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Rope Damage from Jumper Cables
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By Kim Schreiber
Jul 10, 2013
So I went to grab my rope that I had thrown into my car the day before, and I realized that I had placed it on top of my jumper cables. I'm not sure if there was any exposure to the teeth of the cables. I'd hate to retire my beautiful new rope. Do you think there's enough sulfuric acid on the teeth to do some real damage? Thanks!

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By John Wilder
From Las Vegas, NV
Jul 10, 2013
if you've used those cables, i'd be hesitant to use the rope.

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By Ray Pinpillage
From West Egg
Jul 10, 2013
Middle
You gotta ease into a forum before starting a troll thread. Just jumping in the day you start a new account is too obvious.

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By The Phoenix
Jul 10, 2013
The Phoenix
There's a good way to find out... tie one end to a brige, tie the other around your waist, nice and tight, and jump!!!

If it's no good you'll know fairly quickly.

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By s.price
From PS,CO
Jul 10, 2013
 Morning Dew ,self portrait
I would donate it to Black Diamond. Let them use it for testing.
No way I would climb with it.

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By kennoyce
From Layton, UT
Jul 10, 2013
Climbing at the Gallery in Red Rocks
Kim Schreiber wrote:
So I went to grab my rope that I had thrown into my car the day before, and I realized that I had placed it on top of my jumper cables. I'm not sure if there was any exposure to the teeth of the cables. I'd hate to retire my beautiful new rope. Do you think there's enough sulfuric acid on the teeth to do some real damage? Thanks!


Unless those cables are brand new and have never come close to a battery, I wouldn't even consider using the rope again.

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By J. Albers
From Colorado
Jul 10, 2013
Bucky
kennoyce wrote:
Unless those cables are brand new and have never come close to a battery, I wouldn't even consider using the rope again.


Yup. That rope is done. Is your life worth $200?

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By Bill Shubert
Jul 10, 2013
Me on Kamakaze 5.10a (Ozone)
I'm surprised by these answers. I know of the extreme danger that sulfuric acid poses to rope, but even if they've been used, why would there be acid on the jumper cables? When a battery explodes or overheats the acid can get everywhere, but if they're your cables then you would know if that had been the case.

My car has the battery inside the rear trunk, which makes me nervous, but I make sure to always put my ropes on the far side of the trunk from the battery. The jumper cables are in there too, but I don't worry too much about them.

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By Jon H
From Boulder
Jul 10, 2013
At the matching crux
Bill Shubert wrote:
I'm surprised by these answers. I know of the extreme danger that sulfuric acid poses to rope, but even if they've been used, why would there be acid on the jumper cables?


You've clearly never seen the heavy sulfuric acid deposits that collect on car battery terminals over time. On a new car, you won't see them. Similarly, on a car with a trunk-mounted battery, where it is much more shielded from water and the elements, you also won't see much in the way of deposits. This might explain why you think this is a non-issue?

Either way, Kim - Retire the rope. While the odds of damage are relatively low (dry acid, minimal contact area), it's still not worth the risk. I would most likely continue to use the rope as a TR anchor (only when part of a redundant system) but its days as your primary climbing are finished.

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By Bill Shubert
Jul 10, 2013
Me on Kamakaze 5.10a (Ozone)
Good point, Jon, My car is 22 years old, but the battery terminals have never gotten any corrosion, probably because of the trunk mounting of it. But right, now that I think of it, I've seen batteries in other cars with white crud crusted on the terminals. I'll take your word that this crud has acid in it, and be more careful from now on to keep my jumper cables away from my ropes and draws.

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By bearbreeder
Jul 10, 2013
if those jumper cables have been used ...

ask yourself how much your PARTNERs life is worth ... forget about yours

just keep you cables, oil, and any other automotive equipment in a duffel or other bag next time and you wont have this issue

;)

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By Larry S
Jul 10, 2013
The wife and I road-trippin on the Connie.
Jon H wrote:
You've clearly never seen the heavy sulfuric acid deposits that collect on car battery terminals over time.


The white corrosion you see on battery terminals is usually lead sulfate, this forms when the lead reacts with Sulfuric Acid. If it's the green corrosion, it's probably more galvanic corrosion with some copper. Either way, the corrosion is the result of the environment there - salt, humidity, fumes, acid, etc.

I doubt there's much active acid in it, that it's all converted/reacted, but i'm not a chemist. I'd keep it away from my rope, but if it just incidentally touched the cables... i'ld check if there was crud on the jumper cables and inspect my rope... and, well, the saying is something like "if there's any doubt, throw it out"

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By Vaughne
Jul 10, 2013
Larry S wrote:
... i'ld check if there was crud on the jumper cables and inspect my rope... and, well, the saying is something like "if there's any doubt, throw it out"


What he said

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By David Sahalie
From on the road again
Jul 10, 2013
What Larry said. If there is a problem from acid (unlikely as acid is in the battery, what you see on terminals is corrosion) you will see it.

... oh and buy a ropebag.

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By Geir
From Tucson, AZ
Jul 10, 2013
Toofast
David Sahalie wrote:
What Larry said. If there is a problem from acid (unlikely as acid is in the battery, what you see on terminals is corrosion) you will see it. ... oh and buy a ropebag.


Hey David, I am not sure about that. I recall a story from a few years back where a rope failed in a gym. Analysis of the rope by the manufacturer suggested acid from a car battery might be the culprit. I remember the owner of the rope thought the role was in good condition and had been stored safely. If all of this is true it suggests that damage from sulfuric acid is not always visible.

I sure would hate to retire a brand new rope under the same circumstances, but I would do it.

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By jeb013
From Portland
Jul 10, 2013
I can't comment to how much damage the rope would take from the jumper cables. Keep in mind though that the reason you use baking soda to clean a battery is to neutralize the acid that collects on the top of the battery and the terminals.

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By David Sahalie
From on the road again
Jul 10, 2013
Geir wrote:
Hey David, I am not sure about that. I recall a story from a few years back where a rope failed in a gym. Analysis of the rope by the manufacturer suggested acid from a car battery might be the culprit. I remember the owner of the rope thought the role was in good condition and had been stored safely. If all of this is true it suggests that damage from sulfuric acid is not always visible. I sure would hate to retire a brand new rope under the same circumstances, but I would do it.


huh. good to know.

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By Xam
From Boulder, Co
Jul 10, 2013
Hate to respond to a troll thread, but just take the jumper cables, rinse them in a cup of water, and test the water to see if it is acidic (ph paper is $6.75 on amazon)...this might not tell you if the rope is ok, but certainly will end the argument about whether or not there is acid on the jumper cables.

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By Joshua Jones
From San Tan Valley, az
Jul 10, 2013
Like LARRY said the accumulation of corrosion is generally lead sulfate and is not an acid. The corrosion occurs because of the release of hydrogen ions and the interaction between the lead and the hydrogen.

If your battery has sulpheric acid on the outside, either a vent is open or there is a crack in your battery.

A rope exposed to lead sulfate or most general corrosive material shouldn't be damaged. Think about it like this: Basically the corrosion is lead rust, if it is dangerous to your rope so is exposing your rope to a rusted piece of steel or iron.

With that, I would climb on the rope, if the OP is worried shoot me a PM, I will gladly pay shipping and take the rope off your hands!

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By Mark E Dixon
From Sprezzatura, Someday
Jul 10, 2013
At the BRC
Geir wrote:
Hey David, I am not sure about that. I recall a story from a few years back where a rope failed in a gym. Analysis of the rope by the manufacturer suggested acid from a car battery might be the culprit. I remember the owner of the rope thought the role was in good condition and had been stored safely. If all of this is true it suggests that damage from sulfuric acid is not always visible. I sure would hate to retire a brand new rope under the same circumstances, but I would do it.


I don't know about the rope/acid incident, but there's an interesting account of acid damaging a harness on the BD website.

blackdiamondequipment.com/en/q...

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By kennoyce
From Layton, UT
Jul 10, 2013
Climbing at the Gallery in Red Rocks
Geir wrote:
Hey David, I am not sure about that. I recall a story from a few years back where a rope failed in a gym. Analysis of the rope by the manufacturer suggested acid from a car battery might be the culprit. I remember the owner of the rope thought the role was in good condition and had been stored safely. If all of this is true it suggests that damage from sulfuric acid is not always visible. I sure would hate to retire a brand new rope under the same circumstances, but I would do it.



Yep, I remember this incident, and it's the reason I wouldn't climb on the OP's rope.

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By Geir
From Tucson, AZ
Jul 10, 2013
Toofast
Joshua Jones wrote:
Like LARRY said the accumulation of corrosion is generally lead sulfate and is not an acid. The corrosion occurs because of the release of hydrogen ions and the interaction between the lead and the hydrogen. If your battery has sulpheric acid on the outside, either a vent is open or there is a crack in your battery. A rope exposed to lead sulfate or most general corrosive material shouldn't be damaged. Think about it like this: Basically the corrosion is lead rust, if it is dangerous to your rope so is exposing your rope to a rusted piece of steel or iron. With that, I would climb on the rope, if the OP is worried shoot me a PM, I will gladly pay shipping and take the rope off your hands!


This could be tested pretty easily. I'd be willing to put scrapings from a battery terminal on an old rope and pull test it. We might not arrive at a definitive answer everyone is satisfied with, but it never hurts to check things out.

For what it's worth, though, the only way to determine for sure what's on the OP's jumper cables is to take it to a lab.

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By mmainer
Jul 10, 2013
Just look at the damn thing. If the sheath is discolored, melted, cracked, funked up, softened, whatever, it's probably not good. If it looks and feels fine, than it probably is fine.

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By s.price
From PS,CO
Jul 10, 2013
 Morning Dew ,self portrait
It's the doubt it creates that get's me.
Seems like if you felt compelled to ask the question then you found your answer.

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By Boissal
From Small Lake, UT
Jul 10, 2013
It's probably worth mentioning that the rate of diffusion of solids through other solids is extremely slow. In your case the lead sulfate with possible trace contamination by sulfuric acid has no incentive to diffuse into your rope, it will just sit there and stare at it. For the acid to actually react with the rope it would have to be in the liquid state in which case it would certainly soak into the rope and probably damage it.
If you had H2SO4 leaking into your car you'd know.

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By Jaren Watson
From Rexburg, Idaho
Jul 10, 2013
I wouldn't intentionally expose my rope to even negligible amounts of acid. But neither would I be concerned about contact with battery cables. I have a very hard time imagining the cable teeth accumulate enough acid to to any damage. I agree with those suggesting if there's no visible sheath damage, then the rope's safe. If the amount of acid is so minimal that it can't visibly damage the sheath, how could it soak through and damage the core?

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