Rappelling question. Why a rack insitead of a Fig 8

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Re: Rappelling question. Why a rack insitead of a Fig 8

Postby wyandottecaver » Jun 24, 2008 5:05 pm

I much prefer my stainless long micro rack with hyperbars for most drops. I also own a SMC decent control 8 that is awesome. I hated 8's until I used it. I have used that 8 for hundreds of drops on very skanky rope and have yet to notice appreciable wear. Of course I don't free-fall on it either :big grin:
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Re: Rappelling question. Why a rack insitead of a Fig 8

Postby ek » Jun 25, 2008 12:57 pm

Evan wrote:Remember when working with friction devices a problem can be "heat". A fig. 8 cannot disperse the heat as fast as a rack thus racks are better on longer drops. The more dirty and stiff a rope is the more friction is created thus the more heat.

Racks are much better than figure 8's at dissipating heat...but the total amount of heat generated rappelling in caving is not different than when rappelling the same distance rock climbing. However, as this is off-topic, I will create a new thread to discuss this.

Evan wrote:Personally I prefer a micro rack or other in caving and leave the fig. eight for climbing.

wyandottecaver wrote:I much prefer my stainless long micro rack with hyperbars for most drops.

Yes, I use a 10" (a.k.a. "long-frame") BMS micro-rack, and I have been very happy with it. They are less suited to long drops, say, of over 500ft. If you're very light, they will be less suited to somewhat shorter drops. If you're very heavy, they will be slightly less bad for the longer drops.

The longest I have rappelled with a microrack is 437' in Surprise Pit (Fern Cave, Alabama). I had no trouble moving, even at the top. I weigh 145lbs.
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Re: Rappelling question. Why a rack insitead of a Fig 8

Postby Tim White » Jun 25, 2008 1:07 pm

ek wrote:The longest I have rappelled with a microrack is 437' in Surprise Pit (Fern Cave, Alabama). I had no trouble moving, even at the top. I weigh 145lbs.


That's 404' from the current rig point. :waving: Just had to razz you a bit ek. :razz:

Sorry... :off topic:
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Re: Rappelling question. Why a rack insitead of a Fig 8

Postby ek » Jun 25, 2008 1:18 pm

Going around the edge to the big landing with the mud sculptures and the many bolts with homemade-looking hangers, it's 404'?

Darn it!

Well, at least I did the drop twice that day.

Sometimes the truth hurts. I thank you for bringing this to my attention, Tim.
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Re: Rappelling question. Why a rack insitead of a Fig 8

Postby Chads93GT » Jun 25, 2008 9:42 pm

Whats the diff between a micro rack and a..............rack? lol. Im guessing the size right? I seriously doubt there are any super deep holes around here. but I guess I will find out before I buy one.
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Re: Rappelling question. Why a rack insitead of a Fig 8

Postby ek » Jun 25, 2008 10:25 pm

There are different styles of rack. The two styles that are most common--and, most people will tell you, generally best--are the J-rack and the micro-rack. A J-rack looks like this:

https://commerce.infoage.us/Bluewater/U ... 618121.jpg

A micro-rack looks like this:

http://www.bmsrescue.com/microrak.jpg

The micro-rack is smaller and lighter, way faster to hard-lock securely, and faster to vary friction (with the hyper-bar), though the range of adjustability in friction is lower. Except in cases of long drops, almost everyone I know who has tried a micro-rack has loved it and avoided the J-rack since. Of course, my experience is skewed and by no means universal--I believe that the J-rack is still enormously more popular in the United States.
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Re: Rappelling question. Why a rack insitead of a Fig 8

Postby NZcaver » Jun 26, 2008 3:22 am

ek wrote:There are different styles of rack. The two styles that are most common--and, most people will tell you, generally best--are the J-rack and the micro-rack.

Correction... technically that would be the J-rack and the U-rack. :wink: I believe the term "micro rack" was coined in the US (possibly by Mr. Bassett himself?) to describe the narrow, single rope version U-rack which has become so popular here now in all its variations. You can also find other U-racks of various designs around the world which have been popular with cavers for decades.

Chads93GT wrote:Great info. Looks like I should buy a rack before dropping into that 170 foot pit then ehh ;)

Do you guys have any suggestions for a brand? I kind of liked the Petzel unit as it had a $70 price tag. Any suggestions?

I agree with Evan's suggestion to consider an SMC rack over a Petzl. Or consider a BMS micro, or a CMI. In my experience very few cavers in the US seem to use a Petzl rack as most prefer their US-made models, often with stainless bars. Not to confuse the issue, but Figure 8's and racks aren't the only descender choices either. Some cavers choose to use bobbin descenders like the Petzl Simple, or autostop bobbins like the Petzl Stop. I know several people who have posted in this topic own a Stop in addition to their rack(s), including me.

This brings up my final point. You'll find many cavers out there own multiple descenders and other spare gear, and most are only too happy to pamper you with good advice and let you try their toys. Just ask some of these local cavers you've hooked up with, and you're likely to find some gear-head who would be glad to teach/guide you and loan you some gear for at least your first trip. This serves 3 purposes - being advised in person about the gear from someone who knows how to use it, trying it out yourself before you buy, and saving your money until you're happier parting with your hard-earned dollars because you know what you want. Good luck!
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Re: Rappelling question. Why a rack insitead of a Fig 8

Postby Ralph E. Powers » Jun 26, 2008 8:39 am

NZcaver wrote: This serves 3 purposes - being advised in person about the gear from someone who knows how to use it, trying it out yourself before you buy, and saving your money until you're happier parting with your hard-earned dollars because you know what you want. Good luck!

Yes definitely try before you buy. I've been finding myself disconcerted a bit at SOME sales people at SOME stores that sell climbing gear that end up not knowing what they're talking about when trying to sell these thing-a-m'bobs and doohickeys. They will try to sell this over that without really understanding why or understanding the reason why device A is probably better than device B for C application.

Trying before you buy also has a 4th benefit... you make a new friend. :big grin:
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Re: Rappelling question. Why a rack insitead of a Fig 8

Postby JoeyS » Jun 26, 2008 9:06 am

Chads93GT wrote:Do you guys have any suggestions for a brand? I kind of liked the Petzel unit as it had a $70 price tag. Any suggestions?


I recently purchased a "J-frame" rack from a caving vendor for 60 dollars. It is a CMI brand, I think the model is called a "sport rack" with tie-off bar. I can't seem to find it online at this price, but I've seen it for less than 80.00. I've only used it twice now, and once to bounce that 437 foot pit in north Alabama. :laughing:
I would stay away from the Petzl rack and spend a few more dollars and get a welded-eye 6 bar rack; it is just more versatile.
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Re: Rappelling question. Why a rack insitead of a Fig 8

Postby Ralph E. Powers » Jun 26, 2008 9:58 am

JoeyS wrote:
Chads93GT wrote:Do you guys have any suggestions for a brand? I kind of liked the Petzel unit as it had a $70 price tag. Any suggestions?


I recently purchased a "J-frame" rack from a caving vendor for 60 dollars. It is a CMI brand, I think the model is called a "sport rack" with tie-off bar. I can't seem to find it online at this price, but I've seen it for less than 80.00. I've only used it twice now, and once to bounce that 437 foot pit in north Alabama. :laughing:
I would stay away from the Petzl rack and spend a few more dollars and get a welded-eye 6 bar rack; it is just more versatile.

The Petzl rack is probably better for experienced users since it has a way of threading that if done wrong can be disastrous. The push in Main Drain Cave (-1230') was done partially by using the Petzl mini without incident. Petzl simples and full size racks were also the norm for exploring the cave's deep pits.
I've been using for years the full sized SMC stainless J with 6 bars and only recently got rid of the bottom 6th bar and replaced the top 1st bar with a hyperbar bought at OnRope1 (there's a link at the NSS main site). In so far I like the hyperbar for ease of tie-offs and additional friction. I still have 6 bars total on the rack frame.

As pricey as any of these devices may seem, take heart. If you care well for them they'll last for YEARS and the bars, depending upon the type of caves (muddy or dry) you explore in will likewise give you a lot of good use before needing replacement. So it's a good investment over the long term. As a "poor-man's caver" it's one of the things that attracted me to caving... the long wear and infrequent need to replace gear makes any purchase of a quality item a good investment.
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Re: Rappelling question. Why a rack insitead of a Fig 8

Postby George Dasher » Jun 26, 2008 10:30 am

Rack: Heavier and bigger, much safer on long drops or with a long of equipment, and you can vary the friction.

Eight: Lighter and smaller, pretty much idiot proof, may twist the rope, not safe on really long, freefall drops, and can be used as a stitch plate.

I get tired of long answers.

:doh:
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Re: Rappelling question. Why a rack insitead of a Fig 8

Postby ek » Jun 26, 2008 2:05 pm

Ralph E. Powers wrote:The Petzl rack is probably better for experienced users since it has a way of threading that if done wrong can be disastrous.

Actually, the Petzl rack distinguishes itself from most racks by making it extremely unlikely that you will thread it backwards. The second bar doesn't clip to the frame, so if you try to thread it backwards the second bar will come off immediately as you thread it, telling you that you've done it wrong.

All racks, if threaded backwards, will drop you to your likely death once weighted. Always make sure the rope is pushing the bars closed rather than open.
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