Softening up stiff rope...?

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Softening up stiff rope...?

Postby ian mckenzie » Jun 22, 2009 1:48 pm

Our club has some older ropes that have become quite dry and stiff, despite (or maybe because of) being washed. Other than the obvious solution of just replacing them... are there any simple, safe means of rejuvenating those ropes? Hand cream or something?
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Re: Softening up stiff rope...?

Postby shibumi » Jun 22, 2009 2:05 pm

ian mckenzie wrote:Our club has some older ropes that have become quite dry and stiff, despite (or maybe because of) being washed. Other than the obvious solution of just replacing them... are there any simple, safe means of rejuvenating those ropes? Hand cream or something?


The temptation to take this one and run with it is severe...
<must. resist. making. crude. reference.>

A little nylon safe fabric softener will work wonders. I use it at about a quarter recommended load.
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Re: Softening up stiff rope...?

Postby ian mckenzie » Jun 23, 2009 11:16 am

shibumi wrote:A little nylon safe fabric softener will work wonders. I use it at about a quarter recommended load.

I think I recall reading that somewhere before. Is there any science or comments from rope manufacturers indicating this is safe? I recall that it is, but it'd be nice to reiterate it.
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Re: Softening up stiff rope...?

Postby Phil Winkler » Jun 23, 2009 11:51 am

Ian,

In doing research years ago we found that fabric softeners left a coating on the rope fibers that wore off quite quickly when used, just like on your clothes. I use it on our boat lines all the time and they are very similar to our caving lines.
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Re: Softening up stiff rope...?

Postby Anonymous_Coward » Jun 23, 2009 12:35 pm

Ian,

I believe that PMI recommends the fabric softener treatment. Check their website to see if I am right.
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Re: Softening up stiff rope...?

Postby Scott McCrea » Jun 23, 2009 12:49 pm

Is fabric softener OK to use on ropes?

A PMI employee says yes.
New England Ropes says yes.
BlueWater said yes at one time, but the link is broken.
Tradgirl FAQ's.
On Rope (the book) said yes.
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Re: Softening up stiff rope...?

Postby gdstorrick » Jun 23, 2009 3:47 pm

Post deleted.
Last edited by gdstorrick on Jul 10, 2012 12:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Softening up stiff rope...?

Postby knudeNoggin » Jun 24, 2009 1:27 am

gdstorrick wrote:
ian mckenzie wrote:I think I recall reading that somewhere before. Is there any science or comments from rope manufacturers indicating this is safe? I recall that it is, but it'd be nice to reiterate it.

Of course - Kyle Isenhart explained it all in the first article in the first Nylon Highway.

--to wit:
Since some ropes tend to become very stiff after extended use, everyone sooner or later ponders whether to use fabric softener on their rope. Softeners work by the action a Quaternary Ammonium Salts. These salts adhere to the furface [<-orig.American :-] coating. This coating is very slick and allows the fibers to slip past each other with very little friction. This lubricating effect increases the flexibility of the material which people interpret as being softer when in reality it is only more flexible. These ammonium salts have no harmful effect on nylon and the use of fabric softeners on rope is quite advantageous.
The softeners have other advantages. That portion which penetrates to the core of the kernmantle ropes lubricates the minute filaments and helps keep them from abrading on each other while the rope is flexing. The softener also forms a barrier between the rope's nylon fibers and dirt particles. ...


But, then, he also goes on to surmise that we are witnessing a miracle that ropes
haven't broken from getting soaked -- an observation suggesting that he has lived
away from maritime locales.

At some later point, Bruce Smith came out with a warning that the use of Downy
was a real downer for ropes, and then Jim Frank frankly pointed out that one
isn't supposed to use the entire bottle each time -- a little dab 'll do ya, and all.

As yet, I've seen no assertions tested or advanced regarding the "feeling of freshness"
promised in product literature.

YMMV,
*kN*
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