michGPAA Blog

michGPAA Blog

So the Webwrangler...

by michGPAA Webwrangler on 07/23/18

has a dredge! That works! Some of ya'll may have followed my initial trial and tribulation of getting the 2" dredge running earlier this year. I swore I was gonna behave and not sink a large sum of money into my gold fever.

But, alas, that was not to be. The engine and pump from the dredge I got was shot. According to Mark at Keene Engineering, they had ceased producing that dredge model back in 1985. 1985... I was a high screwl freshman in 1985! So, I ordered a new engine and pump from them. Ouch. Then once I recieved the item, found that it did not fit the frame. Dangit.. I found a 3/16" piece of plywood to create a new mount plate for the pump, certain I'd muck up the placement of the holes. I did a good enough for gov't work job tho and it sat square on the frame.

Work has gotten in the way of finding out how the latest iteration of the dredge floated. Until yesterday. I was able to float it. It sat well without the sluicetray attached. Once the tray was in, the attitude changed to a downhill slope on the sluice and I knew I was in business.

I finished putting the unit together at that point. I was so excited. A bit of uncertainty though as I still hadn't been able to actually get a dredge running on my own yet. The Honda motor fired up on 2nd pull.. The fun part was just beginning. I had to get the pump primed. That was where I learned I hadn't torqued the clamp for the suction hose enough to get water to discharge from the pump. Square that away, and try again. 20 seconds of jerking the intake hose rewarded me with water discharging outta the pump, going into the sluice tray and suddenly water and material getting sucked up the dredge hose.

I know some of ya's may think "What's the big deal about that?" For many folks, when we encounter new stuff, we back off. Not wanting to fail, look bad in front of others, ect. I learned back in the Navy days that success is best earned by mistakes ya make. At some point either ya gotta move forward or spend your lifetime wondering what might have been.

Anyhow, I plugged the suction hose up. I found a decent enough stick to attempt to bust it loose. Fail. Hard Fail. I had to shutdown to dislodge it. It reinforced something that was shown to me in California. Go easy on how much material ya pull up. Just like a highbanker, take a sec to let stuff clear. Because, not only was my hose locked up, my sluice tray had quite a few larger pieces of stone in it.

Second go'round went much better. Moved a bit less material, but the hose went unplugged and my tray wasn't loaded with 1 to 1.5" stone either. That meant less waste in the cons. I was purty stoked ya'll.

I ran just the one tank of gas and called it. What? Why? Because I'd met and exceeded my goal for yesterday. My goal was to float the dredge, with maybe getting it to run. Not only did I get it to run, I had 2 clean ups.

I'd put a pic here of what I recovered but adulthood hasn't granted me permission to pan those cons. But what I can tell you is that I have a min of 4 colors. Not much I know but those colors were in the first foot or so of the streambed. I'll post a pic when I get it cleaned out soon.

So, what lies ahead for my dredge? Hog mats. Ya'll know I hate carpet. But I'm really not down with carpet that'll let your heavies exit out the tray under it. The carpet has no impermable barrier on the bottom side. That a huge no go for me. I need a facemask and snorkle. After breaking ground, it became more difficult to see what I was moving as I got further down. My right hand has several "bite" marks to attest to that. (mask and snorkle were acquired earlier this am at Glide & Dive in Bay City, MI. This shop also sells metal detectors.) A wet suit. May not need one in July and August, but the start of the season in April the end of season in October may require it.. Plan is 2 weeks from now for that, Keith at the shop says he's got a 2 piece that should be a perfect fit for me.

The plan is to hit Athens this weekend and try to run at least a half day.

With that, remember to get outside! Theres no better place to be!