geology McAfee SECURE sites help keep you safe from identity theft, credit card fraud, spyware, spam, viruses and online scams

Home » Gold » Getting Gold » Rules of Thumb - Mining Appliances and Methods

historical

Getting Gold:


A practical treatise for prospectors, miners and students


Written by J.C.F. Johnson, F.G.S. (1898)


Table of Contents
Sponsors

Chapter XII



RULES OF THUMB - MINING APPLIANCES AND METHODS


MINING APPLIANCES AND METHODS
A TEMPORARY FORGE

What prospector has not at times been troubled for the want of a forge? To steel or harden a pick or sharpen a drill is comparatively easy, but there is often a difficulty in getting a forge. Big single action bellows are sometimes bought at great expense, and some ingenious fellows have made an imitation of the blacksmith's bellows by means of sheepskins and rough boards.

With inadequate material and appliances to hand, the following will be found easier to construct and more lasting when constructed. Only a single piece of iron is required, and, at a pinch, one could even dispense with that by using a slab of talcose material, roughly shaping a hearth therein and making a hole for the blast. First, construct a framing about the height of an ordinary smith's forge. This can made with saplings and bark, or better still, if available, out of an empty packing case about three feet square. Fill the frame or case with slightly damped earth and ram it tight, leaving the usual hollow hearth. Then form a chamber below the perforated hearth opening to the rear. Now construct a centrifugal fan, such as is used for the ventilation of shallow shafts and workings. Set this up behind the hearth and revolve by means of a wooden multiplying wheel. A piece of ordinary washing line rope, or sash line rope, well resined if resin can be got—but pitch, tar, or wax will do by adding a little fine dust to prevent sticking—is used as a belt. With very rough materials a handy man can thus make a forge that will answer ordinary requirements.—N.B. Do not use clay for your hearth bed unless you can get a highly aluminous clay, and can give it full time to dry before the forge fire is lit. Ordinary surface soil, not too sandy, acts well, if damped and rammed thoroughly. Of course, if you can get an iron nozzle for your blower the whole operation is simplified.

SIMPLE WAY OF MAKING CHARCOAL

Dig a pit 5 feet square by 3 feet deep and fill with fuel. After lighting, see that the pit is kept full. The hot embers will gradually sink to the bottom. The fuel should be kept burning fiercely until the pit seems almost full, when more fuel should be added, raising the heap about a foot above the level of the ground. The earth dug out of the pit should then be shovelled back over the burning mass. After leaving it to cool for 24 hours the pit will be found nearly full of charcoal. About one-quarter the weight of the dry fuel used should be recovered in charcoal.

ROUGH SMELTING ON THE MINE

Rough smelting on the mine is effected with a flux of borax, carbonate of soda, or, as I have often done, with some powdered white glass. When the gold is smelted and the flux has settled down quietly in a liquid state, the bulk of the latter may be removed, to facilitate pouring into the mould, by dipping an iron rod alternately into the flux and then into a little water, and knocking off the ball of congealed flux which adheres after each dip. This flux should, however, be crushed with a pestle and mortar and panned off, as, in certain cases, it may contain tiny globules of gold.

MISFIRES IN BLASTING

One of the most common sources of accident in mining operations is due either to carelessness or to the use of defective material in blasting. A shot misses, generally for one of two reasons; either the explosive, the cap, or the fuse (most often the latter), is inferior or defective; or the charging is incompletely performed. Sometimes the fuse is not placed properly in the detonator, or the detonator is not properly enclosed in the cartridge, or the fuse is injured by improper tamping. If several shots have been fired together, particularly at the change of a "shift," the men who have to remove the broken material may in so doing explode the missed charge. Or, more inexcusable still, men will often be so foolish as to try to clear out the drill hole and remove the missed cartridge. When a charge is known to have missed all that is necessary to do in order to discharge it safely is to remove a few inches of "tamping" from the top of the drill hole, place in the bore a plug of dynamite with cap and fuse attached, put an inch or two of tamping over it and fire, when the missed charge will also be exploded. Of course, judgment must be used and the depth of the drill taken into consideration. As a rule, miners use far more tamping than is at all requisite. The action of the charge will generally be found quite as effective with a few inches of covering matter as with a foot or more, while the exploding of misfire cartridges is rendered simple, as no removal of tamping is required before placing the top "plug" in case of misfire.

TO PREVENT LOSS OF RICH SPECIMENS IN BLASTING

When blasting the cap of a lode, particularly on rich shutes of gold, the rock is apt to fly, and rich specimens may be thrown far afield and so be lost. A simple way of avoiding this is to procure a quantity of boughs, which tie into loose bundles, placing the leafy parts alternately end for end. Before firing, pile these bundles over the blast and, if care is used, very few stones will fly. The same device may be used in wide shallow shafts.

A SIMPLE MODE OF RETORTING SMALL QUANTITIES OF AMALGAM

Clean your amalgam and squeeze it as hard as possible through strong calico or chamois leather. Take a large sound potato, cut off about a quarter from one end and scoop out a hole in the centre about twice as big as the ball of amalgam. Procure a piece of flat iron—an old spade will do as well as anything—insert the amalgam, and, having placed the potato, cut side downwards, thereon, put the plate of iron on the forge, heat up first gently, then stronger, till separation has taken place, when the gold will be found in a bright clean button on the plate and the mercury in fine globules in the potato, from which it can be re-collected by breaking up the partly or wholly cooked tuber under water in an enamelled or ordinary crockery basin.

TO RETORT SMALL QUANTITIES OF MERCURY FOR AMALGAMATING ASSAY TESTS

Get two new tobacco pipes similar in shape, with the biggest bowls and longest stems procurable. Break off the stem of one close to the bowl and fill the hole with well worked clay (some battery slimes make the best luting clay). Set the stemless pipe on end in a clay bed, and fill with amalgam, pass a bit of thin iron or copper wire beneath it, and bend the ends of the wire upwards. Now fit the whole pipe, bowl inverted, on to the under one, luting the edges of both well with clay. Twist the wire over the top with a pair of nippers till the two bowls are fitted closely together, and you have a retort that will stand any heat necessary to thoroughly distil mercury.

A SIMPLE MODE OF ASCERTAINING THE NOMINAL HORSE-POWER OF AN ENGINE

Multiply the internal diameter of the cylinder by itself and strike off the last figure of the quotient. The diameter is

     20" X 20"
     20
     ____
     400. The H.P. is 40.

The following rules will be found more professionally accurate from an engineering standpoint, though the term "horse-power" is not now generally employed.

To find the Nominal Horse-power.—For non-condensing engines: Multiply the square of the diameter of the cylinder in inches by 7 and divide the product by 80. For condensing engines: Multiply the square of the diameter of the cylinder in inches by 7 and divide the product by 200.

To find the Actual Horse-power of an engine, multiply the area of the cylinder in square inches by the average effective pressure in pounds per square inch, less 3 lb. per square inch as the frictional allowance, and also by the speed of the piston in feet per minute, dividing the product by 33,000, and the quotient will be the actual horse-power.

"SCALING" COPPER PLATES

To "scale" copper plates they may be put over a charcoal or coke fire to slowly sublimate the quicksilver. Where possible, the fireplace of a spare boiler can be utilised, using a thin red fire. After the entire evaporation of the quicksilver the plates should be slowly cooled, rubbed with hydrochloric acid, and put in a damp place overnight, then rubbed with a solution of sal ammoniac and nitre in equal parts, and again heated slowly over a red fire. They must not be allowed to get red hot; the proper degree of heat is indicated by the gold scale rising in blisters, when the plates should be taken from the fire and the gold scraped off. Any part of the plate on which the gold has not blistered should be again rubbed with the solution and fired. The gold scale should be collected in a glass or earthen dish and covered with nitric acid, till all the copper is dissolved, when the gold can be smelted in the usual way; but after it is melted corrosive sublimate should be put in the crucible till a blue flame ceases to be given off.

A Second Method

The simplest plan I know is to have a hole dug nine inches deep by about the size of the plate to be scaled; place a brick at each corner, and on each side, halfway between, get up a good fire; let it burn down to strong embers, or use charcoal, then place the plate on three bars of iron extending between the three pairs of bricks, have a strong solution of borax ready in which soak strips of old "table blanket," laying these over the plate and sprinkling them with the borax solution when the plate gets too hot. After a time the deposit of mercury and gold on the plate will assume a white, efflorescent appearance, and may then be readily parted from the copper.

Another Method

Heat the plate over an open fire, to drive off the mercury; after which, let it cool, and saturate with dilute sulphuric acid for three hours, or longer; then sprinkle over the surface a mixture of equal parts of common salt and sal ammoniac, and heat to redness; then cool, and the gold scale comes off freely; the scale is then boiled in nitric or sulphuric acid, to remove the copper, previous to melting. Plates may be scaled about once in six months, and will under ordinary circumstances produce about one ounce of clean gold for each superficial foot of copper surface employed. I always paint the back of the plate with a mixture of boiled oil and turpentine, or beeswax dissolved in turpentine, to prevent the acid attacking the copper.

HOW TO SUPPLY MERCURY TO MORTAR BOXES

I am indebted for the following to Mr. J. M. Drake, who, speaking of his experience on the Wentworth Mine, N.S.W., says:

"Fully 90 per cent of the gold is saved on the outside plates, only a small quantity remaining in the mortar. The plates have a slope of 2 in. to 1 ft. No wells are used, the amalgam traps saving any quicksilver which may leach off the plates. The quicksilver is added every hour in the mortar. The quantity is regulated by the mill manager in the following manner: Three pieces of wood, 8 in. wide by 12 in. long by 2 in. thick, have 32 holes 1 in. deep bored in each of them. These holes will just take a small 2 oz. phial. The mill manager puts the required quantity of quicksilver in each bottle and the batteryman empties one bottle in each mortar every hour; and puts it back in the hole upside down. Each block of wood lasts eight hours, the duration of one man's shift." This of course is for a 20-head mill with four mortars or "boxes."

I commend this as an excellent mode of supplying the mercury to the boxes or mortars. The quantity to be added depends on circumstances. A careless battery attendant will often put in too much or too little when working without the automatic feeder. I have known an attendant on suddenly awaking to the fact half through his shift, that he had forgotten to put in any mercury, to then empty into the stamper box two or three pounds weight; with what effect may be easily surmised.

HOW WATER SHOULD ENTER STAMPER BOXES

The following extract which relates to Californian Gold Mill practices is from Bulletin No. 6 of the California State Mining Bureau. I quite agree with the practice.

"The battery water should enter both sides of the mortar in an even quantity, and should be sufficient to keep a fairly thick pulp which will discharge freely through the grating or screen. About 120 cubic feet of water per ton of crushed ore may be considered an average, or 8 to 10 cubic feet per stamp per hour.

"Screens of different materials and with different orifices are used; the materials comprise wire cloth of brass or steel, tough Russian sheet iron, English tinned plate, and, quite recently, aluminium bronze. The 'aluminium bronze' plates are much longer lived than either of the other kinds, and have the further advantage that, when worn out, they can be sold for the value of the metal for remelting; these plates are bought and sold by the pound, and are said to contain 95 per cent of copper and 5 per cent of aluminium. Steel screens are not so much used, on account of their liability to rust."

I have had no experience with the aluminium bronze screen. I presume, however, that it is used only for mills where mercury is not put in the mortars, otherwise, it would surely become amalgamated. The same remark applies to brass wire cloth and tinned plate. Unless the metal of which they are composed will not readily amalgamate with mercury, I should be chary of using new screen devices. Mercury is a most insidious metal and is often found most unexpectedly in places in the battery where it should not be. Probably aluminium steel would be better than any substance mentioned. It would be hard, light, strong, and not readily corrodible. I am not aware if it has been tried.

Under the heading of "Power for Mills" the following is taken from the same source.

POWER FOR MILLS

"As the Pelton wheel seems to find the most frequent application in California, it may be convenient for millmen to have the following rule, applicable to these wheels:

"When the head of water is known in feet, multiply it by 0.0024147, and the product is the horse-power obtainable from one miner's inch of water.

"The power necessary for different mill parts is:

     For each 850lb. stamp, dropping 6 in. 95 times per minute,
          1.33 h.-p.
     For each 750lb. stamp, dropping 6 in. 95 times per minute,
          1.18 h.-p.
     For each 650lb. stamp, dropping 6 in. 95 times per minute,
          1.00 h.-p.
     For an 8-inch by 10-inch Blake pattern rock-breaker
          9.00 h.-p.
     For a Frue or Triumph vanner, with 220 revolutions per min.
          0.50 h.-p.
     For a 4-feet clean-up pan, making 30 revolutions per min.
          1.50 h.-p.
     For an amalgamating barrel, making 30 revolutions per min.
          2.50 h.-p.
     For a mechanical batea, making 30 revolutions per min.
          1.00 h.-p."

The writer has had small practical experience of the working of that excellent hydraulic motor, the Pelton wheel, but if by horse-power in the table given is meant nominal horse-power, it appears to be high. Working with 800 cwt. stamps, 80 blows a minute, one horse-power nominal will be found sufficient with any good modern engine, which has no further burden than raising the stamps and pumping the feed water. It is always well, however, particularly when providing engine power, to err on the right side, and make provision for more than is absolutely needed for actual battery requirements. This rule applies with equal potency to pumping engines.

TO AVOID LOSS IN CLEANING UP

The following is a hint to quartz mill managers with respect to that common source of loss of gold involved in the almost inevitable loss of mercury in cleaning up operations. I have known hundreds of pounds' worth of gold to be recovered from an old quartz mill site by the simple process of washing up the ground under the floor.

If you cannot afford to floor the whole of the battery with smooth concrete, at all events smoothly concrete the floor of the cleaning-up room, and let the floor slope towards the centre: where a sink is provided. Any lost mercury must thus find its way to the centre, where it will collect and can be panned off from time to time. Of course an underground drain and mercury trap must be provided.

IRON EXTRACTOR

When using self-feeders, fragments of steel tools are especially liable to get into the battery boxes or other crushing appliance where they sometimes cause great mischief. I believe the following plan would be a practicable remedy for this evil.

By a belt from the cam or counter shaft, cause a powerful electric magnet to extract all magnetic particles; then, by a simple ratchet movement, at intervals withdraw the magnet and drop the adhering fragments into a receptacle by automatically switching off the electric current. A powerful ordinary horseshoe magnet might probably do just as well, but would require to be re-magnetised from time to time.

TO SILVER COPPER PLATES

To silver copper plates, that is, to amalgamate them on the face with mercury, is really a most simple operation, though many batterymen make a great mystery of it. Indeed, when I first went into a quartz mill the process deemed necessary was not only a very tedious one, but very dirty also.

To amalgamate with silver, in fact, to silver-plate your copper without resort to the electro-plating bath, take any old silver (failing that, silver coin will do, but is more expensive), and dissolve it in somewhat dilute nitric acid, using only just sufficient acid as will assist the process. After some hours place the ball of amalgam in a piece of strong new calico and squeeze out any surplus mercury.

About an ounce of silver to the foot of copper is sufficient. To apply it on new plates use nitric acid applied with a swab to free the surface of the copper from oxides or impurities, then rub the ball of amalgam over the surface using some little force. It is always well when coating copper plates with silver or zinc by means of mercury to let them stand dry for a day or two before using, as the mercury oxidises and the coating metal more closely adheres.

Only the very best copper plate procurable should be used for battery tables; bad copper will always give trouble, both in the first "curing," and after treatment. It should not be heavily rolled copper, as the more porous the metal the more easily will the mercury penetrate and amalgamate. I cannot agree that any good is attained by scouring the plates with sand and alkalies, as recommended in some books on the subject; on the contrary, I prefer the opposite mode of treatment, and either face the plates with nitrate of silver and nitrate of mercury, or else with sulphate of zinc and mercury, in the form of what is called zinc amalgam. If mine water, which often contains a little free sulphuric acid, is being used, the latter plan is preferable.

The copper should be placed smoothly on the wooden table and secured firmly thereto by copper tacks. If the plate should be bent or buckled, it may be flattened by beating it with a heavy hammer, taking care to interpose a piece of inch-thick soft wood between hammer and plate.

To coat with mercury only, procure some nitrate of mercury. This is easily made by placing mercury in an earthenware bowl, pouring somewhat dilute nitric acid on it, and letting it stand till the metallic mercury is changed to a white crystal. Dense reddish-brown fumes will arise, which are injurious if breathed, so the operation should be conducted either in the open air, or where there is a draught.

Having your silvering solution ready, which is to be somewhat diluted with water, next take two swabs, with handles about 12 inches long, dip the first into a basin containing dilute nitric acid, and rub it rapidly over about a foot of the surface of the plate; the oxide of copper will be absolutely removed, and the surface of the copper rendered pure and bright; then take the other swab, wet with the dilute nitric of mercury, and pass it over the clean surface, rubbing it well in. Continue this till the whole plate has a coating of mercury. It may be well to go over it more than once. Now turn on the water and wash the plate clean, sprinkle with metallic mercury, rubbing it upwards until the plate will hold no more.

A basin with nitrate of mercury may be kept handy, and the plates touched up from time to time for a few days until they get amalgamated with gold, after which, unless you have much base metal to contend with, they will give no further trouble.

It must be remembered, however, that an excessive use of nitric acid will result in waste of mercury, which will be carried off in a milky stream with the water; and also that it will cause the amalgam to become very hard, and less active in attracting other particles of gold.

If you are treating the plate with nitrate of silver prepared as already mentioned, clean the plate with dilute nitric acid, rub the surface with the ball of amalgam, following with the swab and fairly rubbing in. It will be well to prepare the plate some days before requiring to use it, as a better adhesion of the silver and copper takes place than if mercury is applied at once.

To amalgamate with zinc amalgam, clean the copper plate by means of a swab, with fairly strong sulphuric acid diluted with water; then while wet apply the zinc-mercury mixture and well rub in. To prepare the zinc-amalgam, clip some zinc (the lining of packing cases will do) into small pieces and immerse them in mercury after washing them with a little weak sulphuric acid and water to remove any coating of oxide. When the mercury will absorb no more zinc, squeeze through chamois leather or calico (as for silver amalgam), and well rub in. The plate thus prepared should stand for a few days, dry, before using. If, before amalgamation with gold takes place, oxide of copper or other scum should rise on this plate a little very dilute sulphuric acid will instantly remove it.

Sodium and cyanide of potassium are frequently used in dressing-plates, but the former should be very sparingly employed, as it will often do more harm than good by taking up all sorts of base metals with the amalgam, and so presenting a surface which the gold will pass over without adhering to. Where water is scarce, and is consequently used over and over again, lime may be added to the pulp, or, if lime is not procurable, wood ashes may be used. The effect is two-fold; the lime not only tends to "sweeten" sulphide ores and keep the tables clean, but also causes the water to cleanse itself more quickly of the slimes, which will be more rapidly precipitated. When zinc amalgam is used, alkalies would, of course, be detrimental.

When no other water than that from the mine is available, difficulties often arise owing to the impurities it contains. These are various, but among the most common are the soluble sulphates, and sometimes free sulphuric acid evolved by the oxidisation of metallic sulphides. In the presence of this difficulty, do one of two things; either utilise or neutralise. In certain cases, I recommend the former. Sometime since I was treating, for gold extraction, material from a mine which was very complex in character, and for which I coined the term "polysynthetic." This contained about half a dozen different sulphides. The upper parts of the lode being partially oxidised, free sulphuric acid (H2SO4) was evolved. I therefore, following out a former discovery, added a little metallic zinc to the mercury in the boxes and on the plates with excellent results. When the free acid in the ore began to give out in the lower levels I added minute quantities of sulphuric acid to the water from time to time. I have since found, however, that with some water, particularly West Australian, the reaction is so feeble (probably owing to the lime and magnesia present) as to make this mode of treatment unsuitable.

HOW TO MAKE A DOLLY

I have seen some rather elaborate dollies, intended to be worked with amalgamating tables, but the usual prototype of the quartz mill is set up, more or less, as follows: A tree stump, from 9 in. to a foot diameter, is levelled off smoothly at about 2 ft. from the ground; on this is firmly fixed a circular plate of 1/2 in. iron, say 9 in. in diameter; a band of 3/16 in. iron, about 8 or 9 in. in height, fits more or less closely round the plate. This is the battery box. A beam of heavy wood, about 3 in. diameter and 6 ft. long, shod with iron, is vertically suspended, about 9 in. above the stump, from a flexible sapling with just sufficient spring in it to raise the pestle to the required height. About 2 ft. from the bottom the hanging beam is pierced with an augur hole and a rounded piece of wood, 1 1/2 in. by 18 in., is driven through to serve as a handle for the man who is to do the pounding. His mate breaks the stone to about 2 in. gauge and feeds the box, lifting the ring from time to time to sweep off the triturated gangue, which he screens through a sieve into a pan and washes off, either by means of a cradle or simply by panning. In dollying it generally pays to burn the stone, as so much labour in crushing is thus saved. A couple of small kilns to hold about a ton each dug out of a clay bank will be found to save fuel where firewood is scarce, and will more thoroughly burn the stone and dissipate the base metals, but it must be remembered that gold from burnt stone is liable to become so encrusted with the base metal oxides as to be difficult to amalgamate.

ROUGH WINDLASS

Make two St. Andrew's crosses with four saplings, the upper angle being shorter than the lower; fix these upright, one at each end of the shaft; stay them together by cross pieces till you have constructed something like a "horse," such as is used for sawing wood, the crutch being a little over 3 feet high. Select a leg for a windlass barrel, about 6 in. diameter and a foot longer than the distance between the supports, as straight as is procurable; cut in it two circular slots about an inch deep by 2 in. wide to fit into the forks; at one end cut a straight slot 2 in. deep across the face. Now get a crooked bough, as nearly the shape of a handle as nature has produced it, and trim it into right angular shape, fit one end into the barrel, and you have a windlass that will pull up many a ton of stuff.

PUDDLER

This is made by excavating a circular hole about 2 ft. 9 in. deep and, say 12 ft. in diameter. An outer and inner wall are then constructed of slabs 2 ft. 6 in. in height to ground level, the outer wall being thus 30 ft. and the inner 15 ft. in circumference. The circular space between is floored with smooth hardwood slabs or boards, and the whole made secure and water-tight. In the middle of the inner enclosure a stout post is planted, to stand a few inches above the wall, and the surrounding space is filled up with clay rammed tight. A strong iron pin is inserted in the centre of the post, on which is fitted a revolving beam, which hangs across the whole circumference of the machine and protrudes a couple of feet or so on each side. To this beam are attached, with short chains, a couple of drags made like V-shaped harrows by driving a piece of red iron through a heavy frame, shaped as a rectangular triangle.

To one end of the beam an old horse is attached, who, as he slowly walks round the circular track, causes the harrows and drags to so puddle the washdirt and water in the great wooden enclosure that the clay is gradually disintegrated, and flows off with the water which is from time to time admitted. The clean gravel is then run through a "cradle," "long Tom," or "sluice," and the gold saved. This, of course, is the simplest form of gold mining. In the great alluvial mines other and more intricate appliances are used but the principle of extraction is the same.

A MAKESHIFT PUMP

To make a temporary small "draw-lift" pump, which will work down to a hundred feet or more if required, take a large size common suction Douglas pump, and, after removing the top and handle, fix the pump as close to the highest level of the water in the shaft as can be arranged. Now make a square water-tight wooden column of slightly greater capacity than the suction pipe, fix this to the top of the pump, and by means of wooden rods, work the whole from the surface, using either a longer levered handle or, with a little ingenuity, horse-power. If you can get it the iron downpipe used to carry the water from the guttering of houses is more easily adapted for the pipe column; then, also, iron pump rods can be used but I have raised water between 60 and 70 feet with a large size Douglas pump provided only with a wooden column and rods.

SQUEEZING AMALGAM

For squeezing amalgam, strong calico, not too coarse, previously soaked in clean water, is quite as good as ordinary chamois leather. Some gold is fine enough to escape through either.

MERCURY EXTRACTOR

The mercury extractor or amalgam separator is a machine which is very simple in construction, and is stated to be most efficient in extracting quicksilver from amalgam, as it requires but from two to three minutes to extract the bulk of the mercury from one hundred pounds of amalgam, leaving the amalgam drier than when strained in the ordinary way by squeezing through chamois leather or calico. The principle is that of the De Laval cream separator—i.e., rapid centrifugal motion. The appliance is easily put together, and as easily taken apart. The cylinder is made of steel, and is run at a very high rate of speed.

The general construction of the appliance is as follows: The casing or receiver is a steel cylinder, which has a pivot at the bottom to receive the step for an upright hollow shaft, to which a second cylinder of smaller diameter is attached. The second cylinder is perforated, and a fine wire cloth is inserted. The mercury, after passing through the cloth, is discharged through the perforations. When the machine is revolved at great speed, the mercury is forced into the outside cylinder, leaving the amalgam, which has been first placed in a calico or canvas bag, in a much drier state than it could be strained by hand. While not prepared to endorse absolutely all that is claimed for this appliance, I consider that it has mechanical probability on its side, and that where large quantities of amalgam have to be treated it will be found useful and effective.

SLUICE PLATES

I am indebted to Mr. F. W. Drake for the following account of sluice plates, which I have never tried, but think the device worth attention:

"An addition has been made to the gold-saving appliances by the placing of what are called in America, 'sluice plates' below the ordinary table. The pulp now flows over an amalgamating surface, 14 ft. long by 4 ft. wide, sloping 1 1/2 in. to the foot, and is then contracted into a copper-plated sluice 15 ft. long by 14 in. wide, having a fall of 1 in. to the foot. Our mill manager (Mr. G. C. Knapp) advocated these sluice plates for a long time before I would consent to a trial. I contended that as we got little or no amalgam from the lower end of our table plates there was no gold going away capable of being recovered by copper plates; and even if it were, narrow sluice plates were a step in the wrong direction. If anything the amalgamating surface should be widened to give the particles of gold a better chance to settle. His argument was that the conditions should be changed; by narrowing the stream and giving it less fall, gold, which was incapable of amalgamation on the wide plates, would be saved. We finally put one in, and it proved so successful that we now have one at the end of each table. The per-centage recovered on the sluice plates, of the total yield, varies, and has been as follows:—October, 9.1 per cent; November, 6.9 per cent; December, 6.4 per cent; January, 4.3 per cent; February, 9.3 per cent."

MEASURING INACCESSIBLE DISTANCES

To ascertain the width of a difficult gorge, a deep river, or treacherous swamp without crossing and measuring, sight a conspicuous object at the edge of the bank on the farther side; then as nearly opposite and square as possible plant a stake about five feet high, walk along the nearer margin to what you guess to be half the distance across (exactitude in this respect is not material to the result), there plant another stake, and continuing in a straight line put in a third. The stakes must be equal distances apart and as nearly as possible at a right angle to the first line. Now, carrying in hand a fourth stake, strike a line inland at right angles to the base and as soon as sighting over the fourth stake, you can get the fourth and second stakes and the object on the opposite shore in line your problem is complete. The distance between No. 4 and No. 3 stakes is the same as that between No. 1 and the opposite bank.

TO SET OUT A RIGHT ANGLE WITH A TAPE

Measure 40 ft. on the line to which you wish to run at right angles, and put pegs at A and B; then, with the end of the tape held carefully at A, take 80 ft., and have the 80 ft. mark held at B. Take the 50 ft. mark and pull from A and B until the tape lies straight and even, you will then have the point C perpendicular to AB. Continue straight lines by sighting over two sticks in the well-known way.

Another method.—Stick a pin in each corner of a square board, and look diagonally across them, first in the direction of the line to which you wish to run at right angles, and then for the new line sight across the other two pins.

A SIMPLE LEVELLING INSTRUMENT

Fasten a common carpenter's square in a slit to the top of a stake by means of a screw, and then tie a plumb-line at the angle so that it may hang along the short arm, when the plumb-line hangs vertically and sights may be taken over it. A carpenter's spirit-level set on an adjustable stand will do as well. The other arm will then be a level.

Another very simple, but effective, device for finding a level line is by means of a triangle of wood made of half-inch boards from 9 to 12 ft. long. To make the legs level, set the triangle up on fairly level ground, suspend a plummet from the top and mark on the cross-piece where the line touches it. Then reverse the triangle, end for end, exactly, and mark the new line the plumb-line makes. Now make a new mark exactly half way between the two, and when the plumb-line coincides with this, the two legs are standing on level ground. For short water races this is a very handy method of laying out a level line.

TO MEASURE THE HEIGHT OF A STANDING TREE

Take a stake about your own height, and walking from the butt of the tree to what you judge to be the height of the timber portion you want, drive your stake into the ground till the top is level with your eyes; now lie straight out on your back, placing your feet against the stake, and sight a point on the tree. AB equals BC. If BC is, say 40 ft., that will be the height of your "stick of timber." Thus, much labour may be saved in felling trees the timber portion of which may afterwards be found to be too short for your purpose.

LEVELLING BY ANEROID BAROMETER

This should be used more for ascertaining relatively large differences in altitudes than for purposes where any great nicety is required. For hills under 2000 ft., the following rule will give a very close approximation, and is easily remembered, because 55 degrees, the assumed temperature, agrees with 55 degrees, the significant figures in the 55,000 factor, while the fractional correction contains two fours.

Observe the altitudes and also the temperatures on the Fahrenheit thermometer at top and bottom respectively, of the hill, and take the mean between them. Let B represent the mean altitude and b the mean temperature. Then 55000 X B - b/B + b = height of the hill in feet for the temperature of 55 degrees. Add 1/440 of this result for every degree the mean temperature exceeds 55 degrees; or subtract as much for every degree below 55 degrees.

TO DETERMINE HEIGHTS OF OBJECTS

By Shadows

Set up vertically a stick of known length, and measure the length of its shadow upon a horizontal or other plane; measure also the length of the shadow thrown by the object whose height is required. Then it will be:—As the length of the stick's shadow is to the length of the stick itself, so is the length of the shadow of the object to the object's height.

By Reflection

Place a vessel of water upon the ground and recede from it until you see the top of the object reflected from the surface of the water. Then it will be:—As your horizontal distance from the point of reflection is to the height of your eye above the reflecting surface, so is the horizontal distance of the foot of the object from the vessel to its altitude above the said surface.

Instrumentally

Read the vertical angle, and multiply its natural tangent by the distance between instrument and foot of object; the result is the height.

When much accuracy is not required vertical angles can be measured by means of a quadrant of simple construction. The arc AB is a quadrant, graduated in degrees from B to A; C, the point from which the plummet P is suspended, being the centre of the quadrant.

When the sights AC are directed towards any object, S, the degrees in the arc, BP, are the measure of the angle of elevation, SAD, of the object.

TO FIND THE DEPTH OF A SHAFT

Rule:—Square the number of seconds a stone takes to reach the bottom and multiply by 16.

Thus, if a stone takes 5 seconds to fall to the bottom of a shaft—

5 squared = 25; and 25 X 16 = 400 feet, the required depth of shaft.

DESCRIPTION OF PLAN FOR RE-USING WATER

Where water is scarce it may be necessary to use it repeatedly. In a case of this kind in Egypt, the Arab miners have adopted an ingenious method which may be adapted to almost any set of conditions. At a is a sump or water-pit; b is an inclined plane on which the mineral is washed and whence the water escapes into a tank c; d is a conduit for taking the water back to a; e is a conduit or lever pump for raising the water. A certain amount of filtration could easily be managed during the passage from c to a.

COOLING COMPOUND FOR HEATED BEARINGS

Mercurial ointment mixed with black cylinder oil and applied every quarter of an hour, or as often as expedient. The following is also recommended as a good cooling compound for heavy bearings:—Tallow 2 lb., plumbage 6 oz., sugar of lead 4 oz. Melt the tallow with gentle heat and add the other ingredients, stirring until cold.

CLEANING GREASY PLUMMER BLOCKS

When, through carelessness or unpreventable cause, plummer blocks and other detachable portions of machinery become clogged with sticky deposits of grease and impurities, a simple mode of cleansing the same is to take about 1000 parts by weight of boiling water, to which add about 10 or 15 parts of ordinary washing soda. Keep the water on the boil and place therein the portions of the machine that are to be cleaned; this treatment has the effect of quickly loosening all grease, oil, and dirt, after which the metal is thoroughly washed and dried. The action of the lye is to form with the grease a soap soluble in water. To prevent lubricating oil hardening upon the parts of the machinery when in use, add a third part of kerosene.

AN EXCELLENT ANTI-FRICTION COMPOUND

For use on cams and stamper shanks, which will be harmless should it drop into the mortar or stamper boxes, is graphite (black-lead) and soft soap. When the guides are wooden, the soft soap need not be added; black-lead made into a paste with water will act admirably.

TO CLEAN BRASS

Oxalic acid 1 oz., rotten stone 6 oz., powdered gum arabic 1/2 oz., sweet oil 1 oz. Rub on with a piece of rag.

A SOLVENT FOR RUST

It is often very difficult, and sometimes impossible, to remove rust from articles made of iron. Those which are very thickly coated are most easily cleaned by being immersed in a nearly saturated solution of chloride of tin. The length of time they remain in this bath is determined by the thickness of the coating of rust. Generally from twelve to twenty-four hours is long enough.

TO PROTECT IRON AND STEEL FROM RUST

The following method is but little known, although it deserves preference over many others. Add 7 oz. of quicklime to 1 3/4 pints of cold water. Let the mixture stand until the supernatant fluid is entirely clear. Then pour this off, and mix with it enough olive oil to form a thick cream, or rather to the consistency of melted and re-congealed butter. Grease the articles of iron or steel with this compound, and then wrap them up in paper, or if this cannot be done, apply the mixture somewhat more thickly.

TO KEEP MACHINERY FROM RUSTING

Take 1 oz. of camphor, dissolve it in 1 lb. of melted lard; mix with it (after removing the scum) as much fine black-lead as will give it an iron colour; clean the machinery, and smear it with this mixture. After twenty-four hours rub off and clean with soft, linen cloth. This mixture will keep machinery clean for months under ordinary circumstances.

FIRE-LUTE

An excellent fire-lute is made of eight parts sharp sand, two parts good clay, and one part horse-dung; mix and temper like mortar.

ROPE-SPLICING

A short splice is made by unlaying the ends of two pieces of rope to a sufficient length, then interlaying them, draw them close and push the strands of one under the strands of the other several times. This splice makes a thick lump on the rope and is only used for slings, block-straps, cables, etc.


Geology News Check Out Today's News
Unites States Reference Maps US Reference Maps
World Reference Maps World Reference Maps
Rocks and Minerals Rocks and Minerals Resources
Geologic Time Scale Geologic Time Scale
Geology Dictionary Geology Dictionary
Geology and Earth Science Articles Geology & Earth Science Articles
NASA Articles and Image Galleries NASA Articles and Image Galleries
© 2005-2014 Geology.com. All Rights Reserved.
Images, code and content of this website are property of Geology.com. Use without permission is prohibited. Pages on this site are protected by Copyscape.