the calculability of that ratio.

Ten yards of desert aggregate screens 50-60% generally speaking and fluffs up about 30% Coming out of the hole. So a ten yard cut will produce about 6 yards over the table in most aggregate.

To get an idea of how big a ten yard cut is it is isix feet wide three feet deep and fifteen feet long. How much cobbles off and screens off is variable. It will expand when it is dug by about 1/3 making a ten yard cut yeild 13 yards of aggregate in volume again depending on how much is rock. You will have between 50-75% of your cut size go across the table and into the tailings. The rest remains behind the grizzly.

The average small dump bed is twelve yards if the gravel is dry.About ten yards is what a dump truck contains if the material is near the moisture proctor. So a ten yard cut yeilds about a half dump truck load of tailings. How many buckets that is I don't know.

Generally speaking there is at least as much overburden as material. So for each ten yard cut a miner shovels ten yards off the top...at least.

So that equates to about three days work to run a cut that big in most cases. One day dead work, one day mining and cobbling and one day processing. Two guys can get the digging done in half the time but the machine takes one day to process it regardless of how long it takes to excavate.

We calculate in cubic volume (or buckets) but since pay gravel is generally on a horizon square foptage is often a better measurement of a paying layer. Still you gotta run the volume to clean iy out regardless of the actual thickness of the paying gravel...

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I would be hard pressed to run ten cubic yards even in my younger days, unless it was already in a pile ready to be shoveled. If I had to dig it out in a wash, forget about it.

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I use a little rocker box over a #0 wash tub - Bedrock Bob

I like this. You're a DIYer, correct? Did you build that little rocker box? Any plan suggestions, tips, advice?

Is the #0 is an 8 gallon round tub? Why did you choose the Gold King?

Prospect methodically before mining. Copy that.

I have been pleasantly surprised by how well the 151 recovers gold. - SLNugget

Please tell me why did you choose the Keene?

Thank you

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Because of its reputation as an effective, sturdy, reliable drywasher. And I was able to make a good trade for .

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Hey DavidB!

I have used a little home made rocker for testing for many years. Just a little table about 6" wide and 18" long. Works great for a few buckets and uses water mighty efficiently. Costs nothing to build.

The #0 tub is just right to set up the rocker and dip out of. 5 gallons of water at a time. Perfect for cleaning a bucket of cons too. Leaves all the gold in one manageable pan. Takes about 5-6 Minutes to process a bucket. It is the only wet machine I use for my strategy.

The Gold King machine was my favorite and I liked the thick aluminum over the plastic Keene. But the Keene is a great machine and will process material just as fast with a good blower.

There are lots of good puffer drywasher designs. I do most tests and run small (under 2 cy) runs by hand crank. It is great to find a lot of good gravel but chances are it will be thin and run out shortly...especially shallow digging. So the puffer is generally the tool for day to day work.

I only fire up the big one when I have found gravel to support it. That usually happens only 3-4 times a year if I am lucky. The rest of the time I am puffin when it is dry and digging down and rockin when it is too wet. And in the Chihuahuan desert it is RARELY too wet to run for more than a couple of days atca time. We get nowhere near the precipitation as the Mojave.

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I would be hard pressed to run ten cubic yards even in my younger days, unless it was already in a pile ready to be shoveled. If I had to dig it out in a wash, forget about it.

Some guys dig fast and some don't. Some can dig for hours. Others a few minutes. Ten yards is a hell of a days work for anyone. The drywasher seems to never get tired though. So no matter how long it takes you to bust it up, cobble it off it will eat the product of a ten yard. cut in a day.

If a man needed an extra day to get the gravel worked up the drywasher does not get impatient. And if you decide that ten yards is too much to run it does not mind. But if you have the means to feed it ten yards a day it will eat it and ask for more.

...And a Keene 151 will too!!

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Bob, I am really interested in how often you clean out your mat.

Or you just change mats & clean up at the end of the day !

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Bedrock Bob,




I enjoy what you're telling us about how you mine. Sampling during the damp days and running pay dirt during the dry days seems a smart way to do it. We've just recently started to sample. The most buckets I dug in a day was about 40 and I classified this down to 8 mesh. That left me with 10 buckets to run. 10 yards is a whole lot of dirt to be digging, but what you say seems very wise and a good way to change our technique.



This is the second time I've heard someone speak well of a rockerbox for the same reasons you have. This must be a good piece of equipment.


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I clean the tray once every yard or so I suppose. About once an hour or so. Depends on black sand buildup and how much dust the blower sucks up. The back side of the cloth can get dirty and needs backflushing before the cons get too heavy. The cloth gets clogged and things slow down when dusty air get in the intake. I have to dump out and blow air at the face of the table to knock the dust out the back. In a stiff breeze It takes hours to clog but in dead calm you just can't get the blower far enough away from the machine.

...So sometimes what limits the lenth of a run and forces a clean up is not the specific gravity of the material on the table.

So it varies depending on gravel and dust. Once in an hour or so is usual but sometimes I will run a lot longer if the action is good and things are dancing as they should.

When I stop and dump the tray I get the larger pieces off. If there is little gold I just dump it all thru the hopper again. If I am getting good gold I collect it in a bucket. After the last load I run all the cons over the table three or four times to reduce it to one table of cons with all the gold.

So no matter how much gravel is run you only wind up with one pan to wash. Most of the gold can be picked up directly if is flaky. Fine gold needs to be panned to get it all.

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Bedrock Bob,

I enjoy what you're telling us about how you mine. Sampling during the damp days and running pay dirt during the dry days seems a smart way to do it. We've just recently started to sample. The most buckets I dug in a day was about 40 and I classified this down to 8 mesh. That left me with 10 buckets to run. 10 yards is a whole lot of dirt to be digging, but what you say seems very wise and a good way to change our technique.

This is the second time I've heard someone speak well of a rockerbox for the same reasons you have. This must be a good piece of equipment.

Thanks!

I might add I don't screen anything. The grizzly on the machine does that for me. I throw anything I can shovel right on the hopper. The rest I cobble off by hand.

That big gravel on the screen helps regulate feed and breaks clods up. Screening by hand takes time and produces gravel that flushes thru the hopper and chokes the riffles unless you spoon feed it.

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The hopper angle should be set about five degrees less than the natural angle of repose of the tailings. This makes the material hang in the hopper and trickle down with the vibration. It allows you to load the hopper and the screen without choking the table.

Look at the angle of the recent tailing piles. This is the angle of repose. Set the plane of the hopper at a little shallower angle. Adjust it a little by shifting the machine so you get a steady trickle like an hourglass. The vibration of the machine brings it down. It should not be sliding down the hopper or hanging up on the lip of the feed edge.

The table angle should be set as flat as possible while maintaining good action. There is a play between vibration, air and angle that makes material move well. The deal is to keep the material moving out as fast as it moves in and maintain a minimum depth over the top of the riffles. The flow should present a very shallow film over the riffle so that gold finds the bottom and follows it down. The tail edge of the riffle should be a boil of fine material and the leading edge of the riffle should be coarse dancing gravel that rejects larger gravel and allows them to "skate" over the deep sections of the table.

The proper air will lift material easily and blow the dust from the table in the first half of the table. The proper vibration is a slow beat that causes coarser sand to migrate to the edges of the table and finer sand to congregate in the center of the table. Just as stratifying a pan causes coarser material to rise and go to the edges.

So set the hopper angle first and then adjust your table to match the flow. Turn up the air until your material lifts well and slow the beat until it is dividing the coarse sand to the edges

Your machine is operating at maximum efficiency. If you have rock steady airflow and maintain a steady feed rate you will get more than 90% of your gold on the first pass even at less than perfect moisture.

I have never seen this discussed here in the many years I have been on Nuggetshooter and I don't know why. Hope it helps someone out there to get some gold.

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Bedrock bob

I'm new to a drywasher (Keene DW12V Puffer) and your posts have been a tremendous amount of help and I re-read the complete posts about three times. I may make a small sample rocker for those wet days.

thanks for a very thorough explanation.

Joe

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