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Garrett ATX Shaft & Cams Locking From Sand

Guest Paul (Ca)

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Guest Paul (Ca)

Hi Steve,

Wanted to share with you an issue you may have when detecting the sands of Hawaii, I found this out this past Sunday when hunting a California beach.

No matter how careful you are with keeping sand away from the shaft it will be in there and be almost impossible to get out, The find ocean sand will find it's way in there especially the cam locks boy was it a nightmare getting the find grit out even after washing down the detector and shafts.. 

In fact, Scratched the shafts that will be the last time I take the ATX to the ocean.  Fresh water lake sand isn't as fine as ocean wet sand so lake sand can be washed off allot easier, If you can hip mount your detector for the ocean wet sand.

If not, Prepare yourself for punishment.

If anything, Enjoy your time there and take another detector if you can't get the ATX hip mounted in time.

Paul (Ca)

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Hi Paul,
I already ran into this in a small way at Lake Tahoe and have minor scratching on the rods. Obviously Garrett ran into is since it gets mentioned in the manual:

Keep the detector clean, especially the touchpad and telescoping stem assembly. The ATX stems should never be collapsed and allowed to dry when the unit is muddy or sandy, or after any underwater use. Saltwater and even freshwater sediment can inhibit the easy operation of the stems and stem nuts. Rinse the unit with fresh water to remove sand, sediment, etc., and wipe down with a clean cloth. Hold the ATX under running fresh water to rinse off sediment. Vigorously rotate the stem nuts back and forth and work the stems in and out while under the running water to help flush any grit from within the stem nuts. Flush any debris from the stem rotation lock as well.

I read that and I thought "oh-oh". I can see these babies getting locked up tight. So I was already prepared for trouble there.

I am a big fan of the ATX electronically. It performs well. But I am not a fan of the Recon housing. Yes, it is really cool. But for dry land use it is way too heavy. Garret hit a home run with the other AT detectors by making them waterproof without losing functionality or adding weight. The weight penalty on the ATX for dry land use is, well, extreme. For water the situation is not as bad, but the machine is large enough to provide lots of resistance in water and must literally be pushed through the water. The sand in the shaft and cams is an issue and even more worrisome is the mechanism where the coil and shaft pivot. It is impossible to take apart and clean properly.

I honestly would have preferred an ATX in Infinium housing instead of the ATX in Recon housing as the Infinium can be hip or chest mounted on land and is better suited for use in water. I have my ATX pack mounted (another post) but the cables on the ATX coils are not long enough so I am limited to Infinium coils.

Bottom line is I am determined to use the ATX in the water as it is built and let the cards fall where they may. I will go to utmost efforts to follow Garrett's instructions. Maybe the ATX is like the Minelab CTX - a waterproof detector you are afraid to put in the water!

But yeah, I decided I needed insurance. My new White's Surf PI Dual Field showed up yesterday. Thanks for the warning!

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  • 1 month later...

OK, this from my post at http://www.detectorprospector.com/forum/topic/102-garrett-atx-review-beach-detecting-in-hawaii/

"I may as well relate now that I did have issues with sand in the twist locks but not as bad as anticipated. The lower two twist locks seemed just loose enough that at the end of every outing I just worked them back and forth and the rod in and out and they cleared. But the upper one gave me problems. It got sand inside that refused to come out, even after taking it off and working on it under running water for a half hour. For some reason that upper most twist lock was just a bit tighter to start with and the sand would not clear out. Yet it never quit 100%. I lost most of the ability to twist the lock but it still twisted just enough to hold the rod in place. I am asking Garrett for advice on where to drill a couple holes or maybe slots to see if we can get these things clearing sand a bit better. Overall I actually am ok with them but they need improvement. In other types of sand it could be a big problem. I am going to see if I can get my upper lock to loosen up similar to the lower two and will report back later.

The rod assembly got scored up quite a bit from being extended and collapsed with sand in the assembly. I will post photos later. Nothing that bothered me but some might hate seeing their expensive detector getting ground up like this."


I have a Water Pik and tried blasting sand out of upper lock ring. Some more came out, but still not getting full travel. I let it dry completely, and tapping and working it fine sand is still coming out and still not getting full travel as I twist the mechanism. Weird, as like I said in the post the lower two locking rings were no problem at all.

I contacted Garrett about the rod scuffing because I was concerned about water infiltrating the fiberglass. Some fiberglass is only sealed on surface and once the surface coating breaks water can get into the fiberglass. Garrett said this is not a concern with the fiberglass rods. There is no requirement to treat or seal the surface. Applying something like Armor All may actually cause problems by making the surface too slick for the locking cams to grip well. Bottom line is it is just a cosmetic issue.

The rod locking rings is more than a cosmetic issue. Obviously it only affects water users, but this appears to be a pretty good segment for the ATX. I am going to work on mine some more and report back.

Garrett recognizes the issue and has produced a good video on the care and cleaning of the ATX.

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