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Sunday, May 20, 2018

Taking care of your equipment

I try to take very good care of my metal detecting equipment, when I am not using it up to my neck in swamps and saltwater lol
Your metal detecting equipment is the gear you invested in for beach hunting success so it makes good treasure hunting sense to keep the tools of the trade in tip top working order.
I clean anything I use at the beach with fresh water after every use and allow my gear to dry naturally before storing it.
Leaving a metal detector to dry in the sun is not a good idea as it will eventually cause irreparable damage to electronics and cables.
So too does leaving metal detectors, search coils and pin-pointers in vehicles between beach hunts, always store your metal detecting equipment in a cool dry area.
The cleaner you keep your equipment the more chance you have of seeing a potential problem and dealing with it before it ruins your fun.
Once a month I inspect all my metal detecting equipment for wear and tear, checking the bottom of my search coil and the cable for splits or cracks.
A marine epoxy from the local hardware store can be used to fill splits of cracks on the bottom of a search coil, liquid rubber can be used to seal a damaged cable.
When you use a metal detector at a beach, sand and small pieces of shell can build up and lead to damage if you do not rinse off your equipment properly.
Metal detector shafts are prone to freezing or locking up because of sand and salt build up,  breaking down your metal detector shaft once a month helps you avoid not being able to travel with your metal detector to detect.
There is nothing worse than breaking down your metal detector excited about a metal detecting vacation and discovering you cannot separate your upper shaft from the lower rod, that usually happens just before you are preparing to travel.
Specially designed two or three piece travel scoops should be taken apart regularly as they are also prone to locking up. I have both a travel shaft and travel shaft and only use them for detecting abroad, that way I know I am good to go.
The more you clean your equipment the more you will be ready for any beach hunting situation that comes along.
I am predominantly a saltwater beach hunter, searching in tough conditions so I go the extra mile with the prevent maintenance.
From polishing metal detector shafts so they collapse easier and lubricating battery seals, to towel drying and AC storing metal detecting equipment, anything it takes to protect my investments in this great hobby.
Here are a couple of tips to help prevent damage to your metal detector and search coils. 
Use a few wraps of electrical tape in three or four places to secure your search coil cover to your search coil, plastic zip ties secured too tight lead to coil covers splitting prematurely. 
Yes you have to change the tape more often than zip ties but if you search areas with high amounts of black sand you have to flush your search coil cover out regularly anyway.
Avoid sealing your search coil cover to your search coil with adhesive silicone sealants, it only attracts more sand and shells particles. You may also unknowingly void your metal detector warranty sealing or using truck bed liner products on search coils.
Change your search coil bolt washers when you see they are worn, preventing further damage to the search coil ears.
You keep on top of things when you clean and inspect your gear, it pays to look after your stuff when you play in mud, sand and saltwater.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

If in doubt keep it

I take everything I find at the beach home with me, as long as I can carry it off the beach because sometimes you never know what you have found until you become an experienced beach hunter.
I say experienced because over the years you become familiar with a wide variety of objects  recovered at the beach which’s makes them easier to identify and helps prevent you from discarding something potentially valuable 
Many moons ago I was into bottle and clay pipe digging along tidal river banks back in England, I still scour river banks when the opportunity arises. 
I would recover all kinds of interesting  finds scouring tidal river banks, usually taking bags of stuff home until I had a chance to clean and identify what I had found using my “ Twin optical” scanners. 
Everything from pottery chicken eggs and victorian glass christmas lights to boars tusks and fossils, you name it my dear old mums kitchen sink saw it lol
I remember stinking out the kitchen many a time removing corks from old bottles that were encased in river mud for three or four hundred years. 
One of the great things about the hobby of metal detecting is you never know what you are going to return home with, it could be a find of a lifetime if you are patient, persistent and lucky.
A ring encrusted and scratched up that at first looks to be junk, could turn out to be a bobby dazzler platinum or gold ring when cleaned up.
A blackened disc shaped object could turn out to be an old silver treasure coin after cleaning, you just never know until you gain experience at identifying objects recovered at the beach.
That goes for inland sites too, I have a really cool dinosaur egg I found while hiking in a western desert, yup the lucky horse shoe up my butt works in the desert too lol 
I believe because we spend so much time looking down at the ground spotting things that stand out becomes second nature.
A word to the wise if you look at a metal detector VDI screen instead of the ground you are moving over. 
Bag and tag anything unusual you pick up at the beach until you are able to identify what the mystery object it, another good thing about metal detecting is you are learning all the time. 
I class myself as quite knowledgable when it comes to identifying old shipwreck coins, jewelry and artifacts, if I do not know what something is I eventually find out and learn something new in the process.
If the beach conditions are bad or you cannot get to the beach, get stuck into some research on the stuff you are likely to find at your local beaches.
Shipwreck or maritime museums and exhibits are excellent places to check out possible future finds, perhaps you will recognize something you have found already.
Remember take your finds home just in case you make the mistake of leaving something good for another beach hunter who does recognize what you decided to leave behind.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Double check habit

The trashier the beach site the more important it is to recheck any hole you dig before moving away as you often don’t hear multiple targets under your metal detector search coil.
When two or more metal objects are buried in the same area it is always the strongest signal your metal detector detects, large size metal objects over power small size metal objects, but not always.
A smaller piece of iron like a washer will completely mask a gold ring buried next to it, the reason I always sweep my search coil slowly to aid target recovery speed.
Target recovery speed is the time it takes for your metal detector to respond to a second target after detecting the first target.
Perhaps you get lucky and detect the gold ring before the iron washer sweeping from a direction using a slow metal detecting pace and sweep speed.
Getting back to dug holes during the target recovery process,I make a habit of always rechecking holes and the spoils I dug out of the holes.
Fans of the TV show “ The Curse of Oak Island” may have seen the ending of season five when I recovered a jewel from a broach after rechecking the spoils dug from a hole.
The old broach that came out of the hole was missing its jewel, my habit of rechecking the hole and spoil pile paid off as the jewel was set in a silver frame.
I have found everything from Spanish treasure coins to modern diamond rings checking other beach hunters holes, knowing the object that caused the other beach hunter to dig may not have been the only thing in the hole.
When I search in land I always sweep around the inside of a dug hole using my pin-pointer before filling the hole, especially if the initial target was a good one.
That attention to detail has led to many a good second or third find from the same hole for me. 
Studying how both iron and target masking effect you will help you to winkle out good finds in trashy areas.
If you want a really eye opening experiment, try using a garden rake over a very trashy area you believe you have cleaned out, no doubt you will detect good targets after taking the area. 
Get in the habit of rechecking any hole you dig as one day it will pay off for you.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Transitioning between areas and settings

Im not big into using other people’s metal detector programs or settings, as you have to set your metal detector up to suit the area you are going to search.
A beach hunter may set their metal detector up to search on the dry sand and wander over wet sand or get into the water to search, the reason why it is important to know how to adjust settings to suit the ground being covered.
Hands up how many beach hunters the  same settings no matter where on the beach they are searching?
The low beam car headlights in the fog seeing better analogy translates well to lower beach hunting, the area a lower sensitivity level will work better over salt or black sand.
I usually crank up the metal detector sensitivity the further away from the water I search, I also use more discrimination up in the dry sand which tends to be trashier than the lower beach.
Different areas of the beach require different metal detector settings, even search patterns make a difference over different ground.
Sweep your coil close to the water searching along the shoreline and listen for the false signal you get  on the end of the sweep away from the water.
Your metal detector will be working overtime searching over the constantly changing sand close to the water.
If your metal detector does not have automatic ground balancing you should really stop and ground balance your metal detector to better suit any area that is significantly different to what you first started out setting up your metal detector and searching.
 I often see people using metal detectors I know have to be ground balanced moving from the dry sand into the water and vise versa without stopping to ground balance.
Get in the habit of setting your metal detector up when you get to the beach to suit the conditions, start searching and tweak your settings to see what you can get away with in the area you are searching.
If you move close to or inside the water tweak again looking for a smooth operation without much chatter, remember less is often more over difficult ground.
If you move away from the water tweak your settings with an eye towards running a little hotter over dry and less salt saturated ground.
At the beach salt is the thing that is going to effect your metal detector the most, adjust your settings to handle the salt content.
A little trick I use when searching over constantly changing ground is using a ring on a string, if I can detect the 14 K gold wedding band on the string at a certain depth my settings are fine, but if I cannot detect the ring  I tweak my settings until I detect the ring.
There are no set and forget metal detector settings when you search a wide variety of areas at the beach, salinity levels, black sand, even the amount of seaweed searched over effect your metal detector.
Tweak and tweak often at the beach my friends.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

You can not find what you can not detect

A poor metal detector search coil sweeping technique is often the reason for an empty finds pouch. 
Beach hunters swinging metal detectors like golf clubs or scythes cutting grass, only really have a chance of detecting anything in the small area the search coil passes over on the bottom of the swing.
Beach hunters lifting or raising a search coil at the end of each sweep have target depth drop off substantially towards and at the end of each sweep.
Beach hunters walking at a normal walking pace along the beach, only detect a small part of the sand they are walking over.
Poor search coil sweeping technique, search coil control and metal detecting pace make more of difference in finds to a beach hunter than any metal detector being used.
You can not find what you can not detect!
Here are several things I do to maintain a clean sweeping technique and search coil control when metal detecting at the beach. 
I always keep my search coil as close to the sand as possible, including scuffing or scrubbing the sand ahead of me. 
I have a couple of youtube videos showing my search coil sweeping technique, check them out. 
To prevent me from traveling across the sand too quickly I always step (Not walk) forward and never step ahead until I have swept my search coil twice, slightly over lapping the previous sweep.
I only sweep slightly past shoulder width, a narrow sweep prevents me from over extending and raising the search coil towards the end of each sweep. 
These search coil sweeping techniques insure I never cover the ground ahead too quickly, miss easy to detect targets or lose any target depth. 
Help your metal detector to do it’s job of detecting the things you are searching for at the beach, the more targets you successfully detect the more success you will have.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Get busy digging

I had another successful gold jewelry hunt this weekend after finding a target rich area.
Several other people were metal detecting at the beach I chose to search, but doing more walking than digging.
It could have been really easy to do the same but I never walk away from any area I get busy digging targets, after all that is what a beach hunter goes to the beach to do right?
The more targets you dig the more gold you find at tourist type beaches, so in my opinion when you find a site with a lot of targets it makes no sense to walk away from the area.
When I do not see obvious areas to search first using my beach or people reading skills, I start out using a loose "W" type search pattern to help locate a target rich area. 
I believe this type of search pattern helps you to detect a good area faster than walking and detecting in a straight line, especially on the lower beach or inside the water.
My style of power tourist beach hunting does not allow me to stay out all day hoping to stumble across gold, Im usually knackered after two, three or four hours of intense digging at the beach.
If you have to spend all day every day at a busy tourist beach to find gold your doing more walking than digging.
Find the hot area stay put and clean it out, finding the hot areas is the key to tourist beach hunting.
Beach and people reading skills are very important, but they often do not help when visiting a beach for the first time.
I get around a lot and search a wide variety of beaches, it may be several weeks or months before I hit the same beach, sometimes the only way to find the hot areas are to detect using W, spiral or zig- zagging type search patterns until you find a target rich area.
The longer you go between signals on a busy tourist beach the more valuable metal detecting you are wasting, if your not digging you are certainly not going to find what you are searching for.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

My take on target ID numbers

If you are a coin and jewelry hunter using a metal detector with a VDI screen here are a few reasons why target IDs should only be a potential estimate of the metal object detected.  
Numbers, numbers, numbers, everyone seems to be obsessed with Ferrous and Conductive target numbers, but several different things can throw throw target numbers off on a metal detector screen.
Typical FE-CO number responses from commonly found coins or rings laying flat buried in sand or soil are usually going to be the same nine times out of ten. 
Place that coin or ring on edge at the same depth and the FE-CO target numbers will probably read differently. 
The angle you sweep over the target may also effect the read out, especially if you happen to detect another metal object close to the initial target, add saltwater washing over the area and watch those target numbers change even more. 
I always advise people using a metal detector with a screen to just use target ID numbers as a second or third opinion, the first opinion when using a metal detector is always made by listening with your ears.
Hunt by ear and use your eyes to scan the ground you are metal detecting over, if you are searching for old treasure coins and artifacts always trust your ears over target ID numbers.
Searching for modern coins and jewelry, make sure you know the target ID numbers darn well before skipping over stuff because you are certain something has been identified correctly.
I have recovered plenty of impressive 10K gold rings that responded with stinking Lincoln numbers and chunky silver rings disguised by typical quarter target numbers.
One of best uses of target ID numbers is to identify nuisance objects in areas littered with what ever the nuisance object is in the area being searched.  
A few years ago I had an excellent beach hunting opportunity in an area littered with old fashioned roofing nails, I knew what roofing nail FE-CO numbers came up on my Minelab CTX 3030 screen and I spent a couple of hours detecting and and removing the roofing nails.
I purposely went after and removed the nuisance target because I knew they had the potential to mask the old gold coins I was searching for, being able to identify but not dig the trash was not a good option. 
This was a perfect example of knowing how to use one of the so called bells and whistles of the Minelab CTX 3030. 
Another good use of target ID numbers is searching for high potential targets in heavily hunted areas, about the only time I will play the percentages by skipping targets with the Minelab CTX 3030 or Equinox.

There are times to rely on FE-CO target numbers on metal detector screens, just not all the time.