Building Better Metal Detecting Accessories – An interview with Pete Anderson

One of the most interesting things about the metal detecting hobby is the tinkering aspect of it. A lot of detectorists are not content to use their detectors as-is, out of the box, but will modify them in some way to customize them for their own use, or seek out specialized third party accessories to personalize their detectors or enhance their metal detectors’ performance. These metal detector modifications can range from simply mounting the detector on a more ergonomic or lighter shaft, to having specialized headphones custom made for the detectorist.

Some great companies have sprung up to help metal detectorists modify their machines with third party products, and accessories. Anderson Detector Shafts is one of those companies. They make high end straight shafts for various brands of metal detectors, as well as other products designed to make a detectorist’s life easier when hunting for gold, coins, relics, and treasure.

I personally have sought out ways to improve the performance of my own detectors as I tend to use them in unforgiving conditions for long periods of time – like hunting for hours on beaches in extreme summer heat or in the icy cold water of Lake Ontario in the Canadian winter. I use Anderson Detector shafts and found them to be great for extended metal detecting excursions. They are strong, ergonomic, and well designed. We are fortunate to be using their excellent shafts and accessories on our Minelab Excalibur detectors at Treasurefinders.

I spoke to Pete Anderson recently about his company, how he started, and where it’s heading.. (This interview was originally conducted December 9, 2013)

I was nice sitting down to dinner with you and Ryan Fazekas in the early (Canadian) summer this year after a successful National Metal Detecting Day. I have a bunch of questions about your company, Anderson Detector Shafts. When did you start the company?

Ryan and I both had a great time at the dinner as well and must commend Minelab for their involvement and support of this great hobby that we all enjoy so much. We started making products around 2004 and officially started the company in 2006. Ryan Fazekas and myself are both co-owners of Anderson Detector Shafts.

Did you guys start out as detectorists? What kind of detecting did/do you do the most?
I’ll never forget the first time that Ryan and I met. I was in the water detecting on a beautiful early fall morning in a lake just minutes from my house. As I was wading, I noticed up on shore someone watching me. They would watch for a couple of minutes then disappear only to return a couple of minutes later. Turns out it was Ryan doing some work at a neighbors house. As I finished up detecting and started heading for the car, Ryan came up to me and introduced himself and told me of his interest in metal detecting as well. The rest is history. We became great friends and have shared many metal detecting excursions. We both share the desire to take a good thing and make it better, to improve on some of the shortfalls of equipment designs, and to advance our segment of the industry with forward thinking ideas and designs.

What are some of your best finds?
I like to hunt in the water so most of my best finds are old jewellery and coins. Ryan has made many great finds as well and has quite a collection of relics.

How did the company come about?
We both saw the need to incorporate new ideas and most importantly, ergonomics into the metal detecting industry. It was our mutual desire to accomplish these goals that formed the premise of our company which is to provide innovative products at a fair price using the best available materials. We design all of our own products with all welding, machining, packaging, etc done in house. We have designed many of our own processes which are unique to our industry and we use modern machining methods incorporating CNC, TIG welding, plasma cutting, etc. We have several of our own injection molds which are exclusive to Anderson Detector Shafts. We have just recently introduced a new packaging line to compliment our products using skin pack technology. This offers the customer a very attractive finished product as well as offering our dealers a very professional appearing display for their store shelves.

With all this metalwork, do you come from engineering backgrounds?
We have engineering capabilities at our disposal. We both come from technical trades backgrounds in welding, electronics, machining, CNC Cad Cam, and millwriting.

What makes a good metal detecting accessory for hunting in salt water?
As you know Alex, salt water hunting is the most challenging type of water hunting as well as the most damaging to equipment. From the damaging aspect, the salt corrodes metals especially when 2 dissimilar metals are in contact with each other. Nothing helps more in this area than washing the equipment off after every use with clean fresh water and this means taking everything apart and thoroughly rinsing. Compounding the salt issue are the silt and sand that are released into the water as you wade or that are being dispersed in the wave action caused by the winds. This fine silt and sand will find it’s way into every nook and cranny and hole on your metal detector including the shaft, lower rod, coil cover, in and around knobs, brackets, grips etc.

One of the main problems with detector shafts seizing up can be prevented by completely disassembling the shaft and lower rod after each water hunt and thoroughly cleaning with fresh water. I can’t stress this enough. We have overcome this particular issue of frozen shafts by offering our 1 piece carbon fibre shafts known as Surf Sticks. They are custom made to the customers required length and feature no moving parts thus eliminating the possibility of the lower rod freezing into the upper shaft. As any ocean detectorist will tell you, when they are about to be hit by a wave, the first thing they do is brace themselves. This means using the detector shaft like a crutch. When you do this with the standard 2 piece shaft, you take the chance of breaking the lower rod. Our 1 piece Surf Sticks are designed to take this stress and act like a crutch to withstand this abuse. We are the only company offering this technology.

What is your relationship like with the metal detector manufacturers? Do they like other companies making accessories for their gear?
We have relationships with several metal detecting manufacturers. In our discussions with them it is a common theme that we are all working together to promote and provide the customer with the best tools possible for his/her enjoyment of the hobby. We consider our products an enhancement to an already superior product offered by the manufacturer.

I see you now custom make carbon fiber shafts for metal detecting. I’d love to get one myself one day! Where do you see the future of metal detecting accessories going?
We have been making the carbon fiber series for about 5 years now Alex. This series has become quite popular and accounts for about 50% of shaft production. I think what is most important to people using a detector in the water now and in the future, is the weight or balance of the machine. These will always be the key issues of water machines- the resistance to motion in the water. This is not easily overcome. I don’t believe there will be many changes to materials in this department. There are ways to lighten up the detector but not at the expense of durability which you must have in the water.

What is the Anderson Test Team?
The Anderson Test Team was developed to serve as a real life test bed for our prototype products. Much like car companies that endurance test their vehicles before putting those models into production, we adopted this same principal to see how new designs hold up and where, if any, changes have to be made. We encourage individuals to contact us from our web page to see how they may participate.

What new Anderson products are on the horizon?
We do indeed have some new products coming in 2014. Some of these will be for the Minelab Excalibur, some will be for land based detecting. Some of our attention will also be focused on the prospecting field.

Visit the Anderson Detector Shafts web site for more information on their excellent accessories for metal detecting!