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Large Gold wheel in mine operation


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After reading Edge's post Lost AZ Gold I was struck by the picture of the large gold wheel. Many years ago, it was before Joshua  Tree NM was expanded taking in all the mines and claims south of HW 62. I was camped on a claim just south of 62 where the old Amboy Rd hits it. I was my first trip into the Sheep Hole mountains and there where a lot of club claims on up the road into the them and it was reported to be in bad shape  further up. So I parked my motor home and  was planning on taking my Samurai up to check out the area . The next day an old Chevy flatbed truck  passed by heading up the road , about 100 yards away he stopped and I could hear him trying to start the engine. It would start and and then  die He got out and raised the hood , got back in and tried again without any luck. I went up in my Samurai to see if I could help him. He said its probably the coil I,ll go to 62 and catch a ride to Twenty nine Palms and get a coil. Having had some of old Chev's that had developed the same  problem I told him to wait a minute and I think I can get you running! I went and got some wire and bypassed the resistor.The start circuit bypasses the resistor on the start but goes through the resistor when you let go the key. I
t will run a long time on full current before the coil burns out so you're good to go! I had  asked him about the road and he said you can make it OK in your Sammy and invited me to come up and see his mine, it's a one man hard rock operation at an old  major mine and mill operation . The next day I drove up, it was at the very top of the Mt.  and he was living in an old trailer. he had it set up to run everything by himself.  (SCARY) .  The vein he was working was an old earthquake fault and his access shaft  stopped at the bottom of it. The fault was vertical and about 3 feet wide  at the bottom and had course material along one wall and getting real fine on the other wall. His method of mining was to drag a cart behind him the the face  he was working and  push it back to his hoist because it was to narrow to turn around in. At his hoist he had a 55 gallon barrel with a bail on it. He would push a switch to start the hoist and it would go to the top and dump into  a hopper , trip a  switch when empty and return down the shaft . He dug mostly the fine stuff he called "gouge" because it was the richest in gold. When he got the hopper filled he released the material in to screen the oversize stuff for later treatment. The screened stuff fed (all this by gravity and a small amount of water) from the roof of a shed down a pipe system into a large gold wheel at least as large as the one Edge showed in LOST AZ Gold and it was turned from metal , I think aluminum. It may have been bigger.  The wheel discharged its production in to a PVC pipe  that fed it into a 5 gallon bucket of water, it had a system that he could switch from one bucket to another. The buckets had about a gallon of mercury in them ( MORE SCARY). He did not show me what he did with the mercury and I didn't really want to know by then. He did let me take a load of the fine material  from the gouge section off the vein, I carried 8 ,5 gallon buckets in my Samurai ! I don't remember how much gold I got from them but it was more than the club claims produced. I can not remember his name or the name of the mine but but it is all in the Joshua Tree National Park now. That's the biggest gold wheel have seen until Edge's post. I think someone told me that there are really big ones in the atomic industry ??

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Max,

Good story, it reminded me of when I was a kid, and we were in Joshua Tree and my dad helped a guy with a mechanical problem of some kind, I don't remember what and the guy had us go to his mine some where in what is now the park.  I was very young but fondly remember the giant rock forms and boulders, like a giants playground.  Thanks for posting Max.

Jeff

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Max I remember watching I believe it was a old Gold Fever show many years ago and Tom Massie was visiting a mine somewhere in California and they had 2 gold wheels in operation, those wheels were gigantic at 6 to 8 feet in diameter!!

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13 hours ago, Au Seeker said:

Max I remember watching I believe it was a old Gold Fever show many years ago and Tom Massie was visiting a mine somewhere in California and they had 2 gold wheels in operation, those wheels were gigantic at 6 to 8 feet in diameter!!

I think it  must have been the same operation , I think I remember 2 of them and dang I had lots of the Gold Fever shows recorded , of course they burned. I knew all the Massie's  and was a member of the LDMA  and  the caretaker there after the incumbent left suddenly.  I stayed on until I got spider bitten , got them to Put Tom and Norma Jones  in  and in my opinion they were the best caretakers  the LDMA ever had there or in any or the other LDMA Camps  that I had visited !

Max

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