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2nd Generation Camalots still in use??

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Tapawingo Markey · · Reno? · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 75
  • I was digging through my gear and had some older, 2nd generation u-stem Camalots laying around. The crossbars were cracking due to a known stress corrosion issue so I haven’t placed them since getting in touch with BD awhile back after this response:

 This letter is in response to your inquiry regarding cracked crossbars on Chouinard Camalots.  Black Diamond is aware of the cracking problem and has tested dozens of units with no failure below rated strength (2366 lbs).  In all cases the failure has been in the cable loop.  Even if the crossbar were to separate completely, the unit would still be full strength because there is not enough room for the ball swage to pass between the two halves.  In addition, we have conducted accelerated testing on cracked units by soaking in salt water and cyclically loading 1500 times to 1300 lbs.  This did not affect the crack size and the units were full strength.

The cause for the cracking is Stress Corrosion Cracking (SCC).  The stainless steel ball swage was press fit into 7075-T6 aluminum crossbars to prevent them from slipping out.  This put the crossbar in a state of stress and the galvanic reaction between the dissimilar materials promotes crack initiation and propagation.  SCC is grain boundary dependent and this is why the cracks always appear transverse to the axles.  This phenomena is identical to the situation encountered in the cracking of gates found in press fit carabiners produced by several different manufacturers throughout the 1980's.

Due to Stress Corrosion Cracking, Black Diamond introduced new (in 1989) manufacturing methodologies and changed the design of the Dual Stem Camalots and carabiners to prevent SCC from occurring in our products.  In the case of the Dual Stem Camalots the solution was to place an insulating plastic sleeve between the ball swage and crossbar. This prevents electrical contact (galvanic reaction) and reduces the stress in the crossbar while holding the two parts together. Furthermore, Black Diamond completely re-designed the Camalots (rated strength is now 3588 lbs) in 1994.   These are single stem with 6061-T6 aluminum crossbars.  SCC is not known to be a problem between stainless steel and 6061 aluminum.  However, this redesign should not indicate that customers do not need to routinely inspect their equipment for cracks and excessive wear.

Black Diamond Equipment's policy is not to replace Chouinard Camalots since they are not covered by our warranty.  Black Diamond is a completely different company, founded in December 1989, and therefore we cannot take responsibility for Chouinard products.   However, we are glad to answer any questions you may have about climbing gear in general. I hope this answers your questions

So that being said, have you all continued using these despite the crack that seemingly does not affect the strength of the gear? 

Anyone with first hand account of whipping on these with known cracked crossbars?

Edit: Added the rest of the email.

Louie · · Santa Rosa, CA · Joined Oct 2015 · Points: 5

Woah, pretty wild that they would respond like that...I would trust them. 

Tapawingo Markey · · Reno? · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 75
Louie wrote:

Woah, pretty wild that they would respond like that...I would trust them. 

I added the rest of the email so I didn’t mislead anyone. It adds some more context.

Steve Tarnowski · · Aztec, NM · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 15

My U-stem black #4 Camelot looks very nice as a decoration in my office, along with some solid stem Friends and an assortment of old hexes and nuts, and two old TCUs.

Mine does not have any visible cracking in the crossbars but I've retired it - I received all this gear from a friend of a friend's basement stash (for free), which I think makes it easier to see it as decorative rather than functional.

Tapawingo Markey · · Reno? · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 75

I hear ya, these were also hand me downs from an old roommate. Office decor...that’s an idea. Just feel like they’re wasting away in my storage so thought I’d throw it out there to the MP world and see what folks have done with theirs. 

the schmuck · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 110

Creek rack. That's where mine live. Love forged friends also. 

Tapawingo Markey · · Reno? · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 75
the schmuck wrote: Creek rack. That's where mine live. Love forged friends also. 

Ya? Have you whipped on em? I know they’re still rated to 10kN so thought they’d be more than able to take a moderate fall.

the schmuck · · Albuquerque, NM · Joined Feb 2012 · Points: 110

Maybe once or twice, and not exactly a whip. Did take a nice fall on a Camalot Jr. though. 

Suburban Roadside · · Abovetraffic on Hudson · Joined Apr 2014 · Points: 1,559

I still use mine, often in pairs.  We used to whip on rigid friends paired  with soft pine blocks, till we figured out that "Baseball bat" wood was the hardest available. The thin lobes and their  lack of strength & surface contact area are a greater concern to compare with more modern performance standards.   

caughtinside · · Oakland CA · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 1,450

I have a couple I've bootied, and they both have the cracks. I believe BD. The cracking issue has been known for a long time, but I don't think I've heard of one of those units failing under a fall from the cracking.

Still, the gear is damaged, so no thanks.

I personally wouldn't use them as creek pieces, the lobes are so skinny! Not much surface area on the rock.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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