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 Vac Pac 

VAC PAC gold collecting device

Gold miners know that with every heavy rain, flood waters lift and suspend fine particles of gold. As the water slows, the fines are deposited in crevices and moss along a riverbank. If you don't yet have a way to recover those concentrates, but know a good spot or two where a vacuum device would really come in handy, then the VAC PAC gold collecting device is for you!  It's not new— it's tried and true — having been first manufactured in the 1980s.

Weighing less than 15 pounds, the VAC PAC is simple to operate and is the perfect tool for every miner, beginner and seasoned pro, who wants to collect material .5 inch or less that contains fine gold. This machine was developed as a low priced, light-weight, complete gold collecting device that can work all day on a quart of gas. The VAC-PAC has a 2 inch inlet hose that can vacuum those rich concentrates at the rate of one gallon/minute, and has enough suction to lift a rock larger than the hose diameter. And it can run a small drywasher, too! VAC-PAC backpack vacuum can be used year round, so it's ready when you are.

The VAC PAC includes:

  • High quality 2-cycle gas Husqvarna motor with spark arrestor -- 28cc, 170 mph, 470 cubic feet per minute airflow
  • 4.5 gallon capacity durable plastic container with easy screw-on lid; all accessories pack inside the container
  • 6 foot flexible suction hose fits into friction inlet with downward circular projection inside
  • Crevice nozzle
  • Aluminum pack frame
  • 10.5 inch riffled gold pan
  • Special crevice brush tool
  • Recommended oil

Benefits and Features of the VAC PAC:

  • Comes complete with an aluminum pack frame with attachment fittings
  • Designed for recovering black sand and gold that settles in moss, rough bedrock, crevices, and in desert dry washes and is simple to operate
  • Works mainly on dry materials, but will pick up damp materials
  • VAC PAC has a 4.5 gallon capacity; when full, suction will stop and the contents can be emptied into a classifier and then run through a sluice, an automatic spiral panner, a Gold Cube, or other piece of fine gold recovery equipment of your choosing
  • This gold vacuum will run a small to medium sized dry washer - just hook up your 3 inch drywasher hose to the Vac-Pac's exhaust (3" exhaust adaptor is included in bucket) and set throttle control on motor to correct speed to give you the air flow that you need to power your drywasher
  • When full, the VAC PAC still has 5 inches of space between the inlet fitting and the exhaust port. This space is great enough to keep all material in the container so none is lost out the exhaust
  • You can carry this machine while it is operating, but it is advisable to remove VAC from the PAC and work the small crevices thoroughly, since that's where the gold is generally found
  • Vac Pac fittings can be interchanged with Shop Vac accessories -- how convenient!
Vac Pac Gold Vacuum 
Vac-Pac Gold Vacuum
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backpack gold vacuum
VAC-PAC Product Test by Jake Hartwick

Being a die-hard dredger, I usually look upon devices such as the VAC-PAC as a "toy" rather than a serious mining tool, but after a weekend of testing the unit, I've had a change of heart! The VAC-PAC was not only easy to use, it was fun! The VAC-PAC is similar to the Shop Vac in that it will work wet or dry material, but is designed for mainly dry. It operates with a high quality 2-cycle engine and has plenty of power. The unit mounts on a pack frame. The total weight is less than 15 pounds. VAC-PAC was tested in several southern California areas:

Test Area 1: Desert area where gold is located on top of the underlying caliche, which is a form of hard cemented clay. The caliche depth would vary from 6-24 inches deep and the contour of the caliche would vary greatly. In the past, I would use a small whisk broom and a dustpan to sweep the top of the caliche, but not anymore! I found that using the VAC-PAC along with a brush to loosen the packed material is much faster and an extremely efficient way to clean the caliche. I removed the overburden down to an inch or so of the caliche in a 3 foot square area. I then fired up the VAC-PAC and worked the area with a stiff bristle brush alongside the nozzle. I had the entire area clean as a whistle in just a few minutes. I cleaned up in a panning tub and was impressed with the number of fine colors and flakes I had in the pan. It was quite a bit more than expected!

Test Area 2: Dry desert hillside wash with some exposed bedrock. What I liked most about VAC PAC is that I was able to effectively clean the holes in the bedrock which I made by breaking up and pulling out pieces of rock. After panning the material cleaned up by the VAC PAC, I found only a few flakes, but there was an unbelievable amount of fine colors. I was able to work one larger crevice with the crevice nozzle and a long crevice tool to break up the packed material. This method also yielded excellent results, including a small gold nugget!

Test Area 3: Small creek that is generally dry but has pools and potholes containing water. There were several larger crevices in the bedrock that I worked with the VAC PAC and a crevice tool. Although the damp material was not as easily worked as the dry material, it only required a little more time to clean the crevice to my satisfaction. Although I found no flakes during the clean up, an abundance of fine colors graced my gold pan! I also worked one small pothole that had some ater and material in it. The VAC PAC sucked it up with no problem. I found one small piece of color, but actually did not expect any since the creek had been dredged many times during higher water.

In summary, the VAC PAC is definitely not a "toy" in my book. It is a well-made, durable, and economical tool for any gold prospector. It can be used for working shallow or exposed bedrock areas above the river or on seasonal creeks that dry up during the summer. You can even use it to clean up sluice box riffles, thus saving the time of a complete clean up. You might find some imitations on the market, but as always, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery — the VAC PAC brand has an excellent reputation, so I recommend it highly for any prospector.

NOTE:  The VAC PAC was also reviewed in the January 2004 and the July 2009 issues of GPAA's Gold Prospector Magazine, and in Popular Mining Magazine in December 1990.