Tempers flare as equipment breaks down on the new episode of “Gold Rust Alaska” (airing Friday, January 11, 2013). It is 90 days into the 150 day season as Todd Hoffman’s crew is finally getting to work with their new trommel in place. Todd wants the crew to run 1,000 yards of dirty per day through the machine to help them get caught up. After two hours of running Todd shuts it down to make sure it is catching the gold and the entire crew is blown away by how much gold is in the sluice box including some large nuggets. The crew is thrilled.
At Indian River Dave is running out of pay dirt in his cut. He estimates that he has twelve days’ worth of dirt left before they run out. They already have the next cut planned so while his team continues to run the dirt Dave gets into the D10 bulldozer and gets to work on the new cut. No sooner does he start than the dozer starts breaking down. The blade won’t stay up and is losing hydraulic pressure. He contacts Mitch the mechanic who gets to work on it. Now both dozers are down with the D9 broken down and waiting for parts for the last six weeks. With no functional dozer it won’t be long until both mining sites are shut down.
South in Porcupine Creek Dakota Fred is back at work in his glory hole. He is feeling good and believes with each bucket load they get closer and closer to hitting the mother load. Fred decides he needs to switch to a new bucket called the “bedrock shark” to get into this harder ground. This bucket is smaller, but it has some sharp teeth at an angle which makes digging easier. As he gets back to work the new bucket works great, until it breaks not long into the dig.
Over at the Big Nugget Mine Parker is working to get at the new pay dirt his recent drilling reveled in Emerson Trench. He decides to pull off the overburden dirt and dump it at the edge of the claim just to get it out of the way. Glen, the gold recovery expert, thinks the dirt has gold in it so he grabs a bucket and takes some samples. Sure enough, he finds a nice amount of gold in the dirt. When he goes to tell Parker this, Parker ignores him at first until Glen tells the camera that Parker isn’t smart enough to realize the mistake he is making. Parker gets angry and tells Glen that they are dumping cheap dirt so they can get to the good dirt as fast as possible. Parker tells him he is being disrespectful and that the dirt is not that good. The two go their separate ways with Parker getting back to digging and dumping.
Back up at Quartz Creek the new trommel is working great. They are quickly chewing through the stockpile of pay dirt. When Todd wonders where to dig next Ray, the trommel’s designer, suggests they go to a previously mined area. He tells them that the old dredges years ago only dug a short distance into the ground. This means all the dirt below the tailings and along the side of them is virgin ground that should have good gold in it. Todd agrees that this is a good plan.
The parts arrive for the D9 and Mitch is able to get to work on it. Repairs are taking place at Porcupine Creek as well. Their back hoe has broken linkage that holds the bucket in place. The part is expensive and will take time to get to them so Fred and a friend of his use raw steel to make their own part in an effort to get the machine up and running.
At the Big Nugget Glen shows his test results to the other workers. They decide to talk to Parker. When veteran Gary goes to Parker and talks to him about it he convinces Parker that his grandpa would be running all of this dirt. Parker agrees to give it a try and run some of the dirt to see what happens. Parker is unsure if there will be anything in this dirt, but he wants to keep the crew happy.
At Indian River the D9 dozer is back up and running. Todd tells Dave he is pulling rank and taking the dozer. When Dave asks if they can talk about it Todd makes it clear that he is going to take the dozer to keep Quartz Creek running. Todd admits that in life Dave is probably a higher rank than him, but in the end it is his equipment and he has to do what he thinks is right.
The next morning Dave gets up early and gets to the dozer first. Once he is in the dozer he refuses to give it up and gets to work on his new cut. Todd is not happy and he says that there will be a discussion about this and there will be tension and issues over this.
Dakota Fred gets his back hoe up and running again. His homemade part works great. He gets back into the hole and starts digging. Two hours later a pin in the track breaks and the machine is down again. Dustin is pissed off. Three weeks ago this same thing broke and Fred fixed it with a makeshift piece. His makeshift fix is now broken and Fred refusing to order the correct part has them down again. Fred admits he didn’t want to spend the $1,000 on the part.
Up at Quartz Creek Mitch gets the D10 back up and running so Todd can get work clearing the new cut out. They work through the night clearing land as quickly as possible.
Parker and his crew run the overburden for three days. The moment of truth comes. They need four ounces of gold to cover the cost of running that dirt. They have twelve ounces. This encourages everyone. Parker and Glen talk and Parker tells him that he knows they got off on the wrong foot, but things are getting better. Glen seems to know how much pressure Parker is under.
Back at Quartz Creek they have dug down to what looks like virgin ground. Todd calls in a driller to have him check the ground for them. As he drills the claim owner shows up and tells Todd that the area they have dug has all been mined and is worthless ground. The drilling results confirm what the claim owner told them. There is nothing below them. The ground is useless. The dream of 1,000 ounces is quickly fading.
This episode of “Gold Rush Alaska” comes to an end with Todd taking the blame for this mistake. He says he feels like he is failing and things are looking pretty bleak.