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Manual Panning V.S. Machine

Posted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 1:24 pm
by Catfish
I'm a newbie and i've been looking at the prospecting forums on the internet for information. I've noticed these websites feature alot of pictures of guys working sluice boxes, shakers and various other machines to get at the gold. Others seem to be quite happy just using a pan. This may seem like a stupid question... But is one method superior to another ?

It seems to me the manual panning method would be the most "precise" way to get the gold out of a small quantity of dirt, but you wouldn't use it in a large scale operation, would you ? You'd almost have to use somekind of machine to process more than a yard of dirt a day, wouldn't you ?

That is, unless panning is such an "art form" only a very experienced and talented prospector would have any chance at all of suceeding at panning. Is a "green horn" with a pan the equivalent of giving a chimpanzee a paint brush and some canvass and expecting to produce a painting worth thousands of dollars ? Or, Can even a novice prospector master panning without much trouble ? What do you think ?

Hopelessly Ignorant,
CATFISH

Re: Manual Panning V.S. Machine

Posted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 4:14 pm
by Jim Hatt
Hello Catfish and welcome to the forums,

You will probably get as many different answers to your questions as you do replies to them.

My personal opinion is that there is nothing as efficient as the gold pan.
The more you mechanize the process to speed it up and process more material, the more loss you experience. You can almost always go behind any mechanized process with a gold pan, and recover gold it let get by.

The panning itself is not a skill that takes a long time to develop. It is learning where to find the gold bearing material to pan, that takes a long time.

All you need to practice and polish your panning skills, is a half a pan of dirt and about 6 pieces of lead shot that you can get from any shotgun shot shell.

Drop the shot pellets in with the dirt and pan it down. When you get to where you can recover all 6 pellets every time, you are ready to go looking for the gold. Gold is almost twice as heavy as lead, which makes it even easier to pan, and harder to lose. (compared to lead).

My 2 cents worth...

Best,

Jim

Re: Manual Panning V.S. Machine

Posted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 5:19 pm
by cubfan64
I have yet to ever pan for gold, but it's my understanding that every piece of equipment beyond a simple pan with riffles is designed to increase throughput -although I suspect it's correct that with speed and throughput usually comes increased loss - not necessarily always true, but more often than not.

Re: Manual Panning V.S. Machine

Posted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 11:18 am
by Catfish
Thanks for the advise Jim. I was wondering how a rookie was supposed to practice his panning technique without any gold. Using lead as a substitute is a "no-brainer" that hadn't occured to me. Sometimes i think my brain is close to "overload". There is SO MUCH technical material and research involved in prospecting, it's easy to overlook the simple stuff.

I read somewhere, finding several lead fishing weights clumped together in a streambed or creek bottom is an "AH HA" !!.. moment. It's supposed to be a really strong indicator of where any gold would deposit as well.

Unfortunately, i don't think there is anyway to detect "lead" because it doesn't react magnetically. Guess you'd just have to stumble onto it and go from there.

Re: Manual Panning V.S. Machine

Posted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 11:28 am
by silent hunter
Catfish When you get a real flake of gold in your pan it will almost stay put. Panning gold is the easy. In arizona you will need a product called clay be gone,and some dawn original formula dish washing liquid to break the surface tension a bit. The dawn keeps the flour gold on the bottom so it dont float up and out of your pan. Clay be gone keeps the clay clumped up so it don't make your water dirty and makes it easy to remove the clay from the gold and black sand. Black sand is usually a by product of arizona placer gold and is easily removed with several differant methods.

Best Wishes
Kurt Painter

Re: Manual Panning V.S. Machine

Posted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 11:39 am
by silent hunter
Paul you almost can alway's pan gold from any gold processing equiptment. Even the best equiptment lets flour gold through. Usually the miner or gold hunter will keep these black sands or fines untill they have a couple five gallon buckets of the super fines and leach the gold from the fines with Aqua Regia or other methods. Sometimes with better results than they recovered with the processing equiptment.


Bet Wishes
Kurt Painter

Re: Manual Panning V.S. Machine

Posted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 12:56 pm
by Jim Hatt
Catfish wrote:
I read somewhere, finding several lead fishing weights clumped together in a streambed or creek bottom is an "AH HA" !!.. moment. It's supposed to be a really strong indicator of where any gold would deposit as well.

Unfortunately, i don't think there is anyway to detect "lead" because it doesn't react magnetically. Guess you'd just have to stumble onto it and go from there.
Catfish,

We don't find many fishing weights in the stream/creek beds in Arizona. Mostly because they are Dry 90% of the time, and there is rarely ever any fish in them. One thing we do find OFTEN tho, is lead shot, and bullets from hunters, that eventually make their way into the waterways when we do get a good heavy rain storm.

They are usually detected easily with a metal detector if they're not too deep.

Best,

Jim

Re: Manual Panning V.S. Machine

Posted: Wed Mar 02, 2011 2:08 pm
by cubfan64
Catfish wrote:Thanks for the advise Jim. I was wondering how a rookie was supposed to practice his panning technique without any gold. Using lead as a substitute is a "no-brainer" that hadn't occured to me. Sometimes i think my brain is close to "overload". There is SO MUCH technical material and research involved in prospecting, it's easy to overlook the simple stuff.

I read somewhere, finding several lead fishing weights clumped together in a streambed or creek bottom is an "AH HA" !!.. moment. It's supposed to be a really strong indicator of where any gold would deposit as well.

Unfortunately, i don't think there is anyway to detect "lead" because it doesn't react magnetically. Guess you'd just have to stumble onto it and go from there.
For what it's worth Catfish, I live out on the East Coast, and what you described is exactly what we look for when metal detecting ocean beaches. After a big storm, depending on whether the surf pushes sand in or pulls it out, we watch for the "line" of fishing weights or other heavy items because that's where we'll have the best luck finding gold.