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Kevlar0

climber
Topic Author's Original Post - Nov 18, 2015 - 11:14pm PT
I've heard they've stopped making these (or the lead times are pretty crazy), and I was wondering if anyone knew where I might find one. I've searched ebay and various gear trade sides, but haven't had any luck so far.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Nov 19, 2015 - 12:07am PT
http://www.valleygiant.com/
The website seems fine....
You might be able to borrow them if you have a particular project in mind.
nutstory

climber
Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Nov 19, 2015 - 12:29am PT
Clint, I know that you like beautiful photgraphs of climbing gear.
Willoughby

Social climber
Truckee, CA
Nov 19, 2015 - 01:51am PT
In theory, these should be coming out at some point too: http://gearjunkie.com/biggest-climbing-cams
donini

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Nov 19, 2015 - 06:58am PT
When a crack gets to that size you can stick your knee in.....works just like a cam.
Trashman

Trad climber
SLC
Nov 19, 2015 - 07:18am PT
Tom hasn't stopped making them, but the lead times do appear to be pretty long at the moment. I'd say order before you need it.
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Nov 19, 2015 - 08:07am PT
Order now, if you ever, want one.
Kevlar0

climber
Topic Author's Reply - Nov 19, 2015 - 06:50pm PT
I got one coming in ~4 weeks. :D
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
Nothing creative to say
Nov 19, 2015 - 07:00pm PT
Bam!
Trashman

Trad climber
SLC
Jan 17, 2017 - 10:59am PT
Bump bc whiny peeps on other forums.

Not sure I ever gave a shoutout or public thanks to Tom for my excellent VG 9. I don't place it often, but just having it on the rack is a calming influence(especially when I'm smart enough to leave it on the ground ;)
Batrock

Trad climber
Burbank
Jan 17, 2017 - 11:08am PT
That post on MP is pretty funny complaining about them not being polished.
Trashman

Trad climber
SLC
Jan 17, 2017 - 11:21am PT
Yep, dude should just go buy a Deis Cam instead. Heard they're real purdy and endorsed by Pampack (c).
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

climber
Out Of Bed
Jan 17, 2017 - 12:32pm PT
Yup, entitled spooge,
Only had shiny new stuff, from the crib through the gym.
Now, they stumble into My" zones, where there is dirt and
(Oh the humanity)Loose rock!
Welcome to the real zone !

( I was going to do something like this, glad you did, thnx )



Here's the Link:

https://www.mountainproject.com/v/valley-giants---buyer-beware/112447299
madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Denver, CO
Jan 17, 2017 - 11:23pm PT
If the crack gets that big, you can HEAD jam!

If it's offwidth at that size, you just slam your head sharply forward into the crack and wait for swelling to make the jam secure.

With the proper fit, you can even act as the anchor. Head plus knee turns your body into a loop that can be slung or used to lap-coil a rope. And your hands are free for other activities.
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

climber
Out Of Bed
Jan 18, 2017 - 05:13am PT
Ah, yes Madbolter! The trusty head jam!
Used to cop a rest at the beginning of the business of A Seperate Reality,
you could get a no-hands rest; Both hands off the rock if your neck was strong like that.
The Swelling Part? Not so much! sadly, your ears are at risk of being De gloved or ripped off.
SilverSnurfer

Mountain climber
SLC, UT.
Jan 18, 2017 - 10:45am PT
Tom from Valley Giant contacted the customer, indicated that the unit had been assembled by someone else and did not meet his own specifications for finished product.
Any good machinist would have told you the same-it wasn't finished properly.
The issue was resolved.
madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Denver, CO
Jan 18, 2017 - 11:10am PT
Oh, yes. The de-gloving effect is a significant problem. It takes more skill to head-jam than people initially think (until they try it for themselves). For example, blood is an excellent lubricant. So, you need to introduce swelling without bleeding. And, as you rightly note, the ears must remain out of the crack at all costs!

The key is to insert just the front 45-degrees of the head, without going in to the ears. And you can't "rattle" on the way in, as that typically results in blood loss (and the aforementioned lubrication).

Once the technique is mastered, the practitioner will be able to drive the head in, leading with the forehead, glancing just once on each side of the crack (focusing on the temples), until the head is angled in (the angle is critical), with the temples virtually filling the crack. The goal is a "temple wedge" more than cheeks, and certainly not ears!

Finally, because many wide cracks grow wider as they ascend, the expert practitioner is able to "rinse and repeat" the head jam higher and higher, as additional swelling works to one's advantage.

Of course, one must be sensitive to the sense of "mushiness" that can result after about the fourth or fifth insertion, which can reduce the security of the jam. One will typically not attempt anchoring off of a head-jam after about the third iteration.
Barney Rubble

Trad climber
ALAMEDA
Jan 18, 2017 - 06:04pm PT
A friend is making some large cams. Not sure if he's selling them but they're pretty cool.

Moof

Big Wall climber
Orygun
Jan 18, 2017 - 07:05pm PT
Well that is quite the cruel c*#k tease. Any better close ups? Kind of look overly thinned out, curious how they did in pull testing?
nutstory

climber
Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Jan 19, 2017 - 02:30am PT
A friend is making some large cams. Not sure if he's selling them but they're pretty cool.
Bonjour Barney,
Could you let me know the whereabouts of your friend who makes such magnificent big devices. I would be most grateful to him if he could send me good photographs of them. Thank you for your help.
Barney Rubble

Trad climber
ALAMEDA
Jan 20, 2017 - 03:20am PT
Pull testing? Don't know, haven't weighted one yet. I figure if I fall hard enough to break something like that I deserve whatever happens to me :-)

I'll see if the maker wants to post up more info.
nutstory

climber
Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Jan 20, 2017 - 05:50am PT
Thank you Barney!
August West

Trad climber
Where the wind blows strange
Jan 20, 2017 - 01:44pm PT
Kind of look overly thinned out, curious how they did in pull testing?

My Valley Giants saw quite a bit of use over the years. But as much as I can remember, my partner (or I) always pushed it along on lead or used it for aid. A lighter, large cam that was rated for body weight would actually have served my needs better.
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

climber
Out Of Bed
Jan 20, 2017 - 02:32pm PT
August West! The 1st rule of fight club!

We wanted it to be clear -ish,
that this recent complaint is from a neophyte; un-familiar to the battle of
The wide.
He really only grasped the idea of small cam action.

realization of the limitations and strengths of wide cam use only comes with the experience
Personal experience !

Don't spill the beanz!

it has been clear , and was made doubly so by the Madbloters and my banter you must have (the Thearter Goth), Strength finesse and willingness to sacrifice body parts to completely utilize the benefits of larger cams, IN ORDER TO SURMOUNT THE WIDE
edavidso

Trad climber
Oakland, CA
Jan 20, 2017 - 03:27pm PT
I make the cams that Barney Rubble posted a picture of.

I've made four sizes so far, which are numbered by the middle range of the crack size they protect: #4.5, #6, #8, and #10. The #4.5 is equivalent to a BD#5, the #6 is like a BD#6 but with a little more range, the #8 is like a VG#9 but has an extra inch of range and goes to 10", the #10 is like a VG#12, but has the same increase in range and goes to 13". The increase in range is due to the wide double axle design.

All of them have a trigger lock mechanism, which allows them to be locked in the closed position until they are needed and then they very easy to unlock with one hand. They are intentionally more difficult to lock in the retracted position.

They were designed for 10 kN and have been tested to 10 kN, but I have not tested any of the newer designs to failure. The stem will, in theory, hold 14 kN but there is a chance, especially on the larger two, that the lobes will buckle before reaching 14 kN.

Here are some more specs:
#4.5: range = 80.8 to 147.3 mm, weight = 305 g
#6: range = 107.4 to 195 mm, weight = 426 g
#8: range = 145.5 to 253 mm, weight = 527 g
#10: range = 189 to 330 mm, weight = 765 g

Attached is a picture of all four, the #8 in the retracted and locked position and open position, and my wife, Robin, racked up with a few of them.

thebravecowboy

climber
The Good Places
Jan 20, 2017 - 03:34pm PT
super cool! you have obviously already put some coin into this project. any plans on releasing your results to the greater mass of sick sick OW fetishists? I would be game for a #8 if you were so inclined to let one go.

love my vg but damn is it heavy
NutAgain!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Jan 20, 2017 - 04:33pm PT
Did you research smooth lobes touching the rock vs. knurled or bumpy? Seems like it might matter more on the bigger cams than on the smaller ones, to find a spot that sits nicely without walking.

I'm on the list of highly interested folks...

Camalot strength for comparison (using numbers from their website):
[0.3] 8 kN, 1798 lbf
[0.4] 10 kN, 2248 lbf
[0.5] 12 kN, 2698 lbf
[0.75-6] 14 kN, 3147 lbf
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Jan 20, 2017 - 04:44pm PT
I look forward to trying these out sometime.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jan 20, 2017 - 05:47pm PT
Nice work.
The new trigger design looks like a very good innovation.
(The way the cable goes to a separate lever near the axle instead of to the surface of the cam lobe).
Moof

Big Wall climber
Orygun
Jan 20, 2017 - 08:56pm PT
Drooling.

Take my money.
Alexey

climber
San Jose, CA
Jan 20, 2017 - 10:14pm PT


I proceeded to plug in a camming device that Erick actually makes. It is lighter and has more range than a black diamond #6. Erick is a master fabricator and spends hours perfecting wide gear for offwidth adventures. A unique man.

first time I was reading about new big cam production in Wild Turkey report
http://www.supertopo.com/tr/Deparately-Seeking-Stacks-A-Wide-Adventure/t12928n.html

Erick, are you going to sell your big cams?
nutstory

climber
Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Jan 21, 2017 - 06:27am PT
Bonjour edavidso, thank you very much for posting such great photographs of your magnificent cams. These delicate devices remind me stained-glass windows of cathedrals.
I would not want to impose too much on you but would it be possible to have a close-up picture of the central part of the device (double axle, springs, bridge, and stem attachment).
The trigger wire arrangement looks innovative to me.
If you ever produce some more samples, I would be most excited to get a #8 from you...
In 2009, your Green 2cam did almost win the Homemade Cam World Cup Beauty Pageant Thread on RC ;-)
Matt's

climber
Jan 21, 2017 - 07:55am PT
Really impressive for a home-made cam! Looks like your #6 is about 100g lighter than the BD camalot version.

As someone mentioned upthread, these sort of cams are usually pushed above the head, and thus don't need to be super-bomer. For this reason I am not too worried about the whole design taco-ing during a fall.

The ability to lock the cam in a compact, closed state is clever, but was not too hard to accomplish before...

I think there is a niche market for ultra-light big cams--- would be nice for big climbs like the salathe!
edavidso

Trad climber
Oakland, CA
Jan 22, 2017 - 06:32pm PT
Thanks for the interest. I'll probably sell some #8's at some point and maybe the #10 someday. I wouldn't be able to compete with BD on the #4.5 or #6. The #6 pictured was the one we brought up Wild Turkey last year. The #8's have seen a few ascents of the Salathe by friends.

As was mentioned these cams are very light. The #8 is about 60% the weight of a VG#9 and weighs less than a BD#6. Most of the weight savings were accomplished by taking as much material as possible out of the lobes while retaining strength and buckling resistance.

The lobes have no teeth and are a smooth profile. The teeth do nothing as far as I can tell. Rock is harder than aluminum and bites into the lobes. We've had no problems with these walking.

The trigger design is unique as was noted. I wanted to move the trigger mechanism internal to the lobes to make cam retraction similar to that of a smaller cam. It also means adjacent lobes sit basically right next to one another, which increases buckling resistance and allows the cam to have a narrower overall head width. It also made it easier to accomplish the integral trigger lock mechanism.
Alexey

climber
San Jose, CA
Jan 22, 2017 - 08:25pm PT
Erick, I want to buy your #8 when it would be available, thanks..
Studly

Trad climber
WA
Jan 22, 2017 - 09:25pm PT
I'd take an #8 also if they are available. Beautifully crafted cams!
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jan 23, 2017 - 02:57am PT
Lending out a giant cam for the Salathe' is a fine tradition!
One of my partners bought a homemade #7.5 from some Mexicans in Camp 4
in 1985 when we first did the Salathe'.
It's gone up the climb on loan several times since.
We still call it the "Secret Weapon".
Great to have on that last pitch and a couple of other spots (too small
for Hollow Flake, but that's OK).
It's pretty sketchy compared to yours, though - the axle is simple threaded
stock, so the cams have a lot of play by now!

[Edit to add:]
Stephane,
Yes, I believe it's a Kuate, though not marked that way.
We bought a small cam from the same guys,
stamped KUATE 0.5 on one side of the shaft, and MEXICO on the other side.
Not quite time to retire it - hoping to use it again on the Salathe' this spring!
Here are Marty Karabin's photos of a Kuate 7.5, which appears to be an exact match, except the one I have does not have any marking on the stem or elsewhere. Also the one I have has a tubular axle.
from
http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1547699&tn=160
nutstory

climber
Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Jan 23, 2017 - 06:35am PT
Clint, can we see a photograph of this exotic cam...?
Would not it be a Kuate???
I know a great location for your "friend's" retirement"...;-)
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Jan 23, 2017 - 08:11am PT
Valley Giants: Salathe, Chouinard, Robbins, Harding, Pratt, Bridwell, Kauk, Bachar
nutstory

climber
Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Jan 23, 2017 - 08:47am PT
Erick, forgive me for giving this name to your cam.
OlympicMtnBoy

climber
Seattle
Jan 23, 2017 - 09:02am PT
Sweet, I love this giant cam talk! Let me know if you start selling those #8s too!
micronut

Trad climber
Fresno/Clovis, ca
Jan 23, 2017 - 11:33am PT
Fun thread. First timer here.





edavidso

Trad climber
Oakland, CA
Jan 23, 2017 - 10:02pm PT
Yes, apparently a giant cam is very helpful for some sections of the Salathe. I'll have to get up there at some point!

Nutstory, "Wild Turkey" is a great cam name! Wild Turkey was mostly a 5" crack though. Christina, pictured in the post above, was our rope gun on that one.

Well, glad to hear there's some interest in these cams. Unfortunately, I don't think I'll be able to quit my day job...
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Jan 23, 2017 - 10:54pm PT
Put me on that list too! I have a project I could put them on as soon as tomorrow!
nutstory

climber
Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Jan 24, 2017 - 12:36am PT
Tomorrow… Hum… I had the project I could put a Wired Bliss Big Bud #7 on as soon as the day after… I had to wait nineteen years before living my dream… ;-)

edavidso, my wife suggests the name Angel Wings for your cams... Can you imagine a better protection than an angel... ;-)
Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
sawatch choss
Jan 24, 2017 - 08:37am PT
I would buy a #8 when you get around to making them.
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
Jan 24, 2017 - 08:41am PT
Angel Wings is a great suggestion.
WBraun

climber
Jan 24, 2017 - 08:49am PT
Dead weight! Too expensive!

Just run it out .......
couchmaster

climber
Jan 24, 2017 - 08:52am PT


If you do a run and the price is less than stratospheric, put me down for 2 #8's and a #10. Not all of us can climb like Werner:-)

Let us know what you need, what the cost is, and how to go about it when you get organized.


Alexey

climber
San Jose, CA
Jan 24, 2017 - 02:15pm PT
big line already for #8, but looks like I am the first [at least my post]
matty

Trad climber
under the sea
Jan 24, 2017 - 05:31pm PT
I dont think he's taking names yet, but throw me in too if it ever evolves to that.
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Jan 25, 2017 - 03:41am PT
Ya know, nutstory, if you can help persuade this angel wings builder to get some of these off of the testing bench and into the world, (and onto my rack) then I could cocievably move some of my historic units off my rack and into your collection,,,,
nutstory

climber
Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Jan 25, 2017 - 06:29am PT
Even if I am rather flattered that you think that I have considerable means to convince every climber to supply me with all that I would like to add to the collection, I am well afraid that I am credited with skills that I unfortunately do not possess… ;-)
WyoRockMan

climber
Grizzlyville, WY
Jan 25, 2017 - 07:07am PT
I'd take an 8 for sure, probably a 10 as well. It would be swell if this happens.
nutstory

climber
Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Jan 25, 2017 - 07:25am PT
Stephane,
Yes, I believe it's a Kuate, though not marked that way.
We bought a small cam from the same guys,
stamped KUATE 0.5 on one side of the shaft, and MEXICO on the other side.
Not quite time to retire it - hoping to use it again on the Salathe' this spring!
Clint, I have just discovered your images of the Kuate. Thank you very much! Meanwhile you part with it, I treasure your photos in my computer ;-)
go1dens4

Trad climber
Melbourne, FL
Jan 25, 2017 - 08:11am PT
If there is a line... Id like one of dem #8s too!
edavidso

Trad climber
Oakland, CA
Jan 25, 2017 - 08:32am PT
Nutstory, Angel Wings is another great name!

Looks like there's enough interest in these to make a run of #8's. I'm currently working on a solution to get rid of the silver solder joint between between the stem and stem end ("I" beam part) but am just about there. Silver soldering is the major time sink in these. If I got rid of all the silver soldering, I could almost make money selling these!
nutstory

climber
Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Jan 25, 2017 - 08:51am PT
Thank you for these very good news. The "I" beam part is what I called the "bridge".
Trashman

Trad climber
SLC
Jan 25, 2017 - 09:15am PT
If you're running numbers add me to the list and let me know where I can send a deposit. Also, I'd like the 10 even more than the 8, but will happily buy either.
Raafie

Big Wall climber
Portland, OR
Jan 25, 2017 - 09:22am PT
I bet there are quite a few lurkers who are interested. Myself included.

Set a price and ask for up front deposits.
FTOR

Sport climber
CA
Jan 25, 2017 - 12:05pm PT
really like edavidso's design for these larger units, nice. think the split axel the way to go, but be mindful there are patents out there. one thing i found you can't get around is they are inherently unstable, they invert easily. more power to another oakland cam maker... mine were some of the first out there back in the day.
Moof

Big Wall climber
Orygun
Jan 25, 2017 - 02:54pm PT
The double axle patent ran out a while back as I recall, which is why you saw a flood of Friends and Dragons with them.

Raaf, get back to work. Stop drooling over gear. We have too much already. Now we actually have to go climbing once in a while to justify it.

I'd pony up for one too.
karabin museum

Trad climber
phoenix, az
Jan 26, 2017 - 06:20pm PT


Big cams are fun!


edavidso

Trad climber
Oakland, CA
Jan 27, 2017 - 07:26pm PT
Great to see all the interest! I'll make a run of #8's first. The #10's are a couple iterations behind at this point so will be a bit before those are ready. Given my day job and limited access to machine tools, it'll probably be a few months before I have any #8's ready.

Tony Christianson's double axle cam patent expired about 10 years ago so no issues there. I filed a provisional on this design several months ago mostly just to keep the big players from "borrowing" any of my ideas.

Thanks for your patience!
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jan 27, 2017 - 07:33pm PT
Sounds good.
Sign me up for a #8, assuming the price is similar to a VG 9.

Will take it on the Salathe'.
My son / partner just hurt his knee, so I don't need to hurry and
cheat death with the old "Secret Weapon" this time.
Last time, on the last pitch, I placed it, it was sketchy,
and I could see if skated I'd hit a ledge and be hurt real bad$$!
It didn't skate, but I felt kinda dumb rolling the dice there.
nutstory

climber
Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Jan 28, 2017 - 12:44am PT
If I am not mistaken:

1. thebravecowboy 1 #8
2. nutstory 1 #8
3. Moof 1 #8
4. Alexey 1 #8
5. Studly 1 #8
6. Jaybro (of course ;-) 1 #8
7. Rhodo-Router 1 #8
8. couchmaster 2 #8’s and 1 #10
9. WyoRockMan 1 #8
10. go1dens4 1 #8
11. Trashman 1 #8 and 1 #10
12. Raafie 1 #8
13. Clint Cummins 1 #8
Werd

Trad climber
CO
Jan 28, 2017 - 08:40am PT
Beauties. I'd like a #8 and #10 as long as price is ~ that for Valley Giants.

Thanks!
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

climber
Out Of Bed
Jan 28, 2017 - 08:56am PT
UM.
Marty! Dude! ,
I c what i c! Owow! Looks as I'll have to work out to get in shape, just to get in shape to haul those suckers up on the tag line.
Anyway
Wow can you do a photo display of those ? 'Mega's?

The picture does not do them justice!

OopZ!!👫🌧hope the wife changes her mind . . . .
lifeguard

Big Wall climber
Colorado
Jan 29, 2017 - 09:58am PT
I'll take:
2-#8's
1-#10

Please
thebravecowboy

climber
The Good Places
Jan 29, 2017 - 11:11am PT
yes I am in for a #8, let me know how/when to get in touch/pay up....
matty

Trad climber
under the sea
Jan 29, 2017 - 12:39pm PT
I should be between couchmaster and wyorockman on the list if keeping track and am in for 1 or 2 8's depending on price.
karabin museum

Trad climber
phoenix, az
Jan 29, 2017 - 06:27pm PT


Yes Karabin Climbing Museum is looking for a #8 and #10 for sure!
haleyd

Trad climber
SLC
Jan 29, 2017 - 09:42pm PT
Sign me up for an 8 too. Pretty please :)
Tom

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
Jan 30, 2017 - 01:36am PT
I just now saw this post.




That post on MP is pretty funny complaining about them not being polished.

I'm afraid to look.





Erick's Wild Turkey cams are absolutely beautiful, and are so lightweight. The trigger mechanism, with integral lock, looks to be quite brilliant. They look like they are the optimal lightweight big cams. Hopefully, Erick can provide some to the many people posting here that they would like a lighter cam, as an alternative to the onerously massive Valley Giant.


Of course, the Valley Giant is heavy. It's supposed to be heavy. The heavy is what makes it great. If it wasn't heavy, everybody would do it.

The Valley Giant is heavy because it is strong.




Some thoughts on lightweight big cams, versus heavy big cams:

What I have found, in making Valley Giants over the past 15+ years, is that it is not too difficult to make lightweight cams - you just do what Erick did, and judiciously cut away as much lobe material as you think you can get away with. Also, you can use magnesium alloy or plywood for the lobes; a thinner steel cable loop, or a dyneema clip-in loop in a drinking straw; nylon monofilament trigger wires; hollow axles; flimsier springs.

What I have also found, after actually using big, lightweight cams for over 10 years, is that reducing the weight always reduces the strength. Eventually, the rather small weight savings didn't seem worth the significant reduction in strength, reliability and safety. Saving 24 ounces, for three lightweight magnesium MVG9 cams on a 150+ pound big wall rack, didn't make sense, especially in the context of an emergency or forced bivy situation where full-strength VG cams might be crucial.

For an ascent of the Salathe, a lightweight 200+mm cam probably makes sense. But, for a more serious OW experience, such as Excalibur, maybe not so much.


Big cams have a peculiar failure mechanism, wherein the lobes buckle sideways, deform into an arc, and fail due to lateral instability. This failure mode is difficult to model accurately with a FEA computer program, and not just because the configuration of the cam itself changes under increasing load. Surprisingly large lateral forces are applied to the lobes, even in a parallel-walled steel testing frame, and these lateral forces increase rapidly and non-linearly with increasing load. Irregular rock surfaces induce even more severe lateral forces on the lobes, which makes big cams considerably weaker in the field than in the laboratory.

Here is a photo of a what a Valley Giant VG9 (225mm maximum usable span) cam looks like after sustaining a 5500+ lb. (25 kN) load in a steel box testing frame. The lobes buckled and rolled on the axle until the cam pulled out of the 8-inch (200mm) frame.



By comparison, a magnesium MVG12 (300mm maximum span) that I used on the Son of Heart was deformed under awkward, off-axis, adverse C1 loading by body-weight and lie-back-type loading only, and suffered similar, but lesser, lateral bending of the lobes.


My point is that if you can 100% control the loading conditions of lightweight big cams, then there is no reason to not use them. But, if you are potentially facing awkward placements, unusual loading, bailing down unfamiliar terrain, or otherwise are unable to completely control how you will use your big cams, the significant extra strength of Valley Giant cams would seem to make more sense.

nutstory

climber
Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Jan 30, 2017 - 03:12am PT
Tom, « Wild Turkey » is the name that I gave to Erick's cams on my photo montage. Even if it seems that Erick enjoys it, I am not sure that he will keep it in the future.
Thank you for your post.
jsj

climber
Jan 30, 2017 - 06:35am PT
edavidso - I sent you an email but I'm posting up here also to express my interest in getting a #8.

One question I have regarding performance is how well the cams track when being pushed forward up a crack (do the lobes tend to move evenly or does the cam tend to get lopsided)? This is something I've seen that the VG9 and large Camalots do pretty well; large WC Friends on the other hand are pretty bad in this regard.
OlympicMtnBoy

climber
Seattle
Jan 30, 2017 - 11:16am PT
Count me in on the interest list for a #8 as well!
J R

climber
bend
Jan 30, 2017 - 11:17am PT
Tom!

Thanks for the VG's. It was always a pleasure hauling those things to get me up my adventures!

~dave
thebravecowboy

climber
The Good Places
Jan 30, 2017 - 11:21am PT
That VG 9 you made for me did just the trick TK, got me up the FA of a long-dreamed-of butte.
^ just a little too narrow for my chest, but just perfect for the VG 9....standing on that flake-top with no more cams that would fit, drilling a permanent anchor, that was a wild feeling. you enabled it. thank you!



Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Jan 30, 2017 - 12:02pm PT
Nice corner!

And, like these guys said.! Thanks TK for the valley giant slalom, I love mine! And there is a whole list of climbs I wouldn't have done without them.
I'm sure that manufacturing them is not exactly a lucrative business. Thanks for providing that service!

I used to thinkyou didn't need pro when the cracks got that big. My view now is that although that is often the case, when you need 'em, you really, really, need 'em!
August West

Trad climber
Where the wind blows strange
Jan 30, 2017 - 03:59pm PT
^^^
For some climbs you can scramble to the top to set up a toprope, but others you can't.

My original motivation for getting VGs was to be able to yard/aid my way up Indian Creek cracks to set up topropes so I could learn to climb wide cracks without pro. I would push a VG above me and place an occasional Big Bro (for whatever it might be worth in sandstone) as pro.

That strategy basically worked.


Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jan 30, 2017 - 05:25pm PT
Tom,
Thanks for explaining the lateral loading problem.
The Kuate I've used definitely has that problem!
 Clint
Matt's

climber
Jan 30, 2017 - 05:33pm PT
i'd be interested in a #8.

best,
matt
edavidso

Trad climber
Oakland, CA
Jan 30, 2017 - 08:07pm PT
Nutstory, thanks for compiling the list. Looks like I better start building cams!

Tom, thanks for posting and sharing all of the experience you have making, testing, and using large cams. You are, of course, exactly correct about the lobe buckling failure mechanism of large cams. I have seen this in some of my testing of compromised cams (pre-bent lobes). I have not yet tested any #10's to failure but I'm sure buckling will be the first failure mode. I have attempted to address the buckling problem in this design by using a wide double axle, where each cam lobe is supported laterally at both axles. I run FEA for buckling but should probably run some cases with eccentric loading to closer match what is likely to occur on real rock. However, it will remain the case with my cams and any other large cams (and many small cams for that matter) that if you put one into a constriction that does not allow rotation in the direction of pull, then it will fail at a much lower than rated load.

There are methods to decrease weight without sacrificing strength. One obvious example is to just use a stronger material. My stem, for example, is made from stainless 17-4 H1025, which is about 1.5X the strength of stainless 18-8 wire rope. There are also straight-forward methods to do this with geometry. Using hollow axles is one example. A solid axle will be stronger than a hollow axle of same diameter but a hollow axle of slightly larger diameter will quickly overtake the solid axle in strength and weigh less. It is less obvious with the lobe geometry but between iterations I was able to decrease the weight while retaining the same strength and buckling resistance by shifting around material to the higher stressed areas. Since most cams are rated for somewhere between 9-14 kN, I found no reason to make mine stronger. As Tom stated, Valley Giants are most likely more robust against off-axis loading scenarios.

jsj, good question on cam stability. Larger cams are going to be less stable in this regard (becoming lopsided) than smaller cams, or at least the effect is more obvious given their size. My cams perform similar to camalots.

thebravecowboy

climber
The Good Places
Jan 30, 2017 - 08:49pm PT
nutstory

climber
Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Jan 31, 2017 - 12:35am PT
Edited list; sorry matty ;-)

1. thebravecowboy 1 #8
2. nutstory 1 #8
3. Moof 1 #8
4. Alexey 1 #8
5. Studly 1 #8
6. Jaybro 1 #8
7. Rhodo-Router 1 #8
8. couchmaster 2 #8’s and 1 #10
9. matty 1 or 2 #8
10. WyoRockMan 1 #8
11. go1dens4 1 #8
12. Trashman 1 #8 and 1 #10
13. Raafie 1 #8
14. Clint Cummins 1 #8
15. Werd 1 #8 and 1 #10
16. Naitch 1 #8
17. lifeguard 2 #8 and 1 #10
18. karabin museum 1 #8 and 1 #10
19. haleyd 1 #8
20. jsj 1 #8
21. OlympicMtnBoy 1 #8
22. Matt’s 1 #8
Tom

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
Jan 31, 2017 - 05:42am PT
edavidso,

I just heard from a frequent user of wide cams, of different types (including mine) who said that the single stem design of some other cams was inferior to the U-loop of the VGs, because they tended to bend and break off. This person is, perhaps, the expert in the field at this time.

Just saying.




If your WC6, or other cam, is hard to push up a crack without the head turning sideways and snapping open, you can replace the flexible, mini-cable trigger wires with solid spring wire, and it will cure the problem. The solid trigger wires are what make the VG cams so stable to push up a crack. You can get the spring wire as music wire at hardware stores (and it will rust) or you can find stainless steel spring wire at mcmaster.com in small quantities. I use 0.049" wire, but 0.063" (1/16") would be OK, too. Anything thinner might not be OK.

You'll want the trigger wire to be able to slide through the trigger bar, to accommodate flared cracks.


edavidso

Trad climber
Oakland, CA
Feb 7, 2017 - 08:09am PT
Tom, thanks for sharing your experience. I wanted to use a single stem design for my cams because I like how they handle and it also made the trigger lock easier to accomplish. It can also result in more weight savings. If using identical material, the double stem will be stronger due to more area and will be less likely to bend about one axis. For my cams I'm using a solid single stem made of 17-4 hardened stainless. It is semi-rigid in the sense that it is very springy. At the handle, you can deflect the stem by about 2.5 inches in any direction before seeing any permanent deformation. During use you will occasionally get a slight bend in the stem and you can just bend it back straight. 17-4 is an amazing material in fatigue and even with it's high strength it still has a good amount of ductility. This means you can bend it back and forth (with permanent deformation on each cycle) hundreds of times. Due to its ductility, you can also bend it over a full 90 degrees and it will not crack or fail under load. I have purposefully done this, bent it back to straight, load tested it, and it still held full strength.

The semi-rigid stem makes it very easy to place and to push up cracks. So I'm using 3/64" stainless wire rope for the trigger wires to retain independent lobe movement.

I made a bunch of parts over the weekend but still many more to make. Still working on numbers and shaving cycle time off of the machining ops.
nutstory

climber
Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Feb 7, 2017 - 08:19am PT
Have great fun when making our future monster jewels ;-)
Oso Flaco

Gym climber
Atascadero, CA
Feb 7, 2017 - 09:30am PT
Please count me in for a #8. These look awesome.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Feb 7, 2017 - 01:50pm PT
Thanks for the update and the shaft material discussion.
It's great news that you're making the parts.
Tom

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
Feb 9, 2017 - 03:05pm PT
edviso,

I like the idea of having a spring-steel type single stem, which can deflect and come back. That would seem to be the ideal configuration, because it is light, strong, resilient and reliable.

But, how does that 17-4 stainless react to the silver brazing process? Doesn't the heat create a zone of annealed, soft metal right at the spacer block, where the bending stress is the highest?



If you figure out a really economical way to cut out cam lobes, let me know. I have tried everything from CNC milling, to waterjets, to plasma cutters, and either the cost or the quality, or both, have been an issue.
nutstory

climber
Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Feb 9, 2017 - 11:55pm PT
Tom, what about "my" old-time Excalibur-specification VG7 with undrilled cam lobes... ;-)
karabin museum

Trad climber
phoenix, az
Feb 10, 2017 - 06:07am PT



nutstory

climber
Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Feb 10, 2017 - 06:31am PT
Marty, it's not worth teasing me... Of course, I know that you have this treasure at home...
BLUEBLOCR

Social climber
joshua tree
Feb 10, 2017 - 08:09am PT
Edavidso, are you taking any more orders? I would love to have a #8 please.

And maybe a #10, how much are they?

PM me for payment arrangements.

Thank you sir!
-Mike
karabin museum

Trad climber
phoenix, az
Feb 10, 2017 - 08:16pm PT
Stephane, You are a great friend of mine. No teasing, just sharing a better picture of the VG 7 cam.

Hmmm....I do notice that Toms VG 7 cams have solid aluminum thumb and trigger bars, where mine has a plastic trigger and hollow aluminum thumb bar....so it is a later but still wonderful version of the VG7.
edavidso

Trad climber
Oakland, CA
Feb 11, 2017 - 11:18pm PT
Nutstory, that's a pretty awesome Excalibur rack!

Tom, good question on silver soldering causing annealing. On one of my early prototypes, I was using strain hardened 304 wire rope for the stem and I did get some annealing at the silver solder joint where it joins the stem end. This is where the cam failed at 10 kN. You would get the same result if you used a solid strain hardened rod or any quench and tempered alloy. 17-4, however, is a precipitation hardening stainless, which means the hardening and softening process is very slow (hours). So the time at temperature for silver soldering causes almost no reduction in strength. I still wanted to eliminate the silver soldering at this joint because it was time consuming and recently was able to do this. I'm now heading the end of the 17-4 rod so that it flares outward. I put a matching tapered hole in the stem end and press them together with a couple tons. So no more silver soldering at that joint but I still have to silver solder where it connects to the handle.

As for the lobes, I've always machined them. I can make two at a time by nesting them side by side. I've got machining time down to a couple of minutes per lobe, which will make them more economical than some of the other parts. I don't think waterjetting or plasma cutting would give me the profile tolerance I need where they connect to the horns so haven't considered them. Per your comments on buckling, I've beefed them up a bit...

Blueblocr, once I have this all figured out I'll set up some kind of website to take orders.
Barney Rubble

Trad climber
ALAMEDA
Mar 10, 2017 - 03:58pm PT
Hi Erick,

What's the latest? Is it too late to get on the list for a #8? Looks like you're going to be busy making cams!!!

Saw someone's post about a prettiest cam contest. If there's a better looking cam than yours out there I haven't seen it. Let's see contenders posted up :-)

Greg
nutstory

climber
Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Mar 11, 2017 - 12:17am PT
1. thebravecowboy 1 #8
2. nutstory 1 #8
3. Moof 1 #8
4. Alexey 1 #8
5. Studly 1 #8
6. Jaybro 1 #8
7. Rhodo-Router 1 #8
8. couchmaster 2 #8’s and 1 #10
9. matty 1 or 2 #8
10. WyoRockMan 1 #8
11. go1dens4 1 #8
12. Trashman 1 #8 and 1 #10
13. Raafie 1 #8
14. Clint Cummins 1 #8
15. Werd 1 #8 and 1 #10
16. Naitch 1 #8
17. lifeguard 2 #8 and 1 #10
18. karabin museum 1 #8 and 1 #10
19. haleyd 1 #8
20. jsj 1 #8
21. OlympicMtnBoy 1 #8
22. Matt’s 1 #8
23. Oso Flaco 1 #8
24. BLUEBLOCR 1 #8 and (maybe) 1 #10
25. Barney Rubble 1 #8
Tom

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
Mar 13, 2017 - 01:44am PT
prettiest cam contest

There is no doubt that edavidso's cams look the best. The delicate intelligence that went into the design is just wonderful. Artwork is not too strong a word here. Deliciously judicious manipulation of material seems appropriate, when talking about edavidso's cams.



But, again, it is relatively easy to either make a lightweight cam, or a strong cam. The problem is finding the proper compromise between weight and strength. The people who make airplanes have been dealing with this same issue, since before the Wright Brothers.


I have chosen to make the Valley Giant very strong, but heavy. And I don't think I will shift from that decision. I don't want to hear that someone got hurt, because the Valley Giant wasn't strong enough. I would much rather hear people bitch and moan that the VG cams are too heavy. That way, at least I get to hear from people that have used them, as opposed to a situation where I don't hear from them because a VG cam failed them when it was needed to be strong.


Engineering is all about compromise, because, in the real world, you don't get to eat your cake, and it it, too. A structural system is inherently heavy, and reducing its weight necessarily reduces its structural integrity.


Where is the final, optimal balance, of strength versus weight?





nutstory

climber
Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Mar 13, 2017 - 03:44am PT
Tom, the lightest Valley Giant cam might well be... an old-time Excalibur-specification VG7 with undrilled cam lobes... and I do have a strong interest for it...;-)
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Mar 13, 2017 - 06:09am PT
I think you've taken the right track,Tom. Until they can become as strong as the industry standard, VG, the elegant lines of the more ethereal cams will remain fantasies of cam fetishist/nerds. I think of them like the exotic concept cars we seee photos of.
Forward Thinking brainstorms to a possible advanced reality in the possible future.


Concept Cams!
edavidso

Trad climber
Oakland, CA
Mar 13, 2017 - 09:29pm PT
Thanks for the comments on my cams. I wanted them to be functional first and the design just kind of ended up looking nice in the end.

I have been busy making parts:

There's a lot of other stuff I need to take care of before I can actually start selling these. I'll proof test every one before I send it out and lost access to the Instron machine I was using so am in the process of making a load frame. Anyway, things are progressing...
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Mar 13, 2017 - 10:00pm PT
Wow, looking great. Thanks for the update.
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Mar 13, 2017 - 11:52pm PT
Tom's Valley Giants are REALLY strong. Didn't you test them to failure at something around 5000 lbs-force Tom?

At what pounds-force does a #6 Friend or #5 Camalot fail at?
nutstory

climber
Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Mar 14, 2017 - 12:50am PT
A great, great photograph Eric! Thank you very much for opening the "doors of the wings"!
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Mar 14, 2017 - 03:07am PT
Those are way cool - I'd consider buying a couple if only I could figure out how to eliminate all the groveling involved with their use.
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Mar 15, 2017 - 07:53am PT

Tom's Valley Giants are REALLY strong. Didn't you test them to failure at something around 5000 lbs-force Tom?


I understand they can even hold a PTTP haulba (s) scenario(?) ormaybe that's too much.....
grover

climber
Castlegar BC
Mar 16, 2017 - 11:01am PT
Impressive looking hardware.

Put me down for an 8!!! Getting tired of using 2x4s.
Moof

Big Wall climber
Orygun
Mar 16, 2017 - 01:47pm PT
Wowza! Can't wait to get one. Could use one in May for a pusher piece.
soaring_bird

Trad climber
Oregon
Mar 17, 2017 - 09:25pm PT
Perhaps one of the greatest Valley Giants of all time was not aluminum, but rather..... Layton Kor
Don Lauria

Trad climber
Bishop, CA
Mar 18, 2017 - 04:14pm PT
Here's a valley giant - circa 1971. I loaned to Bud (Ivan) Couch to use on The Pearly Gates at Tahquitz. He mailed it back. The carabiner is from the 7th ascent on the Nose. Dick Williams left it. Boche and I retrieved it on the 8th ascent.

Idahoan

Trad climber
Idaho
Apr 4, 2017 - 10:04am PT
These look amazing!
Put me on the long list of buyers for a single #8 and maybe a #10, depends on when you get around to them.
Matt's

climber
Apr 4, 2017 - 10:27am PT
thanks for the update! Your work quality is amazing.

Any sense of when you will be sending this out?

best,
matt
nutstory

climber
Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Apr 5, 2017 - 01:26am PT
1. thebravecowboy 1 #8
2. nutstory 1 #8
3. Moof 1 #8
4. Alexey 1 #8
5. Studly 1 #8
6. Jaybro 1 #8
7. Rhodo-Router 1 #8
8. couchmaster 2 #8’s and 1 #10
9. matty 1 or 2 #8
10. WyoRockMan 1 #8
11. go1dens4 1 #8
12. Trashman 1 #8 and 1 #10
13. Raafie 1 #8
14. Clint Cummins 1 #8
15. Werd 1 #8 and 1 #10
16. Naitch 1 #8
17. lifeguard 2 #8 and 1 #10
18. karabin museum 1 #8 and 1 #10
19. haleyd 1 #8
20. jsj 1 #8
21. OlympicMtnBoy 1 #8
22. Matt’s 1 #8
23. Oso Flaco 1 #8
24. BLUEBLOCR 1 #8 and (maybe) 1 #10
25. Barney Rubble 1 #8
26. Grover 1 #8
27. Idahoan 1 #8 and (maybe) 1 #10
edavidso

Trad climber
Oakland, CA
Apr 5, 2017 - 09:36pm PT
Getting closer on having some cams ready to sell. I've machined most of the parts for the first batch. I'm making good progress on the pull tester as well. I'll probably have the first ones ready to go in about a month. First batch will be about 15 cams. After everything is in place it shouldn't be too long between batches.

I've set up an LLC called Merlin Rock Gear to make it legit. I need to get going on a website now...

Thanks for the interest and patience!
matty

Trad climber
under the sea
Apr 5, 2017 - 09:41pm PT
Rad...thanks for the update
thebravecowboy

climber
The Good Places
Apr 6, 2017 - 06:33am PT
that is some functional art! I am excited!
Moof

Big Wall climber
Orygun
Apr 6, 2017 - 10:31am PT
Amazing stuff. Crossing my fingers that I can get one in time for my mid-May trip where it would be handy as a pusher piece.
edavidso

Trad climber
Oakland, CA
Apr 6, 2017 - 11:32pm PT
I have enough material to make a couple batches so the 2nd batch won't be that far behind the first.

Moof, I can get you a cam by then. I already have a few cams, just want to get the load tester functional to proof test them before I send them out.
Jon Beck

Trad climber
Oceanside
Apr 7, 2017 - 12:08am PT
I am in for an 8 and a 10, beautiful work, worth waiting for.
Alexey

climber
San Jose, CA
Apr 7, 2017 - 05:36am PT
mid-may sound good, looking forward to get shiny toy!
in light of this news , some climbers started getting rid of old big cams:
http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=2963360&msg=2963444#msg2963444
Moof

Big Wall climber
Orygun
Apr 7, 2017 - 08:49am PT
I'm giddy as a school girl over here.
Matt's

climber
Apr 7, 2017 - 08:56am PT
mid-may sound good, looking forward to get shiny toy!
in light of this news , some climbers started getting rid of old big cams:
http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=2963360&msg=2963444#msg2963444

Alexey, I knew you were the one who took it!

:)

Matt M

Trad climber
Alamo City
Apr 7, 2017 - 09:12am PT
Add me to the list

1x #8 and #10 for me.

WBraun

climber
Apr 7, 2017 - 09:51am PT
You guys don't need these stoopid things.

Pratt didn't have em.

We all ran it out like pros do.

This shows modern people have devolved into pussies ..... :-)
Moof

Big Wall climber
Orygun
Apr 7, 2017 - 10:09am PT
Werner,

I am consigned to a cubicle for the next 7.7 years. Let me dream and cowardly use gear and ropes on my occasional escapes.
WBraun

climber
Apr 7, 2017 - 10:11am PT
Ok,,, you're forgiven :-)
Redon

Trad climber
Seattle
Apr 8, 2017 - 12:32am PT
It'll probably be a while, but I'd also like to get in on this list for a #8.
nutstory

climber
Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Apr 8, 2017 - 12:49am PT
hey nutstory add me to the list above jon beck for an 8 and a 10, i called dibs up thread :)
Hey guys, keep in mind that English is far from being my native language...;-) Is the following list OK?

1. thebravecowboy 1 #8
2. nutstory 1 #8
3. Moof 1 #8
4. Alexey 1 #8
5. Studly 1 #8
6. Jaybro 1 #8
7. Rhodo-Router 1 #8
8. couchmaster 2 #8’s and 1 #10
9. matty 1 or 2 #8
10. WyoRockMan 1 #8
11. go1dens4 1 #8
12. Trashman 1 #8 and 1 #10
13. Raafie 1 #8
14. Clint Cummins 1 #8
15. Werd 1 #8 and 1 #10
16. Naitch 1 #8
17. lifeguard 2 #8 and 1 #10
18. karabin museum 1 #8 and 1 #10
19. haleyd 1 #8
20. jsj 1 #8
21. OlympicMtnBoy 1 #8
22. Matt’s 1 #8
23. Oso Flaco 1 #8
24. BLUEBLOCR 1 #8 and (maybe) 1 #10
25. Barney Rubble 1 #8
26. Grover 1 #8
27. Idahoan 1 #8 and (maybe) 1 #10
28. fivethirty 1 #8 and 1 #10
29. Jon Beck 1 #8 and 1 #10
30. Matt M 1 #8 and 1 #10
31. Redon 1 #8
grover

climber
Castlegar BC
Apr 9, 2017 - 06:16pm PT
Looks great Stéphane.

Thanks for keeping score.
MattF

Trad climber
Bend, Or
Apr 10, 2017 - 02:26pm PT
I'm very interested in 2 8s and a 10, assuming similar prices to VGs. Love seeing the progress and updates!
Russ Walling

Social climber
from Poofters Froth, Wyoming
Apr 10, 2017 - 02:43pm PT
Those units look great!
TheQueen

climber
Salt Lake, UT
Apr 10, 2017 - 07:21pm PT
I Pm'ed edavidso, but Id like to get on the list for a 8 & 10 as well!

Thanks guys!
nutstory

climber
Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Apr 11, 2017 - 12:08am PT
1. thebravecowboy 1 #8
2. nutstory 1 #8
3. Moof 1 #8
4. Alexey 1 #8
5. Studly 1 #8
6. Jaybro 1 #8
7. Rhodo-Router 1 #8
8. couchmaster 2 #8’s and 1 #10
9. matty 1 or 2 #8
10. WyoRockMan 1 #8
11. go1dens4 1 #8
12. Trashman 1 #8 and 1 #10
13. Raafie 1 #8
14. Clint Cummins 1 #8
15. Werd 1 #8 and 1 #10
16. Naitch 1 #8
17. lifeguard 2 #8 and 1 #10
18. karabin museum 1 #8 and 1 #10
19. haleyd 1 #8
20. jsj 1 #8
21. OlympicMtnBoy 1 #8
22. Matt’s 1 #8
23. Oso Flaco 1 #8
24. BLUEBLOCR 1 #8 and (maybe) 1 #10
25. Barney Rubble 1 #8
26. Grover 1 #8
27. Idahoan 1 #8 and (maybe) 1 #10
28. fivethirty 1 #8 and 1 #10
29. Jon Beck 1 #8 and 1 #10
30. Matt M 1 #8 and 1 #10
31. Redon 1 #8
32. MattF 2 #8 and 1 #10 (assuming similar prices to VGs)
33. TheQueen 1 #8 and 1 #10
edavidso

Trad climber
Oakland, CA
Apr 17, 2017 - 08:09am PT
I finished the load frame and it's operational. I've yet to test any new #8's to failure but plan on doing so despite the obvious cost of such a test. All cams I send out will be proof tested. I have not received any PM's from anyone and understand the Supertopo PM's don't go through usually? Anyway, still on track to send a few of these out in May.



thebravecowboy

climber
The Good Places
Apr 17, 2017 - 08:11am PT
cool! Let me know when/how to go about some remuneration for your initiative, innovation and hard work!

If I were you I would just set up a junk email and leave the address posted here, the ST PM system being totally unreliable.

I am stoked!
Matt's

climber
Apr 17, 2017 - 09:14am PT
edavidso-- can you post an alternative way to contact you so I can pay for cam?
I am #22 on the list...
Moof

Big Wall climber
Orygun
Apr 17, 2017 - 10:15am PT
I haven't seen anything come through, so the PM function must still be busted.

Let us know how best to make contact and send $$$.
grover

climber
Castlegar BC
Apr 17, 2017 - 08:59pm PT
Nice work on the testing process.

edavidso mentioned a few post ago that he'll set up a website once he's in a position to start selling his wares.

This is so frickin cool, I've been waiting for this kinda opportunity for a while, I've even emailed wild country a few years back about making larger cams. Haha..... No answer.

Willoughby

Social climber
Truckee, CA
Apr 18, 2017 - 09:40am PT
I've scrolled back and forth through this thread a few times and can't find any info on price for Erick's cams. If it did get posted, can somebody please point me to those numbers? If prices weren't posted, is money no object for all of you folks on the list?
Matt's

climber
Apr 18, 2017 - 10:00am PT
I've scrolled back and forth through this thread a few times and can't find any info on price for Erick's cams. If it did get posted, can somebody please point me to those numbers? If prices weren't posted, is money no object for all of you folks on the list?

No price has been given yet.

My sense is that these cams will hold their resale value, so I don't think they will end up being that expensive, at the end of the day...
Moof

Big Wall climber
Orygun
Apr 18, 2017 - 11:22am PT
Beggers can't be choosers after all. There are not a lot of games in town for BIG cams, well currently this is only the second one looking probable.

Pamalot has not materialized.

Cloud 9's are like their name, ethereal.

Wired Bliss is gone, having only teased a couple lobe shots.

Not sure if there are others I am leaving off?

I'll be happy to pay a fair price, not sure what that means yet, but I found the VG9's sticker price of $218 shipped to be acceptable when I needed it to enable a trip to happen.

Edit: Didn't mean to leave valley giants off, sort of assumed by thread title the first is the VG. Re-reading sounds like a diss, but none was intended. I am quite the happy owner of VG's, but I always love to see continued variety and innovation (especially a new trigger system!).
thebravecowboy

climber
The Good Places
Apr 18, 2017 - 11:34am PT
super wide cams always seem pricy until you find yourself looking down at the string of #6s well below you.
Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
sawatch choss
Apr 18, 2017 - 11:35am PT
I'll be happy to pay a fair price for a #8. And a # 10 (if i can be added to that list).
Thanks for all your work!
rob

s a w a t c h m e AT g m a i l DOT com
Tom

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
Apr 18, 2017 - 11:40am PT
Not sure if there are others I am leaving off?


The Valley Giant has been in continuous production since 2001. Figuring CPI inflation, the prices are the same as back then.

The VG cams have been used extensively, by climbers on six continents, and have been proven to be strong, stable and reliable. Some of the other big cams mentioned here have not proven themselves that way. There are some photos circulating on the internet that demonstrate this, but I am not going to directly link to them.




I am finishing up a large run of them right now, and will be able to send them out by the end of month, maybe earlier.

http://www.valleygiant.com


thebravecowboy

climber
The Good Places
Apr 18, 2017 - 11:50am PT
TK's VG 9 was worth every penny - it got me through significant wyde on the long P1 of a half decade dream! Real VGs know the thug's paradise. thanks TK!
Trashman

Trad climber
SLC
Apr 18, 2017 - 01:54pm PT
Hey Tom, any VG 12's not spoken for in that run? My 9 could use a friend.
Tom

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
Apr 18, 2017 - 02:20pm PT
At this point, I have five VG9, and four VG12 coming up that have not yet been spoken for.

edavidso

Trad climber
Oakland, CA
Apr 19, 2017 - 09:53pm PT
I originally made these cams with no regard for cost since they were just for private use. As a result, there are some rather expensive parts on my cams to enable larger range (double axle, stem end, and control horns) and the integrated trigger lock. The trigger, itself, is a 6 operation part to give it the twist lock features, and it mates with a stainless handle part that is 5 operations. Anyway, I'll have to price these a bit higher when I do start selling on the website but for everyone on the list I'll equal VG's $200 price as a thank you for getting me started. However, I'd like that amount to actually end up in the bank so if you want to pay with Paypal, it'll be $206 (they charge 2.9% + 0.30), and then $10 for shipping. And unfortunately since I'm doing this legit, if I'm shipping to a CA address then you'll also have to pay sales tax, which differs from county to county but is around 9%. You can send me a check to save your place on the list or go the Paypal route. In either case, send me an email at merlinrockgear@gmail.com, and let me know your payment preference, address, and name on the list. I won't charge you anything until your #8 is actually ready to ship. This is just for #8's at this point. The #10's probably won't be ready until the fall I'd guess. I'll also match VG's $300 on those.

I don't think I'll have time to get the website up by the time I have some of these ready to ship.

As I mentioned earlier in the thread, I've beefed up the lobes a little bit so the #8 weight has increased to 568 g. Still very light - roughly same weight as a BD#6 and 65% weight of VG#9. Range is the same - 5.7 to 10 inches. I'll post strength numbers when I finish the tests but should be at least 10 kN given previous testing. Here is what a new one will look like, minus the sewn loop.

ionlyski

Trad climber
Kalispell, Montana
Apr 19, 2017 - 10:32pm PT
Keep your prices up. Seriously, and then some. I'm not going to buy any today, simply cuz I'm not tough enough to get into the wyde at the moment, but this is the key to quality, alternatives to the big players.

So kudos to you and to Tom as well for offering the unique, whilst retaining the freedom to go the extra mile or two in your designs, made the way you want to make them. And then- if the market can support, great. Make them for other people, for sale and hopefully make a profit for your fine efforts. You deserve to.

Arne

Edit-But hellyeah, I'll take a couple anyway. They're so cool.
ionlyski

Trad climber
Kalispell, Montana
Apr 19, 2017 - 10:37pm PT
One question from looking at the last photo. Any problems with the long wire stem, flopping around as you are placing? Is it stiff enough to hold up that size cam?
nah000

climber
no/w/here
Apr 19, 2017 - 10:43pm PT
^^^^

what he said two posts up. and to add:

put a limit on how many you'll match prices for.

as long as these have a reasonable point of failure you have created something both beautiful and differently/arguably mo' better functional/ly, than is currently in the marketplace.

don't sell yourself short [once you've had the earlier adopters do some beta testing for you... hahaha].

if there isn't a market of people willing to pony up for what these actually cost in your time and materials: fUck 'em.

i suspect as with anything both innovative and [assuming they pass the failure tests] functional: you'll do as well at the more respectful [to your time and investment] price as you will at the earlier adopter price. regardless:



thanks for making.
thebravecowboy

climber
The Good Places
Apr 19, 2017 - 11:06pm PT
Excellent! I like the beefier structure. Sent you an email.

nutstory

climber
Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Apr 20, 2017 - 02:41am PT
I cleaned the wall...;-)
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Apr 20, 2017 - 03:15am PT
Looking great!
email sent.
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Apr 20, 2017 - 05:47am PT
Email set
I have the same question about that long skinny stem though.

When I did the fa of Wide World of Sport, @Balch Camp, in 1995, I had prototype #5 Camalots ( they weren't on the market yet) and one larger lobbed cam on the same infrastructure. The cams were too much for the frame and that thing flopped like a flounder. Subsequently and consequently, it never made it to market.

The Pamalots has this same problem I've found, when I've held, placed, triggered them.

I hope this is adequately addressed in merlinvile
The cloud nines, with their rigid stem do not have this issue, but the stem can become bent in certain kinds of sideways torqueing falls on big roofs.

The valley giant is the only existing big cam so far to have adequately addressed this issue. The heavy duty cables flex, rather than deform, and yet are beefy enough to not flop from cam lobe weight,
nutstory

climber
Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Apr 20, 2017 - 06:39am PT
Jaybro (#6 on the list ;-)), as you are fortunate to have held, placed, triggered the Pamelots, have you taken photographs of these cams? Apart from the ones on the Internet, I have not been able to get good pictures of these big guys.
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Apr 20, 2017 - 06:55am PT
No action shots. Just photos of the unit at rest ive posted some. I'll dig em up..
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Apr 20, 2017 - 07:11am PT


More to follow,I have things to do right now...
edavidso

Trad climber
Oakland, CA
Apr 20, 2017 - 07:50am PT
Thanks for the interest and emails. And thanks, Nutstory, for cleaning up that sheetrock wall!

Just to answer the question on the long, skinny stem. I actually addressed this earlier in the thread but to make it clear: the stem is a solid 5/32" 17-4 SST rod. I cold head one end to taper it out to about 1/4" and then heat treat to the H925 condition. At that point it has a tensile strength of nearly 1400 MPa and is one of the strongest stainless steels available. Also not a cheap part! To assemble, it is pressed into the stem end (also 17-4), which has a mating taper, with 2 tons. The other end gets silver soldered to the 304 SST handle. Since the stem is solid, it does not flop around at all, and because it is so strong it can be bent up to about 2.5" in any direction before yielding (not returning to centered). If it does get torqued off center in a fall, you can just hold the cam lobes and bend it back to centered. Due to its strength and toughness, it also has amazing fatigue properties and you can bend it like this hundreds of times.

I also experimented with making the cam with a 3/16" wire rope stem with 1x7 construction for stiffness. Due to the single stem design, this was still a little floppier than I wanted it to be. It also ends up being heavier since wire rope is not as strong as 17-4. You also add one silver solder joint, which is undesirable for a few reasons.

nutstory

climber
Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Apr 20, 2017 - 08:04am PT
Great Jaybro, thank you again!
ionlyski

Trad climber
Kalispell, Montana
Apr 20, 2017 - 08:13am PT
OK then!
Matt's

climber
Apr 20, 2017 - 08:13am PT
edavidso-- looks great! email sent.

best,
matt
Moof

Big Wall climber
Orygun
Apr 20, 2017 - 11:09am PT
Email sent.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Apr 20, 2017 - 01:15pm PT
Wow, Erick - thanks for explaining your stem design!
Your creativity (multiple innovations) and engineering skill are at a level well above other cams!
Alexey

climber
San Jose, CA
Apr 20, 2017 - 02:22pm PT
Email sent
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

climber
Out Of Bed
Apr 20, 2017 - 03:00pm PT
The Anniversary of the start of My 20th year of bliss, just passed. Idid everything I could think of, trying to convince the good wife that I needed a massive cam.

She said to me:
"the only hard wide you'll be climbing - is Me!" this old lady! Has my number and knows to feed me beer & pizza once a month @least.


The Merlin's look amazing!
matty

Trad climber
under the sea
Apr 20, 2017 - 04:59pm PT
Email sent =)
Idahoan

Trad climber
Idaho
Apr 20, 2017 - 06:32pm PT
Email sent here as well. Damn I'm low on that list
BLUEBLOCR

Social climber
joshua tree
Apr 20, 2017 - 06:50pm PT
Bowwww! I'm gettin my pyche on for the WHYYYYED! 😳

PM sent.

But if there's a better way to connect, I didn't see a link?


Edit, vvvv Thanks for the heads up. Email sent:)
kunlun_shan

Mountain climber
SF, CA
Apr 20, 2017 - 06:56pm PT
BLUEBLOCR, Taco PM does NOT work.... send edavidso an email to merlinrockgear@gmail.com, per his request a couple posts up.
karabin museum

Trad climber
phoenix, az
Apr 20, 2017 - 08:28pm PT

..........email sent!


:)
:)
:)




nutstory

climber
Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Apr 22, 2017 - 01:46am PT
I promise super photos as soon as I get my sample ;-)
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Apr 22, 2017 - 05:32am PT
Tom's Valley Giants are tried and tested by yours truly and many many others. They are superbly crafted and highly recommended!

It's great that Tom is producing them again. Get 'em while you can.

Tom - I'm hoping you'll please be able to return that #9 to me this spring, the one where the spring had come undone.

See you on the Bridge for beers?
Tom

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
Apr 22, 2017 - 03:49pm PT
Yeah, PTPP. Early to mid-May?



I would like to see photos of a Merlin8 cam pulled to destruction, in a testing frame that doesn't restrict a big cam's lobe's natural tendency to buckle sideways. That is a big cam's failure mode, not some sort of in-plane breakage of the material. The testing frame photo above looks like it would restrict lateral deflection of the lobes, and not accurately reflect structural behavior in the real world.





A more accurate test of a big cam's strength would be with it almost fully opened, and not half-compressed. Any cam is going to be stronger compressed, as opposed to being fully open. People use cams fully open, and a testing regimen should reflect that.

Furthermore, a rectilinear testing frame is not going to induce the same off-axis loads that a real crack would. Those off-axis loads dramatically increase the lateral loads on a big cam's lobes, and cause them to bend and buckle sideways earlier than predicted in a laboratory test. Depending on how thick the cam lobes are, a rigid, rectilinear frame would tend to stabilize the lobes, in a manner, again, that would not exist in the real world.



And, how is a climber supposed to fully control how his gear is loaded? I've bootied enough "fixed" cams to know that even small ones get adversely loaded in ways the user never intended. Jaybro mentioned above that a Cloud Nine cam's rigid stem bar can be bent sideways during use. PTPP bent and deformed a super lightweight magnesium MVG12 while aiding on it, simply by pulling awkwardly in the awkward Neitzsche chimney. If you had to bail during a storm, or were forced into a emergency hanging bivi, would you want to rely on a "pusher piece" that is not full strength?


10 kN strength for a big cam, in the laboratory, probably translates to something like half that in the real world. The strength of a super lightweight cam can be compared to a tiny brass nut, or a tenuously tapped beak or rurp.


If it was easy to reduce the weight of a structure without reducing its strength, super-expensive materials like carbon-fiber composites and titanium alloys would never have been developed.


There is nothing wrong with climbing gear of relatively low strength. That, after all, is the entire point of aid climbing. But, a climber must recognize the limitations of that sort of gear, and usually include other, stronger, gear on their rack. When I used my own super lightweight, magnesium cams in Yosemite, I always had full-strength Valley Giants, as well. I would never had taken just the magnesium cams, because that would have been irresponsible, and WVB would have given me a ticket for "reckless endangerment" if he had been summoned to come save me.

edavidso

Trad climber
Oakland, CA
Apr 24, 2017 - 11:03pm PT
Tom, thanks for keeping me honest here. You bring up some good points, some of which have been addressed earlier in this thread.

I've pulled a couple #8's to destruction with the load frame I posted a picture of. Both were tested at a crack size of 8", which is the max opening on my current setup. It does not restrict buckling and the first #8 I tested was an old prototype from a few years ago that indeed failed in buckling. I tested a new #8 yesterday and it failed at the handle loop at 11 kN before buckling. Heat from the silver soldering annealed the 304 wire rope and led to that failure. I'll bump up the wire rope size on the handle loop to address. Aside from the broken handle loop, the cam suffered no other damage and was perfectly operable after the test. Cams of any size will fail at their weakest point. However, large cams are much more susceptible to failure by buckling and out-of-plane bending. As mentioned, both of these failure modes get worse as the cam is opened farther.

Double axle cams help reduce buckling failures by having a shorter unsupported span between the near axle and point of contact with rock. This actually helps quite a bit since buckling load goes as the inverse of length squared. Double axle cams also are indirectly more resistant to buckling by having a much larger range than single axle designs. In other words, for an 8" crack, a Merlin #8 is in the middle of its range and a VG9 will be at the edge of its safe range. None of this means that the Merlin cams are immune to buckling, it just means I can make the lobes a little lighter compared with a single axle cam. Eccentric loading leads to earlier buckling failures. Out-of-plane bending leads to eccentric loading and therefore earlier buckling failures. To prevent this type of failure in a normal climbing situation, always make sure that the cam is able to rotate to be in line with the direction of a fall. Lobes that are trapped and unable to rotate are more likely to bend in a fall, which will lead to eccentric loading and buckling. Poor cam placements can lead to failure well below rated load. Using a cam with a bent lobe will also result in eccentric loading and failure below rated load. This goes for all cams but is especially important to remember for large cams.

Here's a picture of the #8 I tested to failure yesterday.

Rhodo-Router

Gym climber
sawatch choss
Apr 27, 2017 - 06:45pm PT
Email sent... projects- awaiting large units.
Thanks!
edavidso

Trad climber
Oakland, CA
Apr 27, 2017 - 10:15pm PT
Nutstory sent me this cool graphic and said I could post it:

If only it were that easy to make these things!

I just completed another pull test using the same cam I tested last time but with a larger diameter wire rope on the thumb loop. Since this was a test, I decided to also try a coarser stitch on the sling. This time the thumb loop held but the stitching gave out at 12 kN. Still no buckling but this was in an 8" crack. The cam was still operable after the test minus the sling. Finite element analysis shows that buckling will occur in a 9" crack at 79% the buckling load of an 8" crack. So if this thing was on the verge of buckling (i.e. assume buckling failure at 12 kN), then it will buckle at 9.5 kN in a 9" crack. At this point, the cam is looking rather tipped out or similar to how a VG9 would look in an 8" crack. Someday I will test in a 9" crack but will have to make a new, larger crack simulator so that will not be for some time. I think I'm done breaking good cams for a bit.

Some bad news on the manufacturing front. There are only two custom parts in these cams that I do not make myself and those are the torsion springs and the axles. I've been having a shop make the axles for me and they've produced a few good batches of axles over the past few years. I ordered 100 axles a couple months ago and a month ago was told they were on machines and would ship out soon. That's the last I heard from them despite several emails and phone calls and no axles have appeared in the mail. So I'm afraid I'll probably have to source these from another shop, which means they're probably about a month out. I have enough axles to make only a few cams at the moment. I'm sorry for the delay. There is still some chance axles will appear but it's looking less likely by the day. Thanks for your patience!
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
Apr 28, 2017 - 09:08am PT
edavidso - have to chime in here to say that you have built one damn fine looking piece of gear.

I also for some irrational reason find it really cool that these are coming out of good old Oakland.

Cheers to the makers out there.
Jon Beck

Trad climber
Oceanside
Apr 28, 2017 - 10:16am PT
Looking good. My only (possibly ignorant) comment would be about the solid shaft. Wouldn't it tend to transfer more force to the axle carrier (or whatever is it called). Obviously side pulls are to be avoided, and a horizontal placement might be asking for trouble if there is nothing to limit the movement of the shaft.
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Apr 28, 2017 - 11:25pm PT
Oakland? Extra cool!
k-man

Gym climber
SCruz
Apr 29, 2017 - 08:18am PT
My stomach hurts just looking at that item. All I can say is that I hope to never find myself in a position where I need one of those things.

Except for maybe has a candle holder or something.
nutstory

climber
Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Apr 29, 2017 - 08:39am PT
If, one day, you find yourself in a position where you need one of those things, and you have no one of them, I promise you that the candles on your birthday cake will be in the wind… ;-) (as usual, forgive my so poorly spoken english)
Moof

Big Wall climber
Orygun
Apr 29, 2017 - 07:15pm PT
Small brass, and big cams: Love to have them, hate to use them.
Tom

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
Apr 30, 2017 - 12:34pm PT

Some bad news on the manufacturing front.

Yeah, I hear that one. I have had numerous issues with contracting out for parts: very expensive, very late, and defective parts coming off of a CNC machine.




Regarding that broken cable loop in the photo above:

I used to silver solder fittings onto 7x19 stainless steel wire rope for tensegrity furniture. And, using a torch on that material was a Pain In The Ass.

The issue, for me, was not exactly annealing the metal. It was that the thin wire strands would rapidly oxidize, even with black flux, and the chromium and nickel would form carbides, and the cable would become extremely weak. The key, for me, was to keep the flame away from the wire rope, and let the heat from the fitting conduct to it. When I brazed lapped splices, with no fitting, I had to be very gentle with the torch, and just barely get the metal hot enough to flow the silver solder.

The 1x19 wire rope I use for the Valley Giant cable loop is much, much less susceptible to degradation during a brazing process. But, I still focus the flame on the fitting, and avoid heating the cable directly.



To paraphrase Chuck Pratt, as presented in his article The View From Deadhorse Point:

Some day, when I am younger and have more time, I will figure out how to avoid the brazing process altogether.

edavidso

Trad climber
Oakland, CA
May 4, 2017 - 07:31pm PT
Tom, I can empathize with you on supplier woes. After concluding that the axle supplier folded and forgot to tell anyone about it, I found a new axle supplier and ordered 100 more axles, which should be here in about 4 weeks. I wrote the previous supplier to tell them I was cancelling the order and after over a month of complete silence they told me they were ready to ship the axles. In any case, I should have more axles than I know what to do with pretty soon.

I also share your experience on the silver soldering. I did have better luck with the 1x19 handle loop since the wire strands are larger and less susceptible to oxidation. It was difficult for me to assemble and get to stay in place though due to its stiffness. I do heat the fitting instead of the wire but still have to go fast to keep the wire from oxidizing and not wicking solder. I managed to get rid of the silver solder joint at the base but still have the joint at the handle to deal with.

As to the question on the solid stem, it transfers more moment to the stem end (I-beam part) but that's a very small force compared to the tensile force produced in a fall, which doesn't really depend on what the stem looks like. And yes, probably best not to use in a horizontal. That's not really how these large cams are used. The stem will not break if bent - I've bent it over 90 degrees and back again and it still held full load - but the cam will probably not be immediately usable if you bend the stem over an edge. You can bend it back and keep going but might be difficult depending on where the bend is.

I had enough axles on hand to finish 5 cams that I sent out today. Here they are:


I sent them out today. They are sent in the retracted and locked position. You simply hold like a normal cam and twist the trigger in the expected direction (i.e. to align the wires with the control horns) and the cam will open. I need to use two hands to lock back into the retracted position. I posted a youtube video to show how this is done: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGwuHYyQENQ
thebravecowboy

climber
The Good Places
May 4, 2017 - 08:38pm PT
Thank you Erick!
nutstory

climber
Ajaccio, Corsica, France
May 5, 2017 - 12:10am PT
It is a great privilege to get a sample from The First Batch.
Thank you very much Erick!
Tom

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
May 5, 2017 - 04:45am PT
Erick,

I am not trying to say that, "You are re-inventing the wheel".

You are not re-inventing the wheel.

What you are doing is evolving the state of the art, here, with respect to large climbing cams. You are pushing the envelope, so that the gear is better, so that people can be safe. Striving for lightweight gear is, generally better, with respect to mountaineering equipment.

You are right here, in a most delicious way, in a valuable quest for advancement of the state of the art.

I admire you. You are striving to make the gear better.




The manufacturing headaches afflict both of us.






matty

Trad climber
under the sea
May 5, 2017 - 08:06am PT
Great to see!
OlympicMtnBoy

climber
Seattle
May 5, 2017 - 09:23am PT
Eagerly waiting for batch #2!

Also really enjoy/appreciate this civil dialogue between Tom and Erick, both clearly talented guys working on cool stuff and innovating along the way. Props to both!
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
May 5, 2017 - 01:43pm PT
Awesome, that's great news!
[Click to View YouTube Video]
msiddens

Trad climber
May 5, 2017 - 06:57pm PT
Way slick. So nice to see quality and an ingenious design and from CA too
Willoughby

Social climber
Truckee, CA
May 12, 2017 - 05:56pm PT
I got a VG9 in the mail today and am STOKED! Almost immediately I realized something that I'd never seen, but would love to see compiled: a list of climbs where these cams are either critical or at least are really comforting to have. E.g., I know they're far from mandatory, but pretty useful for some folks, on TM's Deviation or Pratt's Crack. Seems like a good question to post over at Widefetish, but that site is pretty quiet these days.
NutAgain!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
May 12, 2017 - 06:00pm PT
I don't have one, but would have used it on this thing in Saline Valley:

Made it up pushing a #6 tipped out and then leaving it behind, but a #9 would have made the safety factor casual.



Hourglass Right in Yosemite is another climb that would be really scary without a #9, at least until getting established fully inside the chimney.
Alexey

climber
San Jose, CA
May 12, 2017 - 09:02pm PT
Hourglass Right in Yosemite is another climb that would be really scary without a #9
it was scary with #9 too. Take them both VG9+ Merlin#8. I remember it was place when #9 become too open and I can not move it up any more. So I left it behind and crack soon narrowed and would take it back, but I did not have Merlin#8 at this time.
nutstory

climber
Ajaccio, Corsica, France
May 13, 2017 - 12:20am PT
The right toys for Hourglass Right in Yosemite ;-)
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
May 13, 2017 - 11:28am PT
Yosemite Lodge circa 2001.

PtPP: "Hey Brian, check out this awesome 9" cam Tom made!"

Mr. Way: "So what? EVERYONE makes those..."
Tom

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
May 14, 2017 - 02:18pm PT
PTPP,

I think Mr. Way's response was more like this:

"I am not impressed. Everybody makes big cams."



When are you going to be in the Valley? I have your repaired VG9, ready to go. I can send it to the front desk of Mr. Majestyk's Mountain Motel.

It's located at One Ahwanhee Road, near the base of the Royal Arches route.

ionlyski

Trad climber
Kalispell, Montana
May 14, 2017 - 09:56pm PT
Those 1964 turnbuckle Crack Jacks freak me out! The aluminum one looks cool.

edavidso

Trad climber
Oakland, CA
May 14, 2017 - 10:01pm PT
Hey Tom, thanks for the kind words. My cams have not been used extensively yet, to say the least, so we'll see if they are able to gain the admirable track record that yours have over the past 15+ years.

We were on vacation last week in the Moab area so not much progress on any cams but was back at it today and got several more soldered up. Just waiting on axles to come in at this point to get the remainder of the second part of the first batch out. The initial axle machine shop is back to ghosting me so I'm not going to count on them delivering anything. Axles from the other machine shop should be about 3 weeks out.

There has been some confusion on how to get the trigger lock to lock the cam in the retracted position. Sorry, my video was hastily made and not very clear. I will try to make one that is more clear. In the meantime, use the video for reference on what the locked position should look like: The cam needs to be in the fully retracted position for it to lock. If you are stronger than myself (not saying much) you might be able to do this with one hand. Otherwise, it is easiest to put the handle loop against your chest and use your other hand to push the backside of the lobes into the retracted position. Then use your trigger hand to twist the trigger 30 degrees to locked position. This is how I do it in the video. Another way to do it is to retract as far as you can with your trigger hand and then press the backside of the lobes down against the floor or a wall to get them to fully retract. Hope this helps.
thebravecowboy

climber
The Good Places
May 17, 2017 - 08:56pm PT

The 8" Merlin was much appreciated yesterday
edavidso

Trad climber
Oakland, CA
May 17, 2017 - 09:26pm PT
Here are a couple slow motion videos of pull tests I've done on prototypes as I've described in previous posts. One has a thinner handle loop breaking at 11 kN. The part that falls off at the end of the test is part of my "crack", not part of the cam. I used thicker wire rope on the handle loop for the next test (and all subsequent cams) but used a coarser webbing stitch that broke at 12 kN. If you listen closely to that video, you can hear a few individual strands breaking before the whole thing goes. Definitely watch both with sound! Both were somewhat surprisingly still operable after the tests. Both were tested in an 8" crack at the middle of the cam's range.
[Click to View YouTube Video]
[Click to View YouTube Video]

Stephen McCabe

Trad climber
near Santa Cruz, CA
May 17, 2017 - 10:21pm PT
I'm interested in a #8 Merlin.
le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
May 18, 2017 - 09:23am PT
Hourglass Right in Yosemite is another climb that would be really scary without a #9

it was scary with #9 too.

Pour some out for the fallen soldier of that memorable day.

Look away, Tom!





Mr_T

Trad climber
Northern California
May 18, 2017 - 09:39am PT
I'd like to buy a used VG #9 if anyone has one for sale. (Have one on order, may not be built in time). Please PM me directly.

Thanks

T
Tom

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
May 19, 2017 - 10:07pm PT
Mr_T,

I can loan you one of mine off my rack, and then swap it when your ordered VG9 is ready. Email me at

valleygiant.com

Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
May 20, 2017 - 03:45am PT
Now That's customer service!
nutstory

climber
Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Jun 27, 2017 - 06:56am PT
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jun 27, 2017 - 04:59pm PT
I received my Merlin #8 today, too! (serial #0016)
What a beautiful tool!!!
Thanks to Erick for sharing the dream.
Matt's

climber
Jun 27, 2017 - 09:39pm PT
I received mine today (#14).

Unreal build quality, unreal weight. When the lobes are locked, its more compact than a #5.

Clearly someone smart put a lot of thought into the design.

No disrespect, but a valley giant looks like a high school shop project compared to this thing.

Best
Matt
Late Starter

Social climber
NA
Jun 28, 2017 - 05:09am PT
No disrespect, but a valley giant looks like a high school shop project compared to this thing.

Well, is does seem disrespectful^^.

I'd take function over aesthetics any day. Not to imply the Merlin is less functional, but from what I've seen of Valley Giants, they are built exceptionally well/strong with a lot of thought and detail.
Tom

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
Jun 28, 2017 - 11:59am PT
The Merlin #8 cam certainly looks beautiful, complex and time-intensive to make. It's amazing that it is made in the USA, but has the same price as a plain-Jane Valley Giant VG9.

But, for the same price, the Merlin does not provide the same strength as a Valley Giant. But, then again, maybe today, with sticky rubber, ultra-thin lead ropes, microlight carabiners, and a climbing culture weaned on stories about free solos of Half Dome and El Capitan, the strength of a gear placement is no longer relevant.

Has anyone ever fallen on a Merlin cam? Or even hauled a heavy bag from one? Structural behavior in a restrictive testing frame is not going to accurately reflect how a cam works in an uneven rock crack under adverse loading conditions. The failure mode for a big cam is through sideways deflection and bending of the lobes (see the photo I posted earlier in this thread). The Valley Giant cam lobes have solid metal near the axle, because that is where the bending stresses are highest. Big voids, right at the axle, would reduce the strength quite a bit.




By the way, Theron Moses came through for me yesterday, and cut out a run of Valley Giant VG9 and VG12 cam lobes for me.

So, just in case anyone out there wants a "high school shop project" that isn't just a pusher piece, but can actually hold a fall, or be used as a hauling or rescue anchor, and that has over fifteen years of proven use, I will have some more Valley Giant cams ready soon.

Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jun 28, 2017 - 01:45pm PT
It was just Matt that took the "gentle swing" - he likes to "stir the pot" sometimes, I think!
Not planned marketing at all.

Strength vs. weight:
 24kn tested, 17kn rated, 880g, VG9
 12kn tested, __kn rated, 568g, Merlin #8
 __kn tested, 14kn rated, 557g, Camalot C4 #6
 __kn tested, 14kn rated, 155g, Camalot C4 #2
 __kn tested, 12kn rated, 126g, Camalot Ultralight #2
 __kn tested, 24kn rated, 33g, WC Helium carabiner (10kn gate open)

Falling on a big cam is unlikely - usually they are pushed above or used for aid.
On aid the leader can usually control the direction of loading.
On aid the leader will likely have a second cam close by,
but will want the cam they are on to not fail while placing the other one!
(That's why I normally use 3 when backcleaning - 2 in the rock at all times).

Most hauling is on big bolts these days.
I hauled a couple of pitches on the Muir Wall on WC Friends with no problems (before later parties with heavier bags added belay bolts).
12kn is plenty for hauling, as you control the loading direction.
Also hauled some Horse Chute pitches on original 1/4" bolts with Leeper hangers, before the bolts were replaced.

We are just lucky to have both these types of giant cams available.
I've used far worse and lived but was scared the most recent time (the Kuate)!

If you are aid climbing, the extra weight of the VG9 may not be a big deal.
If you are free climbing and pushing the cam above you in an ow, the Merlin #8 is clearly better, as it's 312g lighter
(equal to carrying 2 more Camalot C4 #2s or about 9 Helium biners).

Bottom line: does it need to be stronger than 12kn?
That's the strength of a Camalot Ultralight #2 (and about the same as a C4 #2).
I haven't heard of people complaining that Camalots are too weak....
It's true that off axis loading is less of an issue for a Camalot #2,
but it may not be much of an issue for a giant cam most of the time.
The cool thing is that people have a choice and can go either way.
Matt's

climber
Jun 28, 2017 - 01:50pm PT
i think the mere fact that clint cummins bought one of these cams is perhaps the greatest advertisement ever-- that dude is the biggest dirtbag I know!
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jun 28, 2017 - 01:59pm PT
Haha, too true!
I also bought a Silent Partner some years ago on ebay because I wanted one for a long time and they were not for sale; they are no longer being made.
I figure the same thing is true for really good giant cams -
they are available because their designers want to help out fellow climbers,
and if they get tired of the manufacturing hassles or distracted by work / life,
the cams will become very hard to obtain on the used market.
Trashman

Trad climber
SLC
Jun 28, 2017 - 05:28pm PT
#15 here, absolutely beautiful workmanship. Headed to Vedauwoo this weekend and can't wait to play with this one side by side w my Giants.

Regarding comparisons, I think Clint nailed it re free climbs, this will be my first choice for a confidence boost on pitches where a push piece is wanted. If I ever get the guts to do Excalibur you better believe the VG's will be the first thing on my rack. Seems like comparing an F150 to a Model S. Both are amazing, but w different strengths. Guess a better comp would be an ultralight C4 to a 3rd gen camalot, the former being cutting edge, the latter so solidly built that I'll likely hand a set off to each of my kids when I need them.

I can't thank Tom or Erick enough for making these niche pieces for a picky market and allowing me to continue to do the climbs I love while maintaining the added safety margin I've accepted as necessary with the addition of my kids.

Drinks are on me next time either of you is in SLC.
karabin museum

Trad climber
phoenix, az
Jun 28, 2017 - 06:05pm PT



Well I don't want to get in the middle of a large cam device war here.

Erick - I just received the Merlin cam today. It is incredible!!!! What a fantastic design and well crafted!!! I give you big props on your amazing design of this cam! I love it and can't stop playing with it!!! I am excited to show it off to all of my friends tomorrow at the gym and see their reaction to this new gem I now have in the museum!

Tom - Still to this day your Valley Giant VG16 you made for my museum is my most favorite cam overall. Plywood lobes with Gorilla cam lobe design. I am so honored to have this cam in my museum which shows your master craftsman heart went into its creation and into all of the cam devices you create!

I hope that Tom and Erick can put aside who makes the best cam and will continue to create these amazing monster devices for all to admire and enjoy!






Tom

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
Jun 29, 2017 - 11:03am PT
Bottom line: does it (a 9-inch cam) need to be stronger than 12kn?


If a 12kN rating was obtained from a pull-test using a steel frame with parallel walls, then the answer might be "yes". That 12kN number is artificially high, compared to what the cam can support when actually used in a a real crack. If a climber is expecting a cam to support 12kN on a rock climb, then the tested rating would have to be higher. Big cams are not like small cams. Their structural behavior in real life is quite different from that observed during a laboratory test.

When placed in a parallel-walled testing frame, the width of the cam lobes stabilizes them against sideways rocking and rotation. This will delay the onset of lateral deflection and bending of the cam lobes. The wider the cam lobes are, the more they will self-stabilize themselves in a testing frame.

To put it another way, a testing frame will not subject a climbing cam to the multi-axis loading that a real crack would. In a real crack, the cam lobes are subjected to out-of-plane loads that immediately deflect and bend the lobes sideways. Under high loading, the cam lobes are bent and deformed sideways. The out-of-plane loading and the bending forces rapidly increase in a non-linear fashion as the cam lobes bend and deform. If the cam lobes are wobbly on their axles (e.g. Camalots) the initial bending forces on the lobes are even higher.

Also, if the testing frame is not wide enough (along the direction of the axles) it will constrain the lobes from bending and deflecting laterally. This will also artificially increase the load that the cam can support.

And, if the testing frame is not wide enough to allow the cam to be almost fully open when tested, the results will be artificially inflated, compared to what could be expected of the cam during actual use.


In short, a pull-test of a big cam in a testing frame does not have good similitude to a big cam in a real crack. A "12kN" cam might only support 75% of that, or less, in the real world. If the cam lobes have been specifically designed to withstand high bending forces, the difference will be small. If cam lobes have big voids and thin sections where the bending forces are highest, the difference might be quite large.

Matt's

climber
Jun 29, 2017 - 11:35am PT
If a 12kN rating was obtained from a pull-test using a steel frame with parallel walls, then the answer might be "yes". That 12kN number is artificially high, compared to what the cam can support when actually used in a a real crack. If a climber is expecting a cam to support 12kN on a rock climb, then the tested rating would have to be higher. Big cams are not like small cams. Their structural behavior in real life is quite different from that observed during a laboratory test.

Tom-- honest question-- how many times do you think all your valley giants have been subject to real climbing falls?

As others have alluded to, big cams are often used as pusher pieces-- I wouldn't be surprised that, in the decades of valley giants being in existence, the total number of actual falls that VGs have experienced is actually pretty low-- in essence, I'm not sure that you, (or any artisanal big cam manufacturer for that matter), have good real-world data supporting the view that their design can avoid deformation issues.

best,
matt
Matt's

climber
Jun 29, 2017 - 11:36am PT
matt now that i know you have one of these in addition to your full rack of totems maybe i should ditch the lady friend and go to the needles with you after all...

You bailing on me for your new girlfriend definitely screwed up my weekend plans.... I thought I was going on a 4-day climbing trip, instead I'm going to work... :(
Mei

Trad climber
mxi2000.net
Jun 29, 2017 - 11:41am PT
Strength vs. weight:
24kn tested, 17kn rated, 880g, VG9
12kn tested, __kn rated, 568g, Merlin #8

Should width -- distance between outer lobes -- be included in the comparison as well? It can be an indicator of stability for large cams like this.

Yesterday, I played with a Merlin #8 (not mine, but wish it were mine). Pretty slick indeed. My short fingers barely reach the trigger with the thrum in the loop, but I understand that my hand size is smaller than the average of those that would touch such a cam. I'll accept that.

Seeing its narrow profile and rigid stem, I'll not want to take a leader fall from above the cam. But on the other hand, I never want to take a leader fall from above any cam.

Sasah above looks like a natural OW climber.
Tom

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
Jun 29, 2017 - 12:41pm PT
Tom-- honest question-- how many times do you think all your valley giants have been subject to real climbing falls?


That is somewhat like asking how many times the air bag in my car has gone off. It's there in case it is needed, not because it gets used that way on a regular basis.

Climbing gear, especially big wall gear, shouldn't be designed for the lowest possible, or lowest acceptable loading. Unexpected things can occur on a rock climb, and if your gear is lacy and delicate, it might not be up to the task of a forced retreat, bivy or rescue. You may not be planning on whipping onto a pusher-piece, but what happens if you do?

My design philosophy is to make the Valley Giants simple and effective, strong and reliable. I want them to be relatively inexpensive, damage resistant, and repairable if they get dropped, etc. If someone else has a better idea of how to make big cams at the same price, good for them. But, that is my idea of how climbing gear should be made. I met Chouinard and Frost at the GPIW when I was 14 years old, and the robustness of their gear always impressed me. When you're way, way up there, having an epic, the last thing you need is for your gear to require pampering, and to not be up to the task. Just the idea that your gear might break is a psychological burden that you don't want during an emergency.


Since you asked about how many falls the Valley Giants have realistically held, I offer this:

Pam Pack told me she whipped repeatedly onto Valley Giants when she was working the Gabriel roof crack in Zion. These were falls out of a horizontal roof crack onto gear that could be many feet away. One bad cam would have meant a crippling ground fall. Last October she told me that the Valley Giant is the only big cam she's ever used that she trusts to fall onto. All those other big cams had single stems, which she also said do not work for her.


There is nothing wrong with pusher-piece cams, as long as people recognize them as such. I used to make magnesium superlight cams. I stopped making them because I couldn't be sure that people would understand that they were relatively weak. And I saw, first-hand, that even awkward aiding on those cams could deform the lobes in a way that was wholly unexpected. Climbing is dangerous enough, without using gear that is marginally strong enough.




A lightweight cam is like a sailplane: perfect for smooth sailing in clear weather. But you wouldn't want to be up there with one when the conditions deteriorate, and suddenly you're fighting for your life and depending on a delicate machine.


Trashman

Trad climber
SLC
Jun 29, 2017 - 01:20pm PT
Great comparison Tom. Your Mg cams came up as my Mech Eng wife and I were playing w the cams side by side last night. Comes down to proper use and understanding your tools.

Seeing the way the climbing public has totally misunderstood or ignored the proper application of skinny runners, small cams, UL cams, etc, I don't think you're far off in your a*#umptions about the market.

As I said earlier, thrilled to have both of these tools in the quiver, thanks for keeping us safe out there.
Tom

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
Jun 29, 2017 - 01:55pm PT
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

The proper approach is to use the appropriate gear, which is often a mix of different things. Big offset brass nuts and small Aliens basically do the same thing, but sometimes one is better than the other.

If you are doing Moby Dick Ahab, a pusher piece is what is appropriate, because the chance of requiring a full-strength big cam there is negligible. But, on routes like Excalibur, Son of Heart, Jersey Turnpike (and maybe even the Salathe) having only lightweight pusher pieces in the largest sizes would be risky. If your crack widens to the point that you need to abandon your 9-inch cam and climb above it, do you really want it to be a pusher-piece? It's not likely you'll fall out of a squeeze chimney, but it's not impossible, especially if you run out of gas, or cramp up.



Regarding the above comment about the width of big cams, yes, the thinner they are, the more they tend to walk. But, the spring tension plays a big role, too. A long stem provides more leverage for rocking a cam back and forth, and making it walk. A runner clipped to a big cam is generally enough to isolate it from the moving climbing rope. A short quick-draw is hardly useful at all, which is why I don't even put them on the Valley Giants.




EDIT:


SomebodyAnybody, how in the hell did you wreck that #2 Camalot? How is your back doing, after taking that fall?




The real question is: which one of these big cam designers is a better kisser? My money is on Tom

That is not a fair contest. I have many more years experience. I was sneaking off to kiss girls in 1972, when I was ten years old.


I am old enough to remember Eiger Death Ovals, a few of which I actually owned. So, I know that sometimes gear that looks strong is not. That is why I am so obsessed with getting the message out there to know the limitations of your gear, and to respect those limitations.



Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jun 29, 2017 - 02:24pm PT
The #2 Camalot photo above is shown in a 2011 thread on mountainproject with many mangled cams.
https://www.mountainproject.com/forum/topic/107215044/c4-with-kinked-stem-still-safe
But it originated somewhere else.

You can bend any cam lobe, stem, etc. under adverse conditions.
Usually it is when the cam is placed with the axle vertical in a constriction where the cam is unable to rotate to make the stem load in the direction of the force.
https://www.mountainproject.com/forum/topic/107014101/camalot-defect?page=2#ForumMessage-107017427

Then there are cams made for only a light load

And others made with defects in manufacturing

Link cams are even more notorious for being unable to rotate under an off-axis load:

Climbing is a game of risk management, strength vs. weight tradeoffs, etc., and everyone is free to make their own decision.
blahblah

Gym climber
Boulder
Jun 29, 2017 - 02:30pm PT
I seem to recall seeing that gold camalot photo somewhere on the Internet, and as I recall, the damage was not from a fall. But perhaps the poster will enlighten us.

Seems like 'ol Tom is doing some passive/aggressive insinuation that the Merlins are a "pusher piece" without saying it directly.

Would be nice to see the response.

(Lest this come across as busting Tom, I agree with the comments that all the artisan cam makers are providing a very interesting and potentially valuable service. I think all of us who may buy these sorts of things know or should know that they are all at least somewhat experimental and there are no performance guarantees.)
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Jun 29, 2017 - 04:24pm PT
... (and maybe even the Salathe) having only lightweight pusher pieces in the largest sizes would be risky. If your crack widens to the point that you need to abandon your 9-inch cam and climb above it, do you really want it to be a pusher-piece?
I've climbed the Salathe' twice, with a much sketchier giant cam (Kuate).
I definitely didn't trust the Kuate to take a lead fall, so I didn't even take it on the Hollow Flake.
I just went for it with the lead line and 2 biners for the belay (also tagged up the haul line using the lead line, just barely).
A giant cam is useful on these pitches:
p21 (short ow below The Alcove / El Cap Spire)
p23 (crack above El Cap Spire - ends in squeeze size but I used holds out left)
p36 5.11a narrowing squeeze/ow. Just one aid move on the giant cam to a 3.5" crack (#4 Friend). But if the giant cam blows you would hit a ledge.
Tom

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
Jun 29, 2017 - 11:11pm PT
Passive-aggressive insinuation that the Merlin is a "pusher-piece" is spot on. I would really like to see a Merlin cam that has been severely abused, in the same way that a brand new Porsche 911 gets slammed into a wall to validate its safety design. It hurts, but validation is a necessary part of engineering.

Because I have seen big cams behave oddly, with the lobes folding sideways, I want to be sure that this is understood by other people. It is not at all obvious that there are very high lateral forces on the lobes when the stem is pulled straight down. A small cam doesn't behave the same way: the axle typically breaks first.

Simply scaling a cam from small to large is analogous to building a skyscraper using the technology of a three-story building. Louis Sullivan understood that he had to re-invent the building structure in order to successfully build the first skyscraper, the Wainright Building, in St. Louis, Missouri. He used a steel frame, with non-structural masonry infill, which was a remarkable innovation at the time, and which is still used to this day.

Structural innovation usually requires testing and development, to ferret out the unexpected behavior that is typical of such innovation. The Tacoma Narrow bridge in Washington was a modern design in 1940, but the roadway was torsionally flexible, and the bridge oscillated and fell into Puget Sound during a mild gale; the Golden Gate Bridge was subsequently refitted with diagonal trussing below the roadway to form a torsion box beam to prevent that sort of failure. Burt Rutan masterfully designed the Beech Starship airplanes from fiber composites, but they were later all repurchased and destroyed hy Beech because of concerns that they might present a future litigation hazard. Prince used to make all-carbon fiber tennis rackets, which were light, stiff and strong, but also brittle. Today, they have learned to mix glass, kevlar and other less-stiff fibers in tennis rackets to make them less susceptible to cracking. Kevlar used to be the go-to supercord for slinging chocks and Hexcentrics; later, it was known that kevlar was prone to sudden, brittle failure under certain conditions. The Tower of Babel fell down. And so forth.


If it seems like I am dissing the Merlin cams, it is because I want any weaknesses to be discovered during testing, and not while they are in use.



It's all fun, until somebody gets hurt.


You kids don't climb so rough. Somebody's gonna start crying.
 Mr. Blonde


Matt's

climber
Jun 29, 2017 - 11:31pm PT
Tom- your desire to build a safe cam is commendable.

In my previous question, I asked you how many real falls valley Giants have experienced.

You essentially answered that Pamela pack has whipped on them.

At the end of the day, we are taking about really small datasets-- very small number of cams ever made, and even smaller number of falls. It is probably a bit overzealous to immediately proclaim your design to be safe, and the Merlin design to be a body weight only unit.

Best
Matt
cavemonkey

Ice climber
ak
Jun 30, 2017 - 12:22am PT
Truly spectacular having these two fine men making wide cams for us timid folks
cavemonkey

Ice climber
ak
Jun 30, 2017 - 12:25am PT
That scabfest on abracadeaver turned in to a one arm pull-up contest
nah000

climber
now/here
Jun 30, 2017 - 12:36am PT
Tom wrote:

But, for the same price, the Merlin does not provide the same strength as a Valley Giant. But, then again, maybe today, with sticky rubber, ultra-thin lead ropes, microlight carabiners, and a climbing culture weaned on stories about free solos of Half Dome and El Capitan, the strength of a gear placement is no longer relevant.

So, just in case anyone out there wants a "high school shop project" that isn't just a pusher piece, but can actually hold a fall, or be used as a hauling or rescue anchor, and that has over fifteen years of proven use, I will have some more Valley Giant cams ready soon.

There is nothing wrong with pusher-piece cams, as long as people recognize them as such.

Passive-aggressive insinuation that the Merlin is a "pusher-piece" is spot on.

Simply scaling a cam from small to large is analogous to building a skyscraper using the technology of a three-story building.



i don't know if you care... but in the case that you might, your statements above lack professionalism.

they lack professionalism, as in each case they contain statements and/or insinuations that are, given the merlin cams current dearth of testing, simply not knowable.

while you have every right to ask for more testing, to use the language that you are using, when you also build large cams, is to step on some interesting ground.

if this was a bigger market, and there was real money at stake, you would have already received or would shortly be receiving a letter from a good lawyer.

you may not care, and that's your deal.

but you, by all accounts, make a damn good cam, and all you are doing as of your last few posts is dragging your own name through the mud [to at least this observer].



i do hope the merlin cams get more rigorous testing, at some point... but at the end of the day, until they do, buyers will just have to accept the unknowns for what they are...

name calling; unproven insinuations; and aspersions cast on the design process, theoretical modelling and testing that has been done, only makes the person casting stones look less in the eyes of those who understand and accept that the new cam is a bootstrapped project that has only had limited modes of testing.
JoeSimo

Trad climber
Bay Area, CA
Jun 30, 2017 - 10:22am PT
I won't be satisfied until someone makes a #100 cam. THINK OF THE CLIMBING POSSIBILITIES!
Late Starter

Social climber
NA
Jun 30, 2017 - 12:21pm PT
Tom...Sent you a message!
blahblah

Gym climber
Boulder
Jun 30, 2017 - 12:35pm PT
if this was a bigger market, and there was real money at stake, you would have already received or would shortly be receiving a letter from a good lawyer.

Real-life laywer here (although a terrible one, as I've learned from ST feedback).
If I were designing, hand-making and selling equipment on which people's lives depended, I think "recieving a letter from a good lawyer" [relating to something like false advertising / product disparagement, I presume?] would be pretty far down on my list of legal concerns.
Jon Beck

Trad climber
Oceanside
Jun 30, 2017 - 12:44pm PT
talking shlt is legal, as long as the talker is offering opinion, regardless of the validity. Promoting false facts is a different story.

Tom only said he would not trust a Merlin to take a fall. It becomes a problem if Tom falsely said "I took a short fall on a Merlin and it failed".

Great discussion on large cams, thanks to both the builders, I look forward to getting my pusher piece :)

God damn, the pusher
God damn, I say the pusher
I said God damn, God damn the pusher man

Alexey

climber
San Jose, CA
Jun 30, 2017 - 02:18pm PT
it is very annoying to read smart ass lengthy passive-agressive lecturing about Tom's professionalism.
back to the subject. I have VG #9 for 5 years, using it [ rare]on some flares in Yos and Moab for free climbing. I never really had a fall which can be qualify as fall , but felt [ subjective] that VG#9 is stable piece because how it design [ proportions size to width] and mentally OK to fell .

I get Merlin#8 because on some routs it nice to have 2#9. The design is slick and light. It felt really light and nice looking. trigger lock was hard to get for me, but Erick help with video. It still not straight forward and hard to make trigger lock with both hands without table . If you go for multi pitch flare [ I don't] not sure you can lock it after first use. I compared Merlin vs VG side by side and Merlin is much more narrow.
I tried Merlin once on route which is wired for me and did not feel the piece is stable as VG because of it width [ subjective feeling] but I will use it again and probably will feel differently.
Anyway, I am satisfy with both Merlin#8 and VG and think it nice to have both of them for diversity.
nah000

climber
now/here
Jun 30, 2017 - 07:49pm PT
fivethirty already made most of my follow up point for me... but to mostly duplicate:

nope. i've never met either cam maker, either.

as small scale makers, i have the deepest respect for what both guys are accomplishing. it is no small feat.

and Tom is of course free to say whatever he wants, however he wants... not that it matters, but i even appreciate Tom's concerns and am in agreement that those concerns, given the current stage of testing for the merlin cams, are entirely legit.

however, i'm also just being direct, that the way he is recently going about his questioning [by calling them pusher pieces and making comments about the design principles that may or may not have been involved] only makes me lose respect for him and his position...

but i get those same comments don't bother a bunch of you and that's all good too...

just don't, necessarily, expect me to shut my yap, just 'cause you find my opinion annoying...

[and Alexey, if you're referring to my post as passive aggressive, i don't think you know what those words mean: i said exactly what i think directly to Tom...]
karabin museum

Trad climber
phoenix, az
Jun 30, 2017 - 08:27pm PT

JoeSimo - here is a #36 cam. Actually named a Mastadon 000



edavidso

Trad climber
Oakland, CA
Jun 30, 2017 - 09:59pm PT
Tom raises some good points and I think I've already addressed most of them in this thread already - see posts #85, 89, 184, and 186 if interested (and cam pull testing in #211). Unfortunately, I do not have any additional testing data to add at this time.

As far as I know, all cams are rated only for the direction of pull along the axis of the stem. All cams (except maybe some micros) will fail at a much lower load than rated if loaded off-axis and not allowed to rotate. The pamphlet that comes with cams admonishes you not to do this but doesn't give an off-axis load rating. Clint pointed out that link cams are notoriously bad for off-axis loading, for example. As pointed out, larger cams are more susceptible to off-axis loading. Have VG's been tested in a load frame in an off-axis condition? How was this accomplished and what were the results? It is not an easy test to perform or standardize since you actually have to trap and prevent the cam from rotating into its preferred orientation. I think this is very rarely done on even commercially produced cams. Key takeaway - if you want to prevent off-axis loading, please take care to place cams so that they are either aligned in the direction of pull or can rotate to that position.

I am not trying to compete with VG's on strength. When I originally designed these cams, I wanted them to have a strength similar to that of commercially available cams, have the greatest range possible, lightest achievable weight, and be easy to use. The trigger lock was an added feature. As a result, they have about the same strength as a commercial cam, are 65% the weight of a VG9, have an entire extra inch of range vs a VG9, and operate like a smaller cam (single stem with narrow, two-finger trigger). Hopefully they will also stand up to the test of time. The one area where the Merlin #8 will also certainly be stronger and safer than a VG9 is in the crack range from 9-10 inches. I am sure Tom makes a great product and has been doing so for years. Everyone can make their own choice.
Tom

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
Jul 1, 2017 - 01:31pm PT
Thanks for posting up Erick.


I have not been talking about off-axis loading of incorrectly placed cams. The buckling failure of the lobes occurs even if the cam is perfectly placed in a perfect testing frame, and is perfectly loaded in the ideal direction.

A big cam under load experiences surprisingly large lateral forces on the lobes, which will deflect and eventually bend them sideways (if the sling, stem and axles don't fail first). No off-axis loading of the cam is required for the lobes to deflect, bend sideways and buckle.

The reason is that the lobes are loaded in compression between the point of contact and the axle. When the lobes deflect to one side slightly, because the cam is not 100% rigid, the compressive force has a lateral component, perpendicular to the contact point-to-axle line. As the force on the lobe increases, the lobe deflects more and bends, which increases the perpendicular force component, which bends the lobe even more, which increases the perpendicular force even more, which bends it more, and so on.

To put it another way, even under proper orientation and proper loading of a big cam, the lobes will buckle under the high compression forces. This is analogous to a long, thin column loaded axially, which will deflect sideways near the middle. No off-axis loading is necessary to buckle the thin column, and no off-axis loading is necessary to buckle the lobes of a big cam.

In the real world, irregular crack surfaces will induce higher lateral force components, compared to a testing frame. A testing frame presents the ideal environment to minimize the lateral forces on the cam lobes; any deviation from that environment will increase the lateral forces, and cause the cam lobes to buckle at a lower load.


Again, no off-axis loading is required for a big cam's lobes to fold sideways and buckle. And no off-axis loading is necessary for a big cam to fail at a load that is considerably less than what is obtained in a laboratory using a testing frame.


EDIT:

Earlier when I spoke of off-axis loading of the lobes, I was talking about the out-of-plane, lateral loads that are perpendicular to the contact point-to-axle line. Those out-of-plane loads are components of the compression forces in the lobes, and are not due to incorrectly placing or loading the cam. They occur no matter how carefully the cam is placed and loaded.

I apologize for not being more clear, regarding the nomenclature.

edavidso

Trad climber
Oakland, CA
Jul 2, 2017 - 10:46pm PT
Tom, thanks for clearing up what you were talking about. I figured you were talking about off-axis loads since those were the terms you were using. Buckling, is indeed a different failure mode though the end result looks the same. I have also mentioned buckling as a failure mode in my previous posts. Buckling is as you've described - the sudden, catastrophic failure of a compression member subjected to nothing but axial loading. The critical buckling load will be lower if subject to eccentric loading (e.g. axial load is applied at edge of lobe instead of center of lobe and therefore causes a small bending moment) or any off-axis force that causes a bending moment (I believe these would be the lateral loads you talk about).

I have designed these cams specifically to resist buckling. They are not the same as the Camalot design where the lobes have a fair amount of play out-of-plane. In the Merlin design on each side there are two lobes that sit right next to each other separated by small spacer washers. The other lobes are trapped on the outside by the dogbone shaped endcap and the inner lobes are trapped on the inside by a step in the axles or control horns. This architecture is not possible with the Camalots because the springs get in the way; the springs on the Merlin are all internal to the sets of lobes. So there is very little play in the Merlin lobes out-of-plane. What further resists buckling is the double axle design since the lobes are trapped in their plane on both axles. This has the effect of reducing the "length" of the compression member. This helps quite a bit since buckling load goes as the inverse square of length.

My load frame, itself, does nothing to resist buckling. When I do fail a cam in buckling, which I expect to be the first failure mode in a 9" crack, I will post the video and results. I'm probably not far from buckling one in the 8" crack either at a load at or above 12 kN. I agree that real world loading conditions are rarely ideal as they are in a load frame but this is how all cams are tested and rated. I believe the main culprit in cams failing earlier than they should is off-axis loads. These cannot always be avoided but good placements can prevent the worst of the off-axis loads.
Tom

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
Jul 3, 2017 - 02:39am PT
Erick,

You are right on it.

That dog-bone that rides along the cam lobe, which will suppress outward lateral deflection of the lobes, is brilliant.

But, inward deflection needs to be addressed.

Test.


JUST DO IT.



Break one, in a wide testing frame, and see what happens. Don't use a webbing sling. JUST DO IT.


Load a Merlin cam until the lobes bend, buckle and fold sideways, and report the results.


And, then it will be easier for people to decide if they want a VG piece that can pull a truck out of the mud, or Merlin piece that is strong enough for a great rock climbing experience.

Matt's

climber
Jul 3, 2017 - 08:14am PT
And, then it will be easier for people to decide if they want a VG piece that can pull a truck out of the mud, or Merlin piece that is strong enough for a great rock climbing experience.

Tom, you really are backing yourself into a corner here!!
Late Starter

Social climber
NA
Jul 3, 2017 - 08:51am PT
Perception..I'm not seeing any corners. In fact, it seems pretty civil, and with good constructive banter/discussion.

MAYBE it's that YOU'D like to perceive there being an issue?
JoeSimo

Trad climber
Bay Area, CA
Jul 5, 2017 - 11:31am PT
Hi Tom. I've been reading through this post a bit and was a bit confused by some of your posts so I corrected them below to what you probably meant to say:

"Merlin is another large cam for those crazies that like to climb off-width. It has some really innovative ideas and I tip my hat to it's creator for his obvious engineering prowess. I think both VG and Merlin have their advantages and disadvantages but truth be told both cams are great and only add to the wonder of climbing. I know Erick and I don't do this for profit and only do it out of true love of the sport and to give something back to the climbing community. So in that spirit I say again good work brother! I am impressed"

There Ftfy
Alexey

climber
San Jose, CA
Jul 5, 2017 - 11:49am PT
nicely done JoeSimo!
Tom

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
Jul 17, 2017 - 04:44pm PT
With all this conversation about the safety of self-made cams, I totally forgot to mention this story I heard in 1983:

Some guys from Australia made their own cams, but they used the wrong spiral profile. Instead of an exponential/logarithmic spiral, they used some other type of spiral, which did not have the equal-camming-angle property, which is unique to the Exp/Log spiral. Those Aussie cams would not hold properly, and the word got out, around the Valley, that they were unsafe.


That was the first time that I became aware that it was possible to make cams that would not be safe. Cams look simple enough, especially the small ones, but there are myriad details that have to be addressed and taken into account.

BD's recent/prior quality control problems with making cams in China is a testament to that statement.



As an aside, my AutoCAD program will not generate an Exp/Log spiral, only an Archimedes spiral. My Microstation CAD program will generate a proper Exp/Log spiral from its parameters.

My guess is the Australian guys in 1983 trusted their computer to get the spiral right, which is not usually a good idea.



thebravecowboy

climber
The Good Places
Jul 19, 2017 - 05:07pm PT
BLUEBLOCR

Social climber
joshua tree
Jul 20, 2017 - 09:44pm PT
Got mine today‼️Very prompt. Thank You Erick..and to your helpers?
I think it would pull my VW out of the mud! HaHaaaa.
But gosh dang it is soooooooo LIGHT😎


Cheers Merlinrockgear@gmail🐡
Largo

Sport climber
The Big Wide Open Face
Jul 21, 2017 - 08:28am PT
Makes my mouth water looking at these fantastic gadgets, and remembering back to my early days in the valley, when we had to work our way up the grades which involved a lot of trembling up the wide sections of climbs with little to no pro at all. Before tube chocks and long before cams, even citizen testpieces like Midterm, Vendetta, Twilight Zone, Right side of the Hourglass, left side of the Slack, Right side of Absolutely Free, Ahab, Center route of the Slack, The Cleft, LA Chimney, Crack of Doom, even Sacherer Cracker, all had wide stuff you basically had to run out. Easy stuff like Chingando was okay because, as we used to say, your knee was the protection, because a good knee lock was unlikely to just blow out. But those were exciting times.

After a few initial efforts of scaring myself stiff, I wouldn't go up on one of those hard wide routes unless I felt like I could solo it. Keeps your learning curve pretty flat.

These tools make it a much saner game, and probably saved more than a few lives. Strange and fantastic how a personal piece of gear, like a well-worn big cam, is a talisman to our past.
jerome.stmichel

Trad climber
Montreal, QC
Jul 31, 2017 - 09:47am PT
Hey guys,

I would be interested in getting a merlin 8.

Cheers,

Jérôme

j e r o m e . s t m i c h e l at m e . c o m
grover

climber
Castlegar BC
Aug 10, 2017 - 02:44pm PT

What a piece!

Stoked to have it for another go at this.....


And hopefully less of this!


Thanks Erick.
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

climber
Out Of Bed
Aug 11, 2017 - 01:24pm PT
Boo hoo, I still have big wide dreams!

all I got for fathers day was cheap glass from China
OlympicMtnBoy

climber
Seattle
Aug 11, 2017 - 02:44pm PT
Waiting to put mine to use too. Beautiful metalwork! The sling could be prettier though, what do you test those to Erick?
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Aug 11, 2017 - 02:58pm PT
Taking mine to Vedauwoo on Monday.!
Khoi

climber
Vancouver, BC
Aug 12, 2017 - 02:08am PT
Erick,

I'd like to buy an entire set once they are available. In the mean time, I guess it'll just be the 2 larger pieces.

That was the first time that I became aware that it was possible to make cams that would not be safe. Cams look simple enough, especially the small ones, but there are myriad details that have to be addressed and taken into account.

BD's recent/prior quality control problems with making cams in China is a testament to that statement.

Tom, that is incorrect.

In the roughly 10 years that BD operated that factory of theirs in China there were ZERO recalls.

It was after BD shut down that factory and moved production to a factory in Utah that we saw the flood of recalls, all of which came from their American factory - save for the recalled slings... I think those came from a factory in Mexico.

Matt's

climber
Aug 12, 2017 - 08:02am PT
. Beautiful metalwork! The sling could be prettier though, what do you test those to Erick

I had the same thought--the sewing of the sling is not super confidence inspiring- density of the bar tack seems low compared to other slings-- care to comment?


Best
Matt
matty

Trad climber
under the sea
Aug 12, 2017 - 10:17am PT
After reading the above comments and seeing the last picture I re-examined my cam. Several of the stitches seemed "long" and somewhat loose in that they were not super tight against the webbing.

I ran my fingernail over some of these long loose stitches near the edge several times and to my surprise they easily started to unravel. Knot a good sign! This is unacceptable in my view and uneasily forces me to wonder about other aspects of the construction. Visually the density of stitching on the Merlin cam appears to be less than the other slings from my rack that I inspected.

Awaiting Ericks response...

Matt


Blue = long semiloose stitch
Green = stitches near edge I was able to loosen easily with one fingernail.

BLUEBLOCR

Social climber
joshua tree
Aug 12, 2017 - 11:37am PT
Well he obliviously hasn't a bar tacker,,,, but he's got a CNC! hehe.

i just cut that crap off, i always use an adjustable draw anyway.
edavidso

Trad climber
Oakland, CA
Aug 13, 2017 - 09:44pm PT
To address the sling issues, I just sewed a sling exactly as I've sewn all the others and tested in my pull tester to 16 kN. Those who've been following the thread might recall that I posted a video of a Merlin #8 pull test where the sling broke at 12 kN. I noted on that video that I had tested using a wider spaced stitch, which I have since narrowed.

Unfortunately, I do not own an industrial bar tacking machine and instead use a manual semi-industrial Sailrite machine. As a result, most of my sewing jobs are not very pretty. They are, however, still strong regardless of how ugly they look. Each sling consists of two seams across the width at the top and bottom, which are primarily used to just hold the overlap in place while I sew the vertical seams. The seams across the width are short, discontinuous and come apart rather easily at the beginning and end of the seam where the threads end as pointed out in Matty's handy photos with the green arrows. The vertical seams, however, are either one, two, or three continuous threads across the entire width and account for nearly the entire strength of the sling. The "long semiloose" stitch indicated with the blue arrow is where I transition from one vertical seam to the next and from a forward thread to a backward thread. It is usually loose due to the horizontal and reversing movement but still continuous. There are about 180 stitches give or take per sling and if you listen to the earlier posted video, a few stitches break first but then the remainder all break at exactly the same time. This indicates that they are all contributing equally to strength and it only matters that they are there. A few loose threads/stitches will not noticeably affect strength. Perhaps someday I'll be able to buy a bar tacking machine and my sewing job will be easier and prettier.

If any of you do not want a sling or plan to cut it off anyway, please tell me so that I do not have to go through the headache of sewing it on! For the rest of you who plan on using the sling, rest assured that if you are taking a 15 kN whipper, the sling on this cam is likely to be the least of your concerns.

Khoi and anyone else who wants a Merlin #8 and/or #10, please send me an email at merlinrockgear@gmail.com. I do not think ST messaging works.
Matt's

climber
Aug 13, 2017 - 09:49pm PT
Thanks for replying edavidso. This assuages my concerns.

Best
Matt
nah000

climber
now/here
Aug 13, 2017 - 10:16pm PT
edavidso: just wanted to thank you for how you've handled yourself on this board.

successfully communicating thoughtful transparency with regards to a new product, as you have done while being a one person show, is, on the ole taco board, nothing short of remarkable.

if i didn't think the wide was a kind of sick degeneracy [ha!], i'd be buying your cams in a heartbeat. and while it's a little out of my price range to be buying purely as an objet d'art, i have to admit i'm damn tempted.

really impressive job, both on the process of manifestation... and equally as well with the spontaneous "marketing" and customer relations that you've had to do on the ye ole taco board...
OlympicMtnBoy

climber
Seattle
Aug 14, 2017 - 07:39pm PT
Thanks for the explanation! Still be more inspiring with neater stitching, but I'm not gonna cut it off either. Sewing is a while 'nother thing I suppose, I'm way better at that than the metal bits. :-)
Idahoan

Trad climber
Idaho
Aug 22, 2017 - 12:46pm PT
I received mine a month ago and had the same concerns on the stitching. The fit and finish of the rest of the cam is superb, so the sling kinda feels janky juxtaposed against it.

That said, I am sure it is functionally sufficient. I will likely extend it be some method while climbing, so it really only functions as a racking sling anyways.
Russ Walling

Social climber
from Poofters Froth, Wyoming
Aug 22, 2017 - 07:51pm PT
Late to the party....

Hey CamMaker... your cams are so bitchen looking having that sling on them is just wrong. I can't imagine you run big batches, so I'll make you slings you can put on as you assemble. 1" tube or 11/16" tube, all bartacked nice and neat style. No charge for the slings. You pay shipping.

If you are putting the slings on after the entire cam is made, maybe we can work something out to sling up the batch.

I'm easy to find, so email me if you are interested
Jon Beck

Trad climber
Oceanside
Aug 22, 2017 - 08:44pm PT
Sweet offer Russ, my #8 has shipped, but I am not sweating the sewing.
Barney Rubble

Trad climber
ALAMEDA
Aug 23, 2017 - 11:33am PT
Just got my new toy, Merlin #8 serial number 0023!



Can't wait to go scare myself silly on something :-)

Looks solid!!!

le_bruce

climber
Oakland, CA
Aug 23, 2017 - 04:16pm PT
The more pics I see of these cams the prettier they look. Trying so hard to resist... the... temptation...

If someone posts up a quality pic of one placed in Valley granite in good afternoon light, I'm done for.

I heard that a few Merlins have been up the Salathe - somebody cough up the pic on the HF!
thebravecowboy

climber
The Good Places
Aug 23, 2017 - 05:58pm PT
I like my merlin purt well so far, though have been attentive to Cpt. Kasper's warning wrt buckling in off-axis sitchiashuns.


and no disrespect Cpt. David's Son, but take the Feesh up on the offer for a finer web loop. Hell though, that P-cord (?) on my VG worked just fine last new summit windmill tilt I done
Trashman

Trad climber
SLC
Aug 23, 2017 - 06:23pm PT
Uh, P-cord? You're not clipping into the storage cord, are you?
thebravecowboy

climber
The Good Places
Aug 23, 2017 - 08:28pm PT
nope. I mean, like, maybe. Sort of.

Just wonder what that P-cord looking shtuff is on the VG that got my standing-in-aiders ass up that Seahorse Mesa.

Clipping rando unidentified pero-purchased softgoods is cool and all, but it'd be nice to link in some solid softgoods providers for the clip-point. Not that twisted wire warps at all when clipped direct (or via P-cord) or anythin.

JLyons

Sport climber
Cali
Aug 23, 2017 - 08:31pm PT
Am I the only one curious as to what the cowboy is smoking these days?

Posts have been a little derpy lately. No offense, of course.
thebravecowboy

climber
The Good Places
Aug 23, 2017 - 08:36pm PT
Derp.



Sprock-dad ain't fertilized ya proper
edavidso

Trad climber
Oakland, CA
Aug 23, 2017 - 09:37pm PT
Russ, thank you for the kind offer. I do, unfortunately, have to sling these after the thumb loop is in place since it is silver soldered to the thumb rest and that process would melt any sling already there. I sling them after I've assembled the stem but before axles or lobes are assembled so they're still pretty compact. But I would be interested in having you do the sewing and would be happy to pay for it. The slings are strong as I've mentioned but I do not particularly enjoy the sewing and it doesn't look very nice.

Here is the latest batch of #8's ready to go:

I still have not heard from a few people here mentioning that they they want a #8 including some on the original list. If you still want a cam, email me at merlinrockgear@gmail.com.

Jon Beck

Trad climber
Oceanside
Aug 31, 2017 - 09:07am PT
Received my #8, (sn 24). Nice piece of work. I had it sitting in the closed position on the countertop and my friend (non-climber) asked me what the hell it was? She guessed napkin holder, so a napkin holder it is.


nutstory

climber
Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Aug 31, 2017 - 09:13am PT
rrowsam

Trad climber
Grand Junction
Sep 3, 2017 - 08:58pm PT
Got my Merlin a couple days ago! S/N 32

Got to say, pretty impressive. I've used a VG9 on maybe a dozen routes in the desert (not mine) and have generally been super psyched on it, but I'm super stoked to have the Merlin for all the reasons you'd think. Almost always using this size cam for aid anyway, and it's not made from wood so I trust it enough to take a fall on (though I hope I never do).

I have a couple questions for Erick. What would you recommend the best storage method; locked or open? Will the springs weaken if I were to keep it locked primarily?
Also, what are your thoughts on anodizing the cam assembled? Is there risk of weakening the brazing or other joints?

Thanks
edavidso

Trad climber
Oakland, CA
Sep 4, 2017 - 10:45pm PT
That's a fancy napkin holder!

Thanks for another great photo, Nutstory.

Rrowsam, good questions. I store them open and then close them to transport or take up a climb but in theory it shouldn't matter. Everything in the retraction mechanism is made of metal so should not creep (weaken or stretch over time) at normal temperatures. It is preferable to have the cam in the open position when placing it on the ground at the base of a climb just to help keep dirt out of the mechanism.

I would not try to anodize the cam assembled. Anodizing will only work on the aluminum components, which are the lobes, control horns, and trigger. I do not know what it would do to the other components. The lobes and control horns could be removed for anodizing but anodizing typically adds about 0.001" of thickness so reassembly of the lobes onto the control horns would be difficult without filing.
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Sep 5, 2017 - 02:06am PT
Anodizing is for marketing in my view.
So people look at their cams, see a fair number of scratches, and think they might want to buy new ones.
Yet the old ones are still strong....
nutstory

climber
Ajaccio, Corsica, France
Sep 5, 2017 - 02:47am PT
On anodizing:
http://dmmclimbing.com/knowledge/anodising-vid/
anita514

Gym climber
Great White North
Oct 17, 2017 - 04:59am PT
hey Tom, what is the normal delay to get one of your cams after sending payment?
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Oct 17, 2017 - 08:33am PT
Tom - please supply my friend Ryan Gruber the Valley Giant cam he prepaid you for nearly a year ago!

And please fix mine.

Thanks, eh?
Late Starter

Social climber
NA
Oct 17, 2017 - 10:57am PT
To be fair, I paid him on July 1st. However, Tom told me he'd get it to me in a few days (that was nearly 30 days ago). Since then....no response via email, and I've sent multiple.

C'mon Tom, you make a great hand-made product!! Next time however, I'd probably wait until you had them made, before I send you cash.

Thanks (hopefully) Tom!
'Pass the Pitons' Pete

Big Wall climber
like Ontario, Canada, eh?
Oct 17, 2017 - 12:16pm PT
Anyone got a phone number for Tom?
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

climber
Out Of Bed
Oct 17, 2017 - 01:03pm PT
No, No number,

Old video, so no, none on the rack but Those Merlins are art
[Click to View YouTube Video]All these big cams are, as a matter of fact
anita514

Gym climber
Great White North
Oct 17, 2017 - 01:19pm PT
??????????????????????????????
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Oct 17, 2017 - 01:49pm PT
I don't think I see a Merlin in Shanti's video in the gear pile at 1:16.
Definitely see Valley Giants placed on her lead and 3 in the gear pile. (This subject has already been covered earlier in the thread).

The vid is not that old - 2017-09-28 on youtube.
But you are right - she did the FA on April 26, 2017
and the first Merlins were shipped on May 4, 2017.

Dramatic crux of the vid was trying to reach the bolt she preplaced with a long stiff draw with special biner that would close once it contacted the hanger on the inside. (No doubt everyone has already seen this).
ontheedgeandscaredtodeath

Social climber
Wilds of New Mexico
Oct 17, 2017 - 02:07pm PT
That roof move looks hard! I typically haven't shied away from OW but I can't say I'd actually search it out... Kong makes an extended draw / biner thing for those kinds of clips (The Panic).
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Oct 17, 2017 - 04:54pm PT
Yes, the Kong Panic is a carabiner that will do this.

She used the Mad Rock Trigger Wire.
from
https://www.climbing.com/news/24-innovative-carabiners/
Late Starter

Social climber
NA
Oct 18, 2017 - 01:03pm PT
Bump in the hope Tom will read this and send me my VG#9.
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Oct 20, 2017 - 05:30am PT
On the. Edge... It is! I'm tall enough not to need the special biner ( besides, it fell off the rack on my lead and beaned Pam) I had to do 5.10+ move and clip in the middle of it! I got the invert but didn't, complete the pivot, now with my seperated shoulder, that one is on the back burner until the spring. Definitely taking Merlin And my VG when I go, though! Probably pro deal a superclip, too!
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Oct 20, 2017 - 10:53am PT
Damn, those Merlin cams are the height of the art in tool design.

Shanti video is very cool. Her switch out of a stack at 9:37 is pretty darned slick, almost sleight-of-hand, is that low percentage or just business as usual?

Not sure what playing chicken with the mental block is all about, except the route must be pretty alluring and there still must be a high degree of confidence in the shape and containment of the monster?
Cam Brown

Trad climber
Portland, OR by way of Valley Center, CA
Oct 20, 2017 - 11:54am PT
@Late Starter. I sent you a PM with Tom's contact info. Hopefully you get your VG before you dive into the wide.
Late Starter

Social climber
NA
Oct 20, 2017 - 11:57am PT
Cam Brown...The pm function isn't working on SuperTopo. Could you send it to my email ryang201@yahoo.com
Cam Brown

Trad climber
Portland, OR by way of Valley Center, CA
Oct 20, 2017 - 12:25pm PT
Ryan,
I sent you an email with Tom's contact info.

-Cameron
JustinS

Trad climber
Ocedanside, California
Oct 24, 2017 - 02:34pm PT
So are these cams for sale yet or just a few sent out for people to test out?
kunlun_shan

Mountain climber
SF, CA
Oct 24, 2017 - 02:49pm PT
I'm also waiting for a VG9 that I paid Tom for on July 4th, this year.

The day before I sent payment Tom replied to my email saying he'd sold all of the latest batch, but had ordered new lobes to be cut by Theron, which he expected to be the only holdup. I've sent a couple inquires to Tom since then, at the 2nd email address listed on http://www.valleygiant.com/VGcontact.html , but haven't heard back. I know Tom is not making a huge profit from building these cams, but was hoping to be able to use it before the snow flies.

Does anyone have contact info for Theron Moses?
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Oct 24, 2017 - 03:33pm PT
Theron's website was last valid in July 2016:
https://web.archive.org/web/20160725041354/http://www.mosesclimbing.com:80/
I recall reading somewhere that Theron had to sell some of his machinery?
So maybe Tom is having difficulties having the cam lobes made.
kunlun_shan

Mountain climber
SF, CA
Oct 24, 2017 - 03:43pm PT
Thanks, Clint!
Idahoan

Trad climber
Idaho
Oct 29, 2017 - 09:22am PT
JustinS

At least one batch has sold of which many of us have one. I have no idea what the current status of orders are, but you can contact him at merlinrockgear@gmail.com
kunlun_shan

Mountain climber
SF, CA
Nov 9, 2017 - 10:38am PT
Nice surprise just now. VG9 from Tom arrived and looks great! It took a little while, but good things take time, especially with a handmade product like Valley Giants. I'm very impressed with the craftsmanship, and how bomber it appears! It should be good for many years. Thanks for making these available, Tom!
Tom

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
Nov 23, 2017 - 03:23pm PT
Clint said,

I recall reading somewhere that Theron had to sell some of his machinery?
So maybe Tom is having difficulties having the cam lobes made.


Theron's partner at the machine shop is moving everything to Reno. Theron is not moving. He split off, and has his own shop. He is still getting things moved in, and asked me if I can do some of the electrical wiring to speed things up. In the next few days, we will get Theron's electrical situation sorted out, and he will cut out a big sheet of lobes for me.

In the meantime, I have enough parts to put a half-dozen cams together, to go out on Monday. So, hopefully, nobody else (Ryan) will want a refund. That was the only time I have ever refunded money that was not immediately sent back to me.






If someone thinks that I am exaggerating about the need to comprehensively test a new, computer-designed structural system, like, say, a giant fly-weight climbing cam, they should to look at this:


Roof Spontaneously Collapses At Paris Airport, Killing Five People.html





This was not terrorism. The roof spontaneously collapsed just a few months after it had been completed. There was no hurricane, tornado, or other Act of God. The structural system was defective, essentially at the core of its basic design. The engineers relied on computer modeling, not testing, to ensure the building was safe. It was not safe. The computer lied.



It was built using innovative technology to accommodate the Parisian airport authority's requirement that the 2,100-foot-long, 110-foot-wide terminal not have any intermediate, interior supports that would restrict the flow of passengers to and from the gates.

To meet the requirements, the project's chief architect, Paul Andreu, proposed using technology developed for the construction of tunnels. It was ''a significant first, not without numerous difficulties, not least being the open-air construction of the concrete shells,'' noted a 2002 news release from the French Technology Press Bureau.

The concrete shell, built by the French construction firms Eiffel and Laubeuf, was constructed in rings ''with three interlocking elements, positioned one next to the other,'' the news release said. To simulate the pressure on an underground tunnel that keeps the concrete tube intact, the news release explained, steel hoops were attached to the outside and carbon fiber reinforcements were glued onto the shell.





Computer analysis of the concrete vault, ostensibly stabilized with external tensile reinforcement, indicated that it should have been structurally sound. But, the similitude between the computer model and the actual, real-world terminal building was not sufficient.

Eiffel and Laubeuf represent the pinnacle of French structural engineering competence. So, if they can't get a computer model to accurately predict structural integrity, how can someone else (with less experience and weaker computers) hope to do any better?




A 2-dimensional FEA analysis of a big cam lobe, which presumes in-plane structural failure, through cracking or breaking, is going to be 100% wrong. Even a 3-dimensional FEA analysis of a cam lobe would be of limited use, because the entire cam is a structural system, and will have behavior that is not easily modeled by simply analyzing a single, isolated cam lobe.

TEST TEST TEST


Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Nov 24, 2017 - 06:40pm PT
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_de_Gaulle_Airport#Collapse_of_Terminal_2E
It looks like the failure was due to a number of causes (including only small margins for errors) in a situation with a considerable amount of complexity.

The analogy is somewhat imperfect because it would be expensive to test each new building design at full scale. Instead you try to keep things as simple as possible, and have a good grasp of the strength of each component.

How much testing is "enough"?
And which tests are important?
It is always possible to design a test where the cam cannot rotate and it will fail at a relatively low load. Is this a relevant test, or would users know to avoid this situation?

I am satisfied that some cams were tested to failure, and I like the idea that the initial run is out in the field with users testing them, presumably with some level of backup.
rwedgee

Ice climber
CA
Nov 24, 2017 - 06:47pm PT
Perhaps monsieur de gaulle would like a refund ?
Steve Grossman

Trad climber
Seattle, WA
Nov 24, 2017 - 07:13pm PT
You have to wonder how many climbers are actually taking big falls on these large cams since hanging or slithering back down OWs is usually a better alternative.
Tom

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
Nov 24, 2017 - 10:24pm PT
^^^^^^^
Good point.

But, some big cracks (e.g., P9 Excalibur) don't allow for slithering down. The cutting edge in OW climbing involves severe, overhanging routes. Pam told me she whipped on the horizontal Gabriel crack, and was happy to have Valley Giant boat anchors to keep her from decking. And they can be used for hauling, rescue and other high-load uses.


Pusher pieces are nice. Mixing them with VG cams on long pitches was great. My magnesium cams weighed less than a Camalot. I don't sell them anymore, though, because they are not very strong.

How can you ensure that someone doesn't leave a pusher-piece as pro, climb above, and then fall onto it? People know not to whip onto microsized stoppers with tiny cables. But, it's not as obvious that a big, lightweight cam might be just as weak.

Jasper Young

Trad climber
Adelaide, South Australia
Dec 19, 2017 - 06:21am PT
Okay Tom, I think everyone's got it about how bad the off axis loading risks are without solid heavy slabs of ally and how any factors of off width cam design that aren't the same as yours are super unsafe compromises.

You seemed reasonable for the first couple fairly informational posts but you're starting to come across less helpful and more unprofessional.
couchmaster

climber
Dec 19, 2017 - 09:05am PT


Disagree Jasper. #8 Merlin cam and multiple Valley Giant cams owner here. I'd rather have this discussion before the first fatality than afterwards. Not saying the Merlin is bad, I'll use it all day long (if such can be said of OW climbing which I prefer avoiding:-).

As a cutting edge ultralight cam, I would expect limitations and wouldn't expect the Merlin to be as strong as Tom's cams. Knowing the limitations and having this discourse in advance is a good thing. Refer you to the Paris Airport photo above. The forces on these cams varys and they are not tested as much as building engineering models and look at that pic again. Sh#t happens. I loves my Merlin cam.

Carry on.
kunlun_shan

Mountain climber
SF, CA
Dec 19, 2017 - 11:09am PT
^ Am in total agreement w/couchmaster!
Trashman

Trad climber
SLC
Dec 19, 2017 - 12:13pm PT
Refer you to the Paris Airport photo above.

You don’t even have leave climbing to see this. Look at all the people who ran out and bought X4’s as their first micro cams a few years back. Suddenly people were reporting failures and were shocked to find tiny cams had different failure modes than the hand sized cams they were used to using.

More info for the community is a good thing, then customers can decide what tool is best for them.
Tom

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
Dec 19, 2017 - 01:24pm PT
My undergraduate engineering thesis in 1988 dealt with a structural experiment comprising a lattice dome that was prestressed by a network of exterior tensile strands. This was the same concept that the Eiffel engineers came up with, 15 years later, for the concrete vault of the Paris airport terminal shown above.

My experiment was a failure, and showed that the concept of of externally preloading a compressive shell with tensile elements was a flawed concept.

So, you'll have to excuse me for being overly cautious, and eager to impress upon others the need for safety when it comes to novel structural designs that may adversely affect people's lives and health.




Theron is still getting his new shop set up. The best part is that it's only minutes from his house, now. I am going back there, today, to cut a slab off of my big sheet of aluminum, so that I can make some cam lobes myself, and keep the whole VG thing going.

Theron needs some big ventilation fan blowers for his shop, and I recently came across some used ones that he could use. So, at all ends we are trying to get the "unprofessional" gear out to people.




BTW, I have a half-dozen VG12 cams right now, although I generally advise people to not get one of those, unless they already have a VG9. They are big, heavy, expensive and only appropriate in rare circumstances. As a prop at a cocktail party, though, they're pretty good.

Roots

Mountain climber
Redmond, Oregon
Dec 19, 2017 - 01:37pm PT
I can attest to the V12 being a "prop"..haven't used it yet...but it does get the attention:

"Oh, that's a burly cam!"

"Why yes, yes it is.."

"Where have you placed it?"

"Uh (sheepishly) no where yet except on the book shelf"

Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Dec 19, 2017 - 05:54pm PT
r

Rack;1 12" VG, or three greenbros, or some combination. Your choice
Tom

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
Dec 19, 2017 - 08:14pm PT
Push, push, push!

 Robert Plant, of Led Zeppelin fame






Jimmy Page, of Led Zeppelin fame, was a climber who venerated Aleister Crowley, another climber of note.

In the movie, The Song Remains The Same, Jimmy Page is shown climbing a rock face behind his Loch Ness castle, in an effort to reach a grizzled Hermit holding a lamp. Previously, that castle belonged to Aleister Crowley.

That imagery appeared as the fold-out, inside artwork of the LP version of Led Zeppelin IV.


Do What Thou Wilt was inscribed into the vinyl of Led Zeppelin III. That quote was directly from Crowley.




12" LP albums, and their delicious packaging, are a lost art. I am lucky to be so old that I was able to enjoy that, before it disappeared forever.


Studly

Trad climber
WA
Dec 19, 2017 - 08:24pm PT
Nice Jaybro.








Jesse didn't have a Valley Giant for this offwidth at Trout.
Tom

Big Wall climber
San Luis Obispo CA
Dec 19, 2017 - 08:39pm PT
You don't need a Valley Giant.


Listen to what The Master had to say about wide offwidth cracks:

Our technique is our protection.
 Chuck Pratt




But, now, the New Paradigm is this:

Our protection is our technique.



Mea Culpa.







When days were old, and men were bold,
And Masters ruled the Valley,
Technique was Pro,
They had no Pro,
And Zen kept them from falling.



Jasper Young

Trad climber
Adelaide, South Australia
Dec 20, 2017 - 12:50am PT
Nothing unprofessional about the engineering, more just the way you continually sh#t on a design you see to be inferior.
couchmaster

climber
Dec 20, 2017 - 06:51am PT


I don't believe that questioning and extensively discussing a new design is shitting on it Jasper. If you don't want to hear it it would be easy to just move on. For myself, I appreciate Toms views on it, and he's right to question it. Repeatedly. Engineers will debate things like this until you get sick of heard about it, have you never gone on an extended climbing trip with some?


It is fascinating and interesting and goes on until you are sick of hearing it, but yet, they remain fascinated. That's why they are engineers and we get to enjoy the fruits of their labors.

If you look upthread, I would suspect that Tom also compliments the design. Not looking myself, don't care enough, but you might. These Merlin cams are amazing and have stripped all of what may be unnecessary off (and then some?) in an attempt to make the lightest cam that will work. Perhaps it was too much? It's a design that has some features not seen anyplace ever previously, so who can say? I love mine, time will tell of course. Carry on.

Regards

PS, great pics Studly!
ChrisRitna

Big Wall climber
Columbus
Apr 1, 2018 - 01:42pm PT
Seeing as this thread has been the catch all for big cams, I wanted to get yalls' opinions on the cam I am building.
First of all, Lets nip some questions in the bud:
I will not make any for anyone else (due to risk and copy write infringement)
I have a BS in Metallurgical Engineering and know the old saying that a BS Engineer knows just enough to get themselves killed.
I am not doing this as a cost effective way to get a big cam, just as a combination project of climbing and engineering that I find fun with the added plus of a big cam in the end.
I have a VG #9 on the way and will consider a Merlin #8 after a while of successful in-the-field use.
I do not nearly climb enough off width to warrant any of these cams, I just find gear collecting and having gear for any size crack to be fun.

I started thinking about making one back in July never figuring I would actually do it and noting that if I hit a large enough road block I'd probably just let the project die. I am now at the point of finishing the first 3D printed prototype for tolerance checks. after that I only really have the stem design to hash out which I have some ideas and would love to hear any ideas.

I am essentially copying BD's C4 #6 design and scaling it up to what would be a #7.5 in their numbering scale.

All values in Parentheses are the corresponding dimensions on the BD #6

I started by learning a free 2D open sorce Drawing software called LibreCAD and making the profile of bridge (the spacer between the inner lobes which connects the axles to the stem). One of my main concerns was stability of the cam when placed so I increased the depth (the Z dimension that is not shown below) to 70mm (42.5mm). This is where I chose to beef up the axle diameter to 8mm (5.5mm) and the support material around the axle. I also increased the axle seperation to 37.5mm (30.5mm). Hole in the center is just for weight reduction and the surrounding wall thickness is always larger than the BD #6

The box around the photo is 60mm x 30mm

Moved on to the Lobes where I started with taking the section of the 14 degree log spiral I wanted starting at r=95mm and going followed the curve for about 117 degrees, ending at r=158 ish. This was done by calculating ~600 points along the curve in excel, converting them to Cartesian coor. and making a spline along them. The cut outs were basically made arbitrarily but keeping their distance from any other edge more than 10mm. All cut out edges are concave to avoid stress concentration points. The axle guide cut out allows for 95 degrees of rotation raising the low end to r=105mm.

The box around the photo is 200mm x 150mm

All that comes out to a cam of a relaxed width of 279.5mm and max retracted width of 172.5mm (or 6.8" to 11.0"). A comparison graph can be seen below and the data is taken from the manufacture's website or, in the case of the Merlin #8, from earlier in the post.



This all ends up with a lobe that looks quite a bit bigger in comparison to the BD #6


As for stem design, I want to run a loop of cable through the bridge with the connection point above the bridge but have not looked into structural cable connections yet. I was going for a flexible stem that basically mirrors BD's design but loops through the top instead. If anyone has any experience or advice on doing this your help is greatly appreciated

That's basically where I am at now.

All Drawings available upon request in *.dxf file type though I take no responsibility as to what you do with them as I have done no testing as to if the designs are structurally sound in real world conditions.
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

climber
Out Of Bed
Jul 31, 2018 - 05:12pm PT
wait

I missed the last few pages of fun

]k' I still want one . . .no need thO . . .

your gear looks good, is it fully tried out yet?
your post is dated on
April Fools?

Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Aug 1, 2018 - 05:55am PT
I want one!

And ya, I know, I read the disclaimers.....
Gnome Ofthe Diabase

climber
Out Of Bed
Aug 1, 2018 - 06:10am PT
I think we'all hurt -ChrisRitna's- feelings.
1st post, his 1 & only!?
& an April fools post . . .
So falling in the middle of the high spring season,
Jaybro's shoulder,
I went climbin' & got bann'd
Then Bird passed,
things went on & no one saw the plastic proto-type,
no luv = 1 post?

Yer' not from 'round her' or lurk'd much . . huh, Chris?

Yuh gotta gnow, it takes a tough customer to go all in for the whyid . . .
For Merlins or for Tom & his Giants, it is a mixture; a labour of luv to bring fun-ction, over time - for a price that makes sense

the need to build it your own self, is a practice in search of perseverance, a bit of support might still help

so that is what this is


or
TL:DnR:

Bump for big cams, innovation & Da'whyid !
Trashman

Trad climber
SLC
Aug 9, 2018 - 11:11am PT
Reason 4381 for technical discussions of cam designs

I’m on record in this thread supporting both big cam manufacturers, as well as encouraging Tom’s technical discussions. The above thread shows why.

Far too many new consumers look at a CE(or UIAA, 3 sigma, etc) mark and assume all the options on the market are the same. They’re not, all have potential strengths and weaknesses. If you’re unwilling to spend time understanding those differences, and want to blame the manufacturer for the consequences, I suggest taking up a more forgiving sport, like bocce.
ChrisRitna

Big Wall climber
Columbus
Sep 21, 2018 - 09:04am PT
Been a while but no this was not an april fools joke.

I out sourced for the machining of the lobes.

Had them rough cut out of 6061. They all need a lot of finishing work but they look great what I asked for. I plan on getting a pair of them anodized to match BD color system


I ended up getting the full thing 3D printed so I dry fit the lobes with the plastic prototype pieces.


I just got the axles in today so I will be fitting them later.
They are just 8mm 304 stainless rotatory rods with M6 threads on either side to attach an axle cap plate.

The bridge is being machined by a guy I found on reddit (real smart, I know)
He thinks it will be done sometime next week
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Sep 21, 2018 - 10:33am PT
Very cool!
Alexey

climber
San Jose, CA
Nov 28, 2018 - 05:01pm PT
Merlin#8 cam was twisted in this movie. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2ga4SVOyTI&feature=player_embedded

start from 50 sec mark

thebravecowboy

climber
The Good Places
Nov 28, 2018 - 05:34pm PT
it didn't break....
Matt's

climber
Nov 28, 2018 - 05:35pm PT
Interesting alexey-- I assume this is because the stem is a solid rod rather than a cable? I wonder if you can just straighten out the stem after this...
Clint Cummins

Trad climber
SF Bay area, CA
Nov 28, 2018 - 06:46pm PT
Looks like using the Merlin as a "pusher cam" worked great on Brother From Another Planet.

Yep, just straighten the stem.
Having the bendable stem is another degree of freedom which helps prevent the cam lobes from bending.
edavidso

Trad climber
Oakland, CA
Nov 28, 2018 - 10:00pm PT
The stem can bend in an off-axis fall when the lobes are not able to rotate to be inline with the direction of fall. Even if you rest on the cam in an off-axis placement, the stem will most likely bend. The amount of bend will be directly related to how off-axis the cam has been placed. For large off-axis placements such as the one taken by the cam in the video, the lobes can also bend depending on how open they are. If the stem bends, you can just bend it back to straight. Bent lobes will usually cause the cam to stick rendering it useless until lobes are replaced. In the past couple years, I have only seen this once on the fall referenced in the video. Most off-axis falls are not as extreme and cause the stem to bend only a few degrees. Wire rope stems on smaller cams will do something similar, but is commonly known as "kinking".

When this fall happened, I estimated that the stem was bent by about 20 degrees. I did a simple test to determine how many of these types of falls could be taken before the stem breaks. A final bend angle of 20 degrees required bending the stem to 35 degrees (15 degrees of springback). Bending the stem back and forth 35 degrees in each direction is the worst possible scenario for fatigue. I did this until the stem broke. None of the four stems tested broke in less than 60 cycles. So if you're taking numerous falls that result in the stem being bent by 20 deg, please send the cam back to me for stem replacement after ~30 such falls. Of course, this practice will probably be self-limiting by bending the lobes at some point. The important thing to know about fatigue failures is that fatigue is highly non-linear, meaning that exponentially higher lifetimes are realized by smaller bend angles. In other words, if you place the cam inline with the direction of fall and the fall does not cause any stem bending, you can take millions of such falls without breaking the stem. If you're bending the stem by a few degrees, you should be in the thousands of falls, etc. Moral of the story: do your best to place cams inline with the anticipated direction of fall and in a location where they can rotate to the direction of fall.

couchmaster

climber
Nov 29, 2018 - 05:54am PT

@8:45 in Alexys linked video, that's some hard looking offwidth - the struggle is real....
Matt's

climber
Nov 29, 2018 - 11:23am PT
as usual, thanks for the reply edavidso.
Jon Beck

Trad climber
Oceanside
Nov 29, 2018 - 11:45am PT
Wouldn't it be better to just leave it bent? Or would a fall on a bent shaft put an unequal load on the lobes putting them at risk?
NutAgain!

Trad climber
South Pasadena, CA
Nov 29, 2018 - 12:03pm PT
That is some hard-core burly groveling in that video!
Alexey

climber
San Jose, CA
Nov 29, 2018 - 12:48pm PT



Matt's

climber

Jun 27, 2017 - 09:39pm PT
I received mine today (#14).

Unreal build quality, unreal weight. When the lobes are locked, its more compact than a #5.

Clearly someone smart put a lot of thought into the design.

No disrespect, but a valley giant looks like a high school shop project compared to this thing.

Matt, still think that #9 VG is "high school shop project " in comparison with Merlin? I actually now think the opposite after watching what small fall can do with the cam.
always think that versatility is superior to weight in the cams world
Matt's

climber
Nov 29, 2018 - 01:22pm PT
Matt, still think that #9 VG is "high school shop project " in comparison with Merlin? I actually now think the opposite after watching what small fall can do with the cam. I always think that versatility is superior to weight in the cams world

The merlin i have has much higher machining/build quality than the valley giants I've used in the past. To my untrained eye, the VG looked like something I could build myself. All that being said, the valley giant design is tried and true over the years. For all I know, the merlin design could be a beautifully made piece of junk! I plan on using the merlin only expecting it to hold body weight, and I'm fine with that.





Alexey

climber
San Jose, CA
Nov 29, 2018 - 01:44pm PT
the girl from the movie say that it is not holding even backpack [ one Merlin bended on top rope fall and another bended in backpack]





Tradprincess

Trad climber
Kentucky

Topic Author's Reply - Nov 28, 2018 - 08:58pm PT
The merlin cam is very light weight. Most people use it as aid or just push it in front of them. I took a fall on one with it at my waist. They are not as beefy as a valley giant. So when you fall on one you can bend the lobs of the cam. I bent the lobes of one in a fall. The other one the lobes bent in a pack. Once you bend the lobes the piece is kind of f*#ked.
Matt's

climber
Nov 29, 2018 - 01:51pm PT
it doesn't look like the lobes are bent, it looks like the stem is bent.
Trashman

Trad climber
SLC
Nov 29, 2018 - 04:10pm PT
Wait, Wait,

Are you telling me that lighter gear has limitations that heavier gear does not? I am, as the kids say, shook.

JFC it’s amazing more people don’t off themselves at the crags on a daily basis with this little thought about what they’re doing. Really, cramming a thin but broad piece of aluminum into a pack then tossing a bunch of heavy, rigid cams(like a creek rack) on top will bend it? No sh#t, next thing you’ll tell me that putting my Vapor helmet at the bottom of that same pack could crack it.

A short(but not exhaustive, don’t @me) list for the brain donors out there:
Don’t girth hitch shoe string runners to 1/2” nylon ones
Don’t put ultralight helmets inside packs next to hardware
Don’t fall on Merlin’s at weird angles
Don’t order something that’s a side gig/artisanal product and expect Amazon service
Don’t expect tiny gear to hold(especially in wingate or other chossy rock)
Don’t chimney in yet new ultralight puffy
Ditto lightweight packs like the REI flash or this Kalais thing I have
Don’t keep shoestring runners and dogbones for more than 10 yrs

If any of the above are news maybe you should stick to the gym.

Thanks Erick, so happy I got mine before this skullduggery began.
Alexey

climber
San Jose, CA
Nov 29, 2018 - 07:08pm PT
Trashman, your nickname connected funny way with products you listed.

Speaking of quality, I like BD approach where they make camalots lighter without compromising durability. You still can place ultralight BD cams into backpack ,- same way you did with BD C4
Trashman

Trad climber
SLC
Nov 29, 2018 - 08:10pm PT
Hey, I own and like almost all those things, and they have their place, but ya gotta understand the trade offs.
Matt's

climber
Nov 30, 2018 - 10:49am PT
Both were, It doesn't take to much of a bend in the lobes to make it unusable. The lobes after that fall would grind nastily against each other. Merlin dooes a great job of replacing them after they get messed up though. Great customer service. I'd say just buy the appropriate piece for what you want. If you ant something light but you have to take more care with... merlin. If you want to whip more than once and have something a bit more tough... vg

thanks for the update. i'll stick with body-weight only for the merlin cam...

Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Dec 4, 2018 - 08:09am PT
Did Tradprincess get banned?
couchmaster

climber
Dec 4, 2018 - 08:57am PT

She was a sparkplug, wish she'd stayed around. Best climbing shots in a long time.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Dec 4, 2018 - 10:04am PT
Yeah, her account has been deactivated. Not sure if it was requested by her or enforced by CMAC/RJ due to complaints.
Can't hardly have any fun around here anymore with edgy topics. I do like her photography. Too bad she's already toast. That was one of the shortest runs ever.

When I participate in threads like Bitches, which look like they might draw complaints, I start saving to PDF. I've got the whole thing archived: ha ha.
ontheedgeandscaredtodeath

Social climber
Wilds of New Mexico
Dec 4, 2018 - 11:03am PT
Crazy, wonder why she would have been banned or self deported?? Wasn't closely following her threads but she seems fun and is obviously climbing hard. Probably we will never know....
kunlun_shan

Mountain climber
SF, CA
Dec 4, 2018 - 11:07am PT
Am glad someone quoted Tradprincess' feedback on the Merlin cam. Valuable info!

Her thread is gone, but the 1st page still in Google cache:
http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:xt09ukHeyqQJ:www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/3147841/Bitches+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=firefox-b-1-ab

Profile of Tradprincess
http://www.supertopo.com/inc/view_profile.php?dcid=OzI_Pz05ICAn

Will check this out when I get off work. Badass ladies!
https://www.masterbetaladies.com/podcast/2018/5/4/episode-11-mary-catherine-eden-and-mercadi-carlson

ST censorship SUCKS!!!
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Dec 4, 2018 - 12:10pm PT
Anything weird happen just before the end?

The brother protects just t fine with 6’s, btw. I have placed a Merlin and a vg on later ascents ( each after the invert section,) for science.😎 don’t let lack of extra large cams keep you off this route, it’s killer!
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Dec 4, 2018 - 01:16pm PT
Anything weird happen just before the end?
The last post was about NWA, the rap group from the 80s.
There were direct quotes, and though it was absolutely germane to the topic, since the language isn't exactly PC, nor PG, perhaps somebody complained?

Something that did happen which was sort of weird, but likely coincidental: some kid from a Utah University spammed like nine threads at once with a poorly identified survey. And it hit the third to last post of the thread. I can't see how that would've precipitated a deletion of the thread along with TradPrincess account deactivation.

Something else going on here.
Either she decided to blow this pop stand and take all her marbles home, or she was identified by complainers as a problem for her language. Then, zippo, another valuable contributor vaporized.
Alexey

climber
San Jose, CA
Dec 4, 2018 - 01:43pm PT
her friend and parner also posted couple posts under name : mersendyclimberson - also gone.

it is important to find out if those girls decided to remove themself or someone rat on them and it was admin decision.

it was were strange removal of treads recently related to Kathy Karlo, where tread was removed by someone [ who?] request
still you can see names of 3 deleted treads in Google cash:

all of them somehow related:


Bitches :: SuperTopo Rock Climbing Discussion Topic
http://www.supertopo.com › Climber's Discussion Forum
Nov 27, 2018 - 20 posts - 14 authors
Tradprincess. Trad climber. Kentucky ... Tradprincess. Trad climber. Kentucky .... Tradprincess. Trad climber. Kentucky ...


Climber-Social Media-Heroes :: SuperTopo Rock Climbing Discussion ...
http://www.supertopo.com › Climber's Discussion Forum
Aug 1, 2018 - 17 posts - 15 authors
Anita514 "Tradprincess is an interesting one. I think she may be a bit of a mouth breather" HAHAHAHAHA omg that's classic. Thanks bud.



Kathy Karlo - Climbing and Internet Bullying :: SuperTopo Rock ...
http://www.supertopo.com › Climber's Discussion Forum
Nov 26, 2018 - 2 posts - 2 authors
Kathy Karlo - Climbing and Internet Bullying - page 8 - SuperTopo's climbing discussion forum is the world's most popular community ...

Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Dec 4, 2018 - 01:51pm PT
MersendyClimberson's posts are only gone because the Bitches thread is gone. She only had two.
Her account is still active.

You have to petition CMAC to get your own account deactivated.
I know this because I've spoken with people who've done it, like Tami. Or he and RJ will do it for you if enough people complain, a la Warbler.

Likely, these women are out guiding and climbing, not so concerned about any of this, and living the life we ought to be!
I have a message into TradPrincess Eden via Mountain Project member to member e-mail.

Because, yeah, I much dislike contributing to threads and having them struck, and I definitely don't like watching women getting run off. So I'd like to know what's up.
If people leave of their own accord, so be it. That's a choice. Like locker. He wanted out. In that case: bye-bye and happy trails!
Alexey

climber
San Jose, CA
Dec 4, 2018 - 02:08pm PT
I do not missing much Locker's blue plugs, but what is really lost is climbing contents by Warbler and Coz

and thank to you Tarbuster that you trying to restore it partially
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Dec 4, 2018 - 02:15pm PT
You're welcome, Alexey.
I've still got quite a bit of work to do in restoring the Welcome to Kevin Worrall thread. So stay tuned!

I put a considerable amount of completely on topic climbing material on the Bitches thread, mostly links to stuff those women were doing, including links to artwork a commercial artist had done of Cadi, which was really cool, and that interview which Kunlun linked above.

I had more stuff in the pipeline. Kind of a first world problem, but I don't like curating and generating climbing content and having it vaporized.
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Dec 4, 2018 - 07:31pm PT
FWIW, they have both taken a sabbatical from guiding....
Tprincess

Trad climber
Moab
Dec 4, 2018 - 10:01pm PT
I love that women get deleted on super topo for asking people tough questions. Like... does this offend you, and why?
Tprincess

Trad climber
Moab
Dec 4, 2018 - 10:02pm PT
Yea didn't notice because we are out doing the thing! The climbing thing that is...
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Dec 5, 2018 - 08:38am PT
So, this is your chance, were you deleted for some reason? Or did you ask to be removed?best stated in a different thread.
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Dec 5, 2018 - 09:13am PT
Tprincess said two things:

I love that women get deleted on super topo for asking people tough questions.
Yea didn't notice because we are out doing the thing! The climbing thing that is...

Thanks for filling us in: that pretty much tells us all we need to know.
It was no doubt, the language in that thread which got it struck. The mods want this place to be family hour compliant. Go figure.

FYI: Mary, I don't know what kind of workaround you are using, whether it is a different e-mail or whatever, but the moderators won't dig it. So I would lay sort of low, and not start another thread about the deletion, proclaiming your reentry. The way it usually works is you have to have a timeout for a few weeks or so and then beg forgiveness to get reinstated.

You may get the chop again with this new avatar.
Approaching the mods via e-mail and asking for your original account to be reactivated might be the best approach.

That said, welcome back,Tprincess!
You ought to think about doing some trip reports. This place needs new blood.

And you should have an e-mail from either CMAC or RJ explaining why your account was deactivated.
I've read a few of these, and I'd like to see what they said to you? It isn't just your content which was deleted, but also that of all of us who participated.

My Gmail account is: [removed]
– Roy
Tarbuster

climber
right here, right now
Dec 5, 2018 - 01:28pm PT
hahaha ... if/when Burch starts e-mailing shower selfies, you can count on me to post them up!
kunlun_shan

Mountain climber
SF, CA
Dec 5, 2018 - 02:43pm PT
if/when Burch starts e-mailing shower selfies, you can count on me to post them up!

DON'T do that, Roy. We need you around here!
myrddinmuse

Trad climber
Wales
Dec 12, 2018 - 12:26pm PT
I know this thread has veered towards a slightly different topic, but I'm psyched to have Erick post me my Merlin! When I put the order in a few months ago it was the first to be sent to the UK, and I guess it probably remains so..

Had a play with Pam's one this summer in Vedauwoo and thought it was a great bit of kit so squirreled away my student stipend for it.

Can't wait to have a play around with it and find some big cracks to suffer through!
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