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John Cole

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

Overview


Version A
(#516)

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

Technical Details

I acquired this rack from Geary Schindel at the 1995 Old Timers Reunion.

Version A is 290 mm. tall, 70 mm. wide, 29 mm. thick, and weighs 647 g. The frame is made from 9.5 mm. steel bent into shape, with an internal width of 33 mm. and a 25 mm. diameter wrapped eye. There are seven brake bars, composed of a mixture of Gerry and REI bars. The bars are 19 mm. in diameter and 66 mm. long. Allowing 45 mm. for the rope gives a 56 mm. for spreading the bars.

The Gerry brake bars are stamped "GERRY" and the REI bars "REI."

Comments

John Cole is credited with developing and publishing (New Rappel Device, NSS News v24, #6, June 1966) the design of the Rappel Rack, so this rack has some historical interest. John made a number of racks with minor design variations. Most of these were designed to fit inexpensive, commercially available brake bars. Although seven bars are on the rack in the photo, that is too many for this rack: it should be used with only five or possibly six bars.

The "square" bend at the top of the rack may save some overall length, but it prevents moving the bars to the spine of the rack where they belong for safety reasons.


Version B
(#1497)

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

Technical Details

I acquired this rack in 2017 as part of Bob Thrun’s collection.

Version B is 318 mm. tall, 64 mm. wide, 20 mm. thick, and weighs 655 g. The frame is made from 9.5 mm. steel bent into shape, with an internal width of 30 mm. and a 27 mm. diameter coiled eye. There are 6 brake bars. The bars are 19 mm. tall and 64 mm. long. Allowing 45 mm. for the rope leaves 88 mm. for spreading the bars.

There are no markings on this rack or its bars.

Comments

The "square" bend at the top of the rack may save some overall length, but it prevents moving the bars to the spine of the rack where they belong for safety reasons.


Version C
(#3218)

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

Technical Details

I acquired this rack in 2017 as part of Bob Thrun’s collection.

Version C is 318 mm. tall, 64 mm. wide, 20 mm. thick, and weighs 671 g. The frame is made from 9.5 mm. steel heated and bent into shape, with an internal width of 30 mm. and a 26 mm. diameter coiled eye. There are seven brake bars. top four bars have flat tops, flat unloaded sides, and rounded ends. They are 15.8 mm. tall, 25 mm wide, and 63 mm. long. The top two are stamped "HOLUBAR." The third and fourth are are not marked, but are probably Holubar bars as well. The fifth bar is round, 19 mm. in diameter and 64 mm. long. It is also unmarked, but might be a BlueWater bar. The lower two bars are pin-style bars, 7.8 mm. in diameter and 51mm. long. With this bar combination and allowing 45 mm. for the rope leaves 50 mm. for spreading the bars. The bars are held in place by a hex nut, lock washer, and wing nut.

The top two bars are stamped "HOLUBAR."

Comments

The frame on this rack is nearly identical to the Version B frame, with the only significant difference being that the open end is slightly shorter.

Commercial brake bars used to be quite inexpensive, and it was not unusual to see a mix of them on early racks. Although seven bars are on the rack in the photo, that is too many for this rack: it should be used with only six bars.

The "square" bend at the top of the rack may save some overall length, but it prevents moving the bars to the spine of the rack where they belong for safety reasons.

The wing nut gets in the way, and I would replace it and the hex lock nut.


Version D
(#1425)

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

Technical Details

I acquired this rack from David Jones in 2014.

Version D is 363 mm. tall, 72 mm. wide, 19 mm. thick, and weighs 721 g. The frame is made from 9.5 mm. steel bent into shape, with an internal width of 34 mm. and a 27 mm. diameter coiled eye. There are six brake bars. The bars are 19 mm. in diameter and 72 mm. long. Allowing 45 mm. for the rope leaves 68 mm. for spreading the bars.

There are no markings on the rack or the bars.

Comments

This version is a standard length rack, meaning roughly 14 inches long, and is appropriate for six bars. Many early racks were made of steel rather than stainless steel. Although they rust, with proper care and the right alloy, this was not a major problem. I prefer racks that don't rust.

For safety reasons, the bars should be filed on the unloaded side and moved to the spine of the rack.


Version E
(#2514)

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

Technical Details

I acquired this rack from Rick Banning at the 2019 NSS Convention.

This rack is 323 mm. tall, 66 mm. wide, 22 mm. thick, and weighs 696 g. The frame is made from 9.5 mm. steel bent into shape, with an internal width of 33 mm. and a 26 mm. diameter coiled eye. There are six CMI brake bars on this rack. The bars are 16 mm. in diameter and 66 mm. long. Each bar has a hole drilled and tapped in the notch end. A small ball bearing, spring, and Allen screw in this hole form a catch to help hold the bars in the closed position. Allowing 45 mm. for the rope leaves 73 mm. for spreading the bars. Two hex nuts retain the bars.

There are no markings on the rack. The bars are stamped with "Cmi." Rick stamped "R C B" on the first through fourth and sixth bars. He stamped "NSS 8083," "R. C. BANNING," "7111 CARROL," and "TAKOMA PK. MD." on the fifth bar.

Comments

Rick attached a tag to the rack which reads as follows:

"Brake bar rack by Cole 1 May 19

On a mid to late 60’s trip to visit pits near Huntsville AL, stopped by John Cole’s house + bought this rack from him. Saw his 2 55 gal. drums with bending jigs on top for shaping the racks. I put Holubar [sic] bars on top, maybe because of the pretty blue color and maybe because the ball bearings kept the bas on the rack better than ordinary bars. I didn't live at 7111 Carroll Ave. > 1971.
Rick Banning."

Although Rick wrote, "Holubar," the blue brake bars are CMI bars. The hole and notch on these bars were sized for the standard oval carabiners of the day (for brake bar rappels), and so are large enough to allow moving the brake bars to the spine of the rack where they are less likely to get bumped open. This is an important safety step that is too often overlooked.