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Metal Detectors


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We use one...it does help at times, along with a long metal rod that we can prod the ground with to help outline a concrete just a few inches deep. Also, here is a link to another thread that you might gleen some info out of.


Most ideas have been discussed often & with a lot of the people who actually started the benchmarking game. You also might find a lot of insight to the whole game by looking through the old threads....I do this lots of times just to get a flavor of how things were at the start of it all.....Enjoy every aspect of it. Have fun.



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Metal detector? I don't leave home without it!


I use the traditional model; i.e., a long pole with a sensing coil on the bottom. If I were just starting out, I might opt for one of the handheld "wands" simply because it would be easier to carry in the car.


By the way, my detector will pick up objects which are deeper underground than I care to dig, especially along buried cable routes. It's just a hobby. And I don't know if my insurance would cover me if I sever a phone trunk. :rolleyes:



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If you go shopping, I'd recommend one of the mid-grade "treasure hunter" models. I would try to find one where the signal you listen to varies according to what is being sensed, as opposed to one that either beeps or doesn't beep. You can learn to discern a lot from how it behaves.


Note that in another discussion someone mentioned the magnetometer type that surveyors often use. These are extremely sensitive to iron but benchmark disks aren't iron.

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bicknell -


Metal detector? Absolutely!!


For the first year or so, I did not use a metal detector and my "find rate" (found / found + not found) was about 60%. This past year, I 've been using an old, cheap Radio Shack "Treasure Tracker" and my find rate has been over 70%.


My minimum equipment list for benchmark hunting is:


Metal detector

Probe (weeding tool)

Small shovel


Digital camera

100' tape measure

Spray bottle w/ water

Rags + small, plastic scrub brush

Orange vest + hat


The datasheet is by far and away the most important thing.



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Ditto for the list from SevenThings, except add a handheld compass. I like the kind which allows taking bearings on objects. Price is around $13.00.




Do you ever go to a store and compare all the thermometers on the shelf to see if they read the same temperature? Or whether the compasses all point in the same direction? If so, you probably will enjoy benchmark hunting because of your investigative nature.

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My equipment list reads a lot like the above. The tape measure is the number 2 item in importance after the data sheet.


I also carry pictures of benchmarks and a printout of an email from NGS that I got in reply to some submittals, to show what I'm doing out there.


I have a longer probe that is useful for going down to about a foot and a half, made from a handle that looks a lot like a golf club shaft, and having a gently rounded tip. I filed a ring around it every 6 inches to help measure depth.


I carry a little metal rod to slip the end of the tape over for one-man measurements. That rod has an orange tape affixed so I can find it in the weeds. Also some popsicle sticks, or handles from plastic spoons, to mark temporary measurements with something that doesn't affect the metal detector.


Although I carry a folding shovel, I have yet to use it and do most of my digging with a dandelion digger and garden trowel. Used cautiously, they are safer than a shovel where there is any remote possibility that there are buried telephone lines or the like. I know of a couple places out in the boonies that I will need the shovel when I go back, though.


And for those painted disks (a disk at the base of a town water tank, for sure), I have an old can of carburator cleaner, a mix of nasty solvents. Wet a small scrap of towel, place on disk, cover with a foil wrapper and a rock for about 5 minutes. Then briskly rub with the towel and it usually cleans up pretty well.

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I'll take this Corn Starch session.


Some months ago, and new to this hobby, I was looking for ways to enhance the lettering on a disk for photography purposes; i.e., putting something on the disk for temporary highlighting, but which would not hurt the disk.


One day, I hit on the idea of using that soft chaulk that kids use in driveways. It was slow, but it really helped. Then some old-timers took me under their wings and explained that it was much easier to put a little corn starch on the disk. Work it into the letters, and wipe off the excess.


Once this was posted publicly, I suspect there was an instant "blip" in the grocery computers of the United States, caused by a sudden spike in sales of corn starch. The thread then drifted into a discussion of how to carry the corn starch. Personally, I use a small Tupperware salt shaker, which I keep in a ZipLoc bag to prevent spills. One hobbist uses an old powder compact donated by his wife. (Don't tease him about it, or he will hit you with his purse--grin.)


I've noticed that with the present angle of the sun, the letters seem to be okay without enhancement--so I have not used much, lately. And I still use the chaulk occasionally on vertical disks.


I hope this suggestion is as helpful to you as it was to me! My pictures improved dramatically after I raided Sandee's cupboard for the corn starch. :o


Best regards,


Cary, North Carolina

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