Gold Rush exclusive: Extreme cold problem as frozen pay dirt is jamming Rick Ness’ hopper

Rick Ness has been lobbed one problem after the other his inaugural season on Gold Rush. Pic credit: Discovery
Rick Ness has been lobbed one problem after the other in his inaugural season on Gold Rush. Pic credit: Discovery

On Friday night’s edition of Gold Rush on Discovery, it’s metal and machinery versus mother nature. Below freezing temperatures have made the work that Rick Ness and his crew are tasked with a huge problem.

The bitter cold is causing havoc with the hopper and the overall flow of the wash plant.

Rick explains his situation at the top of our exclusive clip: “We got to get it all through tonight because at this point we shut down or [we are] frozen out.”

It looks to be unbearably cold and his team is geared up as best they can to stay warm. The Ness crew are working well into the minuses in temperature and the only thing machinery hates more than extreme heat is extreme cold.

And you can hear the strain of the moving parts as the clip plays.

The pay dirt is chunking up and for it to be usable and to allow the wash plant to do its breaking down and sorting magic, the pay dirt has to keep moving for fear of freezing up into a solid rock-like mass or just a giant lump of unmovable dirt.

The scenario puts Ness behind in time and manpower and he is visibly stressed out.

Ness crew mate Ryan Hofer is inside the cabin of the dozer and he is the one who first notices something is not right as he contacts Rick Ness, sounding a cautionary alarm to find the problem he notices.

He says: “Rick… you gotta copy?”

Ness is off in another part of the yard and says: “Yeah… go ahead.”

Ness goes over to investigate as Ryan says: “Looks like we’re not feeding right, think you can give me a hand?”

Understandably upset and worried about his overhead and equipment, Rick says: “What the f*** happened?”

Hofer says: “I’m guessing that chunky s*** got stuck in there and froze up and we are not feeding the plant.”

The clip has a useful graphic animation that shows what is happening inside the machinery to better understand. In the hopper, frozen chunks of pay have formed a solid mass. This lump is pressing down on the interior belt, preventing any dirt from reaching the wash
plant for gold sorting.

There are options but they include a great deal of risk for the reward of gold. Rick’s high-risk plan is to run both conveyor belts in the hope that they will dislodge the blockage through speed and friction, but it could totally backfire.

On the comms, Ryan is doubtful and says: “Both belts on?”

Taking a chance to get out of this jam, Rick says: “Yeah we’re just gonna have to see if we can get it to break loose… okay both belts coming hot…yeah!” He seems optimistic.

Rick adds: “We just hit that full speed we’ll know if it’s gonna come loose as if it ain’t freed up it’s gonna tear that valve. And then our season is done.”

Make sure to tune in to see if that awful noise we hear at the end of the clip is not the death knell for Ness’s gold season.

Gold Rush airs on Friday at 9 pm on Discovery.

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