Literature about the aging of vertical gear?

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Literature about the aging of vertical gear?

Postby Despelunking » Oct 25, 2014 9:54 pm

I've found information on the aging of rope, but could anyone point me to any literature on the aging of things like racks, descenders, ascenders, etc.? Essentially, all of the metallic gear.
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Re: Literature about the aging of vertical gear?

Postby potholer » Oct 26, 2014 7:21 am

Despelunking wrote:I've found information on the aging of rope, but could anyone point me to any literature on the aging of things like racks, descenders, ascenders, etc.? Essentially, all of the metallic gear.

Are you looking for information on how metal gear gets to the point of being considered to be in need of retirement (typically wear, corrosion, or damage from other than normal use), or specifically for the effect time on its own might have?

To a first approximation, one could say it doesn't meaningfully age as such - in the absence of a rigid organisational retirement policy, much metal gear from many manufacturers is considered to be essentially of indefinite life.
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Re: Literature about the aging of vertical gear?

Postby Despelunking » Oct 27, 2014 10:44 am

Yes, I wanted to know about potential retirement due to aging. Thank you.
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Re: Literature about the aging of vertical gear?

Postby Scott McCrea » Oct 27, 2014 10:52 am

It depends. Most hard gear will last a long time. It may even outlast many cavers. Generally, hard gear does not suffer from aging. Usually, it's wear and tear. However, gear with springs (ascenders, biners, etc), the springs may break or lose springiness. Ascender bodies, where the rope rubs, can wear a groove into the shell. Rack bars wear down. Plastic, nylon, poly, etc will weaken with age. Metal, usually not.
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Re: Literature about the aging of vertical gear?

Postby paul » Oct 28, 2014 7:14 am

Scott McCrea wrote:It depends. Most hard gear will last a long time. It may even outlast many cavers. Generally, hard gear does not suffer from aging. Usually, it's wear and tear. However, gear with springs (ascenders, biners, etc), the springs may break or lose springiness. Ascender bodies, where the rope rubs, can wear a groove into the shell. Rack bars wear down. Plastic, nylon, poly, etc will weaken with age. Metal, usually not.


Generally I think you are right. BUT not if the metal suffers from corrosion. I only thought of this because someone left an ancient Gibbs ascender lying around near where we usually get changed for a popular local cave and it is very corroded and is only of scrap value now.

I have some very old carabiners (bought for rock climbing back in the 1980s) and I sometimes wonder if the pins on the gates maybe have suffered from corrosion over the years. They are very small and not easy to check for any corrosion. These pins play an important part in the overall strength of a carabiner when the gate is closed.
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Re: Literature about the aging of vertical gear?

Postby Despelunking » Oct 29, 2014 9:28 am

Thanks for your comments. As far as ropes are concerned, I find conflicting information in the literature. Some people claim you should simply retire rope after X number of years regardless of its history and how it looks. Others claim that rope only suffers degradation through usage or exposure to harsh environmental conditions.

I received a donation of a considerable amount of static rope. It hasn't been used since the nineties, but it's been stored in a cool, dark, dry place with good ventilation and the visual inspection shows that both the sheath and core are still in good shape. Should I send some of it out for shock testing anyway?
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