What metal detector

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What metal detector

Post by Wendyf » 25 Jul 2015, 07:06

I'm thinking of getting a metal detector and don't know where to start looking. I need something that's straightforward to use and lightweight but not just a toy, I hope to use it for some of our history society investigations!
I know Ian has some experience of metal detecting....any advice?

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Re: What metal detector

Post by Tizer » 25 Jul 2015, 09:01

I think there was some discussion about detectors on OG in the past but I searched and couldn't find anything much. Perhaps it was on the old site. There are several forums on the Web. But like you, I would ask Ian first!

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Re: What metal detector

Post by Wendyf » 25 Jul 2015, 09:51

I'm sure it was on the old site Tiz. In fact I remember offering my field for Ian to come and do some detectoring in. I've been having a look on various forums but thought I would ask Ian before making any decisions. :grin:

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Re: What metal detector

Post by PanBiker » 25 Jul 2015, 09:59

You have opened a can of worms here Wendy and a lot really does depend on what you want to use it for and the types of ground that you may be searching. The range of metal detectors available is staggering, models run from very basic up to professional prospecting models that cost into the thousands. You will find a lot of models in the £200 to £800 bracket. All effectively do the same job but with greatly varying degrees of complexity and facilities.

A bit of homework would be required on current models, many of the sites that specialise in detector sales will also have secondhand models that may be interesting. There is a very healthy market in second hand machines, as technology advances some folk simply have to possess the latest model with more functions bells or whistles consequently there a lots of second user machines around Most dealers will have lists of second hand machines.

A starting point, have a browse on Joann Allen which is one of the largest distributors of detectors.

You should also be aware that it is a very good idea to carry third party liability insurance before you start digging holes in the ground. You must have permission from whoever owns the land in order to detect and you must also avail yourself of land that is under countryside stewardship or various other government funded land management schemes which may exclude detecting. You can get the coverage quite easily via the NCMD.

Have a look also at the reporting initiative for finds the Portable Antiquities Scheme, you should be aware of the ramifications for contextual reporting if anything interesting turns up.

I still have my detector and if you want to have a go at some point that would not be a problem. We could give it whirl on your bit of field that you mentioned.

Lots to think about, I will help if I can Wendy, have a browse round and post back in here with any questions.
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Re: What metal detector

Post by Wendyf » 25 Jul 2015, 10:27

Thanks Ian, I will have a good look around. The Deeptech Vista Mini seems to be one that's recommended for beginners, I like the look of the simple controls!

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Re: What metal detector

Post by PanBiker » 25 Jul 2015, 12:14

Not come across that one before Wendy but just had a look and and from what I can see its a single frequency motion detector. It looks to be an all metal detector with simple discrimination features. It will search silently and use a simple threshold setting for rejecting unwanted signals. You can have a go with mine which operates on a similar principle to get a feel for the operation if you wish.

There are quite few other brands and models in this price bracket as well. Up to a point, the more you pay, the more technology you get, not necessarily more complicated but maybe a bit more discriminatory with the ability to indicate the type of metal before you dig.

If you buy you will need a few bits and bobs to go with your detector, you need a set of headphones, possibly an extension lead and something to dig with, small trenching spade or specialist digging tool. Many suppliers will supply new purchases with various start up kits which may include some or all of these items, some include storage bags and coil covers. Shopping around can pay dividends here.

On the digging front, the object is to make as small a hole as possible to get to your target, depends on where or what you are digging of course but a small bespoke spade with foot assist is usually the order of the day, remember you will have to carry this around with you.

Most lost items as apart from intentional burials are within plough depth, regularly ploughed fields can yield at just a few inches.

Don't rush out and buy though, have a go first.
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Re: What metal detector

Post by Wendyf » 25 Jul 2015, 20:52

Thanks for all the advice Ian, it will take me a while to ponder on it. I had a go in the spring, John Clayton gave Margaret Brown & myself a brief lesson and let us loose with his spare detector which I think was a Viking, but I can't remember the model.

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Re: What metal detector

Post by Stanley » 26 Jul 2015, 04:01

I often had that same urge Wendy but managed to contain it! Best of luck.....
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Re: What metal detector

Post by PanBiker » 26 Jul 2015, 09:03

Viking metal detectors are made in Blackburn, never used one but I know they are quite popular, they make a reasonable range at the lower end of the market. Whatever you go for see if you can get a machine with some reasonable discrimination features, otherwise you will dig every bit of ferrous that is out there, (and there is a lot).

I have just got my permission to detect on Crown foreshore renewed, it's free but you have to apply online to Crown Estates. We are taking Ruby and Isla to the seaside in Suffolk next week. The permit gives me permission to detect between high and low water marks on all foreshore owned by the Crown which includes most of Norfolk and Suffolk. Static caravan let we have booked has a verandah directly onto the dunes and then the beach, girls should love it. With that and Geocaching we will have treasure hunting a plenty! :grin:
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Re: What metal detector

Post by Tizer » 26 Jul 2015, 10:07

Ian, a basic question - what do metal detectors detect? I know iron, copper, gold, silver and presumably aluminium and in general electrically conducting materials. Do they detect the non-metal graphite, which occurs naturally in the ground (although usually at depth). And what about metal ores which I see described as semi-conductors, e.g. haematite and limonite (very common iron oxides), pyrite (iron sulphide), chalcopyrite (copper sulphide) etc. In mining areas as in Cornwall these materials can be scattered over large areas on the surface and near the surface.

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Re: What metal detector

Post by PanBiker » 26 Jul 2015, 10:43

Very basically they work on the principle of the difference between a transmitted and received signal. If you introduce a metal object into a magnetic field it will disturb it, the level of disturbance varies with the type of metal, ferrous metals will make the greatest reaction but non ferrous also will also disturb the field. The various metals in effect have a unique ID which can be differentiated by the receiver and a bit of clever electronics. Basic detectors work on a single frequency, higher end machines use multiple frequencies which can help to differentiate between targets. Aluminium registers almost the same as gold so it's a very fine line between a ring pull (millions of them) and a potential fortune.

Ground effects from mineral deposits in the soil can be problematic but can be compensated for to some degree by the electronic processing which, using various techniques can negate false signals coming from the ground conditions. This is known as ground balancing, most detectors will auto ground balance but some basic models have to be manually adjusted to the ground conditions before searching.

Minelab who are major manufacturers of detectors both hobby and professional have produced a very good readable explanation of how the various features of modern detectors work. You can find this on the home page of the NCMD site here:

NCMD

High end detectors move from multiple frequency microprocessor controlled magnetic resonance devices to machines using ground radar techniques. Same kind of stuff that the "geophis" blokes use on Time Team, these don't just register metal but map all substrata objects.
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Re: What metal detector

Post by Tizer » 26 Jul 2015, 10:47

Thanks for that Ian!

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Re: What metal detector

Post by PanBiker » 26 Jul 2015, 13:39

Continuing on the ground effects. Detecting on the beach can be particularly difficult. Dry sand is OK but wet sand is a different kettle of fish entirely, salt water is electrically conductive and sand is loaded with a myriad of different minerals so for serious searching at the waterline or in the water needs a different approach. Dedicated beach machines use PI (pulse induction) techniques which are more akin to echo location. They send a series of short duration pulses into the sand, any metal in the search pulse will induce a delayed reverse polarity signal in the returned pulse which can be detected by the electronic circuitry. Beach detecting is quite popular as its easy to dig and searching, particularly on popular beaches can produce lots of casual losses from other beach users. Down at the waterline and alongside breakwaters and groins is where items brought in by the surf will tend to accumulate. Dry sand areas can yield coin and jewelry losses and is what most casual beach detectorists are searching for.

Most detectors will have a pinpoint mode, usually accessible via a push button on the control panel. This effectively puts the machine in all metal search mode. Under normal search conditions the coil is swept across the search area, the operation relies on a sweeping motion for correct operation of the induced magnetic fields generated by the search head. Pinpoint mode does not require motion at the head so it is quite useful for homing in on a target.

A useful addition to a detectorists search tools is a pinpoint probe. This is a hand held detector which is a small control box, usually with one button to activate a probe point. They are a basic all metal non motion detector. The probe is usually a ferrite rod based coil enclosed in a short length of PVC tube to create the detector probe. Very useful for seeing if the target is within the plug or sod of earth you have just dug or still in the hole. They can show you which way to go in the hole if you have not got it bang on in the first place. I picked mine up from Ebay for about £15.00.
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Re: What metal detector

Post by Wendyf » 29 Jul 2015, 14:00

I decided on a Viking because they are manufactured locally and targeted at beginners! It was ordered yesterday and arrived today but I'm not allowed to open it till my birthday next week. :grin:
I was talking to a distant relative who came on Mum's Wartime Walk with me and her Hubby had two good finds in the Silsden area only months after she bought him a detector for Christmas. He found a hoard of Roman silver coins and a Tudor gold ring, both of which are hopefully going to be on display in Cliffe Castle eventually.

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Re: What metal detector

Post by PanBiker » 29 Jul 2015, 19:39

I know a guy in our 1940's circle who made a significant detector find in the Silsden area as well Wendy. OK on the Viking, I have just joined as an associate member of the NCMD (National Council for Metal Detecting), £8.00 per annum as an associate member. Mainly for the 3rd party liability insurance. I used to be a member of FID (Federation of Independent Detectorists) but the organisation seems to be a little bit up in the air at the moment since the death of Colin Hanson who used to run the group. I will rejoin them when the new management structure and group organisation has settled down.
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Re: What metal detector

Post by Stanley » 30 Jul 2015, 04:23

Sounds exciting.... Good luck with the Viking Wendy!
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Re: What metal detector

Post by Wendyf » 09 Aug 2015, 08:32

I had my first session with the detector in my field yesterday and found a few bits and pieces....not treasure, but they all have a story to tell!

Image

Starting out to follow what I believe to be an old track that went down to Kelbrook my first find was a bit of a jam pot lid. The next was much more interesting, a small iron beaker shaped object which I think could be a container for heating up lead.
A bit further down the track I found a small and delicate probably copper or brass buckle...quite ornate in shape. I thought it would be a shoe buckle but because the pin spanned the length rather than the breadth it is more likely to be a hat or knee buckle. My googling tells me this is probably mid to late 18th century and common sense says it probably wasn't what your average farmer would have been wearing. Could this a tiny bit of evidence that my theory of a through track might be right?
Nothing else turned up in that area, but the grass is a bit long and tufty so I shall return that way once the ponies have eaten things down a bit in the autumn.
I then went down to the bottom of the field where there was once a small walled off plot shown as a garden on early maps and found the old thumb latch a good brass hinge, a few unidentifiable bits of rusty metal and a dribble of lead. A bit further up the field I dug up the triangular lump of cast iron...it has broken off from something and is over half an inch thick. It has been painted with red paint which mostly came off when I washed it. Any ideas what it might be?

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Re: What metal detector

Post by Tizer » 09 Aug 2015, 09:47

Perhaps the lead and the beaker/pot/crucible are related to what Stanley has described on OG for using lead to fix gate hinges into stone gate posts?

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Re: What metal detector

Post by Wendyf » 09 Aug 2015, 09:53

That's what I thought Tiz. We discovered a lead spoon years ago that was tucked under a wall inside the barn, and found out from Skipton Museum that farmers would make their own spoons by pouring lead into moulds...if it got damaged they would just melt it down and start again.

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Re: What metal detector

Post by PanBiker » 09 Aug 2015, 12:48

Some interesting finds there Wendy and good for your first time out. You should be able to set up your detector to reject the base metals, or the majority of them if you wish. Of course this depends on what you are expecting to find on a particular site. If your interest is in the more mundane that can tell a story "all metal" mode is well and good and will do what it infers. Lead dross seems to feature quite extensively on lots of pasture sites.

It is also quite surprising what turns up in some fields. I once went on a detecting rally down in Cheshire with about 4 fields to go at. There was some excitement at one point from a signal which looked like it could be a large but deep hoard. A few set to with spades and got down to about 2 feet opening up the hole as they went. After much careful excavation the find eventually exposed itself as a complete upright piano buried the right way up in the middle of the field. Whoever put it there probably used a JCB to lay it to rest. Current incumbent of the farmland had no knowledge of how it got there, it was well below plough depth so was out of site and out of mind until the detector lads turned up.
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Re: What metal detector

Post by Wendyf » 09 Aug 2015, 14:52

I'm interested in anything I can find at the moment Ian because of what it might tell me about the farm. :smile: It's wonderful to have a field of my own to practice in....I would be worried about making a mess in someone else's field. Did you get round to doing any beach searching with the grandchildren?

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Re: What metal detector

Post by PanBiker » 09 Aug 2015, 16:18

I took my detector and printed out my Crown Foreshore permit but unfortunately the local beach was a mixed pebble beach, not the best for searching or digging. Other sandy beaches pf which there were many were also very busy so early, early morning is usually best or else you get pestered with folk asking questions, "found anything yet", "how deep does it go" etc.. and never get chance to actually search. So its been on a 700 mile round trip but not out of its carrying bag.

Nothing wrong with all metal mode to see whats in your field, you are not likely to be bothered with ring pulls which is where the discrimination comes into its own if searching potentially contaminated sites.

I'm sure you are aware that you must have permission from the landowner to search on any land that is not your possession. All land belongs to someone including public rights of way and footpaths etc. Be careful of any land that is under any of the governments management or stewardship schemes. English Heritage has a clause in the agreement that excludes metal detecting on such land effectively denying access even with the landowners permission. You can see which land is under such covenants certainly in the Lancashire and Fylde areas on the Mario Mapping site which you have probably come across with your genealogy hat on. You need to look at the filters for land management or stewardship, you can see right down to field boundaries for details.

I did do a spot of geocaching on holiday though and managed to swap out one of the trackables currently in my possession. I sent Indie the Elephant with his mate Speedy Phil the Travel Slug on the next leg of their journey hoping to get back to India. I recovered another Geocoin (a wooden one this time) which originated in the Czech Republic and was sent on its way to celebrate someones 50th birthday. It's been about a bit, and seen Greece, Turkey, Italy, Germany and France as well as various locations in the UK before I retrieved it from near the footpath down to the beach at Pakefield. I will hop it to somewhere nice in due course.

[hr]

Edit: forgot to comment on your triangular cast iron chunk, could it be from some kind of farm implement, plowshare or something else for turning or tilling the land? It sometimes impossible to correctly identify the ferrous metal stuff that turns up. Blacksmiths back in the day could make virtually anything so it could be a from a customised bit of tooling.
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Re: What metal detector

Post by Stanley » 10 Aug 2015, 04:13

The cast iron point looks in good nick. That could indicate that it is chilled iron which is what ploughshares were. Much of that land would be ploughed by the War Ag. in the war and breaking the point off a share would be common as some land would never have seen the plough. When ploughing very old grass breaking the point off the share was one way of getting the furrow to turn over when it was just lying flat again after the plough had passed. Very annoying!
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Re: What metal detector

Post by Tizer » 10 Aug 2015, 10:16

We don't go in for metal detecting but we share the interest in mundane old stuff and always have our eyes peeled for anything interesting, especially when we're on the coast or down in the mining areas of Devon and Cornwall. It's not so much for collecting but more for identifying and trying to work out the history of the object. it fits in well with my interest in minerals and Mrs Tiz's interest in wild flowers and geology. So often we find ourselves, saying what is it, how did it get here and when?

Ian, you should have had that piano archaeologically dated, it might be a remnant of a lost, non-human, piano-playing civilisation. How many monkeys does it take to create a piano concerto, I wonder? :smile:

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Re: What metal detector

Post by Stanley » 11 Aug 2015, 04:04

Archaeologists in the future could have an interesting time. The running of landfill sites is very heavily regulated now but it wasn't always so. I know of one landfill that reputedly has an intact road tanker buried in it with its toxic contents.... We used to regularly take active waste to a quarry near Bingley and simply tip it in, it was legal in those days. I'd hate to do a dig there!
This applies at sea as well. Have a look at this BBC report on Beaufort's Dyke.
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