Apple Computer started in a garage in Los Altos, California. It reeled in about $63 billion in revenue last year.

Thomas Edison invented the light bulb in a small laboratory in New Jersey. We all know how that turned out.

Albany inventor John Richmond hopes that his family-based Sluice Goose gold recovery machine will someday be talked about in the same way.

Over the Veterans Day holiday, Richmond’s children returned home from New York, California and Texas to help their father assemble 100 prototype Sluice Goose Goldrop machines in a small shop on Old Salem Road.

“They are my cheap labor,” Richmond said, laughing.

Richmond, whose “day job” has been operating a machine shop for almost 40 years, has completed extensive refinement of his gold-separating equipment since 2018. He acquired a patent for its process, he has demonstrated its capabilities at numerous trade shows and now, it’s time to get his early prototypes in the hands of users on a daily basis.

Helping him turn plastic funnels, pipes and brass fittings into the new machines were his daughter Jami Richmond-Moore, 42, of Sacramento, California; daughter Kelli Byrd, 40, of Dallas, Texas; son Kevin Richmond, 37, of New York City; and son Brian Richmond, 33, of Albany.

All are South Albany High School graduates.

“Dad has made lots of contacts about this machine and now, it’s time to get them into the hands of people who want them,” Richmond-Moore said.

Richmond said the goal will be to outsource production once it begins to scale up. For now, many family hands made light work. He said the past two years have been spent making the Sluice Goose smaller, lighter and more resistant to breakage.

“I’ve gone to heavy-duty PVC piping and brass fittings,” Richmond said.

He said the unit weighs less than 40 pounds, and he plans to package it so it can be carried in a backpack for gold enthusiasts whose claims are difficult to reach.

Richmond said users could haul 50-gallon drums of water into a remote site and set up the Sluice Goose virtually anywhere, since its only moving part is a small electric pump that runs on batteries.

“It extremely easy to operate,” Richmond said. “My 6-year-old grandson has operated it.”

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Family members brought varied life skills to the grassroots production project. Jami is a nurse, Kevin is a police officer, Brian is a welder, and Kelli is a forensic scientist.

Richmond said every test of the Sluice Goose so far shows it will recover far more gold than any other system on the market and because it is light and has no moving parts — other than the water pump — it is easily portable.

Richmond said panning for gold is tedious and labor intensive. The Sluice Goose sifts extremely fine gold out of paydirt using water and gravity in a vertical fashion. In other words, the Sluice Goose stands up and water and paydirt are placed in a funnel at the top of the machine. Gravity and fine mesh screens do the rest of the work, swirling the mixture in a tornado-like fashion and sifting out 99% of the product.

Richmond said 50 pounds of paydirt can be separated in five minutes.

But Richmond is especially excited that the Sluice Goose also will separate other heavy metals such as mercury, copper and bronze.

He says the Sluice Goose could offer environmental advantages, since gold mining operations in some foreign countries in Africa use mercury in their recovery process. This could eliminate or reduce the need to do that. It could also be used to remove mercury from lakes or other naturally occurring areas.

“We might have to make another 100 or so,” Richmond-Moore said of the family effort. “We will just have to come back.”

Richmond said he hopes to be able to produce the Sluice Goose with a retail price in the $2,000 range.


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