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Here are the answers to the questions you haver asked:

>how often do you get run off? and by whom? In the 10 - 12 years I have been doing this I have never been chased away, knock on wood. I mostly get stares but if people are curious enough they will ask me what I'm looking for. I half jokingly tell them "buried treasure" and later go on to explain copper electrical wire and or pop / beer cans. Usually there next question is "is there any money in it?" That is all relative. At $1.15 per pound it doesn't sound like much, but when you leave a dumpster 30 - 50 pounds or more it adds up if you have the patience and time to gather, strip it and deliver it to a scrap dealer.

I have been approached neighbors, the actual new home owners themselves and a cop or two and if your polite and don't make a mess most people realize you are not causing any damage to anything and are trying to better your situation and the environment and just let you go about your business. Just remember to leave the area cleaner then when you found it and everyone should live happily ever after......

>what clues should i be looking for to know it's time to start searching the dumpsters in a particular development? i assume there is a prime time within the construction timeline to find the wiring. The best thing is to know how the construction process flows. You know your getting close when the roof goes on, then the tar paper, then the shingles, then the plumbing then it's your turn ELECTRICAL. You have to get there before siding and drywall. That is usually a sign it's to late. If there was any copper in the dumpster it usually has been picked up by the trash hauling company or some other treasure hunter beat you to the mine. This is what I am experiencing now. I used to strike it rich about 1 out of 5 times I stopped and looked. Now it is like 1 in 8 to 10. I have to drive a bit further maybe 5 - 7 miles instead of less than 1, but I do it because I know the material is out there if you look.

>you're pulling the stuff from dumpsters, right? how much other junk is in there with the wire? Yep, right out of the dumpsters. I avoid going in to the homes being built preferring to take accusations of vandalism out of the equation. If something happens and someone remembers you or in my case my bright red car you can cause some undue hassle for yourself. My best advice would be if you see any signs of vansalism ie broken windows, graffiti, punched in drywall in a further progressed house avoid the area like the plague. It's not worth the hassle and you increase your likelyhood of being chased away. Knowing the construction sequence mentioned above increases your chance of striking it rich. The ultimate is when you get there the same day, the electricians have left and all the product is right on top. Hardly any digging is required. You will also usually find that if one house is done two or three of the same builders homes have also been done on the same street or subdivision. This knoweledge increases your chances of striking it rich more than one time per night. If you are a day or two later it may still be in there, but buried under boxes, shingles, hvac duct work, dry wall, cinder blocks and bricks. If I had a truck and lived in the country I would be dangerous as I have found enough cinder blocks to build a foundation, enough paver bricks / stones to build many patios or driveways and enough wood to put an addition on a house. If you have a need for this stuff in the future check the dumpsters instead of Home Depot or Lowes and stock pile the stuff saving yourself a ton of money. My wife is glad we live in a subdivision so that she is not married to Sanford and Son with all this "useful" building material readily available. I wince when I see or hear about some paying $.30 - $.40 per paving block for their new patio or driveway. Granted NONE of this construction material is a sure thing. You have to know your needs and keep an eye out for it. Sometimes you will come across another treasure hunter that is looking for something totally unrelated to what you are looking for. This way you are not competing for the same material. Quite often you will know where the shingles or wood someone is looking for and they will return the favor by mentioning where the wire is that you have not discovered. Depending on where you live you may come across other valuable(?) metals such as steel or aluminium. I have tried the steel two or three times and finally come to the conclusion that it not worth my effort. You may have different experiences, but I found the weight wasn't worth the effort. Covered, known as insulated in the scrap industry, and raw aluminium wire exists in some dumpsters. On 12/27/2004 the raw was worth $.40/lb and insulated was $.30/lb. This was worth the effort for the total of 15 - 20 lbs of this material I had. If you see something repeatly in the dumpster such as odd sizes and shapes of galvanized hvac duct work you could ask your scrap dealer if that is worth more than regular steel. BUT BE CAREFUL WITH THIS MATERIAL AS THE SERATTED (SPELLING) EDGES CUT EASILY AND DEEP!!!!! That is why you should wear good gloves and eye protection so you don't cut yourself nor get sawdust / dirt in the eyes. You don't want to waste your hard earned dumpster dollars on a trip to the emergency room. It's always a good thing to have water or some other liquid such as pop and a clean towel just in case you cut yourself. Was out the cut, wrap it up and get home to your Florence Nightengale and hopefully not nurse Ratchett.

Unfortunately you will also find some nasty suprises enroute to striking it rich, so be prepared. Here is a list of four items in no particular order that will cause you to look elsewhere not matter how much material you have found. 1) smelly port a pottie next to or down wind from your find, 2) the neighbors garbage, 3) doggie do in a plastic bag and last but not least 4) "fresh" grass cuttings from the neighbors. Also watch out for nails in boards, broken glass and sharp corners / points on the dumpsters. These items don't smell as bad as the four items mentioned above, but can ruin your day just the same.

I hope this helps you find your copper and the end of the rainbow. Keep us posted how your search goes.

I almost forgot to remind you that I strip the insulation off the wire I find if it is not already bare. The scrap dealer will give you money for the insulated wire however it is only about 1/3 of the value of bare #1 copper wire. Unless you can make it up in volume I would take the extra time to strip the wire with wire strippers that can be found at Home Depot or Lowes. If your like me you can spend the winter months stripping what you have accumulated during the spring and summer months. I know I will not get through all of the product I have on hand this winter. It's a profitable continous cycle of gather, strip, deliver...................

Good luck to all who under take what I have described above. I have found this is a good way to stay out of trouble with the wife so it may also help your marriage if your also not getting on your wifes / husbands nerves.


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