Jeff from California called in yesterday and was interested in our 2 inch size, Heavy Duty Line Vac. He was naturally curious about what pressure and volume compressed air flow he would need to run this unit properly. These are all the usual things that folks are interested to know about our products. After a bit more discussion, I come to find out that his hobby is prospecting for gold in dry river beds. I have to admit that the first image that came to my mind was like the one posted below.
The next one that came to my mind was that of a bunch of old guys (my affectionate name for retirees), running around with metal detectors, finding everything from old bottle caps to lumps of gold just inches below the surface of the ground.
Jeff only scratched the surface about what he wanted to do but it had to do with a process called “dry washing” river bed gravel or “high bank” as I believe he referred to it. I’m not an “old guy” yet, but this kind of activity, I must say sounded quite interesting, especially with the possibility of a big payoff! My curiosity got the better of me and so, I looked around on the Internet and began to understand this whole process and that there is a community out there for whom this is, at a minimum, a serious hobby.
Dry washing is a process where the prospector has a pile of dry sediment material which consists of various sizes of gravel, sand, silt and hopefully some gold. Dry washing is basically a technique of sizing materials by size and by density so that you end up with a concentration of the finest and most dense material at the end. The concentrated material is further processed with water to hopefully end up with some gold. I know my description of this process is not quite technically correct, but you get the idea that you have to process a lot of material to get down to a few pieces of gold. Check out this video explaining the process of dry washing.
Another issue that came to the forefront in my research about the dry washing method is that there is no shortage of the “do it yourselfer” types out there constructing their own rigs for this purpose. They range in size from small, manual units up to large, trailer mounted systems that can process many cubic yards of material per hour.
OK, so what does this have to do with my friend Jeff and the Heavy Duty Line Vac? Perhaps you have already guessed it. His interest was in getting the raw material into the dry washer that he had constructed in the first place. Most people feed their dry washer with a shovel or a 5 gallon bucket. On larger machines, this is pretty much a two-man operation to keep the unit fed properly. And so, with the use of a mobile air compressor, the Heavy Duty Line Vac and some vacuum hose, he could simply vacuum up the material and be free to collect from anywhere he wanted within a 50 ft. radius of his dry washer and keep the dry washer fed with an appropriate amount of material to keep it operating at its optimum throughput.
Yeah, it’s a little out of the ordinary for us around here, but who wants to hear about another, run of the mill conveying application anyway?