|Just like much of prospecting for gold, your cleanup process is one that you develop based on your own style. Now you may find yourself saying "what do I need for cleanups"? That's a great question, so here's a couple pointers:|
First, you need to learn how to pan. No matter how good your cleanup and recovery system is, it all ends with panning. The only way to get good at panning is to do it. You can practice at home with a tub of water and some material. Throw a couple pieces of lead shot or tiny fishing weights in with some sandy and rocky material and practice. Panning is like driving a car... Everyone has a different way of doing it, but there are still a couple basic rules that must be followed:
-Don't overload your pan with too much material. You need to be able to agitate it without spilling any.
-Keep the material in your pan wet and covered with water. The material needs to be fluid to help gold settle.
-Don't dump material out, let the swirling action of water move lighter waste out of the pan.
-Always pan pay dirt or cons into a tub or bucket.
-Keep your pan clean and away from oily substances.
-Test your accuracy. Pan gold bearing cons into another pan and then test your work.
-Never drop your pan on rocks when the temps are below freezing! I've broken two pans doing this...
Next, realize that no matter how good you are at panning, try not to pan down your concentrated pay dirt on the creek unless you are panning into a bucket or tub. Definitely look at what you are finding when you empty out your sluice, high banker, or dredge, but pan into that bucket and take it home where you can do it in a much more controlled and relaxed environment.
For cleanups, what do you need out at your favorite honey hole?
You need a 5-gallon bucket, a shovel, a hand scoop, a gold pan, a snuffer bottle, and at least one classifier. A black mortar tub is also very helpful if you are dredging or sluicing so you can rinse out your equipment and also to put your mats, moss, and carpet in for a vigorous shake.
Start with a #4 classifier first. This is the most commonly used classifier and its good for all around prospecting activities. Next I'd recommend either the #8 or the #12 classifier, these two are used by many to help separate waste from black sand and heavies. The picture below shows a #4 classifier (left), a #12 classifier (center), and both of them side by side.
You can add more classifiers to your collection as you go as each has a purpose and is useful in one way or another. Also keep in mind that most classifiers are made to fit perfectly inside the top of a standard 5-gallon bucket. Also, be very mindful of your snuffer bottle while your working around your equipment. They have a tendency to be misplaced or forgotten and they will float downstream!
At home, you can start processing your concentrates by panning into a mortar tub or another 5-gallon bucket. You can find the mortar tubs at Lowes or Home Depot for about $9. This is a great way to practice panning with gold bearing dirt, build your confidence, and allow you to do it in the comforts of your own home. Some prospectors save their cons all summer long and do their panning at home during the winter months.
If you feel the need to take it up a notch, you can either purchase a small recirculating cleanup sluice or you can make one yourself. They're very simple to make using any small cleanup-style sluice, a small pond pump, some hose and PVC pipe, and a catch tub. You can add stuff to your system, such as a feeder tube with a little drip line which puts just enough water in the feeder tube to keep material moving down into the cleanup sluice at a slow pace. You'll have to experiment with water flow, material size, and angle, but that's the fun of the hobby! The best part of doing your cleanup at home is that you can always run the material again if you think you've messed something up, and you've lost no gold in the process.
|During the first few years of prospecting, I started to accumulate buckets and buckets of concentrates. I was panning cons at home in a tub, and I just couldn't keep up. Soon, a handful of buckets turned into 24 buckets piled into a pyramid, and I knew that there was no way I was ever going to pan that stuff out by hand. I decided to build a small recirculating cleanup sluice in my basement.|
I built the cleanup sluice using a small fish pond pump, two Angus MacKirk "Mini Long Tom" sluices, and a feeder tube with a controlled drip. This system worked very well, but it did much better when the material was classified into different sizes so that I could adjust the pump according to the size of the material being run.
The next order of business was to get all those buckets out of my shed and get them dried and classified. I laid out a tarp on the yard and dumped the cons onto the tarp to dry them out. Once dried, I classified them into four sizes: +12, +20, +30, and -30. The tarp was doubled over for safety, and I was able to dry out 8 buckets at a time. The cons would be completely dry if left in direct sunlight for one full sunny day or two somewhat sunny days. Every hour or so I would use the flat side of a hard rake and stir the pile and spread it around.
This was a lot of work to dry and classify all those buckets, but in the end it saved time as I could load the feeder on the cleanup sluice with a specific size of material and run the correct speed needed to process just that size. It proved to be a very effective process and I rarely found color in twice-run material. It took about 4 hours to run a full 5-gallon bucket of cons through these sluices, with cleanups being conducted about halfway through the process.