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Levistan
(Левистан)

Version A Version B
Version A Version B
 
Version C Version D Version E
Version C Version D Version E

Overview


Version A
(#57)

Front Rear Open for Rigging
Front Rear Open for Rigging
 

Technical Details

I acquired my Levistan, Version A from Speleoshoppe in 1994.

The Levistan, Version A is a Russian ascender that appears to be made of titanium. This version is 56 mm. tall, 45 mm. wide, 29 mm. thick, and weighs 145 g. The shell consists of 4 mm. sheet metal bent into a U-shaped shell. One side has a swinging side plate attached by a 21-tooth hinge milled into the shell. The hinge pin is approximately 2 mm. in diameter. Although each hinge tooth is probably fairly weak, the combination appears to be adequate. The cam is milled with four low-relief teeth. It is mounted on the swinging side plate with a captured spring-loaded pin as an axle. This pin mates with a hole in the main shell, keeping the ascender closed while in use. The ascender is quickly opened by pulling on the split ring attached to the spring-loaded pin. A ring in the cam provides a larger attachment point than would otherwise be available.

There are no markings on this ascender.

Comments

This ascender is small and nicely made, although the long arm and short shell mean that the ascender will rotate about 45 degrees under load, resulting in significant lost motion.

Originally I thought the spelling was "Leviston," but in late 2006 Konstantin Serafimov (originally of Ust Kamenogorsk, Kasakhstan, now living in Isreal) sent me the following note:

You asked about "Leviston." It is really a surname - Levistan (Левистан), not Leviston. I don't now his [full] name. Levistan lived in the USSR, in the town Yalta, Crimea, Ukraine. He was not a caver, but he was contriver, and invent same things for his friends-cavers, including "Levistan." This was about 1980, I think.


Version B
(#174)

Front Rear Open for Rigging
Front Rear Open for Rigging

Technical Details

William Shrewsbury gave me this ascender at the 2004 Old Timers Reunion.

This version is 104 mm. tall, 91 mm. wide, 30 mm. thick, and weighs 129 g. It appears to be made from titanium. The shell consists of a 5.3 mm. sheet metal that was milled down to 2.8 mm. except in the hinge area, then bent into a U-shaped shell. One side has a swinging side plate attached by a 19-tooth hinge milled into the shell. The hinge pin is approximately 2.5 mm. in diameter. The side plate is also 5.3 mm. thick in the hinge area and milled to 2.8 mm. elsewhere. The hinge strength appears to be adequate. The cam is milled with four rounded teeth. It is mounted on the swinging side plate with a captured spring-loaded pin as an axle. This pin mates with a hole in the main shell, keeping the ascender closed while in use. The ascender is quickly opened by pulling on the split ring attached to the spring-loaded pin. A ring in the cam provides a larger attachment point than would otherwise be available.

The shell has a gamma-shaped extension of 3.2 mm. thick, 10 mm. wide fastened to the lower outside of the bend with two 2.5 mm. countersunk screws. The cam has a similar extension screwed to its bottom, also with two screws. The cam end of the extension is irregular to match a clearance cut in the cam for the axle assembly. The cam and shell extension extend 55 and 51 mm. below the shell, respectively.

There are no markings on this ascender.

Comments

At first I mistakenly took it for a cable ascender, but it is for rope. This ascender is small and nicely made, although the long arm and short shell mean that the ascender will rotate about 45 degrees under load, resulting in significant lost motion. The extensions below the cam do not prevent rotation; instead, they provide a convenient place for the user to squeeze the cam shut on the rope. In fact, I find that this makes a rather nice top ascender when operated manually, except that the sling rope lies a bit close to the main line for my large hands to fit between the two comfortably.

In August 2006, Konstantin Serafimov sent me the following note:

You write about "Levistan" and about ascender which you call by name "Russian ascender, Version B" [which is what I originally called this ascender - gds]:

"In many ways, it looks like the Levistan ascender."

I want to say - it is really Levistan ascender, but this more last modification have especial function.

You can see likeness between my "Reflex" and "Levistan-B." I have a reasons believe that "Levistan-B" took main idea from "Reflex."

In October 2006, Konstantin elaborated as follows:

"Levistan-reflex," as I identify your "Version B," was modified from "Levistan-simple" after 1983, when I worked with our "Reflex" in the Caucasus, in the All Union seminar of caving instructors, 1983 and 1985, I think.


Version C
(#2900)

Left Right Top
Left Right Top
 
Front Front, Open for Rigging Rear, Open for Rigging
Front Front, Open for Rigging Rear, Open for Rigging

Technical Details

I acquired my Levistan, Version C from Ed Sira at the 2019 NSS Convention.

This version is 81 mm. tall, 40 mm. wide, 40 mm. thick, and weighs 136 g. It is made from aluminum alloy with some steel parts. The shell consists of three pieces of 5 mm. aluminum with 15 interlocking teeth that are drilled, assembled, and pinned together. The right side is free top swing open like a hinge, while the right side is welded at a 90° angle to the rear plate. All three shell pieces have a number of 6 mm. drilled lightening holes. One of the holes ion the rear plate was filled with weld metal. A stainless steel strip bent protects the inside of the rear piece from wear.

The cam is milled from aluminum. It has no teeth. A stainless steel strip screwed to the cam protects the nose from wear. A welded stainless steel ring passes through a small hole in the cam to provide an attachment point.

The cam is mounted on the swinging side plate with a captured spring-loaded pin as an axle. This pin mates with a hole in the main shell, keeping the ascender closed while in use. The ascender is quickly opened by pulling on the split ring attached to the spring-loaded pin. A ring in the cam provides a larger attachment point than would otherwise be available.

There are no markings on this ascender.

Comments

I believe that the original idea was to have both sides of the ascender swing open, and that after testing welds were added to fix the left side in place. It is difficult to find another reason for the hinge construction on the left side, given the simpler and stronger alternatives. Welding weakens aluminum, but there are enough non-welded teeth on this ascender that I suspect it is strong enough for single-person use.

The right side hinge is very stiff and does not swing freely.

The spring-loaded axle pin is similar to the one used in other versions.

The long arm and short shell mean that the ascender will rotate about 45 degrees under load, resulting in significant lost motion.


Version D
(#2901)

Left Right Top
Left Right Top
 
Front Front, Open for Rigging Side, Open for Rigging
Front Front, Open for Rigging Side, Open for Rigging

Technical Details

I acquired my Levistan, Version D from Ed Sira at the 2019 NSS Convention.

This version is 64 mm. tall, 35 mm. wide, 44 mm. thick, and weighs 150 g.

The shell consists of a 3 mm. stainless steel bent into a rectangular channel. An eight-tooth 4 mm. stainless steel hinge piece is welded to the main shell. It mates with 4 mm. seven-tooth hinge piece welded to a 3 mm. side piece. The shell and side piece are held together by a 2 mm. hinge pin. A small wear piece protects the lower portion inside portion of the rear shell. Two rivets hold it in place.

The cam is turned from steel, providing a 10 mm. bearing surface while reducing the remaining thickness to 5 mm. The cam has a spring-loaded steel contact surface that pivots on a 6 mm. pin. A welded stainless steel ring passes through a small hole in the cam to provide an attachment point.

The cam is mounted on the swinging side plate with a captured spring-loaded pin as an axle. This pin mates with a hole in the main shell, keeping the ascender closed while in use. The ascender is quickly opened by pulling on the split ring attached to the spring-loaded pin.

There are no markings on this ascender.

Comments

The hinge operates smoothly and its strength appears to be adequate.

The spring-loaded axle pin is similar to the one used in other versions.

The spring for the cam bearing piece does not appear to be necessary, as the geometry of the cam lever and the bearing piece do not allow the piece to rotate to an undesirable position.

The long arm and short shell mean that the ascender will rotate about 45 degrees under load, resulting in significant lost motion.


Version E
(#2902)

Left Right Top
Left Right Top
 
Front Front, Open for Rigging Top, Open for Rigging
Front Front, Open for Rigging Top, Open for Rigging

Technical Details

I acquired my Levistan, Version E from Ed Sira at the 2019 NSS Convention.

This version is 37 mm. tall, 43 mm. wide, 55 mm. thick, and weighs 161 g.

The shell is an L-shaped piece milled from aluminum alloy. The side is 5.2 mm. thick and the rear is 11 mm. There are four milled teeth that mate with four teeth on the swinging side plate. That plate is also milled from aluminum alloy, and is 11.3 mm. thick at the hinge and 7 mm. thick elsewhere. The hinge pin is 5 mm. steel. Clearances allow the side plate to open about 45°.

The cam is milled from aluminum. It has no teeth. A stainless steel strip pinned to the cam protects the nose from wear. The attachment eye is 14 mm. in diameter.

The cam is mounted on the fixed side plate with a custom-turned axle secured to the shell with a steel hex nut. The end of the axle protrudes through the cam and engages the latching mechanism in the side plate. this mechanism consists of a spring-loaded slider with an operating pin that protrudes from a stainless steel cover bolted to the outside of the swinging side plate with four 3 mm. machine screws.

A small wire loop is attached through a hole in the main shell, near the top.

There are no markings on this ascender.

Comments

The hinge operates smoothly and its strength appears to be adequate. The latch allows opening the ascender easily, but closing is not as smooth because the latch must be opened manually for the ascender to close.

The long arm and short shell mean that the ascender will rotate about 45 degrees under load, resulting in significant lost motion.