The best small cams?

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squishy

Mountain climber
sacramento
Topic Author's Original Post - Jun 10, 2009 - 01:28pm PT
Lots of choices, what do you guys think are the best all around small cams?

C3's, Zero's, Mastercams, TCU's, Slitters and Aliens...
GDavis

Trad climber
Jun 10, 2009 - 01:31pm PT
the C3's have a stiff trigger bar, but once you get them placed actually i find them to work the best. They are also truly 'narrow' since they are single stem rather than U-stem (no swages on the sides like the TCU's). Used WC zeroes, too wide for the smaller sizes - with most small cams I'm using them in pockets and seams and the three cam style always works the best, the odds are highest that they will fit.

Haven't used the master cams but i suspect they would be similar to the aliens, which I like only slightly less than the C3.

Get C3's, they are light, small, and hold really, really well. That, and you won't have any problems finding them...
Nefarius

Big Wall climber
Fresno
Jun 10, 2009 - 01:31pm PT
Guys are gonna piss and moan, but I still prefer the Aliens to all the other small cams. Actually, the majority of the climbers I know still do. I use nothing else, up to a red alien.
nb3000

Social climber
the ass-end of nowhere
Jun 10, 2009 - 01:41pm PT
aliens
Mungeclimber

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Jun 10, 2009 - 01:41pm PT
aliens and alien hybrids
Haggis

Trad climber
Scotland
Jun 10, 2009 - 01:46pm PT
Zero cams are useless, far to big and they don't inspire confidence.

sounds dumb because I know they are well made but you need to feal good about the gear you use and I know a whole bunch of people who don't feal good on the suckers.

rectorsquid

climber
Lake Tahoe
Jun 10, 2009 - 01:50pm PT
I love Aliens but since most of them appear to be defective, I'm not sure I'll ever use them again. Due to inconsistencies in the locations of the axle holes, they are unpredictable.

Dave
kev

climber
CA
Jun 10, 2009 - 01:51pm PT
Aliens, aliens, aliens, and hybrid aliens. Blue-Red then Camalots.

I have a 00 TCU and a tiny WC Zero which I like.

The new single stem Metolious is not a god of the pin scare liek the alien.

khanom

climber
dirt
Jun 10, 2009 - 01:58pm PT
Aliens.


C3s suck.


Edit:
I guess I should have said that in fact I only own four aliens... black, blue, green and yellow. In those sizes I like them. But I use purple/blue/yellow TCUs equally since I often like to double up at that size. They have such different placing characteristics that I wouldn't trade one for another of the other.
GOclimb

Trad climber
Boston, MA
Jun 10, 2009 - 02:03pm PT
I used to say Aliens, but will do so no longer. Now, I dunno.

Maybe Metolius TCUs? They seem okay. I've used Zeros, hate 'em.

GO
Ain't no flatlander

climber
Jun 10, 2009 - 02:03pm PT
After trying the rest, here is another vote for Aliens. I'm convinced the bashing on RC.com is more about generating controversy and traffic than any real issues. Lame testing standards done to achieve a desired outcome and then flaming anyone who questions the "results" doesn't really appear to be a "safety" issue.
Prod

Trad climber
A place w/o Avitars apparently
Jun 10, 2009 - 02:04pm PT
I've always used Metolius TCU's. I am interested in the new Master Cams as well. Never used the C#'s but I thought I heard they were heavy?

Prod.
GOclimb

Trad climber
Boston, MA
Jun 10, 2009 - 02:05pm PT
Oh, and before you commit to the new Metolius MasterCams, make damn sure you're comfortable with the trigger wire setup, and how it'll work over an edge. Scares the sh#t out of me, but ymmv.

GO
John Mac

Trad climber
Littleton, CO
Jun 10, 2009 - 02:09pm PT
I've had problems with some of my c3's. The trigger mechanism has become twised while aid climbing on them and the action has been affected. The cams no longer snap back into position.

I was hoping BD would be able to fix it, so I contacted them and they told me that the trigger mechanism was unrepairable. And also it wasn't covered under any warranty since I damaged them by climbing with them.

Hence I've gone back to using aliens for clean aid and c3 for free climbing.

Greg Barnes

climber
Jun 10, 2009 - 02:11pm PT
Even die-hard Aliens fans like me are thinking twice now. Can't even drill the friggin axle hole even close to the right place?!? Incomplete brazing even of some of the very old ones? Lying on the internet about it instead of fixing the problems? Seems like they are only one interested lawyer away from being sued out of existence, and maybe even setting themselves up for criminal prosecution.

I admit that I'm using my old TCUs for key pro and avoiding using Aliens, even having bounce-tested them. Reaching for the Alien, then pausing and grabbing anything else - not a good sign, and I know i'm not the only one.
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Jun 10, 2009 - 02:15pm PT
I got used to Metolius TCUs early on. The C3s seem beefier and more stable, but there are places (with narrow openings) that Metolius, which has the thinnest cables, fits better. For that reason the 3 smallest TCU sizes (silver, purple, blue) are on my default "light rack."
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Jun 10, 2009 - 02:22pm PT
my thoughts for small cams for walls:

in sumarry, Aliens but with Greg's concerns

SMALL CAMS
Aliens are the best for pin scars because of their narrow head profile and soft aluminum cams. The downside of the soft metal is that they wear out fast. So if you are like me, you often end up with a lot of Aliens that have "mushy cams" that need two hands or even my teeth to retract. Another downside to Aliens is that they have had reliability problems.

The Metolius Master Cams have a similar design to the Aliens but the harder metal they use for the cams means they dont hold as wall in flared pin scars. The upside is that they dont wear out as fast. However, the trigger cables are rumored to wear out pretty fast.

The Black Diamon Camalot C3 is another popular small cam. With only 3 cams, they walk a little easier than the Aliens and their more rigid stem does not work as well in contorted placements. However, they are a good option if you are scared about the quality control of the Aliens.

Overall, my recommendation is that if you are doing just a couple walls like The Nose or Half Dome, go with the Metolius or Black Diamond because those are cams you will want to have on your regular trad climbing rack. If you are doing a bunch of Yosemite walls, buy a couple sets of Aliens to augment what you currently have.

i put more wall gear advice here and here

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=875439

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=877792
originalpmac

Trad climber
Ouray, CO
Jun 10, 2009 - 02:22pm PT
"Zero cams are useless, far to big and they don't inspire confidence.

sounds dumb because I know they are well made but you need to feal good about the gear you use and I know a whole bunch of people who don't feal good on the suckers."

shut up, Magnus.
this guy wears a pink helmet while climbing, and schoeller pants while waiting tables. GO BACK TO RC.COM!



I have taken falls on a purple metolius TCU and it worked just fine. Bomber placement in a pin scar though.





hehehe, just messing with you Magnus, how is Utah?
Ottawa Doug

Social climber
Ottawa, Canada
Jun 10, 2009 - 02:28pm PT
Aliens and alien hybrids are the best to place. When I need to be sure that the piece will not fail I reach for a C4.

squishy

Mountain climber
sacramento
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 10, 2009 - 02:49pm PT
good stuff in here guys, thanks for the input...How about the worst small cams? Are those Aliens as well?
malabarista

Trad climber
San Francisco, Ca
Jun 10, 2009 - 03:06pm PT
Everything I hear about aliens is negative, but they comprise the majority of my rack. It's very hard to give up something with such a superior design even if the manufacturing process is flawed. Somebody needs to step up to the plate and create an adequate alternative or fix the CCH process definitively.
Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Jun 10, 2009 - 03:12pm PT
If I understood correctly, several other cam makers have looked at the Aliens and concluded that
because their assembly is complicated, they could not produce a similar cam themselves, but with
higher quality control, and sell that at a competitive price.
Tomcat

Trad climber
Chatham N.H.
Jun 10, 2009 - 03:13pm PT
Take a Mastercam,place it into a vertical crack of your choice,real or simulated,90 degrees to the wall,pull it downward,like a fall,and watch the top cams retract.Way bigger issue than misdrilled cam lobes.
Captain...or Skully

Social climber
North of the Owyhees
Jun 10, 2009 - 03:15pm PT
I run the gamut, mostly.....I've got aliens, offset aliens, zero's(Which I like a lot, very useful), TCU's(both Metolius & Bliss)......all have a proven place in the rack.
Moof

Big Wall climber
A cube at my soul sucking job in Oregon
Jun 10, 2009 - 03:55pm PT
I love my aliens, but wish someone would buy CCH and fix the damn place. Aliens work great, but the company is just shady.

I sent ~20 cams back for testing at the beginning of this year. They came back with stamped "tensile tested", and one red alien was clearly redone with a new cable, new swage, but the old plastic cover on the thumb loop (sort of like they were hoping I wouldn't notice). For a life support widget I would have hoped for at least a note telling me WTF happened with that unit.
Greg Barnes

climber
Jun 10, 2009 - 04:04pm PT
Actually Moof that makes me feel a bit better about the ones I sent in for tensile testing (in the original recall period) - at least you can be sure they tested the sucker, and it failed.

Even before aliens issues, my rack was 00 and 0 TCUs, green-red aliens, then doesn't much matter. My blue alien got super gummy/tweaked in only a few years, and even when it was new I liked the 0 TCU better (black aliens didn't come out until I already had my 00 TCU, which was new then too). But green-red aliens just fit where nothing else does, it's really too bad that they don't have their act (even close to) together.
squishy

Mountain climber
sacramento
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 10, 2009 - 04:12pm PT
I am shocked they don't professionally address all the concerns I read on the interwebs. If anything I think they should speak to it, but I don't see it...that's what makes me the most hesitant, I can't tell if all the rumors are true are not, maybe they hope their silence will discredit what people are saying, but there's so many saying it now, it's scary...
FeelioBabar

climber
Sneaking up behind you...
Jun 10, 2009 - 04:20pm PT
C3's are the shizzle.

mucci

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
Jun 10, 2009 - 04:25pm PT
Aliens/hybrids Mandatory in areas that have pin scars/flares. That being said, Metolius TCU's are great too.

Metolius master cams (Spitting image of Alien) Totally suck, they walk too much, are too stiff, and generally don't hold a placement as you move up even with a shoulder lenghth runner. They are now in the Aid Bin at home.
adatesman

Trad climber
philadelphia, pa
Jun 10, 2009 - 04:31pm PT
[off-topic]
Quote Aint no Flatlander:
"I'm convinced the bashing on RC.com is more about generating controversy and traffic than any real issues. Lame testing standards done to achieve a desired outcome and then flaming anyone who questions the "results" doesn't really appear to be a "safety" issue. "

I'm not sure what you're basing that opinion on, but I suppose you're free to think what you like about the testing I did. I assure you however that it had absolutely nothing to do with generating controversy and traffic and absolutely everything to do with calling attention to the fact that obvious manufacturing defects were found out in the wild. In fact several more defects were found in the additional cams tested at Rock&Snow and I'm hoping to finally have those results out tomorrow. I'm curious though... What about the testing standards did you find lame? And besides the obvious CCH shill who posted both on RC and SP, who did I flame for questioning the results? I seem to recall being quite patient with everyone. I also don't seem to recall you participating in any of the discussions, so why bring your concerns up here rather than one of the threads discussing the testing either here on ST or any of the other 6 sites I say it reposted on?
[/off-topic]


Anyway, my vote would go to Aliens if it weren't for their complete lack of QC and process control. I have a set of Zeros and like them plenty.

-a.


Ain't no flatlander

climber
Jun 10, 2009 - 04:34pm PT
Squishy, CCH is in a lose-lose situation. If they respond to the witch hunt, they give it validity. If they ignore it, the rumor-mongers keep trying to scare people into buying inferior products. Before the thread got way too long, there were some very reasonable questions about the testing that were shouted down by a vocal few. So far, there appears to be no real-world incidents outside of the recalled units. Instead, there are thousands of climbers happily using Aliens and wishing another company would finally introduce a superior product.
mike m

climber
black hills
Jun 10, 2009 - 04:45pm PT
HB made some nice small cams back in the day. They work well in the Needles(SD) as many of the cracks there are highly flared and highly irregular. The advantage the HB's had is that they have a longer stiffer cable which allows you to place it much deeper and gives you many more options. They also had a noe finger trigger which keeps your fingers out of the way when it gets tight. Anyone know if they are still made? Mike
Haggis

Trad climber
Scotland
Jun 10, 2009 - 04:59pm PT
HB went bust in 2005, some of their ideas were bought by DMM but not their cams.
ryanb

climber
Seattle, WA
Jun 10, 2009 - 05:01pm PT
Between my girlfriend and I think we have most of the cams listed apart from zeros.

We climb mostly free at Index, wa where it is comon to cary tripple of quadruple sets of small cams for single pitch free climbs. All of my regular partners and I fall on small gear fairly often. My preference is for more metal in contact with the rock. I do not find head width to be as big an issue as many on the internet.

My favorite small cams in order:

C4's .5 and up. Feels solid as a new bolt.

Pre-ultralight metolius FOUR cams in purple and blue...these are the perfect cams for slipping into almost imperceptible pods in thin nearly parallel cracks...we get a lot of these at index and you generally need any pin scars/big pods for your fingers. Feels solid like an old bolt.

Master cams...these a little bit narrower and have a single stem. I like them well enough but wish the lobes were a little thicker and the sling a bit longer...you pretty much have to clip them with a quick draw. Bought recently and may buy more if they stand the test of time. I really like the yellow and bigger where the lobes feel like they have some mass to them.

NOTE: Who the hell places cams with the stem pointing 90deg out? That is suicidal with U or solid stems and marginal at best with single stems. Maybe important for aid climbing but not a big issue for me.

Aliens ... I still have a lot of these on my rack. The lobes on a few of them are pretty mushroomed from holding a lot of falls (i don't aid climb unpurpose) so I guess I trust them but I will not be buying more. I find myself reaching for the other cams first. The green one is my favorite, though the blue fcu's and master cam have been replacing it recently.

Modern metolius ultralights ... these are okay but the stem is too short to wiggle them into solid placements like the old ones (cable is same length but the head attachment is much shorter). The sling is too short as well.

Tcus...okay but I prefer the redundcey of a four cam...a buddy of mine destroyed the inside lobe on a purple one taking a long fall (same fall snapped a fixed pin). I've definitely wiped on a friends blue but on the whole I find my FCU's just as good.

C3's ...combination of too stiff and super narrow head makes them more prone to walk then any other cam...slinging is a must so i save them for placing off good stance... they stay at home most trips. The red one is okay but I have yet to bond with the others...my girlfriend got them while working at a gear shop and i doubt either of us would buy more.
klk

Trad climber
cali
Jun 10, 2009 - 05:08pm PT
"Squishy, CCH is in a lose-lose situation. If they respond to the witch hunt, they give it validity."

You're kidding, right? When that one poor f*#ker broke his alien, and posted sequence pictures of the thing actually failing as he fell on it, CCH logged on to accuse him of falsifying the photos.

During the last debacle, it appears that CCH logged on under an avatar to astro-turf.

Frankly, most of my unwillingness to buy Aliens now has to do with the staggering incompetence, misjudgment, and idiocy that CCH has displayed in this process from the recall to the current debacle. My guess is that that's hurt their reputation a good deal more than the actual failures. Every company has failures-- everyone has a QC issue or a recall at one point or another. The question is how the company responds.
Tomcat

Trad climber
Chatham N.H.
Jun 10, 2009 - 05:34pm PT
I place cams 90 degrees out when that is all I can arrange,and it happens once a weekend or so.Try it and see what happens.Aliens are un-affected,Master cams the top set retracts.
adatesman

Trad climber
philadelphia, pa
Jun 10, 2009 - 06:16pm PT
Dammit, he caught me. It _is_ a witch hunt.

And I did all this with acid and a pair of pliers... Never did find the top of the one second from the left.




The actual details, left to right:
1. Used Black, mid-1990's, pulled from fixture at 55% rating, head of stem failed when tested separately at 147% rating.
2. New Black, 4/08, pulled from fixture at 64% rating, head of stem failed when tested separately at 80% rating. Some porosity in the braze.
3. Used Orange, mid-1990's, sling broke at 73% rating, retested and pulled from fixture at 71% rating. Plenty of porosity in braze, but held 117% rating when tested separately.
4. Used Yellow, 10/03, braze looked perfect but stem pulled from head at 78% rating.
5. (lower pic) New Clear, 5/08, Pulled from fixture at 90% rating, buckled lobe measured 23 on the Rockwell B hardness scale, the others were HRB52, 53 and 55 (which is where they should be for the 6061T6 they claim to use).
squishy

Mountain climber
sacramento
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 10, 2009 - 06:36pm PT
Wow...
Shimanilami

Trad climber
San Jose, CA
Jun 10, 2009 - 06:46pm PT
Another vote for aliens, especially if you're into aiding.

And if you're scared about their quality control, do your own QC before you put them to use - i.e. visual inspection, bounce testing, funkness device, etc. Are all aliens defect free? I don't care ... as long as mine are.

ryanb

climber
Seattle, WA
Jun 10, 2009 - 07:19pm PT
Tomcat,

Sorry if I came off as a jerk but that is not safe. 90 deg placements might hold body weight for aiding but I think there is a good bulk of evidence that they are way sketch as lead gear.

Years ago I caught a 40' foot tumble past the belay fall when an inexperienced friend pulled two hand sized u-stem cams that had been placed stem straight out in pockets in a broken verticle crack. Examining the cams afterwords it was clear the stems had acted as a lever and popped them out.

The alien design is a bit better in this situation because the single stem reduces the amount of leverage the stem can put on the head but a fall can still produce forces the cam is not designed to withstand... particularly if the top of the head rest on a constriction as would be common in shallow 90deg placements.

This has been implicated in two single stem cam failures I am aware of (one yellow alien failure and swage and one red link cam lobe failure).

In fact, CCH specifically warns against using aliens in that way:

http://www.aliencamsbycch.com/instructions.html

I believe OP, BD, Metolius and most other cam manufactures include similar warnings in their cam instructions as well now.

If you or anyone else regularly FALLS on cams placed in this manner I might change my opinion but I generally find I can get properly oriented gear in shallow cracks just fine if I keep my eyes open and fiddle it in...this is one area where narrow head width is a real plus (offset nuts too...don't have any offset cams).



Greg Barnes

climber
Jun 10, 2009 - 07:51pm PT
adatesman - I missed the last point previously (I haven't gone through your posts on other sites), so let me get this straight (not being a metallurgist):

the hardness test pretty much proves that the metal in one out of the 4 cam lobes is not what they claim it to be - as in the same metal but not hardened, or totally different?

5. (lower pic) New Clear, 5/08, Pulled from fixture at 90% rating, buckled lobe measured 23 on the Rockwell B hardness scale, the others were HRB52, 53 and 55 (which is where they should be for the 6061T6 they claim to use).



So they get aluminum blocks from China or wherever and machine them, but at least one block is not the right alloy - is that the basic scenario?
kev

climber
CA
Jun 10, 2009 - 07:57pm PT
Ok so here the Taco Total

C3 => 2 posters
Aliens => 11 posters
Metolius => 2 posters
Other => 2 posters
Undecided => 8 posters

off topic or unclear about what cam they like => the rest of you.

squishy

Mountain climber
sacramento
Topic Author's Reply - Jun 10, 2009 - 08:02pm PT
We need more posters, this isn't lining up with what has been posted in the past...
Nefarius

Big Wall climber
Fresno
Jun 10, 2009 - 08:12pm PT
Sure it is squishy... There's no doubt in my mind that most people, in this area anyway, prefer Aliens as their small cams. This thread shows that.

As I said in the most recent "Aliens are Evil" thread, the posts about failures in testing, and the couple of failures in real life, don't seem to have affected their business much at all. Places that get them can only keep them for a few hours to a couple of days. Yos, Josh, Moab, Bishop... Aliens are gone from those shops in no time flat, as soon as hundreds arrive in an order.
ontheedgeandscaredtodeath

Trad climber
San Francisco, Ca
Jun 10, 2009 - 08:14pm PT
I just bought a few master cams and haven't decided on them yet. So far I like them. I find the heads on the smaller C4s to be a bit wide. Dunno about C3s, have not tried one.

I've used aliens and like them, but have managed to live without them thus far- for no particular reason beyond the fact that, at least in the pre-intertube age, they were hard to come by and I got used to other stuff. I don't aid climb, like to climb near my limit (i.e., fall) and have mouths to feed so I'm not sure I'd buy a set now.

How are the Metolius offset TCUs?
mucci

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
Jun 10, 2009 - 08:21pm PT
Exactly how many alien cams have failed in the line of duty? How many have been reported? I hear about all of these "Incidents" yet no #'s have been shown. Does alien report the test results to the owner?

Number man, Numbers!
Nefarius

Big Wall climber
Fresno
Jun 10, 2009 - 08:33pm PT
As far as I know, 2 Alien failures in the field. I know of at least that many failures for other manufacturers too tho...

I'm not denying that there is a QC issue at CCH, at all. I don't think anyone is. Thing is, there simply isn't another cam out there that works as well as the Aliens. Period. Most of my Aliens have taken and held falls, and I'll keep using them. Most people feel this way. As soon as someone either makes an exact duplicate, takes over CCH and improves QC, or maybe makes somethign better, I (and others) will think about changing...
Greg Barnes

climber
Jun 10, 2009 - 08:38pm PT
Yeah Nefarius, but look at these failure modes - for instance brazes pulling out at well below full strength. I still use mine, but I just can't trust them, no matter how beat up/old/held falls/etc - it may have held at 50% of strength, but blow at 60%, so off the belay or for the really key pro...like I said, I hesitate reaching for them now, and my old TCUs are back on the rack (the newer TCUs suck - way too short).
adatesman

Trad climber
philadelphia, pa
Jun 10, 2009 - 09:12pm PT
@Greg-

I don't blame you for skipping the RC thread(s). The ones on MP, Gunks, CC and SP were much better behaved. The one on ST died quickly as you all seem to be either disinterested or tired of it coming up again and again.

To be honest, I don't have an explanation for that lobe. The hardness values I got were the average of 4 tests each (where they would fit, so not the Black or Blue and given the 22 samples x 4 lobes it took a day and a half to work through) and for that lobe in particular I did 6 or 7 on because I simply could not believe it was so different from the others. CCH states on their website that they use 6061T6 extrusions for the lobes and a former CCH employee has confirmed that they machine the lobes in a single operation on a multi-axis lathe (hence the misdrilled hole issue... there's no fixture to screw up since it isn't done on a drill press). 6061 denotes the alloy (aluminum with trace quantities of silicon, manganese, etc) and T6 denotes the heat treating (solution hardened and aged, if I remember correctly).

One would assume that all of the lobes on a single cam would have come from the same production run and therefore have similar hardness values, so either this one was left over from a previous run or something was done to it. Mind you, this cam was brand new and sitting on the shelf at Rock&Snow so the chances of malicious tinkering are nil. That said I tested all but 1 of the cams from the testing at R&S and the hardnesses are all over the map. Most are either around HRB45 (which agrees with the hardness of lobes I sent out for testing a while back) or HRB55 (which is where 6061T6 should be), but I found a bunch around HRB30 and a single cam that couldn't be measured on the HRB scale because it was dead soft. Converting from the HRE scale (same force but larger penetrator) those four lobes came out HRB1 -> HRB12. I won't go so far as to say CCH is/was doing something to soften the lobes, but given their reputation for having soft lobes, the variability of hardness values I've seen and distance from spec from what they claim to use I simply don't see how an extruding company can stay in business when providing material so far out of spec.

Oh, and I'm sure there's others that can explain the finer points of this (don't know about here on ST, but the guy I have in mind is a metallurgy major who follows MP and RC) but in general as hardness goes down so does strength, which would explain the buckled cam lobe.

And in case you haven't checked out RC lately, there's a subforum called The Lab which is mostly lacking in the typical RC drama and completely focused on gear design theory, testing, etc. Full disclosure: I'm kinda in charge in The Lab, which came about by way of them wanting to put someone in charge of it and me being the most active person in there. Aside from 2 articles RC paid me for (the Needless Destruction Theater ones) I'm not employed by RC in any way, shape or form and am simply an engineering geek who spends his free time breaking stuff and posting about it because it amuses me and other people seem to find it interesting.

-aric.
tooth

Mountain climber
Guam
Jun 10, 2009 - 09:20pm PT
aliens
Brendan

Trad climber
Yosemite, CA
Jun 10, 2009 - 09:40pm PT
If you are going to get into aiding, the three enlongated lobe design of the C3s is the tits for tipped out placements. Aliens are great too. I would suggest 000, 00, 0 size C3s and the rest aliens. The super small aliens are funky, and have the tendency to rotate in marginal placements.

If you are thinking about getting into aiding, DO NOT buy Master cams. Aiding can require very specific placements, sometimes directionalized in all kinds of funny ways. * The "wires" (in this case strings of the master cams) that attach the trigger to the lobes are too short or just designed improperly. When placed inverted (lobes below the slings), after it is weighted, the "wires" come tight and automatically release the lobes of the cam.
Check out the pictures I have here, and if any of you have Master cams, test them for yourselves...








This design flaw almost made me deck into a ledge during a solo of the Prow... lame.
adatesman

Trad climber
philadelphia, pa
Jun 10, 2009 - 09:50pm PT
First off, sorry for the thread drift... This all really belongs over in the CCH testing thread. Sorry about that.

@Mucci- Well, if its numbers you want the two random samples that first showed up on my doorstep both failed well under rated strength. One was bootied but ended up having an obvious manufacturing defect (of the 4.5kN variety) upon cross sectioning. The other I personally bought off a guy on MP with the intent of breaking on the puller and it failed in a new manner well below rating.

Of the 22 more I tested at Rock & Snow (13 New and 9 Used) only 5 of the 13 new ones failed above their rated strength, with the percentage of the rating held ranging from 63.3% to 116.7% and an overall average of 94.3%. Of the 9 used Aliens, only 2 failed above their rated strength, with the percentage of the rating held ranging from 54.7% to 105.0% and an overall average of 81.9%.

I'm not sure those are the numbers you want to hear, but they're the only ones I have.

If you're looking for hearsay, an employee of a prominent Colorado gear shop told me that they stopped carrying Aliens a while back because of the number of failed post-recall units they had returned. Not wanting to get involved in this mess they kept their mouths shut about it, but upon some poking while trying on harnesses last year he passed on some details.

I've also seen test results from one of the other gear manufacturers that shows most Aliens failing well below rating that they could not publish due to accusations of bias, but will not drag them into this mess. I am willing to let my results stand on their own merits as I'm 100% confident they're correct, and frankly I gave CCH ample opportunity to handle this issue in any manner they saw fit prior to making my results public. Unfortunately they chose to ignore the results and question my motivations instead of addressing the real problem. Such is life, and I've now spent the majority of the past 3 weeks documenting what I've found to pass along to anyone who needs it (I've already passed preliminary results onto the UIAA at their request, and will be passing on the full report once it's finished).

Personally I'd much rather see CCH get their act together and start producing quality product, but given the treatment I've received from them I have my doubts whether that will happen.

BTW, the pics above don't include the two cams that started this mess. Cross sections of them are over in the other thread, but here there are again. On top is the Purple that pulled out at ~10.5kN (1/05), then the Red that failed at ~4.5kN due to there being no braze in the joint (7/02) and the bottom being another Red I broke a while back that had the stem overheated which broke at ~11.3kN (11/06).



But as mentioned before this is just a witch hunt and I'm simply trying to defame CCH over some petty grievance I've had with them over the taste of their urinal cakes.

EDIT- BTW, speaking of hearsay, some guy over on MP claimed to have gotten a former CCH employee drunk and talking one night, during which the former CCH employee explained how they'd heat the lobes with a blowtorch and toss them in a bucket of water somewhere in their manufacturing process. Certainly well within the range of things I'd immediately write off as untrue as a matter of course, but it would very conveniently explain the variability in hardness of the lobes that I found. And before I get accused of making this up, go check out the thread(s) on MP. I don't have a link handy and won't go to the trouble of finding it, but its there.

EDITx2- Sorry about that, just resized the pic to something more appropriate.

EDITx3- What the heck... If you haven't already go take some pics of your Aliens and run them through the Cam Fitter. Its written by the guy who invented the Supercam, who developed it back when there were murmurings years ago about Aliens being drilled off-center. CCH ignored his findings, but frankly there's no disputing the results. Out of the 22 cams I tested at Rock & Snow the effective cam angles ranged from 7 to 28 degrees. I'll have pics of it all posted in The Lab on RC hopefully tomorrow, but more likely by Monday as I've gotten nothing done tonight and still have a couple days work to do.
Captain...or Skully

Social climber
North of the Owyhees
Jun 10, 2009 - 10:17pm PT
Yeesh....
adatesman

Trad climber
philadelphia, pa
Jun 11, 2009 - 01:02am PT
Captain/Skully-

Yeesh means:

1. not expecting that tangent?

2. not happy with that tangent?

3. tired of hearing about it?

Sorry for dredging this topic up in another thread here on ST, but I wasn't so happy so see someone who hadn't participated in the discussions regarding the testing bitching about them out of context. I generally try to just be a lurker here, but seeing someone accuse me of simply trying to drive page views at RC with this rubbed me the wrong way.

-aric.
kc

Trad climber
lg, ca
Jun 11, 2009 - 01:42am PT
aliens, aliens, aliens. oh, and offset aliens. Like any gear, if you place it correctly, it will hold.

Did I say aliens? Ok then, aliens.
mucci

Trad climber
The pitch of Bagalaar above you
Jun 11, 2009 - 01:51am PT
Adatesman:"but I wasn't so happy so see someone who hadn't participated in the discussions regarding the testing bitching about them out of context."

I have been following, I appreciate the testing that you have done/presented to us. This is way out of my scope but hearing your testimony based on personal experience was creepy. Must have missed the Numbers.

Didn't mean to come off so "ignorant" with my question.

Good answer
cheers
EDIT: Aliens Rule, not to mention the rude falls I've seen/taken on them.
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Jun 11, 2009 - 03:54am PT
When it gets down to the smallest cams (#00, #0), in cracks, I more often than not reach for Lowe/Byrne ball nuts. I'm done with Aliens, Metolius work, C3s suck, micro cams really suck, and the L/B ball nuts are rated higher in those sizes than cams and have never, ever failed me.
GhoulweJ

Trad climber
Sacramento, CA
Jun 11, 2009 - 10:09am PT
Master Cams
I bought them used them then went back to Aliens (after I had 2 Aliens fail in a pull test). I was trying to use Master Cams exactly like Aliens.

Later went back to Master Cams and learned to use them they Master Cams want to be used... Now, no aliens on my rack and I'm happy about it (except I have 6 sets of Aliens also offsets that sit on the shelf now).

And before the spray comes, yes I aid climb, and yes I have taken them up El Cap.
GOclimb

Trad climber
Boston, MA
Jun 11, 2009 - 10:38am PT
ryanb wrote: Sorry if I came off as a jerk but that is not safe. 90 deg placements might hold body weight for aiding but I think there is a good bulk of evidence that they are way sketch as lead gear.

You're understating the problem with Mastercams. Sure, vertical bottoming placements are tough on any gear (and far, far moreso with Mastercams) but horizontal placements over an edge are terrible with Mastercams, too!

That's the main reason why I wouldn't climb on Mastercams at the Gunks. Put one over a horizontal edge, and where any other cam would behave properly, a Mastercam's trigger wires will rotate into horizontal configuration, and retract the cam lobes.

F*#k that!

I'm sure you don't have that many horizontals in the granite where you climb, so it's not an issue for you, but it sure is for me.

GO
couchmaster

climber
Jun 11, 2009 - 11:53am PT
Got to go with Chris Mac and Greg, Aliens but wish they'd get their quality sh#t together. Of course, it looks like that won't happen ever as they've had multiple opportunities and keep F*ing the dog.

Mucci, there was a thread on RC.com listing all the other threads with Alien cam failures and it was extensive and long. It involved "TENSILE TESTED" failure links as well, so you should go find it. You can still use your aliens, but won't be doing so like the guy on Soulders crack who just missed being a fatality (he posts as "Pins and Bones" or something like that) when he had a tested Yellow Alien fall apart after he ran it out then fell onto it.

Mastercams a close 2nd but #1 for free climbing.

What I still don't understand is this: with ALL of the misdrilled hole evidence which seems to indicate that perhaps over 90 percent of the Aliens are produced with a bad or incorrect cam geometry, why do they still hold so well in placements?
Nefarius

Big Wall climber
Fresno
Jun 11, 2009 - 12:03pm PT
I'd like to thank adatesman, actually, for all of the work you've put into this. Seriously. It certainly helps us to be able to make that an informed choice, when it comes to Aliens. Who knows, maybe it will help sink some sense into CCH's head... Or at least a proper braze!

High five, dude.

Captain...or Skully

Social climber
North of the Owyhees
Jun 11, 2009 - 12:09pm PT
Adatesman....That "yeesh" was at the sight of those failed stems.
CCH really needs to get their collective shizz in order, or they too will fade away.
Gracias'.
Greg Barnes

climber
Jun 11, 2009 - 01:06pm PT
couchmaster, obviously mis-drilled holes don't immediately keep a cam from working, just from working as designed. I imagine the physics gets pretty complicated pretty fast, especially with various locations for the axle centers, plus soft lobes like Aliens have. It would be interesting to see an analysis of how a cam would work with holes misdrilled such as shown above.
adatesman

Trad climber
philadelphia, pa
Jun 11, 2009 - 01:16pm PT
Actually there's a thread about it over on RC with all sorts of pics: Link

Its easy enough to run a pic of your cam through John Field's Cam Fitter software and then plot out the effective cam angles at any point. Where it gets complicated is when you start taking into account lobe softness and axle deformation...

The info for the mangled Clear I posted above is all here, but to save you the trouble...

Effective Cam Angle at Various Positions:
-Red: 16 + 7.0 = 23 Degrees
-Purple (where tested): 16 + 1 = 17 Degrees
-Yellow: 16 – 5.0 = 11 Degrees
-Blue: 16 – 9.0 = 7 Degrees




EDIT- Sorry, keep forgetting ST doesn't automatically downsize pics.
Greg Barnes

climber
Jun 11, 2009 - 02:01pm PT
Tried logging in to that site to check out the program, but after a bunch of tries, all ending with this error, I've given up:

An error occurred in the script
Need to login or create new user

Anyway, not sure how well it would work when the cams are worn:

adatesman

Trad climber
philadelphia, pa
Jun 11, 2009 - 03:16pm PT
Red: 16 + 12.6 = 28.6 Degrees
Yellow: 16 + 3.6 = 19.6 Degrees
Blue: 16 - 2.9 = 13.1 Degrees



BTW, the options I used for this were "Use Edited Points" and "Show Raw Edge Points".
Ain't no flatlander

climber
Jun 11, 2009 - 03:54pm PT
Relax Squishy, the testing doesn't show what he thinks. It was pointed out long ago that the UIAA test (that he wasn't actually using) doesn't correlate well to the field. That shouldn't be a surprise since climbers have almost no input on testing standards. Some companies build gear that look great in lab tests for the sake of marketing and lawyering. Other companies are more concerned with real world performance.

Cams pulling out of jigs under static loads at lower than spec is really a moot point when they are proven to hold in the wild under dynamic loads. Nearly all of the "failures" reported in that thread from hell are completely irrelevant. There was only a single failure at a rating that would be of serious concern--and that turned out to be of compromised cam that nobody intelligent would climb with anyhow. The RC.com folks deny it's a witch hunt while failing to address numerous issues of faulty testing, limited sample size, insufficient testing of other brands, etc. They have yet to present a case of any problem in the field, even with the supposed off-axis holes. It's mostly rumors and innuendos with nothing of substance and lots of denial. Hell, C3s, Mastercams and Maxcams all have more known real world problems yet nobody seems to be panicking.
Nefarius

Big Wall climber
Fresno
Jun 11, 2009 - 04:11pm PT
Now it's getting interesting!

*pulls up chair, sits down with fresh bowl of popcorn, puts feet up and gets ready!*

edit: That last pic of the cam axle program is interesting to me. I'm not sure I've ever seen a cam with the axle hole in the place the program thinks it should be in that pic. Seems like it wants to put the whole pretty close to center. It's supposed to be a camming lobe, not a wheel....

I'm no cam maker, but am an aeronautical engineering grad... And, at first glance, there's something I simply don't like about that pic. Or, rather, maybe that I *do* like. It makes me think that it's being blown out of proportion, or at least that this is a pretty poor example to use in the argument.

Maybe we can get Tom Kasper to chime in here... I Use his cams regularly, so I guess that says I trust his judgment! :)
Gene

climber
Jun 11, 2009 - 04:16pm PT
What about the Metolius offsets? Anybody?
Greg Barnes

climber
Jun 11, 2009 - 04:28pm PT
"when they are proven to hold in the wild under dynamic loads."

Do you not climb, or do you work for CCH?

Nearly everyone who risks hard falls on small gear very rarely actually falls on that small gear.

So if the risk that your cam is defective is 10% vs 1%, there's a HUGE difference in risking those falls. You won't know unless you tested vast numbers of existing cams whether the catastrophic failures are extremely rare or pretty darn common.

I don't believe the standard tests much either - they'd have to be done with pin-scarred polished flares in granite to make me happy. Rock type, metal type, irregularities in the rock, etc - the standard tests are pretty meaningless. Just like biner tests where the biner isn't being slapped against granite during the fall or jammed in a crack - those tests don't hold much water.

But brazes pulling, clear manufacturing defects, etc - that's a whole other can of worms. And CCH has had years to get their act together. Most of us who still carry Aliens trust our old beat-up ones more than newer ones, but honestly how many people have taken hard falls on their own cams? The one I remember catching on one of my green Aliens, the cam was dented and I had to take a file to the lobe to get it to work, and even then it's visibly dented.

CCH has been so dumb - they could have really cleaned up their act, then everyone would trust new Aliens more than their old ones, and since old ones always get beat up and worn down anyway, they'd be in good shape. Instead, they're actually managing to turn away people like me who love those cams since they fit better and stick better than anything else.
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Jun 11, 2009 - 04:34pm PT
"Nearly all of the "failures" reported in that thread from hell are completely irrelevant."

Bullsh#t. On one hand you say "climbers have almost no input" and here we have a climber, Aric, taking it upon himself to do testing and get involved - your response: 'irrelevant'. Dude, his tests are honest, open and more to the point relevant to CCH's own specs. And when he uncovers bad work - whether we consider it craftsmanship or manufacturing - like this as part of that testing:



it speaks volumes - sh#t work is sh#t work.


"There was only a single failure at a rating that would be of serious concern--and that turned out to be of compromised cam that nobody intelligent would climb with anyhow."

Again, total bullsh#t. You're either just another shill or you know nothing about manufacturing or quality. The majority of the cams failed below their rating - get that - below their rating. That's an enormous FAIL no matter how you stack it.


"The RC.com folks deny it's a witch hunt while failing to address numerous issues of faulty testing, limited sample size, insufficient testing of other brands, etc."

No one is on a witch hunt, I personally spent months defending and attempting to work with CCH on these problems along with a lot of other folks - we all ended up walking away shaking our heads in disbelief, changing our position and have worked simply to get a clear picture of the scope and scale of their problems.

And "limited sample size" - dude, you've got to be kidding! Aric walks into R&S in New Paltz, cleans them out of 20 or so new Aliens sitting out for retail sale and tests them with most all of them failing with multiple quality issues. Want to bet what the results would be for 20 Metolius or BD cams off the same R&S racks would be: they'd all pass with margin to spare and show no manufacturing defects - guaranteed. Clueless spew, dude, clueless.


"They have yet to present a case of any problem in the field, even with the supposed off-axis holes. It's mostly rumors and innuendos with nothing of substance and lots of denial."

You've clearly never read any of those Alien "thread[s] from hell" over on rc.com. If you had you note a number of real world incidents straight off folks' racks and people being injured. The facts, you know facts, that have been accumulated over the past fours years of this fiasco are not 'rumors', they are not 'innuendo', they are documented facts. To date we have documented cases of Aliens with bad brazes, unswaged stem loops, misdrilled axle holes, random cam lobe hardness, missing axle washers, and wrong color codes. Documented, dude, documented.


"Hell, C3s, Mastercams and Maxcams all have more known real world problems yet nobody seems to be panicking."

List'em out dude, out with them. You may not like design decisions taken by these manufacturers, but you'd have to buy hundreds, if not thousands, of each to even have a remote chance of getting a single one with a manufacturing defect of any kind. With Aliens on the otherhand, the recent R&S exercise clearly showed your odds of walking into a shop and buying one without a manufacturing defect is pretty damn low.

What a t/fool. And what's really sad is the odds are good you're about as close to effective customer communication as CCH will ever come.
adatesman

Trad climber
philadelphia, pa
Jun 11, 2009 - 04:44pm PT
@Nefarious- Its putting it towards the center because that's where the center of a logarithmic spiral should be.

Some examples from companies that actually put the hole in the right place:

#3 BD C3


#3 BD C4


#5 Powercam


Medium Supercam


Orange Mastercam


#6 WC Zero
bvb

Social climber
flagstaff arizona
Jun 11, 2009 - 04:54pm PT
original #6 stopper. light. bomber. slips in easy.
Prod

Trad climber
A place w/o Avitars apparently
Jun 11, 2009 - 04:55pm PT
Interesting thread.

Have you pull tested other manufactures? I would like to hear some info on that if you have the time.

Thanks,

Prod.
adatesman

Trad climber
philadelphia, pa
Jun 11, 2009 - 05:01pm PT
@Prod- Done lots of other stuff, most of which is over on RC in The Lab in The Directory of Test Results. Not everything there is mine and there's links to tests done by manufacturers, the BMC and whoever else I've run across results from. I have a bunch of other cams (BD C4, Met Powercam, RE Durango, some others) that were also done at the NRR (when the two Aliens that started this were done), but haven't gotten a chance to write them up yet for obvious reasons. All were done on the same equipment with the same fixtures and exceeded their ratings.

EDIT- Oh, and I also did a used #1 BD Pre-C4 and a Blue Met TCU while up at R&S as control samples for that testing. Both failed well above their ratings.

Oh and @Healyje- Not to quibble, but it was 13 new ones from R&S, not 20. The other 9 were used ones that were donated. But yeah, I pretty much cleaned them out.
klk

Trad climber
cali
Jun 11, 2009 - 05:04pm PT
"What a t/fool. And what's really sad is the odds are good you're about as close to effective customer communication as CCH will ever come."

It's no wonder he's anonymous.

Hard to imagine anyone with a reputation to lose now staking it to a defense of CCH's behavior over the course of this debacle.
Nefarius

Big Wall climber
Fresno
Jun 11, 2009 - 05:23pm PT
Thanks, Aric. Just didn't have the time to do that. That puts it into perspective. I guess I just don't look at my cams in that manner too often. hahaha Looking at all of those cams tho, yeah, they sure are closer to the center.

One thing about what aintnoflatlander said, I would think is logical. About dynamic loads vs. static loads. It would make sense to me that static loads would pull from the device easier than dynamic loads. Especially with the Aliens and their softer lobes. Seems like the sudden and dynamic load would help the lobes bite into the granite.

Have you done testing of this sort with other cams, Aric? Just curious what the results are.

edit: Nevermind... Just read the above post to Prod. Thanks. :)
couchmaster

climber
Jun 11, 2009 - 05:35pm PT
Flatlander, I won't call you names. However, your post is wildly off base. This was the list of Alien failure threads posted as of May 25th 2007! The stuff you are reading is only the current tip of the iceberg. Interesting that the purple failure was sadly the late great Michah Dashs.

[quote "bobruef"]

One correction. There was the Cam at the Soulder's crack, the more recent purple alien at the creek (maldaly posted about it... not dimpled I believe, some euro dude). There was also the one Russ Walling tested. Then there was the nondimpled unswaged cam you posted about That's at least four. Five if you count the Paridise forks cam which CCH admits may or may not have been clearly dimpled. And if that's there position on that cam, that's saying something. If there was even a halfway clear dimple, you know they'd be saying it was dimpled.

Here's the list I have from another thread (which is likely incomplete still). Thanks again for your posts on the subject.

In another thread, I compiled a list of Alien failures documented here and on supertopo (from a quick search and memory). I'm reposting it here for those who've not been following the whole messy saga from the begining. For those of you counting, that brings the number of documented failures/faulty cams to 9 (by my count... please someone correct me if my info is wrong or incomplete). I don't want to be alarmist, but I believe this is important information for those who are not aware of the previous failures/production mistakes.

The list:

Again, If the threads I linked here aren't the best sources, or my descriptions are innacurate, somebody please post up a correction.

Resivoir Wall non-dimpled post recall Purple Alien Failure
http://www.rockclimbing.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?post=1593796;#1593796

5/15/7 Non-dimpled Blue Alien fails at 900lbs when tested by Russ Walling http://www.rockclimbing.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?post=1596942;page=unread#unread

Souders Crack 11d groundfall (broken cable, non dimpled, post recall)http://www.rockclimbing.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?post=1585733;search_string=groundfall;#1585733

Faulty Swage (post recall)
http://www.rockclimbing.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?post=1316820;search_string=alien%20failure;#1316820

Dimpled Orange Alien Braze Failure at Indian Creek (the cam that started the recall)
http://www.rockclimbing.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?post=1277756;search_string=alien%20failure;#1277756

Gray Alien braze failure (2005, pre-recall)
http://www.rockclimbing.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?do=post_view_flat;post=991387;page=1;sb=post_latest_reply;so=ASC;mh=25;

Non dimpled Paradise Forks Orange Alien bodyweight braze failure (post-recall)
http://www.rockclimbing.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?do=post_view_flat;post=1435781;page=1;sb=post_latest_reply;so=ASC;mh=25;

Misdrilled Axle Holes (rei recall thread)
http://www.rockclimbing.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?do=post_view_flat;post=1281489;page=1;sb=post_latest_reply;so=ASC;mh=25;

Tradrenn's oddly sized alien (deleted post)[quote "tradrenn"]Just the other day I was inspecting my gear ( OK I was bored and had nothing better to do with my time ) and after looking at my Aliens I have discover a little problem with my Yellow ones ( I have to of them ) The problem is that one Yellow Alien has a proper range of Yellow Alien, like it should. Second Yellow Alien has a range of Grey Alien.
Difference between Yellow and Grey size range is not that much so it is just a minor inconvenience ( got to get some grey electrical tape )

Here are some picks for you people.

The height of good lobe on yellow alien ( 0.508" )

The length of good lobe on yellow alien ( 0.709" )

The height of lobe on grey alien ( 0.553" )

The length of lobe on grey alien ( 0.774" )

The height of lobe on "bad" yellow alien ( 0.553 )

The length of lobe on "bad yellow alien ( 0.773" )

Range of yellow alien ( 0.698" ) (notice the yellow sling )

Range of grey alien ( 0.760" ) (notice the grey sling )

Range of "bad" yellow alien ( 0.761" ) (notice the yellow sling )


So, here is a little heads up for some of you that are getting into Aliens or buying more Aliens.[/quote]


Here is Ouchs Alien failure picture:-)

couchmaster

climber
Jun 11, 2009 - 05:44pm PT
ain't no flatlander, that list I copied from 2 years ago doesn't include these also from 2007, ....so git to readin'


I you do nothing else, please look long and hard at the picture directly below, the one that says "Tensile Tested" on it. If you bother to read that link you'll note that it says "All of the cams were pulled to 1200-1300 lbs"

http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=379659&tn=0&mr=0















I can find more if you need it. This was June 2007 AFTER they had "fixed" the QC issues.....

You somehow intimate that Black Diamond and Metolius have had issues as well. Now lets see the proof of ANY Metolius or Black Diamond failure. ANY Bring it or it's just slander.

BTW, I still use my Aliens....but like I say above......
adatesman

Trad climber
philadelphia, pa
Jun 11, 2009 - 05:50pm PT
@Nefarius- I actually agree with you and Flatlander re: the dynamic vs quasi-static testing thing and was working on finishing my drop tester when this mess started. Its almost done and one of the things already on the list is to build 10 identical Forged Friend knockoffs (I have material for it laying around, so it will cost far less than 10 commercial cams) and then test 5 quasi-static and 5 dynamically using a couple hundred pounds of steel and a hunk of chain using the same fixture for both sets of tests. I've never seen or heard of anyone doing a test like this, so am quite curious if there will be any difference in the results.

But as for the validity of the CE/UIAA test, well, its the only standard test we have and its the one that the rest of the manufacturers use for rating their gear, so we're kinda stuck with it. And given that _some_ of the Aliens I tested had no problem with it I tend to think treating them differently isn't the correct thing to do and the failures were due to incorrect materials or manufacturing defects.
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Jun 11, 2009 - 05:57pm PT
Aric, you have the four more or less like-new Alien Hybrids I sent you - why don't you test those dynamically? Hell, maybe even use a rougher surface texture to give them an edge that plays to their soft lobes...
CClarke

climber
Jun 11, 2009 - 06:05pm PT
Hi Everyone:

I don't think there is any doubt that CCH has done a poor job of quality control. Also, Aric has done a lot of good work to show breaking below the rated strength of many or even most units.

But, where the rubber hits the road, is how the units behave in marginal placements in real life falls. I don't care if I fall to my demise because the unit breaks or because it doesn't hold or fit. We need some testing to show how the various cams work in the type of placements where the gear is iffy. It might not meet the rigors of science but that's why I love my Aliens. They fit and bite where other cams seem less viable.

That said, I have funk-tested with 3mm cord all my Aliens to make sure there aren't any totally dismal brazes.
Nefarius

Big Wall climber
Fresno
Jun 11, 2009 - 06:34pm PT
Hmmm... What I'm wondering (not even sure it's feasible) is if you can re-do the brazing on your aliens and make them right? Is that possible? For instance, I know a cam maker who does awesome work. If this is possible, I'd be willing to throw some coin his direction for this service. It sure sucks MAJOR ass to have to do this tho, when you've already spent the purchase price on the cams....
healyje

Trad climber
Portland, Oregon
Jun 11, 2009 - 06:39pm PT
No one is arguing the designed [realworld] performance of Aliens. I didn't buy two sets of Hybrids because I didn't like the way they worked out in the world. That isn't, and never has been the issue. The issue is their manufacturing execution sucks. You don't care because you haven't fallen and been injured when the head popped off of an Alien you just placed. Hey, the world is full of folks who can't see or understand things until it hits them personally.

Again, the issue isn't how well good Aliens perform, it's whether your Aliens or any Aliens you might buy is one of the good ones. What Aric's testing, and the accumulated documentation on four years of RC.com threads show is that buying or using an Alien you personally didn't test is a total crap shoot with dubious odds. I don't mind gambling a bit or taking a risk when I decide to bust a move on rock; but gambling when I reach for my rack is an altogether different story.
locker

Social climber
Joshua Tree Ca
Jun 11, 2009 - 06:43pm PT
"I don't mind gambling a bit or taking an risk when I decide to bust a move a move on rock; but gambling when I reach for my rack is a different story altogether."...

Agreed!!!...



EDIT:

Now I wish I had KEPT that fuking ORANGE DIMPLED ALIEN that "blew out" at 150 lbs...

BODY WEIGHT...

NEVER got to "Bounce test it"...

BODY WEIGHT...



Sent it back in TWO pieces...

Got another one back and SOLD it...

On Super Topo...

EDIT:

the "Climbers Forum"...

;-)




Nefarius

Big Wall climber
Fresno
Jun 11, 2009 - 06:48pm PT
Gee... Thanks, Locker!

:)
mongrel

Trad climber
Truckee, CA
Jun 11, 2009 - 06:57pm PT
Somebody tallied up the responses a few pages up, so back to the original post: got a set of C3s recently and they are fantastic. Action, security, spring tension, all super well designed and manufactured. If I need doubles, the other set is old Metolius up to red or black. I always used to carry a yellow and red Alien on the rack, now don't bother to have those in the Valley but like to have them available at the Leap or some other places. They are great in weird little flared placements. Never liked the smaller Aliens much except in the Gunks, axle is too wide. Also never bothered to stuff any cam into a bottoming vertical placement, always assumed it would rip out or tweak apart. Better to just get two lobes in and you know just how marginal it is. One definite disadvantage of Aliens in rock with bumpy cracks is that the lobes can umbrella out and you are screwed for removal. Doesn't happen as much with other brands, in my experience.
GhoulweJ

Trad climber
Sacramento, CA
Jun 11, 2009 - 07:03pm PT
Those broken cams in the pictures above... I carry them in my car. A couple of weeks ago I showed them to a couple of big name wall vets... They looked at them and said "I will never put 1100#'s on mine".

Thats cool.

We must all use our own critical thinking skills in choosing and using gear. I think that is one of my favorite parts of the sport, it is one giant puzzle.
adatesman

Trad climber
philadelphia, pa
Jun 11, 2009 - 11:14pm PT
And that was exactly my point when starting this mess, GhoulweJ.... If you you have and use them be sure to get them tested to whatever force you're comfortable being over. The Red that kicked this all off failed at ~4.5kN and in spite of what anyone has to say about it being bootied or 3 strands of the cable being broken there was an obvious manufacturing defect in the braze that was apparent upon cross sectioning the head.

If you're aiding big walls like many here on ST do, then perhaps you won't put that kind of force on the gear. That is unless something rips... FWIW I've hit 5kN bouncing around on a nylon runner attached to the test equipment, so I suspect that the Red would have failed with aggressive bounce testing and sent the user for a ride.

And that there is the whole point of this "witch hunt"... defects have been found in the wild that would have failed under the loads commonly found in either free climbing falls or careless bounce testing while aid climbing. People like Flatlander just don't get it as they probably made up their minds long ago on this issue and are unwilling to accept current evidence of there being a problem. Along similar lines are the people who claim that their gear is fine as its held multiple whippers... This shows a clear misunderstanding of the physics behind fall forces and may one day find out the hard way that they should have not been sleeping in class. But they seem to mostly be of similar mindset to Flatlander and there's no reasoning with them.

So long story short, Aliens are a good design with poor execution and individual pieces shouldn't be trusted unless individually proof tested. Given the lobe hardness issue proof testing is a problem I don't currently have an answer for, and the only comment CCH has had on this matter to this point is accusing me of being paid by some unnamed startup company that's looking to edge in on their business.

Sigh. What a mess.
Tomcat

Trad climber
Chatham N.H.
Jun 12, 2009 - 07:35am PT
Somebody doesn't get it,but it's not Flatlander.
GhoulweJ

Trad climber
Sacramento, CA
Jun 12, 2009 - 10:22am PT
adatesman:

You way want to consider a different approach. Maybe not advising climbers of what they should or should not do with their Aliens.

Maybe just share what you have done / results.

Climbers can then (and always will) do what they want.

I expect most people appreciate your efforts, really, I think they do. It may be that you begin to lose them when your "opinion of individual action" comes forward.

I too was frustrated when people flamed my test results but then I just moved on and chose to just share the info. People can then do what they like.
Cheers,
Jay Renneberg
adatesman

Trad climber
philadelphia, pa
Jun 12, 2009 - 11:41am PT
You're probably right Jay, and that's the approach I'm taking with the report of the testing at R&S. Unfortunately these discussions are far more interesting than the tedium of doing the writeup, so I keep getting drawn back to them. I'm hoping to finish it today as I'd very much like to be done with it. At the moment its ~4 pages long with a couple more pages to go, I think, with 11 pages of documentation/appendices that don't yet include any of the ~350 pictures I have.

August West

Trad climber
Where the wind blows strange
Jun 12, 2009 - 11:52am PT
"I don't mind gambling a bit or taking a risk when I decide to bust a move on rock; but gambling when I reach for my rack is an altogether different story."

If that is the case for you, then by all means don't use aliens.

Frankly, I don't see the difference. As I've said before, having to factor poor quality control into your calculated risk assements really sucks. But this seems not much different than trying to factor in what piece is going to work best on a pin-scarred free route.

Or the guy that is climbing in Yosemite without a helmet telling me that I'm taking stupid risks for climbing on aliens...
ps

Trad climber
slc, ut
Jun 12, 2009 - 12:14pm PT
Aric-

While I appreciate your alien pics, when I read this thread, I was really hoping for people's opinions on small cams, not a derailed thread on reasons to not trust aliens. You have several of these threads on several different sites, and I've appreciated them. But next time, please start your own thread and don't derail one that is supposed to be about what small cams are best. It's fine to say that you like X, and that Y has had failures, but to continue re-posting all of the pics that belong in a different thread really defeats the purpose of what the OP was asking for.

It would be nice to hear more peoples thoughts on what they like to use for small cams. I'm currently using Ultralight TCUS + UL powercams and love them. I wish the stem was longer, like the old welded version, but they still work just fine for me. How light they are is sick... so, one more vote for Metolius TCUs.
jsj

climber
Boulder
Jun 12, 2009 - 12:20pm PT
"Along similar lines are the people who claim that their gear is fine as its held multiple whippers... This shows a clear misunderstanding of the physics behind fall forces."

Can you explain this? Maybe I was sleeping in class but this is the very reason I trust my Aliens.
kev

climber
CA
Jun 12, 2009 - 12:36pm PT
Randy,

You mentioned re-brazing them. I may have access to a really good machine shop that could help out there. Let me know what you find out and if you don't have a guy to do it I'll check.

kev
Nefarius

Big Wall climber
Fresno
Jun 12, 2009 - 12:43pm PT
hey kev - cool! I sent out an email to a friend of mine who manufactures cams yesterday. Still waiting to hear back from him to see what he says. I'll let you know my findings... I can't see any reason it can't be done. But what do I know...
klk

Trad climber
cali
Jun 12, 2009 - 12:50pm PT
Nefarious--

Then once they're rebrazed all you'll need to do is test/swap out/redrill all the lobes and axles, and you'll be good to go.

What a nightmare.

adatesman

Trad climber
philadelphia, pa
Jun 12, 2009 - 12:58pm PT
My apologies for the thread drift once again, PS. It was certainly not my intention to do this to your thread and I said that many, many posts ago when I first questioned Flatlander about why he thought the testing was "lame". I would have much preferred had he and others moved it over to the other thread, but alas they stayed here so that's where where my responses went.

@JSJ- Its rather simple, really... Typical falls don't put anywhere near the amount of force on the gear that people think they do.
Greg Barnes

climber
Jun 12, 2009 - 01:01pm PT
ps,

Most people who climb in Yosemite know that the best small cam design is Alien. ST is pretty Yosemite oriented. So a thread on the best small cams, when the answer as far as the best design is obviously Aliens, is definitely where to discuss Alien issues, especially since more recent testing has brought even die-hard Alien fans around.

I have older TCUs, but the newer ultralights are very short (too short), which is very limiting for getting them into good placements. Master Cams - used a friends set once in Red Rocks, worked fine there but so do stoppers, no one else I know has them, who knows? C3s - center lobe is too wide, the whole thing is too stiff, and it's too hard to pull the trigger when really pumped, but I like the 000 since it's about the same size as a #2 Lowe ball. Other small cams I have opinions on are not sold anymore, so not much use...
ps

Trad climber
slc, ut
Jun 12, 2009 - 01:24pm PT
Aric-

Hey, it's not my thread, I just really liked how it started out and was hoping to get more pros/cons. It's all good, I'd just love to get it back on track now. edit: and it obviously wasn't all your doing, shouldn't have singled you out, so to speak. Apologies since I came across like that.

Greg-
I hear you on the length of the new TCUs (weird that they left the offset TCUs at the old length.

Finally-
I wonder a couple things about the master cams:
1. How does the stem length compare to the ULs? Longer?
2. This issue of "perpendicular to the wall --> upper cam lobes retracting when the cam bends 90 degreed" is something that is a turn-off to me. I'm really not worried about the kevlar trigger lines (I have a supercam and have never had issues), but the auto-trigger release is somewhat disconcerting. Not that I usually, if ever, get a placement like that... but I'd really like to know if a cam is going to pull on me if I put it in sticking straight out.. ie, it's a guarenteed trigger release.
adatesman

Trad climber
philadelphia, pa
Jun 12, 2009 - 01:30pm PT
No worries PS... :-)

BTW, I mentioned a while back that I love my WC Zeros. What I forgot to mention is that they're the newer long version... I also have a pair of original, short ones and yeah, they're too short and people who based their opinion on that version may find they like the longer ones. The trigger bar is still on the narrow side, but I don't find it to be a problem.

I also kind of like the old Splitter Gear 4cams I have, which I mention because the Trango version seems pretty nice. I recently got one of those, but haven't used it yet. The ergonomics are much, much better on the Trango ones.

-a.
Sascha

climber
Sebastopol, CA
Jun 12, 2009 - 04:59pm PT
Interesting thread, thanks for the test data and pictures.

I also prefer Aliens, simply because they are easiest to fit.

Despite the QC problems, it seems that an intrinsic mechanical cam failure is still less likely overall than a failure due to my inability to find the best placement for that cam. It will probably pull from being loaded incorrectly much sooner than it will disintegrate like the ones in the photos. Also, the strongest cam does me no good in a fall if it's back on my harness because I couldn't find a *&^$#@!! way to fit it.

Anyway, the best small cams? Ones that are backed up with a second piece.
Russ Walling

Gym climber
Poofter's Froth, Wyoming
Jun 12, 2009 - 05:37pm PT


Solid.....
Nefarius

Big Wall climber
Fresno
Jun 12, 2009 - 06:09pm PT
Is that a pink thing you're wearing there, Russ?
The Chief

Trad climber
From the Land where Mogols still roam!
Jun 12, 2009 - 06:17pm PT


QUESTIONS?
jsj

climber
Boulder
Jun 12, 2009 - 10:42pm PT
Yeah, after you take a single lead fall on one, where can you take the now useless piece to be recycled?
T Moses

Trad climber
Paso Robles
Jun 13, 2009 - 12:23am PT
I love my aliens but I don't really trust them anymore. Sad because the concepts behind them are awesome and work very well.

I have thought about rebrazing mine. I haven't looked at it seriously but the first thought is you gotta be really careful not to melt the fabic sheath and plastic. The heat might affect the temper of the lobes if you dwell to long also. The weep hole is an excellent idea. I've done my fair share of brazing and silver soldering before I learned to MIG and TIG weld.

The temper might be explained as Chinese 6061 T6. I tested a few samples at the shop a couple of weeks ago that did not measure up to the same specs as US T6 material. Just one reason that I use only US made materials.

The hersay story about torching and quenching doesn't add up. That's how you anneal aluminum. I have done it in my forge. You have to "soak" aluminum with heat for an extended period of time. I haven't heat treated aluminum but I have done various types of steel.

Where's Tom? Probably not up yet. He's a late night kind of guy. He knows the gig when it comes to cams. I'm the machinist, he's the engineer. The fields kind of overlap.

The reason no one is knocking them off?
1) Not cool business to rip off somebody's design.
2) Not great to buy a company that has lost face and might be facing lawsuits you would inherit.
3) CCH has been making cams for decades. They have tooled up for it and know all the ins and outs of it (their QC isn't great though). Investing a lot of time and money up front is what would be needed. Why not? Refer to reasons 1 and 2.
nikki trauma

Trad climber
san francisco, ca
Jul 8, 2009 - 11:35am PT
for me, aliens (black through red) place the best and have held my falls. i do understand everyone's concern though. maybe this forum should act as an open letter to the CCH guys to get it together a little more. i love the product and i love that they're hand made by a grass roots company - but if a lot of folks are afraid to climb with them then maybe it's time to sell the patent to a company that will manage the quality control issues a bit better?
nate23

Trad climber
c-ville, virginia
Jul 8, 2009 - 12:50pm PT
It is like this for me. Most of my aliens have held solid falls, including a 45' foot factor 1.8 or 9 on a green. And they fit better where the pro is marginal and or hard to place. Just this past weekend coming out of the bombay on the Naked edge I was able to get two relatively solid aliens where I couldn't get any of my other cams to fit. When you are looking at 50/50 placements a 1% to 5% chance of mechanical failure just doesn't seem that important. That said I like TCUS - new type - the old heads suck for 00-1 sizes, aliens for green to red, with offsets and C4's for anything grey and above.
Tfunk

climber
Jul 8, 2009 - 03:22pm PT
my standard are TCU's. but smallest C3 will fit in finer seams than the littlest TCU. I pulled an alien on short fall years ago (probably b4 I knew how to place gear well) and have not climbed on them since. ultimately it's whatever you feel safe on, plug it and chug it.
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
Jul 8, 2009 - 05:55pm PT
F*#k aliens, they got funked if you looked at them too long, way before the dimple phase. Good for maybe one, bold ascent.

They were on to something with the design, too bad they couldn't make it work.
Captain...or Skully

Social climber
way, WAY out there....(OMG)
Jul 8, 2009 - 06:07pm PT
Nice placement, Russ.
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Feb 28, 2010 - 01:54pm PT
This is a great thread, especially all the photos. I am adding in a link to my Small Calling Device Review and Small Camming Device Buyers guide

Hummerchine

Trad climber
East Wenatchee, WA
Jun 9, 2014 - 09:50pm PT
Guess I'm unusual...but after 37 years of extensive climbing (and being a renowned gear slut) I still like Metolius Ultralights the best!
miwuksurfer

Social climber
Mi-Wuk
Jun 10, 2014 - 10:56am PT
I have one set of Metolius TCUs, one set of Power cams, one set of Master cams and one set of offset Mastercams. The color coordination helps my sketched-out brain know what piece to grab, yet I still have a variety of pieces.

I usually just carry the Mastercams and offsets now, then BD for the big stuff.
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