We got an early start on the season, we had very little snow this winter, which meant we didn’t have to wait for the thaw. Armed with a couple of new toys, including a mini excavator and a sluice we had welded just for us. The sluice has four leveling jacks, and a nugget trap.
The excavator is the best purchase we ever made, I don’t know how we lived without it. It loads faster, and has the ability to easily go up in the woods to dig test holes. We run more material in a day than we used to in three, run the dirt more evenly, and are much less worn out at the end of the day. We found a new test spot up in the woods that looks promising.
The first week we were going great until the water pump died, back to town, but we managed to rent one at a reasonable price from the folks who were repairing ours. Next, we had a mishap with one of the controls getting caught on a piece of clothing, and rammed the bucket through the grizzly, sigh.. back to town.
The next day, I’m ready to move from the digsite to the washplant to start running material, and the excavator wont move. Final Drive is shot. Let me tell you, removing the track so we could take the part to town was not fun. I knew there was a reason I bought that three ton hoist!
So here we are with nice weather and nothing to do, we decided to try out the hooka and dry suit we got off craigslist and do a little dredging. There is a short window of time we are permitted to do this so as not to disturb the salmon fry, we’ve never had the conditions be right to give it a go. If you are interested in dredging, take my advice and try on the suit you are going to buy. It was too small, it took three people to squeeze me into it, and leaked like a sieve. In these mountain fed streams, I believe that the water temperature is somewhere approaching the liquid temperature of nitrogen. Got about twenty minutes in before the current and the cold temperatures defeated me. Its a whole new world under the water, I forgot how much I loved doing that, I just need a better suit.
Now we are waiting on the new final drive, a little broker, a little wiser, but still damn greatful we get to do this.