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flintgreasewood

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  1. Like
    flintgreasewood got a reaction from JR BOI in Life At The Bottom Of A 64' Shaft   
    A series of mud slides seems plausible.  That would allow for some settling and deposition of silt/muck layers between events.
  2. Like
    flintgreasewood got a reaction from Got the bug in Life At The Bottom Of A 64' Shaft   
    Not an awful lot to report.  I'm about 9' in my drift which is about 5' wide and 5' 6" high at the top of an arch.  My gravel is very atypical with large lenses of pure muck in between a jumble of chunky, fine and ground up shist bedrock, large cobbles, angular and rounded quartz and a smattering of intrusives.  There's no bedding or layering except for the muck and I even have bones almost to bed rock, one of those being a young mammoth jaw complete with two teeth found 2' off bed rock.  It's quite a conundrum.  And the gold is not primarily just off bed rock but spotty and scattered throughout the entire column.  Got any ideas?  Heavy flood event??   I'm also continually making changes to my heat rods for the gravel thawing.  My latest iteration should be ready to test out in about 2 weeks.  From calculations and prior experience I'm expecting some really effective thawing.  I'm also improving my drilling system making it faster and  less labor intensive.   My bucket hoist has been working nearly flawlessly.  I'm ready for the cold to leave though I'm not looking forward to fighting with runoff again this year.  Got some ideas  how to mitigate it.   More soon.  Thannks all for your continued interest.
  3. Like
    flintgreasewood got a reaction from dredgernaut in Life At The Bottom Of A 64' Shaft   
    Late December last year I began digging a 6' x 6' prospect shaft about 100' downstream from the original Cobb prospect shaft. Armed with a 30 lb electric jack hammer, a couple of shovels and my nifty 1/2 size home made "Fairbanks self dumping bucket" system I worked my way down through frozen muck and eventually a 10' gravel layer to bed rock at 62'. On my way down I encountered layers of tangled branches and trees up to 6" in diameter. After 40+ feet I hit fine sand and scattered patches of gravel, fossil bone fragments, then complete bones. I was anticipating these finds but the excitement of actually finding them was intense. The first chunk of mammoth tusk nearly put me over the top. Progressing downward, the bones became less frequent and the pay gravel more dense. I had been told that a jack hammer would be ineffective in frozen gravel. Good I don't listen to everything I hear; it busted up almost as easy as the muck. The gravel graded into fractured and decomposed bed rock and I knew I had finally reached my goal...10 months after starting the project. Before freeze up I was able to wash 5 yards of pay and the result was encouraging. I'll have to wait till late spring to resume processing what I brought up before and what I can hoist this winter.
    Now it's late November and all is solidly frozen above as well as below ground. Since bottoming out in the shaft I've been devoting most of my time to upgrades above the shaft in preparation for winter work. Also I had to take a part time job in town to help pay for the added expense of moving to a small cabin also in Fairbanks. What little time I've been able to devote to underground efforts have been to expand my working space. On the way down I managed to increase the dimensions of the shaft from 6' x 6' to over 7' square. The plan is to continue out to 10' square before I begin pushing the drifts across the valley.
    Jack hammering straight down is relatively easy compared to working horizontally and even vertically. Sufficient pressure is difficult to exert out of position so I began working on ideas to free the gravel other than by the traditional steaming or blasting to reduce the great amount of physical labor involved with jack hammering. Suffice it to say, I'm making good progress in those efforts. I'll report on this process in months to come.
  4. Like
    flintgreasewood got a reaction from Got the bug in Life At The Bottom Of A 64' Shaft   
    Not an awful lot to report.  I'm about 9' in my drift which is about 5' wide and 5' 6" high at the top of an arch.  My gravel is very atypical with large lenses of pure muck in between a jumble of chunky, fine and ground up shist bedrock, large cobbles, angular and rounded quartz and a smattering of intrusives.  There's no bedding or layering except for the muck and I even have bones almost to bed rock, one of those being a young mammoth jaw complete with two teeth found 2' off bed rock.  It's quite a conundrum.  And the gold is not primarily just off bed rock but spotty and scattered throughout the entire column.  Got any ideas?  Heavy flood event??   I'm also continually making changes to my heat rods for the gravel thawing.  My latest iteration should be ready to test out in about 2 weeks.  From calculations and prior experience I'm expecting some really effective thawing.  I'm also improving my drilling system making it faster and  less labor intensive.   My bucket hoist has been working nearly flawlessly.  I'm ready for the cold to leave though I'm not looking forward to fighting with runoff again this year.  Got some ideas  how to mitigate it.   More soon.  Thannks all for your continued interest.
  5. Like
    flintgreasewood got a reaction from Got the bug in Life At The Bottom Of A 64' Shaft   
    Not an awful lot to report.  I'm about 9' in my drift which is about 5' wide and 5' 6" high at the top of an arch.  My gravel is very atypical with large lenses of pure muck in between a jumble of chunky, fine and ground up shist bedrock, large cobbles, angular and rounded quartz and a smattering of intrusives.  There's no bedding or layering except for the muck and I even have bones almost to bed rock, one of those being a young mammoth jaw complete with two teeth found 2' off bed rock.  It's quite a conundrum.  And the gold is not primarily just off bed rock but spotty and scattered throughout the entire column.  Got any ideas?  Heavy flood event??   I'm also continually making changes to my heat rods for the gravel thawing.  My latest iteration should be ready to test out in about 2 weeks.  From calculations and prior experience I'm expecting some really effective thawing.  I'm also improving my drilling system making it faster and  less labor intensive.   My bucket hoist has been working nearly flawlessly.  I'm ready for the cold to leave though I'm not looking forward to fighting with runoff again this year.  Got some ideas  how to mitigate it.   More soon.  Thannks all for your continued interest.
  6. Like
    flintgreasewood got a reaction from B O'Berry in Life At The Bottom Of A 64' Shaft   
    Thanks, Doug I hope my efforts serve as an encouragement to other current and future drift miners. I'm hoping to develop simple systems that can be utilized by even just one person to successfully mine underground.
  7. Like
    flintgreasewood got a reaction from dredgernaut in Hello All   
    Welcome to the Forum. That's a pretty slick looking piece of equipment and well made too. Aluminum?
    Where are you located?
  8. Like
    flintgreasewood got a reaction from dredgernaut in Life At The Bottom Of A 64' Shaft   
    Late December last year I began digging a 6' x 6' prospect shaft about 100' downstream from the original Cobb prospect shaft. Armed with a 30 lb electric jack hammer, a couple of shovels and my nifty 1/2 size home made "Fairbanks self dumping bucket" system I worked my way down through frozen muck and eventually a 10' gravel layer to bed rock at 62'. On my way down I encountered layers of tangled branches and trees up to 6" in diameter. After 40+ feet I hit fine sand and scattered patches of gravel, fossil bone fragments, then complete bones. I was anticipating these finds but the excitement of actually finding them was intense. The first chunk of mammoth tusk nearly put me over the top. Progressing downward, the bones became less frequent and the pay gravel more dense. I had been told that a jack hammer would be ineffective in frozen gravel. Good I don't listen to everything I hear; it busted up almost as easy as the muck. The gravel graded into fractured and decomposed bed rock and I knew I had finally reached my goal...10 months after starting the project. Before freeze up I was able to wash 5 yards of pay and the result was encouraging. I'll have to wait till late spring to resume processing what I brought up before and what I can hoist this winter.
    Now it's late November and all is solidly frozen above as well as below ground. Since bottoming out in the shaft I've been devoting most of my time to upgrades above the shaft in preparation for winter work. Also I had to take a part time job in town to help pay for the added expense of moving to a small cabin also in Fairbanks. What little time I've been able to devote to underground efforts have been to expand my working space. On the way down I managed to increase the dimensions of the shaft from 6' x 6' to over 7' square. The plan is to continue out to 10' square before I begin pushing the drifts across the valley.
    Jack hammering straight down is relatively easy compared to working horizontally and even vertically. Sufficient pressure is difficult to exert out of position so I began working on ideas to free the gravel other than by the traditional steaming or blasting to reduce the great amount of physical labor involved with jack hammering. Suffice it to say, I'm making good progress in those efforts. I'll report on this process in months to come.
  9. Like
    flintgreasewood got a reaction from dredgernaut in Life At The Bottom Of A 64' Shaft   
    Late December last year I began digging a 6' x 6' prospect shaft about 100' downstream from the original Cobb prospect shaft. Armed with a 30 lb electric jack hammer, a couple of shovels and my nifty 1/2 size home made "Fairbanks self dumping bucket" system I worked my way down through frozen muck and eventually a 10' gravel layer to bed rock at 62'. On my way down I encountered layers of tangled branches and trees up to 6" in diameter. After 40+ feet I hit fine sand and scattered patches of gravel, fossil bone fragments, then complete bones. I was anticipating these finds but the excitement of actually finding them was intense. The first chunk of mammoth tusk nearly put me over the top. Progressing downward, the bones became less frequent and the pay gravel more dense. I had been told that a jack hammer would be ineffective in frozen gravel. Good I don't listen to everything I hear; it busted up almost as easy as the muck. The gravel graded into fractured and decomposed bed rock and I knew I had finally reached my goal...10 months after starting the project. Before freeze up I was able to wash 5 yards of pay and the result was encouraging. I'll have to wait till late spring to resume processing what I brought up before and what I can hoist this winter.
    Now it's late November and all is solidly frozen above as well as below ground. Since bottoming out in the shaft I've been devoting most of my time to upgrades above the shaft in preparation for winter work. Also I had to take a part time job in town to help pay for the added expense of moving to a small cabin also in Fairbanks. What little time I've been able to devote to underground efforts have been to expand my working space. On the way down I managed to increase the dimensions of the shaft from 6' x 6' to over 7' square. The plan is to continue out to 10' square before I begin pushing the drifts across the valley.
    Jack hammering straight down is relatively easy compared to working horizontally and even vertically. Sufficient pressure is difficult to exert out of position so I began working on ideas to free the gravel other than by the traditional steaming or blasting to reduce the great amount of physical labor involved with jack hammering. Suffice it to say, I'm making good progress in those efforts. I'll report on this process in months to come.
  10. Like
    flintgreasewood got a reaction from Ronald C in 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.

     


                    


                


            






            


                


                    


                        


     







     


                    


                


      






            


                




     

     


                    


                


            






            


                


                    




     


                    


                


            


        


     




                    


                


            


        


     
     

        


     
          


        


     
     

        


     
       
  11. Like
    flintgreasewood got a reaction from Clay in 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.
  12. Like
    flintgreasewood got a reaction from Clay in 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.
  13. Like
    flintgreasewood got a reaction from Clay in Back On The Cobb Prospect Fall 2015   
    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.
  14. Like
    flintgreasewood got a reaction from Ronald C in 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.
  15. Like
    flintgreasewood got a reaction from Ronald C in Still Hard At It At Cobb Prospect   
    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!

     
  16. Like
    flintgreasewood got a reaction from Ronald C in Still Hard At It At Cobb Prospect   
    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!

     
  17. Like
    flintgreasewood got a reaction from Steve in How It All Got Started   
    Thanks, Chuck, for the thumbs up and the editing tip.
  18. Like
    flintgreasewood got a reaction from JR BOI in 2014 Mining Season At Cobb   
    Hello, Dick
    I plan to post another report on progress, or lack thereof, at Cobb prospect soon, but I'll answer your question now.
    The shaft as originally dug by the old timers was approximately 6'x 3.5' and 67' deep [to bed rock]. My first two summers of work on the shaft were spent mainly removing all the ice that completely filled the shaft and small drifts. Last fall the shaft refilled with rainwater after a big storm and I wasn't there to pump it out. Consequently, it nearly froze completely back but there was barely enough room to lower myself down on a skip so I could chip enough ice out to get a bucket down. So right now the shaft is roughly 4' x 2.5' with one end rounded and the other with the ladder against the wall. Working at the bottom I have a little cavern thawed out that makes it just a bit easier to operate, but with a half of a 55 gal bucket, pump, jackhammer, ladder, and hoisting anchor weight sharing the same space, it's not very roomy. I'll try to post some photos soon. Hope that helps.
  19. Like
    flintgreasewood got a reaction from JR BOI in 2014 Mining Season At Cobb   
    Dick,
    I don't have a claustrophobia issue but at first I was uncomfortable with the thought of being so far down with barely enough room to turn around. Hard work in a situation like that helps take your mind off those thoughts. Also troubleshooting problems from the ladder 40' or 50' above the bottom, hanging by one arm around a rung is not as difficult as it might seem. One needs to do what needs to be done and you don't let it get to you.
  20. Like
    flintgreasewood got a reaction from Geowizard in How It All Got Started   
    Doug's a good cook; he has lots of experience.  The coffee pot was staying warm on the wood stove when I walked into the main part of the cabin that doubled as a kitchen and Doug's bunk space.  He fixed us scrambled eggs, bacon and toast and I couldn't have wanted for a better way to begin the day.  Next he took me on a tour of the immediate area pointing out this discovery and that head scratcher of a situation he'd uncovered, literally.  One prospect shaft and accompanying gravel pile he'd located about 1/4 mile downstream from camp, he had named Baker Dump and put in a fair amount of time assessing it's potential.  I was eager to do some work so Doug turned me loose washing pay using the elevated sluice he had set up.  As I recall, I put through about eight 5 gallon buckets.  Later on we weighed the gold I found and Doug did his calculations...30 yards to an ounce [i believe it was], not mind blowing by any stretch, but good enough to make it worth mining.
       I've been a trail runner for many years so I'm not averse to striking out over the countryside on foot.  This was my first opportunity to really explore my ground unhindered by snow cover or incessant rain.  Doug had written that the dam I built while Alethea and I were last there had been taken out by heavy rains.  I had to check it out to determine if there was any possibility of rebuilding what was left.  There was nothing left.  I proceeded up valley looking for other prospect shafts he had found but I was unsuccessful.  Doug had clued me in on what to look for when searching for prospects.  He said when you see clumps of birches, maybe even just one out where there is typically just low shrubs, grasses and black spruce, that is a likely indication of a prospect shaft.  Birches grow well on gravel.
       The following day I let Doug know I was going out for an extended foray down valley and then up an adjoining creek that also ran through my claim blocks.  So far Doug had not found indication of any sort of mining activity on that fork, nor was there any historical record of such unlike the right fork where the old mine was located.  That didn't keep me from looking.  After several false hopes, isolated birches here and there, I was beginning to think the old timers somehow felt the valley wasn't worth prospecting or they were too busy mining decent gold nearby.  A half mile up from the junction of the two drainages I spotted several birch along with a couple good sized spruce and hurried over to them.  Unlike a good prospector I hadn't brought a shovel with me, though I did have my pan and a hunting knife.  I stuck the knife in the thin moss [another indicator of a prospect] and felt and heard the sound of gravel.  My excitement level was high but it shot through the roof as I washed a pan full in a nearby pool.  It was unmistakable...there was gold!  I didn't have any means of getting the flakes out of the pan nor any bottle to put them in, so I just added more gravel from another part of the mound and washed that.  There was more gold!  And if there was gold at that location, there would absolutely be gold all the way down the valley.  I still had one more thing to do at the new site and that was to find the shaft.  I spotted some water at the edge of the birch mound surrounded by blueberry bushes and poked a stick down into the hole.  It took the whole 3 feet and I hit something hard and flat...ice.  I'd found the shaft.  It was time to head back.  With pan in hand, careful not to trip and lose its contents, I fairly ran the mile or so back to camp.  Now Doug is not one to show a lot of emotion even when it comes to gold; he's seen so much of it in his lifetime, but I think he was pretty darned happy to see what I had uncovered.  I don't remember much more about the remainder of my week in Fairbanks other than I did get to meet Doug's wife and a few other miner friends of his who frequented the local watering hole and fine eatery, the Turtle Club.  The experience was fuel enough to last me on through the following months till we were able to return again to open our new site...Cobb Prospect, named in memory of our friend and bigger than life Alaskan, Les Cobb,who had recently died in a tragic accident while guiding a black bear hunt.
        Stay with me.
  21. Like
    flintgreasewood got a reaction from Geowizard in How It All Got Started   
    Doug had been reading my posts on the Alaska Gold Forum and contacted me off list.  He had been drift mining for the better part of 30 years out west of McGrath and thought I might appreciate some advice.  We corresponded and talked on the phone regularly for several years and from time to time Doug would get serious about coming to Fairbanks to work with me.  Research was his thing and he had been doing lots of it on my specific area, but he was just not quite convinced it was worth the effort to undertake a move.  His claims near the Innoko River were so remote that now, in his 60's, it was too difficult and too risky for him to work them.  It was not really surprising to get a call from him letting me know that he had decided to move his family to Fairbanks so he could help us develop our ground if I was ok with me.
        Our home was still in Colorado, so I wasn't able to welcome them to Fairbanks and give Doug the grand tour of my claims.  By that time, however, he already knew enough about the area that all I had to let him know was the exact place to find the trail down to the old mine.  They rented a nice cabin just north of town but Doug wanted to be down at the mine as much as possible, so he took to building a small cabin next to the shaft.  Alethea and I had cut and skidded a sizable pile of good sized black spruce logs the previous year so they were well seasoned and conveniently usable for the lower half of the cabin.  For the remainder he used dimentional lumber and plywood, some of which he salvaged from various waste transfer sites.  Doug was good at making use of reclaimed items which kept his building costs down considerably.  Aside from the cabin construction he busied himself recribbing the shaft and constructing a working deck above it.  Yet, building and rehabilitating were not his real interests.
        Doug's greatest love was prospecting, sampling and calcuating yardage, seeking to know just how much gold was there, both under ground and what was left on the surface in the tailings.  Much of his time was spent exploring the valley floor searching for evidence of prospect shafts from long ago.  He knew what to look for and his efforts were rewarded numerous times.  When he could, he would take the 4 wheeler out, but he also brought with him a couple of snow machines that were equally employed on boggy ground as well as on snow.  Those machines enabled him to haul 5 gallon pails of tailings from the prospect sites back to camp where they were more conveniently washed for evidence of gold.  From time to time Doug would call or write to inform me of his findings.  Sometimes he was excited and quite optimistic about the mine's potential.  Other times I got the impression he was ready to pack it up and go home.  But he stayed on. 
        I had built a steam generator which Doug fine tuned for use in removing the ice from the shaft.  Steam thawing was how he mined all his life so he was expert at it.  He'd let a 10' long pipe work it's way down into the ice and allow it to steam out a large pocket then move it over and repeat the process.  When enough melt water had accumulated he'd pump it out but use some to generate more steam.  I was always eager to get reports on how deep he'd gotten in the shaft.  For me, the big goal was to get down to bed rock, open up the drifts and resume mining where the old timers had left off.  I envisioned finding rooms carved out of the gravel with tools and coats and gloves and gizmos left behind by the miners a hundred years ago.  At the headwall I imagined finding nuggets lying on the bed rock that they hadn't yet picked up.  Ahhh, dreams; they're what keep us plugging away at reality!  [did I just coin a classic line?]
       By late spring of 2012 I had to get up to Alaska, even if just for a short time, to see the progress first hand.  You might have caught that Doug and I still had never met face to face, even after 5 years of acquaintance.  By now we were talking  partnership so that made it even more imperative that I make a trip up there, so I booked a flight in early June with the intent to stay a week.
        All the cheap flights into Fairbanks are "red eye", so it was probably 1am when I arrived, still light, but the airport was quiet except for scurry of the passengers on my flight picking up their luggage.  Doug said he'd be waiting for me but I didn't know who to look for.  I had seen photos of his son, his dogs, the new cabin and the glaciered creek, but none of Doug.  After nearly everyone had cleared out of the baggage claim area I noticed a gray bearded chap dressed in gray work shirt and pants, a baseball cap and staring as though he were also looking for someone.  I walked up and asked him if he was Doug.  He was.
    The mine was 25 miles from the airport but the time passed quickly as it does when you're getting to know someone new.  At the trail head we unloaded my duffle and some groceries Doug had bought in town into an aluminum sled hitched to a Scandic snow machine and off we went into the half light.   Ten minutes later we were down at camp.  Doug hurriedly showed me around, pointed out the bedroom, usually used by his son, that would be my quarters and we bid each other good night.
  22. Like
    flintgreasewood got a reaction from Tad R in How It All Got Started   
    We got permission to park the Airstream in an outlying lot of a nearby truck stop which was roughly 2 miles from where we could access the claims. The monsoon season was full on but the rain had let up briefly while we off loaded the 4 wheeler and the rest of the gear we would need work down at the old mine site. Earlier in the summer I was able to brush out an overgrown trail that ran down a long ridge and then plunged precipitously to the valley floor. The trommel along with the rest of our tools, camping equipment, pump and hoses fit nicely in a large sled I had built to haul stuff down to the mine and the Polaris had no trouble towing the load. We set up two tents, one for tools and equipment and the other to cook and sleep in. I wanted to let Alethea work the trommel and recover our first gold, so we got busy uncovering the unwashed pay gravel at the base of the gin pole. As Alethea fed the trommel, I made adjustments to the spray into both the hopper and inside the barrel. With very little tweeking I had our Eureka Gold Thief running just as I had hoped it would. Now, would it catch gold and was there any gold in the gin pole gravel? It was not easy hand shoveling the cobbles and packed gravel even after going at it with my pick mattock, and after about a half hour we couldn't stand the anticipation, so we shut off the pump and engine to do a clean up. There was a good amount of heavies in front of the riffles and a lot in the miners moss. Into the 5 gal. bucket it all went and then into my pan. A couple minutes later there was a nice line of colors in the crease. Jubilation! I left Alethea with the gold washing while I plowed into the task of cleaning out all the debris collapsed in the 6' x 6' shaft. Down a couple of feet revealed cribbing logs in various stages of decay and some were partially locked in ice. I had read about shafts being sealed off with a plug of logs, moss, and snow and I was hopeful that is what I was encountering.
    Rain, rain, rain! Usually light, it was more annoying than inhibiting and our rain suits kept us dry while working.; Alethea divided her time between running the trommel and making the campsite more "homey" as women are inclined to do, especially keeping a fire going for warmth and cooking. I was so into my shaft reclamation I had to be pried away to take a lunch break. Every now and then I got sidetracked digging about in the steam shack. I was utterly fascinated with the old boiler, engine and hoist and as with the shaft I was determined to free them from their prison of ice, mud and rotted logs. At that time and still now I have the dream of rebuilding the old steam works and using them to once again to bring buckets of gold bearing gravels from 60' below to the surface to be dumped beneath the gin pole. The boiler is too far gone to use safely, but the engine and hoist need only a few minor repairs, a good greasing and they'll be good to go.
    Every evening we hopped onto the 4 wheeler and made our way back up the trail to the road where the Jimmy was waiting to take us back to the trailer for the night...the night with almost no darkness. We were tired enough that that didn't pose much of a problem. But the rain, the rain lulled us to sleep but it made leaving the warmth of the trailer each morning just a little difficult. Hardy Alaskan miners just suck it up and go to it...so that's just what we did for 8 days. Then it was time to leave for Nome. Les and the rest of the Nome crew met at the airport, boarded a 16 passenger turbo prop aircraft and a few hours later we were looking out over Nome harbor at a choppy gray ocean. Before leaving for the remote mine camp, groceries had to be purchased, arrangements made for a loader and dozer to be hauled and a short tour around the fascinating and historic mining town taken. About as quickly as we had arrived, we were out of sight of Nome and on our way to our destination 80 miles to the north.
    We had been forewarned that the camp was primitive, but on first sight "primitive" was a gross understatement. The eight small shacks stood out starkly against the barren rolling tundra. Three of the 6' x 10' buildings were sleeping quarters as was a larger structure on a hill above the camp. There was a cozy kitchen/dining shack, a storage building that doubled as a propane fired shower facility, and a parts shed. Rounding out the compound was the privy which had no door. The three women in the party quickly saw to it that one was made and installed. The last time the mine was in operation was in the '30's and it was a combination of drift mine and open cut. None of the drifts were still visible as the adits were long ago collapsed. The open cut was evidenced by the rusted remains of a Sauerman bucket winch deck operated by an ancient gas engine. On another ridge were four dilapidated frame buildings that had been part of the original camp but were too far gone to use in the new operation.
    One of the main jobs we had was to remove any usable items from the buildings on the ridge and the grounds around them and then burn them down. It was a choice location and the new camp would eventually be relocated there. That never happened. Another job given to me was to set up a potable water supply for the camp making use of the pristine Quartz Creek. I also helped Alethea with the cooking every now and then. One of the guys started ripping and pushing frozen muck so as to get to the pay gravel beneath. The five mile long mine road off the main gravel road was in bad need of smoothing out and widening and I had the opportunity to learn to operate the large front end loader in performing that task. I must add that once I did get the loader stuck in a particularly boggy section and the dozer had to be brought out to extricate it.
    It wasn't all work out in the wilds of the Seward Peninsula. We had some time to explore other nearby mining ruins, pick blueberries, wash gold with a small Gold Fields vibrating washer, photograph Musk Oxen and swat hoards of mosquitoes. One Sunday afternoon I even did a 10 mile run out to the Kugaroc River and back. Yet our time in the Nome area was cut short by an unexpected cut off of funding for the operation. As difficult as were the circumstances and living conditions at the remote camp, we were sad to have to leave so soon. The tundra had a mystical beauty and serenity that we had never experienced anywhere else in our lives and we're convinced we will return some day.
    Stay tuned for more.
  23. Like
    flintgreasewood got a reaction from Tad R in How It All Got Started   
    We got permission to park the Airstream in an outlying lot of a nearby truck stop which was roughly 2 miles from where we could access the claims. The monsoon season was full on but the rain had let up briefly while we off loaded the 4 wheeler and the rest of the gear we would need work down at the old mine site. Earlier in the summer I was able to brush out an overgrown trail that ran down a long ridge and then plunged precipitously to the valley floor. The trommel along with the rest of our tools, camping equipment, pump and hoses fit nicely in a large sled I had built to haul stuff down to the mine and the Polaris had no trouble towing the load. We set up two tents, one for tools and equipment and the other to cook and sleep in. I wanted to let Alethea work the trommel and recover our first gold, so we got busy uncovering the unwashed pay gravel at the base of the gin pole. As Alethea fed the trommel, I made adjustments to the spray into both the hopper and inside the barrel. With very little tweeking I had our Eureka Gold Thief running just as I had hoped it would. Now, would it catch gold and was there any gold in the gin pole gravel? It was not easy hand shoveling the cobbles and packed gravel even after going at it with my pick mattock, and after about a half hour we couldn't stand the anticipation, so we shut off the pump and engine to do a clean up. There was a good amount of heavies in front of the riffles and a lot in the miners moss. Into the 5 gal. bucket it all went and then into my pan. A couple minutes later there was a nice line of colors in the crease. Jubilation! I left Alethea with the gold washing while I plowed into the task of cleaning out all the debris collapsed in the 6' x 6' shaft. Down a couple of feet revealed cribbing logs in various stages of decay and some were partially locked in ice. I had read about shafts being sealed off with a plug of logs, moss, and snow and I was hopeful that is what I was encountering.
    Rain, rain, rain! Usually light, it was more annoying than inhibiting and our rain suits kept us dry while working.; Alethea divided her time between running the trommel and making the campsite more "homey" as women are inclined to do, especially keeping a fire going for warmth and cooking. I was so into my shaft reclamation I had to be pried away to take a lunch break. Every now and then I got sidetracked digging about in the steam shack. I was utterly fascinated with the old boiler, engine and hoist and as with the shaft I was determined to free them from their prison of ice, mud and rotted logs. At that time and still now I have the dream of rebuilding the old steam works and using them to once again to bring buckets of gold bearing gravels from 60' below to the surface to be dumped beneath the gin pole. The boiler is too far gone to use safely, but the engine and hoist need only a few minor repairs, a good greasing and they'll be good to go.
    Every evening we hopped onto the 4 wheeler and made our way back up the trail to the road where the Jimmy was waiting to take us back to the trailer for the night...the night with almost no darkness. We were tired enough that that didn't pose much of a problem. But the rain, the rain lulled us to sleep but it made leaving the warmth of the trailer each morning just a little difficult. Hardy Alaskan miners just suck it up and go to it...so that's just what we did for 8 days. Then it was time to leave for Nome. Les and the rest of the Nome crew met at the airport, boarded a 16 passenger turbo prop aircraft and a few hours later we were looking out over Nome harbor at a choppy gray ocean. Before leaving for the remote mine camp, groceries had to be purchased, arrangements made for a loader and dozer to be hauled and a short tour around the fascinating and historic mining town taken. About as quickly as we had arrived, we were out of sight of Nome and on our way to our destination 80 miles to the north.
    We had been forewarned that the camp was primitive, but on first sight "primitive" was a gross understatement. The eight small shacks stood out starkly against the barren rolling tundra. Three of the 6' x 10' buildings were sleeping quarters as was a larger structure on a hill above the camp. There was a cozy kitchen/dining shack, a storage building that doubled as a propane fired shower facility, and a parts shed. Rounding out the compound was the privy which had no door. The three women in the party quickly saw to it that one was made and installed. The last time the mine was in operation was in the '30's and it was a combination of drift mine and open cut. None of the drifts were still visible as the adits were long ago collapsed. The open cut was evidenced by the rusted remains of a Sauerman bucket winch deck operated by an ancient gas engine. On another ridge were four dilapidated frame buildings that had been part of the original camp but were too far gone to use in the new operation.
    One of the main jobs we had was to remove any usable items from the buildings on the ridge and the grounds around them and then burn them down. It was a choice location and the new camp would eventually be relocated there. That never happened. Another job given to me was to set up a potable water supply for the camp making use of the pristine Quartz Creek. I also helped Alethea with the cooking every now and then. One of the guys started ripping and pushing frozen muck so as to get to the pay gravel beneath. The five mile long mine road off the main gravel road was in bad need of smoothing out and widening and I had the opportunity to learn to operate the large front end loader in performing that task. I must add that once I did get the loader stuck in a particularly boggy section and the dozer had to be brought out to extricate it.
    It wasn't all work out in the wilds of the Seward Peninsula. We had some time to explore other nearby mining ruins, pick blueberries, wash gold with a small Gold Fields vibrating washer, photograph Musk Oxen and swat hoards of mosquitoes. One Sunday afternoon I even did a 10 mile run out to the Kugaroc River and back. Yet our time in the Nome area was cut short by an unexpected cut off of funding for the operation. As difficult as were the circumstances and living conditions at the remote camp, we were sad to have to leave so soon. The tundra had a mystical beauty and serenity that we had never experienced anywhere else in our lives and we're convinced we will return some day.
    Stay tuned for more.
  24. Like
    flintgreasewood got a reaction from Tad R in How It All Got Started   
    We got permission to park the Airstream in an outlying lot of a nearby truck stop which was roughly 2 miles from where we could access the claims. The monsoon season was full on but the rain had let up briefly while we off loaded the 4 wheeler and the rest of the gear we would need work down at the old mine site. Earlier in the summer I was able to brush out an overgrown trail that ran down a long ridge and then plunged precipitously to the valley floor. The trommel along with the rest of our tools, camping equipment, pump and hoses fit nicely in a large sled I had built to haul stuff down to the mine and the Polaris had no trouble towing the load. We set up two tents, one for tools and equipment and the other to cook and sleep in. I wanted to let Alethea work the trommel and recover our first gold, so we got busy uncovering the unwashed pay gravel at the base of the gin pole. As Alethea fed the trommel, I made adjustments to the spray into both the hopper and inside the barrel. With very little tweeking I had our Eureka Gold Thief running just as I had hoped it would. Now, would it catch gold and was there any gold in the gin pole gravel? It was not easy hand shoveling the cobbles and packed gravel even after going at it with my pick mattock, and after about a half hour we couldn't stand the anticipation, so we shut off the pump and engine to do a clean up. There was a good amount of heavies in front of the riffles and a lot in the miners moss. Into the 5 gal. bucket it all went and then into my pan. A couple minutes later there was a nice line of colors in the crease. Jubilation! I left Alethea with the gold washing while I plowed into the task of cleaning out all the debris collapsed in the 6' x 6' shaft. Down a couple of feet revealed cribbing logs in various stages of decay and some were partially locked in ice. I had read about shafts being sealed off with a plug of logs, moss, and snow and I was hopeful that is what I was encountering.
    Rain, rain, rain! Usually light, it was more annoying than inhibiting and our rain suits kept us dry while working.; Alethea divided her time between running the trommel and making the campsite more "homey" as women are inclined to do, especially keeping a fire going for warmth and cooking. I was so into my shaft reclamation I had to be pried away to take a lunch break. Every now and then I got sidetracked digging about in the steam shack. I was utterly fascinated with the old boiler, engine and hoist and as with the shaft I was determined to free them from their prison of ice, mud and rotted logs. At that time and still now I have the dream of rebuilding the old steam works and using them to once again to bring buckets of gold bearing gravels from 60' below to the surface to be dumped beneath the gin pole. The boiler is too far gone to use safely, but the engine and hoist need only a few minor repairs, a good greasing and they'll be good to go.
    Every evening we hopped onto the 4 wheeler and made our way back up the trail to the road where the Jimmy was waiting to take us back to the trailer for the night...the night with almost no darkness. We were tired enough that that didn't pose much of a problem. But the rain, the rain lulled us to sleep but it made leaving the warmth of the trailer each morning just a little difficult. Hardy Alaskan miners just suck it up and go to it...so that's just what we did for 8 days. Then it was time to leave for Nome. Les and the rest of the Nome crew met at the airport, boarded a 16 passenger turbo prop aircraft and a few hours later we were looking out over Nome harbor at a choppy gray ocean. Before leaving for the remote mine camp, groceries had to be purchased, arrangements made for a loader and dozer to be hauled and a short tour around the fascinating and historic mining town taken. About as quickly as we had arrived, we were out of sight of Nome and on our way to our destination 80 miles to the north.
    We had been forewarned that the camp was primitive, but on first sight "primitive" was a gross understatement. The eight small shacks stood out starkly against the barren rolling tundra. Three of the 6' x 10' buildings were sleeping quarters as was a larger structure on a hill above the camp. There was a cozy kitchen/dining shack, a storage building that doubled as a propane fired shower facility, and a parts shed. Rounding out the compound was the privy which had no door. The three women in the party quickly saw to it that one was made and installed. The last time the mine was in operation was in the '30's and it was a combination of drift mine and open cut. None of the drifts were still visible as the adits were long ago collapsed. The open cut was evidenced by the rusted remains of a Sauerman bucket winch deck operated by an ancient gas engine. On another ridge were four dilapidated frame buildings that had been part of the original camp but were too far gone to use in the new operation.
    One of the main jobs we had was to remove any usable items from the buildings on the ridge and the grounds around them and then burn them down. It was a choice location and the new camp would eventually be relocated there. That never happened. Another job given to me was to set up a potable water supply for the camp making use of the pristine Quartz Creek. I also helped Alethea with the cooking every now and then. One of the guys started ripping and pushing frozen muck so as to get to the pay gravel beneath. The five mile long mine road off the main gravel road was in bad need of smoothing out and widening and I had the opportunity to learn to operate the large front end loader in performing that task. I must add that once I did get the loader stuck in a particularly boggy section and the dozer had to be brought out to extricate it.
    It wasn't all work out in the wilds of the Seward Peninsula. We had some time to explore other nearby mining ruins, pick blueberries, wash gold with a small Gold Fields vibrating washer, photograph Musk Oxen and swat hoards of mosquitoes. One Sunday afternoon I even did a 10 mile run out to the Kugaroc River and back. Yet our time in the Nome area was cut short by an unexpected cut off of funding for the operation. As difficult as were the circumstances and living conditions at the remote camp, we were sad to have to leave so soon. The tundra had a mystical beauty and serenity that we had never experienced anywhere else in our lives and we're convinced we will return some day.
    Stay tuned for more.
  25. Like
    flintgreasewood got a reaction from JR BOI in How It All Got Started   
    On one of my staking forays I dropped down through a birch grove into another small drainage.  Up ahead in the middle of the valley standing starkly in the bright sun was a strange gray pole.  Several rusty cables supported it weakly and coming closer I could see it was two poles lashed together, small end to small end, and braced by a ring of short, small diameter poles.  From my reading I recognized the old sentinel as a gin pole and a gin pole indicates a mine shaft nearby.  About 150' away and across the little creek was a mound about six feet high and covered with birches. Lying on the side of the mound and partially covered with snow was a large rectangular bucket held together by riveted or bolted strap iron and wire.  A heavy bail and pulley were attached.  Next to the bucket lay a large steel contraption I recognized as a "carrier" , an ingenious device that traversed a high line with the loaded bucket hanging below on up to the gin pole where it's contents were dumped.  Atop the mound was a large depression filled with all manner of rusted sheet metal, timbers, dirt and rocks.  This was the shaft.  The heavy high line cable sagged above the pile and continued on past where it was fastened to an enormous turn buckle whose lower end disappeared into the ground.  Coming up and out of the shaft was a 1" diameter pipe covered with rusted tin cans and it led to a mostly collapsed small log structure.  That was the steam line and the cans were filled with moss for insulation...ingenious!  Though the steam shack was quite filled with snow there was no mistaking the old boiler and a one lung steam engine connected to the "donkey" hoist.  It was all there, a genuine Alaskan drift mine.  I could scarcely contain my excitement as I called my wife to tell her the news.  I determined then and there that this old mine would some day return to life, but the process of restoring it to operating status would have to wait for warmer weather.
        I continued working for Tobe the summer of 2006 out in Eureka so I didn't have any time to devote to my claims and specifically the old mine.  When things went sour with Tobe, we left Alaska in early August to return to Colorado.  However, before leaving I made the acquaintance of another Eureka miner who I'll refer to as Ernie.  Ernie actually owned the claims that Tobe leased but he had the right  to mine on one small fraction.  He was old and slow and needed help so he asked if I would join him in his mining efforts the following summer.  I agreed to his offer.
         During the fall and winter months I began building my first trommel/ wash plant, worked on developing a small stream placer in the hills above Boulder, and yearned for summer to return.  By the end of May we were once again packed up and ready to return to Fairbanks.  The trip went relatively smoothly till just past White Court, Alberta when, without any warning, the left rear of the truck dropped and with my heart in my throat I watched one wheel zip past me, cross over in front, jump a fence and careen into the field on the right.  The other wheel lay in the middle of the highway far to the rear.  Fortunately it was a fairly deserted stretch of 4 lane divided highway so no other vehicles were involved in the incident.  Upon inspection it was evident that the two wheels had been tightened together without a proper mating.  New tires had been improperly mounted by a rookie tire changer before we left and after 1500 miles of driving the wheels worked their way into proper position which caused an immediate loosening of the lug nuts.  All eight of them quickly spun free and off came the wheels.  It took a while to find 5 of the 8 nuts and with the use of a large floor jack and a Handy man jack I got us back on the road.  We tried to find three more nuts in just about every town we went through but with no success.  Yet, we made it the remaining 1500 miles on 5.
        Fairbanks was starting to look like home.  We knew our way around, had friends to stop in and see and familiar stores to shop at.  But we didn't linger long there and soon were on our way up the Elliot eager to get to mining.  The highway passes right by the valley where our claims are and we looked longingly down into its broad expanse as we continued on to Eureka.  We had met Ernie in Fox and he followed us out in his beat up old Chevy pickup.  We had come to know the Shillings pretty well and they had invited us to park our trailer at their camp on McKinley Creek.  We had access to their 24 hr. continuous generator power and John provided us with a 300 gallon tank of fine Chicago Creek water. 
        Ernie and I worked at setting up a Giant hydraulic monitor, running an 8" hose line to it from a distant pond, and getting a diesel pump operational.  We tried in vain to get his old International TD5 running, so he borrowed a dozer from a friend to push pay, clear brush and move tailings.  One day after putting in a month of hard work for Ernie, he confronted me claiming I was "stealing from the box" and that he wanted me off his claim.  First off, I would never do such a thing and secondly, there was really no "box" to steal from.  He just wanted to back out on the $1000 he owed me.  From then on we referred to him as "Crazy Ernie". 
        I had brought my unfinished trommel and all my tools, parts and such to finish it, so I got to work on it.  John had a very complete mechanic shop and was more than willing to provide me with any tool I was in need of, and within a couple of weeks it was finished.  By now Tobe and I had mended fences and he was not hesitant to ask if I could do some welding and jig work for him.  Then one day we had a surprise visit from Les Cobb.  He had heard through the grapevine of our situation of being out of work and asked if we'd be interested in joining a crew he was putting together to reopen an old mine outside of Nome.  It would be for only a month but the pay would be good and the experience invaluable.  Alethea would be the camp cook.  Of course we signed on.  We had a couple of weeks before we needed to leave for Nome so we loaded up the trommel, hitched up the Airstream and headed back to Fairbanks. It was time to begin developing our claim.
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