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High Banker Sluice Box

Homemade Dredge on the water


Have you wondered if using a highbanker would help you find more gold? Interested in building your own high banker sluice box for gold prospecting and saving some significant money in the process? If you design it right and plan well you really can save a lot of money and still have a good, functional high banker sluice that is durable and really holds onto the gold - and that counts for a lot.  Here are some thoughts about the essential tools, components and skills that you need to take a look at when planning out the construction of your own high banker sluice...... Home built sluice under construction

The highbanker has become a popular piece of prospecting equipment. It is really just a sluice box set up to run at a location away from the waters edge. A close relation of the dredge and sluice box, the highbanker has the advantage of being able to work bench gravels left high and dry by river erosion which are unmined and may contain gold nuggets. The disadvantage of a highbanker is that it needs almost as much water as a sluice, and needs a good sized motor and pump, to move the water supply up from the river source to the high banker unit. The main types of deposits for which a high banker is a good choice are gravels away from the water, such as bench gravels and sometimes residual gravels.


There are two main elements of a high banker: they are the feed box and the sluice box. Here is a discussion of the function of these two parts, to better help you design you own home made highbanker sluice:

The sluice box part of a highbanker is really is not that different from a regular sluice. The riffles may be a bit taller, but the riffles and carpet or miners moss underneath the riffles is virtually the same. Gold gets caught in the riffles and moss in the same way. The techniques and consideration of building a the only other important difference between a regular sluice and a sluice box for a highbanker is that the high banker sluice has adjustable legs for support.  In fact, many hand fed sluice boxes can easily be adapted for use with a highbanker. For more information about building a hand fed sluice box, see my web pages on designing and building your own hand fed sluice box.

The feed box is basically a box with a grizzly screen with water sprays. Water is normally sprayed from plastic pipe with a series of holes drilled into it. A simple water valve ahead of the spray pipes controls the amount of flow into the pipes. A slat type screen allows water and the smaller material to fall through and go into the sluice box. The slats should be set on an angle so that much of the material will slide off the slats. The material too large to fall between the slats is washed with the spray and then rejected.

Primitive Homemade High Banker in Asia

The operation of a highbanker consists basically of shoveling material into the hopper, where it is washed by the water sprays. The water, sand and smaller materials drop down into the sluice box area. Enough water must be pumped into the system to run the sluice, although the sluice box section of a high banker is usually set at an angle much steeper than a hand fed sluice in a river is set.

It is very possible to convert an existing sluice box to a High Banker. If you have low, flat type riffles as are found in a hand sluice, you may need another set if riffles that are a little taller. The sluice will need to be set up to have legs and mount a feed box on top of it. You need a baffle piece to close the front of the sluice, so material does not go out the front of the box.

Building the sluice box portion of the Highbanker is really just like building a sluice box with support legs. Your high banker will need standard riffles, with miners moss as a lining underneath them. You will also need adjustable legs for the high banker to sit on. There are a variety of adjustable leg designs, but the legs need to be stable and strong. Because of the weight of wet wood, I strongly advise using sheet aluminum for your high banker. The sluice will also need to have some prevision for mounting the feed box on top of it. For those interested in making their own sluice box from aluminum with steel riffles as a do it yourself type of project, I can say if you have any metal fabrication skills, you will find this an easy project. A little welding, a little metal folding and the project is done. If you purchase fairly thin aluminum sheet it will be possible to bend it yourself into the trough shape as a single piece (just don’t go too thin). For more related information, see my web page on building a Gold Sluice Box.

Building the feed box portion of the Highbanker is not too difficult either. Its simply a box you can shovel material into that has steel rods of slates set about 1 inch apart to allow fines to pass through. and coarse rocks will stay on top. A cut in the box allows the rocks to be slid out. Slats for the screen have to be strong and durable so they can stand up to having material shoveled onto them.

To run a highbanker, you need a system to pump water to it and a valve to control the flow. The choice of the right pumps and hoses makes a difference. A 5 or 6 HP engine with a pump similar to the Keene 180 centrifugal pump should do. Its important to note that all pumps deliver less water as the high banker location is moved uphill. Pumping uphill increases the resistance on the pump, and as you move uphill, eventually there is a point where the pump will not provide sufficient water to run the high banker. I have a web page about pumps, motors and component equipment.

The grade slope on the high bank sluice box is set up a little steeper than a normal sluice box, and usually ranges from about three to four inches per foot. Its a good tool to have. Be sure to make the riffles easy to remove when it is time to clean the sluice out undercover the gold. Removable riffles, whether in wooden or metal troughs are held down with bolts or wedges to keep them from moving around. Now my welds aren't pretty, but they do the job - they just need to be sturdy and hold the riffles in place.  I so strongly recommend that you consider buying one of these welders that I have done up a whole web page on it. If you are seriously considering building your own sluice box, check out my page: Low Cost, Small Arc Welders For Home Use

The more tools and fabricating skills you possess, the more likely it is that your home made power sluice / High banker project will be a success. I have done up a page on the hand tools needed for this type of project, you can check it out at:  Mining Project Necessary Tools

If you would like to view some more information on how to operate a sluice box, be sure to check out my webpage on using one:  How To Use A Sluice Box To Find Gold

Commercial High Banker in Alaska

Want to know a little bit more about this crazy prospector guy? Well, here's a little bit more about me, and how I got into prospecting: Chris' Prospecting Story  

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