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Carabiners with Brake Bars

Customized Traditional Carabiners with Brake Bars

Traditional

 

Customized

Double Brake Bars


Traditional

This is a traditional double brake bar rig. Each aluminum carabiner has a solid aluminum brake bar mounted on the gate. The two carabiners are linked with a chain link.

Carabiners with Brake BarsThere are several points to notice:

Some people prefer a single brake bar, but I consider this to have too little friction for all but the lightest rappeller’s, and there is no redundancy. Others prefer a triple brake bar rig, but this gives me too much friction to be able to descend without feeding the rope. For most people, two seems to work best.

I quit using the traditional brake bar rigs long ago after one 42-foot rappel in a muddy West Virginia cave wore deep enough grooves in a pair of new carabiners that I retired them after that rappel. Other methods cost less.

Warning:
When starting the rappel, make sure that the carabiner-chain link-carabiner arrangement is fully extended. The rig can easily invert to an arrangement reminiscent of the French Crossed Carabiner setup. When this happens, the friction is greatly reduced. Correcting the problem with weight on the rig is nearly impossible, so the rappeller either has to live with it, find a place to stand, or play games with ascenders. It is easier to simply pay attention to detail from the start.

Customized

This is the double brake bar rig that I came up with and used for a number of years. It has several advantages and disadvantages compared to the traditional rig:

Feature  Advantage Disadvantage
Steel Carabiners instead of aluminum Much better wear resistance.

Stronger (but who cares?)
Heavier.

Lower thermal conductivity.
Locking carabiners Helps prevent accidental gate opening. None, really
Carabiners rigged gate down Brake bar can ride up on hinge and support it. None, provided carabiner is a locking carabiner
Brake bars pivot on back of carabiner instead of gate  Bumping the brake bar puts the load on the carabiner spine instead of the gate, so the gate doesn't tend to open None at all.
Square brake bar Deep rope groove cut in bar keeps rope centered where it belongs.

Extra mass helps with heat dissipation.
 Single rope groove does not permit double-rope rappels (this can be fixed).

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