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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Vac Pac or Shop Vac

I was shopping at Home Depot the other day and saw an 18v Ryobi Wet/Dry Canister Vac and thought to myself, "that would be one sweet crevicing tool"...err...I thought something like that anyway...

There are some nice vac pac units on the market built on 5 gallon buckets and powered by leaf blowers, but they're just too big and noisy for a lot of the crevicing I like to do.

A five gallon bucket holds way more material than I ever expect to find in any one crack, and I really don't want to lug a half full bucket up and down bedrock from crack to crack until it's full. Chances are I'd empty it well before it was full, so wouldn't a two gallon bucket be plenty?

Then there's the noise and the smell. I hate the sound leaf blowers make, and the stink of two-cycle exhaust has never been a favorite. I like prospecting partly because I can get away from the noise and smells of town.

Lastly, I like working cracks that are hard to reach - places others are less likely to have bothered with. I mean why climb a cliff, when there are easy cracks right at the bottom? A leaf blower mounted on a five gallon bucket seems like it would be really awkward to climb with.

This little Ryobi cordless cannister vac on the other hand might be perfect. Here's what I'm talking about:

From reviews I've read the batteries only have about 10 minutes in them (20 with the lithium ion), but if you did most of your rock busting, scraping, brushing, scooping as normal, and used the vac just for final clean up, a couple of the li ion batteries might be plenty for a day of crevicing. I'm not thinking of this as a primary crevicing tool, but as one more crevicing tool in the bag.

I just know I've left some gold sitting at the bottom of a few cracks that I was unable to sweep or scoop into my pan. Seems like a little cordless vac like this would be just the ticket. I may have to get one this summer...

Happy hunting!


Anonymous said...

My wife recently got me a 18+ combo set of power tools... I thought the same things about the little canister vac! Have you try, or heard from anybody about using it?
Thanks, Robert

Miningdeacon said...

I have used the vac pack for many years in Arizona and California. They are easy to pack around when empty but much heavier when full...which is about half of the five gallon bucket. They are loud and they stink but they are head and shoulders above the battey powered shop vacs. Forget using the battery powered for the wet stuff unless it is soupy...just not enough power after a very short time. If you are working in bone dry material the battery models will work better but are still limited in the time of use.

In short, the battery powered vac packs are a nice toy but subject to more frustration than production as far a a mining tool is concerned.