Keith Law's complete TALES FROM THE GREAT ROLLING DYNO

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bertvorgon
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Re: Keith Law's complete TALES FROM THE GREAT ROLLING DYNO

Postby bertvorgon » 30 Apr 2017 09:03

I can post up a few pictures if you like?!
"Racing makes heroin addiction look like a vague wish for something salty" - Peter Egan

1973 2Door Slalom/hill climb/road race / canyon carver /Giant Killer 510
1968 Vintage 3HP Mini Bike
1971 Vintage 13' BOLER trailer

510rob
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Re: Keith Law's complete TALES FROM THE GREAT ROLLING DYNO

Postby 510rob » 30 Apr 2017 10:09

bertvorgon wrote:...blacked out helicopters in the nineties, as we both saw them and had one very scary encounter with some guys waiting for a drop..and... I mean SCARY!!!
:shock:

bertvorgon wrote:Stay tuned for the next story: How a Gold Refinery Works
:roll:

WHAT?!? What kind of story-telling hijinx are you pulling?!? We want tales of high adventure, not how a gold refinery works. Well, actually, we want both, which means you can't leave out the scary encounter story, unless warranted to do so by continued safety...

loungin112
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Re: Keith Law's complete TALES FROM THE GREAT ROLLING DYNO

Postby loungin112 » 30 Apr 2017 10:43

Love the tales of old. You will always have an attentive ear from me.

Yes to the photos!

To add a little to our cabin days...
The cabin was in Grand Lake Colorado, before the town was turned into a tourist mecca. There were no t-shirt shops, no trinkets with 'Grand Lake' stamped on them. What I remember most is a grocery store with creaky wood-slat floors, a "western stables" next door for horseback riding, a marina to buy worms/lures/hooks/etc, and an old electronic shooting gallery (the kind that used light to activate an air valve to pop the can into the air along a thin metal rod, etc). My grandfather built the cabin by hand and was a classic a-frame style. There was a giant boulder in the field next to the cabin. By giant - through a child's eyes - I mean maybe the size of a VW bug. Just about perfectly round, so it must have had quite a bit of erosion going on. As kids, we would build lean-to's against it, or imagine it as a fortress and protect it against invaders. We actually tried to build a fort on top of it...which didn't go so well. Well, the family sold the cabin (another story for another time) and the lot next to it. A developer promptly demolished the boulder to make way for another cabin...adding to the tourist mecca. But, I still remember sleeping in a tent outside the cabin (because that's what the brave little kids do), bending bushes and tying them together to make tunnels, roasting marshmallows and hotdogs outside in the fire pit, popping popcorn in the fire pit, napping in the hammock outside, and taking in the stars that are normally clouded by light pollution. The one place we were unable to reach was an abandoned fire watch tower on the top of shadow mountain. The hike wasn't too long but certainly takes a whole day. But, what made it difficult, is that the path was notorious for having multiple mountain lions that were constantly around. Simply never wanted to risk it...those mountain lions are the worst.

We are looking to buy another cabin some day. Can't figure out where it should be, because Grand Lake just isn't the same anymore. But in the mean time, I trust the adventures will lead us to interesting and beautiful places.

Speaking of "the thrill of the hunt", it recalls a very familiar saying from Mr. Forrest Fenn, who published "The Thrill of the Chase". Along with the book, he included a poem that he says leads to a buried treasure....buried by him. I applaud him for keeping the thrill alive.

-The Poem

As i have gone alone in there
And with my treasure bold,
I can keep my secret where,
And hint of riches new and old.

Begin it where warm waters halt
And take it in the canyon down,
Not far, but too far to walk.
Put in below the home of Brown.

From there it's no place for the meek,
The end is ever drawing nigh;
There'll be no paddle up your creek,
Just heavy loads and water high.

If you've been wise and found the blaze,
Look quickly down, your quest to cease,
But tarry scant with marvel gaze,
Just take the chest and go in peace.

So why is it that I must go
And leave my trove for all to seek?
The answers I already know,
I've done it tired, and now I'm weak.

So hear me all and listen good,
Your effort will be worth the cold.
If you are brave and in the wood
I give you title to the gold.

loungin112
Posts: 178
Joined: 05 Mar 2014 21:34
Location: Colorado

Re: Keith Law's complete TALES FROM THE GREAT ROLLING DYNO

Postby loungin112 » 30 Apr 2017 10:44

510rob wrote:
bertvorgon wrote:...blacked out helicopters in the nineties, as we both saw them and had one very scary encounter with some guys waiting for a drop..and... I mean SCARY!!!
:shock:

bertvorgon wrote:Stay tuned for the next story: How a Gold Refinery Works
:roll:

WHAT?!? What kind of story-telling hijinx are you pulling?!? We want tales of high adventure, not how a gold refinery works. Well, actually, we want both, which means you can't leave out the scary encounter story, unless warranted to do so by continued safety...


I want both!! No detail left untold! :D

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Re: Keith Law's complete TALES FROM THE GREAT ROLLING DYNO

Postby bertvorgon » 02 May 2017 19:13

Cool Poem. Developers have wrecked more pristine places than ever should have been allowed. There is a reason my son and I drive for 6 - 7 hours to get away from the Vancouver "blast" zone of idiots and weekend warriors. Our family had to sell the cabin on Lake of the Woods when we had to bring my Grandmother out here after her husband died. In future years the old cabins came down and the huge, multi hundreds of thousand dollar weekend "retreats" went up, unaffordium for all but the wealthy...look at Whistler, B.C..

Here is a quick story of how crazy people are, that should never be allowed to have a 4 x 4.

Many many years ago, my brother, his lady, myself and my soon wife to be, headed way out there in his FJ40 Landcruiser, the original one. We have driven for a whole day, crossed the Fraser River by reaction ferry, then climbed high into the mountains, heading for an old prospectors trail that traverses 7,000 foot ridges. It is beyond spectacular. We had a meadow in mind to camp at, close to fresh water. Beautiful!!! We move off the narrow trail and set up our usual travelling campsite. We start getting ready for dinner when we hear an engine coming FAAST. What the hell. Then we hear the stereo..then we see the truck, some Chevy 4 x 4. He frickin' stops when he sees us, looks over to the creek, blasts over there and parks..and starts to set up camp with his lady friend. He then walks over to us, our jaws on the ground and says they will "pop" over after dinner to yak it up. We are dumb founded. All this time his stereo is blaring away. There is 500 square miles of wilderness in this area and he has to camp 300 feet from us. To this day I still cannot believe it. As he was behind a small stand of trees, we scarfed some food, quickly packed up and as his stereo was so loud, he would not have heard us leave. We drove for another hour to another spot we knew and made sure we were off the trail into a grove of trees.

What sort of person does that...the herd instinct kicking in..safety around the water hole. BIZARRE!

Anyhow, here is Part 1 of the mines saga, I should have done this first. It is the extended version of the story I wrote when we did the explore trip that I posted on this site, hope you enjoy.

Then, In another post, the How the refinery works, and then my encounter in the mountains with the drug guys.

And, as a break from car stuff, if you like, a few stories of some of the major scams I have encountered in the mining business. You will not believe what some people get sucked into, when they check their fine minds at the greed door. Your call.

When Lost Mines are Just Misplaced
Forward

With the dearth of “reality” programs on television these days, of which a bunch of them involve guys running around the mountains either looking for Lost Mines ( Frozen Gold), digging for long lost treasure ( Curse of Oak Island ), and of course all the Gold Rush/Yukon Gold programs, it got me to thinking of my own “reality”.
I have two stories to tell, which I will split up. The first is still an ongoing one and I cannot tell you where, as it is truly a treasure being explored this coming spring and summer. The second will be of a known mine, which became almost impossible to get to. I hope you enjoy!

Part One
The steel cable is slippery in my hands; the mist from the crashing waterfall in front of me sends waves of cold water at me. Below the small edge I am creeping along is a raging torrent of white water. Ahead of me I can see a small pile of rusting steel, and some rotting wood that appear to be timbers. I am about to enter the bowls of a long misplaced gold mine.

The year is 1971; I have been working in the precious metals business for just over a year at our new melt and refining facility in Richmond. We are looking for new business of course, so one day when a grizzled prospector showed up at our door, with a bucket of ore, he was welcomed immediately. His name was Slim, which if you could have seen him, was as opposite as you could imagine. He of course asked us if we could melt his ore, to recover the gold. We were like puppies then, willing to try anything. He asked if he could stay to watch, and, as I have done my whole life, we said sure.

The next morning he showed up with bucket in hand and we let him help us run it through our jaw crusher. The ore was quartz based looking material, so we based a flux on that. About 2 hours later we poured into our cone mold. Upon cooling we bumped out a very small bead of what looked like gold. Slim beamed upon seeing that and said there was a lot more where that came from. We of course in our naivety asked where he got it. Well, that was top secret! Hey, no problem, just curious. He said he would be back in a few weeks with more. He also appreciated that we let him watch the whole process.

Two weeks later he was at our door again, with a slightly different looking ore, with very little quartz. We went through the same process again, but, this time we did not get a nice button out. We said we would do an assay to determine what the ore was made up of, then we might be able to formulate a flux. We did this at no charge as it was a learning experience for us. He again really appreciated all of our efforts, which was to be a bonus for me in the long run. At the same time he was really getting to know us and vise versa, as we spent many hours having coffee and talking while the melt was happening.

Slim’s story was interesting, a loner all his life, a sniper during WW2 and a self taught prospector, which suited his loner life style. It was during one of our coffee sessions after a few months, that he finally opened up about what he was trying to do. He took me and my good friend into his confidence, seeing that we were outdoor people and had a real sense of adventure.

As a prospector, Slim had been going through the old mining records, which in that time period were all manual, no quick search in the digital realm then! He came upon mention of a mine, not all that far from Vancouver in the scheme of things, that sounded like it might be worth investigating again. Richard Nixon had taken the U.S. off the gold standard and the price of gold was starting to rise. This made for the potential of old mines to possibly be economical again. Gold virtually doubled from 1971 to 1972.

As Slim’s story unfolded, I was just in awe, as to what an adventure it would be, to find this old mine. I had just explored an old gold mine myself, which you will hear of in Part Two.

What has happend is that Slim headed to the area of the mine, based on a map in the mine records. The mine was originally only accessed by a small flat boat crossing a river, for supplies and horses, then a pack horse trail up into the mountains some 15 miles or so. He could not find the mine after months of looking where the map said it SHOULD be. It was still no mean feat to get into the area in 1971. A logging company had gone some ways up the valley in the late 60’s, so a rough gravel road led right to the area, but then required some serious bush whacking after that. If you have fought Devils Club you know what I mean.

At this point Slim decided to do a major rethink of the situation. In looking at the mine map, then, a proper topographical map, plus his now extensive knowledge of the terrain in the area, he realized they put the WRONG name of the creek on the mine map! He was over a mile away from the potential actual location. Like any steep valley, there will be small creeks, then some major ones draining the mountain tops. This property was first examined in 1923, a small amount of drilling done in 1927, then in 1932 a small amount of mining was done. The mine went into limited production from 1935 to 1939. Maps were still hand drawn then with aerial topographies in their infancy. They just plain got the wrong creek name when they did their map.

With this now in mind, Slim headed back out, starting at the first major creek and exploring from there. What he is looking for is a larger creek coming into the main river, at almost right angles. After months of traversing the Valley, he finally peered over the lip of a major waterfall and there, to his amazement, down below, was sign of human activity, a small rusting pile of iron and some small timbers. This was it!

Now, this is where you have to imagine how fantastic this old mine is. Imagine if you will, that the ACTUAL main mine entrance, and where the mill was built, was ONLY accessible from the OTHER side of the main river. The supply trail came up to this canyon, and then they built an aerial walkway across the raging river and slung everything across that. On basically a small ledge, the mill was built and the assay lab. On the other side was the mine camp itself, comprising three buildings, as far as I can ascertain. Water for the mine and camp was taken from high up on the camp side and a pipe across the river, up high, on which the walkway was built for the miners to cross. AMAZING!

What Slim has spied below the waterfall is where the ore body came right to the edge of this creek, and they either pushed an air shaft through, or, just plain took the ore vein out. Slim clambered off to the side of the waterfall, risking life and limb to get down a small bluff. There he found the cable and in following that, he has found an entrance to the mine.

Slim asks if we would like to come and explore the mine and see what it is, after swearing total secrecy. I have died and gone to heaven, this sounds too cool.

The following weekend we set off into the wild and after 3 hours of driving, we park on the side of a very rough logging road. We bush wacked for another half an hour, finally coming to a small ledge with the steel cable lying on the ground. This is what we picked up and followed along a narrow ledge, as we headed towards the opening, with the waterfall cascading in front of us. The miners must have put this cable there, as it was threaded through a few eye bolts set into the rock wall. My heart is racing as we edge along, finally tucking into the blackness of the mine.

The roar and reverberance of the waterfall is deafening in the mine. We turn our flashlights on, hardly piercing the darkness. This was well before today’s wonderful LED lights. Slim had been in only part of the mine, so there was still much to explore. He first wanted to take us DOWN into the mine, which then led to the main adit out. The tracks were still in there, which we followed for about 100 feet, then, a raise headed down, very steeply. ( a “raise” in mining is an inclined excavation, leading from one level to another). I could only think of the zillion tons of mountain sitting above my head, seeing in some places where the roof had failed and crashed down. In places you could see huge quartz columns left for roof support, along with some very old and rotted timbers. After about 20 minutes we seemed to pop out onto a level mine cart track again and off in the distance I could see light.

In a few minutes we were out in the sun light again, at the original entrance to the mine. Ahead of us and maybe 50 feet below was a spectacular scene of thundering water as it cascaded down through this narrow box canyon. To my right, was a long, rusting red pipe crossing the river, maybe 50 feet higher than we were at. You could see what was some sort of broken up walkway on it, long disintegrated and fallen into the river. I only found out that there was a walkway on it a few years ago, as this story will tell you.

Slim pointed out the vestiges of the small ball mill concrete mount to our left, plus all the old drill bits and steel track. It was incredible to think that we were the first back there, since the last work shift walked out of the mine entrance, in 1939, when it shut down. How they got into this canyon is just a mystery to me, to get across the river, and then start a mine in this narrow spot is amazing. Now, Slim wanted to explore the other parts of the mine, as he now had someone with him for safety reasons.

Back into the darkness we went, staying on the main tracks. We came to a huge cavern like area, where the ore body must have been very wide. More large quartz pillars and timbers faded off into the blackness. To our right of the tracks, were small pools of water, which we started to realize were flooded sections below this main level. This was confirmed in 2013 when I found all the original underground mapping buried in the digital archives, too fantastic to believe. It turned out that as much tunneling was flooded, as was dry above. After about 20 minutes we came to the end of one shaft, where we could see that it was all drilled and ready for the next blast.

Turning around we then headed back to the main cavern, then peered up as far as our lights would allow, into large stoped areas, looking like they headed up to where we had come in.( Stoping is the process of extracting the desired ore or other mineral from an underground mine, leaving behind an open space known as a stope.) After as careful study as we could, we decided to climb up and follow the stoped areas, to see if it connected. Sure enough it did, with the stoped areas amazingly open and large, as testament to how good the rock structure was. Only a few spots had there been a roof fall.

As we got higher, I could feel through my feet an underlying rumble, finally coming to an auditory roar. We have now gone back up 110 feet, seemingly to the West of where we came and......on another track system. Around us are beautiful showings of copper that have leached out, a brilliant blue in places. We then follow a small raise, all with the sound getting louder, to the point that we hardly can hear ourselves talk. Ahead I see light again, and in one of the coolest experiences I have had, come out just UNDER the waterfall, white water screaming past my face. Just off to the side, was a very slippery looking ledge, where upon carefully walking out, I can see across and below, where we entered the mine. Beyond fantastic!

After about 3 hours underground, we had a very good idea of the layout. It was quite a workout climbing around the different stopes, raises and checked out some of the ore showings, which was where Slim had knocked off some of his samples.

Over the next couple of years, Slim worked on that old mine trying to prove out that it was still viable. The problem was this it really was high graded out and that the material was not directly meltable. It had a high tellurium/sulphide content, which was not good either. At one point, believe this or not, Slim built a small shed up there and tried melting onsite, using the fluxes we designed for the ore. He finally gave up when the Forestry Dept was up there checking out the last logging show, and found out there was a small blast furnace there. I would like to have seen their faces. He also got into some major trouble when he decided to take a small bulldozer up there and run through the trees to a point where he blew a new entrance into the mine.

As the 70’s ended, I had moved on through the industry, but, had heard that Slim has sold some shares to a larger company, who, with the rising gold market, thought they could make a go of it. If you can believe this also, they built a small 91 per ton day mill in 1979 above the mine, at the end of the logging road. There was a ball mill, float cells, large table for concentrating and a few trailers for the crew. It milled 36 tons of ore in 1984 and shut down forever! It ran for 1 month! There were some lawsuits over this and of course that is when gold fell again, making mines like this uneconomical.

Let’s jump to 2103. I had been taking my son to the many places I had visited over the years when I was young, old mines, wilderness hikes, etc. I had always had this old mine in the back of my mind to re-visit, as I loved the original entrance and how you came out under the waterfall. At the same time, I decided to see what I could track down in the old mine records, for I had had a realization of something that could be quite the adventure.
That realization was.......WHERE WAS THE ORIGINAL CAMP?

It was of course on the OTHER side of the raging river. But, there was now an old logging road going up high above where I thought the mine camp would be. I determined this by doing a Google earth view of the area, seeing that at the bottom of the valley the slight change in the trees showed there must be an old road there.
Off my son and I go one spring day, both to see what is left of the mine, not knowing if the road is still open, impassable due to erosion, or, just plain gone. After all, it was 42 years since I was last there! We have a GM TRACKER, so have some 4x4 capability. I could not recognize the area when we got to the start of the old roads; things had changed a lot from what I remembered. After a few false starts to some dead ends, we finally got onto an old road that looked about right for the 70’s build.

After a steep grind up what was almost a creek bed, we came upon the mill built in 1979, an old rusting caterpillar loader was still there, a very dead small bulldozer, two shot up Atco trailers and what looks like some sort of tool, maintenance shed. I could recognize nothing of where the mine would be, as it was all forest when I was there. But, I knew that we were close to the cascading creek with the waterfall.
Everything was still in the mill, other than you could see someone had salvaged the copper out of almost everything. You can only imagine the amount of money spent, all to run for one month, and then get shut down, turning into a modern archeological site.

We then got to the creek, which had really eroded through the mill site, leaving an old cabin tipping precariously, and ready to finally fall in the creek. I could see the vestiges of an old road made by the mining company. After about a 20 minute hike, we came upon a new decline and hole punched into the mountain side. This was done by the new company in 1979/80. We went in about 100 feet but found it flooded.
Heading further down had us bush whacking again, trying to get down to the original shaft entrance. It was very steep with huge Devils Club plants; I wish I had brought gloves. Finally, down through the trees, I could see that we could make our way to the entrance, which was still there, untouched as it was in 1971 and 1939. As we did not bring flashlights or underground equipment, the mine exploration was for another day, but at least we had gotten back here and it was accessible.

Through that summer, we went back twice, once to explore the underground again, seeing that the original part of the mine was untouched and that the new workings were very small indeed, other than we could not see the flooded section from the new decline. We did find where Slim had blown a new hole in the roof of the mine, just off to the side of where Slim and I originally went in. He did this to try to get the larger hauler in there. I had heard that it was too steep for this type of equipment.

This is now where I get to have my modern adventure, and, unlike the guys running around on television, I find what I’m looking for.

Last summer, after GPS’ing the mine site as a reference point, then Googling Earth to see across the river, and of course right across from the pipe crossing, I have an approximate sense of where to stop on the old logging road, above where the original mine camp should be. The old mine layout map I found buried in the records showed 3 buildings. The map was dated August, 1939, so it would have been current as it was shut down. PERFECT!!! I had a funny feeling that NO ONE had been there for 70+ years. As the development was on the other side and the main old road access was there, it took the major hit of weekend warriors and the like. Only if someone had thought about what was the origination of the mine and looked at the old records, would they maybe have realized the original camp was not on the mine side.

Last fall, my son and I plus a couple of close friends (sworn to secrecy) headed up the old road, parking at an appropriate spot. Wow, was I close, as there in the trees was an old, old water pipe, heading down towards the river. Was it ever steep as we dropped over the edge, almost to the point of sliding in some spots. We had gone down maybe 200 feet when I started to see some man made things, an old boot, some cans, a bed spring of some sort. We were close. The forest was so green the air felt like it was green too. It was a rainy day and the richness of the moss and first growth trees had it very dark in the bush. We slid into a flat spot in the bush, almost like a landing of some sort, and there, scattered throughout the trees, were cans, bottles, steel things. We had found it, untouched for 70 years, lost in history! Based on the map, I could see the outline of the three buildings, all just collapsed into the green moss floor. I could not stop smiling. Right away I found a nice pick axe head and some vintage bottle’s. One of the fellows found, just sitting in the moss, a beautiful carbide miners lamp, I could not believe it.

As this place has not been molested at all, we will treat it like an archaeological site. At what appeared to be a larger building, we carefully peeled back the moss floor on what would be the corner of the building. There, we found a medicine box, which would have been on a wall. It was almost perfect inside, the first aid things still there. We could see tools on what would be the floor, likely again having been either mounted on the wall, or in a tool box. In other places we found where they dumped the garbage and it was full of rusting cans and of course glass bottles. We followed the water pipe down through the trees and came upon where the pipe crossed the river, to the mine. A large concrete structure was there, to hold down the cables for the water pipe and walkway, too cool. The afternoon blew by and soon it was time to hike back up. On the way up a slightly different route, I think we found what would have been the horse trail to the camp, it just was too flat and unnatural compared to its surroundings.

We decided to not go back till this late spring or early summer 2016, when the days are dry and long. I will camp there and our plan is to take our time, concentrating on one building at a time, carefully peeling back the forest moss floor, and expose the fallen buildings, one at a time. I can only imagine what will be there, as it looks like they just walked away. My Holy Grail will be another carbide lamp.

So, while others are running around their television world, looking for the lost mines and treasures, I have found my misplaced mine and am looking forward to a summer of surprises, as we unearth 70 years of mining history.
Stay tuned for Part Two, where we head into the Cascade Mountains in 1969, to look for a mine at 5,000 feet.

Keith Law,
February 18, 2016
"Racing makes heroin addiction look like a vague wish for something salty" - Peter Egan

1973 2Door Slalom/hill climb/road race / canyon carver /Giant Killer 510
1968 Vintage 3HP Mini Bike
1971 Vintage 13' BOLER trailer

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bertvorgon
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Re: Keith Law's complete TALES FROM THE GREAT ROLLING DYNO

Postby bertvorgon » 02 May 2017 19:24

The Refinery

As I poured the last gallon of nitric acid into the reactor vessel, I could feel through my feet the rumbling of the start of chemical hell about to be unleashed inside this glass lined reaction tank. The nitrous fumes were already starting to come out the open port and up the glass condenser tubes, choking me even through my gas mask.

Have you ever wondered what happens after you have dropped off your placer or gold jewellery scrap? A gold refinery is a very complex system of steps, to finally get that pure metal back into the market place.

When metal is dropped off and received a tracking number is assigned to it, which will follow the bar through the process. The first step after that is of course the melt, where we will make a homogeneous bar. The bar is checked for any magnetic content, using a rare earth magnet. If it is magnetic it goes back for a re-melt to deal with any tramp metal, or, it is fluxed out by oxidizing with nitre.

The clean bar is then weighed to check for melt loss, which is where we look at historical melt records for a given customer, or, make a judgement call based on the material. All slag is checked for any retention of metal also.
Drilling the bar for the assay sample is the next step, where three holes are drilled across the top in a diagonal pattern, the two across the bottom, from opposite corners from the top. This is a standard ASME testing method. The drillings are all co-mingled together, then one sample is taken for the assay lab and one sample is retained for future reference, should an umpire situation be required.

Part of the assay labs job is to make sure that we HAVE produced a homogeneous bar. That is done by the lab doing three assays on the sample provided and comparing the spread of the gold and silver percentages. If it is outside of a very tight tolerance, the bar is deemed to be segregated. The lab will then call us and advise that the bar is not homogeneous. In that scenario the bar will then be further dealt with. This protects both the refiner and the customer from any bias of the numbers. Technic uses a totally independent lab in the U.S. for our assays.

When the assay comes back the customer is of course advised of the gold and silver content and any sale or other instructions are given. At this point, once the customer agrees that all numbers are good, the bar can then finally head for the next step in refining.

When we have around a collective total of one thousand troy ounces of bars, the next step is initiated. This involves looking at the total gold and TOTAL silver content of all those bars. The mission here is to determine that the total silver content in the one thousand troy ounces is LESS than 15%, a very critical number; the reason will become clear a bit later in the story. We can add or subtract bars of higher grade gold with less silver, to dilute the silver content if required.

The “MIX” as we now call it goes to the furnace room, where it is melted all together and poured into water. This is done to break up the mass into small pellets and lumps, thus increasing the surface area for the acids to be able to attack. The granulation as we call it has to be done slowly…pour too fast and the metal will explode upon contact with the water. Think of when you have that hot frying pan on the old wood cook stove and a piece of that maple bacon explodes, sending hot oil and grease EVERYWHERE. The pouring process is a two person job and the person actually controlling the pour can be made to flinch when the first explosion happens…which can cause a surge from the crucible…making a tidal wave of molten metal come out…and then making another explosion…..Not what you want. The sound can be very loud also. The only positive thing that happens during an explosion is that the metal becomes like sand, huge surface area is created.

The granulation bucket is drained of the water and the granulated metal is emptied into a bucket, now ready for the acid attack.

The reality of the gold refining room is just horrible, a place of constant fumes from acids, ammonia, and sulfur dioxide gas. The reactor deck is a two level wood construction, with a fiberglass cover to resist chemical spills. The reactor itself is on the top deck, the second deck holds the tanks for the gold solution to be drained into and then the floor level receives the decanted solution for final fine gold precipitation. Gravity is our friend as the less pumps are used for the solution the better.

The reactor is prepared by filling it with the appropriate amount of water first, anywhere for thirty to fifty gallons of water, depending on mix size. The calculation is then made as to how much hydrochloric and nitric acid will be added, to make the “AQUA REGIA” solution, which is three parts hydrochloric to one part nitric.
A small set of wooden steps leads up to the port on the reactor lid, where the granulated metal will be added. As the reactor is lined with a special glass, the granulated metal is sprinkled carefully into the water, which absorbs the shock of the falling metal on the glass. After all the metal is added, a long, plastic “stir” rod is carefully used to spread the metal around the bottom of the reactor. Then, the calculated amount of hydrochloric acid is added, which has been poured out into a bucket, lifted up the stairs, then poured into the open port. Fumes will be coming off this.

The next step is when it gets exciting and not in a good way.

The nitric acid portion is now added, which within a few seconds, will start to react violently with the metal and as it creates an exothermic state, the reaction ramps up very quickly, which you can start to feel through your feet. The task here is to quickly and safely add ALL the nitric acid, put the bucket down, and then, go back up the steps and close the port door, and then bolt it down, thus sealing the reactor. The nitrous fumes will then be screaming up the fume vent on the reactor, which is all glass, and then through the glass condenser section, which attempts to cool down the hot fumes escaping and send the liquid down into a recovery vessel for treatment. Some of those toxic and corrosive fumes will have also come out the open port, thus leading to the overall corrosion in the refinery room over time. Even stainless nuts and bolts suffered.

The reaction is allowed to go on with its own generated heat for a few hours, then, the steam is applied to the outer jacket surrounding the reactor. This is when the reactor really starts to rumble and groan. There had been situations where what we called a “boil-over” would happen, gold laden liquid going out the fume chimney, where we have to open a relief valve and recover the solution under the reactor deck. These situations were very scary, as there was a lot of pressure created by the acid reaction, worrying us that the glass tubing would break.
The reaction is allowed to go on overnight. In the morning the reactor port is opened and the metal is stirred. This is done to break up the silver chloride that has formed over the surface of the metal. This is where the 15% silver content, or less, is critical. Too much silver and the acid cannot get through to the metal underneath the coating. Silver is NOT soluble in aqua regia, so it will be left as a residue in the reactor after all the other metals are dissolved. After the stirring the port is quickly closed as the fresh surface of the metal will then again react with the acid.

Once it is determined that the reaction is finished, and there are a few steps I will not go into detail on to determine that, the steam heat is shut off and the reactor and solution allowed to cool.
The next morning an open tank on wheels is moved under the reactor on the lower deck. A drain valve is opened on the reactor bottom, allowing the contents to drain into the open tank. The lid is opened on the reactor and water is used to flush out any remaining metallic pieces and the silver chloride. This again is where the 15% silver content is critical, if the metal is covered with too much silver chloride, it will be too chunky to go out the drain valve, thus causing the valve itself to have to be removed, a real pain in the you know what!
Now the drained solution is allowed to settle, so that the remaining bits and silver chloride are at one end of the tank. Then, that solution is siphoned off to the ground level tank, which again is on wheels. What is important to know now is that every drop of that liquid contains gold, so splashing it around is a no-no! If you happen to get any on your skin, either through a hole of your glove, or whatever, your skin will turn a deep purple colour.

This tank is now wheeled into the precipitation room, where a large fan will evacuate the fumes coming off.

Sulphur dioxide gas is what we used. This will precipitate JUST the gold, out of the solution. A line from the sulphur dioxide tank leads to a glass tube, which is put in the GOLD CHLORIDE solution and the gas turned on. It takes about an hour or so to knock out the fine gold, which settles to the bottom of the tank as a brown looking powder, you would never know that it is fine gold.

The solution is then again siphoned off, for further processing, where it is checked for any platinum group metals, then, finally neutralized for disposal, after the base metals have been knocked out through another process. The refinery generates a lot of toxic materials, all of which have to be treated for environmental reasons.

The fine gold powder is carefully removed from the tank and put into a large ceramic filter, a giant version of your coffee filter basket. There, it will go through many washing stages, where pure ammonia is used to get rid of any trace silver, and solution remnants. All solutions are checked at this point to both see if silver was present and any residual gold chloride solution.

The gold powder is then dried and sent for weighing and then to the melt room. It is there that is finally put into the form of fine gold grain, by pouring again into cold water.
The fine gold grain is then weighed and compared to the assayed content for the mix. The silver chloride is also checked for any remaining gold content, to then balance the books so to speak.
The silver chloride goes through another set of steps, to get it converted to metallic silver. From that point the silver is made into anodes where it goes for electrolytic refining, to make 99.95+ pure silver.

Back to the gold grain, it will now be made into bullion bars for investment, made into karat casting grain for the jewellery industry, or, any number of industrial uses, gold salts and solutions for the plating industry, circuit boards, space use, and, even Ford used a thin gold film in their car windshields back in the 80’s. Most jewellers take their refined gold and silver back, to make into new products to sell.

It is amazing to think of how much gold is circulating in the world at any given time, and, it is not too much of a stretch for the placer miner to think that THEIR gold may be orbiting the planet, or being made into a pin connector on the latest cell phone!

A Note on the pictures:
The blue, rusty looking reactors are from the end days of DELTA SMELTING, where you can see the level of corrosion present. I was hired to dismantle the refinery, clean all the equipment, and then go to COSTA RICA to build a refinery. That is another story.

The clean, more modern looking reactors were from a multi- millions of dollars refinery built in ALDERGROVE, B.C.. I was hired in 1981 to run the refinery, which two years later never turned a wheel, was closed, and the whole place was dismantled to the best of my knowledge. It was a major fiasco, with some major players involved...that again is ANOTHER story. A lot of people lost a lot of money.

The SILVER cells were in the new refinery also, where the scale was huge for what would have been able to have been procured in scrap silver at the time.

Keith Law
October 17, 2016
"Racing makes heroin addiction look like a vague wish for something salty" - Peter Egan

1973 2Door Slalom/hill climb/road race / canyon carver /Giant Killer 510
1968 Vintage 3HP Mini Bike
1971 Vintage 13' BOLER trailer

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Re: Keith Law's complete TALES FROM THE GREAT ROLLING DYNO

Postby RONSLYCHUK » 02 May 2017 22:01

Interesting read Keith. You really have to write a book!

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bertvorgon
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Re: Keith Law's complete TALES FROM THE GREAT ROLLING DYNO

Postby bertvorgon » 03 May 2017 09:17

To set the stage I must give a bit of background on this time in British Columbia. As everywhere in the World, drugs are a major problem, B.C. of course is/was known for its marijuana, BC BUD.

As the Borders became even tighter in the late 90’s early 2000’s, other ways were established to get quantities of drugs over the Border. The British Columba to Alberta border is some 450 miles of mostly desolate mountains and valleys, which became perfect for covert helicopter flights. As the drug “trade” ramped up, marijuana would be sent south and cocaine and guns would come north, usually on the same flight, no dead heading.

Now, to understand how easy it was for the smugglers you must know the geography. The mountain ranges, and hence the valleys, run north south, a perfect conduit to get below Vancouver radar, and the U.S., which has the military base at Whidbey Island and others. We are talking 7-8,000 foot peaks with the valley floors at 2,500 feet.

The area I am talking about specifically for my encounter is the Slesse Creek drainage, which runs out of the North Cascades range. We would drive to a small parking spot on the last vestiges of the old logging road, some 5 miles from Chilliwack lake road. We would load up our packs and then hike and bushwack another 5 miles, to get to the bottom of Red Mountain, then have a snack and begin our grind to the mine at 5,000 feet.

In the mid 90’s, when I started to take our 510 gang up to the mine, there was a logging road pushed through on the east side of Slesse Creek. We would hike the west side. I had remembered that at the end of the west side, just past the start of the trail head, there used to be an old cable car stretched across the river. It was put there in the 60’s so the alpine guys could cross the river and get up to Mnt. Slesse, both to climb the peak and to access a plane crash site from 1956 where a Trans Canada flight went in, with 5 professional football players in it.

Over the years, as I hiked up there, I would occasionally hear and see these back helicopters come down the valley from Washington State, literally above the tree tops, then a while later, head back. I never thought anything about it.

What I did think about was if the cable tramway was still there and if so, could we use that to cut out 5 miles of hiking? If the logging road on the other side got close, we could just drop down to the river and cross. I thought it would be fun to check it out.

On the day of our camp-out hike, I planned to walk a few hundred feet past the trail head, to see if the tramway was still there. It was a beautiful sunny day for our start, the sun not even into the valley yet. We used to try to start very early, as it was a long hike to get up to the mine, taking the better part of a day.
Arriving at the trail head I motored on to get to the river. I was walking very quietly and of course there would have been the sound of the river.

As I came up the last little rise in the road I walked right into these three guys who had a look of total shock on their faces! I was taken aback as I never expected anybody to be there either. They had a LOT of guns and knives, dressed in camo stuff. There were stuffed looking packs there, not back pack type.They almost looked like they were moving to the guns. Scared the crap out of me. They were NOT hikers! I quickly said “Hey, nice day, we are going to the old mine!” turned and headed back down the trail. I think for a fraction of a second they maybe thought this was a rip of some kind, or police!? Who knows? Where they were was the perfect drop point, a rocky part on the river, 10 miles from the Chilliwack main road, out of site from any prying eyes. They must have seen we were genuine hikers, no threat to them.

Later that morning, as we were half way up the climb, I heard the helicopter, slows, hovers…and then flies away.
In later years we had many helicopter crashes with the drug guys, as a lot of them did not have pilot’s licences. Even in my own circle of contact one fellow was killed when he crashed out in the Fraser valley and another, the owner of the Bralorne pub, who Matt and I had talked to when having a burger in Sally’s Pub and stayed in their hotel, was arrested for smuggling. He had set up our stay when I was to do the gold pour for Bralorne’s opening.

http://www.lillooetnews.net/news/local- ... -1.2047831

Here is another excerpt from a Bellingham news article.

Drug runners flew helicopters through canyons, officials say
More than 40 arrested along U.S.-Canada border


BELLINGHAM, Washington (CNN) --
U.S. and Canadian authorities said Thursday they had arrested more than 40 people and broken up six rings that smuggled drugs across the border using planes and helicopters.

The cross-border drug runs got public attention in July 2005, when Playboy magazine profiled the practice.

Investigators have also seized 8,000 pounds of marijuana, 800 pounds of cocaine, more than $1.5 million in currency and two aircraft.

Marijuana was shipped south of the border while cocaine was smuggled north, said Peter Ostrovsky, who headed the investigation for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Investigators compiled evidence using video cameras hidden in national forests that caught helicopters, their skids laden with large bags investigators said contained drugs, landing in small clearings.

The bags were loaded into waiting pickups and SUVs, with the transfer process taking as little as 43 seconds, investigators said.

In other instances, bags of marijuana were dropped from planes, or released from slings underneath helicopters.

The drug flights would fly low through the valleys of the Okanogan National Forests and North Cascades National Park, hidden from radar. (Map) Aircraft tail numbers were altered or concealed to avoid easy identification, smuggling aircraft were parked on farms instead of airports and unlicensed pilots did the flying, officials said.

Federal prosecutors in Seattle and Spokane, Washington, have issued 45 indictments and have arrested more than 40 people, an ICE spokeswoman said. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police made six arrests in Canada, she said.

Smugglers quoted in the Playboy article said authorities would never be able to stop their operations, but the U.S.-Canadian investigation, dubbed "Operation Frozen Timber," had begun more than six months earlier, after the Canadian police came across smugglers using helicopters.

Investigators say they are confident that they have arrested at least one of the smugglers quoted in the Playboy article, a pilot who was identified as "George."

Despite the arrests, investigators this week conceded that they have not stopped the practice and are unlikely to ever do so.

"I think we've shut down the half-dozen groups we've been working, but I can tell you this, there's a lot more out there," Ostrovsky said.

One reason the smuggling rings proliferate is the lucrative nature of their contraband.

Investigators said the marijuana being smuggled in from British Columbia is a potent "gourmet pot" known as B.C. Bud. It wholesales for $3,000 a pound in California, compared to $400-a-pound marijuana smuggled in from Mexico.

And, in case you are interested, we did find that the tramway was still there. In subsequent hikes I procured 300 feet of nylon rope, Jamie and I waded through the river, then made a pull system to get people and packs over the river, totally fun.

Keith Law
May 3, 2017
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Dave Christie, Jamie Mitchell, Noel Koehn ( founder of the 510 club) and myself, above the tramway
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Red Mountain
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Jamie on tram
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Noel on tram
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"Racing makes heroin addiction look like a vague wish for something salty" - Peter Egan

1973 2Door Slalom/hill climb/road race / canyon carver /Giant Killer 510
1968 Vintage 3HP Mini Bike
1971 Vintage 13' BOLER trailer

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gooned
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Re: Keith Law's complete TALES FROM THE GREAT ROLLING DYNO

Postby gooned » 03 May 2017 17:49

Some really good memories here Keith!

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bertvorgon
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Re: Keith Law's complete TALES FROM THE GREAT ROLLING DYNO

Postby bertvorgon » 03 May 2017 18:25

Yup...those were some of the best memories for Matt and I, what a great group of role models for my son. Look how small he was when we went up there.

Remember this trip, that is when that storm came in and we got caught heading to the second shaft in torrential, cold rain. We were actually lucky that nobody became hypothermic on that trip. I remember Noel trying to get the fire going again when we got back to our campsite, but, we all just decided to book it down. Man were we wet.

For any of you reading this, we did a camp in the trees at the 5,000 ft level of the mountain and about 300 feet from the opening of the old gold mine.
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"Racing makes heroin addiction look like a vague wish for something salty" - Peter Egan

1973 2Door Slalom/hill climb/road race / canyon carver /Giant Killer 510
1968 Vintage 3HP Mini Bike
1971 Vintage 13' BOLER trailer

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RMS
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Re: Keith Law's complete TALES FROM THE GREAT ROLLING DYNO

Postby RMS » 03 May 2017 21:47

you got me thinking these old cables on silver creek could lead to a mine towards camchin peek somewhere after clear creek hotsprings Image
Image
Image

no easy fording for miles
two_68_510s wrote:I guess our donkeys are quicker then your sled dogs!

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bertvorgon
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Re: Keith Law's complete TALES FROM THE GREAT ROLLING DYNO

Postby bertvorgon » 04 May 2017 06:55

Can you pin point that on a map for me? Is that really called Silver Creek? Or Spuzzum Creek?
"Racing makes heroin addiction look like a vague wish for something salty" - Peter Egan

1973 2Door Slalom/hill climb/road race / canyon carver /Giant Killer 510
1968 Vintage 3HP Mini Bike
1971 Vintage 13' BOLER trailer

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RMS
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Re: Keith Law's complete TALES FROM THE GREAT ROLLING DYNO

Postby RMS » 04 May 2017 08:30

about here
https://www.google.ca/maps/dir/49.7234752,-121.8493704/49.7234475,-121.8494132/@49.719466,-121.8549708,15z/data=!4m2!4m1!3e2
it was just north of were google shows a crossing to a network of old cut blocks. the bridge was removed likely in the 70s. my bad google says silver river
two_68_510s wrote:I guess our donkeys are quicker then your sled dogs!

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Re: Keith Law's complete TALES FROM THE GREAT ROLLING DYNO

Postby Byron510 » 04 May 2017 10:46

That's just south of the Shovel Creek FSR/ Nahatlatch FSR that I crossed last summer from Boston Bar - great road, don't even need a truck for that one!

Great photo of the water Robyn. It looks two feet deep and you can clearly see the rock on the bottom of that flow - awesome! There are some absolutely beautiful areas up there, and I've only seen a tiny bit of both sides of Harrison Lk. I'd love to do the Harrison/Pemberton trip in this summer, need to get the good Xterra repaired! Keith, maybe you can drop me some hints as to where to stop along the way.

Byron
Love people and use things,
because the opposite never works.

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bertvorgon
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Re: Keith Law's complete TALES FROM THE GREAT ROLLING DYNO

Postby bertvorgon » 04 May 2017 12:54

Hey Robyn,

I could find nothing along there, who knows what that was for, for access on that side of the river.
"Racing makes heroin addiction look like a vague wish for something salty" - Peter Egan

1973 2Door Slalom/hill climb/road race / canyon carver /Giant Killer 510
1968 Vintage 3HP Mini Bike
1971 Vintage 13' BOLER trailer


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