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Re: [adatesman] SAFETY ALERT- MORE ALIEN FAILURES
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granite_grrl


May 20, 2009, 10:42 AM
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Re: [adatesman] SAFETY ALERT- MORE ALIEN FAILURES
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Great report, Aric! Makes me glad I carry TCUs, but also makes me wonder how many other companies might have undiscovered issues about their gear too.


mojomonkey


May 20, 2009, 11:03 AM
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Re: [adatesman] SAFETY ALERT- MORE ALIEN FAILURES [In reply to]
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Perhaps someone may want to make this an announcement as this forum likely gets less traffic than General, or the front page.


jsj42


May 20, 2009, 11:25 AM
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Re: [adatesman] SAFETY ALERT- MORE ALIEN FAILURES [In reply to]
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Well... I'm not so sure I think this is as big a deal as you're making it out to be (on this site and pn Mountain Project). Here's why:

First, the Red Alien. This piece was bootied, and when you tested it, the head was tweaked and several of the strands of the cable were already broken (from what I could see on the photo you posted, it is actually a sizable portion of the cable that is broken). Obviously this piece held a whipper. In my experience, body weight can tweak a head, but only a whipper will tweak the head and break cable like that. Even if it wasn't a whipper, this cam was certainly abused.

Any climber knows that you should visually inspect your gear. If you have a core shot rope, a worn out belay loop, or a fucked up cam, you're NOT going to climb on it! One look at that red Alien would have kept me from climbing on it (and obviously it kept Tigerlily from even wanting to keep it).

I would have no reason whatsoever to believe that this cam would be full-strength prior to testing. Sorry to rain on your parade, but not even the "failure mode" of the cable pulling apart from the braze bothers me. If cables are broken, who knows how the braze had been affected and exactly where else it had been weakened by whatever forces tweaked the cam to begin with. Those are unknowns. Sorry, but you need to be testing NEW Aliens if you want to prove anything. In my opinion, the moment a cam is placed for the first time, the countdown on it's lifespan has begun.

Regarding the Purple Alien. You could certainly make more of a case here. Even though 11 kN is a damn-safe number by free-climbing standards, it is lower than the minimum failure rating for the cam. However, the cam is still a used cam. Has anyone ever hung from it? Has it held falls? Perhaps it was tested by CCH, but if their testing setup works by testing the cable and the braze, that would leave the loop, the cam lobes, and the axle as possible failure points that aren't accounted for. That's a problem. But how exactly did it fail? Is it possible that the wear on the cam lobes caused them to slip or be loaded asymmetrically, which could, in turn, cause the axle to bend? I don't know, I'm not an engineer and I wasn't there.

I'm not trying to defend CCH -- I think they've got a lot of problems. But as far as I can tell, you can't go making conclusions based on two isolated tests of used (and in one case obviously damaged) pieces.

(This post was edited by jsj42 on May 20, 2009, 11:28 AM)


majid_sabet


May 20, 2009, 11:39 AM
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Re: [adatesman] SAFETY ALERT- MORE ALIEN FAILURES [In reply to]
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A bad dog is always a bad dog

I know other dogs are sitting in the offices right now reading about this waiting to kill one more competition .


retr2327


May 20, 2009, 11:46 AM
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Re: [adatesman] SAFETY ALERT- MORE ALIEN FAILURES [In reply to]
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Great photos and a nice write-up; thanks for your time and effort.

But I have a question: if the purpose of the braze is to attach the wire stem to the head, then the photos of the 1st cam suggest to me (based on 0 technical knowledge or experience, admittedly) that the braze -- whether deficient or not -- served its purpose: the stump of the wire remains well-embedded in the head. The failures of the wires themselves, just outside of the head, seems more attributable to repeated tweaking and corrosion than to any inadequacy of the braze.

Although I suppose that a better braze might have helped a) protect that portion of the wires from corrosion; and b) shift the focus of "tweak strain" somewhat further up the stem. Whether that would raise the failure load or just shift the location of the failure is an open question.

Thoughts and comments?


Partner cracklover


May 20, 2009, 11:57 AM
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Re: [retr2327] SAFETY ALERT- MORE ALIEN FAILURES [In reply to]
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retr2327 wrote:
Great photos and a nice write-up; thanks for your time and effort.

But I have a question: if the purpose of the braze is to attach the wire stem to the head, then the photos of the 1st cam suggest to me (based on 0 technical knowledge or experience, admittedly) that the braze -- whether deficient or not -- served its purpose: the stump of the wire remains well-embedded in the head.

I think you must have just missed this photo:



Which clearly shows
1 - nearly half the cable pulled out of the head, and
2 - the cable that pulled out shows no sign of brazing.

This sucks.

Thanks for the nice write-up. I wish it was better news, but it is what it is.

GO


roy_hinkley_jr


May 20, 2009, 12:02 PM
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Re: [jsj42] SAFETY ALERT- MORE ALIEN FAILURES [In reply to]
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jsj42 wrote:
First, the Red Alien. This piece was bootied, and when you tested it, the head was tweaked and several of the strands of the cable were already broken (from what I could see on the photo you posted, it is actually a sizable portion of the cable that is broken).

Agreed, much ado about nothing. Any cam with busted cable strands and left to rust for months is going to be weakened. Even the Purple one failing at 11kN isn't anything to get your panties in a bunch about--still plenty strong.


retr2327


May 20, 2009, 12:10 PM
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Re: [cracklover] SAFETY ALERT- MORE ALIEN FAILURES [In reply to]
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I didn't miss it, but I didn't give it the same interpretation you're giving it either. I agree the lack of brazing is evident; I take it you're reading the variation in remaining length of the wires as evidence that a good number of them simply pulled out of the head, whereas others broke off, leaving the raggedy stump.

It's a pretty plausible interpretation. But the photo above seems to show (from a not very good angle) a solidly filled-in stump, with no obvious holes where any wires pulled out. Hence my interpretation. Maybe the OP can shed some light on this?


spikeddem


May 20, 2009, 12:11 PM
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Re: [adatesman] SAFETY ALERT- MORE ALIEN FAILURES [In reply to]
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adatesman wrote:

Closeup of the detached head: (pardon the bit of grass, hadn't noticed that earlier)


Both the head and stem- notice the complete lack of braze wicking down the cable strands. Clearly a manufacturing defect and well outside of the recall.

Could someone describe (or offer a link to something describing) what "braze wicking" is? I couldn't find it after a quick search on google. So far, all my other knowledge about brazing has come from wikipedia.

jsj42 wrote:
First, the Red Alien. This piece was bootied, and when you tested it, the head was tweaked and several of the strands of the cable were already broken (from what I could see on the photo you posted, it is actually a sizable portion of the cable that is broken). Obviously this piece held a whipper.

I'm tempted to agree with that. However, I first need to understand the "braze wicking" issue, since it appears to me that Aric thinks (worries?) that the failure might be from that (a manufacturing defect) more than the previous use (user-end issue).

The following might need to be updated once I learn about braze whicking, but I'll post it now anyways. If three strands were BROKEN, how many other strands were significantly weakened? And how many strands were weakened a little bit? I think one thing that should be clear is that based upon the look of the cam before breaking, it is very likely that it DID a hold a fall well above 5 kN. [See Aric's post below about strike through.


(This post was edited by spikeddem on May 20, 2009, 3:46 PM)


moose_droppings


May 20, 2009, 12:12 PM
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Aric, I'm not gonna jump CCH, but you.........

That is the most jury rigged trigger wire I've ever seen, totally amateur for sure.

Laugh


adatesman


May 20, 2009, 12:16 PM
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afahrlan


May 20, 2009, 12:17 PM
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This is great testing. Thank you for your work to make everyone in the community safer. Given all of the information that we have learned about CCH's (lack of) quality control, it is not surprising that QC issues extend beyond the scope of the recall.

That being said, I think the most important issue is not about Aliens before/during the recall. Anyone who is paying attention knows that these units are not safe. Rather, what has been done about quality control since the recall? The two questions I would like to see answered are:

1.) What is involved in CCH's testing that earns an Alien the stamp "Tensile Tested"?

2.) Do Aliens that are stamped "Tensile Tested" fail below their rated loads?

For (1), you present good evidence here that the testing is NOT as comprehensive as we would like; because, if the entire unit was really pull tested (as done by every other major manufacturer) the lobes/trigger mechanism would be damaged in the process. From CCH's standpoint, I think it is very much in their interests to thoroughly answer (1) to restore some of our faith in their quality control processes. Given their track record though, I don't think the answer would pass community scrutiny. I'm not holding my breath.

For (2), we have little more than second-hand information that there may be issues. But given CCH's track record, and their distinct lack of information about their pull-testing process, I would not be surprised if many "Tensile Tested" Aliens fail well below spec.

As a community, we need to provide you (or another objective third party that can do reliable pull testing) with a sample of post-recall, "tensile tested" Aliens to pull test to see if they fail below their rating. A single "tensile tested" Alien that fails like either of these two tests could put CCH out of business.

I think as a community, we could easily pool enough money/units to make this testing happen; it's just as much of an investment in our safety as sponsoring bolt replacement through the ASCA. Where do I send the check?

Andrew


adatesman


May 20, 2009, 12:18 PM
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patto


May 20, 2009, 12:24 PM
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This is going to be hard fight to keep this thread clean from the bickering about aliens that we have already have had.

At the end of the day the best we can do is put this information out there. Adatesman has done a great job of performing these tests and presenting the information.

I'd like to see more test on large numbers of new aliens. However nobody has the finances to do this. If CCH performs public testing on new aliens to back its ratings then it could bring back faith in its product. But short of that why would you trust your life with a company that has so many issues?

I think the fact that the lobes are so soft is a big concern. If they can't even get that right then what else are they screwing up?

jsj42 wrote:
I'm not trying to defend CCH -- I think they've got a lot of problems. But as far as I can tell, you can't go making conclusions based on two isolated tests of used (and in one case obviously damaged) pieces.

No conclusions are being made. But it certainly is a little troubling and adds to the years of evidence of poor quality control and failures from CCH.

Besides I didn't realise that cams were now single use pieces. A tweaked piece should still be plenty strong. Furthermore I think you are missing the point, wires that were supposably braised and secured in the head pulled out. It is the failure mode that is concerning.


adatesman


May 20, 2009, 12:24 PM
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adatesman


May 20, 2009, 12:26 PM
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adatesman


May 20, 2009, 12:28 PM
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adatesman


May 20, 2009, 12:30 PM
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roy_hinkley_jr


May 20, 2009, 12:31 PM
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cracklover wrote:
Which clearly shows
1 - nearly half the cable pulled out of the head, and
2 - the cable that pulled out shows no sign of brazing.

Still not convinced this is a defect or a problem. He doesn't show any evidence at all that the breaks are inside the head. Everything appears to be external. Perhaps a better photo would help. What are the weather conditions like in the area? Lots of humidity and air pollution?


adatesman


May 20, 2009, 12:34 PM
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shoo


May 20, 2009, 12:42 PM
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patto wrote:
This is going to be hard fight to keep this thread clean from the bickering about aliens that we have already have had.

Don't worry. I've started my very own bickering session here:

http://www.rockclimbing.com/...6;page=unread#unread

Let's leave this thread for discussion of this particular test.


adatesman


May 20, 2009, 12:44 PM
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patto


May 20, 2009, 12:48 PM
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roy_hinkley_jr wrote:
Still not convinced this is a defect or a problem. He doesn't show any evidence at all that the breaks are inside the head. Everything appears to be external. Perhaps a better photo would help. What are the weather conditions like in the area? Lots of humidity and air pollution?

Humidity and air pollution!? How is this relevant? If cams start being severely weakened from humity and air pollution then this is an even bigger concern!

You have seen a couple of photos and think that you can view the failure mode better than adatesman? Have a look a the rest of the guys work and realise he is thorough and knows what he is doing.

I would like to keep posting against all this head in the sand attitude to alien defects however I feel it will just add to the inevitable fight this thread will become despite the mods best efforts.

Suffice to say I will never climb on aliens and I believe it is merely a matter of time before CCH go out of business.


dynosore


May 20, 2009, 1:09 PM
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I don't trust Aliens and don't doubt your results are ballpark, but what type of equipment are you using to test these? Certified, calibrated? Are you pulling at the industry standard speed? On the #2 run, the plateau of force looks like slippage in the jig? Or was that some deformation?

Test speed can have a huge effect on the results, what's the industry standard for cam testing? I ifnd it hard to believe you're testing anywhere near the speed of a simulated fall, correct me if I'm wrong.

Thanks for the heads up.


adatesman


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