Can anyone advise on where best to buy or acquire metal stakes (for sea-cliff belays etc)?
Those ones in Pembroke (BMC placed?) with the cross bar are good, but open to anything suitably durable.
I have used 1 metre offcuts of scaffold tube, wacked in with a 10 or 14 lb sledge hammer.
Fairly cheap to buy or acquire if you ask nicely at a building site.
Only galvanised though so probs only last a few years in a sea cliff top.
A lightweight , temporary option I used recently , was to carry up a dumpy bag. Placed in a hollow and filled with a half ton of loose rock , good for quite a few kN.
You can probably tell I am a fan of building site skips.
When I used to climb at Swanage in the 1980s we used 3' angle iron stakes which were obtainable from builder's merchants. Banged in vertically with a 4lb lump hammer. Remember to tie off the slings at the base of the stakes, not the top nor middle! We always extracted them afterwards.
As above, scaffold pole, there are lots at Swanage. 1.5 metre lengths are available to buy (ledgers)
At Swanage we cut the battered top of and finish with an end cap, easily purchased on internet.
You do needed a big hammer, only a 14lb sledge works at Swanage
The Swanage stakes are now 12 years old are are looking good, no signs of rust.
The BMC t stakes are expensive for what they do, you could buy 30mm 316 stainless bar cheaper!
Well I suppose descending off bolts placed in grassy slopes strewn with loose boulders certainly wouldn't detract from the adventurous feel of most british sea cliffs....
Perhaps Petzl should bring out a rabbit hole, goarse and heather range!
On a more serious note, what are the 'ethics' around placing stakes? I sort of presume if you are doing it properly you can leave it in and are doing everyone a favour (unless it's in someone's field etc.). Or should they be removed after use if not already well established?
Iv previously used 1m to 1.2m of 1inch pipe for stakes. Note with pipe its the internal diameter that is measured so outer diameter is closer to 1 and a quarter inches
Jim tits webpage was mentioned when i was researching what to use
I'm sure I read something a while back about the idea of burying a length of pipe in a horseshoe and letting the turf take for a year or so. Then you'd have an almost invisible anchor where you could just thread your rope through the pipe (like a snow bollard). Absolutely mental of course but it's the sort of thing I could imagine testing quite strong, if done properly. Although stakes are often hard enough to find so can't imagine poking around in the brush for the end of a pipe would be much fun.
> Well I suppose descending off bolts placed in grassy slopes strewn with loose boulders certainly wouldn't detract from the adventurous feel of most british sea cliffs....
> Perhaps Petzl should bring out a rabbit hole, goarse and heather range!
If you sent a ferret in with a thin line tied to a collar, it pops out another hole, then pull a thicker rope through and tie off?
German ww2 barbed wire stakes are excellent. They're T-section about 2" across the top of the T, galvanised and up to 6 feet long. You need to cut the bases and side plates off with an angle grinder and make a point on one end but it's worth it. They go into rocky ground far easier than scaffold poles do due to their pointier nature, so if I were able to source decent angle iron or T-section iron from a scrapyard I'd use that in preference to scaffold tubes if I were you.
Oh, and short stakes in vegetation are a nightmare to find. I run lengths of blue polyprop between our perma-stake clusters so you can find the others once you've found one. The rope soon gets overgrown and isn't an eyesore.
Hey Andy, I picked up a pile of these;
1" diameter and a metre long for £5.36 each. Worked well so far.
I used Highland Industrial Supplies and bought angle iron, it comes in 6m lengths but they were happy to cut it into shorter bits for me (I think I went with mostly 80cm lengths). Obviously not a supplier you will find in Pembroke but calling round a few building supplier type places should turn up at least one that will cut them to size for you. I can't comment on the effective longevity.
Wherever you get them, the price will probably be horrific because a lot of the UK steel came from South and East Ukraine. Someone who was making stuff for me told me that they had just bought the last steel sheet spool from their supplier and the price had jumped 160% and a couple of weeks later the supplier had been trying to buy it back for even more. Obviously not sure if angle iron and sheet spools are made in the same place.
I remember these being all over the place in Jersey while I was growing up, I didn't realise they were German, I thought they were just normal. It seems farmers repurposed them around the fields to keep the cows in.
>if I were able to source decent angle iron or T-section iron from a scrapyard I'd use that in preference to scaffold tubes if I were you.>
I've been placing stakes at Swanage since the early seventies and have learnt the lesson, if it's not galvanised or stainless don't do it.
Either do the job well or not at all.
the short answer is yes, but there is "surface corrosion" and then there is "loss of section"
just to put things in perspective, from my limited experience with steel - corrosion rates of steel in sea spray / splash zones are >5x what it is for steel buried in soil.
steel buried in soil tends to loose section thickness quite slowly (although there are many factors, from Ph to gravelynes; more gravel = more air)
stakes tend to rust most at and just below the soil line (my experience). if you want to check, dig a bit in the grass and soil; if it's fine within the first few inches it's probably the same deeper down (many caveats apply - and no one can say how deep the bastard is buried)
So in summary:
Scaffold pole or other galvanised steel tube for durability, angle iron for economy and better penetration of rocky ground.
Absolute dogs bollocks of stakes is the military ground anchor stake. About a metre long, hexagonal section hardened steel with a forged eye at the top for "unscrewing" with another stake. Hard to find but well worth it.
> Absolute dogs bollocks of stakes is the military ground anchor stake. About a metre long, hexagonal section hardened steel with a forged eye at the top for "unscrewing" with another stake. Hard to find but well worth it.
I dunno, seems to be plenty of ads on military surplus sites for them. They tend to come with the massive metal plate though. What amazes me is how something in perfectly good useable condition gets sold off for a fraction of what it costs to be replaced, unless it's done for downsizing reasons.
Also known as road menders pickets, however the real nuts in rocky ground are buck-rake tines, those you can drive through rock, made of chrome-moly steel and are certified strength. They are suprisingly cheap, start at maybe €13, heavy though!
For Merseyside/Cheshire sandstone, I've used Lochrin palisade palings - but only where there is no belay alternative. They are galvanised and do rust eventually but I checked one recently which was placed for the Frogsmouth rebolting exercise in 2010 and it was solid. Generally what you are whacking into at quarries is rubble and the stake goes in like a dream with a sledgehammer but sometimes you hit solid rock. I would always use two as a failsafe. I know someone who has a stack at the back of a builder's yard which is handy; Palisade fencing is used on industrial estates everywhere and you can often find palings lying around on derelict sites. Jim Titt's advice on the Bolt Products website is ace. Happy whacking! https://www.lochrin-bain.co.uk/products/lochrin-palisade/
How did you know?
Duly noted - is the acidity any different, do you think, in the boggy ground above the upper tier than the better drained soil above the sea cliffs? I've got some now anyway, so it can be an experiment. Unless they're removed by persons unknown before corrosion gets a chance.
> How did you know?
I don't know, but I've worked in fish farms on the west of Scotland for about 40 years and I've seen galvanised steel turn to rust when it's been constantly wet (fresh water) for about 15 years.
I don't know how different acid soils compare, there can also be a lot of sea spray around the coasts.
But like everyone else I abseil off galvanised stakes!
> Can anyone advise on where best to buy or acquire metal stakes (for sea-cliff belays etc)?
> Those ones in Pembroke (BMC placed?) with the cross bar are good, but open to anything suitably durable.
How much are the BMC ones and where do they come from?
I am sure that Shirley from the BMC must read UKC, so it would be helpful information.
BMC T section stakes are very closely based on a design long used for 4x4 winch recovery. I was given to understand that a company specialising in fabricating 4x4 ground anchors were contracted to produce them for the BMC. I believe it may have been a company called Forgetec:
Someone from BMC HQ would know for sure....
BMC Stakes certainly look the business but in truth are no more effective than a section of galvanised scaff pole of similar length and are possibly even slightly inferior, especially if placed the 'wrong' way. Scaff pole is normally much cheaper (as in free) if you know who and where to ask. Over the years I've placed a significant number of both BMC T and scaff pole stakes.
By way of an anecdote, we once winched a grossly overloaded Land Rover, packed to the roof with bags of sand and cement, from a bog high above Cwm Pennant en route to Cae Amos bothy using just a single, very well placed BMC T stake. Admittedly, we rigged it with a snatch block rather than trying a straight line pull, but even so..... The force exerted on the single stake would easily have been somewhere between 5 and 10 tonnes. I was impressed.
In support of scaffold tube, the hole does give an opportunity to inspect the inside of the tube and check the length/depth.
Also in my experience, though bombproof for a horizontal loading, scaffold tube offcuts can often be pulled relatively easily out of the ground for inspection. I think this is because the flat end smashes through rather than between obstacles.
I will have a check on some I put in six years and twelve months ago when I have a chance. Also interested to see if there is any variation in corrosion between the inside and outside of the tube.
> In support of scaffold tube, the hole does give an opportunity to inspect the inside of the tube and check the length/depth.
> Also in my experience, though bombproof for a horizontal loading, scaffold tube offcuts can often be pulled relatively easily out of the ground for inspection. I think this is because the flat end smashes through rather than between obstacles.
> I will have a check on some I put in six years and twelve months ago when I have a chance. Also interested to see if there is any variation in corrosion between the inside and outside of the tube.
Coming back from Ambleside , took a detour to Tilberthwaite today to check the stakes placed six years ago.
Just a bit of surface rust on the cut ends, so good to use, except someone had pulled two out to half depth. Luckily I had carried my sledge to hammer them back in.
Also no parking restriction signs to be seen on either parking area , so all that fuss , last year? , seems to have disappeared.
Just a few more rock and tree falls