I finally got back around to finishing my posts on my Dredge and Highbanker Plans. I took some pictures (in my attic) of my dredge/high banker so you can see how I build it. In a previous post, I showed how to build the hopper box portion and posted dimensioned drawings so you can build your own. In this post I will talk about how to build the sluice box portion and where to get materials.
If you need some paydirt to test out your equipment or just work on your panning skills go to my page here.
Obviously to build both portions you will need a sheet metal bender. I purchased a 18 inch bender at harbor freight but I recommend getting the a larger one. Some of the pieces of the hopper box would barely fit. For the sluice box (48 inches long) I took a piece of sheet metal to a machine shop and traded some bags of candy for them to bend it. It only took them 5 minuites.
You will need a 48″ long (can be shorter) piece of sheet metal (aluminum) at least 18 inches wide. You can find this at <a href=”http://www.onlinemetals.com”><img src=”http://www.onlinemetals.com/button/onlinemetal88.gif” border=”0″></a>. Have the inside bent in a U shape so there is 10 inches between the walls. You can build a wider box if you would like, but it will require a larger water flow. To get a good idea of width, look at the dimension of the boxes for the dredges on Keene’s website.
Next you will need to mount your hopper box. Do this before you build your riffles because you need a little bit of space (6 inches or so) before the material hits a riffle. This will keep the box from backing up. To build the riffles, I measured out the width and built a wooden jig the exact width of the box. I then measured and cut the lengths of metal I needed to make the riffles. Notice there are two different shapes of riffles. I did this because most dredges have multiple shapes to catch different sizes of material. I also varied the spacing of my riffles a little so there would be variation in the water flow.
Once you get your you riffles done, you will need to have a way to secure your riffles to the sluice box. There is a link below to Amazon where you can order the latches. These are pretty much the same as the ones on jobe and keene sluice boxes. Make sure take into account the thickness of your miners moss in the bottom of the sluice. You will need some compression of the moss from the riffles so that it creates a seal on your mat.
If you notice in the pictures below of my system, you can see how I plumbed my box to spray water. For the sprayer bars, drill some some holes in two lines across each pipe inside the box. Drill the holes small at first you can always drill bigger holes (don’t glue it till after you are satisfied with the sprayer). Also you will notice a hand sprayer on my system. I thought that would be useful, but i have never needed to use it. I don’t recommend putting it on there unless you just really want to.
If you have any questions fell free to ask.
Now I have shown you how I built my equipment. I do want to say that building your equipment is harder than you would expect and your equipment may not work as well as purchased equipment. I spent a considerable amount of time researching riffles and looking at pictures of existing designs. The amount of time I spent researching and building the equipment would have easily paid for a machine if I had been spending the time mining instead of doing research on the computer. Also the header box on a purchased machines work much better than mine did. The setup time on my sluice was a little harder than most because it is not as easy to adjust the slope as others. Than being said, if your like me you just like learning how to do things on your own. If I had to to it again I would purchase a highbanker or dredge like the ones below.
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