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Ratz and company
WGA Member



Joined: 2006-04-04
Posts: 73
Location: West Salem, WI

PostPosted: Sun Nov 02, 2008 5:25 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Embarassed I have just started toying with benchmarks. What equipment helps?
Do people just search or use metal detectors to look for disks?

I like the history part of it but wonder how other people look for benchmarks?
 
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AstroD-Team
WGA Member



Joined: 2004-05-19
Posts: 774

PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2008 9:09 pm Reply with quote Back to top

Welcome to the madness and fun of benchmarking. After nearly 500 reports, I'll tell you what we have in our arsensal.

1. A metal detector
2. A trowel or two
3. A shovel
4. bottled water
5. baby powder
6. digital camera
7. paper towels
8. surveying ribbon
9. surveying flags
10. paper and pens
11. compass
12. current NGS data sheets on computer
13. streets and trips on computer
14, GPSr (but we rarely use it)
15. 100 foot tape measure
16. a roller stick measure

The big thing is to get the current NGS datasheets downloaded for whatever county you want to search for. Do not relay on the geocaching site as it only grabbed the NGS file up to 2000. And by all means, USE THE DESCRIPTIONS! Many times the coords will only get you so close and sometimes tey'll be a half a mile or more off.

Start with the ones that have been found recently. Get experience and get comfortable with the non-menclenture (scaled versus adjusted, box scores etc etc). Realize that accurate reporting is more valuable than racking up smileys. (Not that they count anyways). And DNFs have as much weight if not more than Found it.

Pay very close attention to the type of marker and designation! Just because a benchmark may be at the coordinates, does not mean it is the correct benchmark. THere are the stations themselves, reference marks and azimuth marks. You need to know which is which because one is not the same as the other even though they look very similiar. And sometime the old benchmark gets ripped out and a WIDOT or other agency is put in its place (and therefore is Not the same station!)

Be prepared to spend time looking. We have spent upwards of two hours looking for one mark. And by all means TAKE A CLOSE UP PICTURE OF THE MARK! It is the only validation that you (and the rest of us benchmark hunters) have indeed found the correct mark! Also take good notes if you can update on how to find it. Maybe the old train station no longer exists, road names have changed.....

If you haven't, visit the benchmarking thread on the GC.com forum. There is a great starter guide and programs that will help out immensely. not to mention A LOT of experienced hunters to help you out.

Good Luck and if we can be of any assistance, drop a line!

Katrina

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It is those whose case is weak who make the most clamour. Pier Anthony 
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PCFrog
WGA Member



Joined: 2005-05-11
Posts: 728
Location: Sparta, WI

PostPosted: Thu Nov 06, 2008 7:28 am Reply with quote Back to top

After finding a whole 2-3 I still use my foot. Smile

I did try to seriously look for 1 bench mark that should be there, but needed some of AstroD-Team tools like

1. A metal detector
2. A trowel or two
3. A shovel

This was for a benchmark that was located under a very old DNR fire lookout station. From past experience most of the benchmarks were located right under the tower. In this case it was obvious that several years of growth and dirt covered the spot. This was easy to tell from the 5-6 year old tree that was growing there and the fact that the cement footings used for tower were also covered.
 
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AstroD-Team
WGA Member



Joined: 2004-05-19
Posts: 774

PostPosted: Thu Nov 06, 2008 9:12 am Reply with quote Back to top

PCFrog wrote:
After finding a whole 2-3 I still use my foot. Smile

I did try to seriously look for 1 bench mark that should be there, but needed some of AstroD-Team tools like

1. A metal detector
2. A trowel or two
3. A shovel

This was for a benchmark that was located under a very old DNR fire lookout station. From past experience most of the benchmarks were located right under the tower. In this case it was obvious that several years of growth and dirt covered the spot. This was easy to tell from the 5-6 year old tree that was growing there and the fact that the cement footings used for tower were also covered.



We looked for a station up north off an old logging road. The firetower was long removed and there was nothing left to indicate there was anything there but an old concrete slab we were assuming was for the cabin.
The forest has grown up considerably and there was lots of debris so searching was going to be b**ch as we didn't even the firetower foundations to use. Believe it or not, as our son was walking around, he tripped over the concrete monument! It was severely tilted and half buried. From the main station, we were able to track down the one of the two reference marks as well. Sometimes dumb luck plays an important role in finding these marks too.

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It is those whose case is weak who make the most clamour. Pier Anthony 
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ArcherDragoon
WGA Friend



Joined: 2007-04-11
Posts: 32
Location: Southeastern Minnesota

PostPosted: Thu Nov 06, 2008 9:30 am Reply with quote Back to top

As AstroD stated...pictures are good...but you can't always get a good picture. I have found a couple that I just didn't have a camera available...but in those cases, write down the number on the mark (most...ok most that I have found have a number). I may have a limited number (32 I think) and have verified them by number on the mark...I just don't carry a camera (and no...the cellphone I have does not have a camera...but it does have a GPS!!!). Landmarks used as references can usually be easily ID'ed...watertowers, buildings....etc...but it is best to at least record the numbers on disks so you can verify what you actually found...

As far as the year 2000 goes...I have found several stamped 1999 that are not listed on the gc.com database...

As far as dumb-luck...yep, that is the case some times!!! I have one nearby that I have been trying to find for a while...marker post is present...just couldn't find the mark...a couple weeks ago...I finally found the disk!!!

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Are you still looking for that extra KICK out of life???
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Drink a Red Bull and eat a sugar cookie...then call me and let me know how that worked out!!! 
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AstroD-Team
WGA Member



Joined: 2004-05-19
Posts: 774

PostPosted: Thu Nov 06, 2008 4:06 pm Reply with quote Back to top

ArcherDragoon wrote:
As AstroD stated...pictures are good...but you can't always get a good picture. I have found a couple that I just didn't have a camera available...but in those cases, write down the number on the mark (most...ok most that I have found have a number). I may have a limited number (32 I think) and have verified them by number on the mark...I just don't carry a camera (and no...the cellphone I have does not have a camera...but it does have a GPS!!!). Landmarks used as references can usually be easily ID'ed...watertowers, buildings....etc...but it is best to at least record the numbers on disks so you can verify what you actually found...

As far as the year 2000 goes...I have found several stamped 1999 that are not listed on the gc.com database...

As far as dumb-luck...yep, that is the case some times!!! I have one nearby that I have been trying to find for a while...marker post is present...just couldn't find the mark...a couple weeks ago...I finally found the disk!!!


I only added the picture because serious benchmarkers always get a picture and its adds more credibility to the find. Anyone can go and say they found a marker with XX stamped on it, but a picture offers absolute proof. Having a decent camera certainly helps, but I see many good photos that clearly show the disk stamping that were taken with a cell phone.

There are plenty of benchmarks out there with recent dates, they're just not in the GC.com database. Downloading the county archive from the NGS will include all those that have been entered into the database up to the early 2000s. (I think they still might have a backlog to enter yet). Several of the 2001 and 2003 GPS markers that we have found, seem to be off by 200-300 feet.

CONGRATS on finding the disk too!!

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It is those whose case is weak who make the most clamour. Pier Anthony 
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furfool
WGA Member



Joined: 2007-02-15
Posts: 2665
Location: Granville

PostPosted: Thu Nov 06, 2008 5:56 pm Reply with quote Back to top

I have found a couple of benchmarks, but I haven't made a point of "benchmarking". Every once in a while, I just want to do something a little different, so I might search out a benchmark. When I do, I make a point of not searching for one that has been found by a cacher, or one that has been found in the last few years. I get a lot more satisfaction from finding one that hasn't been updated or found for say 30+ years.

I don't know how those who benchmark (serious ones) operate and post, but I was always told to be as specific and as accurate as possible when reporting. In fact, I almost sound like a surveyor on my posts. You also don't want to destroy, molest, or move any benchmark or survey markers. That is against the law.

I'm sure that I speak for many who search for benchmarks when I say that I feel greater satisfaction when I find something that has been buried and overgrown for decades, than I do from being a first to find on a cache.

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I\'ve only made one mistake in my life, I thought I was wrong once, but I was mistaken. 
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