Instructables

A gas-powered vacuum cleaner for use in gold prospecting

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One of my many hobbies is recreational gold prospecting. I've been gold panning on my vacations for many years. It's a lot of fun. It's great exercise. I get to do it in really scenic locations. I have even found some gold. Gold likes to collect in cracks and crevasses and really hard to get at nooks and crannies. What is really needed to clean out those pesky cracks and crevasses is a vacuum cleaner. Problem is, where do you plug it in out in the wilderness? Solution, replace the electric motor with a gasoline engine. Now you have a vacuum cleaner that will work anywhere.

As with most of my other equipment, (recirculating sluice, wind turbine, solar panel, telescopes, jet engine, etc., etc.), I decided to try building one myself, rather than just buying one. The tinkering is half the fun after all. Also, you will get a much greater sense of satisfaction and accomplishment when you know it is YOUR home-built equipment that is doing such a good job, and not some store-bought thing. You can find more information on my various projects at http://www.mdpub.com
 
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Step 1: Find a cheap wet-dry vac

The first step in the process is acquiring a small, wet/dry vac cheap. I found one at a yard sale. It was in pretty bad shape. The guy swore it worked though. I didn't really care if it worked or not because I was going to take the electric motor off anyway, but I didn't tell him that. I kept talking him down in price because of how beat-up it was. Eventually I got it for $5. Maybe I'll write an instructable on haggling.
howest5251 year ago
Good article. I absolutely appreciate this website. Thanks!
dear.mag2 years ago
That's a clever idea to turn an ordinary vacuum cleaner into a gas powered one
to use for gold prospecting !

Please more of these projects. Thanks
bconway12 years ago
I tip my hat to you sir. I clicked this thinking i would need an engineering degree to make it, then i saw the pure simplicity of the project. You just don't see things that don't need a CNC router or a 3D printer on this site anymore.
Nice job there, you know throwing in a little cyclone cone like a dyson mightn't be too complicated but would rid you of dust at the upper levels, also with some really clever shaping you could separate water/rock/dust etc. and with fine tuning get gold which is pretty dense, it'd be a lot of effort to make but it would basically keep nothing but gold in it, just an idea there, the basic cyclone one would be easy to shape and would lower the rubbish flying out the back, plus it could just have a downpipe to eliminate emptying issues... Also if you end up using the leafblower in that full time hot glue or silicone caulk could be a nice way to completely seal it... Also from what you've done it looks like there wasn't much need for the vacuum, a bin or barrel on castors could be a larger alternative or a bucket to keep sizes...
i agree with the last bit there...if the only part of the vacuum that you used was the canister...why not just use a 5 gallon bucket? also you could probably work up an auto shutdown deal relatively easily by making some kind of lever that would get pushed up by the stuff in the bucket that would choke the engine or something like that
Nick the float from a toilet cistern, attach to a lever mechanism that simply turns off either the float petcock or the choke, if it's got an off setting...
since you have the parts from the old vacuum, why not use the cage and ball from it to seal off the suction port when it's full. You could add to that same ball either a lever or just a carfully positioned microswitch connected to the kill wire.
or the kill switch
Makes as much sense, unless the kill switch is a full kill switch for emergency because some make it a nuisance to restart or need reset...
Well, using a 5 gal bucket would involve getting a hose, making the necessary fittings, etc etc. It seems to me that while using a bucket is possible, it's just easier using an existing vacuum canister with everything you need right there. And it was only 5 bucks, according to the author.
heathbar643 years ago
here is a suggestion about the dust. I made a modification to a regular shop vac for sucking fine dust like drywall dust which quickly plugs the filter.
on the inside of the tank where the hose comes in, I glued a pvc elbow and then a pvc pipe down to the bottom of the tank, another elbow and pipe across the bottom. Now I drilled a bunch of small holes in the pipe across the bottome of the tank and put water in it to cover this pipe. So in operation, the incoming air is bubbled through water and traps all the dust before it gets to te filter
tylervitale3 years ago
one question:
Have you ever tried sucking your hand with it? O__O
Sonoffar4 years ago
Great idea for a wilderness vacuum cleaner but I see one serious problem. Leaf blower motors make TOO much noise. If you want to loose friends and aggravate people just fire up that "Davis19 All Purpose Leaf Blower Gold Sucker" there at that pristine wilderness creek. You might find you have become the victim of one of those unfortunate wilderness hunting accidents. :>O
aleks_0254 years ago
video

Brilliant!

make sure to keep the shop vac motor, they can be.....http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FcaCBrrCfg
useful

Are you going to put up an Instructable for your recirculating sluice box
mdavis19 (author)  freelancer79d5 years ago
I may, when I get a chance. I've been very busy lately.
buttersnake6 years ago
My job has me all over the US going to different AT&T depot installing new laptop cradles and GPS and such in all of they're vehicles and some of them are so nasty you wouldn't think the person would even want to sit in it. So when I'm having to lay down in the floor boards to run wires and zip tie them and all i get pretty dirty and this is going to come in handy! I have a giant rigid electric one but its just so big and inconvenient to carry because of needing to bring extension cords and all. Thanks for sharing because my brain never thought about converting it to a gasoline powered monster.
Forgot to ask one thing, what do you do about filtering? Did you attach the old filter to the blower or just leave it non filtered? I would think without a filter something could get lodged in the blower turbine and ruin it.
LinuxH4x0r6 years ago
Great job, nice to see more of the stuff from your site on here.