Prospecting Equipment 3

Ore cart on track divider



Manual Rocker or Cradle Box

Rocker for sale
Manual homemade rocker for sale at Annabell’s Attic
(as of 10/28/01).
Recirculating rocker
John Venus’s homemade manual recirculating rocker.


The rocker for sale at Annabell’s Attic is not an ad for this item, just a nice picture of a manual rocker. There are two legs on the bottom shaped like those on a rocking chair and a handle which sticks up near the hopper. The dirt and gravel is shoveled onto the screen and the handle is then used to rock the device while water is manually poured over the dirt. These are almost always homemade though there is at least one company selling a modern day version that can even be operated in recirculation mode. Faster than panning but slower than a sluice and since it uses very little water, it can be used where water is not plentiful enough for a dredge or sluice box.

John’s rocker is a good example of one which has a water recirculation system. He made his after seeing one in a museum and then added the water recirculating system. These are small and compact units which are simple and cheap to make. Even though it is not as fancy as other types of equipment, rockers perform very well.

They were used extensively by the old timers and worked well for the technology at that time. Modern dry washers and recirculating high bankers are faster and have pretty well replaced rockers. However rockers are easy and cheap to build, smaller to transport and have less maintenance problems which ensures that they will be around for a long time. Building plans for a rocker can be found in the References section.

Power Rockers

Club Machine

These operate on the same principal as a manual rocker but have a power drive to provide the motion, which may be a rocking or shaking motion. Tim’s Gold Extractor is an example of this type. In addition, this particular machine also has a hose attachment to provide water from an external source located above the machine and fed via hose using simple head pressure. This makes it much more efficient than the manual type. This machine belongs to the club and is usually used at the outings for the common dig.


High Bankers

John's high banker
John Payton’s recirculating high banker.
Recirculating sluice
Dorie and Jack Stephenson with their homemade recirculating sluice.
Rusty's high banker
Rusty with his high banker (water pumped from nearby stream).
Carter's high banker
Carter Thoenes running his recirculating high banker.
Large recirc
David Snow and others on his recirculating sluice.
Bill's high banker
Bill Seymour working the bank with his recirculating high banker.


These require a nearby source of water. A gas powered pump and a long hose conduct the water from a nearby source to a free standing sluice. As the name implies, these were originally made to work the higher banks of current streams as well as old stream channels. Once you get some distance from the water, it is much easier to conduct the water to a sluice than haul the material to the water. Not seen as much in this form since most of the year water is scarce in the desert. Rusty has a long hose running to a pump in a nearby stream which is flowing well at this time.

However, as can readily be seen in the above photos, there are several forms of recirculating high bankers (also called recirculating sluices) used in the desert by club members and most are home made. Not shown above is a Gold Buddy recirc also owned and used by Jack and Dorie which is a nice little manufactured unit. Many of these are considered mini high bankers due to their small size. Some retail units fold up and fit into the water retaining tub, making it very compact for storage and transportation. Recirculating high bankers are probably the most popular equipment among club members due to their ability to be used regardless of whether the soil is wet or dry, their low water needs and their small size and simplicity. The only mechanical part is usually a 12 vdc bilge pump for recirculating the water. John won his at one of the club’s equipment raffles. David’s recirc is a Goliath among those used by club members and is hauled by trailer.

Ore cart on track divider


Notes on graphics:

All clip art on this page created by Jamie Girard and donated to the Tucson Desert Gold Diggers. Copyright © 2002 by the Desert Gold Diggers.