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Buying a Used Gold Dredge - Tips

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I posted this awhile back on a different forum and didn't realize I had printed it out. I have bought and sold a number of dredges over the years and if you are a first time buyer then these posts should help you in knowing a few of the things to look for. First of all, if you are buying it over the internet, you will never know what shape it's in for sure until it arrives at your house. I have had more than one person tell me about some rust bucket which wouldn't even float that was shipped to them buy a person claiming to them that it was like new. A dated picture would be nice even if it takes a few weeks for him to get it to you. Especially from someone whom you do not recognize or haven't talked to before.

By Reed Lukens (Reedlukens) on Monday, October 22, 2001 - 11:30 am:

If you can, always go to the persons house so you can see first hand what you are buying. Always ask to have the pump pulled off of the motor before you get there to buy a piece of equipment so you can start and run the motor; and to make sure that the pump bolts are not all rusted into the housing. When you put it back together at home use antiseeze or C5A on all of the bolts and the pump impeller shafts bolt. I't will keep them from freezing up the next time you pull them off. Just spin the impellar on hand tight so that it will easily come off when you need to pull it. Make sure he starts the motor and lets it run for at least 5 minutes. If he says he has no gas and can't start it then walk away and leave. If it won't run right then, then the rest will work as well as the motor and most likely it will never run. A responsible seller will have it ready to run before you get there. While it's running you can check out the air Hooka system and make sure it's working properly.

By Reed Lukens (Reedlukens) on Monday, October 22, 2001 - 11:41 am:

You can use Listerine to clean all of the regulators parts. It's best to pull the regulator apart to check for cracks or bad seals. Also check the airlines for holes by running your hand down the hose while it's still running. Breathing into it now makes sure that you will have enough air to breathe with when you need it under water.

Always push on the pontoons with your thumb. Look them over carefully for cracks and discolorations. If they have been sitting uncovered in the sun for a long time then when you push on them they can crack or break instead of just moving easily in and out. If I can crack a pair of pontoons with barely any pressure from my thumb then the hoses will usually be just as rotten. Twist and flex the hoses to make sure that they are in good shape. Look and feel all of the ribs in the hoses from one end to the other. It only takes one break in a hose to ruin a day.

By Reed Lukens (Reedlukens) on Monday, October 22, 2001 - 11:57 am:

Check the power jet for bulges on the downstream side of the jet. If it has even the slightest bulge then you can plan on repairing or replacing it within 2 years. I've seen power jets warped so bad that they were not only bulged, but egg shaped to the end. One guy even tried to tell me that this used up jet was the best style made for good gold recovery. Watch out for those smooth talkers. If it sounds like bs, it is, so don't get taken. Look carefully over every piece and have him put the whole dredge together in front of you. This is not only for you to see how it is done but to make sure that all of the parts and pieces are there. It's easy to forget a flapper valve for the pump intake or an air tank or regulator and hoses. If you see the dredge all together in front of you with every piece in place, then you know that when you load it up on your truck that he hasn't forgotten to put out any piece. It's an honest and easily made mistake.

By Reed Lukens (Reedlukens) on Monday, October 22, 2001 - 12:16 pm:

Know what it is that you are buying. If you don't, then find someone who is willing to check out the equipment with you. Either call your local mining shop for the information, or ask the people on this forum. These people here always give you the straight answer on every question. I have walked away from plenty of horrors. One was a worked out 4" that the guy wanted $1200 for. Everything was trashed, the motor was in pieces and he supposedly owned no gas can. The hoses were all rotted, and the box had some carpet in it that his cats had been using as a litter box for the last decade. The whole riffle section was was rusted out and the riffles fell out when I gently pushed on them. The only thing good on it was the frame and pontoons so I offered him $400 for the whole thing. He was not a happy camper when I was through inspecting and offering a fair price, but I didn't get ripped off.

By Reed Lukens (Reedlukens) on Monday, October 22, 2001 - 12:31 pm:

He lived 100 miles away from me so I questioned him thoroughly about the dredge before I drove that far. According to him it was in great shape and had been sitting in his garage for the last few years because his partner had moved away. Supposedly he had bought his partners half of the dredge from him. So after driving 200 miles round trip on my day off I still had my $1200 bucks in my pocket and a good feeling in my heart. I called him a few times to see if he was ready to sell me the frame and pontoons for the $400 but he said he was going to "Fix it up and get what it was worth". He would go no lower than $1000. So I totally walked away. Never let yourself be pressured into buying someone elses garbage. Go in there with the knowledge needed to take the Bull by the horns. Don't get taken and walk away if he won't take a fair price.

By Reed Lukens (Reedlukens) on Monday, October 22, 2001 - 12:48 pm:

The last of my 7 part message to you guys is basically this. LOOK AT EACH AND EVERY NUT, BOLT, FRAME PIN, BROKEN WELD, ETC. A complete used dredge with air in fair shape can be a big piece of your life. Treat it right and it will give you back years of excellent service. Basic prices for old header box dredges on pontoons in useable condition and complete are roughly... 2"=$400 3"= $600 plain to $800 with air 4"= $800 plain to $1000 with air 5"= $1500 with air These prices should give you a good starting point. Newer used Jet Flare style dredges will usually cost you more but always do a thorough check before buying any piece of equipment. KNOW WHAT YOU ARE BUYING! DON'T BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR HELP! IF THE MOTOR DOESN'T RUN, DON'T PAY FOR IT.

I hope this post helps at least one of you guys make a good buy on a good working dredge.

If any of you guys see something I missed please post it.

Reed Lukens

Rules for buying dredges on ebay. 1. Supersize or enlarge all of the pics and save them to your hard drive. 2. Brighten them up with a photosuite when they are dark and then zoom in as much as possible to see whats going on. 3. Keene hasn't sold yellow pontoons in years so if they look faded or discolored at all then subtract the price of new floats from your bid price because from what I have seen they are all sun hardened and will easily crack. 4. Look behind the powerjet if there's a good pic and if not request one. If it even has a slight bulge then subtract the price of a complete new one from your bid. 5. If you don't really know what your bidding on then post it on the prospecting forum with the questions you have or email me personally and I will look at it and give you an idea of what to bid or not. 6! ebay is a great place but it will bite you hard in the dredge section if you're not careful.

By Reed Lukens (Reedlukens) on Sunday, August 03, 2003 - 01:06 pm:

Look at the color of the hoses in the pictures of the dredge you are buying because this can be a big indicator. If the pressure & pump intake hoses are brown, dirty looking, or you can't see through them then plan on replacing them. I prefer the thick wall clear flow over the thin wall suction hose type for these. The thick wall is actually cheaper plus it will last forever if kept out of the sun when your not using it. When I put on new hoses, I also put on those nice cam-lock speed fittings. Be sure to look for those Keene dredges outfitted with new gray pontoons & don't buy a dredge that you can't move by yourself. You sure see a lot of the Old 5" Keene Triples on ebay these days. This is still the best dredge ever as far as recovery in my oppinion but it takes a minimum of 2 people to move around. It's heavy but if you have a full time partner, well worth it. Always have a garden hose with a cheap garden valve around to break up that hard pack with. Reed

By Reed Lukens (Reedlukens) on Sunday, August 03, 2003 - 01:45 pm:

Story Time. I offered a friend of mine a completly rebuit 5" triple at the beginning of this season for $1750. New pontoons/hoses/frame/carpet/powerjet & intake. I rebuilt it to sell because it had been sitting here as a spare forever and I bought a new Proline dredge for myself this year. I didn't hear from him and then he called me a few weeks later saying he had bought a 5" triple off of ebay for only $1200 with twin 5hp Honda motors. He wanted to show me his new prize that he got such a great deal on. I went on over and unfortunatly saw another horror. I didn't have the heart to tell him everything I saw. He bought new hoses and took it to the river. It worked great for him until the power jet blew out. Then he came back one day and found that a pontoon had a hole in it after he moved it and he had to replace it. Fortunately it was on the back side away from the motor. This last weekend I was working well above his dredge and my partner decided to take a walk down river.

By Reed Lukens (Reedlukens) on Sunday, August 03, 2003 - 02:07 pm:

When he came back I was just climbing out of our dredge hole. He told me that there was a 5" Keene triple half sunk down stream. I new immediatly who's it was and we took off flying..... Well he had replaced the broken pontoon on the back and checked it out completely. Unknowingly there was a hole in the front pontoon on the same side as well and we figure this one pontoon was what drug that side of the dredge down filling the new pontoon with water on it's way to the bottom. Unfortunatly it was sunk on the side with the T80 and it's motor. We decided to just take pictures and call him when we got home that night. The best part about it was that it was close enough to shore that when the one side hit the bottom it was at enough of an angle to keep the othersides drain holes out of the water keeping its' motor afloat for the time being. If it had been in deep water it would have all been on the bottom by the time we got there and it may be on the bottom as we speak.

By Reed Lukens (Reedlukens) on Sunday, August 03, 2003 - 02:19 pm:

It only takes one bad pontoon under the motor to sink and ruin your year. This was a hard and expensive lesson learned. This is his first year mining gold and his first dredge. The worst part about it is he still needs 3 more new pontoons and a new power jet plus now he's going to have to drain the motor & T80 and then see if they will still work. You just have to do the math here. The moral of this story is "KNOW WHAT YOU ARE BUYING". There is a picture of this floundering dredge on the wall above the cash register at Pioneer Mining in Auburn California for those of you who would like to see what the Titanic looked like. Reed Lukens


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