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ChicagoJim
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Rookie looking for advice ( 00:17:00 ThuApr 19 2012 )

Hello everyone my name is Jim and I have been trying to become a veterinarian but feel as if I will never get into school. So I decided that I would give gold dredging a try this summer in Oregon. I was wondering if anyone had any opinions on the new49ers group? Are the members friendly? Is camping always available for the members?

I was also curious if anyone knew which spots along the s. umpqua that would be good for someone who has never dredged. My goal this summer is to learn the ropes and possibly make a little money.

This leads to my next question. I was thinking about getting a 4" minidredge. Can you fit this into an suv? Does anyone know the dimensions of the pontoons on this dredge?

Sorry if this is a kind of scatter brained email... I am just very excited to talk with and meet people who are enthusiastic about gold dredging.

  
RUSTY_HAPPY_CAM
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Re: Rookie looking for advice ( 00:47:16 ThuApr 19 2012 )

Welcome to the forum Jim. I think you will find the New 49ers a great group of people from all walks of life. On the Ca. claims there is almost always a place to camp while mining. Some of our claims can accommodate a 40' motor home some only a few tents but there is always somewhere to lay your head. The new Umpqua claim locations haven't been released yet so I can't give you any details on them. Hopefully that information will come out shortly on this forum. Since this sounds like your first year in gold dredging I would recommend you acquire all the videos and books on the subject and immerse yourself in them prior to cumming out west. I would not count on making money the first year as there is a serious learning curve to dredging. Can you make money? You Bet but it will likely take time. The 4" mini Keene is very limited in where you can use it. Because it is so lite and portable it is very short on flotation and doesn't like rough water. They are very prone to sinking when you least expect it if you get into swift water. The 4" mini frame & pontoon package is 40" wide and 60" long according to the Keene web site.
[1 edits; Last edit by RUSTY_HAPPY_CAM at 00:49:28 Thu Apr 19 2012]

  
ChicagoJim
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Re: Rookie looking for advice ( 03:52:14 ThuApr 19 2012 )

Thank you for your advice Rusty. I have read Dave mccrackens gold dredgers handbook, and advanced dredging techniques part one and two....these books gave me a good knowledge base and I am dying to get out on the river to try and implement some of the strategies from the books. However, I appreciate your caution because it can be easy to get carried away with the possibilities when it comes to gold. I'm mainly looking to just gain some confidence and know how this summer...having never seen gold on the bottom of a river I feel like finding just a little piece would be a major accomplishment for me.

Thanks for the tips on the 4" minidredge. Do you think the regular sized 4" dredge would be able to handle rougher waters? Plus I am coming out alone so I will be moving all equipment by myself, is the regular 4" dredge and components able to be maneuvered by one man (maybe with some kind of dolly)? Or do you think I would be limited to dredging areas with road access or the possibility of floating the dredge?

The question for me is as a beginner I am trying to learn about sampling, identifying different streamed layers, hard pack, etc. Do I stand a better chance at learning more with a lighter dredge I would be able to carry to different locations but be limited by current speed or to get the more heavy duty regular sized 4" dredge and be able to dredge in slightly faster currents but be limited on my access to particular dredging sites?

Thank you again form your help,
Jim

  
RUSTY_HAPPY_CAM
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Re: Rookie looking for advice ( 17:32:04 ThuApr 19 2012 )

Jim, The only widely used 4" dredge that one man can carry in 1 trip is the Dahlke polly 4 that I use. About 100 lb total weight, but it has all the same problems that I mentioned above. Unless you have the body of a pro wrestler it will take you 4-5 trips to pack a full sized 4" a short distance to the river. And to answer your next unasked question, no it will not fit neatly in a small SUV. With some stuffing and good use of the roof rack you will be able to transport it un-assembled. A full sized 4" from either Proline or Keene will handle most any water you want to work in. The small difference in size and weight between the Keene dredges will not be noticed when you are using them. I assume you haven't ordered your dredge yet. You need to get going, both manufactures are running 1-2 months behind on orders.The new 49ers shop can help you with any details and hold it till you arrive.

  
ChicagoJim
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Re: Rookie looking for advice ( 18:16:45 ThuApr 19 2012 )

Hi Rusty thanks again for your help. Do you recommend a dredge that can be carried in one trip if you are working alone. I have no problem making extra trips. Basically I am wondering if I am going to be trekking miles to the rivers or something like 200 yards. If it is not miles I will definitely not mind making extra trips to have the increased efficiency.

Also this may be a stupid question but...do people leave there dredges by the river or do they pack it up and haul it back to camp every night?

I know I am falling behind on ordering...I just want to make the best decision having no actual river dredging experience. Does the new 49ers help there members find dredging equipment? Do you sell them? I am pretty sure Dave runs promack mining...is this the same as the new49ers shop? Do you have dredging gear for sale and able to be held for members?

Also since it is very hard to pack an unassembled 4" dredge into a small suv...how do people transport there dredges? Is it a better idea to get a small tilt trailer and just bring the dredge already assembled? If I could purchase the dredge in California it would save me a big hassle on driving from Illinois with a trailer....but either way I'm willing to do what needs to be done.

Thank you again rusty, hopefully I can thank you in person this coming season.

Jim

  
RUSTY_HAPPY_CAM
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Re: Rookie looking for advice ( 19:16:24 ThuApr 19 2012 )

I don't know any more about the Umpqua than you do. However normal river access is closer to the 200 yards than a mile. You will spend more time towing your dredge up and down the river than carrying it on your back. Leaving your dredge in the water would depend on where it is and how easy it would be to steal it. Remote and difficult access locations almost require you leave it in the water if you are going to get any production. On the other hand if it is close to an easy access spot and visible from the road you may want to make other arrangements if it is not heavily insured. For your first year I would travel as lite as possible. A 4" can be stuffed into most SUVs in pieces with space left over for other necessities. If you feel you need more space you could always buy a small enclosed trailer. That can be loaded and stored out here or towed back home depending on your plans. Yes Pro-Mack mining is the New 49er store located on Happy Camp. You can order anything you need from them and they will store it until you arrive. You can reach them on them from the main page or at 530-493-5156.

  
ChicagoJim
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Re: Rookie looking for advice ( 00:24:09 FriApr 20 2012 )

Hi rusty let me know if I am driving you crazy with all these questions. I looked into the 4" proline dredge and it says that it is 208 pounds and able to be disassembled for transport. Do you think I could stuff this dredge into an suv? The only pieces I am concerned about fitting are the four pontoons. According to prolines website the pontoon dimensions are Flotation .. 4 Polyethylene floats 13" x 46" x 74"...when I look at pictures it appears s if there are only 2 pontoons. Do you know if they just connect two pontoons together to make one side of the floatation. Or is the actually 4 individual 13" x 46" x 74 pontoons.

I also looked into 4" dahlke. It looks extremely efficient but I was wondering about its flotation. The Keene mini 4" dredge looks like it is more stable. Is this an accurate opinion. I want to do this right the first time. If I can fit a regular 4" dredge into an suv that would be my first choice regardless of the strong arming it takes to get to the river. I dont want to be limited to the water current if i happen to locate some gold in faster water. However if that is just not possible...Could I put extra flotation on a 4 inch mini dredge to make it able to handle faster water?

I was also wondering if you knew how the sluice boxes of these different dredges compare to each other in the field. I have read the facts but it is often very different in real life. Do you think keenes triple sluice system is better than prolines 4" single sluice? Also how would you compare dahlke's sluice box capabilities to keenes 4" minidredge?

Thank you thank you thank you!!!!!! You are a life saver!


Jim

  
RUSTY_HAPPY_CAM
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Re: Rookie looking for advice ( 02:03:33 FriApr 20 2012 )

The Proline web site is misleading 13x46x74 is impossible unless they are measuring the overall size of the assembled frame and floats. You should call the office and let them get the exact sizes for you. I have seen many 4" Proline dredges in SUVs, they will fit. It is easier if you put the frame and pontoons on top and leave the inside for dry storage. You should beef up your top luggage rack before coming out. I don't feel the Keene mini is any more stable than the Dahlke but the Dahlke is certainly more portable. If you put extra pontoons on the mini where are you going to haul them? I like the Dahlke sluice for fine gold, which is what you will get the most of. Next Keene 3 stage and finally Proline.

  
markB
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Re: Rookie looking for advice ( 02:05:03 FriApr 20 2012 )

Here's a picture of my 5in. Keene, camping stuff for a couple of months, etc. etc.
If you can "buddy up" at a campsite it is easier to keep an eye on things. As far as leaving your dredge in the water it depends like Rusty said. I know of a couple that went missing around the Grants Pass area. Real blow to the pocketbook.
Another option would be to find someone looking for a dredge tender, partner, pal to help with their dredge this year and plan, learn and experience the pros and cons of different dredges.
Not to send a prospective customer away from the 49er's store(they have a great selection of equipment) you may find a used dredge/trailer combo searching the different miners web sites and craigslist in the Southern Oregon, Northern Calif. areas.
http://s1215.photobucket.com/albums/cc502/mendoAu/?action=view¤t=DSC08669.jpg
[1 edits; Last edit by markB at 02:11:00 Fri Apr 20 2012]

  
bearkat
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Re: Rookie looking for advice ( 05:39:09 FriApr 20 2012 )

I was in the same boat as you ChicagoJim in 2008. I came out here by myself from Georgia with a Keene mini 4". I got about 2 oz's my first season and yes I sank the dredge in fast water in the Klamath River, but I still have it and I use it every year since for sampling to look for hot spots to move my 6" into. I added some side outriggers to the 4" mini and it floats like a champ.

If you are just gonna dredge on the S. Umpqua it has plenty of clam water and will be low flow at that time of year so if you wanna stick to your original plan of the Keene 4" mini, it is a powerful little dredge and I doubt you will sink it in regular flow. Just stay away from the fast water, I did not my first season trying to be Dave Mack Jr. and got a bit in trouble Lol. Might be a good start, if you decide you like dredging, you can get a bigger one next season and you will have more experience. Or just start big and learn along the way.

It sure is nice to have small portable dredge to sample with. I had so much fun with it the first 2 weeks of this past season until I was ready for the big one to take over. I am all about portability even with my 6", it ia a 6 mini. I usually dredge by myself and want to be able to move stuff easy.

Good luck either way, you will have fun.

Here are pictures of my Keene mini 4" with the outriggers as I was just about to move it across the river last year attached to my inflatable kayak.

Pics here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bearkat4160/sets/72157629493316602/

Alan
[1 edits; Last edit by bearkat at 05:45:55 Fri Apr 20 2012]



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LipCa
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Re: Rookie looking for advice ( 05:56:29 FriApr 20 2012 )

markB, is pic 4 of 9 part of your load too?:doublethumbsup:

  
markB
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Re: Rookie looking for advice ( 15:41:51 FriApr 20 2012 )

....duct tape....can't live without it!!!! That pic. was not really pertaining to this thread but I guess if ya had the balz you could haul a 4in. from Chicago on an SUV luggage rack. Might get a few strange looks on the journey. HA!

  
ChicagoJim
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Re: Rookie looking for advice ( 18:39:48 FriApr 20 2012 )

Ahhhh!!! Thank you Alan and markB for the photos. Looks like you guys have this figured out! I was laughing so hard at Alan saying he was trying to be Dave Mack jr his first year!!! That is exactly what I was trying to do as well. Ha ha ha! And you got to love the dedication to the duct tape in that one pic....ha ha ha ha!!!!

I think you guys are right. A smaller dredge makes more sense for me this year. I need to learn sampling and having to lug the bigger dredges from spot to spot alone would be difficult. This way I'll be able to fit it in my suv and be able to move around easier.

I liked those extra pontoons you put on your Keene 4" mini dredge. Can you take them off for transport or did you just weld them on?

Ok I just checked one thing and it's throwing me off a little. The Keene regular sized 4" is 173-190 lbs according to the website....when I checked the Keene 4" mini it says it weighs 160 pounds and that is without the compressor. So I am wondering is the only thing that is different between the regular and the mini is the sluice box...the weights seem to be very close?

My problem is that I will not have a bigger dredge that I can bring in if necessary so I need something that can produce if needed....let me know what you guys think about the weird weight similarities between the Keene 4" mini and the Keene 4" regular.

I appreciate the help guys,
Jim

  
RUSTY_HAPPY_CAM
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Re: Rookie looking for advice ( 19:17:38 FriApr 20 2012 )

Every thing is different between the mini4 and regular 4 with the exception of the engine/pump package. The pontoons are a lighter weight plastic and smaller, the sluice is a single as opposed to the 3 stage and the frame is lighter. It is an ok prospecting unit but if I had the choice I would opt for the full sized as there is not enough difference in portability to offset its flimsy nature. If you already owned the mini4 like Allen some modifications would make it very usable but by the time you add pontoons it would be very close to a full sized in the space it takes up.

  
border_boy
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Re: Rookie looking for advice ( 21:16:27 FriApr 20 2012 )

I have a full sized 4 inch keene it will fit fine in youre suv you would even have more room if you put the pontoons on top, they are the perfect shape upside down. This being said i have also managed to fit a 5 inch proline into a rodeo of my friends with a weeks worth of camp gear by putting the pontoons on top! the difference in room for the mini or full size is not large at all once taken apart. Not to knock the mini or anything (great tool) but the 3 stage sluice and added flotation are worth the price difference

Justin
[1 edits; Last edit by border_boy at 21:18:25 Fri Apr 20 2012]

  
ChicagoJim
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Re: Rookie looking for advice ( 22:51:40 FriApr 20 2012 )

All very good points guys. Considering all the facts I think I am going to go with the regular sized 4" dredge. Although Alan I think yours still looks powerful.

Now heres the next question. I've noticed proline highlights the fact that their dredge can easily be taken apart. Is the regular 4" Keene easy to disassemble? Also I really like the idea of the triple sluice on the Keene. Although I have never seen it in action, it makes sense in theory that the three stage sluice box would capture more fine gold? However I have read other previous posts that say they were having trouble with the three stage sluice packing up and having problems getting the flow just right. Is the triple sluice hard to keep functioning properly? Do you find yourself constantly checking on it while diving or is it one of those things where once its working it will keep working. I suppose this has to do with the type of material you are sucking up. What does everybody think?

Jim

  
RUSTY_HAPPY_CAM
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Re: Rookie looking for advice ( 00:36:19 SatApr 21 2012 )

Both brands are designed to be taken apart fairly easily. The Keene may be slightly quicker. Most people find the Keene to work better on fine gold but it requires a lot more fiddling to get it working correctly. On the Keene 3 stage the bottom sluice is always out of sight while running so you need to stop and inspect it often until you get it set correct for where you are dredging. The Proline is just a single box so the entire sluice is visible while running making it much easier and faster to get it set.

  
ChicagoJim
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Re: Rookie looking for advice ( 20:50:18 SatApr 21 2012 )

Hmmmm....a lot to think about. Part of me says, get the triple sluice Keene because after all the majority of the gold will be fine. I want to believe that I can get the sluice to function properly...and I'm sure that after dredging different types of material you will get a better feeling of what needs to be done to keep the bottom sluice working well.

Does anyone know about how much fiddling the dredge requires per day? Is it like you get it figured out for one river section and can leave it at that or do you find yourself adjusting it for every new sample hole you dredge?

Also this is for rusty.... Are the Keene and proline dredges offered from your store at happy camp the same price as new ones at other stores? Is there a discount for members? Furthermore, if I order from you is there less of a wait time? What amount of time would you think before the dredge would arrive at happy camp? I was also wondering if there is a fee for having you guys hold it till I get there? I appreciate all the help.

Jim

  
ChicagoJim
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Re: Rookie looking for advice ( 21:18:03 SatApr 21 2012 )

Hi everyone I found this posted on another forum and I thought it has relevance to this thread.

"Since I have been heeding Dave McCracken's advice about triple sluice vs. double sluice vs. conventional sluice recovery systems, I though I would ask Jeff what his thoughts were about triple sluice designs. He said that triple sluice designs were one of the oldest, original dredge styles out there. Both Proline and Keene used to make them, but that they got away from that design. Jeff indicated that triple sluices can load up on one side versus another and become unstable, if not operated properly.

Dave McCracken in his dredge books has made mention to the triple sluice design's superior gold recovery, citing the amount of water flow required to dislodge and clear out 4" rocks, coupled with the turbulence generated by that rock, all works against fine gold recovery. As such Dave McCracken says it's important to seperate the fine gold from the high flow of water as soon as possible.

Proline addresses this by creating a low pressure zone in the head of their sluice with the wave classifier punch plate.

Keene addresses this by creating a over/under sluice style which allows the fine material to be processed seperately under the faster moving water riffles of the upper box (Keene's 3 stage sluice system)

So the ultimate question is is prolines low pressure zone in the head of their sluice with the wave classifier punch plate better with fine gold than keenes over/under sluice style which allows the fine material to be processed seperately under the faster moving water riffles of the upper box ?

  
RUSTY_HAPPY_CAM
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Re: Rookie looking for advice ( 22:25:41 SatApr 21 2012 )

Jim, both brands are offered at the store. The ordering back order problem is with the factories and will get worse until mid summer. The big advantage of dealing with the 49er store is that you can order all of your equipment early and they will store it until you arrive. That way you just back in and load up your complete outfit in one place and you are ready to dredge.
There is no clear answer to which is better. Both have been making their style for over 10 years and both have devout followers. Keene 3 stage sluices do not require hours of fiddling. They do require more than Proline but usually after a couple of days of testing you will find the best setting. The early triple sluice has not been produced by Keene since the early 90. Properly modified it is a superior fine gold getter. However it is way too large to fit in an SUV and requires at least 2 people to move it.
[1 edits; Last edit by RUSTY_HAPPY_CAM at 22:26:11 Sat Apr 21 2012]

  
markB
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Re: Rookie looking for advice ( 15:58:47 SunApr 22 2012 )

It can be a bit confusing when "triple sluice" and "3 stage" terms are used. I think that the referrence to Keenes "triple sluice" looks like this:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/6-KEENE-GOLD-DREDGE-FOR-GOLD-MINING-TRIPLE-SLUICE-/280853463614?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item41642bc23e

  
ChicagoJim
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Re: Rookie looking for advice ( 03:15:45 MonApr 23 2012 )

Yes you are definitely right markB. I have been saying triple sluice this whole time when it's actually a triple stage sluice....sorry for the confusion. Do they still make actual triple sluice dredges?

It's looking more and more like I am going to go with the 4" Keene triple stage dredge. I appreciate all the insight everybody...all the comments and photos really helped!

Rusty I was wondering if even though I am ordering late if you guys can hold the dredge till I arrive? Or do I need to have it shipped to my home in Illinois?

Jim

  
bearkat
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Re: Rookie looking for advice ( 03:17:52 MonApr 23 2012 )

Dont make it too complicated. Stick with the Keene 4", I love that 3 stage sluice box. Essentially my sluice on my 6" is 5 feet long, but with the lower 3rd stage is a bit over two feet...that is really a 7 foot sluice box plenty of room for fines to gather.

And to slow it down even more at the head of box I just added a double screen to cover black matt, but is not necessary for the 4 or a beginner.

The 3 stage Keene is easy and does not take much effort...just set it wide open for the lower flow and your set. That way it will always have plenty of water flowing so it does not build up even in nozzle hogging situations.

The outriggers on my 4" Keene mini are removable within minutes.
The reason I bought that dredge instead of a regular 4", is because I came out to Happy Camp with my Dodge Dakota mid size truck. It fit perfectly in the bed. If I had a bigger vehicle I suspect I would have got the bigger 4.

Better get your order in as Keene is getting backed up!!!



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RUSTY_HAPPY_CAM
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Re: Rookie looking for advice ( 03:28:19 MonApr 23 2012 )

Jim, I don't work for the 49ers, I am just a member that lives in Happy Camp. My wife Montine works for Dave in the store so I do have some a little inside knowledge. You should call the store and discuss your needs directly with them as soon as possible. I am sure they will do what they cam to make your prospecting trip as much fun as possible.

  
ChicagoJim
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Re: Rookie looking for advice ( 17:44:07 WedApr 25 2012 )

Keene 4" triple stage it is then...thanks everyone for your input. It means a lot to me.

And rusty thanks for the advice....sorry I thought you worked there. But it sure sounds awesome to live at happy camp. I am just waiting for my beloved 69 camaro to be sold which should be this week, then I will be able to fully fund my season. You don't happen to know if they will order stuff for you with a down payment? Probably not as that sounds like not the wisest of business ventures. Ha ha ha.

  
j_e_smith8369
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Re: Rookie looking for advice ( 22:40:42 WedApr 25 2012 )

ChicagoJim -- listen to Rusty's advice about the 4" mini... he knows from experience! :devil:

I can pretty much informally answer the question about ordering with a down payment... no. Sales through the store have to be paid up front, since the store then has to place a special order with payment up front (or within a few days) also.

Good luck to you this season!

  

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