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BD heel bails - inspect for wear
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By Joe Palma
From Stouffville, Ontario
Dec 19, 2012

A couple of evenings ago I was inspecting and fitting my Stinger and Sabretooth crampons to a new set of La Sportiva Baturas, when I discovered a problem. Wanted to get the word out for others to inspect their newer style BD crampon rear bails for similar issues.

I was adjusting the length of one of the Stinger crampons, when I noticed that the rear bail wire was no longer sitting in the groove of the retainer in the tension adjuster; it was rattling around free in the plastic track between the retainer and the bottom of the lever. At first I thought it might have been a manufacturing goof, but that didn't make sense as I'd had about 10 days last season on the Stingers, and there's just no way I wouldn't have noticed the wire not sitting in the retainer. The date code on the Stingers is 1334.

Pulled the rear bail apart completely and found that the bottom lip of aluminum retainer, which the tensioning screw runs through, had deformed with the tension of the bail wire. I can only assume the wire deformed the retainer sufficiently, such that the wire was able to pull through. 

When I checked the rear bails on the Sabretooths,  same design, they didn't show similar patterns of wear

I wear a large boot (size 46) and size/tension my crampons carefully; amongst the things I take into account are making sure the rear points don't extend beyond the back of the heel, that the retaining posts on the rear assemblies clear the heel of the boot, and that there's no rattle nor play in the crampon. That generally means I have a reasonable amount of tension on the heel bail; not so much that I have to struggle to get them on/off, but enough to ensure a secure fit and interface.

Attached a few pictures below that should help clarify:

First is of the aluminum retainer. Note the deformation on the left hand side of it; that was the end that was tensioning up on the wire. There is some deformation on the right side as well; that's from me re-assembling the bail with the retainer reversed and tensioning the rear bail on the boot with a moderate amount of pressure. Wanted to see how easy/difficult it would be to deform the retainer. It doesn't take much.

Retainer <br />
Retainer


And the retainer assembled in the levers on the Stinger

Rear bail 1
Rear bail 1


Rear bail 2
Rear bail 2


Rear bail 3
Rear bail 3


Next are a couple of photos of the rear bails of my Sabretooths, have more days on them, but they don't seem to show anywhere near the same pattern of deformation

Sabretooth 1
Sabretooth 1


Sabretooth 2
Sabretooth 2


I've emailed BDEL's warranty group and, of course, they put replacement rear bail assemblies in the mail to me yesterday, and I've shipped back the bails for their inspection. I asked them to have someone from the QA group get back in touch with me once they've had the chance to inspect the assemblies. Whatever I hear back, I'll pass along.


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By rhyang
From San Jose, CA
Dec 19, 2012
21-August-2012: Me just before heading up the Twilight Pillar (III, 5.8+)

Nice to know I'm not the only one :) Bought my Stingers about a year ago, and within a day managed to do something like that while fitting them to both my pairs of ice boots.

I had an older pair of BD heel levers lying around though, so I just used those instead. Good to know BD will warranty them -- I've mangled Grivel heel levers in similar fashion (the corresponding piece is made of plastic), so I figured it was just me using too much force.


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By Jon H
From Northern NJ
Dec 20, 2012
At the matching crux

Very interesting. I have stainless Cyborgs as well. I figure they have around 30-45 days on them over the past 2 years. Both heel retainer pieces are showing very slight rounding/deformation. They are ever so slightly more deformed than what's seen on your Sabers, but not nearly as bad as on your Stingers.

FWIW about 95% of the days they've been out climbing, they've been on a pair of 45.5 Phantom Guides.

Please keep this thread updated, I'm quite curious to hear the response from BD QA (if one ever comes out).

Thanks for the heads up!


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By Ray Pinpillage
From West Egg
Dec 20, 2012
Cleo's Needle

I'll take "problems with Chinese subcontractor" for $500, Alex.


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By Gunkiemike
Dec 20, 2012

Ray Pinpillage wrote:
I'll take "problems with Chinese subcontractor" for $500, Alex.


I'm in for "There's no problem with the design; it must be abuse-by-user" for $250.


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By Joe Palma
From Stouffville, Ontario
Dec 20, 2012

Ryang - I found it strange that I didn't see anywhere near the same pattern of wear on my Sabretooths, in spite of the same heel binding system. Unfortunately I sold off my old pair of Sabretooths so couldn't scavenge the bindings

Jon H - The Stingers were on either a 45.5 Phantom Guide or a 46 Trango Prime last season

Ray/Gunkiemike - Wonder if Ray may have the cause and GM the explanation :)


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By jon jugenheimer
From Madison
Dec 20, 2012
hi

Same on my 2 (3?) year old pair of SS sabertooths.

But i'll take, "Does it really matter" for $100?


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By Ray Pinpillage
From West Egg
Dec 20, 2012
Cleo's Needle

Joe Palma wrote:
Ryang - I found it strange that I didn't see anywhere near the same pattern of wear on my Sabretooths, in spite of the same heel binding system. Unfortunately I sold off my old pair of Sabretooths so couldn't scavenge the bindings Jon H - The Stingers were on either a 45.5 Phantom Guide or a 46 Trango Prime last season Ray/Gunkiemike - Wonder if Ray may have the cause and GM the explanation :)


Material defect in the aluminum sourced from Chinese manufacturer. The design didn't change, probably just the hardness of the aluminum.


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By Joe Palma
From Stouffville, Ontario
Dec 20, 2012

jon jugenheimer wrote:
Same on my 2 (3?) year old pair of SS sabertooths. But i'll take, "Does it really matter" for $100?


From the original post"

"Pulled the rear bail apart completely and found that the bottom lip of aluminum retainer, which the tensioning screw runs through, had deformed with the tension of the bail wire. I can only assume the wire deformed the retainer sufficiently, such that the wire was able to pull through."

Matters to me if the bail wire on pulls through on lead, you?

I don't have any issues with climbing on the Sabretooths, although I will keep a careful eye on them. Likewise for whatever replacement bails BD sends me for the Stingers.


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By Joe Palma
From Stouffville, Ontario
Dec 20, 2012

Ray Pinpillage wrote:
Material defect in the aluminum sourced from Chinese manufacturer. The design didn't change, probably just the hardness of the aluminum.


Sarcasm intended in my original response...don't know if BD's manufacturing facility sources the aluminum, or if they spec/source the insert. Either way, there appears to be a difference in the ductile properties of the inserts in the Stingers. Be interesting to hear what the QA group has to say.


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By Dane
Dec 20, 2012
Cham '11

In the FWIW catagory. I bought a pair of heel units to use on my Petzls from BD mail order. Liked them because I had used Grivels previous and the BD adjustment nut was aluminum not plastic. So I bought two more pair. That was at least two years ago. Just before the Stinger became available commercially. After Joe's comment I checked my heel pieces. Of the six total heel pieces, 3 look like new and three are deformed enought to notice.

Thanks for the heads up, Joe. One more thing to keep an eye on.


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By MilesJ
From Novato, CA
Dec 21, 2012
Avatar art

This category for Double Jeopardy is Crampons on Ice and the answer is: "Glissading to your death"

"What happens when your bale comes apart on the final steep pitch up Mt Humongous?"


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By Ray Pinpillage
From West Egg
Dec 21, 2012
Cleo's Needle

I just checked my crampons and it doesn't appear any of them are Black Diamond. SHRUG


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By Joe Palma
From Stouffville, Ontario
Jan 3, 2013

Heard back from BD's QA folks and they've not seen a similar situation with the rear bails. There wasn't anything remarkable with the aluminum insert; certainly doesn't appear to be defective materials or design.

Only thing that makes sense as a cause is that during fitting the Stingers to the Baturas I hadn't adjusted the frame length and in the process of levering the rear bail, I applied enough force to flex the plastic heel lever and deform the aluminum insert such that the wire slipped through. I was fitting the crampons on a workbench in my basement, not in the field, so I could exert considerably more force on the lever than I would when actually apply when putting them on in the field.

Bottom line is inspect your crampons for wear, particularly the rear bail assemblies if you like to reef them down tight and during sizing.

Had replacement bails shipped to me by BD's warranty department and the Stingers are back in action.


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