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Everything posted by flintgreasewood

  1. flintgreasewood

    Last Summer in Alaska

    Thanks, Chuck I may delve into some of those details you mentioned in a day or two.
  2. flintgreasewood

    Last Summer in Alaska

    With Geo's encouragement I guess this is a good time to reminise back to the days of last summer's mining. So here's how my typical day would play out. The sun would be up long before I got out of bed, but I did have breakfast cooking by 7:30. I'd feed the gray jay family as well and then load up the 4 wheeler with whatever needed to be hauled down to the diggings...pack, tools, gas, diesel, chain saw, scrap wood...whatever could be strapped on or pulled behind. If I took the longer, but faster route I had a half mile of gravel road which took me to the Elliot Hwy., then a mile on blacktop to our trailhead. There I would usually pick up my wife who had preceeded me in our car. The trail was originally a service road down to the historic Davidson Ditch, a 90 mile engineering wonder that supplied much needed water to many creeks [including mine] and mining operations in the Fairbanks region. After crossing the now dry ditch we bounced along through the forest on a trail of our own construction for about a mile to our prospect. Tool and equipment bins covered with tarps had to be uncovered, gas tanks filled, and protective gear put on...rain coat and pants, heavy insulated boots, rubber gloves, ear protectors and hard hat. The tarp and wood cover over the shaft was removed, generator started and all was set for me to descend the ladder down to the bottom of the shaft. During the night thawed muck would fall from the surface and some would land on the rungs of the ladder, so as I made my way down, I'd have to kick and scrape the globs off. After so many trips down and up that ladder I had lost any anxiety I might have had. Heck, it was just 30...50...60' to the bottom! I don't want to say that I got careless on the ladder; I always had at least one hand firmly grasping a rung before I moved my feet. Once on the bottom I was typically faced with several inches of water that had accumulated from seepage and thawing overnight. It amounted to about 10 gallons which had to be hoisted to the surface in a 5 gallon bucket. That taken care of I could get to the main job of jack hammering and hoisting ice. My proceedure was to break up half of the shaft floor, roughly 9 cu. feet, muck it out, then take another 9 cu. ft. That gave me a face to work from on the other half of the shaft. In a shaft that measures approximately 3' x 6' there's not a lot of room to manuver when you have a ladder, a 2' x 16" bucket, a D handle shovel and a medium size jackhammer crowding the space. The equipment shuffle was constant. Watch the bucket descend, keep the guide rope and dump rope separate and untangled. When the bucket is positioned on the ice unplug the hoist power cord and connect the jackhammer. Move the ladder [it hangs loose] to the center of the shaft and secure it on the hoist cable out of the way of the ice breaking. Make some ice cubes and shovel them into the bucket through the rungs of the ladder. Shift the ladder behind my back, reach over and flip the switch to begin raising the bucket. I watch it pass in front of my nose, duck underneath and grab the ropes so if the bucket gets hung up I can jerk it loose. Now I get to relax for a couple of minutes as the bucket rides the aluminum ladder rails to the surface. By now I know exactly when to shut the winch off by observing the position of the bucket with respect to the dump ramp. I also know that as the load is resting on the edge of the ramp it needs to be lowered slightly so it will tip in the direction of the ramp. I jog the switch and the bucket disappears from sight. I reach up high to grab the dump rope, coil it around my hand and pull down hard while also pulling the retracting rope [keeps the bucket from swinging] with the other hand, a nifty operation when it goes smoothly. However, quite often something doesn't go quite right and a cascade of ice will come raining down. To avoid being pelted I have a piece of plywood resting on 4 large spikes driven into the frozen muck above my head and it's just large enough to duck under. The spikes also serve to hold up coils of rope and various electrical cords. From the underside of the plywood is suspended the converter that changes 115v power to 12v which is needed to operate the winch up top. When I feel the bucket is emptied of its contents I throw the switch to the lowering position and begin the process all over again. In this manner I can pretty much run the whole operation alone. When my wife is on site she watches for the bucket and assists with the dumping operation which includes periodically shoveling the ramp clear of ice. If she is not there to help out I must climb the ladder about every eight or ten trips to clear the ramp. I also take that opportunity to put in a call to my partner to let him know that everything is fine and I'm not in trouble at the bottom of the shaft. At days end, often around 8 pm, I close close up the shaft, secure the equipment topside, fire up the 4 wheeler and head home for dinner and a much needed rest. So goes a day in the life of a shaft sinker.
  3. flintgreasewood

    100 Year Flood Gold

    Many of you have probably been watching the news of the horrific flooding that is occurring in my [and Leonard's] back yard...almost...in the Boulder, Loveland, Front Range areas of Colorado. Fortunately I have moved to higher ground and though we got a good drenching, the flooding is more down in the lower country [i'm at 10,350']. After the debris is cleared and the washed out roads repaired I'll get up to my claim on Fourmile and I know nothing anywhere near the creek will be there as I left it last summer...maybe some of the hoses will be tangled in the trees, but I bet my big home made sluice and dredge pump and engine will burried in mud and rock somewhere downstream. But there may be a benefit from all that raging water. The gold will be redeposited, and new channels may be cut that were actually old channels never touched by the old timers. I'm not familiar with this type of situation so if anyone out there does have experience with the aftermath of 100 year flooding on a gold stream, I'd appreciate hearing about it.
  4. flintgreasewood

    A Thanksgiving Offering

    Greetings, All As 2013 winds down, some of us have more, some less in our pokes. However it may be, we all have much to be thankful for in this still great country. Here's to good times with family and friends on this day of Thanksgiving. God has graciously blessed us in the past, the present and will, in the future as we look to Him for our hope and happiness. Kurt
  5. flintgreasewood

    Anfo Usage And Regulations

    I'm researching the usage and regulation of ANFO in underground mining. If anyone has any pertinent knowledge on this subject I'd appreciate hearing from you.
  6. flintgreasewood

    Anfo Usage And Regulations

    I've done a bit more research and now know that the minimum hole diameter for anfo to detonate is 1 1/2". However this does not assure a complete detonation of the charge. 2" is considered sufficient diameter to allow for complete detonation. I'm thinking that since typical blast holes are in the range of 20' to 30', a 1 3/4" diameter hole between 3 and 4 feet would be sure to completely detonate. I've found a pretty slick new electric hammer drill made by Hilti specifically for mining. It uses various diameter button bits screwed to a shaft. I'd probably use a 1050mm shaft. Tomorrow I'll find out how much that cool tool costs. Lots more to learn.
  7. flintgreasewood

    Jig Or Centrifuge For Flour Gold Project?

    Peter, A good jig can pull out some pretty fine gold. I have limited exposure to centrifuges but a guy I worked for in Alaska who was a pretty savvy miner, junked his centrifuges for a jig for first stage cleanup...panning being the final cleanup. BTW, I am here in Colorado. Where are you?
  8. flintgreasewood

    Anfo Usage And Regulations

    Thanks Steve, for that good info on anfo. I sure am not committed to using anfo but want to explore it as a possible option. It would be used in permafrost drifts, so wet conditions shouldn't be a concern. Since I don't know the first thing about what size holes...diameter and length and hole patterns I can only say that I am thinking of using my electric hammer drill to put in 1" x 3' holes. If that won't cut it, let me know. Since I will be mucking by hand, I don't need to blast too much at one time. It would seem to me that with such small holes that packing the anfo would be do-able with simple tools...yes? Wondering if I could make pre packed tubes of anfo that I could push into the hole. Just a thought. Of course I'll be in compliance with all MSHA regs for anfo...which could be very difficult. A friend was using anfo in his permafrost mine and eventually gave up on it.
  9. flintgreasewood

    Reverse Helix Recovery Systems

    I've designed and built a reverse helix trommel barrel out of UHMW and HDPE plastics. The helix is cut from a 12" x 3/4" HDPE pipe sandwiched between a punched 3/16" UHMW inner screen and an 1/8" HDPE outer shell. It was very difficult to manufacture so I'm not sure if I'll ever use it in my production model unless I can figure out how to assemble it more efficiently. Also, changes in my plant design negate the necessity for it. But it was fun to design and build.
  10. flintgreasewood

    Bioleaching Of Black Shales

    Thanks, Chuck. I'll check it out. There is a lot of "normal" in many places, but in other areas it is anything but. There's a new Colorado gold rush going on in the outwash plains of the northern Front Range. Lots of new gold deposited. I'm heading up into the hills this week to some historically rich drainages with my detector, shovel and pan. Got to pack it in on my mountain bike and then hoof it. Should be really interesting.
  11. flintgreasewood

    Who Got All The Gold ?

    Thanks, Steve Where are those shafts? Are they prospect or mine shafts? If they were just half filled with ice you'd be lucky. Every shaft on my claim was completely iced in. Next season I'll have better lighting down below so the photos will be good. The whole operation will be much more organized as will be my photo collection. Stay with me...the saga will continue.
  12. flintgreasewood

    Who Got All The Gold ?

    Steve, Though I posted prolifically on our summer's efforts, you've prompted me to do a recap for those who don't want to wade through the entire thread. We knew there was still a lot of snow around Fairbanks in May, but I just couldn't wait any longer so we left Colorado for the 3000 mile drive up to the claims. I had to snowshoe in pulling sleds for the first week or so till I had the use of the Bravo snow machine. By the time I got all our stuff unburried and set up, the snow was melting fast and water was everywhere. I was able to resume jackhammering and hoisting ice out of the small prospect shaft in which I was down only 15'. I made good progress expecting to hit bed rock within a few more feet. But then it was 30' and then 35' and hoisting by hand became too strenuous. I put a small Superwinch to work with a control switch down in the shaft so I could raise, dump and lower the bucket without help from up top. My partner got the steam equipment moved in and operational so we gave me and my jackhammer a rest and thawed out the ice. The steam point hit mud at 37' and we were happy to know we finally hit bottom. Or so we thought. I still had to get down with my jackhammer and bust up the ice that didn't get melted and in doing so ran into a large chunk of frozen muck. At some point in the long history of the shaft the muck had sluffed off and was encased in ice. Doug's point had hit that chunk and we were fooled. The deeper I went, the more difficult it was to remove seep water as well as ice. I was unsuccessful in trying to get a deep well submersible pump to work so we reverted to pumping up to a hanging 1/2 barrel and then the remainder of the way to the top with another submersible. I also had to keep adding ladder sections and when I ran out of aluminum ones, we made them out of wood, one of spruce poles and another of 2x4's. From day one I had been assembling a hydraulic system to operate a Pullmaster hoist. The hoist was old and worn out and after many hours of futzing with it along with several hundred dollars in rebuilding efforts, I gave up on it. By now I was down to about 55' and we decided to do some more steaming. This time we hit bed rock for sure...at 67'. I had switched to a larger deep well pump which worked like a charm, so pumping out the melt water was a piece of cake. Still I had to do some jackhammering and a final steaming to finish off the remaining ice. But when I lowered and secured the final section of ladder and stepped onto the muddy bottom, it was a great feeling. I could now see that we had about 12 feet of gravel, 4' of it mixed with mud and 8' pure gravel, rock and sand. Water, too much of it, was an issue early on and we went to extreme measures to try to keep it out of the shaft [to no avail]. Later in the summer water, the lack of it, also kept us from washing gold bearing gravel from the old dump pile. To help ensure that we'll have sufficient supply next summer I built a dam on our little creek [in compliance] and it should help a lot. It even survived a heavy rain late in August. I'll be adding to it's height next spring. A shortage of funds kept us from opening the drifts off the shaft, but it will all be waiting for us next season. We were able to build a boiler shelter [soon to be a boiler shack], deck the shaft and erect a shelter over it. I'm eager to get back up to the claim sometime in March for a few weeks of work down in the shaft. Could be I'll finally be on the pay. Stay tuned.
  13. flintgreasewood

    100 Year Flood Gold

    Boulder got a reprieve today with plenty of blue sky and warm sun with more 80+ temps to come in the next few days. Things are drying out but the creeks and rivers are still in flood stage. Life looks a bit normal in the city except for selected hard hit areas. Absolutely no access to mountain canyons and towns. Not even allowed to go in by foot, so I won't be able to check out any of the drainages for some time. The gold isn't going anywhere for a while.
  14. flintgreasewood

    100 Year Flood Gold

    The "little" creek in the photo is Gold Run and was the creek that began the Colorado gold rush in the early 1860's. It was very rich. It heads about 2 miles away as the crow flies above the historic mining town of Gold Hill [1000' above Salina where the photo was taken]. So, though small, it has an extremely steep gradient. A few years after the founding of Gold Hill [1869, I believe] a monster flash flood hit and destroyed everything in it's path all the way to Boulder, about 12 miles away. Nothing even close has has occurred there since then up until a few days ago.
  15. flintgreasewood

    100 Year Flood Gold

    The first photo in the link that you sent, Chuck, was taken from the property we lived on three years ago. My wife and I considered buying the house in the photo. One thing that intrigued me about the place was that it backdoor'd into a large adit that was a very productive mine in the late 1800's. Glad we decided against buying.
  16. flintgreasewood

    100 Year Flood Gold

    Vance, you make a very good point. The impacts we humans have on the earth are much too overblown by many in their supposed importance. It takes the raw power of nature to make it perfectly clear just how small and relatively insignificant our mark on our environment truly is. I just saw photos taken of the little mountain community of Salina we lived in just three years ago. It is incredible the scope of the devestation by a stream that is actually normally dry at this time of year. If you want to see the photos go to "Stephanie Ehret" on Facebook. The house we lived in is the middle on of the nine.
  17. Chuck, I was hoping I'd hear what your summer was like. Really enjoying your posts. In some respects your experience parallels the development of my prospect. Big difference is that you are methodical and calculating and I just "hog" it. I think I'll take your advice and set up a rock lab, though. Maybe we'll both come out of our mining exploits with a nice retirement. Now please continue with your story