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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

How to Build a Gold Rocker Box:


A gold rocker box in use


A gold rocker box is a device that efficiently recovers gold from river sand and gravel that is capable of processing more gold per hour then a gold pan.  Its invention was during the Georgia Gold Rush that predated the California Gold Rush by several years.  During the days of the Forty-Niners the rocker box was considered more important then the gold pan.  It was also important during the Klondike Goldrush because the miners were able to use the rocker box on higher stream banks because it used far less water then the conventional gold pan.

The Gold Rocker Box was a slightly more complex way of producing gold that could easily be built in the field by the average miner from rough sawn lumber.  It also had the advantage of being usable by one man.  It was built in two parts; the upper part was a box that acted as a grizzly separating the larger stones from the lower part where the smaller sand and gravel went to be processed. 

In essence the lower part was a sluice box from four to five feet long, and about a foot wide.  This part of the box was equipped with a set of cleats along the bottom of the sluice to catch the gold particles, and let the lighter load of gravel run out the lower end of the sluice box as waste.

The upper part of the gold rocker was a shallow wooden box with a one half inch screen that acted as a grizzly to remove the larger stones from the gravel that was passed through it on the way to the sluice box.  The miner discarded the larger stones, but first examined them to be sure he was not throwing out any gold nuggets.

A piece of canvas that went from the back of the upper box that was attached to the lower box assured that the gravel was properly dispersed into the sluice box.  This device has survived the test of time as the big dredges often used a rocker box to finish off the concentrate of gold and other stream heavies.

To build a rocker you start by building the upper box first this is about eighteen inches by twelve inches in size, and about four inches deep.  Then a lower sluice box is constructed that is from four to five feet long, a foot wide, and about four inches deep.  The upper box is attached to the lower box with four one x twos that are about a foot long.  A piece of canvas is attached to the rear of the upper box, and is angled down to the lower box and attached at the point where the upper box ends.  The lower box is equipped with a series of wooden cleats that catch the gold from the gravel that is being passed through. 

There is also some kind of a one x two attached to both of the boxes so that the miner is able to rock the device back in forth sideways while he is pouring water in through the upper box.  The whole device is elevated from the ground with a set of legs about four inches high that are attached to the sides of the lower box.  These legs are joined together by a wooden frame that is attached to the bottom of the legs.

In use the upper box is filled with gravel by the miner, then he pours water by the dipper full washing the gravel down into the lower box.  As he adds the water he rocks the whole device back and forth so the gravel falling through the grizzly is spread evenly in the lower box, and is thoroughly washed.  The gold, if any, collects behind
 the wooden cleats in the bottom of the lower box to be removed after a large quantity of gravel has passed through the device.  The larger stones that stay on top of the grizzly in the upper box are discarded, but examined first so you don’t throw away any gold nuggets.

The rocker box finds many uses in prospecting as it is able to separate any heavier material from lighter.  It is used for the panning of platinum group metals as well as the heavier gemstones like diamonds and sapphires.

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