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Big Wall Index => Big Wall Forum => Topic started by: kristoffer on September 23, 2014, 06:53:10 pm

Title: Leadheads
Post by: kristoffer on September 23, 2014, 06:53:10 pm
any of you use leadheads?
I once ran into a fixed one on the farrrrrrrrr right side of el cap. they really seem to be something you dont hear about often. the only good information I found on the net was from Europe and a fair bit of the info seemed to be lost in translation...
do we have any avid limestone aid climbers out there that use them?
I have experimented with casting leadheads several times with mixed results.. I could go into detail but im not sure if there is much of an interest.

its actually really funny how much effort I have put into cutting weight on my wall rack, now Im here adding lead... go figure.
Title: Re: Leadheads
Post by: mungeclimber on September 24, 2014, 10:01:14 am
interesting dark art! I say post away. Might generate more discussion posting up results.
Title: Re: Leadheads
Post by: kristoffer on September 24, 2014, 02:54:13 pm
My first try at manufacturing Pb Heads was back in 2008. 
When i did it I made the mistake of casting the lead over copper ferrules ie copper heads. My theory was that the copper ferrules would reduce the chance of the cable shearing from the lead. The issue ended up being that the small copper core reduced the ability to deform the Pb head to the desirable shape during placement.
 
I also made the mistake of manufacturing them to large.

Another way I screwed up was by dropping the hot castings into water and quenching them. That boosted the BHN much too high and they almost felt like they lost their stickiness and became a bit brittle. This was an intermittent result because there were no controls on the quenching conditions. For example some of the castings were cooler than the others when they hit the water bath and that produced the variation in there characteristics.   
***in no way am I implying that a hardening process does not possibly have a place in the process of making good leadheads, it just needs to be done in a more controlled manner. I have yet to experiment with doing so, but have read extensively about it in bullet casting literature.***

I took a long break from playing with heads, until recently a friend and I established a route up the Sevehah cliffs of Mt Laurel and while up there I realized that if im going to keep climbing walls composed of other than optimal stone I better get back at perfecting those Pb heads.

This time I swaged up a bunch of #1 loops with double back terminations just like if I was going to make some of my standard #1 heads except I did not actually swage the “heads” onto them but rather left the stem of the cable bare.  Next I unraveled the strands of the cable for about 3/4" and wiggled them into my casts. The reason I unraveled the cable was to in essence make roots that will reduce the chances of the cable shearing from the cast lead.
*** I used galvanized aircraft cable rather than stainless due to the compatibility of lead and galvanized steel.***

On the larger sizes I used cable loops where I unraveled 3/4” on both ends of the cable and then held them together parallel and intertwined some of the cable strands.  On the biggest size I had an issue with the intertwined cable separating in the cast so I wound a bit of copper sheerwire to hold the ends together, sheerwire is the stuff used on ordnance switches for avionics, you could also use just some super fine copper wire or just do a better job of intertwining the galvanized cable strands.

I also experimented with manufacturing lead ferrules and then swaging them onto the cable with my bench mount, but it was a dumb idea that did not produce anything of quality.

My main casts are made from two pieces off wood clamped together with holes drilled between then. Make sure the wood is not damp or wet when casting so you don’t get splattering of the hot lead.

I have an aluminum cast that I have only played with a bit but I will soon be re manufacturing all of my casts from Al because its really the best way to go.

You could also improvise an Al cast by cutting small lengths of aluminum tube with the ID of desired head size and put them on a metal sheet then pour the hot lead into them. I have not tried this though.

If using aluminum cast you should first clean them with white gas, mineral spirits or some other strong detergent and water, then hold a flame to the cast cavity to deposit a thin film of carbon, this is more for small lead casts and it will eliminate wrinkles… if you care about that.  but Im sure that not doing any of this stuff is not going to ruin your work.

If you use a wood cast they are going to have grain marks from the wood.


cheers
Zephyr
Title: Re: Leadheads
Post by: cobbledik on September 24, 2014, 02:54:13 pm
My first encounter with the idea of leadheads was on Jensen's "Look Out Weaksauce" page on ST
http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=1827613&tn=0&mr=0

Quote
The problem with the American high inbred coefficient aid climbing community is that do not even know what a wood wedge or a lead head is, some basic things that in Europe has been used for years because in addition of granite, here we also do climb on soft rocks like conglomerate, sandstone or limestone. Perhaps the "new wave" stopped in the late 70's?

Hey Munge, looks like we need these leadheads to properly do an ascent of aid in the Pinnacles!
Title: Re: Leadheads
Post by: kristoffer on September 24, 2014, 02:55:26 pm
yo, how about those wood wedges?
Title: Re: Leadheads
Post by: caribouman on October 04, 2014, 12:04:43 am
Kristoffer,
Have you tried using any jewellery casting equipment?  Around the time I left my apprenticeship, jewellers had started using a white rubber
compound for casting.  If I remember correctly, the rubber compound came in a powder form, that was mixed with water, and poured into a container,
in which we had already placed our mold positive.   The mold compound cures around the mold positive, which you can then burn away.   The reason for the rubber compound was that you could do a few hundred castings before the rubber mold started to deform, it formed to very tight tolerances, and, given its general bendiness, made it really easy to get complex castings out of the mold (ok, a leadhead's shape isn't exactly going to be complex).  If you add a sprue tube (a negative tube formed from top of mold to to top of object, which allows air to be displaced by liquid metal without going up through that metal) the consistency of the casting is a lot better.

I will not incriminate myself in any way by speaking about my making and usage of wooden pitons.  (Although they were wicked light!)

Since you seem to be involved in the Dark Art of gear creation, I once upon a time decided to try making biodegrable bashies. 
Title: Re: Leadheads
Post by: kristoffer on October 04, 2014, 12:07:01 pm

Cari,

Those are really great professional insight and suggestions.

When I was toying around with making the lead ferrule to use with my bench mount I made a cast of 1/8” and 3/32” Al ferrules with some “evercoat” that I had in the garage (By the smell of it and the 2 part formula I was assuming it was a poly based resin).  These molds provided nice castings, but in the end I found swaging was not a good method to make leadheads. 

but perhaps I should experiment more with these "rubber" casts.
 
Adding a sprue tube, that is just genius.

I was corresponding with a friend in Europe about wood wedges and here is what I took from the conversation.  In Eu they use mostly Beech, Oak, Holm Oak and Chery to manufacture wedges, although any semi hardwood - hardwood will be sufficed.  They are used for irregularities in limestone and conglomerate then a piton is stacked with them.
About 8 or 9 years ago I remember seeing some old wood pounded into holes/pods way up towards the top of the Pacific Ocean wall… the pitch was like climbing through a museum, lots of old crap.  Until just now I had completely forgotten about those wood wedges up there.  I wonder if they are still there?

How did that biodegradable  gear work out for you?   
Title: Re: Leadheads
Post by: caribouman on October 05, 2014, 12:12:49 am
Kristoffer,
I liked your idea of splaying the wires to increase surface area, and thus adhesion/ cohesion of the lead.  I'll poke around, talk to my old guild masters and see what I can find out about the casting rubber.

Wooden pitons - I used a bevel cutting guide on a table saw, made spruce wedges, and capped the outside faces with hardwood.  I made the cores out of spruce because of the strength to weight ratio.  Sounds like the Europeans are using ring-porous hardwoods.  They're the tough stringy woods that shred more than split when you're trying to split rounds for firewood.  Beech, ash, hickory, oak.  Thing is, cams cover a lot of that range, and are easily removable, where wooden pins have a more limited range, probably can't take as big a fall force, and can get stuck. 

Bio heads - they worked.  I got inspired one cold day to try aiding a friction slab.  I was out goofing around in plastic boots, and remembered a picture of Big Bill March aiding an overhanging ice bulge... I took a Power Bar, broke it into thirds with my hammer, and warmed it up in an inner pocket.  I mashed the Power Bar clumps around some tie off webbing, and mashed the clumps into divots and dime edges.  Back to physics in college - impact force generates heat, softens Power Bar, conforms to divots, cools & hardens, supporting webbing.  Etc.  I got up a 40' friction slab in plastic boots, slowly.  10 F that day.  I don't think that would work on an 80 degree day.  When I went back a couple weeks later, the bits of Power Bar I hadn't been able to get out were gone, I assume cleaned out by critters.
Title: Re: Leadheads
Post by: deuce4 on October 05, 2014, 03:43:23 am
I used some lead heads once-very tricky to place compared to copper or alumni heads in granite.  They're useful in soft rock--not soft like desert sandstone, but soft like the base rock at the Fisher Towers, where pasting a alumihead would simply shatter the placement.

Sílvia Vidal gave me some nice ones once--I think the properties of the lead (composition) is quite important-not too malleable, but not too hard either--I don't think they are pure lead, though I may be wrong.  Also I think the way the cable is affixed to the lead is quite key as well.

Clearly something the Europeans have worked out.  They're used for hard aid routes in Montserrat, I believe. I came across a guide here where they are mentioned: http://www.rocktopo.com/templates/img/freetopos/BADALONA_FREE_DOWNLOAD.pdf
Title: Re: Leadheads
Post by: caribouman on October 15, 2014, 09:39:42 pm
Hey John, thanks for the link - Montserrat looks kind of like Pinnacles National Monument.  Exciting place of unstable rock that doesn't take clean gear very well; leadheads would have made sense at Pinnacles.
  The gradation of harder alloys for harder rock/ softer alloys for softer rock makes sense.  I vaguely remember complaints of the Chouinard steel micro stoppers tearing through sandstone.
Kristoffer - have you thought about making double heads to spread the load on softer rock?  Maybe this could solve the weight gain on your rack:  maybe with splayed wires cast into two heads, you can approach doubling the holding strength without doubling the weight? 

http://www.ottofrei.com/Jewelry-Casting-Kits-and-Machines/

Use the address above to reach the company my old jewelery master buys a lot of his stuff from. 
Title: Re: Leadheads
Post by: caribouman on October 15, 2014, 09:49:28 pm
Further stuff

http://www.ottofrei.com/Castaldo-LiquaFast-ICE-Transparent-No-Shrink-Liquid-Mold-Rubber-1-Kilo-Kit.html

This looks like a modern, very high tech version of the white opaque mold rubber that I worked with.

http://www.ottofrei.com/Matt-Wax-Ring-Tubes-7-8-Round-Solid-No-Hole.html

We would cast the rubber around something like this wax, maybe with two metal rods sticking out, one for the sprue tube, one to pour the metal into.
Title: Re: Leadheads
Post by: cobbledik on October 16, 2014, 12:35:33 am
Hey John, thanks for the link - Montserrat looks kind of like Pinnacles National Monument.  Exciting place of unstable rock that doesn't take clean gear very well; leadheads would have made sense at Pinnacles.

I'd have to beg to differ. Done plenty of clean gear aid climbing on some of the Pinnacles more notorious routes. You just need to be willing to listen to the rock. Using leadheads or heads at all in the Pinnacles just feels like missing the point. Can't take these things for granite.
Title: Re: Leadheads
Post by: mungeclimber on October 16, 2014, 12:45:47 am
I'd have to beg to differ. Done plenty of clean gear aid climbing on some of the Pinnacles more notorious routes. You just need to be willing to listen to the rock. Using leadheads or heads at all in the Pinnacles just feels like missing the point. Can't take these things for granite.

You're like the one guy. :)
Title: Re: Leadheads
Post by: cobbledik on October 16, 2014, 09:25:04 am
You're like the one guy. :)

Oh, yeah, well there's that.
Title: Re: Leadheads
Post by: The Wolf on October 22, 2014, 09:07:39 pm
Did someone say leadheads?

http://vimeo.com/109763272 (http://vimeo.com/109763272)
Title: Re: Leadheads
Post by: mungeclimber on October 23, 2014, 12:30:02 pm
cam shackles?!

buahahaha