Old Rope

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Old Rope

Postby hunter » Oct 26, 2005 2:43 pm

All,
Never started a thread so hopefully this works right...

The suggestion was made on another thread to start one on old caving rope. I understand that such a thread was lost with the old board.

Anyway, I'm curious what experience people have with testing old caving ropes, how old were they and what did they fail at? I've always retired rope due to physical damage instead of age but having recently run across a 20 year old rope (which we did not use) I'm kind of curious what experiences people have had with older ropes. Gear manufacturers always seem to go for about a 5 year shelf life but I see a big incentive for them to recommend frequent replacement.

Thanks,
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30 year old rope

Postby rrobins » Oct 26, 2005 8:01 pm

I can't offer any real testing information but I have a 300 foot piece of Bluewater II from the mid-seventies that never had a chance to be used in cave before my rapidly growing family took precedence over caving. Twenty years later I dug it out and used about 25 feet tied to my van to yank out the roots from a row of very stubborn old yews -- the rope had core failure right at the end of the job but the sheath held and all the roots came out. :twisted: [make that a 275 foot piece]

In deference to people who are worried about old rope I just use it for climbing practice with a pulley, rack and convenient tree -- allows for a nice 200 foot climb ten feet off the ground. I have offered it up a few times when rope was needed but always made sure to say how old it was and my offers were always declined. :grin:

It's been well taken care of over the years and still looks almost new - it's in better shape than many well worn project ropes I have used and I wouldn't be concerned about using it in cave if I really needed to.
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Old rope concerns

Postby Ernie Coffman » Oct 26, 2005 11:03 pm

Believe Bruce Smith did a study on old ropes a number of years ago. He might have put that info in Nylon Highway, now that I think about it. I do know that he shared some of the info at one of the Vertical Section meetings...way back when. :lol:
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Postby Cheryl Jones » Oct 26, 2005 11:33 pm

See http://www.caves.org/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=760#760
Scroll down 5 posts to Hank Moon's.

15. The suggested lifespan of 10 years which has been given for ropes is to help the user determine lifespan . However, after contact with ICI it was found that although after 10 years there was a measurable degradation in nylon (not just in ropes, but all nylon textiles) ageing itself would not cause a rope to break, unless it was loaded over a sharp edge.
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Postby Ralph E. Powers » Oct 29, 2005 1:32 am

Cheryl Jones wrote:See http://www.caves.org/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=760#760
Scroll down 5 posts to Hank Moon's.

15. The suggested lifespan of 10 years which has been given for ropes is to help the user determine lifespan . However, after contact with ICI it was found that although after 10 years there was a measurable degradation in nylon (not just in ropes, but all nylon textiles) ageing itself would not cause a rope to break, unless it was loaded over a sharp edge.

Ok so this is saying if the "sharp edge" was nicely padded (say with a piece of shag carpeting or several layers (thick) of canvas then it should be okay?
Hmm, I wonder...
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Postby southernjoel » Nov 3, 2005 11:19 am

Any ideas of ways I could use an old dynamic rope?

I have a 6-7yr old 11mm dynamic rope that is in good condition. It was only used top-roping a handful of times the first 2 years after I purchased it and has been in proper storage every since.

Could I make some cowstails out of it or get some other use?
I have head some folks retire theirs from climbing and use it only for rappelling. Just curious what would be considered safe options.
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Postby Phil Winkler » Nov 3, 2005 12:01 pm

Joel,

If that rope has never had a significant shock load I wouldn't retire it all. It is still well within its life span.
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Postby hunter » Nov 3, 2005 3:32 pm

Joel,
I would second Phil's statement. Ten years old I might wonder a bit but I would worry more about damage than age, especially if you aren't taking whippers on the rope.

On your question though, it's a bit of effort but a lot of climbers make old ropes into rugs. I also see climbers who keep an old rope in there truck for emergency towing. I don't like the stretch factor but I've seen some very stuck vehicles pulled out on a climbing rope.(this always gives me faith in just how tough equipment is)

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Postby NZcaver » Nov 4, 2005 2:24 am

I'm not sure about rugs, but I've seen some cool door mats made from ropes 8)

If you use old ropes for towing, I suggest you double or quadruple them. I've found static rope fairly good for towing a sick vehicle along the road, but dynamic rope could be useful if you're into 4-wheeling. I imagine it would work similar to a snatch-strap. The tow vehicle punches the gas, causing the tow rope to stretch and then quickly "snap" the stuck vehicle out of the mud/creek/mine shaft. Done it many times, and it works well. Never actually tried it with a climbing rope, but there's a first time for everything :wink:

But before you retire that 7 year old rope and start towing with it, I would go ahead and use it for cowstails or practicing ropework close to the ground. I frequently used a caving rope belonging to a friend that got up to about 15 years old before he finally retired it (I think he retired it - for all I know he still uses that rope, which would make it 25 years old by now... :shock: ). Anyway - after about 10 years, he would chop a piece off the end each year and do some drop tests using a 200lb weight. As long as it survived at least a couple of fall factor 1's - he was happy. :grin:

As already mentioned, check out Hank's post about what kills rope. It's under "aluminum deposits on rope", page 1. It makes fascinating reading. :bow:
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