Jump to content

flintgreasewood

Members
  • Content count

    142
  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won

    16

Everything posted by flintgreasewood

  1. flintgreasewood

    2016 At Cobb

    sorry about all the repeat entries. not sure how that happened. three photos also not included. i'll try soon to get them up.
  2. flintgreasewood

    2016 At Cobb

    As Jack Nicholson declared in "The Shining"..."I'm back!!" Finally I have some real progress to report on. It was early January when I began my new shaft at Cobb Prospect. Most of my efforts then were done in darkness and below 0 temps but the excitement of a fresh start kept me on task. Now it's nearly spring with lots of light and often above freezing days. Actually, nearly the entire winter offered more than bearable and often downright pleasurable working conditions. Setting up my electric hoist was not a simple matter; should I have expected different? The hoist came with a 3/4hp DC motor and controller. The motor was good but the controller wasn't, so I gave up and switched to a 1hp AC motor I found on Anchorage Craigslist. It fit the speed reducer fine and it looked like I was in business but when I put the juice to it the generator struggled and the motor barely spun. Being somewhat ignorant of many things electrical I succeeded in letting the smoke out of the motor. And as everyone knows, motors are run by pre installed smoke at the factory. When that smoke gets out the motor quits working. Simple! I brought it in to the local motor repair shop and to my relief I had just burned out the capacitor. But I also got the news that my generator was under powered. A friend said he had a 4000watt out at his mine site that I could borrow so we made the 50 mile trip out [ran out of fuel on the way] and the next day I hauled it down to the prospect. I should have paid more attention to the motor technician. A 1 hp motor requires 4400 watts for initial startup. The replacement didn't cut it. I didn't have the funds to plunk down on a new 5500 watt machine even a cheap one from Lowes but I applied for and received one of their cards and was able to get it on credit. The one I picked was marked way down as it had been bought and returned because it was too small. It was also a propane only model but I figured I could get along with that. So I hauled that one down, unpacked it and read the owner's manual. When I saw how much propane it would consume in a 4 hour run time at 50% power I was stunned. I'd have to spend at least twice what I would have to with a gas model. I packed it back up, returned it, picked up a gas model and hauled it down to Cobb. My plan was to control the hoist with a cheap reversing drum switch I had used in the old shaft. The wiring was more complicated with the new motor and it took me hours of analysis to figure out how to set it up. It didn't work, most likely corroded contacts. I was fed up and went searching for an industrial grade switch, found one on an Ohio craigslist and bought it. In the interim I wanted to use the hoist as I was now deep enough in the shaft that it was getting too difficult to pitch the frozen chunks of muck out by shovel. I realized that I could operate the winch by simply making a setup where I would have an on/off switch and two terminals that would allow the swapping of the reversing wires fit with alligator clips. It worked. I wanted to use a standing live spruce for my gin pole and had available but one that was tall enough I soon realized that the angle of the carrier high line was too flat between the head frame and the gin pole. For a temporary solution I erected another gin pole mid point on the line which provided a steeper slope which would allow the bucket to generate enough momentum on it's return to trip the release catch. That didn't help. Next was to increase the hoist speed by doubling the drive gear pitch. The additional speed and reduced trip time was great but still wasn't fast enough for the bucket to release. I noticed that if the bucket dump chain got caught and held the bucket still for even a couple seconds, enough slack in the hoist line was generated so that when the chain was loosed, the bucket ran free with enough speed to release at the trip pin. I rigged up a catch point using a plastic barrel placed under the trip line. That worked...most of the time, but not all the time. Adding more weight to the bucket didn't seem to help. What next to try? I checked the carrier for possible issues and found an obvious problem . A retracting spring was too stiff and held the catch mechanism too firmly in place for the trip pin to move it. Changing the spring helped but still didn't completely solve the issue. I removed the carrier, took it home removed just one side plate so I could manually operate the various parts, something I had never done before. It was easy to see that a bad angle on one of the catch pieces made it very difficult for it's mating part to slide off to allow the bucket to release. Those fixes helped even more but I'm still not quite satisfied; I need the bucket to trip every cycle, not just 90% of the time. Since I was not happy with my gin pole setup, I decided to erect an even taller one next to the original and using that one to hoist the new one in place. Using my chain saw winch I dragged the 28' black spruce down the hill through 2' of snow, reattaching three times to make bends in the route through the standing trees. That was, by far the hardest part of the job. Hoisting the new pole required that I work from a ladder propped against the old one. A number of guy wires connected to spruces with ratchet straps and turnbuckles were already in place including the main carrier line and all had to be loosened, some removed and repositioned and retightened numerous times. In time I was able to separate the two poles held together by straps and cut the old one down, leaving the new, bigger and taller one standing alone. More wire adjustments brought it straight and true. I had managed to dig the shaft down to 8 feet [that's 8'x8'x8'] and it was time to put in the cribbing. During February I began harvesting large black spruce, cutting them into 8' lengths, carrying or dragging them through the deep snow to a sled. I was able to stack 8 or 9 of them to be hauled behind my snow machine down to the shaft site. As I prepared to start setting the logs I could see there was not going to be space enough for the bucket to ride up and down the shaft freely with a cribbed wall. Evidently I would either have to enlarge the shaft on the one side by at least a foot, or move the gin pole. I almost couldn't bear the thought of another gin pole change, but the thought of jack hammering and removing an additional 3+ cubic yards of frozen muck was even more unpalatable. I knew the gin pole was setting not in a deep hole but merely just below the moss on frozen muck. If I cleared out a path through the snow and moss, I could put a comealong on the pole and simply drag it to the new spot 5' away. I just had to keep adjusting tension on all the wires supporting the pole. The entire operation took less than 3 hours and went without a hitch. Amazing! I now had plenty of room for the bucket to operate. Cribbing began with placing two over length base logs in place. To accomplish that I had to jack hammer notches in the walls at the bottom of the shaft. Sounds easy? It took more than half a day to get them set and I was whooped. Successive log courses went in relatively smoothly and I'm now up to just over half way to the surface. At the 4' point I began placing glass wool insulation between the walls and crib logs which are set to make a 6' square shaft. So that's where things stand. Oh, I did receive the new drum switch and found it had a part missing that kept it from reversing. Just yesterday I made that part in the machine shop where I am doing temporary contract welding.
  3. Looking for ideas for keeping my little mine buildings at around the 35 to 40 degree range during the long cold Alaska winter. I have a reasonable amount of insulation on the walls and ceiling that will help hold in what heat is produced. Total sq. ft area is only about 200.
  4. flintgreasewood

    $2000 Gold Within A Year?

    We're still a long way from $2000 but it's nice to see $1200 gold again. The trend looks good too.
  5. flintgreasewood

    2016 At Cobb

    Yeah, 15' isn't too intimidating. Good luck and be safe.
  6. flintgreasewood

    2016 At Cobb

    Dick, Are you currently putting down a shaft or will you start one this winter? If you're interested I can draw up a simple dumping system that I came up with when I removed all the ice from my shaft. It allows you to work down in the shaft and dump a bin full without coming up every time. You would probably have to come up every five or six trips to keep the trough clear.
  7. flintgreasewood

    2016 At Cobb

    Dick, That's quite the ambitious shaft sinking. How often have you hit good pay without drifting? How do you remove the muck once you can't pitch it out? The jack hammers I use I got off ebay, the inexpensive Chinese ones. I have 2, one for backup and have been more than pleased with them.
  8. flintgreasewood

    2016 At Cobb

    I have a 40lb electric jack hammer that breaks up the muck very nicely. I just found a good used motor in Anchorage and as soon as I can get it here I'll get the hoist up and running and start digging. The weather is cooperating nicely and I'm optimistic that we'll not be having any super cold this winter. Why do you dig shafts?
  9. flintgreasewood

    2016 At Cobb

    Dick At the new shaft probably 60' of muck. Since I'm working alone I need a system whereby I can get the muck out and away from the shaft without having to climb a ladder each trip. Unfortunately I am working on such a tight budget I can scarcely afford even the smallest expenditure. I am often forced to do every task with just my hands and simple tools much the same as the first miners in Alaska. In some ways I don't mind that as it gives me a connection to those hardy souls. But I'm also getting old enough that work of that sort takes more of a toll than it did 10 years ago. without havi
  10. flintgreasewood

    2016 At Cobb

    third time a charm? New shaft site
  11. No, I didn't die at the bottom of my shaft, and I didn't tuck my tail between my legs and slink back to Colorado. A bear didn't get me and I didn't come to my senses and take a "greeter" job at Walmart. What has occupied most of my time for the past 2 years is the building of a log cabin for my wife and me to live in. That is a story in and of itself but not exactly one that fits the format of the Forum. I also had to find gainful employment to pay bills and keep food on the table and gas in the several tanks. But whenever I could I would get down to the prospect to work on three different projects. The first involved the prospect shaft itself. Once again heavy spring and late summer rains overwhelmed my efforts to stem the constant flow of ground water into the shaft. Digging ditches or draining nearby ponds failed to solve the problem. Thawing muck at the level at which the seepage entered the shaft was continually sluffing off and undermining the cribbing and causing it to slowly sink on one end. It got so bad I decided to rebuild the cribbing. To accomplish this I dug a 3 foot wide trench around the old cribbing, removing layers of logs as I went down. The old crib was around 6’ in height so there was a lot of muck to excavate and haul away with a wheel barrow, but the job proceeded without incident. I knew, though, that as I neared the bottom of the cribbing I would encounter open space beneath the cribbing where the muck had caved away. That made digging a bit precarious as one moment it felt like terra firma and the next there was nothing under the shovel. As I was, at that point, essentially at the base of the old crib, I started building my new crib on the outside perimeter of the old cribbing. After placing 4 courses I had a strong barrier from which to operate around the shaft. Removing the final few courses of crib logs was certainly a challenge mainly due the fact that they were logs I had left in place from the original 100 year old shaft. The last two logs presented the biggest problem; they were completely waterlogged and their excessive weight had caused them to pull away and hang at an angle into the shaft. It required that I lean out from the ladder with one arm while I fastened ropes to the logs. Then holding a chain saw with one hand I leaned down over the new crib and cut the logs in half [with a rope tied to each half] to lessen the weight for hoisting them out. The old crib removed and a new one begun I was encouraged with the prospect of a more spacious shaft out of which to work. Then the rains resumed. If we were going to be able to winter over in the cabin I had to stick with all the projects involved with it, so I had to leave off finishing the new crib. Also pressing was the need to rebuild and extend the earthen dam I had begun last year so I could have water for steaming once the shaft was cleared out ready for extending the prospect drifts. Last year’s late season rain had taken out a section of my hand built dam but the breech was refilled fairly rapidly with the thawed muck I had uncovered last fall by removing the heavy insulating cover of arctic moss. The little reservoir began to refill and as the water rose so did my dam. Before long I had added enough height and length that I was able to use my wheel barrow to haul loads from the dig site across the dam to the opposite side. To ensure protection against further washout I placed a large piece of rubber roof membrane over the top. A few days later a good rain threatened the integrity of the dam but with a well placed overflow drain dug at one end and with the membrane, it held. At the start of fall and before the ground began to freeze I added yet another two feet in height and 10 feet in width and I covered the entire 40’ of dam with one large sheet of membrane. A small seep at one end didn’t concern me; I thought it would soon freeze. It didn’t. A few days passed after another storm and I thought I should check things out. I found a significant breech that if not dealt with would threaten the entire dam. When I found I couldn’t stop the flow I proceeded to build a causeway across one end of the reservoir to isolate the flow into the breech. It took a bit of frantic shoveling as significant water upstream continued to pour into the reservoir and quickly raised the level as soon as I plugged off the breech. Fortunately I had plenty of thawed muck close by to add to the causeway and after an hour of hard effort I won the battle…or so I thought. Several weeks passed, heavy snow fell and it looked like freeze up had finally arrived. Concerns for the dam were replaced with the need to finish winterizing the building at the prospect. One day, though, my curiosity to see the snow covered dam and reservoir got the best of me so I went to check. There was almost no water, just chunks of thick broken ice and at the far end where that little seep had been, the seep I thought I had fixed, was a very large breech. Freeze up hadn’t frozen deep enough to stop persistent ground water flow and it eventually eroded a lot of my hard work. Now it’s too cold to do anything till late spring. I’ll have to find some other way to get water for steaming. And when the warm weather returns I’ll have another round of dam rebuilding. Damn!! More to come.
  12. flintgreasewood

    Back On The Cobb Prospect Fall 2015

    Water in its various states crops up continually as challenges to deal with. The rains of early and late summer play havoc with the trails in the valley bottom and provide endless seepage into the shaft. Then when freeze up comes the seepage turns to ice and coats the sides of the shaft creating a thawing headache. Snow is a mixed blessing as it makes travel and haulage possible where it was not feasible in the warm months. Performing any steaming operation in the months of subfreezing temperatures turns complex. The creek is frozen solid so water must be brought in from another source and in my case that is a spring that I can access 1/3 of a mile from camp. I’ll be bringing a small gas water pump along with a 55 gallon drum and a length of hose hauled in a sled behind my Skandic. I may need to attach a small electric winch to the Skandic to help get up a couple of short steep pitches. Back at camp I can store only one drum of water inside. Other barrels must remain outside where they are subject to freezing. I found a stock tank heater that I’m going to try out soon to thaw out a barrel that has iced up. Hopefully the oil drip stove will keep the building above freezing while I’m not there but I’ll certainly drain the high pressure pump, supply hoses and steam coil before I leave just in case the stove shuts down for whatever reason. Another problem I’m having to cope with is losing stuff under the snow that keeps building up. I am not in the habit of keeping tools and cords up and out of the weather, so one day a shovel will be in plain sight and the next it will have disappeared under the previous night’s new snowfall. hI’m getting better at it but some things will just ave to wait till spring to ever be found unless I accidently stumble on to them.
  13. flintgreasewood

    Back On The Cobb Prospect Fall 2015

    With my little prospect shack buttoned up it was time to bring in a barrel stove to provide some warmth. The stove was located at the mine cabin a half mile away on my Babe Creek claim block. It would be my first time over to the cabin since the snows had blanketed the valley so I had to break trail with my trusty old Skandic snow machine. The task went smoothly though the stove was much heavier than I had expected. If I had bothered to look inside I would have seen it was encrusted with at least 30 pounds of clinker and solidified ash. Back at Cobb I beat on the barrel with a small sledge hammer till nearly all the scale had been loosened, emptied it and dragged it into the shack. Two days later the stove pipe was in place with a short section of 8" insulated pipe through the roof and a rain cap to top it all off. I brought down a load of firewood from our cabin and with the help of bit of diesel oil I had a nice fire going. The stove drew well and it took only about 20 minutes for the shack to be comfortably warm. Now it was much easier to work on the reconfiguration of my steamer from horizontal to vertical. In its previous position it presented two significant problems; it belched sickening quantities of diesel smoke into the shack and it was difficult to drain to avoid freezing and rupturing the coil. In the vertical position I have completely enclosed the coil inside a 55 gallon drum and will be able to vent all the smoke out through the roof. And when I shut the steamer down at the end of the day it will gravity drain so freezing won't be an issue. While I'm working down at Cobb the barrel stove does the job of keeping things thawed out but when I'm away and the fire dies out I need the place to remain above freezing. To accomplish this I bought and old oil drip stove which I'm hoping will do the trick. I just finished plumbing it in today to a tank outside the shack, but I didn't have a chance to try it out...had to get back to town to watch the Denver Broncos open a can of whoop ass on the Brady Bunch.
  14. flintgreasewood

    Back On The Cobb Prospect Fall 2015

    A couple more pics.
  15. flintgreasewood

    Back On The Cobb Prospect Fall 2015

    Water, water everywhere, flowing on top of the moss and seeping along the barrier between frozen and thawed muck and despite my efforts to ditch it away it made its way into the shaft ultimately completely filling it for the third time. The four courses of new crib logs were gradually loosened and soon were floating. I wanted to begin pumping the shaft dry but my pump was frozen in at the bottom having been covered by ice I had removed from the sides of the shaft back early in the summer. It was just as well I couldn’t pump it since I figured out the pressure of the water on the sides of the shaft kept the thawed muck from sluffing off. The temperature dropped low enough to change the rain to snow and suddenly Cobb was blanketed with around 15 inches. But unlike most heavy first snows in the interior, this one nearly melted off before the serious cold set in and it served to saturate the ground. So even after temperatures dropped below freezing and stayed there most of the day and night, water continued to seep into the shaft. It was nearly overflowing and I needed to do something, so I bought another deep well pump and took the level down 8’. The next day it was almost filled again so I once again pumped it down and once again it was back full the following day. So I cut my losses and let it sit and freeze over, something I shouldn’t have done as that created a lot more ice as the surface of the shaft at ground level was more like a small down about 20 feet. With shovel in hand I climbed out on the ladder which protruded above the ice and pounded away till I had most of it collapsed into the shaft and that’s where it sits at the moment. I may have the steamer up and running by Thanksgiving and I’ll proceed to thaw all that ice so I can continue draining the shaft. Before I get back to removing the muck that has fallen to the bottom of the shaft I’ll need to do two things. The first is to complete work on the hydraulic hoist system. The next is to finish cribbing the shaft and filling the voids created by the sluffing thawed muck. The plan I’ve come up with for doing this involves one of the earliest operations drift miners employed when sinking a shaft. They had no jack hammers, no steam early on, no excavators, but they had fire. With the abundant wood supply on interior drainages, the miners built bonfires on the shaft site. Next morning they removed the thawed muck, typically about 18” and repeated the process down to bed rock. My idea is to begin a new shaft downstream about a 100’ from the old shaft and haul the thawed muck to be dumped into the voids around the new cribbing. Every night that muck will freeze solid and provide a nearly impenetrable barrier against seepage next summer. Of course I’ll take added precautions to keep things frozen, to include a heavily insulated deck and lid over the shaft
  16. flintgreasewood

    Back On The Cobb Prospect Fall 2015

    Don't know why the photo didn't post. I'll try again.
  17. flintgreasewood

    Back On The Cobb Prospect Fall 2015

    Here's a photo of the dam before freeze up.
  18. A few years ago I talked with an owner of a gravel pit north of Denver who said the gold they recover completely pays for the operation of the plant. Gravel sales is the gravy.
  19. flintgreasewood

    Low Level Heating Ideas For Mine Buildings

    Chris, I'm going to be working out of the buildings nearly every day, so just need the low heat over night. If they made a kerosine heater that could be turned way down that might work but I doubt they have such a low setting. Could be modified? I'm leaning strong toward a home built waste oil drip stove. Lots of free used oil here in Fbks.
  20. flintgreasewood

    Tree Burls As Gold Indicators

    Some years ago I was told that stands of trees [in that case, spruce] that contained an unusual amount of burls was an indication of gold beneath the surface, and more specifically, the presence of arsenic that caused the burls to form. Arsenopyrites often contain significant amounts of gold. Recently I was exploring an area of my claims that have a very strong potential for hard rock mineralization and came upon a grove of birch and spruce at the top of draw. Nearly every tree, spruce and birch, had at least one large burl and some had half a dozen or more and many were significantly deformed. I would like to hear if anyone has any salient information on this subject. So far on line all I could find was one semi scientific paper making a correlation between arsenopyrite and vegetative dead zones.
  21. Back in November, Geowhiz wondered what was happening with Cobb Prospect; was I finished for the season? In a nutshell...things are ongoing at Cobb and my "season" never ends. It's just that what I have been doing has basically been relatively uneventful . Though of late that has begun to change, enough so that I've decided to resume documenting my endeavors. The rains of last summer played minor havoc with my claims in Fairbanks as they did Geo's in Ophir, though I was not impacted nearly to the extent many miners were statewide. Frequently I had to extricate my 4 wheeler from super saturated bogs enroute to the prospect or build makeshift bridges over my swollen little creek. But my biggest headache was incessant seepage into the shaft. And, of course, there were the never ending equipment malfunctions. As summer wound down and crisp fall weather set in it became apparent I was not going to be bringing in the gold we were counting on to help pay the bills any time soon. I had to take a job in town. About the same time my wife and I realized that wintering through in our little travel trailer was not really an option so we rented a small “wet” cabin on the banks of the Chena River at the west end of Fairbanks. I arranged my work schedule to have Friday through Sunday off so I could devote time to work the prospect. It was a welcome relief to finally have enough money to purchase some necessary equipment and supplies not the least of those being my first snow machine. I knew it wouldn't be long before my old, tired 4 wheeler wouldn't be able to manage the coming snow. A '93 Skandic II with reverse and electric start fit the bill nicely. Fairbanks got its first measurable snow, 6", at the end of October and that provided barely enough cover to operate my sled. It wasn't long before I was grinding along on bare gravel ever more frequently. You can imagine I was not enjoying my first snow machining experience and even considered selling it. Fortunately I didn't follow through with that notion. When finally the good snow cover arrived I discovered what a delightful experience snow machining can be. I bought a heavy duty Beaver plastic sled to haul stuff in and became a regular Alaska "freighter" transporting everything from fuel to lumber to wood stoves and generators from my Elliot Highway drop off down the one mile trail into the valley. The constant runoff into the shaft even as temperatures dipped below freezing inexorably built up on the walls and made the remaining opening so tight I could no longer get my bucket down. Seepage continued till the shaft was filled within 6' of the deck. Soon it was cold enough for heavy ice to form on the surface, but I was so frustrated with the whole mess I found it difficult to deal with the problem. When I finally decided to bite the bullet and do something about getting the shaft drained my chain saw came in handy in cutting the ice into manageable blocks for removal. Then the idea occurred to me to remove the ice by heating the water in the shaft with my steam coil. There was still water to be had in the pond after I broke through the ice to reset the sump pump. I was able to send steam to the bottom of the shaft for several hours before I had to shut down. I drained the system and heated the coil sufficiently to remove any remaining water. Next day saw the same procedure. The day following I turned on the high pressure water pump that feeds the coil and fired up the burner. To my extreme disgust steam began blasting from the center of the coil. I had a rupture caused by water that somehow didn’t get evacuated the previous evening and had frozen. That put an end to plans for warming the ice out. Any other plan would require a shaft drained of water , but now the hoses were partially frozen and one length was also frozen to the side of the shaft. I was able to pull the pump and one 50’ length of hose. A propane weed burner enabled me to thaw out the hose and warm up the pump but I had to get another length of hose in town before the draining could continue. Several days later and with the pump setup complete and in working order I resumed the operation. All went well and I had 30+ feet of the shaft free of water and then the pump quit. Back up the whole works came to be disassembled to determine the problem. When I couldn’t ascertain the nature of the malfunction I arranged for Ice Water Well [yes, the owners’ last name really is“Ice”] to check things out. A week later they called to tell me I needed a new motor…bearings and shaft had issues most probably caused by the strain of pumping too much mud. Another week went by before I was able to get the pump back in the shaft and get the remaining 30+ feet drained. With no clear plan to get the ice out I resumed work on the mine shacks. A friend basically gave me several thousand square feet of foil backed R8 insulation he had salvaged from an old shop building somewhere near Coldfoot [?]. The plan was to cut spruce poles for the uprights and cross members, sheath them with ½” osb, and overlay that with the insulation. Ideally the outer skin would be more ½” osb but I couldn’t afford that, but I had a long way to go before I needed to worry about what to use. Always, however, was the issue of the shaft ice hanging like an ominous cloud over my head, and I couldn’t ignore it. I could once again mechanically chip it out as I had done the previous summer and by now I had repaired the steam coil to thaw the chipped ice, but it would be useless as I had no water supply…the creek and pond were frozen solid. Sharing my dilemma with a fellow miner he suggested an electric heater suspended at the bottom of the shaft to do the melting. My generator could handle 3500 watts so I picked up two “milk house” heaters with a max output of 3000 watts. I bundled the two heaters together with a trash can lid fixed over the top to protect from dripping water and lowered them into the shaft. The 150 watt LED light at the bottom of the shaft revealed dripping water so I knew the heaters were doing their job. The problem was I could see it would probably take several months to thaw all the ice at the rate it was going. What next? I had considered sending the diesel space heater down but before I went ahead with that idea I saw a compact propane fired space heater with a btu range of 30,000 to 60,000…substantially more than the electric heaters. Since I didn’t want to send a 20lb propane bottle down in the shaft with the heater I needed to have a long supply hose. That need was filled by an old 80’ air hose I had laying around. It was a bit tricky sending down a heater, hose and electric cord suspended by a ¼” nylon rope. It worked. Even on the heater’s lowest output he water poured down the sides of the shaft. But after a couple of minutes the heater shut off. I pulled it up, relit and sent it back down about 15’. Same thing. Tried it a few more times with the same result. It became apparent the oxygen was being used up and the CO was extinguishing the flame. I connected an air line from a small compressor to the intake of the heater to supply additional oxygen but it wasn’t sufficient to keep the heater lit. I needed to either suck out the heavy CO from the shaft or force a large volume of air into the shaft. Either way I needed a large blower fan and some flexible ducting. I got a slavaged furnace fan and 6 10’ lengths of corrugated drain pipe. I first rigged the fan so as to suck the CO. No matter where I placed the ducting…on the bottom or right below the heater the flame went out after a few minutes. It was evident a large volume of air needed to be force fed to the heater, so I accomplished that with a 4 inch flange and an elbow and a few feet of bailing wire. So far I’ve run the heater for about 4 hours uninterrupted and the ice is disappearing rapidly. I’ll keep you posted how that goes. I’ve discovered the usefulness of rubber roof membrane and I determined it would be a fine exterior skin for my mine shacks. There are quite a few roofing companies in Fairbanks and I found one that had a pile of salvaged membrane I could have. It was snow covered and partially frozen to the ground and it was HEAVY. With a shovel and a 2x4 pry bar I managed to loosen the pile enough to get a tow strap attached so I could pull it free and out where I could lay it out and cut it into three manageable pieces. Well, almost manageable. Two of us could barely lift each piece into my pickup. I got a 50’ x 30’ piece for $50!! What a score. Back at the mine I realized I would have to keep the rubber skin from crushing the insulation so I accomplished that with short posts through the insulation, fixed to the inner and poles across the posts. I now have one of three shacks covered over. Much of my efforts have taken place after dark under flood lights and a headlamp. At first I was reluctant to work at night but now I have come to actually enjoy it. Here in Alaska in the winter if you wait till it’s light to get busy, you’ll not get much accomplished. I’m also learning to be adept at performing many common tasks wearing heavy gloves or mittens. It takes patience, perseverance and a little bit of idiocy to work out doors, at night in the arctic winter. Though I must concede, this has been a mighty easy going fall and winter so far up here in the great North. And from what they say, it’s supposed to remain mild for the duration. Waaaah!
  22. flintgreasewood

    Still Hard At It At Cobb Prospect

    It was about 11 am on Saturday when I returned to the prospect. I unloaded the pieces of plywood I had scavenged from the waste transfer site and hauled down on the sled then turned to dealing with the mess in the shaft. The nylon rope, the propane hose and the power cord came up unattached except for the steel trash can lid that served as a shield. Beneath the lid was the melted plastic heater handle and the power cord had burned and bare wires at the end. The 4" plastic air ducting came up next with a melted PVC elbow hanging off the end. The heater itself was tangled in other ropes and power cords and remains down the shaft. To remove the bad air I refitted the air duct to the intake side of the squirrel cage fan and let it run for the entire day. At this point I have no reason to go down in the shaft but when I do I'll take a CO detector with me, just in case. Did I learn my lesson? Well, I'm almost 70 years old and I'm still doing stupid stuff. I try to be careful but it's just not in my dna. Guess that's why all the MSHA regs may just be a good thing for me. I still had the two "milk house" heaters I could thaw with so I rigged them up and sent them down and returned to insulating and weatherizing the building. There was plenty of fiberglass batts to run two layers on the roof and sides. I had to be careful on the pitched roof as frost on the foil backed insulation made for a very slick surface. That done it was necessary for me to wrestle the 14' x 40' piece of rubber roof membrane up on the roof. Due to the subzero cold it was a bit stiff and I needed to lay it out flat on the snow so I could fold and roll it up in a tight bundle. Fortunately, the rubber stays somewhat flexible even when very cold, so I was able to curl up an edge to get a grip and then drag it with all the strength I could muster. Once flat it was a piece of cake to fold. I dragged the rubber "log" to the easiest place to access the roof, stood it up on end and shoved it up inch by inch till it began to fold over and then it could tip it the rest of the way. Unrolling and unfolding went smoothly and now I have a waterproof roof and sides of my little shack. I'm off to Colorado for 7 weeks to work with my brother, so I'll not be working the prospect till I return in April. Till then, stay sane the remainder of winter.
  23. flintgreasewood

    Still Hard At It At Cobb Prospect

    Chuck, I've decided I should relate an example of the dangers you aptly and emphatically warned of. Fortunately I am still here to do the relating. I was able to successfully modify a small propane space heater to fire up while down in the shaft thereby avoiding having to haul up the heater with its attached electric cord, propane hose and 4" fresh air ducting every time I needed to relight it. First off red flags should go up whenever someone modifies any gas related device. Don't try this at home kids! Typically I am color blind...at least to red! What I did to make the heater work as described was to permanently hold down the heat selector/auto ignition knob with a screw. After turning on the gas at the bottle, I merely had to plug in the power cord and the heater would begin operating at its lowest heat level. To cut off the burn I had to shut off the supply at the LP tank and pull the power cord or kill the generator. Simply turning off the power served only to turn off the heater's fan; the gas continued to burn inefficiently but burn nonetheless. When it came time to quit work and go home I shut down the generator, packed up my gear and drove on up the hill on my snow machine. Instead of going home I decided to have dinner at a nearby truck stop and while dwelling over my second cup of coffee it hit me that I had forgotten to turn off the propane. Even though I'm really good at rationalizing myself out of doing things that are a bit more than inconvenient [it was 9pm, about 15 below, and I was tired] I knew I had to drive back down to the prospect and take care of business. When I opened the door to the shaft a very acrid odor greeted my cold nose and I realized I was not going to come out of this one unscathed. But I also knew nothing worse than what had happened could take place now that the gas was turned off, so I left things be to be dealt with in the daylight the next day. To be continued.
  24. flintgreasewood

    Amalgamation

    A couple of thoughts on amalgamation. Chris, you mentioned that some times amalgamation is not totally effective on placer gold that may be coated with iron oxide or various organics. I was advised by Bill Bohan that before I take my placer gold to a buyer I should wash it in toilet bowl cleaner to remove any rust [maybe CLR would work better as it would also attack organic compounds] So I'm thinking that before amalgamation the cons could be washed in a CLR bath to clean them up. Also, Chris, you discussed the problem of "floured" mercury. Could the cons after amalgamation be roasted in a retort to remove the mercury residue?
  25. Chuck, Your operation looks very similar to one on which I worked near Eureka [25 miles from Manley H.S.] We had similar tailings piles and nozzled them down with a Giant onto a large slick plate at the head of a sluice box. Of course it took a 6" pump to supply the Giant. Have you ever considered hydraulicing?
×