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Cheap bolts & required quality (Read 3696 times)

Potash

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Cheap bolts & required quality
July 21, 2023, 08:28:43 am
It's been a decade since I last bolted anything so want to check current thinking.

What metal standard is required for inland rock?

Recommended diameter and length?

Who is selling reasonably priced bolts?

I also have a handful of Fixe bolts hanging around from years ago. These have no markings but FIXE on the bolts and and A2 70 on the nuts. Hangers have 038D-10. Can anyone comment on what these are made out of?

remus

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#1 Re: Cheap bolts & required quality
July 21, 2023, 08:34:21 am
If you drop Dan Middleton at the BMC a message he'll be able to offer detailed advice. His email is listed here https://www.thebmc.co.uk/bmc-staff-list

kc

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#2 Re: Cheap bolts & required quality
July 21, 2023, 12:14:44 pm
From the perspective of a bolt fund. We have pretty much black listed anything to do with Fixe for now. That isn't to say all their stuff current or past is dodgy at all
 There have been issues so it's just easier to stick with petzl 12mm 316 stainless hangers because they are a good value readily available hanger.
The expansion bolts that are sometimes supplied with the hangers tend to be expensive and rather short so we go for a trusted and tested brand like Fischer FBN II Through Bolt M12 rather than some cheap Chinese knock off.
Of course if you are bolting inland rock miles from the sea in an arid destination stainless may be overkill.
Resin bolts are far superior of course but not necessarily very practical is some situations. Further reading and lots of useful information about good bolts and practices can be found here.
http://www.bolt-products.com/
And
https://climbingboltsupplies.com/

kc

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#3 Re: Cheap bolts & required quality
July 21, 2023, 12:33:48 pm
Not sure what 038D-10 is but I have a few  013D-10 Fixe hangers that have been removed from routes because they aren't stainless. A2 refers to the lower grade stainless 304. These are still good in wet but non corrosive environments. A4 on a nut implies 316.

cheque

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#4 Re: Cheap bolts & required quality
July 21, 2023, 12:36:28 pm

Potash

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#5 Re: Cheap bolts & required quality
July 21, 2023, 07:52:28 pm
Not sure what 038D-10 is but I have a few  013D-10 Fixe hangers that have been removed from routes because they aren't stainless. A2 refers to the lower grade stainless 304. These are still good in wet but non corrosive environments. A4 on a nut implies 316.

Thanks for your help.

How important is it to maintain the same grade of stainless steel is it in a UK maritime but not coastal climate?

From my googling it would appear that the 038D-10 hangers are 316 whilst the bolts themselves are 304.



Ian T

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#6 Re: Cheap bolts & required quality
July 22, 2023, 06:47:21 pm
I think a good rule of thumb is use the best quality bolts you can afford, rather than the cheapest you can get away with.

Usually works out better in the long term.

Lopez

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#7 Re: Cheap bolts & required quality
July 22, 2023, 08:47:18 pm
You can put a magnet to the bits for a good indication of what they are.

It it sticks like shit it's plain steel (plus probably a coating of something)
If it kind of sticks but it's sort of weak, it's duplex stainless.
If it doesn't stick it'll be 304 or 316

Edit: According to this below 038D could be the old duplex SS ones, or newer 316

https://www.fixeclimbing.com/public/EN%20Info%20Fixe%201.pdf

Edit again: And according to this below, 038D would be the code just for the duplex/plx hangers. (Full code should be 038D-10OLX). The new ones made of 316 are coded/stamped V00410

https://www.fixeclimbing.com/en/anchors/1298-fixe-1-316l-8436020410734.html
« Last Edit: July 22, 2023, 08:57:15 pm by Lopez »

galpinos

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#8 Re: Cheap bolts & required quality
July 25, 2023, 03:06:30 pm
038-10D is the Fixe code for the material they branded PLX, which is a Duplex SS.

Depending on the age of the hangers, there was a recall on PLX hangers in 2017:

https://www.thebmc.co.uk/fixe-announce-recall-of-plx-bolt-hangers

danm

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#9 Re: Cheap bolts & required quality
July 31, 2023, 04:56:57 pm
If you drop Dan Middleton at the BMC a message he'll be able to offer detailed advice. His email is listed here https://www.thebmc.co.uk/bmc-staff-list
Thanks for pimping me out Remus! You can also PM me on here if what you need isn't covered in these: https://www.thebmc.co.uk/bolts-advice-guides

Tony S

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#10 Re: Cheap bolts & required quality
July 31, 2023, 06:49:41 pm
How important is it to maintain the same grade of stainless steel is it in a UK maritime but not coastal climate?

From my googling it would appear that the 038D-10 hangers are 316 whilst the bolts themselves are 304.

Just so I know what to avoid, can you let us know what you end up bolting. Ta.

Potash

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#11 Re: Cheap bolts & required quality
July 31, 2023, 07:50:45 pm
Thanks for the constructive comments. I've established I have a dozen of the 304 stainless steel fixer bolts with matching 304 hangers that aren't from the recalled batch. I personally don't have any concerns regarding placing these.

My question about mixing 304 and 316 in a single bolt and hanger combo are I feel reasonable as I'm curious as to the actual risk of galvanic corrosion with these two grades of stainless steel in the UK.

Working out the appropriate quality of bolts seems sensible. I'm not seeing anyone placing titanium glue ins in the peak.

Tony S

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#12 Re: Cheap bolts & required quality
August 01, 2023, 09:52:29 am
I’m not entirely clear how you’ve got from:

I also have a handful of Fixe bolts hanging around from years ago. These have no markings but FIXE on the bolts and A2 70 on the nuts. Hangers have 038D-10.

To:
I've established I have a dozen of the 304 stainless steel fixer [Fixe?] bolts with matching 304 hangers that aren't from the recalled batch.

As others have hinted at, whilst there’s certainly a minimum standard, broadly speaking: better materials will have a longer service life (if suitably installed). What is appropriate is, as IanT wrote, using the best you can afford.

Mixing metals will accelerate corrosion. Whether this is meaningful or not is highly dependent on the metals, which component is made of which metal, and environment. Mixing (genuine!) 304 and 316 is going to have negligible impact in most environments in which 304 is a suitable choice. However, note that the recent EN standard is unequivocal in that “304 & 304L is not recommended for outdoor use”.

kc

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#13 Re: Cheap bolts & required quality
August 01, 2023, 11:06:29 am

Working out the appropriate quality of bolts seems sensible. I'm not seeing anyone placing titanium glue ins in the peak.
Strangely enough one of the driest routes on the Cornice is equipped with titanium bolts. There are also loads on top of  Horseshoe but they have nothing to do with climbing. They have been installed by highliners for some reason.
It is one extreme to another because just a few years ago I noted that there were still more plain steel/galvanized bolts going in Peak Lime* than SS despite the fixed gear policy recommendations the BMC published.

* The majority of these were in the perched block rubble fests in the Goddards group of quarries where rusty bolts are a welcome and healthy deterrent.

Potash

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#14 Re: Cheap bolts & required quality
August 01, 2023, 11:35:08 am
However, note that the recent EN standard is unequivocal in that “304 & 304L is not recommended for outdoor use”.

Cheers. I feel trying to work out whether using bolts sold as a set about ten years ago from a reputable supplier is a reasonable thing to do. It would appear they fall outside current recommendations so thanks for alerting me to this.

mark20

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#15 Re: Cheap bolts & required quality
August 01, 2023, 11:51:54 am
My understanding is that there isn't a big issue with galvanic corrosion between different types of stainless steel. The bigger concern would be that they are Fixe, a company who have a history of bad batches etc. But even then, they're probably better than a lot of bolts going in (as KC says). I'd probably just use them if it's a minor route in a quarry or something.

You could try contacting the local bolt fund to see if they'd swap them for 316L equivalent. You'd expect it is in their interest, and they can use the less-good bolts for training, shitty quarry routes, belay simulators, etc. I think we'd be happy to do that at the Peak Bolt Fund for any route that isn't a dodgy access quarry.

petejh

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#16 Re: Cheap bolts & required quality
August 01, 2023, 01:54:37 pm
Cheers. I feel trying to work out whether using bolts sold as a set about ten years ago from a reputable supplier is a reasonable thing to do. It would appear they fall outside current recommendations so thanks for alerting me to this.

You've put more effort into research and good practice than many equippers - seems churlish to knock that but then people love a moan. Bottom line is you'll be linked in conscience (and possibly legally) to any bolts you install so choose and place wisely. You could further cover your arse by asking the peak bolt fund to borrow their pull-tester to test a sacrificial bolt, although you'll almost certainly not get one of those to fail on account of its steel type, any failure would be likely due to failure of rock or resin. Even further arse-covering could be install a test bed of sacrificial bolts and pull-test at 5-year intervals. But by then you might have used up all your 'handful' of bolts!

Hydraulic Man

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#17 Re: Cheap bolts & required quality
August 02, 2023, 11:57:49 am
What was failing on the FIXE equipment? The bolt or the hanger?

danm

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#18 Re: Cheap bolts & required quality
August 02, 2023, 05:30:13 pm
What was failing on the FIXE equipment? The bolt or the hanger?
I think there was a recall of PLX hangers, but this is not the only problem there have been with their anchors.

Hydraulic Man

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#19 Re: Cheap bolts & required quality
August 02, 2023, 07:18:58 pm
Cheers Dan. I've never heard of a hanger failing unless people know otherwise? Seems quite unlikely...

I've been at the crag when the stud has failed (Mallorca) think this was a dissimilar metal issue...

kc

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#20 Re: Cheap bolts & required quality
August 02, 2023, 08:34:58 pm
What was failing on the FIXE equipment? The bolt or the hanger?
I think there was a recall of PLX hangers, but this is not the only problem there have been with their anchors.
Chain link welds  innit.

spidermonkey09

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#21 Re: Cheap bolts & required quality
August 03, 2023, 10:57:19 am
Is there a reason (libel?) people don't seem to talk that openly about their concerns about Fixe? It all seems a bit cloak and dagger from the outside looking in, if theres a genuine problem its surely better to discuss it. Or is it more just a sense that there are better companies out there?

I've installed Fixe gear in Yorkshire where appropriate having checked it over and made sure it wasn't from bad batches etc but do tend to choose other stuff where I can.

HaeMeS

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#22 Re: Cheap bolts & required quality
August 03, 2023, 11:40:22 am
The concern with Fixe a couple of years ago was widely publicized:

Anyone who worked in the industry at that time will know the stories or will have seen the bolts or chains in question themselves. Between 8 and 5 years ago Fixe was known for producing and selling shitty products. Partly because the quality of the steel was unknown, partly because of abysmal workmanship, partly because of the total lack of quality control. There were more issues than the published incidents. Fixes quality control was a joke. I've seen belay chains where the quality of the welds would not have been acceptable to an amateur welder: sharp burrs, holes in the weld, blobs of material, etc. Shameful that these products could pass the (non-existent) quality control and get onto the market. I suspect that there was no post-weld heat treatment as well. Fixe is also known for a number of failures with the production of their cams (search for 'Fixe Alien cam failure’). To be fair, Fixe seems to have improved their quality.

spidermonkey09

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#23 Re: Cheap bolts & required quality
August 03, 2023, 11:46:23 am
Thats useful, cheers; I'd seen the first of those links but not the second. So is residual reluctance to use Fixe gear based on these concerns, which have (hopefully!) now been addressed? I do get why if you were in the industry it would take a lot to trust them again though.

petejh

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#24 Re: Cheap bolts & required quality
August 03, 2023, 12:28:19 pm
I've never understood the climbing scene's desire for chain-equalised (or any equalised) bolted lower-off/belays. I obviously 'get' equalisation being a trad and winter climber. Always thought it was:
a) unnecessary for strength - 2 bolts each with a maillon and ring is perfectly adequate strength for any loading situation to be found in recreational climbing. A relatively small shock-loading onto a 10 or 12mm bolt lower-off is not going to lead to something failing... the equipment strength isn't that marginal.
b) unnecessary for threading - if you're competent to untie and thread one equalised point, you're competent to untie and thread 2 points.
c) introduces more elements into a system - all of which can corrode at different rates and/or have design or fabrication faults (e.g. fixe chain welds)
d) has a larger visual presence
e) looks ugly as shit

I remember after my first trips to Malham in the late 2000's*, my main impressions were 'hard/tekky' and 'ugh ugly chain equalisations'.


* things may have changed? haven't been for ages.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2023, 12:35:09 pm by petejh »

Potash

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#25 Re: Cheap bolts & required quality
August 03, 2023, 12:36:29 pm
It's worth pointing out that Fixe plated steel bolts are being sold as climbing bolts.

https://bananafingers.co.uk/fixe-climbing-plated-steel-bolt-m10-singles-1

Provoked by this conversation when I check Fixe's website I note that these are suited for industrial, rigging, indoor and very dry climates.

spidermonkey09

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#26 Re: Cheap bolts & required quality
August 03, 2023, 12:45:53 pm
I've never understood the climbing scene's desire for chain-equalised (or any equalised) bolted lower-off/belays. I obviously 'get' equalisation being a trad and winter climber. Always thought it was:
a) unnecessary for strength - 2 bolts each with a maillon and ring is perfectly adequate strength for any loading situation to be found in recreational climbing. A relatively small shock-loading onto a 10 or 12mm bolt lower-off is not going to lead to something failing... the equipment strength isn't that marginal.
b) unnecessary for threading - if you're competent to untie and thread one equalised point, you're competent to untie and thread 2 points.
c) introduces more elements into a system - all of which can corrode at different rates and/or have design or fabrication faults (e.g. fixe chain welds)
d) has a larger visual presence
e) looks ugly as shit

I remember after my first trips to Malham in the late 2000's*, my main impressions were 'hard/tekky' and 'ugh ugly chain equalisations'.


* things may have changed? haven't been for ages.

I personally try to put chain on belays only because it makes changing them (hypothetically) easier if you only have to undo/grind off a maillon instead of a ring. I've replaced a few belays in yorkshire where the bolts at the belay were fine but the hardware was rusted shut/worn. I don't tend to bother equalising them for the reasons you state and also because it uses more chain, which I would then have to cut to length or have excessively long etc= faff. I normally go bolt- chain-bolt- lower off biner. There are a few fully equalised chain belays but these are mostly integrated chain sets I think.

petejh

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#27 Re: Cheap bolts & required quality
August 03, 2023, 01:07:46 pm
I personally try to put chain on belays only because it makes changing them (hypothetically) easier if you only have to undo/grind off a maillon instead of a ring.
..
I normally go bolt- chain-bolt- lower off biner.

You never need to grind off a ring:

1 Bolt, 1 maillon & ring.
1 Bolt, 1 maillon & ring.
Slightly offset so as not to twist a loaded rope.

The ring never wears through as it doesn't develop a groove to wear (at least not in a lifetime). The maillon (or ring) can be easily replaced if any corrosion develops or there's a batch fault. Not that it ever should in a lifetime if they're good quality SS.

Minimal equipment, less visible, fewer points of failure/corrosion.

I think introducing steel chain on cliffs is one more thing to go wrong/corrode/mess up sourcing quality equipment/fabricator error, and unsightly. You can also end up paying more per lower-off.

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#28 Re: Cheap bolts & required quality
August 03, 2023, 01:14:59 pm
 Where do you get your malli9ns and rings Pete? Need to tidy up the Los at dumbuck a bit. Do you Superglue the mallion threads?

petejh

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#29 Re: Cheap bolts & required quality
August 03, 2023, 01:19:57 pm
I get them from the NW bolt fund. Chris P does the sourcing, I believe he purchases from Dicks Climbing among other places.. depends on who's offering deals.

I have loctite'd the threads in the past but haven't done so in the last 10 years or so - just a nip tight with adjustable.


edit..
Sourcing good quality stainless steel maillons and rings (at an affordable price) can be a minefield for the unwary. As you probably know you're entering the area of 'lifting equipment' and lifting equipment isn't 'climbing equipment'. A 7mm stainless maillon rapide is stamped with 450kg, which can sound low when climbers are used to seeing the equivalent of 2.2 tons (22kN) on their alloy biners. But it will take 4.5 tons to break the stainless maillon rapide, versus your alloy biner breaking at half of that - i.e.2.2 tons or what it says stamped on the biner.

Which is why sourcing this stuff is best left to bolt funds run by people who - hopefully - know what they're doing (and who can pull-test to destruction to confirm strengths).
« Last Edit: August 03, 2023, 01:52:38 pm by petejh »

spidermonkey09

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#30 Re: Cheap bolts & required quality
August 03, 2023, 01:41:47 pm

You never need to grind off a ring:

1 Bolt, 1 maillon & ring.
1 Bolt, 1 maillon & ring.
Slightly offset so as not to twist a loaded rope.

The ring never wears through as it doesn't develop a groove to wear (at least not in a lifetime). The maillon (or ring) can be easily replaced if any corrosion develops or there's a batch fault. Not that it ever should in a lifetime if they're good quality SS.


You're right; but I've replaced several belays where for some reason the ring was directly on the bolt without the intermediate maillon. They were probably pretty old though; must have been some sort of prefab set? I think with these I just put a whole new belay in and totally removed the old bolts.

I don't disagree with you though, I don't have a problem with rings as long as there's a way of getting them off in the event you need to. Gluing maillons shut seems to defeat the purpose a bit, I haven't done this either.

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#31 Re: Cheap bolts & required quality
August 03, 2023, 02:13:53 pm
Tangentially, if the belay consists of two independent rings, and the bolts looks ok and not placed by an idiot, I always lower off just one of them regardless of geometry. Because no matter how you place two rings, the rope will always always always twist if you lower off both. I realise that there is no redundancy and I'm only a badly placed bolt away from death, but I do not like twisted ropes, so that is a trade off my near ones have to live with after I died.

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#32 Re: Cheap bolts & required quality
August 03, 2023, 03:11:58 pm
I suppose at least your loved one would inherit an untwisted rope.

Vertically or offset vertically-aligned rings wont twist the rope, but not many people place like this.

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#33 Re: Cheap bolts & required quality
August 03, 2023, 04:23:19 pm
In my experience, they do.

kc

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#34 Re: Cheap bolts & required quality
August 03, 2023, 04:44:10 pm
Exactly what Pete says regarding chains.

I'll often install a pair of naked resin bolts at the belay especially for example if the route is in full public view, low traffic, hard, steep or a combination of the above.
 An 8a+ on the left hand side of the Cornice that's only climbable in drought conditions isn't going to get the same abuse handed out by punters in some popular turd quarry top roping directly through the bolts.
 
Something other than strength to consider when selecting maillons is the diameter. There are some pretty skinny well rated maillon rapides available that are great with a resin bolt but these are going to get gouged out on a plate hanger in no time.

 

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