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Oregon_jim
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pontoons for dredges ( 02:54:14 TueOct 18 2011 )

Last summer I purchased a 2" highbanker-dredge combination and I was able to operate my own highbanker for the first time. I had a wonderful time and did pretty well during my visits to Happy Camp. Next summer I am planning to dredge for the first time, and I will need tons of advice.

First, My highbanker pump has no air compressor, so rather than adding a compressor to it, I think I will purchase a new pump/compressor package (6.5 HP Honda Engine, Pump & Compressor). I am also planning to purchase the associated diving regulator, full-face mask, wet suit, and whatever else I will need to work under water. My concerns here are mainly related to diving in cold water, so advice on the warmest wetsuits or hot water systems would be greatly appreciated.

Next, I will need to build a floating platform for my pump and sluice. I am guessing my gear will weigh around 120 pounds or so, so advice on floats and pontoons is needed. Is there a reasonable source for floats or pontoons, or even a complete platform I could just purchase? I was thinking of mounting floats, along with my pump/compressor and sluice, to the metal frame from a twin bed, but I would love to hear other ideas. My big concern is having a platform that is strong and stable, but not so huge that I cannot handle it.

Your advice is more than welcome... Thank you!

[1 edits; Last edit by Oregon_jim at 03:06:26 Tue Oct 18 2011]

  
johnnye4
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Re: pontoons for dredges ( 07:17:28 TueOct 18 2011 )

Ok…ill take a stab at answering some of your questions, first if you go with a 6.5m wet suit or even a 7m wet suit…I don’t know your weight so for an example I weigh around 235lbs and where a 6.5m suit so my weights I use are around 75lbs, for me to be able to just go down in little current I need 35lbs just to counter buoyancy of wet suit and another 30lbs to stay on bottom. The faster the current the more weights you need. Last year on the rogue the water current was around 4300-3900cfs this is and was very fast for dredging, a good speed for dredging is below2000cfs, check out this web site dream flows it give a 5year/30day account of the cfs in many of the waters we dredge in. http://www.dreamflows.com/graphs/yir.331.php
So…if you used a 3.5 wet suit that equals less buoyancy so less weights are used and you have a hot-water system attached to the exhaust of the 6.5honda your comfort level under water is vastly improved…water temp this year on rogue was in morning 52 and around 2:00pm it wormed up to about 57-58 some days it really wormed up to a whopping 62…that’s still cold…the wet suit boots hard sold boots are typically 6.5m also and about 2 o’clock you can’t fill your toes so look into the hot water system, the people at armadillo can hook you up with the system. http://www.armadillomining.com/ nothing is perfect even the hot water system has some draw backs, like boiling and control of heat but nothings perfect.
Get the weights purchased way before dredge season begins else you won’t be able to find anything….that was the dilemma we all faced this season because of the high record high water flows…maybe next season will be much slower and you won’t need 75-90lbs.
Hope this was helpful to you.

Johnnye4

  
Oregon_jim
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Re: pontoons for dredges ( 13:50:57 TueOct 18 2011 )

Thank you!

I am not a big man. I am about 145 pounds soaking wet,and stand about 5' 6". I have accumulated about 35 pounds of lead, but need to cast it into belt weights. I am guessing another 25 pounds or more may be necessary, but that is just a guess.

A local scuba dealer showed me a 7mm wetsuit he had been selling to dredgers, and I have looked at many wetsuits online that claim to be great in cold water. Prices vary quite a bit, and I know almost nothing about which is really best, so I will probably find a suit in the mid-price range and hope for the best. The hot water system is definitely on my list, but I have not checked pricing yet. I might have to wait on that, but I am kind of a wimp when it comes to being cold. It could be a priority...




  
ratled
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Re: pontoons for dredges ( 16:34:16 TueOct 18 2011 )

Jim I'll point you in the right direction on the dredging equipment. Rather than do all that, spend all that money, and- no offense intended - build something you are not familiar with,I would recommend getting a nice used 4" dregde.

Usually these come with the weights, air system w/ regulators, air lines, clean up gear etc - a turn key operation for the most part. Usually these things are made for each other - these floats fit the frame, which fit the sluice, which the motor and pump to power it as intended for this jet etc.

A used dredge would probably be close to what you will spend in materials and "do overs". You will also be upgrading your hose size while you are at it for almost no cost. You really don't want less than a 4" if you are going to all of the effort to dive.

There is a good how to buy a used dredge thread on 49erMike's forum http://www.49ermike.com/dc/dcboard.php?az=show_mesg&forum=181&topic_id=46999&mesg_id=46999&page and Craigslist is not a bad place to look for used dredges.

Here are some good reads for you to look at over during the off season to get ready
http://www.goldgold.com/dredging.html

And a SCUBA class wouldn't hurt either..............

ratled
[3 edits; Last edit by ratled at 16:39:29 Tue Oct 18 2011]

  
Oregon_jim
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Re: pontoons for dredges ( 17:59:38 TueOct 18 2011 )

It has been a while since I did any diving, but I am certified, so that is only a small concern for me. Money is the big issue, and I am reluctant to spend a bunch of money on something used, of questionable quality or condition, from someone I am unfamiliar with, online. Add to that shipping costs, and it just doesn't measure up. I might be interested in purchasing something from a 49er club member...

I understand that a 2" dredge is small and not very efficient, but it is what I have to learn with. Please understand that this will be my first experience dredging, so I am seeking knowledge as much, and perhaps even a little more than wealth this season. It would be foolish of me to invest a great deal of money into a dredge before I am certain I can dive safely and comfortably in cold water. I know I can build some kind of floating platform that will be adequate for my dredge equipment without spending a fortune. All I am hoping for is something capable of making it through one season without just working me to death. If I find that dredging is as much fun as it appears I will invest in a much better unit as fast as I can, and if not, I will not have lost a ton of money.

Even if my plan to make my own dredge falls through, I still plan to purchase the diving gear and a hookah system so that I will be able to at least watch others dredge this season. Maybe someone will need a rock-mover... As I said, I am eager to learn. I do not know how productive underwater sniping is, but it might be fun on the Klamath River and in some of the creeks where dredges can't go. Also I will be able to do a little diving in other times of the year. I would love to do a little under-water exploration around the country. I also have a ten year old granddaughter, and I am very eager to introduce her to diving.

  
johnnye4
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Re: pontoons for dredges ( 00:41:39 WedOct 19 2011 )

Farmer john wet suit is the warmest…pretty much what everyone wears on the Rogue River, if it’s cold you put on the jacket…if it’s warm then you take off the jacket. Wal-Mart sells a sport shirt (under-armor) long sleeve for 14.00, this has a uv protection of around 50 and it will help you to take off the farmer john jacket, otherwise you wear a t-shirt under the farmer john wet-suit.my advise is pay 14.00 for the under armor and when dredging and you really got to go…..you can get the farmer john jacket off by yourself with ease, and no accidents if you get my meaning. Cold water does funny things to a person’s bladder.
If you go with a 3.5m suit then get one with zipper in front, they do make them. Also make a call to armadillo and ask about casting your own molds for weight you will be surprised at cost of equipment to do this…the people at armadillo mining are very helpful with this kind of stuff and very willing to share knowledge also……no I do not have stock in or have relatives or even friends there…these people have unselfishly helped me time and time again with mining questions….sometimes the answer to a question is very blunt…just role with it and you’ll be fine.

Johnnye4

  
beammaker
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Re: pontoons for dredges ( 00:51:36 WedOct 19 2011 )

Oregon Jim: Beammaker here from Wyoming. I must second the recommendations that you look for a used 4 inch dredge.

Ratled is correct in the items you can acquire in purchasing from someone, who is aging out of the underwater gold game. In fact I have purchased extra pontoons from Ratled this past winter for my 5 inch Keene triple sluice.

You will find that next summer you can dredge easier and produce more concentrates with the 4 inch size. You can usually use this size in many other states, and can nozzle down to the 3 inch for states like Wyoming. Thus, you can get into the waters across much of the US.

Keep your eyes open for a 3.5 hp or 5 hp seperate motor---build a metal base---then use the compressor of your dredge for portable land based diving unit in the sniping.
Or your can mount the motor/compressor unit on a truck intertube float platform for diving.

Good Luck in your adventures.

  
Oregon_jim
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Re: pontoons for dredges ( 02:53:27 WedOct 19 2011 )

I sure appreciate your replies.

My web searches have shown that a good 4" dredge will probably run close to $4000, and that will not include my wet suit, diving mask, or much of the other gear needed. If life is good to me I will have a bit more than $2000 to work with by May. If I can find a used dredge in good condition for that kind of money I would almost certainly jump on the deal, but I cannot count on finding that kind of deal, and even if I did, I would still require a wet suit and associated gear. Instead I will need to cobble something together within my budget, or not dredge this season. It would certainly make sense to pass the dredging season this summer and save for a larger dredge, but with the rules and laws in flux as they are, this could be the last summer for dredging. I might not ever get another chance, and even with a real piece of crap 2" dredge I might be able to recover enough to purchase a dredge for the next season. NOT dredging this summer would be a real disappointment.

AND I already have a 2" dredge... What I lack is a floating platform, a hookah system, and a wet suit.

Doing the right thing (purchasing a larger dredge) would be my first choice, but that is probably beyond my reach this summer.





  
j_e_smith8369
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Re: pontoons for dredges ( 17:34:57 ThuOct 20 2011 )

Quote: Oregon_jim

My web searches have shown that a good 4" dredge will probably run close to $4000...


Check Craigslist in the Gold Country/ Sacramento/ Redding areas; I have found some good equipment at some very reasonable prices. In fact, my first 4" dredge (an old Keene that used inner tubes) was bought on the Modesto Craigslist for $400. I would also keep in touch with Montine at the Club, since many times members will call her with equipment they are selling -- she keeps sort of a running list there at the office. And, of course, her husband Rusty usually has (or knows someone who has) a little used equipment in good shape laying around.

Quote: Oregon_jim

AND I already have a 2" dredge...


No offense to your equipment, Jim, but you don't -- you have a high-banker with a "land dredge" attachment. Big difference!! You will find that the 2" nozzle just is not large enough to process any real amount of gravel with any sort of efficiency. It is so small, you are going to be working 500% harder than you need to. Also, the 2" "land dredge" nozzle just doesn't have the power to get you out more than 15 feet or so.

You will find that a 2" dredge is only good for working shallow bedrock and very shallow pea-sized gravel close to the banks. A 3" will allow you to get out a few feet further, into some slightly larger & deeper gravel -- but you need AT LEAST a 4" to get out into the more decent pay-streaks. My personal preference is a 5" Keene Triple-sluice necked down to 4" for Oregon -- I can process about 30% more gravel than a straight 4" with the same amount of effort. And, the larger hose diameter with the smaller intake reduces plug-ups dramatically since nothing large enough to plug can get into the necked down nozzle.

With some watchfulness and a bit of shrewd dealing, you can find a deal on a good 4" -- after all, I lucked out and only paid $1,000 for my 5" Triple-sluice; sure, I had to do a little work on it, but nothing major -- aside from the initial cost, I have about $200 into cleaning, repairs and improvements on it. And if I can do it, you sure can!

[1 edits; Last edit by j_e_smith8369 at 17:44:46 Thu Oct 20 2011]

  
Oregon_jim
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Re: pontoons for dredges ( 17:50:13 ThuOct 20 2011 )

Again I thank you for your advice!

It appears everyone is in agreement that I am wasting my time with a 2" unit.

That is a big disappointment......

However, dredging with a crappy dredge may be better than not dredging at all. I will speak with Montine and will look for a better drdge, but if the choice is poor dredging in the shallows, or no dredging, I would choose to dredge.

As I said, this will be my first experience dredging, and I am alone. I have no partner to help me or to teach me, so I fully intended to stick to the shallows and settle for slim pickings, at least until I had some experience under my belt. A novice has no business out in fast water without real supervision and assistance. I am willing to be a little stupid and dive in the shallows and quieter waters alone, where safety is less of an issue. I have some diving experience. There is much more to learn about dredging than just sucking up gravel. I have lots to learn before I need to worry about finding the motherlode. I learned to swim in the shallow end of the pool. I can chase the big pay-streaks later. I'd be happy to dredge up tiny flakes from small gravels for a while...

Hopefully a better dredge will show up...
[1 edits; Last edit by Oregon_jim at 18:18:47 Thu Oct 20 2011]

  
ratled
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Re: pontoons for dredges ( 20:01:42 ThuOct 20 2011 )

Jim lets slow this down a little, we have until next season to pace ourselves. I am objective based in my thinking, and that's a good thing when it comes to gold, so let me apply that here a little......

"but if the choice is poor dredging in the shallows, or no dredging, I would choose to dredge."

I agree!! BUT you already have that with your combo unit. You don't need floats for that. You really don't want that either. And where you are describing for dredging you won't need air to dive just long arm or snorkel. OK, I'll grant you it's not as sexy as getting the hookah and doing all that but you can get a wetsuit and a good mask and go at it! You can get to about 3' with that and with your 2" that's about the best you'll get anyway. You can learn all the stuff you stated, you'll have an amazing time and really get jazzed about the dredging... just no air.

Where everyone here was going with getting a used 4" dregde is when you stated

"I think I will purchase a new pump/compressor package (6.5 HP Honda Engine, Pump & Compressor"

OK listed on line the Keene set up is $1250 + air line, + reserve tank + regulator. An then you'll need a weight belt.

"I will need to build a floating platform for my pump and sluice."

Your combo unit is not only heavy but also top heavy. You'll really need to beef up that platform.. and don't forget you upgraded to a 6.5 motor and pump .... with air - more weight to contend with!

Let's say you get good deals, make few mistakes, get it right the first time, so now you are into this for what, $2000, and then you still only have a 2". That is way we all recommending a good used 4", with air, all the extras for say $1500 - $2000. I never had a new dredge and probably never will.

So if you want to cut your teeth in the shallows with your 2" have at it!! You'll have a great time. Some of my best times were doing just that. My favorite day was just over a 1/4 oz out of one good crack in 2 hours with my 2" and I never finished that crack.

Now if you want to dive with air while dredging you'll really need to step up everything. The other thing you can do is make a post next year before the season on where you'll be (no dredging in CA right now so Happy Camp is out)and maybe you can come dive a day with some folks to see what that is all about.

Just my thoughts.........................

ratled
[3 edits; Last edit by ratled at 20:14:07 Thu Oct 20 2011]

  
Oregon_jim
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Re: pontoons for dredges ( 21:36:23 ThuOct 20 2011 )

I PROMISE to go very slow on this. Like you said, there is plenty of time. I am determined to have fun, to learn much, and to avoid as many stupid mistakes as possible. I am impatient, but not completely stupid.

I am also very eager to get under water this summer, so dredge or no dredge, diving gear and compressor are probably on my to-do list. My dredge plans may get shot to pieces, but at least I will be able to watch others, and will have the ability to do some recreational diving when I cannot dredge.

I am in the saving money and gathering information mode for a few more months. Worst case scenario is that I will not get to dredge this season. That would suck, but it won't be the end of the world. I like to think positive though. Somehow I am going to find a way to have a great time. That is a promise!

I have so much to learn... It would just be foolish to try to move too quickly.
[1 edits; Last edit by Oregon_jim at 21:44:03 Thu Oct 20 2011]

  
johnnye4
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Re: pontoons for dredges ( 04:15:25 FriOct 21 2011 )

Here is a good setup for air for cheep : $625.00
http://armadillomining.com/cgi-bin/imcart/bigpic.cgi?d=armadillomining.com&i=t80g_1.jpg
And here are some floats, so if you are or can weld a little with a flux-core or gmaw welder you can easily weald a plat form together to work in conjunction with the floats/motor & compressor. $140.00 each
http://www.dk-nugget.com/pd_nugget_3_4_inch_mini_dredge_floats_each.cfm
So…you could build this separate air for 1050.00 if you know someone or can weld for yourself, and then purchase 30ft of air line/weight belt with 50lbs/second stage mouth piece/ a reserve tank and brass fittings and yes a wet suit and even a hot water system for about $2,000.00 yes it would all be new not used and if you wanted a Honda and not the brigs motor figure on 200.00 more the with $25.00 you can have a season pass(license)for dredging in Oregon and then online purchase the free other permit and you my friend are ready for next season….awsome.
johnnye4

  
YellowFever
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Re: pontoons for dredges ( 18:28:39 FriOct 21 2011 )

I agree that you should look at a used dredge, a 4" is a great size for many reasons

1. generally it can operated by one person

2. its large enough to use in deeper water without problems

3. you will have air on a 4", most 3" don't have this from what I have seen and I have never seen a 2" with air(not to say that there ain't such a thing)

4. the amount of material that you can process with a 4" will be considerably more(doubles for each inch in size)that means you will recover more gold!!!

When looking a a used dredge you should keep this mind, don't get one that is to old because you could be getting a unit that is worn, the riffles could be worn out and not catch gold as intended, the recovery system could be out dated and not be as effective as newer systems, the pump could be worn and may not put out the pressure that is intended or needed for optimum use, pontoons/plastic/rubber/hoses get brittle with age and exposure to sun-lite, the motor may not be in as good condition(there is nothing worst then getting shut down because of a malfunction of equipment)

As for wetsuit I get mine from TommyD and I am very happy! I use the 7mm farmer john here is a link to there site:

http://www.tommydsports.com/

I also agree with everyone that there is plenty of time to look around and make good choices.

I would also like to say that I have a Keene 4"w/air that is less then 2 years old that will be up for sale in the spring.

  
klondike_jake
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Re: pontoons for dredges ( 02:41:27 SatOct 22 2011 )

mr jim .if your a little bit like me and have more hands on sckill than money.i might have a idea for ya.i took an old exstention ladder cut it 6ft long with the rungs at each end abought a foot back from the end cuts so the extra hangs out to for handles.mounted moter and pump to a peice of plywood that fit just snugly between the side rails of the ladder.then used two 3in by 3in u bolts and bolted the motor to ladder rungs.the i got 3 sheets of 2in by 24in by 8ft and cut them down to 12in wide.then i used 3m waterbase glue and clamped 4 layers together and made em 5ft long.after they dry cut the upper end ,sand them smooth with a belt sander.then i routered the corners with a 3/4 roundover bit.then i took and wrapped em up really good with duct tape.the tape helps thier durabillaty.then i cut 3 pipes that whent on top of ladder going across the top and sticking out past the ladder rails 12in on bothe sides.used u bolts again and atached them to ladder spaced evenly.then slide the pontoons under those 3 pipes push tight to side of ladder and bungy them to your liking.took 2 days and abought 100 bucks and i had a pontoon frame for my 3inch dredge that you can lift up with one hand .with out motor though.i used it 4days on the sultan and was just laughing my ass off as to how good it worked.now im thingking abought doing somthing simular for my 5in beast.

  
markB
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Re: pontoons for dredges ( 07:05:18 SatOct 22 2011 )

Keep your eyes open in the months to come....for example right on this site in the FOR SALE section.....also here's an example:

http://chico.craigslist.org/for/2633988657.html

I'll just add one thing.... few people prefer full masks.
By the way, are you in Oregon?

  
Oregon_jim
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Re: pontoons for dredges ( 00:53:11 MonOct 24 2011 )

Yes, I am in Oregon. I live west of Salem about twenty miles or so.

I used full-face respirators and air packs for more than twenty years when working with anhydrous ammonia and a number of other chemicals, so I am somewhat accustomed to them. My scuba mask never could seal well because I have a mustache, and it just rubbed the underside of my nose raw.

Is there some drawback to full-face masks that I am unaware of?



---
I will believe corporations are people when Texas executes one.
 
 
aunuts
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Re: pontoons for dredges ( 18:41:24 MonOct 24 2011 )

After using a regular face mask for about fifty years (both scuba and prospecting) I tried the full face mask this past season on the Rogue. It took quite a few dives to get the hang of it, but I now prefer the full face in swift water. It is more secure and will not come off in fast water like a regular mask. Also my mouth piece does not get chewed up, and my jaws did not get sore from the drag on the hose. I have found that the regular mask works with a moustache if you shave about 1/4" below your nose. It gives just enough bare skin for a good seal. It comes down to preference and you sometimes cannot teach old dogs new tricks.

  
j_e_smith8369
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Re: pontoons for dredges ( 11:55:15 ThuNov 3 2011 )

Quote: aunuts at 18:41:24 Mon Oct 24 2011

...I have found that the regular mask works with a moustache if you shave about 1/4" below your nose...


Ah, the "Adolf Hitler" look when you're out of the water! LOL!!

  
Oregon_jim
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Re: pontoons for dredges ( 13:13:32 ThuNov 3 2011 )

No, not the Adolph look... It would be more of the Boston Blackie (Kent Taylor) style.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tn7l0FJMQD0

"I wish I had a pencil thin mustache...":doublethumbsup:



---
I will believe corporations are people when Texas executes one.
 
 
Ron_C
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Re: pontoons for dredges ( 00:09:40 TueNov 8 2011 )

Here are some pontoons.Maybe you could make a platform.

http://www.49ermike.com/dc/dcboard.php?az=show_topic&forum=186&topic_id=10244&mesg_id=10244&page=

Good luck whatever you decide. You will have fun.
Rom

  
Oregon_jim
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Re: pontoons for dredges ( 01:08:08 TueNov 8 2011 )

Thank you!

No plans for a while... I am still saving my pennies and exploring my options.

I am still pondering how I will move my gear in the river, whatever it turns out to be. I am pretty certain I have the downstream travel figured out:eeekyellow:, but I will worry about that much later. It's all about big dreams and grand ambitions for now.....



---
I will believe corporations are people when Texas executes one.
 
 

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