Over the years, the highest volume equipment I had been limited to using for gold prospecting/mining was a stream sluice, which is obviously a fantastic tool. However, I finally came upon an opportunity where I could use power, to move more volume of pay dirt. I first used a Royal Mini Highbanker that I adapted to a 1 ” gas Harbor Freight pump, but it was only a couple runs before I pushed it to it’s capacity.
In order to increase the amount of gold I was getting, had to upgrade to a highbanker. A full-size highbanker sluice isn’t cheap, so I set out to see if I could build my own using my old 36 inch, aluminum stream sluice as the base. My goals with this build were:
- Build a highbanker that could handle more volume – processing pay dirt from a full size shovel.
- Save some $$$ building my own full-size highbanker vs. buying a new one.
- Use the 1″ Harbor Freight gas pump I recently invested in.
- Be lightweight, so I can hike in with it if needed.
- Quick Setup,Takedown & Cleanout
- Durable – something that’s going to last
The Start: My Dad’s Old 36″ Sluice Box
For the base of this project, I used my dad’s old 36″ sluice box he purchased from a local mining shop when I was a kid about 35 years ago, when I was getting my first tastes of gold prospecting. It was the perfect platform to build a highbanker.
Building the Highbanker Hopper Box
I found a local industrial aluminum supplier, who had a roughly 2×2 foot square piece of 1/16″ thick aluminum sheet that I used for the box. I had much difficulty bending the aluminum until using a buddy’s sheet metal bender/breaker at his auto shop.
The cutout where the steel, expanded metal was to be placed was carefully measured, so that I could repurpose it to make the back of the box. I left it a bit long, in case I decided to drill a hole in it to run the PVC plumbing through. However, ultimately decided not to drill a hole, until I thoroughly have tested the water configuration, as it was a bit of a shot in the dark as to how it would perform. The expanded metal was purchased from Home Depot.
Upgrading the Sluice Bed
As you see common in many highbankers, there’s a classifier punchplate and miners moss below the drop of the hopper box. I purchased both the punchplate and miners moss online and custom fit them to the old sluice.