What is the ideal dredge?

Let’s kick off a discussion about everyone’s experiences with dredging equipment, ranging from the Keene Supermax to the Proline 2-inch. I’m also curious to know about your encounters with the public while dredging—both the good and the not-so-good moments. Lastly, what’s something you’ve done that sets you apart from the rest on your claim?

By the way, I’m having this frustrating issue with the valves on my KAC 1 compressor. They keep breaking. Has anyone else faced this problem?

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I’ve had nothing but bad luck with KAC 1 compressors. Valves last about 5 months & pressure relief valves last 4 weeks. Service kits for them are bloody expensive. Not to mention Keene hoses lasting 6 months, despite storing & using them in a straight line. I’ve had 3 new keene dredges, same problems. Next time its a Proline for me.

Keene hoses don’t even last a few months now,were as the older hoses back when I started dredging in 2009 would last year’s, kac also quality has gone down hill quickly, get a gast compressor and save time money and energy.

6" dredge and bigger is my pick.

We have had mostly good experiences around the country for land based and dredging with locals and landowners and general public coming down and checking out the operations. as long as you are always nice and understanding. I have had a few experiences with locals who were not happy with a screen or diggers/drill rigs next door but after a bit of chatting they are end up been ok with things. Going for resource consents brings out greenys etc and starts making things very difficult tho

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KAC compressor are no good. Had nothing but problems with bearings and reed valves. Ghast compressor are like Toyotas of compressors they just keep on going

Had Keene dredges in the past, 4inch and 6 inch. Went to proline., havnt looked back
Proline = better build quality, better suction, better fuel efficiency as your not having to rev the shit out of the motor to get any suck.
Less blockages with Proline. They are guarantied not to block in the jet. Can attest to that
I like the recovery in the proline vs the Keene.
Proline dont handle the fast water as much as the Keene
Buuild quality way better on the Proline .
Proline are heavier

To give you an idea my Proline 5 moves more material than my Keene 6 . Ive had them side by side in various ground and il burn 30% less fuel than the Keene but move 15% more material.

For my Proline 6 it will easy move almost doable what a Keene 6 can move and burn less fuel . The Proline is a true 6 inch dredge . To give you an idea the Keene 6 powerjet will fit inside a Proline 6 powerjet with room left over.

Only thing with the prolines are they are alot heavier than the Keene and the hose is alot more stiffer but last longer than the Keene Tigerflex .
Proline hoses stand up to NZ harsh UV alot better than Keene hoses.

Had a 6 inch Keene Supermax- Big dredge . But it moves less material than the comparable 6 Proline. As for the recovery the supermax definatley catches the fine gold but for the amount of fine gold recovered vs the Proline the Proline had more gold as it moved more material over the same ammount of time. I sort of felt the Supermax is a bit of a gimmicj but can see its benefit on a river with alot of fine powder gold

Other thing with Proline is the wait to get one is alot longer compared to the Keene. I think they are the victim of their own sucess. If you go onto any of the US forums Proline is always more highly regarded but you do pay a premium


I love my gold grabber 5in,had it for 7 years ,simple ,easy to get in and out of river ,motor is 7hp chinese and its done over 600hrs with a oil change every season,no silly gimmicks on it ,will have to change the suction hose this year but shes done plenty of work and got me a good amount of colour,was going to get another one but im not sure if alan trees is still making them in the us.
Ive got excited about the season now,roll on october!!


Can’t you just copy it & make your own?

JW :cowboy_hat_face:

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Not a bad idea,adjust a few things to more suit the claim too,might try and get another year out of her,want to see how long that engine lasts!!

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been there done that with keene , im a proud proline owner, i get to spend time dredging , not fixing shit and unblocking my hose or powerjet, proline piss all over keene


I have a Keene Ultra 4inch I am pretty happy with. A lot depends on what the river is you are working, and where the golden stuff is I would say, as to what size works. Four inch is better for keeping all your fingers I would say :sunglasses:

But Pros super portable and has taken a beating and keeps going. Frame is pretty bent (due to 5 meter accidental drop off cliff (that was a bad day) Has been upside down once in water (same bad day), honda motor is amazingly reliable and fixable!

Cons its only 4 inch so there a lot of moving rocks by hand. I reckon blocks are 90% operator error. Occasionally a weird shaped rock will block it in one place, but mainly blocks are operator caused.

I have only had bad experiences when not hidden away - worst is I sub leased permit, great access, decent testing so it showed promise, handed over my hard earned cash for a year; but day one, I was pestered by the person who owned the only property nearby at least maybe a mile and half - two miles away complaining about the noise. I mean he would have to have tried hard to hear it! But I guess sound can echo a lot.

Honestly I am a reasonable guy I tried very hard to listen, move to a further location, but he just made it his mission in life to make me so miserable. He complained to everyone he could - including the police if I recall who talked to the permit holder but even though everyone said I was in right he wouldn’t stop. The permit holder even tried to visit him and placate him but nah.

As I do it partly for peace - I moved on defeated…

Its a trade off trying to find something with good gold, reasonable access but miles away from people.


I have been dredging on and off in California and Alaska for decades and consider myself a professional. Although I enjoy this form of mining, I do not dredge for the experience and fun. I am in it to make money.

Here is some of what I learned.

  1. Anything less then a 4 inch dredge is a waste of your time and money. Don’t buy one. You cannot use the yardage listed in catalog as a guide, The yardage (volume per hour) capability listed are for pea sized lose gravel and can only be used as a comparison between dredge sizes. You will not be finding any worthwhile gold in pea sized gravel. It is found in “hard pack”. How much material you can put through your dredge depends on the hard pack and your physical abilities. Some hard pack is so tightly packed that each large rock must be dislodged with a crow bar, but most I have worked has not been as difficult as that.

  2. While i would consider a 4 inch dredge to the smallest size to consider, a 5 inch dredge seems to be the sweet spot for many single operators. Small enough that you can feed rocks and gravel and a continuous rate. There is no point in using a larger dredge if you can’t keep it fed with material consistently.

  3. Size of a dredge also effects how deep you can dredge in material and still be effective. Generally, I would consider a 5 inch dredge to be effective up to 5 ft of material. A 6 inch dredge to 6ft and 8 inch dredge up to 8 ft of material. Why is that? Because once you start going deeper than that, the rocks you have been throwing to the rear of your hole begin to slide in to your working area and so now you need to stop feeding material into the nozzle and go to the back of your hole and throw those rocks even further or move them out with winch driven net or rock sled. Can it be worthwhile? Sure… but the gravel you are working needs to be richer in order to work profitability and should be considered.

  4. Don’t buy or make an under-powered dredge, At a minimum you need 8hp for a 4 inch. 10 hp for a 5 inch and 16 hp for a 6 inch dredge. Yes… Keene sells some models that are under-powered. I would not buy the 6 inch mini from Keene. I would buy the 5 inch with the same power instead. You will be much better off.

  5. I am not sure what is permitted in NZ, but I would not have two divers on anything smaller than 8 inch dredge. You have to split the gold between two people and now you have to split your take in half! Also keep in mind that a 10 inch dredge has the added danger that your head can fit into the nozzle and therefore it is inherently more dangerous,

  6. The last thing to consider is your hose length. Don’t get one that is too short. You need a good length for flexibility. The length of the hose has little to do with depth of the gravel your are dredging,

Bottom line? My general recommendation for a single operator would be to get yourself of 5 inch dredge.
If you are looking at keen motors and pumps, I would use two G200X/P180 engine pump assemblies

So what am I planning to run in NZ? A sub-surface dredge with a custom made sluice box. This type of dredge has its advantages and disadvantages over a surface dredge, but that is another story, :slight_smile:

By the way, I am looking for good claims I can work in NZ this upcoming season. Please contact me if you or someone you know is interested in selling or leasing a claim in full or in part. I might also be interested in working a claim and paying a percentage. I am presently in California but will be in NZ for the entire dredging season.

My Best,



Some really good advice here. Thanks for taking the time to write this up. A lot of guys who are getting into dredging will benefit from reading this. Too many people try to start with a two inch and wonder why they don’t find any worthwhile gold!


thats me m8 ned go biger

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Iv been using an old school 6 inch suitcase dredge last season. 5.5hp honda. Im on nuggety ground with hardly any fines. My 4 inch keene replica just didnt move the material to make it worhwhile. The 6 moves at least twice the ground if not more. I see and collect the majority of the gold before it goes up the spout. It has its pros and cons, definitely a beast to try to maneuver in tighter sections, but also because of the setup can get it into trickier places the pontoon setup wont go, breaks down nicely and easy to transport. Dosnt require revving the crap out of the motor. Heaps of suction. Built tough, its been through the wars and is still structurally sound. Just thought Id throw this option into the mix. Im sure some would’nt go near one, but I actually like using the old beast. Cheers


out of interest what size is the input for the venturi? i run a suitcase of my own design and just haven’t quite got the size right, don’t think i quite have the restriction right to get the pressure up,

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Good question, Im not sure actually and its up in the bush so cant measure it for you. Im running a 2 inch layflat, id say it restricts down to 1/2 an inch or so… a few years back a friend of mine mafe one for me and he used plans from an American design… i remember him saying the jetting was quite important…might be worth googling? Sorry cant help you much there

yeh jet size is very important, too much volume drops pressure and too much pressure drops volume,
might have to try a few different google searches,

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Got to love suffering. Moving heavy rocks all day, Dredging is like doing personal best deadlifts, every couple of hours, for days in a row, lol. 5 or 6 inch minimum, once you know you love pain.


Before you make up your mind on what dredge to buy find someone with a proline and help out with some dredging if possible you will be blown away thats the cold hard facts cheers Donny



What was the landscape like between where you was dredging and the noise complainer? Open farmland or forest or ? That will make a difference I expect? The information might be valuable for the rest of us when working out where to work / how far away from civilisation etc. I’m looking at maybe making a “quiet” 3" dredge that runs twin GXH50 Honda’s with pumps into a power jet.

Sorry for the slow reply mate havn’t checked in to the site for a bit been a busy year. The river was well bush covered, and the house the guy lived on was like a 10 acre block but a decent distance away. The river did have a public walkway next to it. Honestly I would talk to anyone living near the permit and feel them out. You’ll get a pretty good idea if they are going to make your life miserable pretty quickly. A lot of people are anti-mining greenies while they use their EVs and cellphones which they wouldn’t have without mining sigh. But there are still some good people around. So its hit or miss. But always wroth a talk to nearby people before you commit the $ on the permit.