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Lowell Burkhead Safety Rack

Version A Version B
Version A Version B


Version A

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

Technical Details

I acquired this rack from Robert "Nuke" Thompson at the 2015 NSS Convention.

Version A is 313 mm. tall, 44 mm. wide, 25 mm. thick, and weighs 483 g. The frame is made from 9.5 mm. steel bent into shape, with an internal width of 19 mm. and a 24 mm. diameter welded coiled eye. There are 5 brake bars. The bars are 22 mm. in diameter and 44 mm. long. Pre-mulled rope grooves reduce the effective diameter to 19 mm., and the flat tops and bottoms reduce the bar height to 14.3 mm. The bottom bar is fixed so there is no capability for spreading the bars.

There are no markings on this rack.


This is clearly an earlier version than Version B, and probably a prototype. The eye construction is relatively neat but still crude compared to the later version, as is the top of the frame.

Version B

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

Open Lower BarTechnical Details

I acquired this rack from Lowell Burkhead at the 1980 NSS Convention.

My Burkhead Safety Rack rack is 336 mm. tall, 45 mm. wide, 26 mm. thick, and weighs 531 g. The frame is made from two pieces of 9.5 mm. 304 stainless steel. One is straight, the other bent and welded to form a 31 mm. diameter eye. Both pieces were threaded, coated with epoxy, and then screwed into the top brake bar and a 16 mm. 6061-T651 aluminum supporting bar above.

There are five aluminum (probably 7000-series) brake bars. The bars are 45 mm. long, 25 mm. wide, and 15 mm. high. The center of each one is turned down to 20 mm. The second through fourth bars are drilled, not slotted. The bottom bar is drilled for the long side of the rack, and holds a captured 6061-T651 aluminum knob with internal threads that can screw over the threaded open side of the frame.

The only marking is a stamped serial letter "Y" on the top bar.


Lowell Burkhead’s Safety Rack has an interesting frame construction. None of the bars pivot on the frame, so it is impossible to rig the rack backward. Rigging is done by unscrewing the knob on the lower bar, which releases the bar, allowing it to slide down the frame toward the eye. The other bars can follow, and the rope can then be threaded. Once the lower bar is screwed back in place, it is fixed, so this rack does not have the capability of changing friction by varying bar spacing.