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Homemade Probe


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I am too cheap to buy a good metal detector. I have found that around here, after 30 years, most marks are now 3 inches or more beneath the surface.


I took a 13 inch spike (also known as a Steeple Spike) that is about 1/4 to 3/8 inch diameter and had a friend weld a 4 inch long, 1 inch diameter rod to the top, at right angles, as a handle. It works great. I am easily able to 'feel' my way around a 12 inch concrete post vs a rock in the ground.


A few land owners that have watched me probe and claim a find have even insisted that I dig up the monument at that point. (hehehe, just what I hope for!)


This method is only good to 12-13 inches of course !


So how does everyone else (without a metal detector) do it?

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RACooper and I use camp forks we got at WallyWorld for $3 or so. It was his idea. The size and length are perfect, but the metal is a bit thin for aggressive probing. I have broken one and have a second that is bent up (they bend back pretty easily though). I have a third in the car waiting to go when number two breaks or bends in half. Still, until I find something a bit thicker, it is a great tool. See the original thread at Camp Fork thread.

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I use a very stiff L-shaped piece of wire that fits in my pack. It only probes about 5 inches but is a lot better than trying to dig with the point of my shoe. B) I have found a few disks with it. I've found a while lot more with my shoe, however. :lol:


I've had this idea for a while of making a walking stick with a reversible lower end on it. Unscrew the bottom part, turn it 180 degrees and screw it back on. In this mode, the walking stick ends in a several inch long very stiff wirelike piece of metal and the probing can be done without bending over (or even looking down B)). It requires at least some hollowness for the wire to fit into the top piece in normal walking-stick mode. Some kind of broom handle or carwash brush plastic extender handle might be a start. The walking stick mode would probably need a screw cap on the bottom end to protect the threads, which might be wooden.


I'd feel a lot better about electricity problems with a wooden or plastic handle. It's a near-zero probability, but the news has had a few stories recently about dogs and their walkers getting electrocuted in cities by stray electricity.

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I LIKE it, but I want a longer one. I am too lazy to bend over to probe [insert goofy smiley of your choice here]. I love my camp fork for a number of reasons. No, wait, only one--the length. It's flaws are that it bends way too easily, and the handle is parallel to the rod, so after a while it starts to hurt. Yours has a much thicker rod and perpendicular handle. Both would cure my problems. Maybe I need to get our maintenance folks here where I work to put something together for me.

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I bought an old golf iron at Goodwill ($2 or $3), cut off the club head and epoxied a piece of a bolt in the shaft. Then I sharpened the bolt end somewhat and added a handlebar grip. That keeps me from bending this old back. It only works in soft ground though -- preferable in nice farmland after a rain. :tongue:

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I made a probe today for $12. It's the convertible walking stick kind and works great!


I went to one of those neighborhood got-everything hardware stores. Here's the list of materials:


1. Heavy duty toilet bowl plunger with wood screw-in handle.

2. Dowel rod of the same diameter as the handle.

3. Straight coupling for PVC pipe.

4. 1/8" (I think) steel threaded rod

5. A fender washer for the threaded rod

6. A stopper nut with nylon insert that fits the threaded rod

7. Two extra nuts that fit the threaded rod


I cut the plunger bell off with a serrated kitchen knife. The bottom of the threaded hole is still closed off with rubber at the end. I cut off about 5" of the threaded rod with a grinding wheel, put a sharp point on one and and polished off most of the threads. I put the nuts on the threaded rod with the nylon insert stopper nut on the end. I used increasing sizes of drills to put a half inch hole in the threaded end of the toilet bowl plunger handle so that the half inch of rod with the 3 nuts on it would fit into the hole for stability. I used the sharpened rod to make a hole in the bottom of the threaded part of the plunger. Then I put the rod through the fender washer and through the hole in the bottom of the threaded rubber plunger remnant and screwed the handle in to push the washer and rod to the bottom of the hole. The PVC pipe coupling and dowel rod extends the toilet bowl plunger handle to walking stick length. I haven't glued it yet, but the fit is very tight. The whole construction took about 15 minutes.


To convert to walking stick mode, I unscrew the plunger remnant off the handle, remove the threaded rod and screw the plunger remnant back on. It looks like a largish rubber crutch end. The fender washer stays in the hole. The conversion back and forth between probe mode and normal walking stick mode is quite easy.

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Most probes as used by people who use them as a matter of course are constructed of about 1/4 inch diameter spring steel rod. The real key to a good probe is the tip. Ordinarily a good probe would have a steel ball slightly larger than the shaft brazed to the tip. Thus when in use the ball would create hole larger than the shaft, reducing friction on the length of the probe. This might not seem like much on a 2 foot probe, but it makes all the difference in the world on a 6 foot one.A sharp tip really doesn't help.

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