Ainlay Gold Machine Highly Praised By Miners
The following article appeared in the feature section of the Sunday State Journal and we believe will be of interest to our readers. The article was headed “Nebraskans Use Cream Separator Idea to Reclaim Fine Gold.”
Making new gold fields out of old ones with a cream separator is the idea with which a couple of Nebraskans are making money for themselves and incidentally for mine owners. Of course they didn’t actually use cream separators, but the device they have patented is constructed on the same principle, using centrifugal force to separate “flour gold” from dirt gravel. Quantities of perfectly good gold, hitherto thrown away because the cost of extracting it was prohibitive, are now being reclaimed at a profit. The same machinery washes gold from virgin soil, and is being operated along the Colorado river in Colorado and Utah.
Men have been trying for forty years to evolve a separator device, and several have been used with varying degrees of wastefulness. It remained for T. W. Ainlay and C. E. Gish of Farnam to construct one that got all the gold. Working away in Parker’s garage, they finally solved the problem by making their separator bowl-shaped instead of cylindrical, the practice of other inventors, and lining it with corrugations, back set at a different angle, to follow the curvature of the bowl. These “riffles” as miners call them, collect the almost impalpable particles of gold which settle as the lighter sand and gravel are thrown over the edge of the whirling bowl. Not to be too extravagant in their claims, the inventors panned the gravel thrown out, and discovered that they were losing one-fifth of 1 percent of the gold. That was good enough for Messrs. Ainlay and Gish, and they set about interesting capital in their invention. They lost some time by giving an option on their patent to a company that kept it for a year and finally let it drop. It was then snapped up by Joseph Bjorn of McCoy, Idaho Springs, Denver, Leadville and Alaska, who has been taking gold out of dirt ever since, as fast as he can build machines to do it with.
The separator is the last section of a string of machinery mounted on a dredge, which takes the old tailings or fresh gravel in at one end and spits out the finest of gold particles at the other. Incidentally, the device was perfected after a Wichita, Kans. Man, had spent in excess of $100,000 trying to make one that would work. The Nebraskans took it up where he left off, and brought it to perfection.
Blue prints of the machinery disclose an admirable simplicity, the whole being practically as obvious as the separator. Two cylindrical screens the coarser within the finer, receive the dirt from the hopper, and the twice screened gravel is conveyed to the separator bowl. A thirty-foot elevator half way along carries off the residue, and another removes the last tailings.
The spinning bowl can of course be stopped and emptied at any time. Usually it is cleaned out every six hours, a considerable amount of gold accumulating in that period from what may look like worthless dirt. If permitted to run two and a half or three days, the bowl will be pretty well filled, the gold in it being worth approximately $3,000. Another detail of the simplicity of the invention is that the gold is ready without further preparation to be hauled to the mint. There are no intermediate steps, no preliminaries.
The dredge and separator will handle twenty to twenty-five tons of gravel in an eight hour day, Mr. Bjorn finds, recovering from 97 percent of the gold on up. All day long the big scoop empties dirt into the hopper, two scoops a minute, and it runs thru screens and separator in a few minutes.
To one who panned gold by hand as Mr. Bjorn did in Alaska for eleven years, such a machine represents almost infinite possibilities. Because its operation is so efficient in recovering the elusive flour gold, it can be profitably used in working over the waste piles that surround every gold mine. From 25 to 30 percent of the gold is commonly lost in the sluicing process, Mr. Bjorn points out, and practically all this is now recoverable. The Ainlay-Gish separator has the endorsement of such men as John T. Joyce, commissioner of mines for Colorado, and Charles W. Henderson of the United States bureau of mines.
“Many separators and many other devices have been tried out in this work,” Mr. Bjorn explains. “When we started this one, people followed us around with pans and little scales to see how much we were losing. We were glad to have them do it, for they found there wasn’t any loss to speak of—less than 1 percent.
We needn’t do any guess work, either. We assay the soil, and if it promises to pay thirty-five cents a cubic yard we can wash it economically. In fact, it costs but ten to twelve cents a yard to put the dirt thru. Some very worthless looking sand will yield well, but we don’t put it thru without first assaying it.”
Mr. Bjorn poured some black sand out of a bottle into a little iron pan about five inches across, and presently washed up a considerable quantity of gold dust. Blowing on it to dry some of the flakes he showed how they floated on the water. In ordinary washing and panning, much gold floats away like this and is lost. The separator catches it all and washes away the sand and rocks. The same kind of sand that came out of the bottle had yielded 435 ounces of gold to a ton. Other sands would produce up to $8,700 a ton, the miner said.
Land has been leased at many places along the Colorado river and in other localities all the way from Thermopolis, Wyo., to Nowata, Okla., and Mr. Bjorn is having five more dredges and separators constructed to recover gold in these regions. These will handle twelve tons of dirt a day. Owners of the land are paid a 10 percent royalty.
The dredge is hauled by a tractor, rails being laid in front of it as they are needed. A small crew is required for each dredge. Beside the leased land, many waste piles at gold mines will be put thru the separator. The Ainlay device is replacing older ones of less efficient type. Nebraskans are putting their money into the process, the procedure being to put $25,000 into a single unit of machinery.