/ Middle marking a rope

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David Cowley - on 13 May 2013
What is best to use to safely mark the middle of a rope and not compromise it's integrity. Finger tape, other tape, marker pens etc?
davidbeynon - on 13 May 2013
In reply to David Cowley:

I have used micropore in the past. It works for a while, gets filthy then falls off. You can get special rope marker stuff that is pretty effective. IIRC It looks a bit over priced, but one bottle will keep you and your friends in centre marks for years.
CurlyStevo - on 13 May 2013
In reply to David Cowley:
bmc (or was it UIAA) found using one manufacturers marker on anothers rope often significantly weakened the rope!
GrahamD - on 13 May 2013
In reply to David Cowley:

Never sure why people never consider colourfast clothes dye to do this ? certainly not tape as it get scrunched in the belay plate and can slip.
CurlyStevo - on 13 May 2013
In reply to GrahamD:
probably for similar reasons as my last post.
GrahamD - on 13 May 2013
In reply to CurlyStevo:

Clothes dye is designed not to damage eg nylon in clothing. Solvents in pen ink not necessarily.
CurlyStevo - on 13 May 2013
In reply to GrahamD:
Its not just the pen style markers its all of them. Personally I wouldn't take the risk.
SCC - on 13 May 2013
In reply to David Cowley:

Stick:

rope marker test

into Google. The UIAA and the Canadian Alpine Club roperts are early results and back up what another poster mentions above.

Has made me rethink the idea of using a Beal marker on my non Beal rope!

Cheers.

Si
CurlyStevo - on 13 May 2013
In reply to SCC:
"Middle markings, which come with a new rope and were applied by the manufacturer, are safe. Do rope manufacturers sell trustworthy markers? Mammut tested the "Rope Marker", a pen sold by Beal. The reduction was 50 % for the non-dry and 17 % for the superdry rope. Mammut tested five days and four weeks after application. The capacity reduction was more for tests done four weeks after application. "

The Beal Rope Marker "Pen", isn't really a Pen either it's basically an applicator of some dye.
GridNorth - on 13 May 2013
In reply to David Cowley: One manufacturer questions another manufacturers products. Come on! Are the sheaths of different ropes made from different materials? Genuine question but surely they are all some form of nylon? In order for a dye marker to affect the integrity of the rope it would have to permeate the outer sheath to damage the core. I know that the only recorded instances of ropes breaking other than when cut by a sharp edge are when they have been subjected to erosive chemicals. I can't believe that any reputable manufacturer would sell anything like that. I had an Edelrid rope marked with a Beal marker. I cut it in half, where it was marked, to use indoors. There was no sign of the dye getting to the core.
ex0 - on 13 May 2013
In reply to David Cowley:

I used a black bic on my latest..
CurlyStevo - on 13 May 2013
In reply to GridNorth:
I think it's a bit stronger than one manufacturer questioning anothers products. Tests have been done and reduction in strength observed!
GridNorth - on 13 May 2013
In reply to CurlyStevo: If this is a genuine and real issue should it not be something that is taken up with The BMC and Trading Standards authorities. Where are these test results? If this is a dangerous product it should be removed from the shelves. As it is I'm not that worried. YET.
SCC - on 13 May 2013
In reply to GridNorth:
> (In reply to David Cowley) One manufacturer questions another manufacturers products. Come on! Are the sheaths of different ropes made from different materials? Genuine question but surely they are all some form of nylon?...

If you take a look at the Canadian Alpine Club article it states:

"Last year two rope manufacturers (Lanex and Mammut) and the German Alpine Club visited this problem again. Various samples of non-dry and superdry rope were tested using a variety of felt pens (Sharpie was not among them). Testing was done seven to 30 days after application. Reduction varied from zero to 50 % in the number of drops held. Superdry ropes generally had less capacity reduction than non-dry, possibly because the saturation was less. However, one particular rope sample had an insignificant increase in capacity for the non-dry rope, but a 35 % reduction for the superdry. This rope, by the way, was the only one, which did not have a reduction in capacity for both the non-dry and superdry sample."

So, not just one manufacturer - but some manufacturers and the German Alpine Club.

Obviously it's your call but I don't know enough about the different (or not) materials used in rope manufacture and how they are affected by the solvents in marker pens to come to my own conclusion.

Si


martinph78 on 13 May 2013
In reply to David Cowley: I've used a Tendon rope marker pen (Leeds Wall Shop, £2) for marking Beal and Cousin ropes and harness. Guess that means I should bin them now then!

Regarding tape, I think that you will find the likes of Lyon equipment and such would not recommend taping the ropes without confirming the adhesive compatibility of said tape with said rope before hand. Just like you should before putting stickers on your helmet. Oh, hang on...
martinph78 on 13 May 2013
In reply to SCC:
> how they are affected by the solvents in marker pens
>
> Si


I thought the whole point of rope marker pens was that they DIDN'T contain solvents, that was why they were safe to use on ropes. Are you sure that the pens tested were proper rope marker pens and not normal felt pens/permanent markers/etc?
CurlyStevo - on 13 May 2013
In reply to SCC:
Yes tests have been done by Lanex, Mammut, UIAA and German Alpine Club with similar results.
CurlyStevo - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Martin1978:
http://www.theuiaa.org/advice_techniques_equipment.html (check the marking of ropes link)

Theres a similar article that comes up with a google for "canadian alpine club rope marker test"

For some reason links are no longer working normally in UKC and it complains "Please don't write verylongwordswithoutanyspaces"

Note the beal marker product was tested and found to adversely effect mammut ropes.
CurlyStevo - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Martin1978:
I've also used a Tendon rope marker pen on my ropes and I'm not going to Bin them but I won't be doing it again!
SCC - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Martin1978:
> (In reply to SCC)
> [...]
>
>
> I thought the whole point of rope marker pens was that they DIDN'T contain solvents, that was why they were safe to use on ropes. Are you sure that the pens tested were proper rope marker pens and not normal felt pens/permanent markers/etc?

I think ALL marker pens have solvents, otherwise they wouldn't work...
I believe the pens tested were all stated safe for rope use, but you can read the report fully for yourself - it's not long.

Si
RCC - on 13 May 2013
In reply to CurlyStevo:
> (In reply to Martin1978)
> http://www.theuiaa.org/advice_techniques_equipment.html (check the marking of ropes link)


According to Sterling ropes: http://www.sterlingrope.com/media/document/techmanual.pdf

Pit Shubert also said:
" ...A damaged rope by marking is not a big problem, because such a marked rope can not break in practice (only when tested on the test machine according to the standards, UIAA and EN (CEN)), such a marked rope can only break in practice when the two or three centimeters (about one inch), which are marked, are placed over a sharp rock edge when the rope is loaded by a fall.
The probability that this will happen is nearly zero...There is only one danger, when during mountain rescue one or two people are lowered down and the rope is running over a sharp rock edge, then the two or three centimeters will run over this edge, and then there is a danger.... "

So, perhaps not as dramatic as the "50% strength reduction" headline, but, as you say, something to avoid in future.

lcullum7 on 13 May 2013
In reply to SCC: From what I can see the only test that EXPLICITLY refers to testing of the Beal rope marker is the one done by Mammut, so David has a point.

The ACC article says "Sharpie felt pen...advertised for use on climbing ropes" and it sounds as though they these and other 'normal' felt pens with some claim on the packaging are what they tested.

I agree with you that everyone makes a choice on the evidence and while it is fairly compelling against stationary type markers it is less so for the Beal product. That said I won't be using it on any Mammut ropes...
RCC - on 13 May 2013
In reply to SCC:

> but you can read the report fully for yourself - it's not long.


Do you know where a copy of the UIAA report can be found? I could only see the safety notice on their website. It would be good to read the whole report.

CurlyStevo - on 13 May 2013
In reply to RCC:
Its far from clear that all the tests done by the various manufacturers covered the same products and were tested in the same way (ie loading over the marked part) but they did all find a positive result.
David Cowley - on 13 May 2013
In reply to David Cowley: cheers all some great points of view here. My edelrid rope came pre marked but my tendon halfs need done. Think I'll err on the side of caution and buy a tendon marker now I know I can buy one.Is this all true or is at a way of getting people to stick with the manufacturers products who knows but its nice to see people having their own thoughts and decent views without it getting nasty unlike some threads. Thanks for your views people I've learned something here

Cheers

David

ps hope edelrid used their own marker before I bought it :-)
martinph78 on 13 May 2013
In reply to David Cowley: From the Tendon website:

"A simple and useful means for rope marking – both centres and several metres from the rope ends. Marking with the Rope Marker makes rope handling easier and increases safety. The chemical composition does not affect the structure and properties of the rope and guarantees a long durability of marking."

and from the Leeds Wall website:


"Rope and Gear marking pen made by tendon ropes.

Now this is a great idea! This pen has been specially made for use in marking gear including ropes, harnesses slings or anything else you might want to put your name on, mark up when you got it or if you have to log equipment this is a fraction of the cost of a chip and reader system.

This can also be used for marking the mid point of a rope if yours has worn off or never came with one! This could also be used to put a pattern on all your gear to id it from your mates stuff and to stop them from nicking it!"


So based on those statements I believe that the UIAA, BMC, Rope manufacturers and rope marker pen manufacturers need to get together and decide what is actually true. I wouldn't want to say that Tendon are breaking any laws, but if they are selling a product that is not fit for purpose (and in fact dangerous) it needs sorting. That pen doesn't come with any warnings about which ropes it can or can't be used with.

I would not have marked a rope in an unsafe way, but the Tendon pen and my Beal rope made no reference to any dangers. We buy products for climbing and presume they are tested and fit for purpose when used correctly and for the purpose that they were designed.

A rope marker pen sold with the statements above should, by all accounts, be safe to use for marking a rope.


I'm still not throwing my ropes away.
GridNorth - on 13 May 2013
In reply to Martin1978: I agree with you. Unfortunately a tiny seed of doubt has been sown. I won't be throwing any ropes away either but equally until this is clarified in some way I won't be marking any more. My Beal marked ropes are getting a little old in any case.
Martin W on 13 May 2013
What about this 2009 statement from Kolin Powick, Director of Global Quality at Black Diamond:

I had my crack crew of engineers grab a few cords, mark them up with a Sharpie, and pull them in the tensile tester. As expected, the ropes always broke at the knot—the Sharpie’s middle mark seemingly having no effect on the strength of the cord during this test.

Reference: http://tinyurl.com/c5gwetj (which was actually the first hit when I Googled "rope marker test" as suggested above).

Note also his statement: "At Black Diamond, we don’t make ropes," so arguably no axe to grind.

For myself: none of my ropes have middle markers and I manage just fine without them, so I don't need to worry about it.
martinph78 on 13 May 2013
In reply to Martin W: Thanks for that. It clarifies things nicely, for me at least.

"I recommend using the rope manufacturer’s recommended middle marker ink to re-mark it."

"I don’t think Sharpies or any other permanent markers have really been proven to actually damage nylon—short-term or long-term. However, I can’t recommend them for use on rope either because the manufacturers will not and cannot guarantee that the marker will always be free of possibly harmful chemical ingredients. In other words, they can change the formula on a whim and none of us would be the wiser."


I personally trust that Tendon, as a rope manufacturer, would be using the correct ink and wouldn't change the ingredients at a whim to something that could, or would, damage the rope.

Glad this has come up though, as I was going to mark all of my slings this week (to save confusion with my mates gear). Will stick to marking the CE tag, just in case.
CurlyStevo - on 14 May 2013
In reply to Martin1978: i doubt tendon make the pen from scratch, its most likely made by another company for them.
ads.ukclimbing.com
CurlyStevo - on 14 May 2013
In reply to Martin W: it seems one of the key ways roped are weakened is the number of held falls if the rope is loaded over the marked section. rather than the pull test bd did.

As mentioned my mammuts are marked with a tendon pen. It doesnt bother me much, but i wouldnt do it again just in case.
David Cowley - on 14 May 2013
In reply to CurlyStevo: I agree cant see them developing and producing a pen from scratch but I'll be buying there's just to be safe
martinph78 on 14 May 2013
In reply to CurlyStevo: I know that, I'm sure that they will have specified what ink is used in it though.
EddInaBox on 14 May 2013
In reply to ...:

Note the warning on this page:

http://bealplanet.com/sport/anglais/pro-ropemarker-access.php

Attention : Only for use on the ropes listed on the container :
Beal - Blue Water - Edelweiss - Camp - Lanex - Maxim by New England - Millet - PMI - Roca.
NottsRich on 06 Jun 2013
> According to Sterling ropes: http://www.sterlingrope.com/media/document/techmanual.pdf
>
> Pit Shubert also said:
> " ...A damaged rope by marking is not a big problem..............
> There is only one danger, when during mountain rescue one or two people are lowered down and the rope is running over a sharp rock edge, then the two or three centimeters will run over this edge, and then there is a danger.... "
>

That's scary! The load on that rope would be not much more than the static weight of two people, maybe 2000N at the most. To see the rope break under that load over an edge is pretty worrying when you consider the forces involved in a leader fall. Or have I misread the comment from Pit Shubert?
CurlyStevo - on 06 Jun 2013
In reply to NottsRich:
I think they are saying the rope will run over the sharp edge in this case and so the markings will pass over it (and there muse be some increased risk) rather than it will break sue to the marking. Well that's how I read it. I think a 80kg factor 1.7 fall is much higher load on the rope than 1-2 people being lowered and that only halfs the number of UIAA falls held. Ofcourse if the rope fails to being cut then we don't have stats to say the middle marking cuts it more easily or not, but perhaps it will get cut on another portion of the rope so you are already taking a risk.
CurlyStevo - on 06 Jun 2013
In reply to NottsRich:
Realistically there are much bigger risks in climbing and AFAIK there has never been a death attributed to marking a rope, but I will be thinking long and hard before marking my ropes again. That said I would imagine the risk of abbing of the end of the rope as you haven't set the ab off from the middle of the rope (due to no markings) is actually much greater than the risk of the rope failing due to marking it!
3414peterk - on 06 Jun 2013
In reply to David Cowley: Why bother? Do you NEED to, or is it just one of those things that people used to do?
NottsRich on 06 Jun 2013
In reply to 3414peterk: No, of course not, but I find it very useful.

When rigging an abseil, I can coil 5m (ish) from one end and chuck it, 5m (ish)from the other end and chuck it, and then that pulls it all down off the ledge etc. The rope is obviously already clipped in somewhere along it's length, so I just slide it though until the middle of the rope is at the anchor. If the middle wasn't marked then I'd have to coil 25m and throw it, leaving the middle in my hand. Then coil 5m (ish) from the other end and throw that. Badly explained, but maybe it's clear enough! Basically it saves me time and effort, which I like!

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