Tag Archives: pump

This is gold mining..

“This is gold mining. You love ALL of it, or you love NONE of it!”  

These were my husband’s words to me when he noticed the color drain from my face as 14 thousand pounds of bulldozer came slamming down on the tilt trailer.  He was teasing, but he’s not wrong.

I absolutely love the spring. I love dreaming about what we might accomplish this year at the mine.  I love seeing the first leaves come out on the trees.  I love seeing how the river has changed.

I don’t particularly enjoy hauling all our equipment down winding mountain roads 70 miles from our home.  The price of getting to mine in the National Forest is that everything has to be removed at the end of the season, and staged again in the spring.  So we pay that price.



But we survived, we got all the equipment there. Then it was time to stage the trommel, muck out the settling pond, unroll the hoses.  Getting the level right on the sluice box and trommel is always an exercise in trial and error.  “Where is ____ tool?”  “Did you remember the ______ .”

There’s nothing like when that first water comes down the sluice box.  That’s when, in my mind anyway, it’s really mining season.

We got the water going, the only thing left to do was run some dirt.  We had our friend the welder make some plumbing changes to the trommel, and it seems like it’s really going to make a huge increase in our production.  The trommel processed the material as fast as I could feed it.  I never once had to use my trusty 2×4 to push a rock through the hopper, or get off the excavator to undo a jam.

We decided to call it for the evening. We enjoyed the first campfire of the year.

The next morning, we loose the pump seal, and everything stops.

I don’t care how big your mining operation is, how shiny and new your equipment, it can still come to a grinding halt over something as simple as an o-ring.  And so it did.

This is gold mining.

And I love it.



The Work


What a week this has been!  We couldn’t have asked for better weather, 80+ degrees in Alaska means we have to watch each other for signs of heat exhaustion.

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First off, a little trommel maintenance, we had to replace a few casters and the motor that turns the barrel.

For sometime, we’ve been aware that we are not getting enough water in the trommel.  It’s frustrating to be in good dirt and have to load it a tiny bit at a time in order to not overload the sluice.  We did look into getting a bigger trommel, but this time in Alaska there are none for sale (at least that we can afford); so we had to look at a cheap way of working with what we had.

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One thing we do have a lot of is pumps.  We decided it was worth the extra gasoline to drop another pump in the settling pond to add more water to the trommel.  It may look a little silly to just bungee an extra hose into the hopper, but it worked like an absolute champ.  We’re now moving dirt like crazy! The loader operator can barely keep up.

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The digsite is looking good, we’re running into a lot of large boulders.  Those of you who do any prospecting know that the large rocks in a river are a great place to look for gold, it works the same in ancient stream beds.





Though with the amount of dirt we’re moving now, its going to take a while to figure out the new “normal” so we know if we’re in the best ground or not.



We got a request from one of our fans to see more of the “work” involved in the mining process.  To our friend in Belgium, this one is for you.

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