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AK_Razor
06:33:45 Wed
Oct 28 2009

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1st time dredger with a problem

I've been out of this forum for about 2 years as I was busy training in two new jobs. I sure did miss having the time to read these posts and more importantly to prospect/mine.

Anyway, I'm back at it now and bought a used 4" Keene highbanker/dredge comboe last week. I went out in the snow today because I just couldn't wait until spring. The pump is a 5HP Briggs and Stratton (not my 1st choice...but overall a good deal (I think) at $900. It took me 30 minutes to prime the pump the first time and then I ran well for an hour. I shut down to refuel, and could not get the pump primed again. I gave up after 3 hours of trying everything I could think of. Can anyone suggest common errors made by first timers?

  
Sam_McGee
06:48:08 Wed
Oct 28 2009

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Re: 1st time dredger with a problem

Hey , Razor are you using a foot valve on your suction hose? If you are it maybe leaking . I have a Proline and only prime it once when I first fire it up.

  
AK_Razor
06:55:27 Wed
Oct 28 2009

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Re: 1st time dredger with a problem

Sam...I am. When I could not get it primed the first time, I took the foot valve off altogether, and once I got it primed I put it back on. The second time I could not get it primed. I was filling the suction hose without the check valve, lifting it up to get the water into the pump, and then quickly putting it back into the stream. Still no luck.

  
dredger
10:09:17 Wed
Oct 28 2009

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Re: 1st time dredger with a problem

:welcome: AK_Razor, I hope you did well in your training,

A few suggestions for you mate ,and the new guys,

Set your motor pump and foot valve at home on a bench and put the foot valve in a tub of water, before you go out prospecting, ( do not start the motor ) practise filling the filler neck on the pump to the top, , practise removing and replacing the hoses /foot valve until it stays full at all times, and you won't have any trouble when to get to where you want to dig, could save 3 and hours mucking around trying to get ya pump primed, gee mate, 3 and 1/2 hours is a half Oz of gold,

Also " if " the water level drops it could be you need a new flapper in the foot valve, second hand equipment often have old hard rubber seals that will just be a pain in the but until you fix it, or buy a new one if you have too, . :smile:

Also, dropping water levels could also indicate a leaking seal ( check for water leaks ) or pump gasket, which may suck air while you are running the pump, resulting in cavitation and poor performance which will require you to run the pump harder costing more fuel, :confused:.

Also , good deals on second hand gear could mean that the previous owner made a mistake when he disassembled and assembled the pump, and he could not work out how to fix it, so he just sells his problems in a good deal, so , I also suggest you familiarize you self with the pump specs, the previous owner could have simply changed a gasket, and replaced it with a much thicker gasket, which will result in making the original manufacturers specs, much bigger, also causing or increasing cavitation,

So the suggestion for anyone who has never primed and started a motor /pump, is have alot of experience and know exactly how ya foot valve works, and learn the specs and clearances of ya pump,

Sorry , my son will chew my arm off if ii do not get off the computer, gotta run, please post pics of ya gear, alot of people on this forum can help you learn little tricks which will result in a good days digging without so many problems,

:devil:


  
JOE_S_INDY
11:27:48 Wed
Oct 28 2009

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Re: 1st time dredger with a problem

Hey there RAZOR,

3 hours in the snow, messing with air leaks - YUCK!

Sometimes the foot valve is working just fine but you still loose prime. The first thing I suspect is that there might be a bad seal where the suction hose goes into the pump. A leak there allows air in, which will destroy the prime. At times in the past I have been forced to double clamp those fittings.

A second leak could develop where the intake hose goes into the foot valve. That would allow water to drain back out of the pump, allowing air to enter the pump. It doesn't seem likely here, however.

Of course, if you have the "official" two lug fire hose style threaded connectors (with rubber gaskets) - always check the gaskets and the tightness (and carry spare gaskets).

One other, possible, source could be the pump, itself. If the former owner 'got into it' in the past there could be a gasket problem (like missing, or broken, gaskets). It could also be a loose or broken/missing bolt. Another possibility could be a bad ceramic seal (run dry?) Maybe even a crack in the pump that JB Weld could, ultimately fix.

It could also be sucked in debris like roots or leaves that have fouled the pump internally, mimicking a bad prime through no water flow. A visual inspection through the intake and discharge connections might help eliminate that possible problem.

With all those possibilities - why not try this:

In the safety and comfort of your garage, with all water drained from hoses, foot valve and pump, whip out your trusty shop vac. Get the spray bottle of soapy water you use to check for air leaks in your tires and a bucket of water.

Pressurize the pump through the shop vac's discharge point, connected to the discharge port of the pump. This would pressurize the pump, intake hose and foot valve with the discharge air from the shop vac. Spray down the pump, hose and and hose connections. Air bubbles tell all!
If no air bubbles - immerse the pressurized foot valve into a bucket of water. Air bubbles there would show a bad seal - possibly junk causing the problem.

Let us know how you did - we all can learn from your observations.

Joe
[2 edits; Last edit by JOE_S_INDY at 15:30:27 Wed Oct 28 2009]

  
Herschel
12:24:14 Wed
Oct 28 2009

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Re: 1st time dredger with a problem

Sounds a lot like its suckin' air to me. I have fought that ol battle before. Could be anywherefrom the top of the water to the pumps suction side, but more than likely it is at a connection. It could be a seal or it could be a hole.

  
AK_Razor
03:13:54 Thu
Oct 29 2009

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Re: 1st time dredger with a problem

Thanks everyone for the advice. I'm going to try set it up tomorrow checking for all suggested items. I'll let you know what I learn. 3 follow on questions...1) How do you post a pic here? I set one as an attachment, but it did not work. 2) Does it matter if the suction hose is below the pump? I tried to put the pump downhill of the water intake source, but found it difficult. I though it might help gain a prime if it didn't have to pull the water up to the pump. 3) Does a leak downstream of the pump matter? I.e. some water drips at the coupling on the outake hose from the pump. I don't see how this would matter since all the water is shooting out the end of the hose anyway. Based on all the comments, I suspect I need to figure out the source of the air leak.

  
Jim_Alaska
03:43:58 Thu
Oct 29 2009

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Re: 1st time dredger with a problem

AK_Razor,

there are picture posting instructions at the top of the forum.



---
Jim (Alaska)
Administrator
Jim Foley's Alaska
jfoley@sisqtel.net
 
 
AK_Au_diver
05:03:55 Thu
Oct 29 2009

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Re: 1st time dredger with a problem


For those small foot valves, you can leave them all connected, grab it and pump it up and down. If the pump intake hose is clear, you should be able to see the water coming up. This is the same way those self-priming siphons work.

You re-priming problem may be due to a sort of air-lock in your pressure hose between the pump and jet. (The air came from the air leaks, so work of that too.) One thing to try is to lift the jet out of the water for a moment, to get the water out of it, so the air can escape from the lines as you prime it.

A picture would help.

One trick some people use is taking one of those big air pumps (for filling an inflatable boat the hard way), and use the suction side of it to suck the air out of the pressure hose, pump, and intake hose. Then, there is no need for a foot valve. But this only works if your pump has ports in the right places (the top).




  
AK_Razor
05:36:30 Thu
Oct 29 2009

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Re: 1st time dredger with a problem

OK 2nd attempt at posting pictures. I uploaded them to snapfish and copied the URL.

http://www2.snapfish.com/slideshow/AlbumID=2680725013/PictureID=110243780013/a=104594920_104594920/


  
AK_Razor
05:46:47 Thu
Oct 29 2009

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Re: 1st time dredger with a problem

3rd attempt using photobucket and the IMG tag.







  
drumkiller
15:09:51 Thu
Oct 29 2009

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Re: 1st time dredger with a problem

Unless i'm seeing that wrong, it appears your foot valve is connected to the pump with layflat hose.
That could cause a priming issue :smile:.
Jim

  
AK_Razor
16:09:07 Thu
Oct 29 2009

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Re: 1st time dredger with a problem

Jim,

It looks like that in the 2nd picture. Acutally that was a hose extension I was using and hadn't picked it out of the stream yet after disconnecting from the vacuum jet. Thanks for looking it over though.

  
drumkiller
18:23:19 Thu
Oct 29 2009

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Re: 1st time dredger with a problem

Hehe, it sure looked like a foot valve.

  
AK_Razor
01:20:45 Fri
Oct 30 2009

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Re: 1st time dredger with a problem

I ops tested it today in a small pond near my house (had to break 1/4" of ice to do it). It worked great. Here is what I did and what I learned. Many thanks to those who offered advice as you were right.

The first timer mistake I was making was this: I considered gravity more important than absence of air in the intake hose. I did not fully and correctly prime the intake hose and pump by "pumping" the foot valve in the water. Instead, I was filling the intake hose and lifting it up (and out of the water) to prime it. I was trying to use gravity (i.e. making the water go downhill to the pump) at the expense of introducing an air pocket as I raised it in and out of the water. When it didn't work, i also spent alot of wasted time messing with the outake end of the system (i.e. moving the vacuum jet in and out of the water, running the outake hose downhill, etc.)

Through your replies, I learned the importance of keeping an air tight prime. I also double clamped all the connections and was able to achieve the prime on the first pull of the motor.

The first (of many I'm sure) lessons learned. Now if the heavy snow will just hold off awhile longer to allow some more time on the creeks.

  
DanBrunner
02:32:50 Fri
Oct 30 2009

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Re: 1st time dredger with a problem

AK, I'm a 1 year tenderfoot at this mining stuff as well. I had similar problems when I started messing with pumps. I had the old firehose threaded heads on my lines. My pump is self priming, so I didn't realize how much of an issue even the smallest leak on the intake had on the pump. It used to take a long time to get water into the casing. I've since converted my connections to the quick-connect types which provide a much better seal, and a more convenient experience overall. Now when I fire up the pump, the water comes rushing in. Good luck with the snow... Spring will be here soon. :smile:


  
waveaction
05:52:34 Fri
Oct 30 2009

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Feeding the Dredge" width=100 height=100>
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Re: 1st time dredger with a problem

I love it when I see the same mistake I made . My first dredge experience was in a shallow creek with less than a foot of water. Like you, I was filling the priming hose with water, lifting the end up out of the water trying to prime the pump using gravity. After a while I checked all the connections and determined they where tight and no air leaks. I had wasted a lot of time. Then I dug a small hole in the creek, took about 5 minutes, and I could then move the foot valve up and down forcing water up to and through the pump. Started the engine and I was ready to dredge. Boy, did I feel stupid, but lesson learned. Glad no one was watching.........

  
Zooka
16:47:37 Fri
Oct 30 2009

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Re: 1st time dredger with a problem

I like the quick - connect fittings on the pump exit too, because sometimes the plunger method doesnt work well or easily, especially with bigger pumps and longer suction lines.
But with the quick-connect on the pump's exit, just take that exit hose off, be sure the foot valve is in the water, and pour water into the pump until it is full. This will also show you if there are big leaks in the suction line or the foot valve is not working.
-Z

  
AK_Razor
06:20:17 Mon
Nov 2 2009

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Re: 1st time dredger with a problem

I went back to the same spot today to redeem myself after Tuesday's pump priming dilema. I am happy to report I can now prime the pump with no problem (STS) and keep the vacuum jet doing its job. Unfortunately, the stream was not so cooperative today. Take a look at the new picture. The 2 big rocks from the earlier photos are where the white bucket is in the new ones (i.e. from 6 inches of water on Tuesday, and now almost 3 feet deep). To make it worse, the shallower areas now were exposed earlier in the week, so the gravels are frozen solid even under the water. The only movable gravels were too deep for me to reach (even after an hour of breaking ice dams) So, I moved the whole operation to where Tincan and Lyon creeks pass under the Seward highway. Here the gravels were not frozen, but they also had almost no gold (1 tank of gas equated to about 6 flecks of Gold). I think I'm done until spring....but at least I'm getting better at dredging.





  
lsfog
14:31:13 Mon
Nov 2 2009

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Re: 1st time dredger with a problem

Old age & experiance taught me to plumb in a Tee + Gate valve right on top of the pump. Works cause if your foot valve is a little leaky you open the Gate valve and pour water down into the pump chamber -- when "full" start the pump motor and continioue to pour till the pump grabs. Then just before your totally drenched -- close the Gate valve.

  

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