Rack Eyes and Attachment

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Rack Eyes and Attachment

Postby driggs » Jun 27, 2006 9:17 pm

I'm considering purchasing a large J-rack for large drops (TAG, bridge day... not El Cap!) and I'm confused by the two options for rack eyes. Available are:

- "straight" eye, where the eye itself is parallel to the brake bars

- 90deg rotated eye, where the eye itself is perpendicular to the brake bars

So, for larger drops, is it preferable to rappel with the brake bars horizontal (looking at the bars with the rope over/under) or vertical (looking at the side of the rack with the rope feeding side to side)? On Rope implies that the vertical positioning aids in adding/removing bars.

Is it preferable to attach a J-rack directly to the harness D-ring, or is it recommended to use an intermediate 'biner/screwlink between the rack and D-ring? I like being able to remove a rack after changeover, but don't look forward to making changeovers even more difficult with added length.

It seems that both of these questions would affect which eye style to purchase.
Last edited by driggs on Jun 27, 2006 11:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby fuzzy-hair-man » Jun 27, 2006 9:36 pm

I think with the eyes / orientation it's largely personal preference.

There are reasons to be able to get your descender off your main maillon (NZCaver has mentioned some in here)

Not sure how having the side of the rack frame facing you helps with adding and removing bars :question: but I am not a rack person anyway.
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Re: Rack Eyes and Attachment

Postby mgmills » Jun 27, 2006 10:01 pm

driggs wrote:I'm considering purchasing a large J-rack for large drops (TAG, bridge day... not El Cap!) and I'm confused by the two options for rack eyes. Available are:

- "straight" eye, where the eye itself is parallel to the brake bars

- 90deg rotated eye, where the eye itself is perpendicular to the brake bars

So, for larger drops, is it preferable to rappel with the brake bars horizontal (looking at the bars with the rope over/under) or vertical (looking at the side of the rack with the rope feeding side to side)? On Rope implies that the vertical positioning aids in adding/removing bars.

Is it preferable to attach a J-rack directly to the harness D-ring, or is it recommended to use an intermediate 'biner/screwlink between the rack and D-ring? I like being able to remove a rack after changeover, but don't look forward to making changeovers even more difficult with added length.

It seems that both of these questions would affect which eye style to purchase.


The type of harness will also be a factor in the rack orientation.
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Postby Scott McCrea » Jun 27, 2006 10:13 pm

Proper rack orientation is perpendicular to your body (looking at the side of the rack).

Your harness determines which style of rack (straight or twisted) you need. Assuming you have link (biner, screwlink, etc) between your harness and rack, caving harnesses with a D-link flat against your belly require a twisted rack. Each link added or taken away between your harness and rack will change the orientation. So, you have to determine the number of links and imagine how the rack will ride. Then, buy the appropriate rack.

If you are using a ropewalker, you should put a biner/link between your rack and D-ring. The extra 'slop' created by the link is sometimes necessary when changing over with a RW. It's difficult to explain quickly, so just trust me for now. Being able to leave it on is still an option with a link.
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Postby cob » Jun 28, 2006 7:58 pm

Scott McCrea wrote:Proper rack orientation is perpendicular to your body (looking at the side of the rack).

Your harness determines which style of rack (straight or twisted) you need. Assuming you have link (biner, screwlink, etc) between your harness and rack, caving harnesses with a D-link flat against your belly require a twisted rack. Each link added or taken away between your harness and rack will change the orientation. So, you have to determine the number of links and imagine how the rack will ride. Then, buy the appropriate rack.

If you are using a ropewalker, you should put a biner/link between your rack and D-ring. The extra 'slop' created by the link is sometimes necessary when changing over with a RW. It's difficult to explain quickly, so just trust me for now. Being able to leave it on is still an option with a link.


Another opinion...

I have always felt that looking at the side of the rack would make it easier (don't ask, just trust me and scott on this) BUT... A point of difference between my and scotts pts of view: The fewer links you have between you and the rack... the fewer things to break. Not saying scott is wrong, not saying I am right... just saying I am a firm believer in the KISS principle: Keep It Simple Stupid.

Served me well over the years, may it serve you well too.

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Postby Scott McCrea » Jun 28, 2006 8:50 pm

cob wrote:...I am a firm believer in the KISS principle


Actually, I am too. It is my religion.

But, I don't like getting stuck on rope either. If you are changing over while using a ropewalker and don't have a biner or a link between your D-ring and rack, you could get stuck.

This happens when you rig your rack (without a link) while hanging from an upper ascender and you use your knee ascender (or foot) to stand up and release the upper ascender. The knee will pull down on the rack pushing the eye against the D-ring. The D-ring is pushed down thus pulling on the upper ascender making it impossible to remove. The only way out is to step onto a seperate upper ascender (or prusik) attached above the rack. Or you can step on something that is not attached to the rope, like a ledge. Or you can do a one arm pull-up.

To over simplify this, basically the lower ascender pulls against the upper, which allows no slack to remove the upper. A link added between the rack and the D allows enough slop to get slack in the upper.

If you want to test this, do it close to the ground and with a ladder handy.
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Postby hank moon » Jun 28, 2006 9:57 pm

cob wrote:the KISS principle: Keep It Simple Stupid.


isn't "keep it super simple" a more powerful statement? :-)

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Postby mgmills » Jun 28, 2006 10:11 pm

hank moon wrote:
cob wrote:the KISS principle: Keep It Simple Stupid.


isn't "keep it super simple" a more powerful statement? :-)


Hank, I like your :kiss: acronym better . . . I've always heard it the way "cob" posted it but your's is nicer.

Regarding the rack attachment. I like using a 'biner or screw link.

I've tried attaching the rack directly to my d-ring that I use to fasten my harness but don't like it that way. Where I live we have many multi-drop caves and I like being able to take the rack off my harness between drops. Being able to remove the rack makes it much more pleasant when negotiating crawls and climbs.
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Postby NZcaver » Jun 28, 2006 11:40 pm

Scott McCrea wrote:Proper rack orientation is perpendicular to your body (looking at the side of the rack).

cob wrote:The fewer links you have between you and the rack... the fewer things to break.


Both perfectly valid opinions. However, I would suggest that "proper" rack orientation could go either way - perpendicular to the body, or parallel. Personally, I prefer parallel.

And though I believe the common "standard" is using a maillon (or carabiner) between the descender and the harness maillon (or directly into the harness if it's a non-maillon harness) - I do know many who attach the descender directly to their harness maillon. I wouldn't presume to say they are necessarily wrong, because (despite some pros and cons) in general it's safe and it works.

For what it's worth, my full-sized and smaller racks are all "straight-eye" type - which I connect to my harness D-maillon with a maillon or carabiner.

Seems to work fine... :grin:

And PS - perhaps a more appropriate interpretation of KISS :kiss: for vertical caving is "Keep it Simple and Safe" :woohoo:
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Postby cob » Jun 29, 2006 8:50 pm

mgmills wrote:
hank moon wrote:
cob wrote:the KISS principle: Keep It Simple Stupid.


isn't "keep it super simple" a more powerful statement? :-)


Hank, I like your :kiss: acronym better . . . I've always heard it the way "cob" posted it but your's is nicer.



In my case, the "stupid" refers to ME, because in some situations, I can be stupid. If it is simple... easier to figure, easier to fix, fewer things to go wrong.

I will be honest, I do not know all the latest techniques. I know a lot of people are using maillons between their sit harness and their gear (for good reason) they clip into their maillon with a biner attached to their rack, safety, whatever....

PERSONALLY... I just feel that this is one more link in the chain, one more link to break. If you are worried about wear and tear on you sit harness, I feel it is easy enuf to buy a new sit harness. (remember to always inspect your gear)

Scott, I have done... probably between a hundred and a hundred and fifty changeovers (or variations thereof)(maybe more) both in cave and without (25-75% I would say) and I have never run into the difficulty you mention. Is it because I do not use a "D-ring" at all? I am honestly puzzled...


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Postby Scott McCrea » Jun 29, 2006 9:14 pm

cob wrote:Scott, I have done... probably between a hundred and a hundred and fifty changeovers (or variations thereof)(maybe more) both in cave and without (25-75% I would say) and I have never run into the difficulty you mention. Is it because I do not use a "D-ring" at all? I am honestly puzzled...


I have only seen it happen with a caving type harness that uses a D-ring (mallion) that sits flat against your belly. If you have a harness that allows you to clip directly into some webbing or something, this would probably allow enough 'play' or 'slop' to avoid the problem.

It's kind of tough to explain and even tougher to explain to someone hanging 40' of the deck why they are stuck and how to get out of it. I've seen this happen four times now. The first time, I was the stuck one.
Last edited by Scott McCrea on Jun 29, 2006 9:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby fuzzy-hair-man » Jun 29, 2006 9:36 pm

cob wrote:PERSONALLY... I just feel that this is one more link in the chain, one more link to break.


I used to think this way but eventually changed my mind because I worked out that if there was a heavy weight on the rope below you for whatever reason (rebelay failure, mis-communication etc) you will not be able to descend and your descender will be locked on the rope. Your only option if you need or want to move is to leave your descender where it is and head up or down on your ascenders.

If your descender is attached directly to your main maillon you cannot safely remove it from your harness :doh: so you'd either have to chance it and undo your main maillon or hang there until the problem is sorted out. Neither is very appealing :sad:

I would rather not cut down my options in this way.
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Postby cob » Jun 30, 2006 6:31 pm

Scott McCrea wrote:I have only seen it happen with a caving type harness that uses a D-ring (mallion) that sits flat against your belly. If you have a harness that allows you to clip directly into some webbing or something, this would probably allow enough 'play' or 'slop' to avoid the problem.

It's kind of tough to explain and even tougher to explain to someone hanging 40' of the deck why they are stuck and how to get out of it. I've seen this happen four times now. The first time, I was the stuck one.



DUHHH!!!


I have some mindless moments at work from time to time and during one of those today I was pondering the question... Yeah, a "Duhh!" moment. I see what you are talking about. With a sit harness like that, yes, use the extra carabiner, especially in a situation such as FH man mentioned.

As many people as I have taught, ya would have thunk that I would have thunk... but I am too used to my own gear, and it has been a while since I have instructed anyone other than my girl friend.

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Postby Rastus » Jul 18, 2006 10:16 am

What do folks think about attaching the rack directly to a second maillon located beneath the first? On Rope suggests that it may keep things a bit neater as the ascending and descending rigs attachments are separate.
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Postby Scott McCrea » Jul 18, 2006 10:46 am

Rastus wrote:What do folks think about attaching the rack directly to a second maillon located beneath the first? On Rope suggests that it may keep things a bit neater as the ascending and descending rigs attachments are separate.


Hi Rastus. :waving:

Can you site a page number in On Rope for this? I looked but tired of searching for it. :oops:
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