suitcase dredge

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How to build a suitcase dredge


  • The following document is a compendium of information by the works and knowledge of kiwi dredging legend, Trevor Alty .

    To Build a Suitcase Dredge

    Posts were obtained by permission from 49er Mikes Prospectors Cache forums Introduction and pics by Trev(NZ), creator of Yahoo Groups Goldminers AND of the Suitcase Dredge All rights reserved to the creator of this particular device Trev(NZ) Document compiled by Beav (NS, Canada) (Revision 1.0)

  • To Build a Suitcase Dredge

    Now you have seen it working. OK 6 inch, driven by a 5 HP. Which also drives a compressor. Note the heat exchanger. Good for working alluvium down to about 6 feet, will work to any depth of water. Will catch fines as shown on my fines pic. I own six dredges, a 5 inch Keene Triple, a 4 inch home built under/over, two six inch Suitcase dredges, one eight inch Keene Underwater. I love the Keene 5. But that is a big river we work and we are on the far bank, hence the boat. So river floods, Mr Keene has to float it out. We have no way of getting there to rescue gear. Now Mr Keene cost us about $10.000 (NZ)to import. Whereas Mr Suitcase cost us about $2,500 (NZ) and that is complete with brand new 5 HP Honda. We can put Mr Suitcase way up high on the bank. Mr Keene we have to leave to survive the flood. Mr Keene will catch more gold, but he has a risk element, plus he is only 5 inch. Whereas Mr Suitcase is six inch with no risk element, but he will not catch real fine gold. But he will catch the gold I have shown very well. He is very transportable, the motor sits in a truck tube, he has very little blockages. They are always at the bend in the suction head. Power down motor, reach up and dislodge. It is always a straight narrow rock that the venturi has angled to block the hose. The suction hose is semi flexible, the unit in calm water will stand up at 90 degree's and still suck and work. In fast water it will lay as the current dictates. But with the use of a rope snapping pulley and a flexible extension it takes on the characteristics of a surface dredge. The sliuce box will float as you require. Simple reduce the air pressure in the tube. I prefer a full tube as it means I have control over the whole unit. A suitcase dredge floating will always drive forward, like a jet boat. So you just hold the nozzle back from the face and let it suck. Man does it suck the rocks. One man is hard to keep up with it. Most blockages can be handled underwater, stick a bar up the spout and give the blockage a wack. I prefer to stick my arm up, and feel it, then dislodge it. But if you are wearing any sort of a glove you have lost it. You have seen the pics and the gold it has produced, okay maybe we lost 2 dwt on the ounce day. Well who cares, a $60.00 loss to make $600.00 is most acceptable. I can accept 10% it may even be only 5%. One man can handle the whole works and achieve 6 inch production. This concept was first taken from the Keene Submersible. Which is like a dead whale. A Kiwi modified it, to become the Suitcase Dredge. He has visited Keene Engineering and explained it all to them. They were most intrigued and had him make plans etc. As they said it bought a new dimension into portable dredging units. I figure they worked out it was so cheap for the home handyman to produce, that should they have produced a retail version it would have been copied overnight and they would have no sales. So I aint mucking around here. I aint going to pic it or measure all the dimensions unless somebody has the guts to build one of these monsters. But the guy that has the balls is going to say. Oh yes Trev. This is a dream machine. Zooka you have my permission to post anything pertaining to the Suitcase on Tom Ashworths or Alaska should you wish. There isnt anything exciting in the guts just a set of riffles, and I have no idea how it catches gold, as sometimes you look up the box and it is just a wall of gravel. Ok only kidding I know. But you will have to work it out. I note Steve Hersbach prefers a semi submersible and accepts the losss he incurs with that, I believe he uses a 5 inch. A 6 inch suitcase will increase his throughput by how much, I know the equation, do you? And I firmly believe his lossage would only increase by 1%. Kinda mind boggling isnt it.

  • Oh well I always said I was going to divulge all about the Case. From fine beach gold to the most horrible fine gold machine I have ever struck. But boy does it do the job. Thats why I have two and the rest of the dredges stay at home. Cheers Trev I do apologize if I am sounding like I know it all. But I started on gold at 10 years of age and am now 55. I do consider myself an expert, and I consider I have a gift to appraise ground. I have posted quite a lot of pics of ground ahead of us. These are untested. I will before we dredge them, predict what we will get per day. Guess that will be the test. I recall sometime back I replied to a message. " In relation to you are always Learning" I do not accept that, as I said then, you learn, and you learn quick or you go broke. Both financially and spiritually. I am talking professional golding here, not hobby. I can switch between proffs gold and hobby gold at the drop of a hat. River is flooded, I ring up my mate and say lets go cracking on high ground. I get two small flakes for the day and I am still over the moon. How did I find our claim. Many so called pro's drove past it every day for several years. I slowly prospected my way up the river with a pan and shovel, envying those with dredges and all those new fangled things. I clambered through bush and scrub but never more than 200 yards from the road. For the road follows the river. The top claim, the 30 oz bit was plainly visible from the road, and when I finally struck the picking rock (a pic) I claimed it. First day we put a Suitcase on it, we got 18 dwt. Imported the Keene 5 inch and never looked back. Maybe I was lucky. Maybe it was skill and knowledge. Na it was skill. Knowledge and perseverance, perseverance being the key word. So never give up. There is one waiting for you around the next corner. Once again my apologies for being somewhat egotistical. Like I have always said, Man on gold feel very fine. man on no gold feel not quite as fine, but still happy he is alive, fit and well. Really Appreciate all you fine People here.We have been going now for quite some time Cheers Trev

  • Mesg #64452 Suitcase Dredge 6" Pics with measurements (1) Author: Trev(NZ) Date Mon Dec-05-05 10:30 PM Hi All Hope somebody builds one. Took almost a day taking pics, measuring, sorting and resizing pictures. But here at last it is. This dredge will run at any depth, as long as you have enough water to float the sluice box and innner tube. We have had this one down to 20 feet with no problems. The longer your pressure hose to the suction venturi the deeper you can go. The crack blaster works a treat, it is indeed a true water blaster. The inner tube mounted to the sluice box means the rig runs at an angle, it does not drag along the bottom. Once the right air pressure is achieved,(with box loaded) there is no need to alter it ever. Very good in fast water as the dredge wants to drive forward. You work it by pulling forward to suck gravel, with one hand, the other removing oversize rocks, or using the crack blaster. Blockages always occur at the bend in the nozzle, can be punched out with a longish crow bar. Or you can stick your hand up, but wave goodbye to your dive glove. Note that the rake on these things is not as steep as the Keene ones. Easier to clean the blocks. They are always a long skinny rock that is tilted up by the water jet. But generally blocks are rare. The unit is run by a Honda 5hp with a T80 Compressor. Engine sits on ring inside truck tube. More than enough power. I think on a 5.5 Honda you would be throttling back a bit. Ok you wont catch the real fines, you will catch a percentage of them tho. But you achieve 6 inch capability with 5 hp. less gas and a very transportable 6 inch dredge. It is called a Suitcase because the top of the sluice is unlatched like a suitcase to gain access to the inside if the box. Well thats it. Will post in 3 segments as there are 9 pics. Any questions, just ask. Cheers Trev Replies Author: fatbob Date Mon Dec-05-05 11:38 PM Hi trev,(first time I have been able to post over here for a while thought mike dumped me anyways is that a 2" pressure line for your nozzle ? and what size do you reduce it down to for your venturi. Still trying to get a 5" built will have to reduce nozzle end to 4" for this state. Thanks for posting it. Rob. Author: Zooka Date Mon Dec-05-05 11:38 PM Trev, There it is! Thanks for the great job of pictures and measurements, now if we dont make em it is our own fault! When you say you use it at 20 feet, do you mean that you balance out the buoyancy in the tubes to make the dredge sink down to the bottom but then sort of float there? Sounds tricky... or do you moor it to the bottom on a line like an anti-shipping mine? How about side to side tilt, can that be a problem with the machine? That baby is itching for a fluid bed, lol... -Z

  • Author: Trev(NZ) Date Tue Dec-06-05 01:47 AM Hi Rob The things a man has to do, just went out stuck my hand up the nozzle and my finger into the orifice, only way I could do it man. Heck I would have never made a Doctor. But for you I did it. And I used my index finger with no glove. Diameter = 1 inch. (For those like me who not to smart, that is the measurement across the circle) Circumference 3 inches (And that is the measurement around the circle) And no Rob I don't do Prostate checks, okay. Ya can make one of these any size. I guess even a one inch dredge if ya wanted. Just keep the same length but scale everything else down. That little three incher worked a treat. Overpowered with a 5hp Honda, hence running at half throttle. The 6 inch we run at full throttle. Glad ya got back on here. Gonna post the same pics on Goldminers in the files or photo section later tonite. Na I havent abandoned my own forum. (Goldminers at Yahoo Groups) I did all this once before on the Alaska Forum and cant find them there now. So 49erMike and Goldminers will be there resting place I guess. Cheers Trev the Kiwi. And don't you dare ask me what a Kiwi is Author: Trev(NZ) Date Tue Dec-06-05 02:09 AM And yep a 2 inch pressure hose, although if you can manage to find some inch and six eigths works a treat, but hard to find fittings that will accept it. Down here in Kiwiland the fire service and the Forestry Dept used to use it for fighting scrub fires, easier to drag around the ground. Same thing applies in the water. Has less drag, that of course being the current pressure as it is always in a loop, from the motor to the suction nozzle. More so in shallow fast water. But if you anchor off your truck tube ya wont notice it. As ole Suitcase is a bit like a jet boat underwater, just wants to keep driving forward into that face. And if you are in such fast water that even the drive forward effect is negated. Then you just use another little setup that I developed that works a treat. Ya can jus go hands free while you shift rocks and the dredge will just sit there going nowhere. Waiting for you to grab hold of it again. And I am talking so fasta water that you have two wieght belts on and if ya stick your head up you are off down the river, probably minus your face mask Cheers Trev Author: fatbob Date Tue Dec-06-05 02:12 AM Thanks ,I was going to ask the size of your orifice but I didnt know if that was to personal . Will checkout your yahoo group site too last time I posted on a group site I got nuked with spam. I think it's just what I need since I have extra engine and pump to play with, not worried about the fine gold thing. Thanks Rob.

  • Author: Trev(NZ) Date Tue Dec-06-05 03:01 AM Hi Kazooka If you want to drop into a 20 foot hole that has sheer sides, you have to suck a bitta gravel first to weight up the sluice box. Otherwise she will be perpendicular when you get down there to the bottom. And although this unit can do many things, it cant suck rocks straight up over 107 inches. Now that is asking a bit of a 5 hp. But if you going down a gradual slope heading for 20 feet it will suck a few rocks on the way down and by the time you get to 20 feet, she is weighted up. And although you can slightly tilt it sideways if you try really hard, it will beat you everytime and right itself or you will have a very sore wrist trying to keep it on a tilt. The angle of the whole unit tends to change as you feed it, charge it right up and it lowers, dont feed it and it slowly rises. The idea is to have enough air in the inner tube on the top of the box (Only one) (A light truck tube) (Car type to small) so that when fully loaded it doesnt grub on the bottom. Once set you never have to bother with it again. And by loaded I mean chocker full of FIVE AND HALF INCH inch rocks, riffles fully loaded. OF COURSE THE NOZZLE IS REALLY ONLY 5 AND A HALF INCHES OR YOU WOULD GET BLOCKAGE AFTER BLOCKAGE, YA RING IT DOWN. AND YES I AM YELLING. Its unbelievable how this thing catches gold, on occasions when just crevicing (Load down) you look behind and it is like a you know what. I mean it has a higher angle of attack. But it still keeps catching gold and retains what it has already caught. How I have no idea. Its even worse when you stop to clean it. There is gold sticking out on the top of the gravel. And only the first three riffles are exposed. The rest of it is just a mass of gravel and that is after letting it run clear for five minutes. I think it makes its own fluid bed. YELLING AGAIN. IT SCARES ME SO MUCH I CLEAN IT OUT EVERY TWO HOURS IF I AM ON REAL GOOD GOLD (ounce a day or more), TWO IF ITS A BIT LEANER.(half ounce) But having sucked up the tailings with Keene 5 inch triple I am not worried about the perceived lossage as it just doesnt seem to happen. Ok flour snd a high percentage of fines go boom. But the volume of gravel treated more than outweighs that meagre lossage. And this from a so called expert at catching fine gold. One good flake is worth a zillion of that ultra fine stuff. But hey if I hit a place that has only fine gold, then its a modified surface dredge and the Suitcase goes in the closet. Cheers Trev Heck Kazooka thats a long bloody reply to a couple of simple questions. Hey Vort and Zooka. See ya Camera did work. Thanks mates Author: 49er Mike Date Tue Dec-06-05 04:17 AM Trev- I really appreciate you posting this here! Mike

  • Author: russau Date Tue Dec-06-05 09:20 AM trev i see that your using your 5 in. surface dredge right now and the suitcase is stored. next time you have the suitcase out, try flipping the miners moss over and have a piece of ribbed carpet underneath it. you have a history of gold with the current setup. id like to see if your fines would increase with the changes i mentioned. there has been some talk of doing this on dredges and fines increased. i would like to see if you came to the same results. Author: kaveman Date Tue Dec-06-05 12:15 PM Have no fear Trev,......somebody's going to build one(or three). I'm following closely. I'm already a fan of subsurface dredges, but all of mine are still a little bigger/heavier than they need to be. I'm going to build something like this for testing; just trying to figure which size would be the best. Looks to me like short sections of STIFF hose are required in this application and luckily I have a good supply of it in 6", 8", and 10". I'm picturing in my mind a 10", 100# Sluff Monster. Oh, BTW, someone(probably Mike)should combine all these posts into a single so the pics don't get scattered throughout the forum. Author: Vortxrex Date Tue Dec-06-05 06:11 PM Trevs subsurface posts & the Sump thread will all be added to the DIY forum for future ref. Dave Frank Author: Hoser John Date Wed Dec-07-05 11:13 AM Trevs' suitcase is the best design to EVER hit the water EVER!!! Sharing his design is a great comment on the mans' impecable morals.It took many trial and errors and you get the product of his labors to this point. Now THATS quite a gift for Xmas to one and all. Much respect to ya Trev. I can tell ya from experience in 20+ years from now people will still be copying good designs and thanking ya!! Tons a au 2 u 2 John Author: Beav Date Wed Dec-07-05 11:24 AM Does anyone else notice that Trev's attachment #3 is not showing up? All the rest of his pics come in OK, but this one appears missing a link or something? Mike, can you fix this? Thanks........Beav Author: Trev(NZ) Date Wed Dec-07-05 04:10 PM Ahhhh shucks John now you gone made me blush and I will have to buy a new hat Thank you so much for those exceptionally kind comments. You have mademy day. Cheers Trev

  • Author: Trev(NZ) Date Wed Dec-07-05 04:15 PM Beav Attachment three was a muck up on my part. I forgot to tick JPG and it sent as a text, I corrected that and resent it as a JPG. So all the pics are there. Should anybody wish further pics of any particular part of the unit, email me and I will get snapping again. Its not a problem. Cheers Trev Author: Bonaro Date Wed Dec-07-05 04:25 PM Message Ahhh, a man after my own heart. To heck with that fine crap, it only causes grey hair. I fI cant pick it up with gloves on, I dont want it! Excellent post Trev. How would this setup react in swift water? My dredge sucks... ~Dan Author: Trev(NZ) Date Wed Dec-07-05 08:05 PM Hi Bonara Actually handles very well in fast water. The Jet boat effect negates quite a bit of the current, the water hitting the suction nozzle tends to push the snout down and hold there. Now when you are in real fast water, and I mean so fast you need two weight belts and still struggle to hold there you use another idea I came up with wherebye the whole dredge unit is on a rope attched to an upstream anchor. And the motor and truck tube are also firmly anchored. I have on ocassions had an anchor rope over 100 long. As you have to go upstream from where you are dredging, find slower water. Put down the anchor then cover with a cairn of large rocks. Test by hanging on it and pulling as hard as you can. If she holds you are home and hosed. If she doesnt add more rocks. Right on the u bend on the nozzle you attach a grip jaw yaughting pulley. These pulleys allow you to pull forward on the anchor rope and as soon as you let go, the jaws snap on the rope, anchoring it. I would go for the yaughting pulley as they are made to stand extremely high tension.(Like Sails) el cheapos from the engineering shop not worth the worry. This system allows you a very wide arc to work. The diver actually stays put as he is hanging onto the U bend also. To pull forward you simply pull on the loose end of the rope, then let go, and snap she is locked. You can take a suitcase into places you wouldnt even dream of taking a floater. When you want to clean it, you just swing across into calmer water by the bank. If you want to go do something, you just let the dredge hang where it is. On occasions in real fast water the best way is to actually lay over the whole thing, whilst holding on with one hand and rocking out with the other. And keep your head down, look up and you are a goner. We have got gold out of impossible places with this rig. Sure it is an effort but worth it. My pulleys are up the river with my floater at the moment. As I also use it to anchor the floater. Makes it easy pulling it ahead. The pulley can also be used on the suction head of a floater in a similar way, if I have the floater in fast water I have a pulley on the

  • floater with separate anchor and a pulley on the suction head with separate anchor. Get to the end of your suction range, pull on the floater anchor rope. Then down and pull on the suction head anchor rope and away you go again. Very effective and very simple. Cheers Trev Author: Zooka Date Thu Dec-08-05 12:53 AM Trev, I have looked for "grip jaw pulleys" without success. Are you talking about these "cam cleats like here (scroll down to the cam cleats)? If not, got any pics of the grip jaw pulleys? Many thanks and congrats on the well-deserved accolades! -Z Author: Trev(NZ) Date Thu Dec-08-05 02:42 AM Message Hi Zooka R260 is the teeth that do the gripping thing. But you need the pulley wheels and a few other bits. I searched yaughting equipment most of the afternoon. Found em, byt buggar all pics. They are called a jamming block in yauhtie language. The gripping teeth and pulley and attaching mini u bolt are integral. One I have is a single pulley, the other is a double pulley, a big pulley wheel and a little one, that one makes the rope pulling easier. I think they cost me about $90.00 NZD each, so say about $65.00 USD. But when quite a few thousand dollars is dependent on them, that is a small price to pay for security. And they paid for themselves in about half an hour. They are part of the rigging system on a sailboat, raise the sail or change the angle of attack, let the rope go and it holds the sail in place. Hence their brilliant ability to hold torque. And that is what fast water does, it really puts the torque on. Well thats what I imagine they are used for, I aint no sailor. Any yaughties here. Cheers Trev PS All fails will bring one back when the river goes down. In a small flood at present and the gold price in NZD $ hit $737.00. Go baby go. Heck a falling NZD against a rising gold price in USD, never seen that before. $USD517.00 where is it going to go. not down I hope. Author: Zooka Date Thu Dec-08-05 03:08 AM Trev - like this? Apparently there are different nautical terms in the US from in the other former colonies and the UK - they call them "fiddle blocks with cam" here. No "jam". Author: Trev(NZ) Date Thu Dec-08-05 03:18 PM By golly Zooka you are on the ball. Yep thats the type I use. Cheers Trev ( Your colonial mate from the Antipodies down under) 49er Mike's Prospectors Cache / Mike Higbee E-Mail: [email protected]

  • Trev suitcase dredge.pdfSuitcase_49erMikes_forum.pdf7175.jpg7180.jpg7176.jpg7179.jpg7182.jpg7184.jpg7185.jpg7181.jpg7183.jpg2+oz+3+dwt.jpgBerlins+Rocked+Out.jpgMikes+First+Gold.jpg