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The age old Alien question


Original Post
Ben VanderStouw · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2016 · Points: 0

I inherited some first gen CCH aliens (blue through purple). They were used by my pa back in the day, but have since been stored in very good conditions away from sun and chemicals. I very much would like to use them... if they aren't gonna kill me. They seem to be in very good condition and have never been fallen on, except for the yellow which has a little broken plastic on the loop, but no other physical damage. 

If anyone knows the status of CCH 1st gen cams in terms of recalls or overall safety, please let me know. 

Shelton Hatfield · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2011 · Points: 585

All cams dated between 11-04 (nov 2004) and 12-05 (dec 2005) are suspect and should be tested. Look on the trigger bar for a date stamp.

Ben VanderStouw · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2016 · Points: 0

These guys were purchased way before then (around 96 my dad thinks?) so well outside the window... are there recalls before then?

dahigdon · · phoenix, Az · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 210

I've asked the same question in the past... If you can't tell the dates, you can load them as you would if you were aid climbing on them. Maybe bounce on the a bit to increase the force. If they are the faulty ones, there is a chance the cable will pull out of the head. The defect was a lack of braising I believe...? I'm sure someone more knowledgeable on this topic will chime in.  Nobody can really tell you for sure without testing... You can also send them somewhere to be pull tested, but the above method essentially does the same thing for free.

There is also the infamous "death dimple" on the top of the head, but even some of the cams with the dimple were fine. 

John Wilder · · Las Vegas, NV · Joined Feb 2004 · Points: 1,530
Ben VanderStouw wrote:

These guys were purchased way before then (around 96 my dad thinks?) so well outside the window... are there recalls before then?

They're fine, assuming you've replaced the slings.

20 kN · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 1,348
Shelton Hatfield wrote:

All cams dated between 11-04 (nov 2004) and 12-05 (dec 2005) are suspect and should be tested. 

Pretty much all post-recall CCH Aliens are suspect. Their entire product line should have been recalled. There have been countless postings of CCH Alien failures of post-recall models. Poor quality control resulted in insufficient brazing at the head which can result in the maincable pulling. This is an issue that was never resolved and it's occurred on multiple different models from different batches.

https://www.mountainproject.com/album/106437437/cch-alien-failure

http://www.allclimbing.com/archive/2006/01/cch-aliens-failures/

http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?p=624321

https://www.mountainproject.com/forum/topic/105961671/alien-failure-51507

http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/365159/New-post-recall-Alien-failure-accident

http://www.rockclimbing.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?post=1575796;sb=post_latest_reply;so=ASC;forum_view=forum_view_collapsed;;page=unread#unread

The list goes on and on and on....

Ice4life · · US · Joined Nov 2010 · Points: 330

Look for the simple of death, but it sounds like those cams were before Dave started having issues. Throw some pics up. If the plastic is exposing the wire on the thumb loop, don't bother reslinging, just clip direct with biner.

Mae Rae · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2011 · Points: 20

I had a set of Aliens from the mid-nineties, used them heavily and took falls on many of them.

When the recall issues cropped up I wasn't worried because mine were "old."  But after more and more reports of failures I came to the same conclusion that 20 kN did above: The company never had adequate quality control.  There may have been a period of time when they were solid but we do not, and never will know, for sure.

I was quite fond of my Aliens but dumped them for X4s (this was before Fixe started manufacturing Aliens again.) 

You probably won't die if you use them but nobody can really give you assurance that they were built to the standards of modern climbing gear.

Ben VanderStouw · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2016 · Points: 0

Profile:

Head:

(all heads look like this- no problem with "dimple of death" it seems)

Slight damage from fall years ago, no other observable imperfections (below).

Swedge:

Petsfed · · Laramie, WY · Joined Mar 2002 · Points: 925
20 kN wrote:

All CCH Alies made period are suspect. Their entire product line should have been recalled. There have been countless postings of CCH Alien failures of post-recall models. Poor quality control resulted in insufficient brazing at the head which can result in the maincable pulling. This is an issue that was never resolved and it's occurred on multiple different models from different batches.

https://www.mountainproject.com/album/106437437/cch-alien-failure

http://www.allclimbing.com/archive/2006/01/cch-aliens-failures/

http://www.nwhikers.net/forums/viewtopic.php?p=624321

https://www.mountainproject.com/forum/topic/105961671/alien-failure-51507

http://www.supertopo.com/climbers-forum/365159/New-post-recall-Alien-failure-accident

http://www.rockclimbing.com/cgi-bin/forum/gforum.cgi?post=1575796;sb=post_latest_reply;so=ASC;forum_view=forum_view_collapsed;;page=unread#unread

The list goes on and on and on....

The nearly decade of failure-free usage prior to the recall not-withstanding.

Some of those links even identify the particular manufacturing issue that motivated the recall.

Eric Fjellanger · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2008 · Points: 840
Petsfed wrote:

The nearly decade of failure-free usage prior to the recall not-withstanding.

Some of those links even identify the particular manufacturing issue that motivated the recall.

Some of 'em, eh?

If this was any other manufacturer, EVERY failure would have been analyzed with agonizing detail, whether or not it led to a recall.

Warrior · · Rock City, GA · Joined Sep 2015 · Points: 310

Yours look pretty vintage to me.  As in well before "heads pop off" generation. Still, caution should be observed..jmo.

IIIRC "Boston Mike" (possibly Rob) used a GC-MS machine to examine his welds.  He said a few were certainly defective. I asked him if he could check out mine but it was a kind of sketchy work situation for him like he wasn't supposed to be running gear through it... Don't quote me on his method, as this conversation happened a farily long time ago.

Petsfed · · Laramie, WY · Joined Mar 2002 · Points: 925
Eric Fjellanger wrote:

Some of 'em, eh?

If this was any other manufacturer, EVERY failure would have been analyzed with agonizing detail, whether or not it led to a recall.

Considering that random punters on forums a decade ago != official CCH statement, i’m not sure what you mean.

The point is, the failures started around the time CCH stopped doing brazes in house, and if the reports are to be believed, the contractor didn’t do the work to spec. Thus, a particularly alarming failure mode that had not appeared previously.

It’s QA/QC 101: change your process, expect failures. That doesn’t mean that all aliens under the old process (that is, pre-recall) are suspect too.

Pnelson · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2015 · Points: 205
20 kN wrote:

All CCH Alies made period are suspect. Their entire product line should have been recalled. There have been countless postings of CCH Alien failures of post-recall models. 

The OP is talking about pre-recall.  Way, way pre-recall.  

20 kN · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 1,348
Pnelson wrote:

The OP is talking about pre-recall.  Way, way pre-recall.  

Yea, I just caught that, thanks.

Eric Fjellanger · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2008 · Points: 840
Petsfed wrote:

Considering that random punters on forums a decade ago != official CCH statement, i’m not sure what you mean.

The point is, the failures started around the time CCH stopped doing brazes in house, and if the reports are to be believed, the contractor didn’t do the work to spec. Thus, a particularly alarming failure mode that had not appeared previously.

It’s QA/QC 101: change your process, expect failures. That doesn’t mean that all aliens under the old process (that is, pre-recall) are suspect too.

What I mean is, if you say "I weighted this BD cam and the head fell off!" BD will be tripping over themselves to get the cam, get your story, figure out how it failed, figure out if any others are going to fail, and overall put a huge amount of effort into explaining and reassuring us that they were still a trustworthy company. I think it's both that they want to keep us safe, and that keeping us safe is their bottom line. Saying that random posts online aren't an official statement from CCH is kind of my point. I don't remember them making a lot of reassuring statements about the failures.

Maybe I'm not sure what YOU mean- you said some of those links even talk about the failure mode that caused the recall. My response is 1. Duh? The recall happened because of some of these failures. 2. What about the other ones? Remember all the other failure modes that cropped up? Remember the varying hardness results in the lobe metal? Remember the mis-drilled axle holes?

I understand how you can believe there was a good generation of Aliens, and you can decide to trust them. But that's more faith than fact. I agree with what Dave Kos said above- it may be true, but we can't ever know.

Ice4life · · US · Joined Nov 2010 · Points: 330

As long as they function and aren't all gummed up (which you can just clean  at that point) I'd climb on them, just get them reslung. Again,the yellow someone probably aided on, and since the wire is exposed, I'd just use it with no sling and just biner direct to it.

Otherwise, send em to me and I'll use em

Jeff Scheuerell · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 1,555

Well for anybody that likes to live on the edge, you can buy my death dimpled Aliens for $12 a cam

Ben VanderStouw · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Nov 2016 · Points: 0
Ice4life wrote:

As long as they function and aren't all gummed up (which you can just clean  at that point) I'd climb on them, just get them reslung. Again,the yellow someone probably aided on, and since the wire is exposed, I'd just use it with no sling and just biner direct to it.

Otherwise, send em to me and I'll use em

My dad took a trad fall on it that's why it's a bit goofy. 

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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