I acquired this rack from Bud Dillon at the NSS Consignment Sales during the 2015 NSS Convention.
My Buddy Rogers rack is 388 mm. tall, 89 mm. wide, 37 mm. thick, and weighs 866 g. The frame is made from 11 mm. steel bent into shape, with an internal width of 30 mm. and a 12 mm. diameter reverse-bent welded eye. There are 6 brake bars. The bars are 19 mm. in diameter. The top bar is 89 mm. long and the others are 64 mm. long REI bars. Allowing 45 mm. for the rope leaves 120 mm. for spreading the bars.
The top bar extends beyond the frame, where a 25 mm. wide, 37 mm. diameter grooved spool is pressed in place. The spool has a 17 mm. wide, 19 mm. inner diameter groove turned to allow looping the rope over the groove.
There are no markings on this rack.
Horton H. Hobbs III described the spooled brake bars in The Nylon Highway #25 in 1988, but he attributes the design (probably first seen on this rack) to Buddy Rogers in early 1970. Bud Dillon, who sold this rack, dated the rack to 1972 and the bar to 1977, both a bit later than Horton’s date. Horton’s designed had spools on two bars; I made a copy for one of my racks.
The spooled bar was designed to increase friction on rappel. The spooled top bar functions much like the much more recent and popular hyper-bar first seen commercially on the Howell-N-Mann Titan racks and later carried, at times, to absurdity. Looping the rope over the top spool tends to lift the lowest engaged brake bar, providing the same "power brakes" effect that one has with the J-Bar. This is not needed on a normal rack, where the spooled bar is as superfluous as a hyperbar.
I acquired this rack from Austin Habitat for Humanity in 2017.
Version B rack is 331 mm. tall, 130 mm. wide, 38 mm. thick, and weighs 901 g. The frame is made from 11 mm. steel bent into shape, with an internal width of 29 mm. and a 19 mm. diameter welded eye. There are 6 brake bars. The bars are 19 mm. in diameter. The top bar is 130 mm. long and the others are 67 mm. long Holubar bars. Allowing 45 mm. for the rope leaves 120 mm. for spreading the bars.
The top bar extends beyond the frame, where a 42 mm. wide, 38 mm. diameter two-grooved spool is pressed in place. The spool has a 15 mm. wide, 24 mm. inner diameter groove turned to allow looping the rope over the groove.
There are no markings on this rack.
I asked the seller, but they had no information on the history of this rack; however, it is obvious that the two racks on this page have the same origin. The ball that secures the bars is distinctive, as is the 11 mm. frame. This rack has two spools on the end of the top bar, but is missing the corresponding bottom bar that would give some utility to the second spool (see my version for an example).
The top bar also has a carabiner hole. The carabiner hole allows one to clip a chest harness to the bar to keep from falling over backward on rappel. This is not strictly necessary, since one could also clip to the rack frame. It may not be "politically correct" to say so, but it is a simple fact that a better solution for many people would be to lose upper body weight - not only will this make caving easier (physics is physics), but it should provide some health benefits as well. I should take my own advice, with my BMI approaching 25.
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