Thursday, December 17, 2015

A Better Mousetrap? (Part 4)

 (One of the best mousetraps ever made.)

Well, it's been five days since I last posted here so please accept my apologies. I don't like doing that but sometimes life (job, family, Christmas, etc.) intervene and I get caught short. Anyhoo, let's press forward with this "better mousetrap" idea, shall we?

Bazooka Prospector

The sluice box I've chosen as a comparison model to my beat-up, but extremely useful and efficient single-flow Keene Engineering A52 is the Bazooka 48" Prospector Gold Trap sluice. Like Keene Engineering, the Bazooka Gold Trap Company makes a series of sizes and lengths of boxes, but the Prospector is the model most similar to the A52, dimensionally speaking that is. What really separates the Bazooka Prospector from the A52, however, are three of its main features:
  • A double water flow configuration.
  • Built-in gold collection chamber.
  • Narrow (1/4-1/2 inch?) "grizzly" bars above the collection chamber.
 (The Bazooka Prospector 48" Gold Trap Sluice.)

Although it makes for a bit of stiff reading due to its legalese wording, here's the patent description of the Bazooka Gold Trap:

A material classification device for separation of solid materials, having a relatively high specific gravity, from a stream of fluid and solid material. The device is particularly suited for the extraction of gold from alluvial material. The device generally comprises an open conduit that has a first opening and a second opening there through. A container is attached to the bottom of the conduit so that the openings are in fluid flow communication with the container. A portion of the flow of fluid and materials passes through the first opening and is captured in the container. A tube passes into the container with an aperture therein so that a fluid may be passed into the container to agitate the material collected therein freeing the lighter material so that it can exit the container out the second opening.

Hmmmm, OK then. Whatever the hell that means! Anyhoo, here are the specs for this particular Prospector:

Height: 6"
Length: 48"
Width at flared hopper tray: 15.5"
Width at gold collection trap: 9.5"
Weight: 19 lbs.

(Another view of the Prospector...you can see the handle strap clearly here.)

Comparison Factors

OK, let's take a look at some of the comparison categories. Once again, I need to remind you that I'm not getting any money from one manufacturer or the other, nor am I grinding a personal axe in my comparisons. It is what it is and anyone can feel free to disagree with me.

1. Durability: All the boxes in the Bazooka series of Gold Trap sluices (including the 48" Prospector) are designed with a uni-body (one piece) construction composed of ABS plastic. Compared to the aluminum construction of the Keene A52, I have a hard time believing that ABS plastic has more durability over the long haul...in my case 35 years of use with the Keene A52. Now hold up pard...this is not proof on my part, but supposition only. I could be dead wrong on this issue but the comparison gets frazzled here because the Bazooka hasn't been around or in use three and half decades. Here's another durability aspect that could be significant. The A52 comes with a sturdy metal handle but the Bazooka comes with a pliable plastic handle or handle strap that doesn't look like it would take the same amount of punishment for a similar period of time. Granted, you could always find a way to re-rig the handle or beef it up, but if I'm gonna pay around $250.00 for a portable sluice box like the Bazooka Prospector, I personally don't want to be effecting repairs or adding handles to the same over the short haul. But hey, that's me.

(A Bazooka Prospector in use.)

Durability Rating (five being the highest value): 3.5 to 4.0

2. Portability: I've already discussed the Bazooka's carrying handle issue but it applies here as well. Additionally, the Keene A52 weights about 11 pounds while the 48" Prospector weighs 19. It's simple math here in terms of lugging the Bazooka or the Keene box around. Although both brands and models of sluices are highly portable, the edge goes to the Keene A52 in this regard, regardless of how many macho men or women miners out there insist that they can carry an additional eight pounds around all day without any problem at all. Again, I refer you to the math. One weighs more, the other weighs less. On the plus side, the Bazooka handle or carrying strap (if you will), is probably a hell of a lot easier on your bare hand than the metal handle of an A52 is. I know this for a fact and that's why my A52's handle is wrapped round and round with duct tape!

Portability Rating: 4.0

That's it for this round ladies and gents. Be good to one another.

(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2015

Questions? E-mail me at jr872vt90@yahoo.com

3 comments:

  1. Good morning Jim, I'm glad you are doing these side by side comparisons. I have seen pictures of the Bazooka one and wondered about it. The way I understand it (and I'm most likely wrong) there are no riffles. It relies on the grizzly to screen out the big stuff and a drop box underneath that has a pipe inside to allow water flow to keep the sand/gravel loose. Interesting idea for sure. I would very much like to watch one of these working, but I don't know anyone that has one. My own sluice is a home made one made from an old road sign. It is similar to the Keene. I modified mine with 1/4 inch screen over the top of the first few riffles. It acts like a grizzly letting rocks roll off and slowing the water flow under the screen to make a low pressure trap. I have thought about cutting a hole in the middle and adding a 1 inch drop box to it, but haven't so far. One very useful thing I added is fold out wings on the side of the box. This allows me to better weight it down with rocks to keep it from floating away or shifting in the stream. I am surprised they are not standard on these. It works so well, I would be lost without them.
    As for being "slow to post".....you post here more often than any site I have ever come across and with better info! One of the other gold sites I follow hasn't had anything new since October, but to be fair, he is having health trouble.

    Anyway....Merry Christmas!!

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  2. Hi Jim,

    I've been looking forward to reading your side-by side comparisons since part one. I looked around at a few sluice designs and ended up settling for an Angus MacKirk. I won't go into pros and cons but my second choice would have been the Bazooka, and I haven't had a chance to play with one yet.

    Thanks for writing these up!

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  3. One thing that peaks my interest in the BGT is NOT having to classify the material. I usually do not get a lot of time when I go and having to classify for my Keene is back breaking work and eats up a lot of time. The one thing I worry about though is effectively washing the rocks, we have a lot of clay here

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