As one of two U.S. based Bornack SSB Authorized Service Centers, we see hundreds of units each year with varying issues; some resulting from normal wear and tear, and many that could have been prevented with proper care and management. Sharing our insight from thousands of hours of SSB repair and recertification, we break down tips and tricks that can help you extend the life of your units and highlight some of the problem areas that may be prematurely damaging your Bornack SSB’s.
To start off, let's identify the components of the Bornack SSB
This is the carabiner that attaches the user to the belay cable and is comprised of several different parts: Wear protector, back plate, back plate spring, carabiner gate, and carabiner gate spring.
MechanicThis is the cylinder within the carabiner head that the user inserts into the tweezle to lock and unlock the SSB.
Bodwen CableThis is the black cable that runs inside the entire length of the SSB this is inside the lanyard sheath and connects directly into the mechanic on the carabiner head.
X PlateThis is the plate that the lanyard swivels connect to and the bowden cable and cable run through.
This is the bottom swivel on the x plate that connects the SSB to the users harness.
Requirement for recertification
Many common SSB issues can be diagnosed by a qualified operator. Always remove from service any Bornack SSB unit that is not locking and unlocking properly or otherwise operating outside manufacturer specifications.
Unit will not lock or unlock
The most common problem we find is that a unit is simply not locking or unlocking. This is most commonly due to the cable being worn out.
Apply a dab of 3 in 1 oil where the Bowden cable enters the mechanic, letting it sit for a few minutes and tweezle back and forth. Recheck the operation of the SSB. If this does not correct the issue, the unit will need to be sent in for service.
Regularly oiling the SSB’s will help extend the life of the cable and other parts within the locking mechanism. Be sure to use only a drop or two of oil as over lubricating can cause the unit to gunk up.
Mechanic feels sticky or sometimes won't unlock
A unit that is tweezling back and forth but feels sticky, may have dirt and debris in the mechanic.
Soak the mechanic in warm water with a small amount of liquid dishwashing detergent. Dry the mechanic fully using compressed air if desired. Follow the steps above for oiling the SSB. If the mechanic still feels sticky, you may have a cable that will soon need to be replaced.
To keep the mechanic in working order, oil the unit at intervals appropriate to the frequency of use. Avoid over lubrication and wipe away excess oil, as this can cause the unit to collect dust and debris. Instruct your guests on the proper handling of SSBs and to keep them off the ground and out of mulch and dirt.
Damaged Wear Protector
Excessive wear to the Wear Protector can damage the Carabiner head and lead to expensive repairs. Your course design may have a lot to do with how much or how little wear occurs to the wear protector.
In an area with good lighting, inspect the Wear Protector for any rough spots, grooves, or other loss of material. This more commonly occurs on the shorter blue lanyard. Quarantine units with excessive wear and send them to a service center to have the wear protector replaced before the Carabiner head is damaged.
Instruct guests to limit using the SSBs for support while navigating the course. Consider design updates for areas on your course where guests consistently rely on the SSB lanyards as a brace. If using a tether to extend the SSB between the swivel and harness, make sure you are using the proper length to minimize excessive grinding that may occur between the SSB and the cable.
Bowden cracking and breaking
The bowden will sometimes crack and possibly break where the bowden cable enters the x plate. If not caught immediately the bowden can wear into the lanyard resulting in an expensive repair.
Have staff regularly inspect this area and quarantine units with cracked or broken Bowden Cables before submitting to a service center for repair.
Store your Bornack SSB units by hanging them from the swivel. Avoid stuffing them into boxes or bins as this can damage the Bowden Cable. Avoid excessive twists in the lanyards. Make sure the swivel is moving freely and instruct guests to untwist them as needed. Minimize areas in your course that require a long stretch from one cable to the next or otherwise result in consistently twisted lanyards. Consult your course builder if you have consistent problem spots that lead to cracked and broken Bowden Cables.
Before use, perform a visual inspection and function test. If any issues are found refer to the in-house maintenance section. If issues cannot be resolved send the unit into the nearest service center.
- Check that all metal parts are not deformed, cracked, corroded, or worn.
- Ensure that all rivets and screws are present and tight.
- Inspect all textile parts for cuts, wear, fraying, and discoloration. Apart from the protective sheath.
- Ensure all swivels are moving freely.
- Inspect preferred connection to harness and follow manufacturer's recommendation for pre use inspection.
- Ensure all moving parts move freely (swivels, back plate, and carabiner gate)
- Tweezle back and forth to ensure locking functions are working properly.
In-house cleaning and maintenance
Regular cleaning and in-house maintenance may greatly extend the life of your SSBs and prevent the need to send the units in before the annual inspection. Below are some cleaning and routine maintenance you can perform in-house.
- Ensure SSB’s are fully dry before storage. Hang in a shaded well ventilated area. Do not use artificial heat sources.
- Clean units of all debris carefully with a soft non metallic brush or lukewarm water. Specifically the backplate because mulch, dirt, and other debris can accumulate here.
- ATTENTION: No detergents or other cleaning products should be used as this may compromise the textile materials.
- Place a dab of 3 in1 oil where the Bowden enters the carabiner head tweezle back and forth a few times to evenly distribute the oil. Use a clean rag to remove any excess oil. Oil can also be applied to any metal moving part on the unit, again, use very little and remove excess with a clean rag. Do not let any oil interact with the textile materials of the lanyard.
- The back plate can be compressed on each side of the carabiner head making the gate function sticky or inoperable. With your hands (no tools) slightly pull the lips of the backplate apart this should slightly manipulate the back plate to where it can move freely.
- At times the stickers can fall off the carabiner head exposing the locking pins. Be sure to have a few extra stickers on hand to replace as needed. Take a very light amount of rubbing alcohol and place onto a rag to clean the residue of the previous sticker off, let dry fully and place a new sticker on.