Setting Up My New Keene 2 Inch Dredge!
By A. Flowers
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Let me start with a little background. In the 60's and 70's I was busy raising a family and working 12 hours a day 7 days a week from June until September. When I did get some time off we would go camping. I did some panning and knew a few full time miners.
In 81 my place of work shut down. I was able to take an early retirement but with a lot of restrictions if I worked. The first few years I worked and started to prospect. Then I realized with the retirement restrictions they were taking most of my retirement money away from me so I became a full time miner.
At first I helped my Nephew operate a 12 inch dredge on the Bear River and prospected with a 2 inch dredge .I've worked on the Feather River with 2, 4 and 6 inch dredges. I worked on the three forks of the American River with 6 and 8 inch dredges. I have worked 50 foot under water with a 8 inch dredge and that was no fun at all..
Now that Uncle Sam has started paying me Social Security I don't have to work so hard to make a living. Due to recent health problems I was having trouble with the larger dredges and just not having any fun.
So, I traded a 4 inch dredge for a new Keene 2 inch dredge. The first problem was I bought the hard floats and when I returned home one of them fell off the frame in my driveway. It didn't take long to realize they were to slick to be of use to me so I traded them for the rubber pontoons.
My next problem was that there was no way to hold the box in place or on the dredge . When a friend of mine had the suction hose on his 3 inch come off the box ended up in 10 foot of water. Try to haul a Box out of 10 foot of water without air and you find it's almost impossible .I fixed this with a couple of D-rings, a buggie cord and a piece aluminum angle.
The loop that holds the power jet in place was to short. My throughs were that the venturi has to be kept below the water but I decided to try it anyway. The next morning I went to the Creek and the little Honda started on the first pull. I ran it for 15 minutes and shut it down. The rubber matting was all twisted and rocks and black sand under it. The metal piece that holds the jet flare to the box was turned around and this allowed the matting to slide under it . This fixed the problem.. I ran the dredge and moved the box back until it was running properly. The big problem was that every time I started the engine the venturi had lost suction and it blew everything out of the box
I returned home and made a new bracet to drop the power jet down. I also put a piece of expaned wire over the black matting. This works for prospecting as you can see if your getting any gold. I don't like to lose this much of my box when I'm running production.
I went to the creek today and things went much better. By dropping the power jet down I was able to put more water in the box at a lower engine speed. I had to move the box forward to make up for the extra water. . Now it's time to test the box. I found a clear section of bedrock and placed my dredge so that the tailings would fall there. I took a hand full of # 9 lead shot and put it on the bottom of the creek. I then dredge my normal way and pick up some of the shot every few minutes..I then clean 1/3 of the box at a time. I didn't find any shot in the last 1/3 of the box. If the lead is all in the top 1/3 of the box you should feel lucky.
I talk to every miner I meet and read every thing I can about mining. Some of the information may sound stupid or you try it and it dosn't work but---------File this information because someday you will be having a problem and guess what works. The overburden on every river, stream and creek is different. ------the stuff 5 foot away is different.
I have saw so may types of metal. carpet and miners moss in box's that it is amazing to me .Once I bought a 6 inch triple slice and it had the grating from a military tank in it and it worked. As long as you control the water flow you will be fine.
Remember, If your not getting a lot of micro gold your box probably isn't working right. I know " BUZZARD" smiles down on us every time we find the yellow stuff so keep him smiling .
Submitted by: A. Flowers