After using my rigged puffer dry washer to be a blower-powerd dry washer, I knew the tiny surface area of the hopper would eventually be limiting. That time had come. It is now February, 2012 and I began to explore the possibilities of upgrading my dirt processing equipment. Because I was financially challenged (still am!), I knew buying a new Keene or Gold Buddy was way out of my budget, so I began to look at alternative ways of ending up with a blower-powered dry washer that would’nt cost me an arm and a leg. I recalled an old acquaintance of mine had picked up an old classifier from a garage sale and never used it, so I gave old Doug a call. He said I could come by and pick it up, for free! Now that I had the hopper part of the dry washer figured out, I had to somehow create the important part of it, the riffle tray and box.
I also had to figure out how to make a weighted fan to create the vibration necessary to make material travel freely down the riffle tray. I purchased some sheets of 3/8″ wood and some 1/2″ x 1/2″ square dowel material to add strength to the corners. I designed it on paper then fabricated a box with a hole in the floor, that was cut from an old real estate sign I gathered from a foreclosure trashout (a former business of mine). This hole was to house the fitting for my 3″ RV waste hose, that will connect to the Toro leaf blower / vac, that would provide the airflow necessary to spin the weighted fan mounted on top of this hole, slightly off-center, to catch more of the airflow and account for greater rpm’s. Next I had to fabricate a fan that would rotate on bearings I used from an old pair of rollerblades. This setup worked fine until the frequency of the bearings becoming seized up from all the dust blowing into them from the drywashing process was too great I had to break down and buy a Gold Buddy’s replacement fan. This came complete with allegedly sealed bearings, but even this professionally fabricated fan required bearing servicing almost every 6 outings. Sealed bearings, my a**! One more fun fact…the material used to line the floor, underneath the riffle tray was old screenprinting fabric from a local screenprinting acquaintance of mine. Ironically, I owned a screenprint company for 13 years! This new setup allowed me to also fabricate a blower / vac powered vacuum.
This came from an old 6 gallon shop vac combined with the leaf blower / vac mounted into it. This is extremely useful for desert prospecting, because of all the cracks and crevices present, once you get down to bedrock. These areas can only produce gold if you have the means to vacuum it out and now I did!
Now that I had a more proper dry washer, I was able to process more material that I dug and / or vacuumed from the desert, which would mean more gold. This did end up being the case, as the average amount of gold I brought home increased. Granted, I still had to find gold-producing spots and I’m still only finding tenths of a gram per trip, but it beats what I was taking home!