An exciting new concept in a 3-inch Dredge
- by Tim Regan
courtesy of Gold Prospectors)
I have been dredging as a hobby for several years and have
loved every minute of it. I own a new 5-inch Keene with
a three stage sluice and I'm very satisfied with its performance,
but on some occasions I need a light weight dredge to get
some of the remote areas where my 5-inch dredge can not
Recently I visited Keene Engineering, and was explaining
to Pat Keene that I wanted a dredge that was large enough
to move a large quantity of material, and light enough for
one man to pack. Pat mentioned that Keene Engineering, and
a good friend Dave Knowlen, have been working on just such
a project. We call this new dredge the "Ultra-3",
and it is nearly ready for field testing. Dave Knowlen has
already done some preliminary testing at his home in Washington.
This new design is especially for dredgers needing a lighter
and more productive dredge for remote and challenging areas.
Pat says its extremely lightweight for a 3-inch and easy
to assemble. We walked into the factory and he showed me
the prototype. I was impressed with its appearance and asked
when would it be available? He replied, "Not until
we have completed all of our testing". I asked how
long that would take and he said maybe a couple of weeks.
I mentioned I was going out that weekend and offered to
help field test it, as I was interested in buying one. Pat
agreed, providing I picked up the dredge the following morning
and test it over the weekend.
The following morning I was at keene Engineering's loading
dock and ready to start my adventure. Pat met me and had
the new dredge ready to go, complete with a 4hp Honda engine,
P100 pump and T-80 air compressor.
I was impressed with how lightweight and compact it was
as we loaded it into my truck. The next morning I headed
to the East Fork of the San Gabriel River, a popular place
to dredge in Southern California. I hardly recognized the
area due to the recent record rainfall this ear.
The Campgrounds were washed away and little of what I remembered
still existed. The river was still raging and freezing cold.
However, with my Henderson Gold Core wet suit I had purchased
from Keene, I was warm and comfortable. I found an area
up the stream that looked promising and carried the dredge
down to the river. It only took a few trips to get the dredge
and all my tools to the dredging area. The small 4 HP engine
was easily carried into the remote location. I was able
to carry nearly the entire dredge in one trip consisting
of, the floats, frame and sluice with ease. It would have
taken several more trips and most of my energy just to get
my 5" down the river. It only took a few minutes to
set up the dredge and place it in the water.
When I set the dredge in the fast current I noticed it
was a little unstable*, so
I moved into a calmer water where the flotation was adequate.
I found the dredge was easy to maneuver with its large handles
mounted on the sides of the floats, and the new oversized
jet and quick coupler kept the rocks from jamming throughout
After working several hours, I checked the sluice box for
traces of gold. I found a surprising amount of gold just
under the classifier screen at the front of the sluice box.
I must have hit a good spot. After cleaning the sluice box,
I panned my concentrates and was amazed at the amount of
fine gold the sluice box recovered. Not bad for an afternoon
of dredging. This little dredge was just what I was looking
I brought the dredge back to Keene Engineering Monday afternoon
and discussed my experience with Pat. I told him that the
only problem I noticed is that the dredge needed to be a
little more stable in rough water. I suggested adding some
Pat said they were aware of the problem and are currently
building a new mold for a little larger float. I was so
impressed with the performance of such a lightweight and
compact dredge that I placed a deposit on the first one.