Central Montana Prospectors
Central Montana Prospectors

It's All in the Prep

     Prospectors plan ahead. In getting ready for an outing event, new devices are conjured up, created and built. Even though Alan Robertson is the master at generating homemade prospecting equipment of the genius kind, others are capable of the enlightened as well.

     When Delbert Henry of the Missouri River Diner in Great Falls, an avid recreational prospector, shared his pipe fixture addition to the back of his ATV it was immediately evident that it was a safety device to keep those bouncing shovels from hitting your head when the trek to the spots up the creek in Zortman are bouncing you and all your supplies all over God's creation. Simple things added to your toys can make for the perfect realm for accessing your materials in the creek bed eventually digging of the gold. May the golden color fill your pan regularly with safety of a shovel held securely on your ATV. 

Winter Brings Out Prospecting Geniuses

     This winter when most prospectors are lulled to sleep with the sounds of the furnace keeping them warm, Kelly Fowler and his wife Heidi were busy concocting mini monsters for prospectors to use out in the field when it comes time to head for the hills. 

      It is amazing what these little critters can do. One is a mini trommel what only weighs 8 pounds and fits nicely into a backpack for river sluicing. The other one is a mini high banker that will process lots of gravel quickly, not like the black sands processing mini trommel one.

       The handy dandy waterproof battery pack that charges up with your power drill system, means you can run your machine on fast or low, depending on how much time you have in the woods.

     It is pure genius what he created. Love it so much, got me one. Hallelujah for creating prospecting equipment right here in Montana!! Gold Fox with Kelly Fowler is the best!!

A New Style Shaker

       At Blaze N' Gems Sapphire Mine one can find a new type of shaker one has to ask, "What does this do?" Blaze explains that it is for large rocks that he processes for sapphire trapping. It isn't for the ordinary sapphire processing and isn't used by the customers but more for larger scale mining with different equipment. 

     Just weird to find a new contraption and you ask, "Just how is this used?" Designing equipment to get to the good stuff is always on the mind of the prospector, Blaze is just another one of them. Having time to create new machinery is not always something that comes your way when you are teaching and helping people explore the Montana earth. So appreciate his efforts. 

Blaze of Blaze N'Gems Sapphire Mine Quickly Sorts Sapphires in Bulk from Gravel with his new Rack Sifting System

Make Your Own Equipment Ideas Throughout this Page






Alan Robertson Always Has Some Genius Ideas of How to Search for Gold

     Alternative Planning Fills the Bill

      Maybe making your own equipment isn't necessary because someone in your neighborhood might be wanting to get rid of what they have hiding in their garage and it is past its allure. That's what I did to add to my backyard prospecting stash. 

     With a $25 dollar purchase and some preservative oil added to it, I will have a nice addition to process gravel under my tree in the shade and privacy of my exclusive garden patch.  I thought I no longer needed a classifier because I really didn't want to search for sapphires that much, but when I found out that using a classifier for sorting and processing crystals from the clay, all of a sudden the birght light shone upon the online Garage Sale post so I snapped it up. Nice addition. 


Tour of World Wide Prospecting Manufacturer of Montana: Gold Fox

      On a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon we trekked to the home of the Gold Fox made in Montana shop in Conrad, Montana to get the lowdown on prospecting equipment manufactured right here in our great state and shipped all over the world, especially Australia. We just wanted to see with our own eyes and that we did! Thanks to the owner, Kelly Fowler giving us the grand tour and answering so many questions and then some.

      Such a fabulous learning curve in 5 years it is unbelieveable. But the one thing dominant throughout the tour was the fact that it takes ingenuity, the mustering of all the skills one has, and constant, daily rising to the challenge to develop a business viable worldwide that is hugely successful and dynamic. Such profound insights were shared and we will feature the videos, photos and information on many tabs of this website over the next few weeks.

      Painting, construction, testing, redesign, shipping safely and internationally, advertising experiences, webdesign, interactive use of other products, and product development were just some of the topics presented. Such a wonderful experience and stories shared; all I can say is, "Wow!!"



      How about this for an idea....If you are into equipment, check out the comparison of a historical machine used for decades by government agencies and another built by a special Made in Montana company called Gold Fox USA out of Conrad, Montana on this link: Tools of the Trade. You can make your choice of what you might prefer but the obvious one is hands down the most portable one with ingenious design by Kelly Fowler. Amazing. The opportunity to meet up and use both of these machines on Stemple Pass on June 16th was provided by the Blackfoot Prospecting Club with their monthly meeting and the willingness of those agreeing to get wet to learn. Yeah, for many! Videos will subsequently be included and you will be updated with them viewing the machines operating. Here's a video about one machine running Green Prospecting Gold was found, by the way. Update on this means: we got wet to the bone, worked our machines and there is a write up on here: Treasure Hunting 2018 Another can be found on Gold Check out this video on how one of the machines worked there and thanks to Allan Robertson for shooting the video following here of the Gold Fox Omni running on the Blackfoot claim: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzY7XC5KjPc  



Alan Robertson has all kinds of videos on making your own gold searching equipment. Here's two videos from his site to check out. Fun stuff; good ideas

Powder Painting Puts Durability and Longevity to Your Equipment; Gold Fox Does it Impressively

Economical, Creative Way to Make Your Own Metal Detector

Very Clever Homemade Trommel With 5 Gallon Buckets and Scrap Metal Powered By Free Solar

It's crude, but works well. Built with hand tools and mostly discarded, scrap items. Free power for the water pump and barrel drive motor.

Make Trommel Will Travel!

       Got mechanical ability; got desire to create machinery to process rocks and gravel to get gold, you got a trommel built by John Rogers, creator extraordinaire.  The uniqueness of his homemade trommel is its clever design. Here’s what he says about it:

       I bought the basic guts of the trommel from a guy who needed money to get home on after the Zortman Big Dig 6 years ago. I didn’t like how it was built so I revamped it and added multiple parts.

       I first built a trailer with a back axle and wheels and a front trailer hitch, so I could basically take it out on the road if I want to. I even licensed it for use in Montana. Once I had the rack built with the red, vinyl grating I installed a framework for the punch screen drum to sit on and the rack with water jets and holes where the buckets of gravel are poured.

      There are two motors for this trommel; one is gas powered suction dredge that brings the water into the piping system which washes the rocks and dirt in the intake area.

     I even have a hose system built into it to hose the machinery down after use.


      When the operator works my trommel, a lever is engaged turning the drum with the power of the second 99CC motor that runs the right angle reduction drive pulley turning the drum. There are 5 gallon buckets full of rocks and dirt that are poured into this trommel meaning heavy weight is processed easily if it is built right.


John Roberts, Rules!!

     The tossing sound of the rocks through the drum is a big part of the operation of this trommel.

   The wet, cleaned rocks are tossed out the end through a trough that had to be built so disposing of them could be easily accomplished.


     After I had my basic trommel constructed for about $1000 worth of supplies, I bought a sluice that the gravel is run over catching the gold. 

     It uses a deep V fubber matting which does a good job of catching any gold flakes, nuggets or flour that comes out of the washing.
      The water and gravel are dumped into the black bin at the end in the water that holds the concentrates while the water is dispensed. 


Zortman Big Dig Sees It All

     This trommel I bring every year for 6 years now to the Zortman Big Dig, take it home and store it in a shed for the next year. It only gets used for this event. We were right near here last year with this trommel washing buckets of gravel too. 


      If anyone would like to have more details about how to make a trommel like this I would be happy to share my information with them; all they have to do is get a hold of me.


     Side note:

His daughter said, “When you live in Sidney, Montana, there isn’t much else to do but go to your garage and build things.” And build a dandy he did.


Innovative Prospecting Geniuses From Ohio Develop Wonders!!

Whippin' Out a Quick Sluice

     The internet is full of all kinds of wonderful ideas.

      Here's one that you can make easily yourself, carry it in a canvas bag and use it on any river or stream in Montana to pan for gold.

       The materials are easy to find in the aisles of  Home Depot. The downspout connector and extension can be found in the rain gutter section. This i s probably the most inexpensive and lightweight prospecting equipment piece that you will ever own or make.


taigen with slicing the sluice


Prospecting on a Dime: Rain Gutter Sluice


means you get a 4.95$ rain gutter from Home Depot cut it in half and share your bounty with someone else. Roll it up, put it in a small canvas bag and stash it in your car. When you go out traveling anywhere and you go by a creek and pull over pile some rocks at the end of the gutter and let the water flow through. With a garden trowel or small shovel pour your diggings from near by hillside or river bank and the gold nuggets and dust will settle in the long length of ridges for you pour into a concentrate bucket. It's portable, flexible and efficient. See it in action by clicking this link  above.


Suck It Up!


Another aspect of cheap, affordable prospecting equipment of the portable kind is the suction tube. What’s great about it is the quick amount of washed gravel you can suck up and pan immediately all from the perfect little hiding places around rocks and in crevices in stream beds all over Montana. When those kids are restless in the car, stop and prospect everywhere and each can have their own piece of equipment cuz it’s cheap to make with PVC pipe. So get on it and enjoy!


Creating a Underflow Sluice

Now nationwide prospecting clubs can get together and come up with all kinds of clever, workable underflow sluices. But then there are the individual entrepreneurs that have garage/backyard style desires. Then again when you have economical, creative thinking employed with genius minds other possibilities come to mind. All that expensive, ship in clear plastic tubing is looming, why not go to the Dollar Store, get a plastic water jug, some plastic cutting boards for the center blocking piece, add your silicone sealant adhering to your recycled Plexiglas pieces cut to fit and assemble your own sluice?

Ditch Your Blue Bowl and Your Gold Genie; This Is Slick

Home Sluice

prospecting tools to make

taigen in poor man's creek

Backyard Sluicing Project Brings Recreational Prospecting Ease

               While cleaning the back deck a refurbished motor was discovered and a gleam in Taigen Pyne’s eye began. He said, “I can make a sluice in the backyard this next summer!” That’s just what we are going to do so we can process buckets of gravel we bring back from all parts of Montana. It’s more enjoyable to do this in the privacy of your own home compound than it is to haul and set up equipment on site. Some might prefer to do that, but others not so much.

               But just how is this motor going to be rigged up to a sluice? A search of the internet and Pinterest can give some great images to duplicate if you are at all ingenious with the mechanical ideas. If you see and image, can enlarge it, and then start to modify it with your own ideas, new equipment reasonably priced can be yours for the use. It goes from ideas to implementation with the effort given by the individual. This just might be constructed over the summer while the recreational season is abuzz. Yes!

This is a text! You can edit, move, copy or delete it.



Fun Buckets

another image of a piece of equipment to use

taigen on our way down

Small Rocker Boxes

     A rocker box has been a common prospecting tool for ages. To the right is one of Sam Radding's plans to make your own functional rocker box in order to obtain your gold dust and mini nuggets from sluicing. All the necessary steps are here for you to duplicate if you want, but this Australian  YouTube video is very informative as to how you can go to an empty river bed and process your rocks and dirt to get your gold.

      This is an instrumental idea because you are not using mechanized machinery in the wild and there fore you are under the laws of recreational prospecting, not commercial mining which can be a good thing.


Make Your Own

Rocker Box


delbert's trommel in backyard

      If it wasn't for Delbert Henry sharing his ideas, knowledge and prospecting equipment, there wouldn't be the expanse of topics to share with others.

     On one of my many visits with Delbert he shared Volume I & II of Sam Radding's book. It was a thrill to see so many ideas already implemented in how to make your own pieces of equipment to use in the field.

     We thank Delbert for his leadership and exposing us newbies to the realm of prospecting.



     Even though we emailed Sam Radding's publisher for permission to post his plans we never received any response.

     With the disclaimer that this use is for non-profit we want to state our appreciation to him for his hard work. May no one use this for personal gain.

     One of our first posts from his book is the view scopes which you can use to look for those shiny nuggets under rocks in riverbeds. May you have fun making and using one.

Plans for The Making 


Homemade rock crushing tool that could prove productive.

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© Central Montana Prospectors Coalition, Site Created & Written By Alma Winberry