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Steve Herschbach

Everything Your Ever Wanted To Know About Gold Pans

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I tripped over this extensive article, available as a free download. Here is the abstract:

The article sets out to clarify the special character of the North American gold pan and why it remains so popular – in spite of widespread dissatisfaction and many modifications and innovations. The North American pan is distinctive in being circular with a flattish floor ringed by an outwardly sloping wall. Its identity is confused by over-use of the terms 'pan' and 'panning'. The North American pan gyrates in a distinctive orbital motion driven by both hands of the panner. Although many other motions are resorted to (tapping, to-and-fro, tilting, and tick-tock), it is the orbital motion and flattish floor that together distinguish the pan from most other hand-held gravitational devices. In spite of its enduring popularity, no scientific tests have been published on the North American gold pan or for any of the innovations covered by 30 US patents awarded since 1861. It remains unclear if the North American gold pan is more efficient at recovering fine gold and flat gold than is a lotok, batea, dulang, ninja bowl, grizzly pan, mat, bucket or any other sort of hand-driven gravitational device. Some innovations are long-forgotten but merit attention. For instance, bars to keep the panners hand clear of the water, cables to hold large heavy pans, and several pans designed for panning without any water. Traditionally the North American gold pan was a combined digging and washing device, but today most models are not designed for digging and require a spade to be used. 

Gold recovery in Gold Pans -the term... (PDF Download Available). Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/313562132_Gold_recovery_in_Gold_Pans_-the_term_'Panning'


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That's a really cool read, thanks for putting that up.  However my favorite pan isn't on there..


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More than I ever want to know....

  • Haha 1

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Great writeup! But, I've got a new wrinkle on a gold pan....my automatic panning machine AKA "Sweep Jig". Utilizes a flexible bottom, or diaphragm. I've been working on this since August of '16. Patent has been applied for. You can see the old prototype running here:Sweep Jig at Bonanza Bar

Works well, even without water.





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People are always trying to reinvent the wheel when it comes to gold pans & make a bit of coin. Talking of wheels, I have used an old car hubcap as a gold pan & even a frying pan. Seemed to work just as well as any gold pan. Talking of pans, my favourite pan is the large Garrett super sluice gravity trap pan. A couple of good deep aggressive riffles that do the job quickly & efficiently. Once material is down to the business end of proceedings, black sand & the goodies, 


 just spin it around to the smooth side. 

Crevice sucker 001


operating sluice box 020


operating sluice box 021


operating sluice box 022


Good luck out there

JW :smile:

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