We purchased the Gold N Sand hand dredge through Ebay and recently put it through it’s paces to see how it would stand up to the abuse that real prospecting can inflict on it.
Well, our findings were mixed at best.
First of all, I just want to state up front that the concept of this product is excellent, and when 100% operational will do just what the manufacturer states. However, with less than rigorous testing, we have found some faults that may or may not have been addressed prior to this report, and is no way intended to recommend, nor detract anyone from purchasing this product. As we are not affiliated with the Gold N Sand hand dredge, our opinions are unbiased and base solely on our findings during actual testing.
During the field testing, we have found some issues that, although inconvenient, could not be overcome providing the “fix-it” materials were handy.
We took this tool to our own claim in the Boundary Country of southern British Columbia Canada and operated it according to specifications.
- Easily Packable – This hand dredge is small and lighte enough to easily get into remote area’s making it truly portable.
- The leather suction seal really is as stated. Provides superior suction with less work than the rubber units we checked out.
- Provides enough lift so the bucket can actually be above the unit without plugging the hose.
- The unit being black can cause it to absorb much more heat, therefor, causing the unit to expand and contract in accordance with these dynamics. However, the use of a leather seal, and it’s ability to adjust to the inner diameter instantly makes this a moot point
- Too Short – I am 6’1″ and found that the barrel and handle are too short, and a normal draw for me, pops the end cap off regularly disrupting the rhythm.
- Too short for deeper holes. If you get water in the upper chamber, and you draw back the plunger, you get soaked.
- Within 4 hours of using this item for the first time, the “T” handle pulled right off the shaft. It wasn’t glued apparently, and there can be significant draw pressures involved, especially if the tip gets plugged with a large rock. I fixed it by merely installing and countersinking 2 small brass screws to connect the shaft and the handle.
- The next problem arose [ still within the 4 hr window ], the plunger shaft separated from the seal making the unit completely useless. Apparently this was not glued together either, nor is there a connecting bolt. I fixed this by installing 2 brass screws to the shaft connecting the leather suction cups to it, but more importantly, this now allows me to remove the screws to install a new suction cup with no damage to the product.
- Another drawback is it’s hard on the hand to hold the barrel for hours while working.
Another area I found rather difficult to overcome was the 1 1/2″ hose that attaches to the bucket. It basically works like a poop tube, and it’s hard to get any trapped gold out of it. It is very stiff, and you have to pour water down the pipe, and tap it with a stick to get it to release anything. Even at that, it takes a long time and a lot of flushing to get everything out. A lay-flat hose would be much better for this, but they tend to kink up, so a properly lined yet flexible lightweight hose would be ideal, and get rid of the 90 degree hose connector on the receiver bucket lid.
Motherlode Prospecting is now developing a similar device but with larger valves, and a hose that doesn’t trap the gold but allows it to be propelled into the bucket.
It is also convertible, meaning, it’s like 2 hand dredges in one. A “Sniper” style where you can clean out bedrock cracks and submerged pot holes with various size suction tips, and “Prospector” mode, where you simply remove the “Sniper” tip and replace it with the “Prospector” valved head and in a few minutes have a continuous feed model that you don’t have to clean out regularly, rather, it simply pulls the material in, and discharges it into a bucket, similar to the Gold N Sand, but bigger & longer, and uses a better hose. It also means you don’t have to buy 2 different units for the 2 different types of jobs.
Maybe check out that site, and bookmark it. http://www.motherlodeprospecting.ca