Tuesday, December 5, 2023


RV prospector: Spiral gold wheels automate the most tedious phase of panning

As we’ve discussed here in the weeks past, prospecting and panning for gold in stream beds, creekbanks, riverbanks, and ancient river gravels is an activity that can add a lot of fun and richness to an RV trip. I love digging and panning for gold and other precious metals. But segregating mineral values out of the fine small rocks and sands at the bottom of the pan is tiring and tedious. Plus, there is every chance that you will lose values by trying to pan out the fine sands and gravels too quickly to finish. There’s a fix for that.

A couple of weeks ago, we saw what the Blue Bowl could do washing fine black sands and non-mineral gravels. This time, we look at the spiral panner. This device separates black sands from gold values like magic. There are several brands of spiral panner on the market, including products like the Keene Engineering GW25 Gold Wheel and the Gold Screw.

GW25 Gold Wheel from Keene Engineering
The Gold Screw spiral concentrate wheel

Advantages of Gold Wheel

  • High rate of fine gold recovery—96%-98% of 150-mesh concentrates.
  • Will process 40 lb. of fine concentrates per hour.
  • Amalgamate concentrates down to flour gold.

If you are in good ground where there is a lot of mineralized rock and black sands, as you work the contents of your gold pan down, you’ll notice that there is a volume of relatively heavier small stones and a lot of dark or black sands in the bottom of the pan. They are hard to pan out and tough to pan out without losing gold. You’re already tired from swirling and shaking a heavy pan full of material. You can keep panning the fines or put them aside and run them through a classifier and then the spiral wheel.

As you will see in links to the gold wheels above, the machine is nothing short of miraculous at separating gold and other heavy values like Platinum Group Metals (PMG) from the concentrates. Before running them on the gold wheel, a careful classification of the gold-bearing materials is necessary. I classify down to a 150-mesh screen, which will run flawlessly on the wheel. Here’s how to do it.

A 150-mesh classifier screen–ideal for reducing fines and concentrates for gold wheel processing

It is impressive to watch the gold wheel as it can run 40-50 pounds (roughly half of a five-gallon bucket) of black sand concentrates per hour. Just on the last three or four rings of the wheel, you’ll see the bright yellow stuff free of other materials, climb the wheel and flow into your catchment container. Woohoo!



Randall Brink
Randall Brink
Randall Brink is an author hailing from Idaho. He has written many fiction and non-fiction books, including the critically acclaimed Lost Star: The Search for Amelia Earhart. He is the screenwriter for the new Grizzly Adams television series and the feature film Goldfield. Randall Brink has a diverse background not only as a book author, Hollywood screenwriter and script doctor, but also as an airline captain, chief executive, and Alaska bush pilot.



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Joe, USNR, GPAA (@guest_173822)
1 year ago

I do have a Gold Wheel works great, gets about 98%+ of the black sand out from the Gold. I have been to Alaska 6 or 7 time and many areas in the lower 48 prospecting. The main thing I have learned is to take your concentrates home. If you find Gold in the bottom of your pan or the riffs in your sluice box, dry out the cons and place in a bucket for later. You want to enjoy camping and prospecting. The most fun is when you get your concentrates home, you can enjoy finding all the yellow stuff (Gold) from your trip.

Drew (@guest_173244)
1 year ago

This is a subject I never researched and thought that most antiquated techniques were still used. I thought it was interesting to read about these new thing. Thanks Randall.

Tommy Molnar (@guest_173237)
1 year ago

I still have a sluice box up in my shop attic. Since we boondock a lot here in NV, the poor old sluice just sits up there catching dust. But I HAVVE given some thought to these wheels for dry gold hunting. Especially when down in Quartzsite where you can join a local club for almost pennies and have access to a bunch of gold claims owned by the club. I plan on getting rich – someday . . . . 🙂

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