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SQWUREL concern

Discussion in 'Tech Tips and Gear' started by Tirrus, Mar 6, 2016.

  1. Tirrus

    Tirrus Rope rider.

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    I've been using the SQWUREL now for about twenty canyons or so, maybe 150 rappels. Aside from rope twist, I have thoroughly enjoyed the device. I rappel mostly left handed, but alternate right and left occasionally. The wear on the device has reflected this.

    Here is an observation, and I was hoping to get some input and discussion.

    With the nearly even wear toward the "nose" of the device on the throat, I noticed a self sharpening edge develop.

    image.

    image.

    We all know how easily a rope can cut under tension, and when rigged properly this edge doesn't appear to be a problem. The rope never sits weighted on the sharp edge.

    image.

    If rigged improperly, simply flipping the bite so the brake strand is toward the nose, that sharp edge sits weighted directly on your lifeline. I'll be the first to admit how easy it is to accidentally rig this way, as it has happened to me.

    image. image.



    I can see how easy it would be to just get on rappel in this configuration without realizing.

    Thoughts?
  2. Bootboy

    Bootboy Atwood Gear

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    Wow, certainly something to pay close attention to. Perhaps the development of that cutting edge indicates the end of its service life. Ive seen a badly worn ATC mis-rigged that resulted in a core shot, no bueno.

    I don't like the idea of a piece of gear that when worn and when rigged improperly could potentially cut a rope, that without wear would be a harmless error
  3. Tirrus

    Tirrus Rope rider.

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    As a side note, I have retired the device. Which seems a shame, as the major rope contact areas are beefed up to accommodate for wear, and still have much life left.
  4. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    This seems essentially totally obscure. Yes, if I rig my sqwurell with my knife tucked into the tail, it might cut the rope... but why would I EVER rig my Sqwurrel in this way? May I suggest that you would do best to rig your rappel device properly EACH and EVERY time you use it? Is that crazy? I think if you cannot do THAT, then... perhaps a different activity is in order.

    Tom
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  5. Tirrus

    Tirrus Rope rider.

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    Fair enough Tom, I'm simply pointing out a wear pattern that might potentially cause an injury. Every first timer with a figure 8 can attest to how easy it is to accidentally rig wrong handed. Besides having a sharp edge of any kind near a tensioned rope is something to avoid.

    I admit the likelyness of a catostrophic failure here is nominal. But I'll be conducting some tests to see if I can get it to fail non the less.
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  6. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    It is not rigging it left vs. right handed. It is about rigging it upsidedown and backwards, unless you are rappelling UP the rope???

    Tom
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  7. Zach Olson

    Zach Olson

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    There are innumerable ways to mis-rig, mis-tie, etc... resulting in catastrophe. Of course that's the reason for partner checks and other redundencies when rigging, building anchors, yada yada.

    That being said I would rather not have a knife edge anywhere in my system and especially not kissing my lifeline when rigged correctly. Perhaps the best practice to prevent that kind of wear would be to only (or mostly) only rappel right (or left) handed? Not switch back and forth? Just to extend the life of the device if for nothing else.
  8. Tirrus

    Tirrus Rope rider.

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    Seen here, Luke does recommend retirement if any sharp edges are found during inspection. I believe this qualifies.



    image.
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  9. townsend

    townsend

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    My thoughts as well. For most situations, we normally rappel with our dominant hands (I'm left-handed as well) as the brake hand. If that would be safer in the long course, and extend the life of the device, I really can't see that as a "fault" of the device.

    I am also curious if this "issue" would come up on other rappel devices . . .
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  10. Rapterman

    Rapterman

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    As a side note:
    The CRITR2 has a very different (symmetrical) architecture and we recommend you turn it over frequently
    in sandy conditions as this helps to smooth out sharp edges.
    All devices will eventually wear out. Extended wear tends to generate sharp edges.
    On the plus side you can see from the photos that the SQWUREL has generous reinforcement in the high wear areas,
    which will keep you going a long time.
    :thumbsup:
  11. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    If you look at the pictures, what Tirrus was concerned about was when the rappel device was rigged completely wrong. Like a Critter head down, or an ATC cup side up. While I realize that fools should never be underestimated, this seems implausible. It is quite a bit beyond left and right.

    Tom
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  12. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    Copy that!
    And people who rig their gear wonky, have a lot more to be concerned about than wear spots.

    Given this level of wear, I agree the risks are still minimal, approaching improbable, for failure. The exception being an awkward or twisted start / maneuver. Inverting forward could be a dangerous scenario on gear with that kind of wear. But again, highly unlikely.
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  13. Tirrus

    Tirrus Rope rider.

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    Several of the photos are showing the device from the back side to highlight the contact with the sharp edge, but I assure you the only miss rigging here is a simple flip of the bite. Which places the brake strand toward the nose vs the tail.

    Rigged correctly:
    image.

    Rigged incorrectly with brake strand on the right:

    image.
  14. Deagol

    Deagol too many hobbies

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    sort of off-topic, but it is amazing how fast a gritty rope can wear through a rappel device made out of aluminum. I noticed a huge difference with just a single rappel on a gritty rope in the past.

    I want to invent something you can hold on your brake strand that pre-cleans the rope of grit before it goes into your device (only half joking)

    Another half-cocked idea: it would be cool to have a location we could send retired rappel devices to where the metal could be recycled into new rappel devices... (I have no idea if this would actually work metallurgically speaking)
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2016
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  15. ratagonia

    ratagonia

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    First, let me apologize for being so adamant. You DO bring up a good point, and there is an issue where flipping the device left and right regularly will result in a sharp edge that does not otherwise form. And while the rope does not run across this edge, it does run along it in a way that a bumpy spot on the rope could catch and rip the sheath. Stranger things have happened. This does not seem to be the problem you are focusing on.

    Second, let me disagree with you that the mis-rigging you show above is at all likely.

    Every rappel device has a FEW things that you absolutely must know in order to use it. On an ATC, the cup side goes down, against the carabiner. On a Pirana, the carabiner goes in the very small hole, and the rope goes INTO the carabiner. etc. On the Sqwurel, the key point is that the tail of the rope goes on the side with the "ladder". NOT doing this essentially is like rigging an ATC cup-side up. NOT doing this results in very little friction in almost all circumstances and would put the rappeller ON THE GROUND immediately. So I don't think the rope cutting across the edge on a due-to-be-retired, left-and-right-used Sqwurell is the primary concern here - the primary concern is the total lack of competence on the part of the rappeller. And how to get them out of the canyon with two broken legs... ;-(

    I hope people do not hand other people rappel devices with no instruction. I hope people do not use devices they have not used before without at least a bit of instruction, or at least figuring out how it works.

    Tom
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  16. Tirrus

    Tirrus Rope rider.

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    I don't disagree on any particular point. The device is excellent when used and rigged properly, and I agree that the rappeler should be well versed and competent in the correct use of every piece of gear they bring into a canyon. With that said, increasing awareness of what could happen IF you do something a certain way, good or bad, is a big part of why this community exists.
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  17. Mountaineer

    Mountaineer Is that an X slot?

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    Agree, thanks for posting. Questions, training, and corrective techniques improves everyone's safety.

    My SQWUREL is showing a lot of wear/grooves, as I've thought about asking for a heavier steel version. I like the device, however failing the left handed trick may give a shorter life compared to the ATS.
  18. Jeff Randall

    Jeff Randall

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    I would never go as far to say that something can't be mis-rigged, no matter how many times someone's rigged a particular device. That's sort of like saying that a competent shooter will never have an ND. The best rescuers and the best shooters in the industry all make make mistakes. There are way too many variables in any sport to think otherwise.
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  19. Kuenn

    Kuenn

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    Very true. The unfortunate difference is, for some sports there are mistakes you don't walk away from.
  20. Mike Zampino

    Mike Zampino Canyon season never ends.

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    Rigging it incorrectly and rapping on an incorrect rigging are two different things. I would hope the later would never happen between others inspections or your own inspection/check-off before you commit yourself over the edge.
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