/ Ice Axe Modifications

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crayefish - on 12 Jan 2014
Howdy happy campers!

In preparation for pushing my grade this winter, I have just made some modifications to my Pulsars to give them a pinky rest/hand protector so I can go leashless (not that I have ever used a leash! But at least its easier to rest now).

I used some cut down 20mm stainless steel rope eyes and hammered the shit out of them to fit, before bonding with epoxy and covering with self amalgamating tape.

I would appreciate any comments on my work, as well as hearing/seeing what others have done to their tools.

http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/800x600q90/577/toe9.jpg
http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/800x600q90/824/c4i3.jpg
http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/800x600q90/845/6nwr.jpg
http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/800x600q90/191/hq2d.jpg
http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/800x600q90/27/zzby.jpg
Mountain Llama on 12 Jan 2014
In reply to crayefish:
you have earned your blue peter badge!

We'll done looks ok. You could use same method for a second hand grip?

Only chink may be longevity of bond to handle grip, this could be improved by using fibre glass tape and epoxy under tape?

Suggest you test strength by dangling from a large tree or hook a wall top.

Good effort, Davey

PS nice fish tank!
Post edited at 20:32
crayefish - on 13 Jan 2014
In reply to Mountain Llama:

Thanks Davey. Your comments are appreciated. Yep, a second rest could easily be added, though I don't think I need them yet with what I do.

Yes I did envisage that as the main failure point. I am partly working on the fact that even if the bond breaks up a little (rubber side first?), the epoxy would be moulded to the textured/patterned grip and thus would be held in place by the tension of the rubber tape. I tested without any epoxy (just tape) and it held very well, though obviously there was movement. But yes, it does need testing to ensure. I could always rivet if I need to.

Do you mean fibre glass tape below the rubber tape? Or between the redt and the handle?

Thanks.. want to buy it? Lol. Unfortunately have to get rid of all 400 ltrs of awesomeness when I move abroad in April.
gear boy - on 13 Jan 2014
In reply to crayefish:

be interesting to see how the epoxy holds up to temp variations and being bashed and flexed

nice job though

more importantly, V8? what's it in?
crayefish - on 13 Jan 2014
In reply to gear boy:

Yeah not epoxy's best strength. Poly resin perhaps better but I have none.

Ah you noticed the pistons on the table? I have a 3.5 rover v8 race engine with quad downdraft dellorto carbs I'm building to replace the last one I blew up :) just milling the heads and then it's almost done (those pistons you see are from another spare rover v8).
In reply to crayefish:

I think you've set the rest too high. Those old style tools were designed to be swung from the very base of the handle - you always used to see people who had their wrist loops too short and hand too high on the handle and they wouldn't swing well. The lack of a full curve in the shaft (compared to modern tools) sort of needs this, at least when ice climbing on steepish ice.

I always felt for the best swing with Pulsars your pinky could basically be by the spike rather than gripping rubber on the handle http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=22919 but it will be interesting to hear how you get on. I suspect a lot will depend on what you want to do with them. Not sure I'd trust my Pulsars without wrist loops even with a pinky rest added, but then I'm as weak as wet cardboard leashless climbing!
martinph78 on 13 Jan 2014
In reply to crayefish:

Think I'd have gone a slightly different route and wrapped the rest further around the shaft and secured it with a couple of rivets. Or just as it is, but with a couple of rivets. You still could...
crayefish - on 13 Jan 2014
In reply to TobyA:
Yes I know what you mean regarding the grip height. Normally I would hold the handle further down but due to the shape of the rest and other things I found it wouldn't really be suitable lower down due to interference with the spike. Not that I do much spike plunging but I certainly wanted the spike to be prominent.

I did spend a bit of time trying different positions and found the current one pretty comfortable. Due to the large curve radius on the rest I found it acts as a shaft bend of sorts as the two lower fingers can rest on it (which also should help with pinky squash). But I'll certainly let you know how it feel on the mountain. Unfortunately I am taking a beginner out next weekend so won't be doing any double axe work but I'll certainly try it out as much as possible as a single climbing axe if the terrain allows.

I don't climb steep ice yet, but certainly something I'd like to try in the future. I currently do lower grade (II/III) ridge and buttress routes with a lot of rock. Last year I found that pulling up on rock to be a little dodgey with no leash or rest (due to the fear of slipping off the end of the handle, especially soloing) so hence adding these. If I got into ice routes in a big way (perhaps next year) I'd probably go for a set of more ice specific tools eventually. But for Scottish mixed I love the strength and 'chunkiness' of the pulsars.

In reply to Martin1978:

Unfortunately I couldn't find rope eyes with a deeper wrap to allow it to wrap around the shaft further.

But rivets are definitely an option - though they'd need careful thought to prevent them protruding (material not really thick enough to allow for proper countersunk rivets). Some field testing before hitting harder routes will see how it works out in its current state.

Thanks for all your input so far guys!
Post edited at 11:25
crayefish - on 13 Jan 2014
In reply to gear boy:

Oh misread your post... the engine is going in this vehicle... (the off-road/rally truck I built)

http://imageshack.com/a/img36/729/wx82.jpg
http://imageshack.com/a/img716/9515/b6ys.png
http://imageshack.com/a/img406/2976/imag0990.jpg

And this was the engine in early Nov during some trial setup...

http://imageshack.com/a/img18/3268/c6ef.jpg
Blue Straggler - on 13 Jan 2014
In reply to crayefish:

> hearing/seeing what others have done to their tools.


Excitingly I put a sawn-off 1/4-20 UNC bolt through a "spare" eye on an Grivel Matrix Light hammer so that a small tripod ball head can be attached for those important "self portrait from the end of an ice tool" photos.

Gromits, glue and brute force were used.

I am not a cool enough climber to be able to lead with a camera mounted on there and fire it remotely! So it's been a redundant exercise, sort of (still makes the hammer a serviceable and versatile mount/monopod, I suppose!)
crayefish - on 13 Jan 2014
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Not a bad plan! I always struggle to get any decent shots when on my own. But yeah the image taking (without some remote trigger) would be difficult. Perhaps a self facing Peep Show style camera harness? lol
Mountain Llama on 13 Jan 2014
In reply to crayefish: fibre glass tape under the rubber tape would help with fixing rest to axe handle and not be to thick. Rivet sounds good plus v strong.

Davey

Blue Straggler - on 13 Jan 2014
In reply to crayefish:

Remotes are available for plenty of cameras but
a) you'd need a reasonably wide angle of view to get a decent shot from the end of an axe
b) I wouldn't really recommend it because usually the tripod socket on a compact is shallow enough that there's only a few "rounds" of thread holding the thing on, plus it's likely to be plastic. Simply swinging an axe around in the air as a quick test once caused my Olympus Mju II to fly off the rig as the thread got stripped! So really it's more just for use as a monopod rather than for action shots.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/blue-straggler/6873239542/in/set-72157629311676410
Jim C - on 13 Jan 2014
In reply to crayefish:

> Howdy happy campers!
>
> In preparation for pushing my grade this winter, I have just made some modifications to my Pulsars ...>
> I used some cut down 20mm stainless steel rope eyes and hammered the shit out of them to fit, before bonding with epoxy and covering with self amalgamating tape.
>
A wee word of caution, If you have accidental death/Injury insurance, I would guess it is now void, if you ever have a claim on a climbing accident.

We tried to get insurance for a Hut, and in it we had a old, but good, wood burning stove that was refurbished to a very high standard.

We were refused insurance as we could not produce a manual for the stove (50 years old I guess) to prove that it had not been in any way modified from the original. WE can't so we will have to buy a new one now.

Worth bearing in mind.
Post edited at 12:26
crayefish - on 13 Jan 2014
In reply to Blue Straggler:

Great pic there!
crayefish - on 13 Jan 2014
In reply to Jim C:

Interesting point. Though given that much of my equipment (ice screws, axes, some nuts/hexes etc) is second hand, surely the same would be true? I would be surprised if insurance would be invalid by the use of non-standard equipment.

For example, if you used a different leash brand on an axe, or a different brand of triggest, then surely that would be no different? It's not the 'intended' combination so technically similar to modifying gear (as in adding something, rather than hacking into the axe itself).

Any BMC insurance buffs who can shed light on this?
Blue Straggler - on 13 Jan 2014
In reply to Jim C:

Crikey. I'll be careful when replacing boot laces and buy only Scarpa ones....and have them installed by a professional :-)
Jim C - on 13 Jan 2014
In reply to crayefish:
> (In reply to Jim C)
>
>I would be surprised if insurance would be invalid by the use of non-standard equipment.

My daughter added some transparencies to her car door, for her bussines contacts etc. Her insurer said she had 'modified' her car!

Never underestimate an insurance loss adjuster's enthusiasm to limit or exclude entirely your claim (it is, after all, what they do for a living)
crayefish - on 13 Jan 2014
In reply to Jim C:

Yeah, with car insurance I know all about that... as I built my rally car myself I have to give the insurers a five page list of 'modifications' which is rather tedious. Needs a specialist insurer too (only thing left from the donor vehicle is some of the chassis and a few body panels effectively.

But with mountaineering you are not insuring yourself to 'drive' or 'use' equipment, you are insuring yourself for being in a dangerous location doing a dangerous activity. You could be there with no equipment at all!
nniff - on 13 Jan 2014
Jim C - on 13 Jan 2014
In reply to Blue Straggler:
> (In reply to Jim C)
>
> Crikey. I'll be careful when replacing boot laces and buy only Scarpa ones....and have them installed by a professional :-)

I'm just giving a heads up on what I have come across,
I guess it is dependant on your insurer, and how 'fair' they are.
All I'm saying is , if you have insurance , read the small print.

I am in a flood area, but have never been flooded, in 30 years, but they keep hiking my insurance as the neighbours have, however, they ask a LOT of detailed questions each and every time we renew, and I guess that is so that they can catch us out if we do make a claim, if they can prove we did not answer truthfully, or failed to reveal something.
Blue Straggler - on 13 Jan 2014
In reply to Jim C:

You misinterpreted, I was not having a go at you, indeed the intention was almost the opposite. I was just shrieking at the silliness of it all :-)

Thanks for pointing out the potential pitfalls
crayefish - on 13 Jan 2014
In reply to nniff:

Very nice work! Particularly the pinky rests... makes mine look positively amateur. How did you do this? I am guessing some modified aftermarket pinky rest coupled with some of that mouldable resin stuff (in yellow)?
Blue Straggler - on 13 Jan 2014
In reply to crayefish:

I have made another mod to my Grivel Matrix Light tools actually. They already have a finger rest but not a suitable hole for attaching a spring leash (tiny holes at the bottom of shaft will not take a krab and I did not want to put a permanent loop of cord there). At the suggestion of Oceanic of this parish, I used some 2mm cord extended from the head to around 60% down the length of the shaft, with tie-off loops at the end. Heat-shrink stuff to "tidy" the cord onto the shaft. Then just clip into the loops in the cord. No photos at the moment, sorry.
Blue Straggler - on 13 Jan 2014
In reply to crayefish:

Someone once told me that coat hooks can be employed for what you did, and I am not sure that he was joking :-)
Mountain Llama on 13 Jan 2014
In reply to Jim C: climbing equipment is changed or modified many times by folks, eg cams rewiresd, hexes Reslung, axe pick changed, crampon bails changed. Thousands of people have modified axes for leashless climbing.

Plus certain items are homemade eg slings, prussicks loops.

Many we'll know climbing shops and climbers blogs carry details of how to do this.

IMHO this is part of climbing and I would be interested to know if insurers specifically forbid it as it's common place.

Davey

CurlyStevo - on 13 Jan 2014
In reply to Mountain Llama:

I've read all the small print on the BMC insurance for Alipine and Ski before now and not noticed anything about this.

I wouldn't think twice about modding my axes although I would be a little wary of glueing a grip rest to the rubber handle as if the rubber peels away it could cause a nasty accident. Also I prefer non perminant mods.

I'm betting the OP buys a proper set of leashless tools in the next 12 months!
crayefish - on 13 Jan 2014
In reply to CurlyStevo:

> I'm betting the OP buys a proper set of leashless tools in the next 12 months!

Probably I will in a year or two... I'll have lots of money for shiny things by then :) But for now I have to climb on a budget.

Blue Straggler - on 13 Jan 2014
In reply to CurlyStevo:


> I'm betting the OP buys a proper set of leashless tools in the next 12 months!


AS my post earlier suggests, I have proper leashless(*) tools but still had to mod them so they would, er, take a leash :-)

* as in "they have the yellow Grivel horn / pinky rest"
CurlyStevo - on 13 Jan 2014
In reply to Blue Straggler:
2mm accessory cord is not strong enough to take body weight, personally I would use something stronger as you may well weight your leashes at some point and having the leashe hold could save your life.

Will you add an upper grip rest? For me that is an essential part of leashless climbing as it allows better swapping of hands on axes.

My previous post was ment for the OP BTW not you.
Post edited at 13:47
nniff - on 13 Jan 2014
In reply to crayefish:

I thought the yellow might appeal to you!. I think they're Petzl rests, carved a bit inside to fit. I had to drill another hole in the spike. I then filled the rest with Araldite and bolted it on. The angles were all wrong where the rest met the shaft so I filled that with epoxy putty. The paint is humbrol enamel that was kicking around. The upper rest is a grivel thing, but set as an upper hand rest rather than a trigger (tried that once - it killed the knuckle of that finger).

the clipper is a standard sailing shackle and captive eye clip. THey work very well in that the geometry is such that the shackle cannot open the gate, no matter how much you shake it. Open the gate though and it rolls out as smooth as you like. the leashes are handed, hence the colour coded stiffeners
CurlyStevo - on 13 Jan 2014
In reply to nniff:

Very nice work :)
crayefish - on 13 Jan 2014
In reply to nniff:

I do like yellow :)

How did you find the epoxy putty held up to temperature changes and knocks?

Blue Straggler - on 13 Jan 2014
In reply to CurlyStevo:

> 2mm accessory cord is not strong enough to take body weight, personally I would use something stronger as you may well weight your leashes at some point and having the leashe hold could save your life.

My springer leash thing is also not strong enough to take body weight though. I could make my own, I suppose (many have done so) and then use stronger cord. btw my 2mm is stronger than you might expect. Accessory cord from climbing shops etc tends to be around 1kN. Mine is from a chandler and is more like 2.5kN. Even at that, I am using it only to stop the axe falling down the montain if I drop it, and NOT for weighting it. I am currently undecided as to whether stay "leashless" or not.

Blue Straggler - on 13 Jan 2014
In reply to CurlyStevo:

PS thanks for the input nonetheless! It is something to ponder.
crayefish - on 13 Jan 2014
In reply to Blue Straggler:

When I bought my DMM freedom leash the guy at Joe Browns said that while not designed for rests, the DMM ones were the strongest (that they sold anyway) and can be weighted if rested carefully, rather than slumping on them. They also have loops half way up for if you fall on them and need to clip in a q-draw to pull up back to your tool... so I think DMM envisaged this happening a little and made the leashes stronger.
CurlyStevo - on 13 Jan 2014
In reply to Blue Straggler:
"My springer leash thing is also not strong enough to take body weight though"

You must be very fat ;)

It can take 200 kg and I know people that have fallen on them and they have held!

How do you know the strength of your chandelier cord?
Post edited at 14:17
Blue Straggler - on 13 Jan 2014
In reply to CurlyStevo:

It's all muscle! :-P

I meant that they are not "rated" for this. I know that in practice they will hold me on a static rest. My 2mm cord is, iirc, stronger. Anyway I only ever second gully snow plods so it's immaterial :-)
Blue Straggler - on 13 Jan 2014
In reply to CurlyStevo:


> How do you know the strength of your chandelier cord?

Chandelier! :-)
It is from a chandlery. i.e. it is sold for yachting type purposes. It had a kN ratinh on the packaging or the specification. It was a while ago so I have forgotten the details but I just vaguely recall that it was more than double the strength of the 2mm cord I got from Decathlon (a 5m length made by Simond and sold in the climbing section)

nniff - on 14 Jan 2014
In reply to crayefish:

The epoxy putty (sold as a pack of six little blobs in B&Q etc) is presented as suitable for repairing worn stone steps among a diverse range of equally demanding applications. On that basis, I thought it would be hard-wearing, resistant to frost and very adhesive. So far, it's proven to be all of those and hasn't shifted at all or chipped.

The same epoxy putty is also the foundation for a rear light mount for an aero seat post on my bike, supplemented with some Sugru. Useful stuff.
ads.ukclimbing.com
crayefish - on 22 Jan 2014
In reply to crayefish:

Well so far my main axe that I took this weekend has held up and the grip rest seems to be firmly attached still... can't say the same for my mate's ankle though!

Wasn't the most grueling of tests for it but it did withstand plenty of weighting, plunging and bashing during arrest practice.

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