Homemade rope cleaning device

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Homemade rope cleaning device

Postby botkin02 » Aug 1, 2011 4:08 pm

This past weekend, after two days of rescue training for NCRC level 1, we spent some time cleaning all the gear we had used. A large portion of time was spent cleaning all of the rope we had used. This is a very good thing to do, but it definitely took some time to complete, and even afterwards the rope was still cleaned partially. (We flipped over a Ferno litter and ran ropes through the channels on the bottom while people brushed it.. pretty clever, really.)

I overheard some folks saying that the rescue team should buy some Bokat rope cleaners to save time. Intrigued, I found them online for around $30 to $40. It's an ingenious little device really, but I'm cheap and I thought I could make one on my own. I searched the internet some more and found the following how-to:
http://www.knick-knack.com/howto/climb/build-a-climbing-rope-washer.html

It was helpful, but it still lacked the bristle element that the Bokat has, which I really think would make a difference. So I took a trip down to my local Ace hardware and constructed one of my own.

I got all of my parts for around $22, and I think if I had ordered them from a plumbing specialty store or even Home Depot I think I could have saved about $10, but Ace is so much closer and it would have cost me more than $10 in gas to get there!

Here's the list:

2 X 1 and 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch PVC threaded adapters
1 X 1 inch to 3/4 inch PVC threaded bushing
2X 1 and 1/2 inch PVC to 1 and 1/2 inch threaded bushings
1X 1 and 1/2 inch to 1 inch tee
1X Garden hose male to female coupler
PVC cement (which I had on hand)
1X tacky astroturf door mat

Here's a picture of all the elements laid out:

Image

I first started out by gluing the adapter to one end of the tee. You'll notice I didn't use PVC primer; it's unnecessary for pipe that is less than 4 inches in diameter. When you push the pieces together make sure and push down and twist at the same time. This will ensure that the pieces form a good bond.



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The two pieces should form a tight bond in a matter of minutes, though it will take around 2 hours to completely cure.


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I next cut a section out of the AstroTurf door mat. The strip was maybe three inches long.


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I curled the strip into a semi circle and pushed it into the end where I had glued the bushing in. You'll notice I didn't cut a piece long enough to go the entire circumference of the pipe. More on that later.


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I then glued the 1 inch to 3/4 inch bushing to the top of the tee. I also put some teflon tape on the male end of the brass garden hose adapter. I did this because the garden hose adapter threading was much coarser than the threading on the PVC, which led me to believe the water might leak in the top. You'll notice that the adapter has a hard time going into the PVC. This is because you're basically cross-threading the PVC adapter, which is ok because the brass adapter is permanent, and along with the teflon tape it should eliminate any leaking.


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Next I cut another strip of the Astro Turf into another 3 inch strip and inserted it into the remaining adapter. I found the turf blades were too long so I trimmed them down a bit. I rotated the Astro Turf so that it was oriented opposite of the first piece. I also did not glue the last adapter. I did this for a few reasons. First so that if the Astro Turf lost it's position I could rearrange it as I saw fit. Secondly if the Astro Turf ever lost its rigidity I could replace them as needed (I still have that huge door mat to use!). Thirdly, I think that initially loading the rope before cleaning it will be easier if I can remove the bushing.

Here's the final product:


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Some final thoughts. Make sure that you allow an adequate time for the PVC cement to cure. The fumes on that stuff are vicious, and I'm certain that wet PVC cement would not be very friendly to ropes. (PVC cement essentially melts the two surfaces of the PVC together, ensuring a permanent bond.) In hindsight, I should have gotten a a 1 and 1/2 to 1/2 inch reducer instead of a 1 and 1/2 to 3/4 inch reducer. I think the threading on the 1/2 inch would have aided in cleaning the bigger chunks of nasty off the rope, but fortunately since both ends are threaded, I can always do that in the future.

Thanks for reading, and if I can answer any questions, please feel free.

If anyone is interested, I wouldn't mind making them one of these things if they paid me for the parts. It only took me about 20 minutes to put it together... pretty easy, really.

bo
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Re: Homemade rope cleaning device

Postby rlboyce » Aug 1, 2011 4:54 pm

Nice! Looks like it should work. Now we need to see some before/after pictures of some dirty rope, and maybe average cleaning time per foot of rope. : )
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Re: Homemade rope cleaning device

Postby botkin02 » Aug 1, 2011 5:17 pm

No problem! I'm letting the cement dry very thoroughly before I put any rope through it... I'm not taking any chances. Plus my problem now is all my rope is relatively clean... any ideas on how to get them dirty? ;-)
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Re: Homemade rope cleaning device

Postby NZcaver » Aug 1, 2011 7:10 pm

Kudos for your DIY ingenuity. :kewl: Although... personally I find a pressure washer much more convenient for cleaning rope and most other caving gear. Especially the NCRC gear cache. Rope brushes may arguably be a little quicker, but they usually take more than one person to operate and don't get the rope quite as clean as a pressure washer. I don't think I could ever go back to the old traditional labor-intensive rope scrubber unless there was really no other option. :shrug:

See this topic and Scott's rope testing/experimenting info here.
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Re: Homemade rope cleaning device

Postby botkin02 » Aug 1, 2011 7:44 pm

Oh definitely, pressure washing would do the job much better. I think my plan would be to use the homemade "Bo-kat" (heh) every time and take it all down to the car wash every couple of months.

Also, as an update, I added more of the astro turf to the scrubber. On first pull through, the rope didn't make much contact with brushes. Also, there was no water leaking on the hose end of things. I was able to pull through about 100' of rope in about three minutes, though if it were super dirty I'd probably take more time at it.
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Re: Homemade rope cleaning device

Postby paul » Aug 2, 2011 11:36 am

Here's the rope cleaner installed in our club hut. It was made by a member and works really well although yours looks more portable.

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Re: Homemade rope cleaning device

Postby Chads93GT » Aug 2, 2011 2:32 pm

Im lazy. I pay a buck, use the pressure washer at the car wash, and it looks bright white when done. those rope washers look handy, i jsut dont see how they can compete with a pressure washer to truely get all of the grit out of the rope.
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Re: Homemade rope cleaning device

Postby rlboyce » Aug 2, 2011 4:03 pm

I don't really wash my rope much, but isn't more convenient and quicker to use a rope cleaner? Of course, pressure washing gets it more clean.
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Re: Homemade rope cleaning device

Postby botkin02 » Aug 2, 2011 5:19 pm

Paul,

That's a serious rig! It looks like the best of both worlds. Since the hose going into the cleaner is smaller in diameter, the water pressure is going to go way up... sort of like a pressure washer. I do like the portability of mine, though.
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Re: Homemade rope cleaning device

Postby Jon » Aug 12, 2011 2:31 am

While there are things for sale, and you can build things yourself, there is one thing not to overlook. Cleaning solutions. Now your mud may vary but here in AZ our mud is loosened quite nicely by 409 anti Bact which just so happens to be a WNS decon solution. So what I'd do is rinse the rope off, then find a contianer that it fits in and use as straight a solution of 409 as possible. let it soak (I say 1/2 hour not just 10 minutes) and then run it through your store bought or home made cleaner.


Many muds are somewhat oil based and need some thing to break them up. The cleaner looking your rope the more likely someone wont give you grief about WNS decon.

Since 409 anti bact is an approved WNS decon solution I find it perfect as it loosens at least our AZ mud and leaves packs , knee pads etc looking nice and clean. I have yet to see any problems with soaking stuff in it for 24 or more hours (yes I do have a real life and forget)

Best rope cleaning device? Offer to cook at a rope cleaning party!!!!


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Re: Homemade rope cleaning device

Postby botkin02 » Aug 12, 2011 7:45 am

Good call on the 409. I've also considered getting a 1 inch to 1/2 inch coupling for the side ports, so that way the threading on the 1/2 hole would gently scrape the rope as a prewash, but it sounds like your plan would work even better!
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Re: Homemade rope cleaning device

Postby trogman » Aug 12, 2011 9:04 am

Chads93GT wrote:Im lazy. I pay a buck, use the pressure washer at the car wash, and it looks bright white when done. those rope washers look handy, i jsut dont see how they can compete with a pressure washer to truely get all of the grit out of the rope.


Believe it or not, I have never used one of those- on a car or a rope. Do they inject any kind of soap into the water? My only concern would be that if they did, it may have some sort of bleach in it. Also, I would want to use either warm or cold water on rope-not hot. Maybe next time my rope is dirty, I'll give it a try. I usually go to the laundromat and toss it in a front-loader with some mild detergent and fabric softener. It costs $3 min. It gets the worst of the dirt and mud, but it seems like most of my rope has some permanent stains that nothing will take out. I'm not sure if someone I have been caving with has used an aluminum rack on it, or if the stains came from some other source. All of my racks are steel.

As far as the rope cleaning device, I built one years ago with PVC and some of that turf-carpet stuff. I haven't had real satisfactory results with it, so it doesn't get much use anymore.

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