Another Way to Get Payout by Levi Dorr


Another Way to Get a Payout

The wind was blowing up the wash, feeling like someone had left the oven door open in the kitchen. Some days in the Mojave aren’t for the faint of heart. Our group had been out in this wash for a day, dry panning some likely areas. We found a decent area with good native rock showing, along with hard pack gravels showing in the arroyo walls. Testing revealed decent color and we decided to concentrate in this little patch, starting with an enticing bedrock and boulder area. The day progressed, the sun rose higher, dry washers were going well, and the vacuum was pulling out what the crevice tools had taken out. Nevertheless, as it often happens, one large boulder had to come out. Bringing a truck into the wash wasn’t going to happen, so it had to be manual labor. After a discussion, sometimes a bit vigorous, we decided that the way to tackle this rock was to shift it using pry bars and a come-a-long winch. Out came our one and only manual winch and with a bit of work, we managed to get it set up for the first pull. One strap around the rock, a few pieces of rusty rebar hammered into the ground as dead men, and the winch was set up. The hard work of cranking the lever over started, the wire rope took up the tension, and the big old cobble started to move out of its resting place. Pry bars helped it along and all seemed to be well until the drum pawl failed on the winch, dropping that big old rock right back into its resting place, covering those perfect pickers, flakes and nuggets that we just knew were there. Defeat happens to the best of us, at times. It doesn’t have to, though.

Experts know something amateurs often miss-

“Buy Once, Cry Once”

Surely an old saying regarding equipment of any kind, but that old dictum has a special application to gold prospecting and recovery equipment. Anything used in the field, from basic gold panning equipment to heavy machinery, in an endeavor as tough as precious metals recovery, has to be the optimum choice. Gold prospectors and miners at all levels find that when that gold prospecting equipment fails, efficiency falls and costs skyrocket. The recreational gold prospector or miner is often out in the field in an attempt to “get away from it all” and time is precious. Equipment failure at that level can cost financially but the real negative aspect is that stress level increases and that “time off” loses its attraction. Once the work reaches commercial levels it becomes even more critical to have the best tools and techniques available and cost often takes a back seat in that equation.

So what makes good gold prospecting equipment?

You can always use word of mouth, internet forums or your local club. Another great resource would be the local prospectors and miners supply shop, where local knowledge is often the most valuable item in the place. Experience pays dividends here and if you don’t have that personal experience, find someone that does and partner up with them.

Look at build quality to find good equipment. What material and components make up that tool? Are the fasteners high quality, the welds consistent and does it have a high quality finish coat? Does the company or manufacturer have a good reputation in the real world?

Those adventurous readers that are grabbing sluice box plans, drywasher or dredge plans to build their own tools and equipment have their own set of standards, realistically just as high as those of any professional gold miner. Just because something is homemade, modified, or scratch built doesn’t mean the quality has to suffer. The same tool assessment issues hold true for the do-it-yourselfer, of any level. High quality materials, good manufacturing techniques, and good designs will save time and help trap those concentrates. Before you fall into that same ineffective tool trap again, do some research on old methods and tools. Find out what has worked best in the past, how the designs progressed, what worked, and what failed. Know how to test your own samples in the field with a gold testing kit. Many information sources are out there, starting with the United States Patent Office ( and their online patent records. Another resource that miners often bypass in their search are the local used bookstores and estate sales.

Most of you that are serious about prospecting and gold prospecting equipment already know that a key part of it is geological and historic research. Try extending that idea out to also researching tools and techniques and this whole game will become that much easier.

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