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Unknown Whaletail

Front View Rear View Side View
Front View Rear View Side View

Technical Details

I acquired my this whaletail from Bill Liebman in 2017.

This whaletail is 277 mm. tall, 47 mm. wide, 19 mm. thick, and weighs 550 g. It is milled from aluminum alloy. It has five slots forming six bars. A milled aluminum safety gates attaches by bolts fitted through the whaletail at the second bar. The gate is secured by a washer and a knurled knob. The whaletail is reversible, so the fifth bar is drilled for placing the safety on it when the whaletail is turned to place it in the second position. There is a 19.2 mm. diameter eye at each end.

There are no markings on this device.


This is a rugged descender, and it would take a great deal of caving to wear one out - as someone evidently did with this one. The second eye allows one to spread the wear evenly between the two ends. Note that reversing a whaletail with an odd number of slots does not convert a right-handed whaletail to a left-handed one.

This whaletail is similar to the one that I had made, but is made from 3/4-inch (19 mm.) aluminum rather than 1-inch (25.4 mm). This reduces the weight considerably yet still leaves a strong, fully functional device. The spine and ends on this one had their corners rounded as well - a nice finishing touch.

I notice wear on each end, indicating that a previous owner ran the rope over the top at times.