Tesoro Lobo Super Traq Metal Detector Field Test Report by Gordon S. Gibson
Lobo SuperTRAQ - The Coin Hunter Par Excellence
The date had been set and all the plans were made-except one-what kind of detector should I take to Quartzsite, Arizona to hunt for gold nuggets. I own several general purpose detectors, but I wanted to increase my odds of locating a lot of those hard-to-find nuggets and we all know that requires a bona fide nugget detector.
But wait! I live 900 miles from the nugget fields and will probably get to hunt for nuggets once, or if I'm lucky, twice a year. It doesn't take a nuclear scientist to figure out that it would really be a waste of money to buy a detector that just found gold nuggets when I lived so far from the hunt site. What I needed was a detector that was very good at finding nuggets and was also very good at finding coins and jewelry. After doing my homework and talking to several dealers, I decided on the Lobo SuperTRAQ.
The SuperTRAQ has all the necessary features to make it a good coin hunting detector-at least that was what I was hoping for. When the detector arrived I was anxious to try it out. But first, I needed to carefully review the instruction manual.
The first thing that grabs your attention when reading the manual is the Micro Controller ground balancing procedure. The SuperTRAQ has three ground balancing modes-Normal, Alkali and Black Sand. These modes, which are critical for nugget hunting, are just as critical for coin hunting.
The Normal Mode, which I use about 98 percent of the time, hass a range that is smaller (has narrower parameters) than the other modes. This allows you to keep from tuning out smaller targets and will smooth out the sound caused by mineralization.
The Alkali Mode is very similar to the Normal Mode except it operates over a wider range of mineral signals. In this mode the ground canceling capabilities may be slightly less effective than the Normal Mode.
When mineralized conditions are almost impossible, then the Black Sand Mode will be your choice. However using this mode will cause a small drop in sensitivity.
As with most detectors that have ground balancing capabilities, you need to ground balance the detector before you hunt in either the All Metal or Discriminate Mode. When I am coin hunting, I start off ground balancing in the Normal Mode. If there is a problem ground balancing, I switch to the Alkali Mode. If everything else fails, I go to the Black Sand Mode. I have never used the Black Sand Mode and very seldom use the Alkali Mode.
The rest of the controls on the SuperTRAQ are pretty much the same as the other detectors.
The SuperTRAQ comes with a 10 inch elliptical widescan coil. Optional coils are also available: 7 inch elliptical concentric coil, 8 inch round concentric coil, 8½ inch round widescan coil and the 11 inch round widescan coil.
For most nugget hunting conditions, the widescan or double "D" coil would be the choice because it handles high mineralization the best. However, the widescan coil does not discriminate as well as the concentric coil. Therefore, I believe the choice for most coin hunting conditions would be the concentric coil.
Since I purchased the SuperTRAQ six months before the trip to Arizona, I decided to take it out for a short test drive and just see how it operated. I chose a site that I had hunted for the past 31 years for coins. Every brand of detector had been used over this ground until there wasn't anything left to find. I was more interested in just getting acquainted with the SuperTRAQ than finding coins.
The site was an old youth campground that dated back to the 1920's and silver coins had been found in large numbers during my earlier years of metal detecting. I decided to begin hunting on a hillside that was close to a swimming area. Using the 10 inch elliptical widescan coil that came with the detector, I ground balanced in the Normal Mode, set the discrimination to '3', the sensitivity to '10' and began to hunt. Immediately, I received a light target volume signal that indicated something deep. The target sound was a rounded sound with smooth edges, which for a Tesoro detector, could be a coin. After digging a plug that was 6 or 7 inches deep, I recovered a 1938-D Mercury dime which was in very good condition. Not bad for the first find with a gold nugget detector!
After a few hours I was very impressed with the coin hunting capabilities of the SuperTRAQ. I found four Mercury dimes, several Wheat pennies, some clads and most of them were deep. These were found in an area that provided me with a very poor prospect of finding anything. It was then that I realized I had something very special in my hands.
Since I was mainly interested in coin hunting, I decided to purchase the 7 inch elliptical concentric coil to use in trashy areas and the 8 inch round concentric coil for normal use.
In order to get a better overview of the coin hunting capabilities of this detector, I think it would be a good idea to take you on three coin hunting trips with the SuperTRAQ to see how it performed. The first stop was the beaches of South Padre Island. This is a very popular tourist and swimming area in South Texas. The beaches were bright white and the sand was deep. As I was unloading my detectors (I always bring all my detectors when I hunt) I noticed that there were not many people on the beach. This was a good sign because I would have the beach almost to myself. I decided to work the dry white sand first.
I put on a concentric coil for better discrimination and ground balanced in the Normal Mode. The sensitivity could be set in the MAXBoost range and the discrimination dial was turned to zero. (The MAXBoost feature is a high gain boost over and above the normal maximum setting of '10'.) At this point I wish I could tell you about all the coins and rings I found, but except for a few new coins, coins were almost non-existent. I tried all my detectors and got the same results-no coins. I noticed a maintenance worker and stopped to talk to him. I found out that the year before they had very high winds as a result of a near miss from a hurricane. The beaches were stripped of sand. During the last few months, they re-sanded the beach with 2 to 3 feet of new sand.
This called for a new plan of action. I decided to start working the wet sand at the water's edge. I tried to ground balance the SuperTRAQ in the Normal Mode over the wet sand, but I could not get the sound to smooth out. I changed to the 10 inch widescan elliptical coil and ground balanced in the Alkali Mode. It worked! I set the discrimination to '1' and the sensitivity to '7'. Since it was low tide, I worked down the wet sand until I reached the water's edge.
It was slow work, but I started getting signals. I dug a few encrusted coins that were surprisingly deep. (It was hard to really tell how deep a target was because the water flowing over the wet sand caused the sand to keep rolling back into the hole.) I started working the side of a cut in the damp sand and picked up another signal. This time I could tell how deep the target was buried because the sand was hard packed. After two big scoops full of sand were lifted up with the long handle sand scoop, I spotted a man's yellow gold wedding ring. This ring had to be buried at least 10 inches deep. I continued to work the water's edge for the rest of the day and I filled my pouch with many coins. The finds were not spectacular, but the experience indicated that the SuperTRAQ was very good on the salt water beaches.
The trip to the beach required that I ground balanced in the Alkali Mode and used the widescan coil to coin hunt. To me, this was a big plus factor in favor of the SuperTRAQ. I could change ground balancing modes to meet soil conditions and change the type of coil (widescan or concentric) to get the very best possible results. That was quite an advantage over other detectors. Our next stop to test the SuperTRAQ was a large city lake. This lake was so trashy that I sometimes believed they had built the lake over a trash dump. There was an over abundance of pulltabs and screw caps. Beer cans could be found at almost any depth along with foil and every other conceivable trashy item.
On the plus side, there were some very old coins mixed in with all this trash. The trick was getting past the trash and locating the coins. This called for a small coil, so I decided to use the 3 x 7 inch elliptical concentric coil. This coil gave a very narrow search scan for target separation and had excellent depth plus the discriminating characteristics of a concentric coil.
I elected to start hunting in a picnic area near the water's edge where people not only ate and played, they fished. I ground balanced in the Normal Mode and started with the sensitivity set to '7' and the discrimination knob turned to '7'. (The discrimination of '7' is basically a "coins only" setting. It would be impractical to lower the discrimination to look for rings because of the tremendous trash problem. Also, I learned many years ago that too high a sensitivity setting will work against you in trashy sites.)
Working around large shade trees is always a good place to start when searching a park so that was where I began the hunt. With the discrimination set at '7', I should be eliminating most of the trash, but I was getting a lot of "chirps" and false trash sounds, so I lowered the sensitivity to '6'. Now the detector was working more smoothly. One of the first good signals I heard was very strong. It could be a half dollar near the surface, but when I went to the Pinpoint Mode to check it out, I found that it was one of those blasted beer cans. The pinpoint mode on the SuperTRAQ was just outstanding! Not only did it accurately pinpoint the target, it also allowed me to almost outline the target if it was large. The signal appeared to be almost as big as the coil. This sure saved a lot of digging.
After many false trash signals, I heard that magic Tesoro sound-a soft sound with smooth edges. I almost knew it was a coin, and from the volume of the sound, I knew it was fairly deep. After carefully removing a plug, the beautiful face on a 1912 Barber coin was looking up at me. If this does not start your adrenaline flowing you must be in the wrong hobby! I was so fired up, I almost forgot to recheck the hole. Again I heard that soft voice of the SuperTRAQ telling me to look again. Digging another inch or two deeper revealed a Captain Midnight children's pin which was in excellent condition. But the most surprising thing of all was what was lying two inches from the spot where the Barber coin was located-a large bent rusted nail!
Trashy sites are difficult to work, but we must learn how to overcome those conditions. I know one thing for sure, our favorite sites were not going to become "less trashy." The SuperTRAQ with the 3 x 7 inch elliptical concentric coil handled the trash as well as any detector I had ever used. That day I added many Wheat pennies, clad coins and a few more silver coins to my collection.
Our last stop to check out the coin hunting capabilities of the SuperTRAQ was an interesting historical site. This site was located in a wooded farm area where a small creek meandered between two hills and over a waterfall into a large pool. The hill on the south side of the stream was the spot where covered wagons destined for California circled for the night. The stony surface on the creek just above the waterfall was the road the wagons used to cross the stream. This was one of the campsites on the "California Road" which was the southern route across the Oklahoma Indian Territory through Santa Fe to California. This was a busy route. During June of 1849, 1,500 to 2,000 immigrants traveled this trail.
As ranchers and farmers began settling in this area, they used this same site to hold their social functions. These industrious pioneers even built a long concrete, five foot high, rectangular wall in the middle of the stream to make a swimming pool. Over the years, the stream changed course and the pool was filled in with silt. Beside the pool's wall was a sloping grassy area that was used by the early families to spread out their blankets so they could sunbathe and watch their children swim. Later a cowboy dance hall was built on the north hill which turned out to be a very busy and active place on Saturday nights.
Three of my metal detecting friends, Carl McBrayer, Dan Pierce and Tinker Browning accompanied me on this trip. We were anxious to get to the site, but first, as you must always do, we contacted the landowners to get permission to hunt on this property.
It was a beautiful morning when we arrived at the old campground. I decided to start my search on the hill above the waterfall where the covered wagons camped. I had to keep reminding myself that my purpose today was not relic hunting-but coin hunting. My friends could handle the relic hunting portion of this trip.
I put on the 8 inch round concentric coil because I was interested in depth, discrimination and good ground coverage. I ground balanced in the Normal Mode, turned the sensitivity into the MAXBoost range and set the discrimination to '3'.
As I began hunting I noticed that the ground was basically free of trash, but the grass cover was very deep and thick. I decided to hunt in the All Metal Mode because the coins would be deep and then switch to the Discriminate Mode to check targets. The All Metal Mode gave better depth especially through this thick grassy carpet. (I should probably mention here that the sensitivity setting on the SuperTRAQ not only affects the Discriminate Mode but also the All Metal Mode.) While searching, I noticed that there was a flat grassy area on top of the hill. The thought came to my mind that if I were spending the night in a covered wagon, I would certainly pick this spot to camp. After moving to the flat area, I very quickly got a soft response in the All Metal Mode and then switched to the Discriminate Mode where I heard a similar signal. I dug down about 10 inches and there it was -a 1879-S Morgan dollar in excellent condition.
I yelled at Carl to come over and to take a look at what I found. While showing Carl the coin, I moved the coil over the hole again and heard another signal which was just to the right of the hole. About 8 inches down was a beautiful Barber dime. Wow! It was starting to look like this flat grassy area would be a real hot spot!
Approximately ten feet away, I dug a 1926 Mercury dime at 8 inches. Then came a long period of no signals. I was just about to change locations when I got a scratchy, "good sound-bad sound." A very "iffy" target. Since the discrimination was set at '3', I first thought that it was trash because the setting was certainly low enough to detect coins. But it had been so long since I dug for a target, I decided to dig anyway. After digging an 8 inch plug, I found a very dark Buffalo nickel with the date worn off the coin. About one foot away I heard the same kind of response from the SuperTRAQ. Guess what! Another Buffalo nickel and its date was also gone. We all started noticing that the older coins were very deep. Most coins were in the 8-10 inch range.
Searching around the grassy tree covered hillside near the old pool required a new strategy. This area had a lot of trash so I changed the discrimination setting to '3' and the sensitivity to '10' and worked in the discriminate mode. It wasn't long before I received a good signal and at 7 inches, I found a badly worn 1917 Walking Liberty half dollar. A little later I uncovered a silver turquoise ring nearby.
The hunt was a smashing success. I found 4 Mercury dimes, one Barber dime, one Morgan silver dollar, a Walking Liberty half dollar, one silver ring plus several Wheat pennies. I should also mention that Dan recovered two excellent finds-a beer token from the Cherokee Saloon in the Indian Territory worth 12½ cents plus a 1914-D Wheat penny in excellent condition.
So there you have it-three different coin hunting trips using one of the Tesoro gold detectors-the Lobo SuperTRAQ. Is it a good coin hunting detector? No! It is an excellent coin hunter! It is very versatile. It offers automatic computerized ground balancing with three different modes for all kinds of soil. Is this important for coin hunting? You bet! As a bonus, you have optional search coils which are offered in the widescan and concentric varieties. This really gives you flexibility in your hunts. On top of all this, you have great depth, accurate pinpointing plus that famous Tesoro sound for coins. That is an unbeatable combination for coin hunting. It is truly a coin detector par excellence!
Oh yes, I almost forgot to mention my gold nugget hunting trip to Quartzsite, Arizona. I found 5 nice nuggets with the SuperTRAQ and my wife found one nugget with the Bandido II µMAX using the 4 inch coil.