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Tech Tip: Question Breaking In a rope for best results

Discussion in 'Tech Tips and Gear' started by ratagonia, Apr 24, 2014.

  1. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Question: I just purchased a 240 ft Canyon Fire rope, and wanted to inquire if there is a break in process as I have never owned a static rope before. Are you supposed to soak the static ropes the same way as a climbing rope? Is there any other recommendations you have to increase the longevity of a new rope?

    Answer:
    Yes. For best performance, it is good to soak the rope in water and dry it maybe 3 times, which tightens the sheath to the core, preventing sheath slippage and generally setting up the rope for best performance.

    (And, this is NOT done with dynamic climbing ropes!!!)

    My recommendation for increasing the longevity is to not screw up. Ropes die not from "use", but from making mistakes - basically, putting it on an edge and rappelling on it that causes a blemish, that becomes a core-shot. So, don't do that! Sometimes these edges are unavoidable, in which case the rope can be moved after every rappeller, or creeped while people are rapping; or padded so the edge does not frak up the rope.

    Tom
    [​IMG]

    (Other suggestions????)
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2015
  2. 2065toyota

    2065toyota

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    I have bought one sterling rope and one bluewater rope and they have both been retired before any of my Imlay ropes. Maybe just bad luck or coincidence but my imlay ropes are a little stiffer but seem to last way longer


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  3. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Thank you.

    I hate to say it, but many people have the opposite experience. There is such a thing as confirmation bias, especially in the "retail therapy" domain.

    Tom
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  4. Bootboy

    Bootboy Atwood Gear

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    My only other suggestion would be to go out and use it.


    LNT
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  5. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    I have found that the first ride on a new rope is often the fastest. It usually only takes one descent to "break it in", i.e. take the speed out. Suggestion, especially when it's a long rap, have an experienced person take that first ride.

    Tom can probably explain why this is, I have my own thoughts, but it's only conjecture.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2014
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  6. Mountaineer

    Mountaineer Is that an X slot?

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    Interesting. I found the same thing with my Canyon Extreme. Super fast the first couple of trips, now not as much so.
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  7. Rapterman

    Rapterman

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    New ropes, especially those with polyester sheaths (Imlay ropes, Bluewater Canyon Pro) are 'more slippery' when brand new and even more so when new and wet. This is one of the reasons we created the CRITR rappel device: it is easy to change the friction to account for this; and the new/slippery condition now yields a VERY smooth and easy to control rappel.
    So, ropes (in new condition) that used to scare the ------out of people:eek: can be as docile as ropes that are 'seasoned' by a few canyons.
    We have not had any sheath slippage issues at all with Imlay ropes on the CRITR.
    Just took a brand new Canyon Fire 8.3mm thru Ice Cube (Las Vegas) this weekend and it was SWEET:D.
    Carl CRITR Canyon Fire Ice Cube.
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  8. Rapterman

    Rapterman

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    Picture: Carl / CRITR / Canyon Fire / 'Cube!
  9. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    Copy that.

    I have also found this to be true with nylon rope as well, since polyester makes up only about 15% of my rope inventory.

    Looking forward to trying out the CRITR this weekend. I'm going to be testing on a variety of rope types and sizes - will report back... on the CRITR thread.
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  10. hank moon

    hank moon kinetically bulbous

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    The fibers of a new rope are lightly coated with lubricants from manufacturing. This reduces rope friction in your device and hand, as well as internal (fiber-on-fiber) rope friction, so a new rope is extra speedy until that lube gets washed out by use (or soaking).

    Note: internal friction has a major influence on rope stiffness, which in turn has an effect on braking in the rappel device. In most devices used for canyoneering, the stiffer the rope, the more braking obtained by the device (more force required to bend the rope in the device).
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2016
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  11. Brian in SLC

    Brian in SLC Brian in SLC

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    Say what? You're supposed to soak a climbing rope in water to "break it in"? I've never heard of that. And, a quick search of several rope manufacturers doesn't mention that either.

    I think the last thing you'd want for a climbing rope is for it to "tighten the sheath to the core".

    I guess I'm calling BS on this. Credible reference?
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  12. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Surprised me too. Just a miscellaneous customer. I had heard it from Hank in regard to static ropes, but never dynamic climbing ropes.

    And, fair to say, dynamic ropes and static ropes are very different animals.

    Tom
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2014
  13. hank moon

    hank moon kinetically bulbous

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    The soak is for static ropes only. especially useful with more flexible static ropes to reduce sheath slippage. My soak method: immerse the rope in cold tap water (in a clean garbage can or the like), agitate a bit to get the air out, soak overnight, remove rope, hang to dry.

    Never heard of anyone soaking a climbing rope.

    BTW, some cavers use fabric softener on their static ropes to restore flexibility. The practice was somewhat common until someone (Bruce Smith, I think) did a study and found that too much softener did permanent damage to the rope. Then the practice got less popular...though using a small/correct amount of softener was actually beneficial.
    Last edited: May 4, 2014
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  14. Bootboy

    Bootboy Atwood Gear

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    Well, we all know that cavers are nucking futs anyway... ;)


    LNT
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  15. hank moon

    hank moon kinetically bulbous

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    Note: new rope often kinks or twists on the first X rappels. X is minimized by doing full-rope-length rappels on the new rope. After 10 or so of those, the kinks should be worked out.
  16. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    I concur.

    Question: I'm curious if you (or others) have found a significant difference in rappelling the same direction on a rope; i.e. does it make a noticeable difference as to the "kinking/core twist" problem getting better, worse, or about the same?
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  17. hank moon

    hank moon kinetically bulbous

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    http://cncc.org.uk/technical-group/rope-care.php

    New Ropes

    There are two reasons why new ropes are best washed before use. Washing removes the anti-static lubricants used in manufacture and also shrinks the rope. This serves to compact the sheath and tighten it onto the core, stabilising the rope and perhaps improving it's wearing properties a little. Soak the rope in clean water, drain and squeeze out surplus water by pulling the rope through an anchored descender. Repeat process two or three times, each time pulling the rope through the descender in the same direction. Hang the rope up to dry for a few days. Later cut off any loose sheath that may have crept along the rope and melt the ends to prevent any unravelling. This procedure helps prevent sheath slippage during the initial few trips until sheath and core are properly bedded.

    With some softer constructions, the manufacturers find it difficult to match the sheath and core tensions exactly, so especially when used for abseiling, the sheath slips a little in relation to the core. This is not much of a problem. For the first few trips just ensure that the rope is rigged with the same end at the top, so the excess sheath bunches at the bottom. When satisfied that no further slippage is taking place, cut off the surplus sheath and re-melt the end. This simple procedure has no affect on the general properties of the rope.

    When first soaked all ropes, particularly nylon ropes, can be expected to shrink by various amounts up to 8 or 10%. Obviously it is as well to roughly determine the shrinkage before cutting and marking ropes for length. Never the less, the rope will continue to shrink (at a much lower rate) throughout it's life, mainly due to the effects of the mud which inevitably penetrates the sheath. So it is unwise to place too much reliance on the length marked. New ropes are better in longer lengths. Later they can be cut into shorter pieces, perhaps at a damaged section, or to provide a short (mid-rope) sample for periodic testing.
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  18. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Hmmm. Interesting conjecture as to why... BOGUS, but interesting.

    Tom
  19. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    Rope Maintenance: Occasionally ropes need to be cleaned. I soak mine in my old cooler for a few hours, then thrash it around and drain out... repeat until the water comes out somewhat clean. Hang in the shade to dry.

    If your rope has gotten really stiff, you can put it in your cooler with a capful or two of fabric softener. Soak a bit, then hang it up to dry.

    Tom
  20. Cameron

    Cameron Long Tall Texan by birth

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    I have a 300 foot 8mm Imlay rope.....I bought for an adventure coming up soon.

    Went out to do some rappels today and man its a stiffy......normally isn't something I complain about but it holds the kinks more than any Imlay rope that I have bought.

    How much does soaking help this? I ask because we are going out Sunday and if I soak overnight.....then it has to dry tomorrow...only leaving Saturday to do some rappels on it.......or should I just take it out the next few day and do a bunch of raps on it.
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